Page images

in one sense undoubtedly if we exercise a protectorate over them. They will be a dependency, and they will have a different relation to us from what the other Territories organized as incipient States have. If we choose, we can provide that the territory of Puerto Rico - I am speaking now of the geographical territory --- shall be under the control and sovereignty of the United States, that the people of that island may make all the laws that we say they may make. We may give them absolute self-control, or, in my opinion, we may reserve the right to say to them, “There are certain things you cannot be allowed to do; and if you do certain things, we will intervene and nullify your action."

Mr. President, from my standpoint, then, there is no difficulty in dealing with these possessions, and it becomes simply a question of policy. In this I am speaking for myself only. I do not represent any political organization, and I am not bound by any caucus or by any influences of that character. So far as I am concerned, I do not want to make Puerto Rico nor do I want to make the Philippines an integral part of the United States; I do not want to make their people citizens of the United States, with all the rights that citizenship of the United States ought to carry with it.

The relation that I would establish for those people is absolutely consistent with every tradition of our government and our people from the time we organized the government of the United States up to the present hour. If I had time, I could show historically that the fathers of this Republic contemplated that we should some day have colonies. It may be that it is not good policy to have colonies. That is another question. It may be — although I do not believe it — that it would be wise for us to get rid of Puerto Rico and return it to Spain, or to give it to the people of the island themselves. It may be that it would be wise for us to turn over the Philip pine Islands to the anarchy and confusion which I believe would follow the withdrawal of the American troops from those islands at the present time. But I do not believe it.

I will admit that there will be some difficulties in dealing with those people. I foresaw that in the beginning, and I see it more clearly now than I did a year ago, as I believe everybody else does. But, as I said a long time since in this body, the American people will deal with this question in a spirit of fairness, and in a spirit of courage. They are not going to be frightened by a contemplation of the fact that there are difficulties in front of them. If anybody can show a better way out of the difficulty than for us to hold those possessions, I am prepared to consider it. I am now considering, first, what is the duty that we owe, not to the Filipinos, not to the Puerto Ricans, but to the people of the United States? That is the paramount question. I believe we can deal with those people without doing any injustice to them or any injustice to ourselves. But we must have a policy; we must lay down a rule and follow it. What I complain of in the party in power is that it has not a policy, as it seems to me, on this question.

I do not know whether we are to have a colonial system or whether we are to make those people part and parcel of the United States. One or the other we must do. I regard the latter as infinitely more dangerous than the former. I would a great deal rather make Puerto Rico a colony than to make her a State; I would a great deal rather make the Philippine Islands a colony, a province, a dependency, or whatever you may choose to call it, than to make those islands into a State or to make their inhabitants citizens of the United States, with all the rights and privileges which follow, and which must ultimately mean, if they become citizens of the United States, that they shall stand before the law on an equality with all other citizens of the United States. If you make Puerto Rico a Territory, an incipient State, its people will have a right some day to expect to become a State of the Union; but if you hold them in tutelage and pupilage for an indefinite period as citizens of the United States, they will have a right to complain.

Mr. President, Puerto Rico is not a part of the United States to-day, neither are the Philippine Islands. In all the acquisitions of territorial property heretofore, we have had, before we acquired it, some relations established by treaty, or otherwise, with the people that we took under our control. When we took in Louisiana, we stipulated with France that we would make the people of that Territory citizens of the United States, entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens; when we took in Florida, we did the same with Spain; when we took in a portion of Mexico, we did the same with Mexico; and when we took in Alaska, we did the same with Russia. When we acquired our new possessions, the commission that went over to Paris very wisely said that their political status should be as Congress should determine.

In an early day, when Louisiana was taken in as a part of the United States, it was questioned in the House of Representatives, and even here, whether by the treaty-making power alone that could be done. In my judgment it could, because otherwise there would be a restriction upon the treatymaking power, which I think would be inconsistent with sovereignty. But here we have no question. The people in these possessions are not citizens to-day. The Filipinos are not citizens nor are the Puerto Ricans. The bill now pending before the Senate makes citizens of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico of the United States ex industria. That feature alone, if there were no other in it, would compel me to vote against the bill. I do not want those people made citizens of the United States. I want to extend to them all the privileges which are consistent with their relations to this government, save that of citizenship. I would extend to those territories all the privileges, all the blessings which the constitution of the United States is, by some, supposed to have conferred, but which I say are not conferred, but inherited, inhering in a free government. I would not establish a relationship which would enable them to participate with us in the election of a President and to have their representatives on this floor or in the other House.

I am told by some senators here that this bill does make citizens of the people of Puerto Rico, but does not make Puerto Rico a part and parcel of the United States. If it is possible by language in a statute to make Puerto Rico a part of the United States, it is go made by this bill. In the first place, the people there are made citizens, their ports are made ports of the United States, and the writs of their courts run in the name of the people of the United States; we extend the internal revenue laws over them, the postal laws, and almost all other laws over them, except simply the laws as to the collection of duty on imports. We provide that their products coming into our ports shall pay duty.

Mr. President, if those people are to be a part and parcel of the United States, as they will be if this bill shall be enacted into law as it now stands, and as they will be if a considerable part of it should be stricken Ont, as I hear vague rumors that it may be, they will have sich a relation, in my judgment, to the people of the United Shates that some of the

provisions of this act will be absolutely indefensible and cannot be maintained in any case.

Mr. President, I am not going to waste time in speaking about the provision which puts a duty upon goods going into Puerto Rico. I think that was pretty well exploded here the other day, and I understand that it is liable to be abandoned. But the other question presents itself whether we have a right to put a duty on goods coming from Puerto Rico into the United States. In my judgment that whole question must be solved by what is their relation to the people of the United States. If they are a part of the United States, if their people are citizens of the United States, you have no right to put a duty upon their goods. If they are not citizens of the United States, then it is a question of policy and not a question of justice; but what right have the Puerto Ricans to insist now that they shall have free trade with us if they are not part and parcel of the United States ?

Mr. President, we are told that there is a great sugar interest and a great tobacco interest, or something of that kind, demanding that this duty shall be put on those people. I know nothing about that, and I do not care to consider it. It is not a question to be considered in determining this matter as to what influences are back of it. The question is, what is justice? If they are citizens, as they will be under this bill, you have not any right to impose duties upon them, and it would be an act of gross injustice and one which cannot be legally maintained. If they are not citizens, you have as much right to put a duty upon them as you have to put it on English subjects who send their goods here from London.

A great number of people now in Puerto Rico who are clamoring for free trade with us are not citizens of that country at all, and the large sugar interests there are held by people

« PreviousContinue »