Page images

"Under the régime of the new standard, the productive power of the United States would receive so enormous an impulse, and this development would have such a disastrous effect upon the economic and financial interests of England and the other European nations now governed by the gold standard, that it may be confidently predicted in advance that the course of events would force the adoption of international bimetallism as the only true solution even upon those who to-day deny the possibility and efficacy of it."

On the other hand, those who see in free coinage the herald of coming disaster for the United States in the total disappearance of gold, depreciation of currency, restriction of credit, and commercial and industrial ruin, are already saying that the adoption of the Chicago free-silver platform has wrought the cause of international bimetallism irretrievable damage.

On the whole, there has been lately but little evidence of positive progress toward solution of this problem. There are tremendous obstructions in the way of any wide agreement on the part of the great commercial nations. The attitude of Great Britain seems to be the main determining factor in Europe. In Germany bimetallism has a considerable following; and, while the government is for the time committed to the gold standard, there is reason to believe that Germany would follow the lead of England in taking steps looking to an international conference to fix the ratio. In France, too, the sentiment in favor of bimetallism is marked; and Premier Méline, a leader among protectionists and bimetallists, is authority for the statement that the success of bimetallism now depends on the conversion of England to the principle. In Lancashire and the agricultural counties of England there is a strong bimetallic movement; and, even in the British ministry itself, there are four or five well-known bimetallists, with Arthur Balfour as their leader. There is, however, no immediate prospect of the British government entering upon any experiment involving such a fundamental change in financial policy as the proposals of the bimetallists would necessitate.

However, while little definite progress has been made, we must not underrate the importance of the steps taken. at the bimetallist congress which sat in Brussels April 20-23, 1896. It included representatives (unofficial) from Great Britain, the United States, Germany, AustriaHungary, France, Denmark, Holland, Roumania, and Russia. The object of the congress, as stated by M. Beernaert, Belgian minister of state, who presided over some of the sessions, was to place the question of bimetal

lism on a practical basis, removed from any question of any school.

It was decided to establish a permanent bimetallist committee with the object of discussing such suggestions as are brought before it, and finally arriving at the most desirable practical plan for an international adoption of bimetallism. When it is remembered that one of the causes which rendered ineffective the negotiations of the Brussels monetary conference of 1892 (Vol. 2, p. 338; Vol. 3, p. 24)-as also of previous gatherings of similar purpose was the lack of any definite prearranged schemes in view of which the governments represented at the conference might have given their delegates definite instructions, the significance of the action taken at the bimetallist congress of the present year will be readily understood.

A permanent committee was formed, of which the members are pledged to continue their efforts to arrive at a solution of the monetary problem through the adoption of the principle of international bimetallism. The congress adopted M. Beernaert's motion demanding the establishment of a fixed ratio in the value of gold and silver by means of an agreement among civilized nations, and advocating the gradual rehabilitation of silver. Hope was expressed that Great Britain would take the initiative in raising an international discussion.


On April 15 the treaty between Great Britain and the United States providing for the appointment of a commission to assess damages arising out of illegal seizures of British sealing vessels, was ratified by the United States senate. On June 3 ratifications of the convention were exchanged in London; and on June 11 its full text was made public.

It was on February 8 of the present year that the treaty was originally signed by Sir Julian Pauncefote and Secretary of State Olney after negotiations which had been pending for many months (p. 97).

As finally ratified, two amendments were made in the wording of the original draft. It had been provided originally that the commission should sit at Vancouver, B. C.; but San Francisco, Cal., was also made a place of meeting. And the word "award" was expunged from the text in reference to the decision of the Paris tribunal of 1893, on account of the impression likely to be conveyed by that

word, that the tribunal had really made an award on the question of damages. The United States government contended that the Paris tribunal had even refused to consider that question, and had left it to be adjusted by later diplomatic negotiations.

A bill appropriating $75,000 to defray the expenses of the United States in the joint commission, passed congress, and was approved by President Cleveland May 8.

A bill was also enacted, appropriating $5,000 for the "conduct of a scientific investigation of the present condition of our fur-seal herds on the Pribilof islands." President David S. Jordan of the Leland Stanford, Jr., University, California, was appointed in June, by President Cleveland, to direct the investigation, assisted by Lieutenant-Commander J. F. Moser of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey; Leonard Stejeneger, curator of reptiles in the National Museum at Washington; and Charles H. Townsend, a naturalist. A body of British scientists will also conduct a similar but independent investigation.


In the field of diplomacy, the general public is never let into the secret of impending changes. Official disclosures are not made until after final steps are taken, and, even then, give sometimes only a general outline, not a detailed statement, of accomplished results.

During the quarter ended June 30, 1896, speculation has been rife regarding the renewal of the Triple Alliance, the formal ratification of the Dual Alliance, and the situation in southeastern Europe connected with the spread of Russian influence in the Balkans and the important revolt in Crete. Very little, however, of an official character has been revealed, upon which to base positive and definite statements.

The Triple and Dual Alliances. It is tolerably certain that no immediate formal change in the status of international relations on the continent is contemplated. The Dreibund on the one hand, and the Dual Alliance of France and Russia on the other, together dominate the situation, and make for peace rather than war. The visit of the German emperor to the king of Italy and the emperor of Austria-Hungary in April, is generally taken as affording fresh evidence of the firmness of the foundation upon which the Triple Alliance rests, and as giving assurance of its renewal for another period of years on the approaching expiry of its present term of life.

On April 11 William II. exchanged most cordial greetings with King Humbert at Venice; and on April 14 he was received by Emperor Francis Joseph at Vienna with every evidence of friendly accord, and amidst demonstrations of great popular enthusiasm.

In certain quarters, notably in France, the disaster to Italian arms at Adowa (p. 68) and the retirement of Signor Crispi had been heralded as prophetic of the collapse of the Dreibund; but to all these imaginings the meetings of the three sovereigns have been an unmistakable answer. Moreover, another guarantee of the permanence of the Triple Alliance is found in the closer relations which recent incidents in Africa have cemented between England and the tripartite league. It would be contrary to the traditional policy of Great Britain to become a formal party to such an alliance as the Dreibund; but her recent announcement of friendship for Italy and support of Italian policy in Africa has strengthened the Triple Alliance by assuring to this great defensive league of peace the continued moral support of the "mistress of the seas."

The above interpretation of recent incidents is further confirmed by official declarations made at Rome, Vienna, and Buda-Pesth. On May 25 Premier di Rudini declared in the Italian chamber that the Dreibund was a necessity to Italy, and that "if such an alliance did not exist, it would be necessary to create one." On June 1 Emperor Francis Joseph, speaking to the Austrian delegations, expressed hope for continued unanimity of the powers regarding maintenance of the status quo in the Balkans, and complimented the Italian army in Africa. Also Count Goluchowski, Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, in his annual statement before the delegations at Buda-Pesth, referred to the closeness of the relations between AustriaHungary, Germany, and Italy; declared that his government was in favor of the maintenance of the status quo of the Balkan states; and justified the support given by Austria-Hungary to the British request for an advance from the Egyptian reserve fund toward the cost of the Soudan expedition.

On the other hand, if the basis of the Triple Alliance has recently been strengthened, the same, it seems, may be said of the entente between France and Russia. It has been rumored that a formal agreement between the French and Russian governments was signed at Moscow on the eve of the coronation of Nicholas II.

The two powers are said to have mutually guaranteed the integ

rity of their territory, undertaking to defend each other against all foreign aggression, but reserving their liberty of action in the event of either power inaugurating an aggressive campaign against any

other state.

However, as the French constitution prevents any treaty from becoming definitely binding until adopted by parliament after public discussion, probably the utmost that can be said at present is that the relations of France and Russia are growing daily more intimate. France seems disposed at all points to favor the ambitious schemes of Russia. At Constantinople, too, Russian influence has become dominant. Only forty years ago France and Turkey were allied with Great Britain against the Muscovite empire.

The Outlook in the Balkans.-The most striking feature of the situation in southeastern Europe, aside from the possibility of complications arising out of the Cretan revolt (see below), is the restored predominance of Russian influence. With the exception of Roumania, which inclines to the Triple Alliance, Russia is to-day the political mentor of the Balkan peoples from the Adriatic to the Black sea, and from Salonica to the Danube. In Bulgaria Russian influence has been re-established. Prince Ferdinand visited St. Petersburg in April, dined with the czar, and was received by the diplomatic corps. We note in passing that recognition has also been accorded him by the German emperor, who has conferred upon him the title of "Royal Highness; " and he is said to have refused to conclude a military alliance with Turkey. In Servia, too, evidence of Russian control is seen in the refusal of the Belgrade government to participate in the Hungarian millennial celebration. Hitherto Servia had stood in close relations to Austria-Hungary. The bulk of her trade was with the dual empire, and Austrian capital had done much to promote her prosperity. Moreover, an uprising to secure autonomy for Macedonia is considered a possibility of the near future, the agitation being fomented by a committee sitting at Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. And the rumors of impending changes even include the formation of a Balkan confederacy embracing Servia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro, under the protection, more or less direct, of Russia. Naturally the powers of the Triple Alliance watch developments in some anxietyAustria especially, who sees in the prospect of a Macedonian uprising and of a strong Balkan confederacy, a threatened checking of her ambition to possess some day the important Roumelian port of Salonica, and a threatened pre

« PreviousContinue »