Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

the Union, but he went back to Henry Clay and the Panama Congress of 1826 for his ideal. During his
first term of office he invited the republics to send representatives to Washington to discuss arbitration,

but his successor in office feared that such a meeting of "a partial group of our friends" might offend

Europe, which indeed was not improbably part of Blaine's intention. On resuming office, Blaine finally

arranged the meeting of a Pan-American Congress in the United States. Chosen to preside, he presented

an elaborate program, including a plan for arbitrating disputes; commercial reciprocity; the establishment

of uniform weights and measures, of international copyright, trade-marks and patents, and, of common

coinage; improvement of communications; and other subjects. At the same time he exerted himself to

secure in the McKinley Tariff Bill, which was just then under consideration, a provision for reciprocity

of trade with American countries. This meeting was not a complete success, since Congress gave him

only half of what he wanted by providing for reciprocity but making it general instead of purely

American. Nevertheless one permanent and solid result was secured in the establishment of the Bureau of

American Republics at Washington, which has become a clearing house of ideas and a visible bond of

common interests and good feeling.

Throughout the years of Blaine's prominence, the public took more interest in his bellicose encounters
with Europe, and particularly with Great Britain, than in his constructive American policy; and he failed

to secure for either an assured popular support. His attempt to widen the gulf between Europe and

America was indeed absurd at a time when the cable, the railroad, and the steamship were rendering the

world daily smaller and more closely knit, and when the spirit of democracy, rapidly permeating western

Europe, was breaking down the distinction in political institutions which had given point to the

pronouncement of 1823. Nevertheless Blaine did actually feel the changing industrial conditions at home

which were destroying American separateness, and he made a genuine attempt to find a place for the

United States in the world, without the necessity of sharing the responsibilities of all the world, by

making real that interest in its immediate neighbors which his country had announced in 1823. Even

while Blaine was working on his plan of "America for the Americans," events were shaping the most

important extension of the interests of the United States which had taken place since 1823.

 

CHAPTER V. The United States And The Pacific

 

Long before the westward march of Americans had brought their flag to the Pacific, that ocean was
familiar to their mariners. >From Cape Horn to Canton and the ports of India, there ploughed the stately

merchantmen of Salem, Providence, and Newburyport, exchanging furs and ginseng for teas, silks, the

"Canton blue" which is today so cherished a link with the past, and for the lacquer cabinets and carved

ivory which give distinction to many a New England home. Meanwhile the sturdy whalers of New

Bedford scoured the whole ocean for sperm oil and whalebone, and the incidents of their self-reliant

three-year cruises acquainted them with nearly every coral and volcanic isle. Early in the century

missionaries also began to brave the languor of these oases of leisure and the appetite of their

cannibalistic inhabitants.

The interest of the Government was bound to follow its adventurous citizens. In 1820 the United States
appointed a consular agent at Honolulu; in the thirties and forties it entered into treaty relations with

Siam, Borneo, and China; and owing to circumstances which were by no means accidental it had the

honor of persuading Japan to open her ports to the world. As early as 1797 an American vessel chartered

by the Dutch had visited Nagasaki. From time to time American sailors had been shipwrecked on the

 

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