Classic History Books


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

in the forefront, confronting the yellow peril. On sending his troops to China in 1900, he told them to
imitate the methods of the Huns, in order to strike lasting terror to the hearts of the yellow race. By such

means he sought to direct attention to the menace of the Barbarian, when he was himself first stating that

doctrine of Teutonic frightfulness which has proved, in our day at least, to be the real world peril.

It was Japan who had exposed the weakness of the giant, but her victory had been so easy that her own
strength was as yet untested. Japan had come of age in 1894 when, following the example of Great

Britain, the various powers had released her from the obligation of exterritoriality imposed upon her by

treaties when their subjects were unwilling to trust themselves to her courts. It was still uncertain,

however, whether the assumption of European methods by Japan was real, and her position as a great

power was not yet established. In the very moment of her triumph over China she was forced to submit to

the humiliation of having the terms of peace supervised by a concert of powers and of having many of

the spoils of her victory torn from her.

The chief fruits that remained to Japan from her brilliant military victory were Formosa and the
recognition of the separation of Korea from China: These acquisitions gave her an opportunity to show

her capacity for real expansion, but whether she would be able to hold her prize was yet to be proven.

The European states, however, claimed that by the Japanese victories the balance of power in the Orient

had been upset and that it must be adjusted. The obvious method was for each power to demand

something for itself. In 1898 Germany secured a lease of Kiao-chau Bay across the Yellow Sea from

Korea, which she at once fortified and where she proceeded to develop a port with the hope of

commanding the trade of all that part of China. Russia in the same way secured, somewhat farther to the

north, Port Arthur and Talien-wan, and proceeded to build Dalny as the commercial outlet of her growing

railroad. Great Britain immediately occupied Wei-hai-wei, which was midway between the German and

Russian bases and commanded from the south the entrance to Pekin, and also, much farther to the south,

Mirs Bay, which gave security to her commercial center at Hong-kong. France took Kwang-chau, still

farther to the south, and Italy received Sanmen, somewhat to the south of the Yangtszekiang. From these

ports each power hoped to extend a sphere of influence. It was axiomatic that such a sphere would be

most rapidly developed and most solidly held if special tariff regulations were devised to throw the trade

into the hands of the merchants of the nation holding the port. The next step, therefore, in establishing the

solidity of an Asiatic base, would be the formulation of special tariffs. The result would be the practical

division of China into districts having different and opposed commercial interests.

The United States did not arrive in this energetic company as an entire stranger. With both China and
Japan her relations had long been intimate and friendly. American merchants had traded ginseng and furs

for China silks and teas ever since the United States had been a nation. In 1786 the Government had

appointed a commercial agent at Canton and in 1844 had made one of the first commercial treaties with

China. In 1854 the United States had been the point of the foreign wedge that opened Japan to western

civilization and inaugurated that amazing period of national reorganization and assimilation which has

given the Japanese Empire her place in they world today. American missionaries had labored long and

disinterestedly for the moral regeneration of both China and Japan with results which are now universally

recognized as beneficial, though in 1900 there was still among the Chinese much of that friction which is

the inevitable reaction from an attempt to change the fundamentals of an ancient faith and long-standing

habits. American merchants, it is true, had been of all classes, but at any rate there had always been a

sufficient leaven of those of the highest type to insure a reasonable reputation.

The conduct of the American Government in the Far East had been most honorable and friendly. The

 

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