Classic History Books


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

determining the result. Secretary Hay, however, had not waited for the military outcome, and he aimed
not at a vote in the concert of powers but at its leadership. While the international expedition was

gathering its forces, he announced in a circular note that "the policy of the Government of the United

States is to seek a solution which may bring about permanent safety and peace to China, preserve

Chinese territorial and administrative entity, protect all rights guaranteed to friendly powers by treaty and

international law, and safeguard for the world the principle of equal and impartial trade with all parts of

the Chinese Empire." To this position he requested the powers to assent.

Again Hay had hit upon a formula which no self-respecting power could deny. Receiving from
practically all a statement of their purpose to preserve the "integrity" of China and the "Open Door" just

when they were launching the greatest military movement ever undertaken in the Far East by the western

world, he made it impossible to turn punishment into destruction and partition. The legations were saved

and so was China. After complicated negotiations an agreement was reached which exacted heavy

pecuniary penalties, and in the case of Germany, whose minister had been assassinated, a conspicuous

and what was intended to be an enduring record of the crime and its punishment. China, however,

remained a nation - with its door open.

Once more in 1904 the fate of China, and in fact that of the whole Far East, was thrown into the ring.
Japan and Russia entered into a war which had practically no cause except the collision of their

advancing interests in Chinese territory. Every land battle of the war, except those of the Saghalien

campaign, was fought in China, Chinese ports were blockaded, Chinese waters were filled with enemy

mines and torpedoes, and the prize was Chinese territory or territory recently taken from her. To deny

these facts was impossible; to admit them seemed to involve the disintegration of the empire. Here again

Secretary Hay, devising a middle course, gained by his promptness of action the prestige of having been

the first to speak. On February 8, 1904, he asked Germany, Great Britain, and France to join with the

United States in requesting Japan and Russia to recognize the neutrality of China, and to localize

hostilities within fixed limits. On January 10, 1905, remembering how the victory of Japan in 1894 had

brought compensatory grants to all the powers, he sent out a circular note expressing the hope on the part

of the American Government that the war would not result in any "concession of Chinese territory to

neutral powers." Accustomed now to these invitations which decency forbade them to refuse, all the

powers assented to this suggestion. The results of the war, therefore, were confined to Manchuria, and

Japan promised that her occupation of that province should be temporary and that commercial

opportunity therein should be the same for all. The culmination of American prestige came with

President Roosevelt's offer of the good offices of the United States, on June 8, 1905. As a result, peace

negotiations were concluded in the Treaty of Portsmouth (New Hampshire) in 1905. For this conspicuous

service to the cause of peace President Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel prize.

Secretary Hay had therefore, in the seven years following the real arrival of the United States in the Far
East, evolved a policy which was clear and definite, and one which appealed to the American people.

While it constituted a variation from the precise methods laid down by President Monroe in 1823, in that

it involved concerted and equal cooperation with the great powers of the world, Hay's policy rested upon

the same fundamental bases: a belief in the fundamental right of nations to determine their own

government, and the reduction to a minimum of intervention by foreign powers. To have refused to

recognize intervention at all would have been, under the circumstances, to abandon China to her fate. In

protecting its own right to trade with her, the United States protected the integrity of China. Hay had,

moreover, so ably conducted the actual negotiations that the United States enjoyed for the moment the

leadership in the concert of powers and exercised an authority more in accord with her potential than

 

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