Classic History Books


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

residents. These laws Japan has held to be violations of her treaty provision for consideration on the
"most favored nation" basis, and she has felt them to be opposed in spirit to the "gentlemen's agreement"

of 1907. The inability of the Federal Government to control the policy of individual States is not

accepted by foreign countries as releasing the United States from international obligations, so that,

although friendly agreements between the two countries were reached on the major points, cause for

popular irritation still remained.

Philander C. Knox, who succeeded Root as Secretary of State, devoted his attention rather to the
fostering of American interests in China than to the development of the general policies of his

Department. While he refrained from asking for an American sphere of influence, he insisted that

American capitalists obtain their fair share of the concessions for railroad building, mining, and other

enterprises which the Chinese Government thought it necessary to give in order to secure capital for her

schemes of modernization. As these concessions were supposed to carry political influence in the areas to

which they applied, there was active rivalry for them, and Russia and Japan, which had no surplus

capital, even borrowed in order to secure a share. This situation led to a tangled web of intrigue, perhaps

inevitable but decidedly contrary to the usual American diplomatic habits; and at this game the United

States did not prove particularly successful. In 1911 there broke out in China a republican revolution

which was speedily successful. The new Government, as yet unrecognized, needed money, and the

United States secured a share in a six-power syndicate which was organized to float a national loan. The

conditions upon which this syndicate insisted, however, were as much political as they were pecuniary,

and the new Government refused to accept them.

On the accession of President Wilson, the United States promptly led the way in recognizing the new
republic in China. On March 18, 1913, the President announced: "The conditions of the loan seem to us

to touch nearly the administrative independence of China itself; and this administration does not feel that

it ought, even by implication, to be a party to those conditions." The former American policy of

non-interference was therefore renewed, but it still remained uncertain whether the entrance of the

United States into Far Eastern politics would do more than serve to delay the European dominance which

seemed to be impending in 1898.

 

CHAPTER XV. The Panama Canal

 

While American troops were threading the mountain passes and the morasses of the Philippines, scaling
the walls of Pekin, and sunning themselves in the delectable pleasances of the Forbidden City, and while

American Secretaries of State were penning dispatches which determined the fate of countries on the

opposite side of the globe, the old diplomatic problems nearer home still persisted. The Spanish War,

however, had so thoroughly changed the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world that the

conditions under which even these old problems were to be adjusted or solved gave them entirely new

aspects. The American people gradually but effectually began to take foreign affairs more seriously. As

time went on, the Government made improvements in the consular and diplomatic services. Politicians

found that their irresponsible threatenings of other countries had ceased to be politically profitable when

public opinion realized what was at stake. Other countries, moreover, began to take the United States

more seriously. The open hostility which they had shown on the first entrance of this nation into world

politics changed, on second thought, to a desire on their part to placate and perhaps to win the support of

this new and formidable power.

 

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