Classic History Books


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

a random leap is indicated by the manner in which it has been followed up. In 1911 treaties with
Nicaragua and Honduras somewhat similar to the Dominican protocol were negotiated by Secretary

Knox but failed of ratification. Subsequently under President Wilson's Administration, the treaty with

Nicaragua was redrafted and was ratified by both parties. Hayti, too, was in financial difficulties and, at

about the time of the outbreak of the Great War, it was reported that Germany was about to relieve her

needs at the price of harbors and of control. In 1915, however, the United States took the island under its

protection by a treaty which not only gave the Government complete control of the fiscal administration

but bound it to "lend an efficient aid for the preservation of Haitian independence and the maintenance of

a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty."

Since 1898, then, the map of the Caribbean has completely changed its aspect. The sea is not an
American lake, nor do the Americans wish it to be such. In time, as the surrounding countries become

better able to stand alone, direct interference on the part of the United States will doubtless become less

than it is today. There is, however, practically no present opportunity for a non-American power to

establish itself and to threaten the commerce or the canal of the United States.

Few people in the United States and perhaps fewer in the countries involved realize from what American
influence has saved these small states. A glance at Africa and Asia will suggest what would otherwise

have been the case. Without the United States and its leadership, there can be little doubt that giant

semi-sovereign corporations owing allegiance to some great power would now possess these countries.

They would bristle with forts and police, and their populations would be in a state of absolute political

and of quasi-economic servitude. They might today be more orderly and perhaps wealthier, but unless

the fundamental American belief in democracy and self-government is wrong they would be infinitely

farther from their true goal, which involves the working out of their own civilization.

The Caribbean is but a portion of the whole international problem of the Americas, and the methods used
by the United States in solving its problems seemed likely to postpone that sympathetic union of the

whole to which it has been looking forward for a century. Yet this country has not been unappreciative of

the larger aspects of Pan-Americanism. In 1899 President McKinley revived Blaine's project and

proposed a Pan-American congress. To popularize this idea, a Pan-American Exposition was arranged at

Buffalo in 1901. Here, just after he had expounded his views of the ties that might bind the continents

together, McKinley was assassinated. The idea, however, lived and in the same year a congress was held

at the City of Mexico, where it was proposed that such meetings be held regularly. As a result,

congresses were held at Rio de Janeiro in 1906 and at Buenos Aires in 1910, at which various measures

of common utility were discussed and a number of projects were actually undertaken.

The movement of Pan-Americanism has missed achieving the full hopes of its supporters owing not so
much to a difference of fundamental ideas and interests as to suspicion and national pride. The chief

powers of southern South America - Argentina, Brazil, and Chili - had by the end of the nineteenth

century in large measure successfully worked out their own problems. They resented the interference of a

power of alien race such as the United States, and they suspected its good intentions in wielding the "Big

Stick," especially after the cavalier treatment which Colombia had received. They observed with alarm

the strengthening of the grip of the United States about the Caribbean. United in a group, known from

their initials as the "A.B.C." powers, they sought to assume the leadership of Latin America, basing their

action, indeed, upon the fundamentals of the Monroe Doctrine - the exclusion of foreign influence and

the independence of peoples - but with themselves instead of the United States as chief, guardians.

 

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