Classic History Books


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

who hoped for war and intended to be ready for it, and by the cynical who did not wish for war but
thought it inevitable. The other proposal was that war could and should be prevented by agreements to

submit all differences between nations to international tribunals for judgment. In the United States, which

had always rejected the idea of balance of power, and which only in Asia, and to a limited degree,

assented to the concert of powers, one or the other of these two views was urged by all those who saw

that the United States had actually become a world power, that isolation no longer existed, and that a

policy of nonintervention could not keep us permanently detached from the current of world politics.

The foremost advocates of preparedness were Theodore Roosevelt and Admiral Mahan. It was little
enough that they were able to accomplish, but it was more than most Americans realize. The doubling of

the regular army which the Spanish War had brought about was maintained but was less important than

its improvement in organization. Elihu Root and William H. Taft, as Secretaries of War, profiting by the

lessons learned in Cuba, established a general staff, provided for the advanced professional training of

officers, and became sufficiently acquainted with the personnel to bring into positions of responsibility

those who deserved to hold them. The navy grew with less resistance on the part of the public, which

now was interested in observing the advance in the rank of its fleet among the navies of the world. When

in 1907 Roosevelt sent the American battleship squadron on a voyage around the world, the expedition

not only caused a pleased self-consciousness at home but perhaps impressed foreign nations with the fact

that the United States now counted not only as a potential but as an actual factor in world affairs.

Greater popular interest, if one may judge from relative achievement, was aroused by the proposal to
substitute legal for military battles. The United States had always been disposed to submit to arbitration

questions which seemed deadlocked. The making of general arrangements for the arbitration of cases that

might arise in the future was now advocated. The first important proposal of this character was made to

the United States by Great Britain at the time of the Venezuela affair. This proposal was rejected, for it

was regarded as a device of Great Britain to cover her retreat in that particular case by suggesting a

general provision. The next suggestion was that made by the Czar, in 1899, for a peace conference at The

Hague. This invitation the United States accepted with hearty good will and she concurred in the

establishment of a permanent court of arbitration to meet in that city. Andrew Carnegie built a home for

it, and President Roosevelt sent to it as its first case that of the "Pious Fund," concerning which the

United States had long been in dispute with Mexico.

The establishment of a world court promoted the formation of treaties between nations by which they
agreed to submit their differences to The Hague or to similar courts especially formed. A model, or as it

was called a "mondial" treaty was drawn up by the conference for this purpose. Secretary Hay proceeded

to draw up treaties on such general lines with a number of nations, and President Roosevelt referred them

to the Senate with his warm approval. That body, however, exceedingly jealous of the share in the

treaty-making power given it by the Constitution, disliked the treaties, because it feared that under such

general agreements cases would be submitted to The Hague Court without its special approval.* Yet, as

popular sentiment was strongly behind the movement, the Senate ventured only to amend the procedure

in such a way as to make every "agreement" a treaty which would require its concurrence. President

Roosevelt, however, was so much incensed at this important change that he refused to continue the

negotiations.

* The second article in these treaties read: "In each individual case the high contracting parties, before
appealing to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, shall conclude a special agreement defining clearly the

matter in dispute."

 

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