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THE SPEECH OF SENATOR ELIHU ROOT 1
This speech was delivered in the Senate on January 21, 1913. It has been sent to all parts of the country, being printed by the Peace Society and mailed under Government frank.
The high standing and distinguished public service of its author naturally give it great weight and it has been the cause of much misunderstanding upon this important matter.
As to his statement about the exhaustion of the members, and the Treaty being considered by very few members, we must remember that much is done in Committee and that the discussion excited the liveliest interest and the records do not bear out his statements as to meager attendance nor as to vigor in discussion.
As to the pretensions of Great Britain in Central America, history does not endorse the righteousness of her cause so fully as Senator Root and while he quotes very fully what Great Britain engaged not to do in Central America the reader will note very careful omission to state that Great Britain continued to violate the provisions of the Clayton-Bulwer Convention. 1 This speech is given in the Appendix.
We must remember that in this speech Senator Root endeavors to justify England's claim of equal treatment. As there can be no ground found for such claim in the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty both Senator Root and Sir Edward Grey harken back to the Clayton-Bulwer Convention just as if it were in full force.
Senator Root says that Article VIII is the “explicit agreement for equality of treatment to the citizens of the United States and the citizens of Great Britain in any canal wherever it may be constructed across the Isthmus." He omits to state the equality of treatment is obtained through joint protection extended by treaty stipulation.
We find Senator Root then drawing a parallel as to equality of treatment in American and Canadian Canals. It is true that explicit provisions for equal treatment were contained in the Treaty of 1871. It is true also as stated elsewhere and Senator Root knows it that we did not get such equal treatment, though we constantly demanded it from Great Britain till twenty-one years later when President Cleveland inspired drastic retaliatory legislation to force Great Britain's long and deliberate evasion of a direct and explicit treaty obligation. We search in vain, however, for any of the clear provisions found in the Great Lakes waterways treaties for equal treatment in the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty.
It has been pointed out in another chapter how Senator Root goes counter to all the ideas of pub
lic law in saying that the provisions of the Treaty of 1846 had to be subordinated to the ClaytonBulwer Convention. It is just the opposite and the strenuous attempts to obtain participation in such Treaty of 1846 by Great Britain and the steadfast refusal of our statesmen to grant such participation are a part of our country's history.
It is to be regretted that Senator Root draws an entirely misleading conclusion from Secretary Olney's memorandum of 1896. He quotes Secretary Olney as follows:
If changed conditions now make stipulations which were once deemed advantageous, either inapplicable or injurious, the true remedy is not an ingenious attempt to deny the existence of the Treaty or to explain away its provisions, but in a direct and straightforward application to Great Britain for a reconsideration of the whole matter.
And then Senator Root says:
We did apply to Great Britain for a reconsideration of the whole matter, and the result of the application was the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty.
Of course, everyone knows that the reconsideration suggested by Mr. Olney was not such as gave rise to the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty the burden of the Olney memorandum being that since we had for many years put up with violation of the Clayton-Bulwer Convention and had not abrogated it the Treaty should be considered as in effect.
President McKinley stated the real needs of
the situation in his message of December 5th, 1898, in which he said:
That the construction of such a marine highway is now more than ever indispensable to that intimate and ready intercommunication between our eastern and western seaboards demanded by the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands and the prospective extension of our influence and commerce in the Pacific, and that our national policy now more imperatively than ever calls for its CONTROL by this Government, are propositions which I doubt not that Congress will duly appreciate and wisely act upon.
While Senator Root quotes that our Government shall have and enjoy all rights incident to construction, as well as the exclusive right of providing for the regulation and management of the Canal, his advice leads to relinquishment of all rights incident to construction and the limitation of regulation and management to the rules for conserving neutrality and that these rules must apply to ordinary commerce, ignoring entirely Article II.
Then again he says:
The principle of neutralization provided for by the eighth article is neutralization upon terms of absolute equality both between the United States and Great Britain and between the United States and all other powers.
Here we see an abandonment of the CONTROL considered indispensable by President McKinley
and the doctrine that we cannot use the Canal to our own advantage in time of war in which we are engaged. And these un-American conclusions are advanced to bolster up a weak stand taken on weak premises.
He glides quickly over the fact that there were several drafts submitted omitting to mention that the changes from the first draft and the gradual shaping of the final treaty opened the eyes of the Senate to the fact that the first treaty was a betrayal of our country's interests and a reversal of a policy of refusal to admit others to contract participation heretofore steadfastly maintained by American statesmen.
It is too bad that Senator Root in quoting from Mr. Blaine's instruction to Mr. Lowell, June 24, 1881, did not include that the Treaty of 1846 did not require reënforcements or accession or assent from any power. and that any attempt to supersede by an agreement of European powers would partake of the nature of an alliance against the United States and would be regarded by this Government as an indication of unfriendly feeling.
These ideas were not to be considered as a new policy since they were “nothing more than the pronounced adherence of the United States to principles long since enunciated by the highest authority of the Government, and, now, in the judgment of the President, firmly interwoven as an