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A Study in History and Diplomacy



Major U. S. Army, retired
Author of American Policy, World Peace, etc.


New York




Set up and electrotyped. Published, February, 1917.


“A declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,” commonly known as THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, proclaimed to the world the first quickening of that sovereign power which was to develop through inorganic association, and loose confederation, into the firm, indissoluble union now constituting the Republic of the United States of America. In that famous document the new infant nation attested its “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” by specifying the several causes which impelled it "to the separation." From that day to this, through a singular variety of vicissitudes, it has conducted its affairs with a regard for the opinion of other nations at least equal to that shown by its mother country. Yet only a few years ago, incidentally to the public discussion of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, the United States was arraigned by the British press as lacking in the sense of honor that holds a nation to its promise. The Saturday Review could not expect "to find President Taft acting like a gentleman." “To imagine,” it said, “that American politicians





would be bound by any feeling of honor or respect for treaties, if it would pay to violate them, was to delude ourselves. The whole course of history proves this.” The London Morning Post charged the United States with various infractions of the Treaty and said: “This is surely a record even in American foreign policy; but the whole treatment of this matter serves to remind us that we had a long series of similar incidents in our relations with the United States. Americans might ask themselves if it is really good foreign policy to lower the value of their written word in such a way as to make negotiations with other powers difficult or impossible. The ultimate loss may be greater than the immediate gain. There might come a time when the United States might desire to establish a certain position by treaty, and might find her past conduct a serious difficulty in the way.” More recently and presumably with more deliberation, a British author says: “Treaties, in fact, only bind the policy of the United States as long as they are convenient. They are not really worth the labour their negotiation entails or the paper they are written on. It is well that this position should be realised, as it may save a great deal of fuss and disappointment in the future.1 Other organs of the European press, taking their

1 Common Sense in Foreign Policy by Sir Harry Johnston, p. 89.

cue apparently from such deliverances as these, expressed themselves to the same effect.

The standing of a nation as to integrity is indeed of the greatest practical importance, not only to itself, but also to other nations. Regard for treaties is essentially a matter of fact, and should therefore be ascertainable from history or from the material of which history is made. The following study is devoted to determining the relative trustworthiness of two great nations as indicated in their conventional intercourse with each other. Beginning with the treaty of peace at the end of our war of independence, it considers all the treaties, conventions, and similar agreements negotiated between Great Britain and the United States that may be regarded as broken by either of the contracting parties, sets forth and discusses the infraction in each case, and ends with a summarising of the records on both sides and a balancing of the accounts.

About two-thirds of the work is taken up with the treaty negotiated in 1850 by our Secretary of State John M. Clayton with the British minister to the United States, Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer. This apportionment of space seems justified by the preeminent importance of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, by the complexity and intrinsic interest of the questions to which it gave rise, and by the circumstance that the author has new light to shed

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