Foreign policy making has never been simple for Americans, particularly when such activity has dealt with the Far East. Ideally it should not be troublesome. The Constitution is reasonably explicit in leaving foreign policy formulation in the hands of the President. The State Department and its secretary are executive creatures; therefore, no complications should arise from this quarter. However, the Constitution does make the conduct of foreign affairs a little less simple by giving the Senate a voice in treaty matters and in the business of consenting to appointments. The House of Representatives also has its say through the powers to appropriate and investigate. And in this American democracy the man in the street feels he should share some of the legislative and executive burden. He does, as a voter; but this approach leaves the citizen many times removed from the formulation, implementation, and execution of policy.
In the absence of direct grass-roots stimulation or control, organized pressure groups and lobbyists have acquired a disproportionately important voice in the field of foreign affairs. Unfortunately for all concerned, this voice traditionally has been raucous and disparate in its advices. At times its stridency has bemused even the deafest secretary of state. In Far Eastern matters the loudest sounds, in the 1920's, emanated from those representing religious and business interests. As could be expected, these lobbyists did not speak from a single point of view; in fact, when there was unity of viewpoint the shrewdest observers were somewhat amazed. Admiral Mark L. Bristol, Commander p2 -in‑Chief of the Asiatic Fleet in 1928, regretfully called attention to this situation when he wrote to an old friend:
I find the Americans out here very much divided, as they were in Turkey when I first went there. It is the same old thing: missionaries divided against the businessmen, and due to the various missionary activities of the different denominations, there is a great deal of discord amongst them; and in the same way businessmen do not pull together.1
Despite his amateur status as a diplomat, Bristol recognized one of the most potent sources of pressure on the State Department. How much the missionary community has influenced American Far Eastern policy has never been measured — it is doubtful that it can be. But many writers and observers have commented on the efficacy of missionary activity in the field.2 During the nineteenth century missionaries provided the American public with its few histories and travel accounts of China and the Far East; and because of their facility in the use of Asiatic languages they were the only interpreters and translators available to the American legations and consulates in eastern Asia for many years. During the nineteenth and the early years of the twentieth century the missionary community grew in numbers and in the value of its physical assets.3 While their freedom of travel and residence was covered by treaty, these religious workers found it necessary to move with the currents of Chinese politics, devious though they might be. It was not unusual, therefore, in the 1920's to find missionary bodies in the interior of China joining with the Young China nationalist movement and demanding an end of extraterritorial privileges. Yet it p3 was equally commonplace to find other evangelical groups in the International Settlement and treaty ports demanding a continuance of old treaty rights.4 The voice of this missionary body was heard through the denominational magazines, papers, letters, and the never-ending resolutions of their governing bodies.
As Bristol suggested, the other major pressure group, the business community, similarly was not united in the methods it used or the goals it sought. This is easily demonstrated by examining the response of businessmen when Philippine independence or loans to Japan were discussed. The businessman who processed sugar in the Philippines felt retention of the islands was vital to his best interests; the Louisiana sugar miller and the Utah sugar beet farmer, on the other hand, felt Filipino freedom and its attendant tariff liability was good for the "little brown brothers," and even more so for themselves. Again, the American banker wanted to lend money to Japan for developments in Korea and Manchuria; the American manufacturer preferred to see those areas remain undeveloped and thus become markets for American steel products. To formulate and implement a policy in the Far East that would satisfy all these segments of American society was a Herculean task.
A final factor that has required special consideration by agencies devising policies for the Far East has been the level of political and economic development within the area. By the 1920's the government of Japan was highly centralized through its institutional developments and the nature of its constitution. Political parties had existed for many decades, and experimentation was going forward to make them politically responsible. China on the other hand was badly split, with a p4 central government that represented not the whole country but a few northern provinces. Though Peking was the seat of the central government, it was unable to speak diplomatically for the Manchurian provinces or the area south of the Yangtze River. Foreign gunboats still ascended the Yangtze for •a thousand miles to protect alien nationals, foreigners collected the country's customs and determined what rates should prevail, and foreign citizens were tried in foreign courts established in China. By 1900 Japan had thrown off these vestiges of humiliating subservience, and by 1905 had become firmly established as one of the Great Powers of the world. China had not.
There was a corresponding economic disparity. By the 1920's Japan was a modern industrial nation possessing fairly modern machinery and blessed with enough surplus population to make a cheap labor supply possible. Social and political institutions kept the workers docile and relatively unorganized. Possessing few natural resources for their industrial plant, the Japanese aggressively sought sources of cheap raw materials and outlets for their manufactured products. China — especially the area north of the Yangtze, including the Manchurian provinces — provided the solution. Compared with the Japanese, the Chinese were still in the handicraft stage. Their industrial concerns were largely foreign-owned and -managed, native capital being unavailable because of political chaos. Money that might have gone into industrial developments was hoarded from grasping tuchuns, who warred constantly among themselves for political control.5 Japan, therefore, was able to duplicate the role of the western nations in exploiting China, and by reason of propinquity to do so more efficiently.
Thus any policy of the United States in regard to China had necessarily to consider her more aggressive neighbor. Relations between Japan and the United States were conducted on terms of international equality — the same obviously could not be said for China. When America and Japan conferred on mutual problems, the chances for a satisfactory solution were good; however, when the two nations discussed p5 general Far Eastern matters, particularly those in which China was concerned, the Japanese could never admit equality of interest — their future was too closely tied to the mainland.6
In summation, American Far Eastern policy in the decade of the 1920's was a program complicated by the many conflicting interests it was designed to serve, and further tangled by the nature of the area with which it dealt. The policy itself was basically the fabrication of three agencies: the executive branch of the Government, the Congress, and organized pressure groups. Simply stated, this policy was the traditional one vis‑à‑vis China; a program of vacillation toward Japan, but with strong efforts made to create mutual good feeling; and a policy toward the Philippines that promised good government, indefinite territorial status, and recognition that they were expendable in Far Eastern power politics.
The policy of the United States toward China in the 1920's had three characteristics: it was designed to serve the American business community, it was a policy of friendship, and it did not involve the use of military force to any great extent. These points were not distinct and separate parts of a total policy but were overlapping. At times they were conflicting, at times they fell into disuse, and always they were subject to broad interpretation.
President A. Whitney Griswold of Yale University in the early pages of his study of the Far Eastern policy of the United States wrote that: "Its fundamental aim was commercial not political. Equal commercial opportunity for Americans; no territorial concessions for the p6 United States; a strong Eastern Asia to resist a designing Europe. . . ."7 At the end of his remarkably prescient study, Griswold reaffirmed his basic description of America's policy in China and the Far East but admitted mystification. America in the years to 1935 had achieved very little in the way of financial gain from its preferential policy toward China and had probably lost considerably owing to its treatment of Japan. He wondered why America had chosen such a policy.8 The answer to this question is not a rational one but deals to some extent with wishful thinking and the perpetuation of a myth.
The American attitude toward China in the 1920's was shaped by the magic statistic — 400,000,000 Chinese — and by the belief that the American industrial plant was turning out more than could be absorbed in the home market. What was required then was to guarantee that American businessmen and their products would have access to China's markets. General Leonard Wood, President Warren G. Harding's appointee as governor-general of the Philippines, voiced this belief when writing to the widow of an old friend: "Our people are being rapidly industrialized. We must have foreign markets and plenty of them. The four hundred and odd millions of people of China present the great trading area in the world. . . ." Writing to President Harding, Wood spoke even more cogently: "Again, our country is becoming so rapidly industrialized that foreign markets for our surplus output will be an imperative necessity. The greatest future trade area in the world is China. . . ."9 The Commander of p7 the South China Patrol, whose task was the protection of American interests in the South Seas, wrote to a friend, "If the Foreigner would forego a temporary selfish advantage, China with its four hundred and fifty million people would be the best market in the world for Foreign business interests. . . . There is lots of money to be made in China by Foreigners if they go about it properly. America is the favored nation."10 The genesis of this idea, like so many basic concepts of American foreign policy, has historical roots.
The expansionist propaganda drive of the late nineteenth century was effective enough to leave the United States with certain fixed attitudes. One of these has been called "the bogey of the surplus."11 It was widely advertised in business journals and magazines that the United States at the end of the nineteenth century was industrially mature. The nation was producing more than the home market could absorb, because of machine efficiency and a slowing down of the economy with the halt in western expansion. To make the picture even more desperate, it was held that foreign markets in Europe and Latin America might be closed. Thus businessmen reasoned that the urgency of the situation called for "an all‑out drive for overseas markets, because unless the country succeeded in adding substantially to its outlets abroad it would in time be swamped with an ever-growing surplus; the standard of living would decline; the social order would be disturbed; even revolution might break out. . . ."12 The p8 solution to this problem at the turn of the century was to be resolved by full exploitation of the China market.
The concept that China's markets were necessary for America's well-being continued to be accepted into the 1920's. The years between the administrations of Secretaries of State John Hay and Charles Evans Hughes saw no basic change in the strategy of the China policy. Such tactics as the abortive "Knox Neutralization Policy" of 1909, participation in financial consortia, nonrecognition of Japan's "Twenty‑one Demands of China," participation in the Siberian expedition, and the attempted settlement of the Shantung question between China and Japan were undertaken to preserve the Open Door and China's territorial integrity, both of which would serve importantly to preserve the China market. A scholar has pointed out recently that one cannot overlook the aspect of American idealism in this pattern of action, but commercial considerations are quite evident.13
In pursuing a policy of friendship toward China the United States adhered to a program of encouraging unification and the erection of a strong central government; yet great pains were taken to insure that the Chinese accomplish these goals without American interference. In August, 1923, suggestions were made to Secretary of State Hughes toward strengthening the program of the new Four-Power Consortium, but they received scant consideration.14 For the purpose of indicating what conditions really were, the President of the American Group of the Chinese consortium sent Hughes several letters received from the group's representative in China. One letter noted that "the Central Government has completely broken down. . . . It is my belief that there is not in China any power capable of bringing order out of this chaotic condition of affairs. . . . Unless one is prepared to see the country drift into anarchy rather than infringe its sovereignty one must sooner or later face the fact that a measure of p9 foreign intervention is necessary and wise. . . ."15 To this plea Hughes merely gave his customary polite acknowledgment. The next day Hughes wrote to the secretary of the Republican National Committee, George B. Lockwood, answering an inquiry whether Hughes was ". . . reversing our traditional policy of being the defender of China rather than a mere disinterested looker‑on while aggressions against China are undertaken by other powers." In his answer Hughes made a fairly clear and candid statement of the American position toward China at that time. He felt the Washington Conference had done much to free China of its foreign problems and had cleared the air between Japan and the United States.
The direct and indirect results of the conference were, in fact, such as afforded ground for hope that China might proceed without foreign interference or incumbrance, with the political evolution necessitated by the transition . . . from the imperial to the republican form of government. . . . The difficulty of the situation in the Far East, as you will perceive, lies in the weakness of the Chinese Government. We have done what we could to strengthen it and to give it the opportunity for development. But that development must of necessity take place within.16
The policy of the Coolidge administration toward China during the period of the most intensive internecine strife from 1925 to 1928 was, consistently, "hands off." When the civil war began in earnest again in the spring of 1925, the British and the Japanese asked the State Department whether the United States wanted to participate in an international attempt to control the scope of the fighting around Shanghai. Jacob Gould Schurman, the United States minister to China, suggested that America steer clear of any joint activity with the British and Japanese. He believed such participation would merely enhance the Japanese position and could only help one side in China. Acting on Schurman's advice, the department informed the British of its attitude on April 2, 1925. "Aside from the question of the doubtful efficacy of the course proposed, this Government cannot escape the p10 conviction that such an effort to influence by external pressure the course of Chinese domestic politics would almost certainly aggravate, and perhaps render critical, the present widespread anti-foreign sentiment among certain classes of the Chinese people. . . . This Government . . . regrets it cannot . . . adopt the course of action proposed in your note of March 27."17
This statement of April 2, 1925, became policy for the State Department under Secretary Frank B. Kellogg. While concerned about any endangerment of American lives or property in China, the United States would join no international expeditions to support the treaty system then extant. One writer has even concluded that Secretary Kellogg believed it was time that treaties relating to China be cast aside, and that a new liberalized treaty system be effected with that nation. In this attitude President Calvin Coolidge and his secretary of state were encouraged by missionary boards in the United States, the press, and the House of Representatives.18
By September, 1929, this policy of friendship for China had become doctrine for the Asiatic Fleet. Upon assuming command Admiral Charles V. McVay issued Asiatic Fleet General Order No. 3‑20, which noted that the American policy in China was the Open Door policy, nonintervention in internal Chinese affairs, maintenance of the territorial integrity of China, and traditional friendship for China. Fleet policy was to be protection of American lives, protection of American property, the promotion of American interests, and "the cultivation of friendly relations with the Chinese."19 The State Department undoubtedly concurred.
In contrast with the Far Eastern policy of the United States today, the China policy in the years 1900 to 1931 was a fairly simple affair. The heart of the policy was the protection of the China market p11 for American businessmen, and to some extent of the "soul market" for American missionaries. To achieve this policy it was necessary to maintain the Open Door, or the right of American businessmen to trade in China on equal terms with other foreign nations. Protecting the territorial integrity of China was a similar guarantee that segments of China's geographical area would not pass under foreign control and thus become colonialized. The traditional friendship between China and the United States was a by‑product of missionary zeal, but more importantly, it was a by‑product of America's insistence that the Chinese melon not be carved. Yet no administration felt that the policy could be supported by armed force.20 With the benefit of many years of hindsight, one of the chief architects of our China policy, Elihu Root, wrote, "it never entered the head of any President or Secretary of State or Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate or Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House that we would ever send forces to China to maintain the Open Door."21 In the eyes of a State Department historical adviser, sanctions for America's China policy were lacking because ". . . American interests in the Far East, while considerable, were not worth fighting for. If they could be conserved by agreement, well and good; if not, at least they were not worth the cost of preparedness to defend them."22
p12 The possession and defense of the Philippine Islands represented a second aspect of America's Far Eastern policy. At the time of their seizure, and through the years until the early 1930's, the islands were the embodiment of a commercial dream. As our policy toward China was built upon the magic statistic of 400,000,000 potential consumers and souls to be saved, so our policy toward the Philippines was built upon the premise that they would be an entrepôt in the Oriental trade, and that their inhabitants would likewise become consumers and Christian neophytes. Unforeseen by many, and eagerly accepted by others, was the hard fact that possession of those verdant isles meant a plunge into the morass of Far Eastern politics, and a part of this new responsibility would be the commitment to their defense.
With a few exceptions, it has been the studied conclusion of American diplomatic historians that the acquisition of the Philippine Islands was an accidental by‑product of the Spanish-American War.23 The islands were not unknown to American commercial interests or the Department of State, but a reading of the consular letters from Manila in the years before the war reveals a singularly apathetic attitude toward the Spanish Isles by both the American Government and business. It was by coincidence that the war with Spain occurred at the same time that the United States began to take an active interest in the possible partitioning of China, and as noted before, this interest in China was based upon commercial considerations; thus when Dewey's victory at Manila became known, the retention of the Philippines became a means of preserving our stake in the trade of the East. However, as clearly demonstrated by Professor J. W. Pratt, the missionary interests were also interested in keeping the Philippines for evangelization purposes. Though the islands were 90 per cent Roman Catholic, the various Protestant sects in the United States apparently p13 felt that an "American" Christianity had to be introduced to replace "Popish" influences. More important than introducing Protestantism into the Philippines was using the islands as a Christian outpost in spreading the gospel to China and Southeast Asia. Thus business and missionary interests had an eye to the future when advocating retention of the Philippines, and that future lay not in the archipelago but on the Asiatic mainland.24
Once acquired, the Philippines presented a defense problem of immense proportions, but all strategic difficulties were temporarily solved through a series of diplomatic settlements. Japanese aggressiveness in eastern Asia and irritation with the United States concerning the treatment of Japanese immigrants, coupled with the reluctance of Congress and the Navy Department to concentrate the American fleet in the Far East, resulted in the "Agreed Memorandum of 1905," the Root-Takahira Agreement of 1908, and the Lansing-Ishii Agreement of 1917.25 All three of these agreements, among other things, protected the American position in the Philippines and in varying degrees freed Japan to pursue a policy of pressure on the Asiatic mainland. Through such agreements the United States continued its control over the Philippines without solving the problem of their defense. Furthermore, a justification was provided for continued rejection of Philippine independence demands — the islands were secure from Japanese aggression; therefore, delay was reasonable until their true value could be determined.
p14 The twelve years of Republican administration, from 1921 to 1933, revealed a division of thought within the dominant party when Philippine problems were considered. Presidents Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and their official families consistently adhered to the policy of retaining the Philippines and re‑exerting American control over many governmental functions that had been "Filipinized" during the Francis B. Harrison regime (1913‑21). In Congress, on the other hand, there was a tendency to follow presidential leadership until 1924, but in the years thereafter pressures steadily built toward cutting the Philippine dependency adrift. The final revolt of Congress was evidenced by the resounding repassage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act over the President's veto in January, 1933. Throughout these years the Filipinos never ceased their drumfire demands for independence.26 Yet the question was never put to the democratic test in the Philippines, and in the end it was the American laborer, farmer, dairyman, and sugar-grower who resolved that the politicos were right and the President wrong. Finally, from the strategic viewpoint, the Philippine problem was portentous. Early in 1922 Governor-General Leonard Wood described the measures necessary for holding the Philippines, maintaining the Open Door, and preserving free trade and fair competition throughout the Pacific. He felt the United States must build adequate bases on the Pacific Coast at San Francisco and Puget Sound; the defenses of Oahu must be completed to make the island impregnable; a strongly fortified settlement must be created around Manila Bay; submarine p15 and air defenses should be built up considerably in the Philippines; an adequate fleet should be maintained in the Pacific; and a large American army garrisoned in the Philippines.27 Few of these measures were or could be undertaken after February, 1922, because of the Washington Conference treaty settlements; yet the Presidents continued to reject Filipino independence demands that would possibly have absolved them from responsibility for Philippine defense.
A search of the correspondence of General Leonard Wood helps to explain their position. Wood was a key figure in constructing the attitudes of the executive branch toward the Philippines. Among his many personal friends were the most important figures in the Republican party. That he was a leading candidate for the presidential nomination in 1920 suggests his basic political connections. As a Rough Rider, pacifier of the Philippines, and well-known general during World War I, he formed many friendships and built much grass-roots support. Likewise, he formed a reputation for stubbornness, high-handedness, single-mindedness, integrity, administrative ability, and inability to cooperate. Working independently he could be outstanding; but it is significant that General Pershing did not want him in France. Republican leaders preferred the more malleable Harding as a candidate, and President Harding preferred Wood in the Philippines rather than in his cabinet as Secretary of War.28
Once in office, President Harding selected General Wood and W. Cameron Forbes to visit the Philippines and determine whether the Philippine government was in a position to warrant its total separation from the United States. The selection of Wood for the task practically assured a strong report for retaining the islands and reversing Harrison policies. Two months before his appointment the General had written p16 a confidant, the editor of the Boston American: "I am not in accord with the policy of scuttling in the Philippines until the people are ready to govern themselves, and the people know my attitude."29 Accordingly, the Wood-Forbes Commission reported the Filipinos were unready for independence, and:
It is the general opinion among Filipinos, Americans and foreigners that the public services are now in many particulars relatively inefficient; that there has occurred a slowing down in the dispatch of business, and a distinct relapse toward the standards and administrative habits of former days. This is due in part to bad example, incompetent direction, to political infection of the services, and above all to lack of competent supervision and inspection.30
At the completion of his survey of the Philippines, Wood was appointed governor-general. He proceeded to remedy the defects noted in the Commission Report.
Through the years until Wood's death in 1927, the Malacañan Palace in Manila was the seat of a vigorous propaganda campaign to maintain American sovereignty over the Philippines. As governor-general of the islands, Wood was responsible to the President through the Secretary of War, whose Bureau of Insular Affairs was the home office for the Manila government. Wood never hesitated to write the various Presidents directly, and he was on the best of terms with Secretary of War John W. Weeks and his successor, Dwight F. Davis. With the long-time chief of the War Department's Bureau of Insular Affairs, Brigadier General Frank E. McIntyre, Wood was usually in agreement. Outside of the official cabinet Wood counted among his personal friends such illustrious names as former President Taft, Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge, Henry L. Stimson, W. C. Forbes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, p17 and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt; such writers as Isaac F. Marcosson of the Saturday Evening Post, Nicholas Roosevelt of the New York Times, James T. Williams, Jr., of the Boston American, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and Edward Price Bell; such a big‑Navy publicist as William Howard Gardiner; and such military men as Generals Frank R. McCoy, Douglas MacArthur, and James G. Harbord, who became president of R. C. A. upon retirement. Wood's vigorous correspondence was supplemented by the views of his subordinates and ex‑subordinates upon their return to the United States. Folder after folder of the Wood papers tell of a loyal legion of turn-of‑the‑century imperialists still beating the drum and still fighting for empire during a period of relative isolationism in America. They pitched their arguments for Philippine retention in terms of Far Eastern markets, moral obligations, maintenance of Far Eastern stability, and strategic needs, and generally concluded their pleas by arguing ad horrendum that Japan would probably seize the islands were the United States to free them.
From the egocentric viewpoint of a Philippines governor-general it was probably reasonable to expect that the Philippines would become a great economic asset to the United States. Wood certainly preached a gospel of unlimited opportunity and never departed from the principle that early independence would rob both the islands and the United States of the benefits of economic interdependence. He worried that American businessmen were not interested in the Philippines and complained that "the people at home have little or no appreciation as a whole of the far‑reaching importance of the Philippines in the development of United States commerce and progress."31 To remedy this lack of appreciation Wood urged writers p18 to present the facts to the American people. Response came in books by Nicholas Roosevelt and Katherine Mayo and in plenty of newsprint in various magazines and newspapers.32 Yet Wood could not guarantee the one thing that American investors wanted — assurance that the Philippines would be kept indefinitely.
President Coolidge did his part to assure American businessmen that the Government did not anticipate Philippine independence in the foreseeable future. He discouraged the annual Philippine independence missions, and in 1924 when the House Committee on Insular Affairs was considering an independence bill, the President made public his reply to Manuel Roxas, the tenor of which was that the Filipinos should be grateful for American protection and aid.33 In 1926 Coolidge sent Colonel Carmi Thompson, an Ohio politician, as a personal representative to the Philippines to investigate economic conditions in the islands. Thompson's report to Coolidge, which was later given wide circulation, sustained the President's convictions:
From the standpoint of American commercial interests in the Far East, it would be unwise to relinquish control of the Philippines at the present time. Our trade with the Orient has been expanding year by year and all indications point to an increased volume of business for the future. We need the Philippines as a commercial base, and the retention of the Philippines will otherwise be of great benefit to our Eastern situation.
Thompson had been provided with full news coverage during the trip, and his viewpoint was given further support by press predictions that the islands would be used to break the British and Dutch strangle hold on the world's rubber production.34
p19 An examination of the trade statistics for the decade 1921‑31 reveals the hollowness of the Thompson report and suggests that Wood and his followers were overoptimistic. American world trade was healthy, with an average positive dollar balance of approximately 800 millions annually. European trade provided a positive balance of 1,200 millions annually; but Asiatic trade had an annual negative balance of 500 millions, of which 128 millions were a part of the East Asiatic trade and 34 millions due to Philippine trade:35 American businessmen were selling heavily in Europe and buying heavily in the Far East. During the period that the United States had an average trade deficit with the Philippines of 34 millions annually, the islands were selling the United States 72.3 per cent of their exports, but buying just 58.7 per cent of their imports from the United States. There was no established upward trend in Philippine buying to cause the American exporter to become overenthusiastic. The Philippines never became the entrepôt for American Far Eastern trade as expected, because the islands were too far removed from the principal sea routes to Tokyo and Shanghai. Nothing was gained by transshipment from Manila, because the islands were American territory and imposts against Philippine products were the same as duties against American goods.36 One can only conclude that General Wood, his associates, and the Administration were infected with the same myth of the great Asiatic trade that caused the Polo brothers to journey to Cambaluc and Magellan to die on the Philippine isle of Cebu; yet it was the same myth that was basic not only to Philippine policy but to China policy as well.
p20 Since the promises of trade and profit were received with mixed feelings in business-conscious America, the group around General Wood usually appended a moral argument to its market quotations. Men like Bishop Charles A. Brent, the Episcopal leader in the Philippines, emphasized the necessity of remaining in the islands because the Filipinos needed the steadying hand of Christianity. He said publicly, "The people of the Philippines require our rule. We are not in the Philippines for our pleasure or profit. If we were it would be the most natural thing in the world to say that the game is not worth the candle . . . and leave the Philippines to go to perdition in their own way. But we cannot do that."37 Wood himself was quite conscious of the religious needs of the Filipinos and spoke of the connection between trade and Christianity in the Far East:
[The islands are] the base from which we must work for the Open Door and the maintenance of our influence in the Far East. It is also the center and spearhead of the great Christian effort. If we can build up here a strong well-trained, well-disciplined people who are Christians, we shall have established a most powerful instrumentality for the extension of Christianity in the Orient, and on its extension and the extension of what is best in western civilization we must depend for the true advance to higher deeds and a better life on the part of the Oriental people.38
A year later, and just a year before he became governor-general to replace Wood, Henry L. Stimson wrote, "I am against removing wholly our sovereignty now or at any time. I believe its retention to be equally necessary for their welfare and protection and for our ultimate trade relations to the Orient."39
Underlying the views of General Wood and his associates was the premise that the Filipino tao (peasant) did not really want independence. The General and the Administration in Washington felt that p21 the politicos like Manuel Roxas, Manuel Quezon, and Sergio Osmeña used the independence issue as a means of garnering votes for themselves. Men who visited the Philippines reported that in private conversations the party leaders admitted they were not genuinely interested in independence.40 Yet, when the Filipino legislature passed an act providing for the plebiscite of the people on the independence issue, Wood vetoed the bill, and Coolidge later vetoed it again when it was repassed by the Filipinos. In his message President Coolidge declared, "A plebiscite on the question of immediate independence would tend to divert the attention of the people towards the pursuit of mere political power rather than to the consideration of the essential steps necessary for the maintenance of a stable, prosperous, well-governed community."41 Working within this viewpoint, Henry L. Stimson in late 1926 came to the conclusion that a form of semidominion status would suit the Filipinos admirably, provided the United States would maintain the power of veto and inspection. He wrote to Wood that he had been able to sell his views to Root, Hughes, Taft, Coolidge, and p22 even Alfred E. Smith.42 Upon his return to the Philippines as governor-general, Stimson had a maximum of cooperation from Osmeña and Quezon; the latter told him that the Filipinos would accept dominion status were free trade advantages continued. To his old friend Elihu Root, Stimson confided: "It is a curious reversal of the current understanding of the Wood regime, that my chief and most loyal support should now be coming from the very political leaders who so viciously fought and vilified him! But it is so."43 Time, however, was running out for Stimson, and independence was closer than he or Quezon imagined.
The final argument used by General Wood to support his view that the United States should not scuttle the Philippines was that years of sullen relations with Japan caused Wood and many others to feel that the Philippines would become another Japanese prefecture or colony were the United States to grant them independence. He felt this likelihood was dangerous not only to America, but "Our withdrawal from the Philippines would probably be a cause for grave apprehension on the part of all Western nations with colonial possessions in the Far East. . . ." Wood summed up the problem when he wrote to Secretary of War Weeks:
. . . In their heart [the Filipinos] have a genuine fear of Japan, and in considering the Philippine problem we cannot disregard the Japanese position, interests and possible action. . . .
The natural resources of the Philippines supplement most of the shortages of those of Japan. We have unlimited iron, unlimited timber, great fisheries, vegetable oils without end, hemp, sugar, great possibility in cotton, enormous possibilities in tobacco, and we extend in a direction which, were the islands in Japanese hands, would give secure control over the great commercial routes from India, Europe and Australia. . . .
The ambitions of Japan from her standpoint are legitimate. She is an Asiatic power. These islands are inhabited by an Asiatic race.
p23 Wood did not feel that war was close at hand, but he felt that the economics of the situation and not sentimentality would govern the Japanese attitude.44
At a time when British policies were being questioned at every turn in Congress, General Wood was most solicitous of the empire's well-being in the Far East. His vigorous assertion in the Wood-Forbes report that the United States must remain and further uplift the Filipinos was applauded generously in the British press. An ex‑governor of the Punjab was grateful that America was turning its back on the dangerous doctrine of self-determination — "a doctrine which is sometimes exploited to cover moral cowardice and the shirking of responsibility." The London Times described the Filipino as incapable of self-rule as yet: "General Wood realized this, and to him are due the thanks not only of his own countrymen, but of the British people, for his emphatic assertion of the necessity for preserving the white man's power and the white man's prestige in the Pacific. . . ."45 Though Wood and his coterie were not consciously aping the British in their imperial methods, it is interesting that one of Wood's military aides wrote to a friend who was a member of Parliament:
General Wood has told me quite recently, that the United States is bound to hold the Philippines "indefinitely." . . .
The Philippine question cannot be safely treated as one of purely local and domestic concern, affecting only Filipino and American interests. It vitally concerns British interests in Australia, Singapore, and India; Dutch interests in the Netherlands East Indies; French interests in Indo-China. . . .
On the disposition of the Philippines hinges, I believe, the whole scheme of Christian civilization and Western culture and progress throughout the Orient. The United States has a huge stake in these p24 developments, and a tremendous responsibility in seeing them through. . . .46
And so it went through the years of the 1920's. The United States had to keep the Philippines because the Filipinos were incapable of governing themselves; they needed western-style Christianity to save them from perdition; they needed American manufactures to make them happy; they would fall prey to the Japanese or would be overrun by the Chinese shopkeepers; America owed it to the British, the French, the Dutch, and all other colonial Powers not to create new nationalistic urges in dependent territories; and finally, the Philippines were a foot in the Open Door, a means of preserving Chinese territorial integrity, and above all, a positive commitment in Far Eastern affairs. Yet the protection given this all‑important area was not a strong Asiatic fleet and a heavily garrisoned Luzon, but a diplomatic guarantee, the Four-Power Treaty of December 13, 1921, which solemnly promised that the signatory powers would "respect their rights in relation to their insular possessions and insular dominions in the region of the Pacific Ocean." And if a Power should become recalcitrant, then the Powers "shall invite the other high contracting parties to a joint conference to which the whole subject will be referred for consideration and adjustment."
Thus American policy toward the Philippines was anomalous. Men like Theodore Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood recognized the danger of retaining the islands in the face of an aggressive Japan; yet when faced with dependence only upon diplomatic guarantees, they preferred to hold the islands. When Woodrow Wilson had the power in Congress to cut the islands adrift, he hesitated until war was at hand and then turned to more urgent matters. Possibly General p25 Douglas MacArthur was correct when he evaluated the situation during the twenties:
The whole country is engrossed in the business of making money and spending it. Nothing else interests or attracts public attention. The great events of the Far East attract absolutely no audience here. The Philippine issue is probably of less interest now than ever before, and, as you know, the country was always indifferent to it.47
The American attitude toward China and the Philippines in the 1920's had a certain uniqueness to it. The nation was definitely interested in the Open Door and the territorial integrity of China, and it was committed to keeping the Philippines. Yet force was not to be applied in support of these Far Eastern commitments. When American lives were directly threatened, as at Nanking in the turbulent spring of 1927, a naval bombardment and ad hoc collective action would be used for protective purposes, but American troops would not cooperate with the garrisons of other countries to head off trouble or take punitive action. While the United States would undoubtedly have acted to defend the Philippines from any direct aggressions, the response would of necessity have been ineffective. The Asiatic Fleet was entirely too weak to do much more than show the flag and meet small-scale crises in Far East waters. Essentially, the United States was depending on the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922 to protect its China interests and on the Four-Power Treaty of 1921 to shield the Philippines. It is a bit ironical that Americans could place such faith in paper defenses for their Far Eastern commitments and at the same time so pointedly ignore that major "scrap of paper" designed to keep the peace of the world — the Covenant of the League of Nations.
1 Bristol to Lewis Heck, Manila, March 22, 1928, Mark L. Bristol Papers, Box 83, MLB 42‑28, Library of Congress Manuscripts Division. Hereafter, papers in the Library of Congress Manuscripts Division will be cited as LCMD.
2 See particularly Tyler Dennett, Americans in Eastern Asia (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922), pp555‑77; A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc., 1938), pp468‑71; T'ien‑yi Li, Woodrow Wilson's China Policy, 1913‑1917 (New York: University of Kansas City Press, 1952), pp5, 203‑4; John W. Masland, "Missionary Influence Upon American Far Eastern Policy," Pacific Historical Review, X (September, 1941), 279‑96.
3 C. F. Remer, Foreign Investments in China (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1933), pp302‑8; Dorothy Borg, American Policy and the Chinese Revolution 1925‑1928 (New York: American Institute of Pacific Relations and The Macmillan Company, 1947), pp68‑70.
4 Westel W. Willoughby, Foreign Rights and Interests in China, 2 vols. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1927), pp719‑21; Henry Kittredge Norton, China and the Powers (New York: The John Day Company, Inc., 1927), pp127‑30; Borg, American Policy, pp93‑94. Assistant Secretary of State Nelson T. Johnson, later Minister to China, corresponded regularly with A. L. Warnshuis, representing the Foreign Missions Conference of North America. Warnshuis noted that several foreign mission groups in the United States favored protecting American missionaries in China diplomatically, but not by the use of force or by recourse to any of the unequal treaties with the Chinese. A. L. Warnshuis to Johnson, New York, December 21, 1927, Nelson T. Johnson Papers, Vol. IV, LCMD.
5 The Legation in China to the Department of State, Peking, October 19, 1918, U. S., Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918 (Washington, 1930), pp112‑13. Hereafter cited as Foreign Relations. See also Remer, Foreign Investments in China, pp229‑36.
6 In a document presented to the League of Nations the Japanese stated their case simply:
The only, and at the same time the best, means for Japan to solve the problem of over-population, is to develope [sic] new industries with Chinese raw materials, and to export the manufactured articles to China. Japan's fate hangs upon the realisation or non‑realisation of this project. This indeed constitutes for her a question of life or death. Herein lies the reason why Japan attaches so much importance to the Chinese question, and especially the question of Manchuria and Mongolia.
Japan, Foreign Office, The Present Condition of China: With Reference to Circumstances Affecting International Relations and the Good Understanding Between Nations Upon Which Peace Depends, "Document A" (Printed July, 1932).
7 Griswold, Far Eastern Policy, p8.
8 Ibid., pp466‑71. Griswold's question has been re‑examined many times since 1938 and several times before. See Charles Callan Tansill, Back Door to War: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy 1933‑1941 (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1952), 690pp. In this volume Tansill concluded that the United States backed the wrong horse in its Far Eastern planning. A more thoughtful and temperate analysis of this situation is found in William L. Neumann's chapter, "Ambiguity and Ambivalence in Ideas of National Interest in Asia," in Isolation and Security, Alexander De Conde, ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1957), pp133‑58.
9 Wood to Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Baguio, August 29, 1922, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 162, LCMD; Leonard Wood to the President of the United States, Manila, November 29, 1922, U. S., Department of the Interior, File 364‑504A, National Archives. See also Herbert Feis, The Diplomacy of the Dollar, First Era 1919‑1932 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1950), pp4‑5.
10 Captain E. T. Constein to Vice Admiral Welles, Canton, August 4, 1925, Roger Welles Papers, Box 201, LCMD. It is interesting to note that the president of the American Chamber of Commence of Shanghai, when trying to encourage the State Department to pursue a firmer policy in China, wrote: "This Chamber has repeatedly emphasized the fact that America requires a future outlet for the rapidly increasing surplus products of her industries and that the welfare of the people of the United States demands that our Government do everything possible to retain and develop this great potential market in Asia. . . ." Bulletin of the American Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai, August, 1927, quoted in Borg, American Policy, p354.
11 Charles S. Campbell, Jr., Special Business Interests and the Open Door Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951), pp1‑9.
12 Ibid., p2. See also the contemporary works by Brooks Adams, America's Economic Supremacy (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1900), 222ppp, and The New Empire (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902), 243pp.
13 Li, Wilson's China Policy, pp203, 211‑12; Frederick V. Field, American Participation in the China Consortiums (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931), pp34‑36, 115‑17, 192‑242; Russell H. Fifield, Woodrow Wilson and the Far East; The Diplomacy of the Shantung Question (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1952), pp61‑62, 110; Griswold, Far Eastern Policy, pp153‑57, 174‑75.
14 Foreign Relations, 1923, II, 503‑9.
15 Thomas W. Lamont to Hughes, New York, August 1, 1923, Charles Evans Hughes Papers, Box 30, LCMD.
16 Charles E. Hughes to George B. Lockwood, Washington, August 2, 1923, U. S., State Department, File 711.94/57, National Archives. Hereafter cited as D/S . . . Archives.
17 Schurman to Kellogg, Peking, March 29, 1925, Foreign Relations, 1925, I, 603‑5; Kellogg to British Ambassador (Howard), ibid., 607‑9.
18 MacMurray to Kellogg, Peking, November 29, 1926, Foreign Relations, 1926, I, 651‑54, 662‑63. See also: Joseph G. Grew, Turbulent Era: A Diplomatic Record of Forty Years, 2 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1952), I, 689‑90; Borg, American Policy, pp68‑94, 242‑66, 419‑21; Wesley R. Fishel, The End of Extraterritoriality in China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1952), pp100‑8.
19 D/S, File 811.30 Asiatic Fleet/47, Shanghai, November 2, 1929, Archives.
20 In September, 1929, Admiral Mark L. Bristol, then commanding the Asiatic Fleet, issued the following instruction to his fleet concerning the use of force in China:
a. Don't use force unless you mean it. Don't bluff. A dignified evacuation is better than defeat.
b. If fired upon the ships are to return the fire just to silence it.
c. Protect American lives by evacuation.
d. Protect property but avoid killing on either side. It would be better to be indemnified later.
e. Avoid any possible creations of another Boxer situation.
f. U. S. forces have no concessions to protect except their part of the Shanghai concession, thus U. S. forces shall not be used to assist in holding foreign concessions. U. S. forces are not to operate under a unified command.
D/S File 811.30 Asiatic Fleet/39, Shanghai, September 6, 1929, Archives.
21 Elihu Root to Philip Jessup, July 6, 1931, quoted in Philip C. Jessup, Elihu Root, 2 vols. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938), II, 452.
22 Tyler Dennett, "The Open Door Policy as Intervention," The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science, 168 (July, 1933), 81.
23 Julius W. Pratt, Expansionists of 1898: The Acquisition of Hawaii and the Spanish Islands (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1936), pp252‑78; Garel A. Grunder and William E. Livezey, The Philippines and the United States (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951), pp27‑38. An opposite viewpoint can be obtained in the Communist-inspired interpretation of Victor Perlo in his American Imperialism (New York: International Publishers, 1952), chap. I, passim.
24 Pratt, Expansionists of 1898, pp273, 279‑315. See also John A. Garraty, Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1953), pp204‑5; Grunder and Livezey, Philippines, p28.
25 Tyler Dennett, Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1925), pp112‑15; Jessup, Elihu Root, II, 34‑43; Griswold, Far Eastern Policy, pp129, 214‑17. The best account of the "Japanese problem" and its many ramifications is to be found in Thomas A. Bailey, Theodore Roosevelt and the Japanese-American Crises (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1934), 353pp. See also Kikujiro Ishii, Diplomatic Commentaries, William R. Langdon, ed. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1936), pp111‑32; U. S., Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Lansing Papers, 1914‑1920, 2 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1940), II, 432‑53.
26 The principal challenge to the Administration position came in 1924 when H. R. 8856 was reported favorably from the House Committee on Insular Affairs. The bill provided for the immediate establishment of a commonwealth and for a 30‑year period of continued control by the United States, with a plebiscite at the end of the period to determine whether the Filipinos desired independence. General Frank McIntyre wrote to Governor-General Wood that "Dominant sentiment seems to be [the] desire to get rid of the Philippine Islands. Opposition to free admission of Philippine sugar, cigars and other products, has great weight in determining attitude of many. . . ." Frank E. McIntyre to Leonard Wood, March 11, 1924, quoted in Hermann Hagedorn, Leonard Wood: A Biography, 2 vols. (New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1931), II, 447‑48. See also Grayson L. Kirk, Philippine Independence (New York: Farrar, Rinehart, Inc., 1936), pp33‑54; Gerald E. Wheeler, "Republican Philippine Policy, 1921‑1933," Pacific Historical Review, XXVIII (November, 1959), 377‑90.
27 Wood to Captain J. M. Scammell, Manila, February 4, 1922, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 162, LCMD.
28 Without doubt the best biography of General Leonard Wood is that by Hermann Hagedorn. He and Wood were close personal friends and the biography was written from the rather voluminous Wood papers. See also Grunder and Livezey, Philippines, pp162‑83; Kirk, Philippine Independence, pp50‑54. Cross references for material on General Wood can be found in the Elihu Root, David Evans Hughes, W. Cameron Forbes, Calvin Coolidge, John J. Pershing, and Frank R. McCoy Papers in the Library of Congress Manuscripts Division, and in the Henry L. Stimson Papers at Yale University.
29 Wood to James T. Williams, Jr., Fort Sheridan, Illinois, January 25, 1921, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 158, LCMD. General Wood's attitude was shared by W. Cameron Forbes. In answer to a letter from Forbes, a former governor-general wrote: "The view you express that it is a piece of criminal folly to grant independence now seems to me incontestable. . . ." Luke E. Wright to Forbes, Memphis, February 9, 1921, Journal of W. C. Forbes (typescript), 2d Series, Vol. II (1921‑1929), 37‑38, LCMD.
30 Report of the Special Mission to the Philippines (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1921), 27pp.
31 Wood to Isaac F. Marcosson, Manila, May 16, 1922, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 161, LCMD. Wood's views were faithfully reiterated by his chief, the Secretary of War, when he wrote: "We have, as a people, utterly failed to take advantage of the commercial and financial opportunities offered us by the Philippines. . . . This probably is the most profitable field for the cultivation of sugar in the world. Americans have been given every opportunity therein. It is observed that they neither cultivate the sugar, nor mill it, nor do they get the brokerage profits thereon. . . . The lack of American participation in the tobacco and cigar industry is even more marked. . . ." John W. Weeks to Charles G. Washburn, November 15, 1923, U. S., Interior Department, File 364‑467, Archives.
32 Nicholas Roosevelt, The Philippines: A Treasure and a Problem (New York: Sears Publishing Company, 1927); The Restless Pacific (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928). A more recent work by Mr. Roosevelt gives some added highlights on the Philippines and General Wood: A Front Row Seat (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953); Katherine Mayo, The Isles of Fear (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc., 1925).
33 Coolidge to Manuel Roxas, Washington, February 21, 1924, Calvin Coolidge Papers, Box 400, Philippines: 1, LCMD.
34 "Report of Conditions in the Philippine Islands, Cleveland, December 4, 1926," Calvin Coolidge Papers, Box 3467‑88, Folder 3477, LCMD; Julius W. Pratt, America's Colonial Experiment (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1951), p300; "The Next Step in the Philippines," The Literary Digest, October 23, 1926, pp12‑13.
35 U. S., Department of Commerce, Foreign Commerce and Navigation of the United States, 1921‑1931, 11 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922‑1932), Table IV in all volumes.
36 Philip G. Wright, Trade and Trade Barriers in the Pacific (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1935), Table 221, p525; U. S., Department of State, "Foreign Economic Interests in the Far East," Memoranda for the American Delegates to the Conference on Limitation of Armament (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922), p31; U. S., Inter-departmental Committee on the Philippines, Report on Philippine-United States Trade Relations, 2 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1935), II, 288‑91.
37 Quoted in W. Cameron Forbes, The Philippine Islands, 2 vols. (New York and Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1928), II, 383‑84. See also memorandum of a conversation with Bishop Burney, Methodist bishop from China, Washington, September 8, 1924, Leland Harrison Papers, Box 46, LCMD.
38 Wood to Hermann Hagedorn, Manila, July 8, 1925, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 179, LCMD.
39 Henry L. Stimson to Wood, at sea, October 11, 1926, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 182, LCMD.
40 Secretary of War Weeks wrote to a friend: "As advised, we believe that the Philippine people desire to continue under the American flag and that those politically advice among the Filipinos desire a greater present degree of autonomy with complete autonomy at a relatively early day. . . ." John W. Weeks to Charles G. Washburn, Washington, November 15, 1923, U. S., Interior Department, File 364‑467, Archives.
The President wrote to the leader of the Philippine independence mission for 1924: "The extent to which the grievances which you suggest are shared by the Filipino people has been a subject of some disagreement. The American Government has information which justifies it in the confidence that a very large proportion at any rate, and possibly a majority of the substantial citizenry of the Islands, does not support the claim that there are grounds for serious grievance. . . ." Coolidge to Manuel Roxas, Washington, February 21, 1924, Calvin Coolidge Papers, Box 400, Philippines: 1, LCMD.
A Navy captain with years of Asiatic Fleet experience wrote to his brother: "The Philippines are an ungrateful child whose politicos will continue to agitate independence from the United States, but commercial independence is farthest from their desires. The protection they receive from our flag gives them more real independence than they can help to enjoy, were we to cast them aloose." Captain Adolphus Staton to Henry Staton, San Diego, March 19, 1930, Adolphus Staton Papers, Box 3, Folder 51, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.
41 Quoted in Kirk, Philippine Independence, p53.
42 Henry L. Stimson to Wood, New York, December 24, 1926, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 182, LCMD.
43 Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947), p147; H. L. Stimson to Root, Manila, November 24, 1928, Elihu Root Papers, Box 233, LCMD.
44 Wood to John W. Weeks, Manila, March 31, 1922, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 162, LCMD. Nine years later a similar view was quite current. In the spring of 1930 an American withdrawal from the Philippines was considered a threat to the naval stability established at the London Naval Conference. Nicholas Roosevelt, "Philippine Independence and Peace in the Pacific," Foreign Affairs (April, 1930), p409.
45 Sir Michael O'Dwyer, "Self-Government in the Philippines and in British India," The Living Age, May 6, 1922, pp331‑35; "Filipino Ire at Uncle Sam," The Literary Digest, October 28, 1922, p18.
46 Colonel Duckworth Ford ended his letter with the note, "It is unimportant that I have long held these views. But it may be momentous that General Wood has voiced them even informally. . . . Anglo-Saxonism must at all costs be maintained and developed in the Western Pacific, in the Far East, in India, so that if (or when) the next world war is fought out in the Pacific, Anglo-Saxonism will prevail. We Anglo-Saxons owe that much to the children of our great-grandchildren. We owe that much to humanity." (Copy) R. A. Duckworth Ford to Admiral Sir Guy Gaunt, K. C. M. G., M. P., Manila, August 2, 1925, in Leonard Wood Papers, Box 179, LCMD.
47 General Douglas MacArthur to Wood, Atlanta, June 30, 1925, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 177, LCMD.
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