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Chapter 29

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
A Short History of the United States Navy

George R. Clark et al.

published by
J. B. Lippincott Company,
Philadelphia & London 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p511  XXX
The Navy and American Foreign Policy

Isolation Ended

If the United States had an important part in the war, not less was her presence felt in the Peace Congress that met in Paris, January, 1919, to prepare the treaty that should be offered to the defeated Central Powers. President Wilson departed from all tradition by himself going as the head of the American commission, and though he was far from dominating the Congress he did succeed in writing into the treaty the world-famous document known as the Covenant of the League of Nations. The United States for many reasons has not become a member of the League, although in several of its activities, such as have the betterment of social and economic conditions for their aim, our country is actively coöperating. What is especially significant in this is that the American policy of isolation, adhered to for over a century, is ended. Although this country is not disposed to meddle in European politics, it is profoundly interested in the people of the various countries, as has been shown in innumerable ways since the World War.

America, "in getting back to normalcy" (to use a favorite expression of President Harding's), could not return quite to her old way of looking at things. During the war her economic position had changed. The money center of the world had moved from London to New York. The lavish expenditures connected with every phase of military operations had involved the spending of more than one million dollars an hour for the eighteen months we were fighting, and had left us with a national  p512 debt amounting to twenty-five billions; yet the total national wealth had greatly increased and savings banks showed how general was the individual prosperity. The United States had developed markets in countries where heretofore England, Germany, or Italy had been the ones chiefly interested. And our manufacturing plants had been enlarged by the war needs to the point where they must look to foreign markets or face large losses. Therefore aside from the humanitarian instinct, which was genuine, we had reason to be interested in the recovery of the war‑stricken nations and also in the welfare of others.

The navy similarly in a double service, humanitarian and commercial, has been actively engaged.

There was a stormy period in the Mediterranean before peace was to prevail. Since Rear-Admiral Mark L. Bristol was in command of our forces at Constantinople in August, 1919, when fighting supposedly was over, he was appointed High Commissioner of the United States — a position he filled with such general acceptance he has held it continuously since, now for eight years. His duties have been largely of a diplomatic character. In the early years of this service, having two cruisers and a detachment of destroyers under his command, he was of the greatest assistance to the Red Cross, the Near East Relief, the Food Administration (which rendered aid to starving Russian peasants), and to American commercial enterprises. His command rescued tens of thousands of fugitives fleeing before the Bolsheviks when Wrangel's offensive collapsed in Southern Russia;​a and it saved no less than 262,000 Greeks and Armenians, when the Greek army routed by the Turks fell back upon Smyrna, and the Christian population in that region was utterly panic stricken. So just and efficient was this naval diplomat's management of affairs that he obtained  p513 great influence with the Turks. At the treaty-making conference of Lausanne, 1923, Admiral Bristol was one of the American representatives; and when Turkey and the western powers were unable to agree, it was he who saved the conference from breaking up without result.

The Dawes Commission (1924) was evidence of America's interest in the rapprochement of France and Germany, aiming to save both those countries from economic ruin. Not without significance, however, at that time and since has been the stationing of a naval force in European waters; in the summer it visited ports in northern waters — English, French, Danish, etc.; and in the winter visited ports in the Mediterranean — Spanish, Italian, Greek, Algerian, Egyptian, etc. The duty of the vice-admiral commanding this squadron (at present made up of a light cruiser and destroyers) is, except in case of an emergency, largely diplomatic. His itinerary is made out long in advance and submitted to the State Department for approval. He not only visits the seaports, but often leaving his flagship goes inland to a national capital to represent his country at court or elsewhere. Many times it has happened that the presence of American officers and ships has served to safeguard American lives and property and has been stimulating to our commerce.

The Navy After the War

Following the Armistice and the treaty-making conference, there was no longer need of a navy expanded to such enormous proportions: it had reached a total in November, 1918, of nearly one‑half million men, about ten times as large as the navy of 1913. Reductions in personnel soon began, and by 1922 there remained only 86,000 enlisted men (the force authorized by Congress), and 20 per cent less than the 5700 officers required. A service that could expand so rapidly and be efficient, and  p514 return to the normal without disintegration shows unusual adaptability.

From the supreme test which war means our forces emerged with increased confidence. It was not merely because of the praise abroad and at home; it was rather because of the consciousness that in the emergency they had done the work, and even where material had been inadequate they had gone ahead, their initiative and resolution largely compensating for what was lacking in equipment.

A quickening of activity and interest was especially felt in the submarines and airships.

The experience of our submarines operating about the Azores and the British Isles showed that these little craft, miserably uncomfortable though they were, could keep at sea in all weathers. Also it emphasized the need of large modern submarines. Three "fleet" submarines were authorized in the early period of the war and three more during the later period. When the last of these had been completed in 1925, they constituted, with the ninety-three coastal submarines also authorized during the war, a force that compares favorably with that of other navies. The AL‑boats sent to Bantry Bay, 1918, were of about 450 gross tons, surface displacement, and had a maximum speed of fourteen knots; the fleet submarines of the V‑class are of 2164 tons and have a surface speed of twenty‑one knots; their cruising radius is 10,000 miles at eleven knots. As their name implies, they are designed to accompany the fleet; by reason of their speed they can keep up with fast battle­ships.

There is considerable official reticence regarding the submarine service, as its success is largely dependent on surprise. But the exploits of the aeroplane can hardly be other than blazoned in the sky. The naval advance in this field during the ten years following 1917 would in  p515 itself fill a volume. We shall attempt scarcely more than to enumerate the outstanding exploits.

It was the United States Navy that made the first flight across the Atlantic. In 1917‑1918 among the planes building were some Navy-Curtiss (NC) flying boats, of superior size and strength, being designed for war service off the French coast. The Armistice came about as the first was completed. But in May, 1919, three of these NC‑boats set out from Far Rockaway, Long Island, for Plymouth, England, their schedule calling for flights, first to Newfoundland, then to the Azores, then to Portugal, and then to England. Sixty destroyers were stationed at intervals between the continents to guide the boats on their course, and to render assistance if needed. Two of the flying boats, lost in the fog when approaching the Azores, alighted in the rough sea, and although their crews reached safety the planes were so damaged that their flight ended there. The NC‑4, Commander A. C. Read, made the harbor of Horta, in spite of the fog, and in two weeks more had completed without mishap the other jumps, making the whole trip from New York to England in less than seventy‑one flight hours.​b

In 1922‑1923 unusual circumstances provided a large number of naval vessels to be scrapped, among them a German dreadnought, several American pre‑dreadnoughts, and an American super-dreadnought that had been launched but not entirely completed. These the Government devoted to a series of tests made by the Aviation Service so that they might try their skill in landing bombs on or near the warships, and observe the destructive power of these agents against obsolete and modern types. The results though instructive were not altogether convincing. Certain bombs, it is true, were highly destructive, but though the ships were for the most part stationary targets, only a few bombs hit their mark.  p516 What would have resulted if the ships had been under way and had kept the airships at a safe altitude by their anti-aircraft guns was not at all certain.

The record of the NC‑4 was surpassed in 1924 when two U. S. Army planes made a flight around the world, 26,000 miles in 365 flight hours. The navy actively coöperated by sending cruisers and destroyers to various points, establishing bases, giving information about weather conditions, and standing by in case of emergency.

The navy had also become interested in the possibilities of the dirigible. In May, 1923, the Shenandoah was launched, 680 feet long, and soon had visited the more important cities of the northeast. In October of the next year she flew to the Pacific and back, crossing the Rockies twice and making a flight of 8100 miles without accident. During the same month the ZR‑3, 658 feet long, flew to New York from Germany (where she had been built for the United States), and on being rechristened the Los Angeles was taken into the navy. In September, 1925, the Shenandoah, after having flown 30,000 miles, came to a tragic end. She was caught in a violent squall, which twisted her about and finally tore her apart. The captain, Lieutenant-Commander Zachary Lansdowne, and thirteen of the crew in the stern, crashing to earth, lost their lives. The bow floating on, however, was safely loaded by the navigating officer; with him twenty-five of the ship's company with an army observer were saved.

At the time that the Shenandoah was making her ill‑fated trip, the airplane PN‑9 No. 1, Commander John Rodgers, was being searched for on the wide Pacific. She had left San Francisco for a flight of 2100 miles to Hawaii. Again destroyers and tenders were stationed at intervals along the route. All went well for 1700 miles, when the gasoline was exhausted and the air men entirely  p517 missed the tender from which they thought to refuel. So suddenly did their power give out that they did not have opportunity to radio a message informing the watchers of their position and plight. For nine days they drifted, or crept along under such kind of rig as they could extemporize. After thus cruising 400 miles they made the island of Kauai. When ten miles from its dangerous coast they were sighted by a patrolling submarine, which towed them in.​c

The last flight which we shall mention was that of Lieutenant-Commander Richard E. Byrd, U. S. Navy (Ret.), in 1926, from Kings Bay, Spitzbergen, to the North Pole. The fact that two other aeronautic expeditions were aiming that spring for the same goal and that the veteran Norwegian explorer Amundsen was in charge of one of them, also based on Kings Bay, gave additional excitement as of a race. It was at 12.30 A.M. on the ninth of May that Lieutenant-Commander Byrd with one companion rose from the ground and laid his course for the Pole. All went well until he was within an hour of it, when he detected an oil leak in the tank connected with the right-hand motor. The idea was suggested of landing on their skiis to make repairs. But Byrd was opposed to this, fearing that if they landed on the rough ice, they would never rise again. Next they considered turning back. Instead, Byrd decided to take the chances and push on to the Pole. This they flew over at 9.02 A.M., Greenwich time. After going a few miles beyond they circled about, gazing down on the great expanse of ribbed ice that stretched in every direction. After taking some still and motion pictures of the scene, they headed for Kings Bay again. Fortunately the oil, being of a heavy type, flowed slowly so that the motor connected with the leaking tank was still running smoothly as they returned to their base. They had made a total flight of 1545 statute  p518 miles. As Doctor Grosvenor, President of the National Geographic Society remarked, Peary in the conquest of the Pole was absent from civilization 400 days; Byrd left his friends in the morning and returned in the evening.​d

The most sweeping change in naval policy since the war consists in the maintenance of both an Atlantic and a Pacific Fleet. The importance of having a force in the Pacific had been recognized by Roosevelt, and he had sent the so‑called Battle Fleet to California and then around the world. But a division of the fleet at that time was not regarded with favor by naval strategists because of the weakness that would exist for either part that could not quickly be supported by the other. The stationing of a fleet on both coasts was made practicable, however, by the construction of the Panama Canal, long urged by Mahan, and not less important for unified naval protection than for the extension of commerce. The two fleets are now frequently merged into one for extensive maneuvers.

A marked trend in this period, closely related to naval policy, is to be found in the emphasis placed on the education of officers and enlisted men; the Naval War College, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Naval Academy, the special schools, the courses organized for reserve officers in selected universities, and the courses offered to enlisted men on board ship and at shore stations, have all taken on a new importance.

The American Merchant Marine

One of the lessons brought home by the war was that a merchant marine is an extremely important auxiliary to the navy. Our shipping during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth had suffered a sad decline. Although our foreign trade had enormously  p519 increased from 1880 to 1914, our vessels engaged in this had actually decreased. "One and one‑quarter million tons were registered for the foreign trade in 1880, while only a little over a million tons were so registered in 1914."​1 In the World War America had to have ships if she was going to do her part; besides, shipping then was profitable. With the gigantic shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, there was launched in 1919 over three and a half million tons. By this great effort we had that year a merchant marine second only to that of Great Britain and considerably larger than Germany's had ever been. What the United States had registered for foreign trade was nearly ten times what she had similarly registered, June 30, 1914.

We finally had a merchant marine, but when peace came and all the countries attempted to restore their old time carrying trade, our economists discovered that since production had long been decreased there were not more than two‑thirds of the cargoes to be transported; also that operating costs had increased threefold. This meant that ships sailed without full cargoes; as a result, freight rates, which had been towering, came down with a crash. The Shipping Board sought to sell its ships to American purchasers, but many companies, organized at this time to purchase or build steamships, were confronted with failure. In consequence the Shipping Board has been obliged to continue operating a considerable number of its ships, though the policy of the Government is that as opportunity offers they shall be transferred to private owner­ship.

The best statement of the national policy in regard to our shipping was that formulated by Congress in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920:

 p520  "That it is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and operated privately by citizens of the United States; and it is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine."

We still have a large merchant marine, but the part of it that is engaged in foreign trade is obliged to contend with unfavorable economic conditions such as proved a heavy handicap at the beginning of the century. In competition with the lower cost of building in foreign countries and still more the lower operating expenses when the ships sail under foreign flags, American mercantile companies find it hard to secure a return on their investment. An exception is found in the coast trade between American ports and the trade on the Great Lakes. By law, only American shipping may participate; so there is no competition.

Then how shall a way be found to maintain our foreign shipping, which is necessary for the extension of American commerce in distant countries and for the highly valued reserve that a merchant marine furnishes for the navy? The problem still awaits a solution.

The Washington Conference

Had the United States Navy completed the building program authorized and begun during the World War, she would have had by 1925 the strongest navy in the world.  p521 But in this competition there was the imposing of burdens which had been found so well nigh intolerable in Europe and which it was hoped the war had shown the folly of. Further, with the clash of interests in the Pacific there were all kinds of prophecies of war between the United States and Japan, in which England might become involved. Many who were more calm in their analysis, nevertheless, pointed out that we were entering upon the same kind of rivalry as had brought the conflict between the Allies and the Central Powers. It was to avoid all these evils, real and imaginary, that the United States invited the following powers to meet with her at a conference in Washington: the British Empire, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Japan, and China.

The conference opened on Armistice Day, 1921. Secretary Hughes, who presided, with a directness characteristic of America, at once his country's proposal before the delegates: it provided that no less than sixty‑six capital ships, completed or undergoing construction, in the navies of the five powers, they should scrap, and then take a ten‑year naval holiday. To make his proposal specific he proceeded to name the ships that each nation would sacrifice. Thus the tonnage of the United States and Great Britain as the plan was finally elaborated was not to exceed 525,000 each, of Japan 315,000, and of France and Italy 175,000 each. This would reduce their forces to the approximate ratios of 5: 5: 3: 1¾: 1¾. As one writer remarks of this proposal of Hughes, "He destroyed more British vessels in five minutes than the German navy had done in any battle of the war."2

However, the United States offered to scrap more of  p522 her force than would be required of all the others put together.​3 For a while Japan objected because of the position of inferiority assigned her, but finally assented when the United States agreed not to fortify further any of her possessions in the Orient. As Manila was inadequately fortified, and Guam and the Aleutian Islands not at all, this arrangement placed them, in case of war, virtually at the mercy of Japan. Naturally such an expression of confidence in Japan produced a favorable impression.

Capital ships were to be limited to 35,000 tons displacement and their guns to 16‑inch. Guns on other ships were to be limited to 8‑inch. Battle cruisers being classed as capital ships, those that the United States had laid down were to be scrapped — except two for which there was the stipulation that they should be converted into aircraft carriers.

Measures were also discussed for the limitation of other types of warships, especially the submarine. But in this little progress was made save that no cruisers beyond 10,000 tons were to be built, and the size of aircraft carriers was restricted.

This agreement, known as the Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament was later ratified by the five powers concerned, and is to continue until the end of 1936, after which it may terminate when any of the powers has given two years' notice.

Of not less significance in fostering peace was a second  p523 compact between the United States, the British Empire, France, and Japan, known as the Four-Power Treaty, in which they covenanted each to respect the others' rights in their insular possessions in the Pacific, and agreed further that, if there should arise a question concerning them which could not be settled by diplomacy, they should invite the four powers to a conference and refer the question to them for consideration and adjustment.

Also of great importance to the United States was the Nine-Power Treaty relating to China — which the conference framed and which was later ratified. In this the powers agreed "to respect the sovereignty, the independence, and the territorial and administrative integrity of China;" also to apply "more effectually the principle of the Open Door or equality of opportunity in China for the trade and industry of all nations."​4 Thus England gave up Wei‑Hai‑Wei and Japan agreed to yield Shantung if China would reimburse her for what she had spent on its railways.

Undeniably the United States had made this conference a success by coming forward and, without pressure, offering such large concessions. Many people grieved for the battle­ships and battle cruisers that we thus surrendered, and others were indignant that we had denied ourselves the means of protecting our possessions in the East. But, as certain ones who took the opposite view pointed out, by this conference the two‑power treaty between Great Britain and Japan was ended; suspicion between the United States and Japan was at least for the time being largely removed; and the principle of the Open Door in China was accepted by nine of the great  p524 nations. The price was large, but the return, it is hoped, will be commensurate.

The Navy in the Orient

The history of China during the last forty years is increasingly complex, on account of the politics injected by the western powers and the quick changes in the Chinese themselves.

That China is a part now of the modern world is shown by the fact that the unrest and unsettled conditions which, with Russia as a nucleus, spread through all Europe, touching America and gaining a foothold in Japan and the Philippines, should have gripped eastern China with a terrific intensity. Chinese students to the number of hundreds of thousands have become tremendously interested in politics and they are closely following the affairs of western nations. Merchants have developed a new solidarity and are uniting in chambers of commerce. There has been an enormous increase in the number of newspapers, magazines, and periodicals of all kinds, and some of them are exercising sane and constructive leader­ship.​5 A single spoken as well as written language is being taught in private schools throughout the country.​6 Young men are showing a disposition to arrange their own marriages, being guided by love instead of allowing their parents to negotiate the affair. This radical tendency has shocked conservative parents and implies a wide departure from age‑old tradition. Millions imbued with an idea of nationalism have resented the slowness of the powers in reforming the tariff (to which the powers had pledged themselves in one of the treaties drawn up at the  p525 Washington Conference); they have been an easy prey for the Soviet emissaries busily working among them; and they have openly attacked the exploitation of China by Japan and the western powers.

What the outcome may be is uncertain; how far it has extended into central and western China is a matter of conjecture; but it seems to be scarcely less than revolution for the people whom it has affected.

In consequence banditry has been widespread, and the most important provinces have all suffered from spasmodic outbreaks, at times rising to the proportions of civil war.

The United States might withdraw but this would plunge the people deeper in misery, and as other powers would not follow, China would become indeed a prey. Since she has great fertility of soil, rich mineral and coal resources, and a vast population inured to labor, there are untold possibilities in China.

If the United States does not withdraw there is work for her navy in carrying out the traditional policy, lately reaffirmed in the Nine-Power Treaty.

The navy has ever been active in humanitarian service. Thus when Japan in 1923 was visited with a destructive earthquake, an American destroyer division rushed hospital supplies and every possible relief to Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kobe. When Chinese forces in their foolish fighting were about to shell a large and populous city, the commander of an American gunboat on the Yangtze brought the leaders of the opposing forces together under a truce, and prevented the disaster.​7 Many times on the occasion of famine or floods the navy has given aid.

The Yangtze Patrol has received especial attention of late, and is so important that in 1921 a flag-officer was  p526 given command of it.​8 It is based on Hankow, 700 miles from the mouth of the Yangtze. This great river, navigable for 1750 miles, floats about 59 per cent of China's commerce, and reaches over one‑half of the population of 159,000,000 included in the provinces bordering upon it. When one considers that in 1920 the United States exported to China merchandise to the extent of $119,000,000 and imported $227,000,000, and that at least one‑half of this was handled via the Yangtze, one will realize how important are the little American gunboats that patrol up and down its long course.9

But what of the Nationalist uprising of the spring of 1927 that in the brief interval since the preceding pages were written, has spread so swiftly? It is difficult to appraise the events of yesterday and still more to announce those of to‑morrow. Merchants and missionaries have been obliged to flee from the provinces bordering on the Yangtze and also from the country to the south and to the north. It is to be noted, however, that when they have come within the reach of American gunboats and destroyers safety has been assured. The outlook for American interests in China is uncertain, but it is already plain that the presence of our naval forces and marines, with those of the European powers, tends to exert a stabilizing influence and has saved thousands of lives.

The Navy and Latin America

Although as early as colonial times the West Indies attracted American traders by rum, molasses, and slaves, not until after the Spanish-American War was Latin  p527 America, with all her richness, known to more than a small proportion of our people. The departure of Spain from Cuba and Porto Rico was the signal for a rush of investors to those islands. To a lesser degree the same has in later years been going on in neighboring islands; the guarantee of good order resulting from a treaty and temporary occupation by the United States has greatly stimulated confidence in the countries concerned.10

An area two and three‑fifths times that of the United States has less than two‑thirds her population. Lying much of it in the tropics and being unusually fertile, it promises to become one of the greatest food granaries in the world. Trade of Latin America with the United States has increased enormously so that now it absorbs 18.5 per cent of the total yearly exports of this country. During the last twenty years, people of the United States have invested in Latin America no less than $4,210,000,000.11

In our relations with Latin America three large policies have been followed, and they have governed the operations of the Department of the Navy as well as of State:

1. Monroe Doctrine. — "The Americas are controlled politically by Americans only — Americans north and south in the large meaning of the term."

2. Caribbean Policy. — "The policing of that important region, keeping the peace, encouraging the maintenance of order, and seeking constructively to build up higher standards in those matters that make national life worth while."

3. Pan‑Americanism. — "The fraternal relation­ship  p528 of all American nations from Cape Horn to the North Pole."12

All of these have been greatly stimulated by the construction of the Panama Canal. Indeed no other one event has had so great an influence in bringing the United States into close relations with Latin America. The Canal has developed a great trade route for us through the Caribbean, which now has become more important than it has been at any time since the palmy days of the Spanish Empire. This sea is second only to the Mediterranean, with which in position it closely corresponds. The Canal is the center of traffic in the American tropics, and in connection with safeguarding it the United States is vitally interested in the welfare of the islands and the countries of Central and northern South America. Thus their health and sanitation have a new significance, and the avoidance of troubles that might invite foreign occupation is essential. European powers are still interested, and competition for their markets is likely to become keener and keener.​13 Furthermore, Washington recognizes a certain responsibility in protecting American commercial enterprise which, following the trade route, has entered these countries.

We will consider how these three policies have been applied in the twentieth century.

The Monroe Doctrine only once during this period has been more than remotely threatened. This was in 1902, when Germany making an occasion out of the financial obligations of a bad debtor was about to resort to military occupation in Venezuela. Roosevelt promptly informed the Kaiser through the German ambassador that the whole American Atlantic Fleet under Admiral Dewey would sail for Venezuela to prevent the landing  p529 of his forces unless Germany agreed within forty-eight hours to arbitrate the dispute over the debts — the course already urged by our State Department. The Kaiser thereupon offered to arbitrate, and Roosevelt tactfully praised him for his peaceful intentions.14

Policing the Caribbean has involved us in many perplexities. Regularly, some factions in the country concerned have felt that their independence was not respected, and other countries have regarded us with suspicion. The Dominican Republic, becoming more and more involved financially and feeling the pressure of several leading European powers, finally in 1905 turned to the United States for assistance. Roosevelt at once drew up a "proto­col" by which the United States should send an officer to take charge of their customs. This officer administering their finances was to reserve 55 per cent for the funding of the public debt and turn over to the people 45 per cent for their government. When the United States Senate regarded this as a treaty and refused to ratify it, the determined President still held to the arrangement, calling it a modus vivendi. Within two years the public debt had been considerably diminished, and the Dominican government, profiting from honesty and stability in its finances, had more money for public purposes than ever before. Then the Senate, persuaded of the practicability of the plan, sanctioned it. All went well until a revolution was imminent, when the United States to carry out the provision for preventing the customs houses from being looted and the finances wrecked landed blue jackets and marines (1916). The Dominican government, such as there was, objecting to this, there followed a military administration by Captain Harry  p530 S. Knapp, U. S. Navy, which continued under him and others for eight years. It brought progress such as the Dominicans had never known before. It built 500 miles of macadamized national highways, modernized the port of Santo Domingo and improved others, taught sanitation, constructed hospitals, established schools and provided means of securing educated teachers (increasing within four years the enrolment of school children from 18,000 to over 100,000), encouraged industries of all kinds, and finally led the way to the election and placing in power of a native government.​15 When this had been accomplished, the American troops were withdrawn (1924). The financial supervision still continues.

What happened in the Dominican Republic has its counterpart in Haiti, the western end of the island. In 1915 internal affairs in that country were such that European intervention for some time had been imminent. The president after having murdered over 100 political prisoners was himself put to death in a shocking manner before the French legation, where he had fled for refuge. To rescue the country from chaos, Rear-Admiral Caperton landed at Port au Prince with a force of seamen and marines. A new president on being elected coöperated with the United States in the establishing of peace. He negotiated a treaty, ratified in 1916, that makes that country for twenty years a political and fiscal protectorate of the United States.​16 Although he organized a military government he was quick to coöperate with the conventional government. As soon as conditions warranted it, more and more authority was given to the  p531 latter, until now the marines are concentrated at two points — Port au Prince and Cape Haytien, where they are available to protect the government and to insure the continuance of the financial supervision.

In Nicaragua the United States similarly landed marines at a time of revolution to protect important American interests. In 1916 there was concluded the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, according to which in return for $3,000,000 Nicaragua gave to the United States the right to the San Juan River as a canal route and permission for establishing a naval base in the Gulf of Fonseca to protect the western end of the canal when constructed. Conditions in Nicaragua have not been stable and a guard of marines has been kept at the capital, Managua, and a warship at Corinto, almost continuously since 1912.

In attempting to adhere to her third policy, Pan‑Americanism, the United States has not had an easy course. The Central American Union (comprising the five republics of Central America) our country has held to with some resolution, but revolutions coming often break its members apart. There is no railway running the length of Central America and communications are for the most part lacking.17

Various nations have at times questioned the motives of the United States in assuming responsibility for the peace and good order of the Caribbean. There is always a liability connected with such a rôle, and what other government in the western hemisphere could or would look out for the small countries when involved in difficulties among their own people or with the strong powers of Europe?

Some other method may in time be found, but at  p532 present it would seem that the United States must keep the Caribbean in order, or the Monroe Doctrine goes by the board and the islands and Central American republics are open for exploitation.18

To return, however, to Pan‑Americanism, the United States has persistently advocated the principle, both in Washington and elsewhere contributing generously to its work. In recent years our country has coöperated with Brazil and Peru by sending a naval mission to each, not to urge those countries to build more ships, but to show them the highest standards of naval efficiency and to point the way towards getting the most from what they have. Perhaps our fleets in the future may visit more often the ports of Argentine, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.  p533 Where our warships have carried the flag, respect for our government has followed, American commerce has been stimulated, and new bonds of friendship have been cemented. The officers of our navy have been guided by the traditions of the service, and, though not themselves formulating American policy, have rendered indispensable service in intelligently interpreting it and humanely carrying it out.

The Authors' Notes:

1 Herrick, History of Commerce and Industry, p537.

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2 Adams, A History of the Foreign Policy of the United States, p420.

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3 The total tonnage of new capital ships to be scrapped (in various stages of completion, but not including paper programs) was as follows: United States 618,000 tons; Great Britain 172,000 tons; Japan 289,100 tons. 67th Congress, 2d Session: Senate Documents, vol. X, p797.

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4 For the text of these treaties, see 67th Congress, 2d Session: Senate Documents, vol. X.

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5 Article in Peking Leader, quoted in the Living Age, February 15, 1927.

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6 Ibid.

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7 Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1923, p15.

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8 Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1922, p5.

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9 Ibid.

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10 Jones, Caribbean Interests of the United States, p11.

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11 Barreda, "Latin America's Opposition to the New Monroeism," Current History, vol. XXV, p810.

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12 Dealey, Foreign Policies of the United States, p360.

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13 Jones, Caribbean Interests of the United States, p7.

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14 Adams, A History of the Foreign Policy of the United States, p292.

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15 See report of military governor Admiral Thomas Snowden, included in the Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1920, pp321‑342.

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16 Latane, The United States and Latin America, p289.

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17 Adams, A History of the Foreign Policy of the United States, p305.

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18 The following solution, remote though its realization may appear, breathes a lofty idealism:

"In the great movement for world peace, the special duty of the United States would therefore seem to be this most difficult, though inspiring, task of helping to bring into harmony the Pan‑American nations. If we labor whole-heartedly to foster like conceptions of rights and duties, and identicº economic interests and sympathies, then may we decide in common those large questions of mutual concern which are now left to the separate diplomatic negotiations and agreements of the several American nations. Then may we lay the solid foundations of unity, on the sound basis of law. Then may we look forward with justifiable optimism to the speedy establishment of an American International Supreme Court of Justice, maintained by an adequate sanction and thus worthy of all respect. But these magnificent projects will not be accomplished merely through a realization of their desirability or of their feasibility. 'The substitution of law for war' is a painfully slow process. It is to be done by 'doing the work that's nearest,' and the 'work that's nearest' for us is the splendid task of converting Pan‑American Union into Pan‑American Unity, based on positive law and true justice." Brown, International Realities, pp172, 173.

Thayer's Notes:

a The collapse of Wrangel's offensive occurred at the Siege of Perekop, on the isthmus by the same name connecting Crimea and Ukraine, neither region being Russia. As often in the 19c and the first half of the 20c, "Southern Russia" is the Tsarist and Soviet Russian name — uncritically adopted by Western writers — for Ukraine.

b The flight is covered in detail in a chapter of Turnbull & Lord's History of United States Naval Aviation: "The Navy Flies the Atlantic"; in some detail also in Alden & Earle, Makers of Naval Tradition, pp339‑343, which includes a photograph.

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c A detailed official account of the flight was written in 1945 by the Aviation History Unit of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air): it is onsite.

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d There's a good deal of uncertainty and controversy today as to whether Byrd actually did fly over the pole. Since this chapter was written, his diary has become available, in which erased calculations, together with other controverted evidence, suggest that he did not, but did in fact turn back because of the oil leak mentioned here.

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