Short URL for this page:
"On the 1st of May, 1898, a gun was fired in the bay of Manila and, in response, the skirmish line crossed the Pacific, still pushing the frontier before it." A usually grim novelist, Frank Norris in untypical star-spangled prose, celebrating Dewey's victory, typified the mood of 1898 — Mahan's "great year." A great year it was, both for a spread-eagled pride in "imperialism" and for the Atlantic System. While the United States Navy swept Spain from the East and West Indies, gaining strategic footholds in both Indies for America, England moved to the side of this country, joining diplomatic forces against the pro‑Spanish Powers of the European continent.
The Atlantic concert thus formed, fulfilling the dream of Jefferson, his Virginia successors, and Bolivar, gratified the expansionist party in the United States. Captain Mahan, hailing the British Empire as "our natural, though not our formal ally," rejoiced in a letter to Admiral Sir Bouverie Clark that the English-speaking Powers were following "Dizzy's [Disraeli's] road to imperial democracy." Henry Adams, harking back to Jefferson, supposed that England was at last entering the "American system," and Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, the Indiana laureate of empire, saluted "this conquering race . . . the Anglo-Saxon peoples' league of God," which, as he saw it, stood ready to divide the backward regions of the earth in the name of progress and universal peace.
To Mr. Dooley it seemed that "ye could waltz to" Beveridge's rhapsody, but America was marching, not waltzing, to such music. The end of the century was at hand, men's thoughts quickened into epochal idioms, and the Americans, p69 as Adams noted, were not content to wait for the fin de siècle: "whether consciously or not, the new American had turned his back on the nineteenth century before he was done with it." Bismarck, born three months before Waterloo, Gladstone, and Bayard likewise failed to wait out the century, dying in 1898; the German Chancellor taking occasion before his end to stigmatize as "disgraceful" America's war on Spain.
In that war destiny outran expectations. Who had suspected that the remnants of empire imposed on the Americas by Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella, by Cortez and Pizarro, would be so poorly, if gallantly, defended? Certainly not the Kaiser, who gaily prophesied that the pure-blooded "hidalgo [would] cut Brother Jonathan to pieces," nor Tirpitz, predicting that the Yankee fleet, if it did not run, would be sunk by the Spaniards. The Germans were, as usual and characteristically, underrating the prowess of the English-speaking Powers. Even the friendly English thought the Spaniards would put up a better fight. In the Hong Kong club, before that May morning at Manila English officers offered Dewey's men good odds that they wouldn't survive the Spanish mines, the new Krupp guns at Corregidor in the mouth of the harbor, and the shore batteries in sufficient force to get at Montojo's squadron.
The "comic-opera war" did not appear so in advance. Yet it lasted barely three months. The embattled Americans, inflamed by the sinking of the Maine and the cries of the Cuban insurrectos (under arms since 1895), declared war on April 25, 1898. Within a week Dewey had taken Manila. The destruction of Admiral Cervera's fleet off Santiago de Cuba in the first week of July removed the Spanish threat from the Atlantic. With the fall of Santiago on July 17 the war virtually came to an end, although a truce would not be signed until August 12. Manila was occupied August 13, and on the same day the American flag flew over Cuba (to be a protectorate, then a republic), Puerto Rico, and the Philippines — all taken from Spain. Meanwhile Hawaii had been independently annexed.
p70 There was ground for boastful rhetoric. But to the soldiers home from Cuba, marching to the work beat of "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," to the press, talking of America's humanitarian role and of imperial destiny, the motives and implications of 1898 were not crystal-clear. The expansionists of the Mahan school understood, however, that the United States had not merely been flexing its muscles, succoring the Cubans, or driving circuitously for markets. They saw in the war a move the enlargement of our strategical resources. Theodore Roosevelt rejoiced that another step had been taken "toward completely freeing America from European domination." The "expulsion of Spain from this continent" gratified Cabot Lodge, justifying and extending the evacuation order to British sea power served by Olney in 1895 and obligingly acknowledged by Lord Salisbury in 1896. Lodge pointed out that Cuba lay athwart the "line to the Isthmus." Mahan saw the reduction of Spain in Cuba as a momentous advance toward making the Caribbean unmistakably "mare nostrum."
To Mahan, Hawaii was a needful outpost, and although the Philippines made him catch his breath (he called their occupation "history in embryo"), on second thought he was willing for the United States to "share the tutelage of Asia" from its own advanced post. For the Philippines were more than a distant archipelago containing 7,000,000 of William Howard Taft's "little brown brothers," Christianized Malaysians, Mohammedan Sulus, and savage mountain tribes. The chain of islands flanked the South China Sea. At Manila the United States now had a potential stronghold commanding the sea route from Japan, Siberia, Manchuria, North China, and Central China to the Straits, the East Indies, and Europe by way of Suez. With the steppingstones of Hawaii, Guam, Midway, and Wake (intermediate bases that seemed adequate before air power and the submarine), and the over-reaching Aleutians, this country, naval experts were not slow to observe, might restrain Japan to the seaward. Nor were the Japanese remiss in their own observations on that point.
Nearer home, Cuba, geographically a stopper in the bottle p71 of the Gulf of Mexico, had been the object of American desire since 1809, when the acquisition of that island became "Mr. Jefferson's hobby" just as he was leaving the White House. In the long view, the United States acted not precipitately but belatedly in striking the Spanish claims from Cuba. Although Madison renounced "Mr. Jefferson's new idea," sending word to that effect through Albert Gallatin to Napoleon's Minister Turreau, who was interested in the Spanish West Indies, American statesmen in each generation thereafter followed Jefferson rather than Madison.
Cuba alone of the important Spanish holdings in this hemisphere had remained loyal to Spain during the revolutionary cycle of the early nineteenth century. Beginning in 1868, however, the islanders had fought a ten‑year war for independence. From this struggle the United States, spent by the Civil War and lacking the naval power to contest with Spain, remained aloof, disappointing liberal, antimonarchical elements in this country and abroad. The great Italian republican Mazzini represented this sentiment when he confessed himself "profoundly saddened" that the United States, "this child that has become a veritable giant amongst the nations," declined its "providential mission" of freeing the Cubans from their European yoke. It was not until 1898, when the battleship fleet inaugurated in 1890 had become more than a match for Spain, that the "great republic of the West" could fulfill Mazzini's hopes.
The principal value of Cuba to the United States, as of Hawaii also, was strategic. Both Cuba and Hawaii already lay within the American economic system. Economically, closer ties with the mainland were more advantageous to the islands than to this country. But Guantánamo in Cuba and Hawaii's various bases immeasurably strengthened the American system of defense.
Those who account for the 1898 excursion into "imperialism" by reference only to economics and psychology, ignoring the factor of sea power and strategy, find themselves at a loss to explain its brevity. The sudden burst of expansionist force subsided almost as rapidly as it had flared. Once this country p72 had a Canal Zone and had made an unsuccessful bid for the Danish West Indies, the military "imperialism" of 1898 was at an end. The reason, no doubt, was that we had no further need for strategical expansion and no national policy urged us toward a colonial empire on the pattern of the British or the French. Great Britain gradually retired in force from our waters. The only other Power having possessions in the Caribbean was France,a and these became neutralized, as far as we were concerned, early in the twentieth century when the Anglo-French Entente attached that country to the Atlantic System. Only Germany remained, as we shall discover, in a position of threat toward our security to the south. Until the First World War the United States was to watch Germany's moves in the Caribbean with hawklike vigilance, notifying Berlin from time to time with some asperity that we would fight any encroachments on this side of the Atlantic.
In the light of Mahan's sea‑power interpretations, the "imperialism" of the period was strictly strategic. The events of 1898, equally with those of 1895‑96, seem at bottom to have been motivated chiefly by a desire to supplement the Monroe Doctrine with a policy of hegemony in the Caribbean, a policy calculated to promote national security by ridding the American seas of possible military rivals and establishing there our own strongholds. In this expansion the Republican party took leadership.
The most active and intelligent fabricators of Republican policy in those years may be called in evidence on this point along with the Republican platform of 1896, which demanded the "eventual withdrawal of the European powers from this hemisphere and the ultimate union of all English-speaking parts of the Continent," the emancipation of Cuba, and the annexation of Hawaii. In Europe the Republican plank was taken at face value as a forecast of national policy. The strategical interpretation also explains the insistence on military intervention in Cuba. It was not enough, from our point of view, to have Cuba freed by Spain. American power requirements dictated that this country take a direct stand p73 in order to obtain a naval foothold and acquire influence sufficient to check the penetration of any other Power.
Infused through the military happenings of 1898 were diplomatic strands that formed a pattern testifying unmistakably to English-speaking solidarity. The United States, fighting its first war for overseas objectives, found itself friendless on the Continent. An indefatigable Spanish Foreign Secretary, Carlos O'Donnell y Abreu, Duke of Tetuan, activated, as he said, by the threatening Republican platform, undertook to revive the Holy Alliance with the support of Francis Joseph, the French Government, and the Kaiser. The Duke of Tetuan predicated his league on what he supposed to be a fraternal desire by the European monarchs to bolster the Spanish throne and check the indicated drive of the United States on colonies in America. It will be noted that the aims of Tetuan approximated those of Prince Metternich after Waterloo.
The British, in opposition to the unconcealed pro‑Spanish sympathies of Victoria, stanchly upheld the United States. A benevolent neutral, Britain by her course aided American interests at Madrid and Port Said, at London and Suez, at Washington, Ottawa, Hong Kong, and Manila, earning the reproaches of Maria Christina, the Spanish Queen Regent (Victoria's "poor thing") and convincing European chancelleries that the English-speaking Powers were bound in formal alliance.
The first fruits of an Atlantic System, outlined only two years earlier, brought to the United States the comforting protection of its rear, foreshadowing the like comfort the British would derive from the same unwritten understanding in 1914 and 1939. Great Britain therewith established a precedent of Anglo-Saxon solidarity in the presence of a third party that has not since been violated. Four years before Manila and Santiago, Mahan uttered this prophecy:
"Let each nation [England and America] be educated to realize the length and breadth of its own interest in the sea; when that is done the identity of these interests will become apparent."
p74 Once America had returned to the sea, said Mahan, this Anglo-Saxon identity of interest would be "firmly" established in "men's minds." Thereupon, he added, the United States would "cast aside the . . . isolation which befitted its infancy." We shall see how truly the prophet spoke.
McKinley, who seemed to most Americans a simple little Ohioan kind to his wife and fond of flowers, but whose countenance reminded Hay of a "genuine Italian ecclesiastical face of the fifteenth century," had become President on March 4, 1897. With some misgivings, he had appointed Theodore Roosevelt Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Hay, the "Republican laureate," went to England, and Henry White, offered the post of Minister to Spain, chose to return to the secretaryship of legation in London.
Already, Hay was given to understand upon reaching London, Lord Salisbury had intervened diplomatically on behalf of the United States and against the Duke of Tetuan's project. In August, 1896, the Spanish Foreign Minister had drawn up a memorandum of Spain's position vis‑à‑vis America. A stinging indictment of the behavior of the North American republic in harboring Cuban filibusters, the memorandum suggested a set of demands to be levied on Washington by the Concert of Europe. Included were ingenious arguments why the Powers should join in maintaining the status quo of "political and commercial interests . . . about the Gulf of Mexico," especially with an isthmian canal in prospect. The paper had the approval of the Queen Regent, mother of Alphonso XIII, and of Canovas, the Prime Minister. The envoys of France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, and England had been consulted. Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, the English Ambassador, had been noncommittal, but the others gave Tetuan their cordial assent. In London Salisbury had discouraged the enterprise to the Spanish, Austrian, and French envoys, according to word reaching Tetuan.
p75 Hannis Taylor, the American Minister, was in ignorance of the Duke's plans until a few hours before the memorandum was to have been submitted to the Powers by Spain's missions at their capitals. It being August, the Spanish court was at San Sebastian. That afternoon Taylor unsuspectingly paid his respects to the Duke in his box at the bullfight. At 10:30 that night the British Ambassador called at the Foreign Minister's house in a state of excitement to report that the American Minister had discovered the existence of the memorandum, had been to see him and the French Ambassador, and now threatened to expose the intrigue to the world. Tetuan arranged to see Taylor the next day and meanwhile instituted an inquiry into the source of the leak. The mechanics of disclosure had been simple. An English journalist in Sir Henry's confidence had informed Taylor, advising him to seek confirmation at the British Legation. The Briton had verified the report and sent Taylor on to the French Embassy. Thereafter during his stay in Madrid, as Sir Henry ironically noted in his memoirs, he observed a "tone of coldness" in official circles.
As the text of the memorandum was actually in the hands of the Spanish envoys, awaiting release, the Duke of Tetuan was required to telegraph new instructions after his interview with Taylor. Taylor, simulating diplomatic anger (as he informed the State Department), had warned the Duke that the United States would "take offense at any action of the Great Powers, whatever it might be; and nothing could inspire greater hostility toward Spain" than the circulation of the memorandum.
This "inopportune phase," as Tetuan termed it, ended for a year the formal effort to organize the Powers, but as Hispano-American stresses were intensified through 1897 the Spanish Foreign Secretary renewed, more subtly, his efforts to enlist the Concert of Europe. The Queen Regent being an Austrian Archduchess, Francis Joseph genuinely favored the cause. Gabriel Hanotaux, the brilliant historian and Minister for Foreign Affairs at Paris, acknowledged a pull in Spain's direction for two causes peculiar to France. One was p76 Hanotaux's fear that the American assertion of supremacy in the Caribbean placed Martinique, , and French Guiana in jeopardy, and the other that the Paris Stock Exchange was sensitive to Spain's internal conditions, since the French had the largest foreign investments in the railroads, mines, and industries of the peninsula. Russia, interested only to the vague extent that Nicholas wished to assist another monarch, preferred to curry favor with a friendly United States, especially if strengthening of the traditionally friendly Russo-American ties might in any way serve to disquiet the British. Italy, although her statesmen blew hot and cold, was taken to be, in the final analysis, in Great Britain's orbit.
The line‑up of the six Powers, then, during the last half of 1897 and the prewar weeks of 1898, consisted of Austria and France, pro‑Spanish; England and Russia (by no means concertedly) pro‑American; and Germany and Italy uncertain. Francis Joseph, with a tinge of bitterness, lamented to the Count Goluchowski, his Foreign Minister, at the outbreak of the war that only Austria and France had shown stanch sympathy with Spain. Even Goluchowski, as the Emperor suspected, had not entered with enthusiasm into the Spanish designs.
The Wilhelmstrasse was a house divided. The Kaiser, backed by the Junker, the industrialists, and the press of the right and the center, might rant at America as a "covetous" upstart. He might brand America a mongrel and pusillanimous but at the same time a bold and dangerous nation, might confidently predict to the royalty and nobility at Francis Joseph's fall maneuvers in 1897 that Spain would swiftly humble "Brother Jonathan," openly snubbing the inoffensive American military attachés. But Count von Bülow, deft, realistic, and personable, appraised American strength more accurately, and though sharing the Kaiser's derogatory views of the United States, was not disposed to risk the enmity of that country on behalf of feeble Spain.
On September 28, 1897, the Kaiser directed Bülow by telegraph to prepare for intervention on Spain's side in concert p77 with a European league. Both men were absent from Berlin and the Kaiser's message passed through the Foreign Office. Upon its receipt Bülow at once instructed the Foreign Office secretariat to dissuade the Kaiser from committing himself until at least Germany knew where France and Russia stood, suggesting that they impress upon him the danger Germany ran of incurring trade and tariff reprisals from the United States. Under the new Dingley tariff the Government at Washington had authority to discriminate between friend and foe. Neither the Kaiser nor Bülow referred to the possibility of England's joining the league; and Count Botho von und zu Eulenberg, Ambassador to Vienna, when enlisted by the Kaiser for the purpose of persuading the Foreign Secretary, expressly ruled England out.
So Bülow, hedging in his correspondence with Eulenberg, made Germany's entrance into the league conditional on that of both France and England, being adamant against any expression from the Foreign Office unless the "British and French naval forces" were willing "to take up an unambiguous position in favor of intervention." Meanwhile the Kaiser, failing to move his own Foreign Secretary, kept up a running flow of letters to Francis Joseph suggesting ways and means of enlisting France and Russia, and encouraging his fellow Kaiser. William's messages also heartened Tetuan and his Liberal successor, Moret — the Liberals succeeded the Conservatives after Canovas's assassination in August, 1897, by an Italian anarchist avenging the suppression of the Cuban rebels — as that crisscrossed Europe with appeals for a "co‑operation which should be neither platonic nor fantastic, but strong, positive, and effective" in defense of "Spain's rights and her sovereignty over Cuba" against American "aggressions."
In Paris, Vienna, and Berlin a chill descended on American diplomatists, but at St. Petersburg the American Minister, Clifton R. Breckinridge, found himself singled out for attention at the same time that Count Muraviev, the Foreign Minister, informed the Spanish Ambassador that Russia must remain neutral in case of a Spanish-American war. Czar p78 Nicholas conversed meaningfully with Breckinridge on court occasions, lingering over the handshake. Speaking of Cuba, he assured the Minister of his loyalty come what may, saying that "we are always in agreement with the United States and I hope we shall always remain so." Breckinridge's dispatches suspected that the Czar did "not object to his step causing some anxiety to England."
The American diplomats, enlightened by friendly colleagues, were not in ignorance of the general course of events. General Horace Porter reported from Paris to the State Department the pro‑Spanish bias of the Government; yet he believed that France would balk at actual intervention unless England could be brought in. From Berlin Dr. Andrew D. White, who was, as he confessed, unaware of the Kaiser's animus, yet knew vaguely of the anti-American machinations around him, wrote Washington at the beginning of 1898 that "ill will towards the United States had never been so strong," but he doubted that a "coalition will be formed against us."
Soon Ambassador White would be protesting to the Foreign Office the flagrantly abusive tone of the German press, a part of which Bülow privately acknowledged his ability to "inoculate" and all of which the Foreign Secretary believed had become "coarser than in any other country." Advancing beyond the normal disparagement of American morals, political, commercial, and private, and the slurs at American manners and racial integrity current throughout the 1890's, the important journals of the German Empire, with only two exceptions, had descended into even lower depths of defamation.
The mildest epithet applied to the United States Government was "bully." Spain was held up as the exemplar of a superior civilization, in Cuba and at home. Spanish women, it was gravely asserted, were not only more virtuous but more beautiful than American women, and American life generally was a compound of "corrupt lawlessness and barbarism." White found, he records in his memoirs, that as war drew near the campaign of hatred was intensified, the editorialists p79 addressing themselves to the "cowardice of our [American] army and navy." American ships, it was said, would sink before meeting the enemy because corrupt builders had given them "sham plating"; American "sham guns" would explode in the faces of the American sailors, who "belonged to a deteriorated race of mongrels and could never stand against the pure-blooded Spanish sailors."
A scanning of the German and American press of the period confirms the Ambassador's recollections. Veering wide of the merits of the Spanish-American controversy over Cuba, the Tägliche Rundschau addressed itself to the character of the "American politicians," who it asserted were mere "pocketbook patriots, who allow themselves to be bought and sold by the industrial millionaires . . . their God is mammon and they betray their country." The Vossische Zeitung, with ties to the Foreign Office, was certain that the "whole American republic was founded upon the violation of the rights of other people," and the Kreuzzeitung, a Junker organ, announced that "the lowest motives brought on this war." Daily the passionately anti-American utterances of the German press were cabled to this country for publication, inspiring frequent comment here. Typically, the Providence Journal believed that the "contemptuous sneers at the 'Yankees' . . . represent the . . . real feeling of the German people. They try to despise us as seamen and say that we could not meet in naval battle an equal foe. Much of this is ignorance; but much of it is also envy and malice and all uncharitableness."
The German press was no more anti-American, no less indifferent to the cause of the Cuban insurrectos, than that of Vienna and Paris — or, indeed, all of the Continent. As the Vienna Deutsche Zeitung, in a moment of dissent, was to point out on April 24, the day Spain declared war, virtually all European newspapers had "given themselves over to hounding in a most shameful manner the North American republic. Liberal, conservative, and clerical organs, pro- and anti-Semitic, as well as nationalist organs, have joined to fly at poor Uncle Sam, whose policies are branded as a 'naked, p80 brutal program of conquest,' the meanest lawlessness, and the most open greed for plunder."
It was perhaps because of the German gifts for heavy-handed thoroughness and dogmatic judgments that the Americans resented German press attacks more than those of the French. There was, however, another difference. The Germans, unwilling to confine their reactions to the political issue of the moment, vilified the personal courage, the honor, the decency, and the virtue of all Americans. The American press characteristically raked the Kaiser over the coals for what it considered his "saber-rattling," for his excessive vanity, truculence, and arrogance; it condemned evidences of a militaristic spirit in the German system, but demeaned neither itself nor the German people by reflecting on the character of the Germans as individuals or as a human society. Persons shocked by the irresponsible mendacity of the Nazi press may reflect that that quality, like almost everything in the Nazi regime, has its roots in German tradition.
In the early years of the new century, when the German Government sought methodically to drive a wedge between the English-speaking Powers, diplomatists and intellectuals regretted the excesses of 1898 as inexpedient. "The unfriendliness of German public opinion about Cuba was an undoubted political blunder," Dr. Ernst von Halle of the University of Berlin, propaganda chief of the Reichsmarineamt, wrote in 1902. It was then, however, late in the day.
Running counter to national sentiment, Bülow attempted to sidetrack the European league by proposing papal mediation and coldly advising the Spanish Ambassador in Berlin, Mendez Vigo, to back down. "I should," he said, "be acting disloyally if I should allow Your Excellency to believe there was any real prospect of active intervention by the Powers in Spain's favor." Bülow added with rigorous cynicism: "You are isolated because everybody wants to be pleasant to the United States or, at any rate, no one wants to arouse America's anger; the United States is a rich country, against which you simply cannot sustain a war; I admire the courage p81 Spain has shown, but I would admire more a display of practical common sense."
The deflated Spanish Ambassador replied that Spain would fight "for her honor" as she had done, successfully, many times in the past. Little remained for diplomacy as 1898 opened. Leo XIII and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla, explored the situation on Spain's request, after notifying the American Minister in Rome that the Vatican would do nothing prejudicial to American interests. Archbishop Ireland, a friend of President McKinley's was sent from St. Paul to Washington on a peace errand.b He found his friend in the White House still hopeful that hostilities might be averted. Papal mediation, however, was not even attempted, as Rampolla encountered obstacles in Madrid.
In February the tempo of America's trend toward war was accelerated. The American people had been overwhelmingly convinced that Spain's conduct in Cuba was not, in McKinley's words, "civilized warfare," that it was in reality "extermination," and that the "only peace it can beget is a wilderness." They had adopted the Cuban cause as their own, especially after publication of a stolen letter in which the Spanish Minister, Dupuy de Lôme, characterized McKinley as a low politician.
Henry White, calling on Lord Salisbury, was sardonically informed by the Prime Minister that the preceding visitor, the Count de Rascon, the Spanish Ambassador, had "savagely attacked" the United States for its effrontery in stationing a battleship (the Maine) at Havana. The Maine was sunk on February 15, 1898. In the United States Theodore Roosevelt, having consulted throughout the winter with Mahan, busied himself with projects for taking Hawaii and defeating the Spanish at Manila. On February 25, with Secretary Long absent for the afternoon, he sent his famous order to Dewey at Hong Kong: "In event of declaration of war with Spain your duty will be to see that the Spanish squadron p82 does not leave the Asiatic coast, and then offensive operations in the Philippine Islands." The purview of Roosevelt extended beyond the Caribbean. He had designs on the Pacific as well. To Mahan he wrote repeatedly of battle plans and the Pacific problems, which engrossed them both.
"If I had my way," wrote the Assistant Secretary, "I would annex those [the Hawaiian] islands tomorrow." He was "fully alive to the danger from Japan," a possibility against which Mahan, bearing in mind the Japanese protest of 1897, had warned him. Roosevelt wished to dig the Nicaraguan canal at once and build a dozen new battleships, half on the Pacific coast. Mahan advised him concerning Hawaii: "Do nothing unrighteous but . . . take the islands first and solve the problem afterwards."
"I suppose I need not tell you," Roosevelt replied, "that as regards Hawaii, I take your view absolutely, as indeed I do on foreign policy generally." A motive for their urgency was the fact that Japan had building in Europe two new ships more powerful than any in the American battle line. At another time, asking for advice, Roosevelt wrote the naval officer: "All I can do toward pressing your ideas into effect will be done . . . there are many, many points you will see that I should miss." Acknowledging his indebtedness to Mahan, Roosevelt wrote in another letter: "There is no question that you stand head and shoulders above the rest of us!" The way to the China Sea was thus prepared in advance.
In London Hay and White observed a growing geniality on the part of public and press as well as the Government. The Ministry, especially Balfour and Chamberlain, openly avowed their sympathy with the American cause. In Salisbury's absence in the south of France Balfour acted as Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. White was breakfasting with him one day when Sir Thomas Sanderson, the Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, arriving with dispatches, hesitated on the threshold. "Come in, Sanderson," said Balfour, "we have no secrets from Harry White."
Not only were the American diplomatists kept informed p83 on the progress of the Continental coalition but also Hay, calling on Balfour over a routine matter, was told that the Foreign Office had "formally instructed Sir Julian Pauncefote to be guided by the wishes of the President in any action he may or may not take in the direction of collective representations by the diplomatic body in Washington." As Hay departed Balfour reassured him that "neither here nor in Washington did the British Government propose to take any steps which would not be acceptable to the Government of the United States." At this time Goluchowski in Vienna informed Hoyos, the Spanish Ambassador, that Great Britain had consented to a joint European offer of good offices "on condition that her Ambassador in Washington shall first discuss the matter of a friendly mediation by the Powers with the American State Department."
So delighted was Ambassador Hay by the evidences of a new cordiality in London that he bombarded Washington with reports. The British, he cabled, were standing solidly behind the United States. "Official opinion" advised that we "take Cuba at once; we [the British] wouldn't have stood it this long." Chamberlain was "extremely desirous of a close alliance with us, or, if that is prevented by our traditions, of an assurance of common action on important questions. 'Shoulder to shoulder,' he said, 'we would command peace the world over' and 'I should rejoice in an occasion in which we could fight side by side.' " Chamberlain was, he mentioned, all for selling the United States such men-of‑war as were needed, but others in the Cabinet doubted the legality of such an act. Sir Edward Grey, the Liberal M. P. who was to be the First World War Foreign Secretary, was suggesting that we "borrow the British fleet and do in Spain in a hurry, returning the favor some other time." Comprehensive among Hay's messages to America during the prewar period was this letter to Senator Lodge: "This is the only European country whose sympathy is not openly against us. . . . For the first time . . . I find the 'drawing room' sentiment altogether with us. If we wanted it — which, of course, we do not — we p84 could have the practical assistance of the British navy — on the do ut des principle, naturally."
On his yearly leave White discovered that Americans were responding to such reports of British friendliness. In the Senate, Lodge, Morgan, Cushman K. Davis, and William B. Frye of Maine, the last three die‑hards of Anglophobia, had softened to a point where Morgan described them as "pro‑English." Lodge wanted to be known as the "promoter of a good understanding" between the countries, and Senator Foraker of Ohio regretted that the United States had not "joined England in stopping Russia in China." He referred to Russia's occupation of Manchuria beginning in March, 1898.
Coupling White's wartime visit home with persistent reports of an Anglo-American alliance, the New York Herald reported that he had brought with him the text of the treaty. The story ran through the American press. White denied it in an interview at his home in Baltimore, calling an alliance "undesirable" and expressing preference for a "thorough understanding," which would grow out of the belief in both countries that each had the other's sympathy and would have "at least its moral support in certain contingencies."
In March Spain, Austria, and the Kaiser renewed the protracted diplomatic struggle for a European league. The Kaiser, disregarding Bülow, communicated directly with his envoys at London, Paris, and Washington, urging collective action. Spain concentrated on England, Rascon being instructed to learn definitely "if Great Britain has really made a commitment with the United States with respect to the future, or if her attitude of reserve and silence is due merely to a wish to retain independence."
A moving appeal went from the Queen Regent to Victoria: "Now, when the insurrection is nearly over, America intends to provoke us and bring about war and this I would avoid at all cost," the Spanish Queen wrote. "But there are p85 limits to everything and I cannot let my country be humbled by America." Maria Christina recalled how Victoria, "with greatest kindness," had always "interested yourself in my poor, fatherless son — for his sake, I beg you to help me." She besought the English Queen to join the European coalition under Francis Joseph. Victoria was in the south of France, at Cimiez with the Prime Minister at near‑by Beaulieu when the Spanish Queen's letter reached her on March 17. She addressed the Prime Minister at once, strongly suggesting that Britain enter the league.
Lord Salisbury's reply, under date of April 1, conceded that the Queen Regent's plight was "most lamentable and grievous"; he agreed that his sovereign "would not refuse to join in any course taken by all the other Great Powers," and yet he doubted the expediency of such a move, saying that "the Spanish question is very grave. . . . Any communication from this country to the United States, in the way of remonstrances, might arouse their susceptible feelings and produce a condition of some danger without any corresponding advantage." A protest by the Powers, he added, would be "more likely to help the war party in the United States."
Underneath the elaborate formalities prescribed for the address of a Minister to his sovereign, that meant no. Victoria answered the Queen Regent on April 4, conveying Salisbury's dark view of the projected Holy Alliance. The delay from March 17 to the first week in April, together with Rascon's unsatisfactory reports from London and the puzzling, certainly unfriendly, absence of Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff from his post during the entire first quarter of 1898, finally convinced the Spanish Government that they could look for little help from that quarter. The British Foreign Office, the Spanish Ambassador wrote home, maintained a "correct" attitude toward Spain, yet never by word or intimation expressed censure of the United States. In retaliation the Madrid Ministry on March 24‑25 omitted inviting the British chargé d'affaires and the Italian Ambassador (supposed to be taking London's initiative) to a conference p86 of Ambassadors with the Queen Regent at which final emergency steps were considered.
Out of this meeting grew joint diplomatic action in Washington, in which Britain concurred with reservations; and there seems little doubt that the Queen Regent's appeal to Victoria helped bring about that limited participation. On April 6 the six Ambassadors and Ministers of the Powers submitted a note to McKinley at the White House, a perfunctory paper hoping that a way might be found to avert war. A stronger representation had been drawn by Pauncefote but, obeying instructions, he submitted it to the State Department for revision. McKinley thanked the envoys for their "good will" and in an informal chat assured them that no one had done more for peace than himself.
When next the six envoys met — only a week before the scales were irrevocably tipped toward war — it seemed, briefly, that the Holy Alliance stratagem had succeeded, that Europe was finally ranged against the United States as Ferdinand VII had sought in 1823 to organize Europe against the revolted Spanish possessions in America.
This time the British Ambassador, presumably without consulting the Foreign Office, certainly without seeing McKinley or the State Department, assumed leadership of the diplomatic concert. Pauncefote's change of face between April 6 and April 14, when the envoys met to reprobate the United States, may never be understood clearly. Questions in the House of Commons four years later, after the Kaiser had attempted to make capital in America of Pauncefote's leading part in the conference of April 14, failed to reveal whether the Ambassador acted on his own responsibility, on a request from the Queen (as was suggested at the time), on instructions from persons subordinate to Balfour and Salisbury, or on those of Balfour or Salisbury themselves. William II, seeking to convict the British Ministry of double-dealing, charged that Salisbury had promoted the diplomatic action. It was, however, Balfour who handled the matter in London.
p87 Between the two meetings the House of Representatives had adopted a resolution calling for armed intervention in Cuba. The Senate, impeded by an isolationist bloc that insisted on a self-denying ordinance respecting the absorption of Cuba, had not yet acted. Observing what seemed to be divided counsels, the managers of the coalition in Europe cabled their envoys to reassemble. Goluchowski directed the Austrian Ambassador von Hengelmüller, to "proceed with vigor." Apologists for Pauncefote relate that the five other diplomats met first at the Austrian Embassy and then proceeded, at Pauncefote's invitation, in a body across Connecticut Avenue to the British Embassy. A note satisfactory to the United States was then drawn in English, these accounts continue, but when Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador, put it into French, its character changed so that it became offensive to the United States, and Pauncefote subscribed to it without studying the draft in French.
The drawback to that version lies in the circumstance that the note was made uniform and Sir Julian cabled the English text to the Foreign Office, urging its acceptance on a somewhat bewildered Balfour. This text contained the vital clause warning the United States that the Powers, wishing to disabuse this Government of the belief that the civilized world favored its course, "cannot give their approval to armed intervention, which seems to be entirely unjustified." Such sharp representations might have averted war, although in the light of the American temper at the time it is more likely that they would merely have broadened American antagonism into rancor against all Europe without relieving the plight of the decrepit Spanish monarchy. The Concert of Europe, unable to resolve the Greco-Turkish turmoil over Crete at that time, would not, in any human likelihood, have gone to war in the Caribbean or the China sea, American isolationism would have gained wide new sanctions, and Anglo-American accord would have set back immeasurably.
As it happened, no Power except Austria supported the note of the diplomatic bloc. In England Pauncefote's cable p88 reached Balfour in the country. The acting Prime Minister, a man of tentative resolution, confessed himself in "great perplexity" in forwarding a copy of the message to Chamberlain. Salisbury's absence was unfortunate. Instead of grasping the magnitude of the mistake (from the point of view of Anglo-American amity) Balfour recoiled from a decision. "At once spinsterish and architectural," Harold Begbie described Balfour in the mordant Mirrors of Downing Street, with "slackness in his blood and no vital enthusiasm in his heart." At that moment in Berlin the Kaiser, as unfavorable to America as Balfour professed himself favorable, was penciling on the margin of his Ambassador's telegram: "I regard it as completely futile and purposeless and therefore prejudicial. I am against this step."
Balfour, calling it a "strong order" to reject Pauncefote's advice, directed Sir Thomas Sanderson at London to cable Pauncefote that while Great Britain favored peace and had not formed a "judgment adverse to Spain as is assumed apparently by Congress," it seemed doubtful "whether we ought to commit ourselves to a judgment adverse to the United States, and whether, in the interest of peace, anything will be gained by doing so." The acting Prime Minister's confusion was disclosed equally in his note to Chamberlain: "The whole thing had to be done in a quarter hour and it was just possible that I ought to have been more peremptory . . . but when your own Ambassador on the spot and all the Great Powers are in agreement, one does not feel disposed to be too rough in one's antagonism." The Powers, of course, were not in agreement — only their representatives at Washington, under the presidency of the British Ambassador.
Balfour meanwhile had heard from the Colonial Secretary, a coarser-grained and more self-confident statesman. "Am convinced message will do no good and will be bitterly resented," Chamberlain telegraphed. "America insists that Spain shall leave Cuba. Nothing less will satisfy them. Spain will rather fight. The message practically takes the part of Spain at a critical juncture and will be so understood in p89 America." Chamberlain, writing the next day to Balfour, feared Pauncefote's participation "will do harm," adding:
The American position may be right or wrong, but it is a very clear one — and to ask them in the name of the Concert of Europe (absit omen!) to alter it will probably be regarded by them as offensive. Hitherto, public opinion in the States has gratefully recognized that we have been more sympathetic than the other Great Powers. Now I fear that we shall be held to have thrown in our lot with them. However, what is done is done, and I only hope I am mistaken as to its effect.
Chamberlain's premonitions were not borne out. The incident did not become public until 1902 and by then so firmly fixed was the impression of British friendship in 1898 that the accusations of the Kaiser were heavily discounted where they were not actually disbelieved. Within a few months after the proceedings of April 14 had been bruited to the world by the German Emperor, Sir Julian, now Lord Pauncefote, died at his post in Washington without allowing his side of the story to become known. President Theodore Roosevelt took note of the German charges by pointedly calling on the British Ambassador. He also gave the London Times an interview avowing his complete faith in Pauncefote's goodwill toward America. He characterized the intimations, with usual Rooseveltian finality, as false. John Hay was then Secretary of State. To him, the Kaiser's behavior was as undignified as that of nursemaids "pulling caps" over the favors of a policeman. Hay instructed the Ambassador at Berlin to hand the Foreign Office, "without comment," the copy of a letter obtained from the insurgent forces in the Philippines, presumably incriminating the German Government in anti-American intrigues in 1898.
At the time, Chamberlain told Hay he would have resigned and published his reasons had Balfour endorsed Pauncefote's note. Elsewhere in Europe it was accepted without question that Pauncefote acted for his sovereign, if not for his Government. At St. Petersburg, Muraviev discerned in the move a British scheme to "drive a wedge between America and the monarchical powers of Europe." p90 Theodor von Holleben, Pauncefote's German colleague, considered it "very remarkable . . . that the British Ambassador today took the initiative in the fresh step. . . . We imagine that the Queen Regent has appealed to the Queen of England in that sense." Pauncefote, he said, had directed them to cable their governments. "Personally," the German Ambassador added, "I regard this demonstration rather coldly." Cambon dubiously advised the Quai d'Orsay that the note would have "sensational repercussions" in America. Only Pauncefote and the Austrians seemed to feel that American intervention should be arraigned on grounds of international morality.
No evidence appears, however, to bear out the suspicions in Berlin and St. Petersburg of a "British plot." Balfour was only too patently flabbergasted, Chamberlain too genuinely apprehensive. And on April 22, two days before Spain's declaration of war, Salisbury was again patiently cautioning the Queen that "even the very temper and guarded note [of April 6] . . . was very much resented by a large portion of the community as an undue interference and had no other effect than to harden the war feeling." That was true. The Review of Reviews had warned Europe measuredly that "we in this country can never consent to have the Concert of Europe, as such, act diplomatically in any affair that concerns us." Such was the general burden of the press comment.
On the day before Salisbury wrote the Queen, April 21, she had entered in her diary: "War seems hopelessly declared . . . it is monstrous of the Americans."
The first diplomatic reaction to the Battle of Manila appeared before Dewey's victory had been reported in detail in either Europe or America. At the Wilhelmstrasse, Friedrich von Holstein, the subtle, conspiratorial Privy Councillor known to Bismarck as "the Lynx," prepared to reap an advantage by linking the Philippines, Hawaii, and Samoa, hoping p91 to obtain European support for a scheme to require the United States to surrender one in order to gain title to the others. Cecil Spring-Rice, an attaché at the British Embassy in Berlin, got wind of the aspiration and wrote his friend Hay on May 3. That day Hay cabled the State Department: "Excellent authority in German matters suggests prompt action in annexation of Hawaii before war closes as otherwise Germany might seek to complicate question with Samoa or Philippine Islands."
McKinley's annexation treaty had been marking time in the Senate, unable to gain a two‑thirds majority. Upon receipt of Hay's cable the President directed that a legislative detour be taken. The Administration leaders drew up a joint resolution (Texas had been annexed by joint resolution), which passed and was signed on July 8, 1898.
As a token of Anglo-American collaboration during the war with Spain, Spring-Rice — "Springie," Roosevelt's "gentle, pallid and polite" friend with whom he kept bachelor quarters one summer in the eighties in Washington, so relatively poor that they served domestic claret at dinner — had a better grasp of our interests in Berlin than did our own Ambassador. A few days after his valuable tip to Hay the British attaché again wrote the Ambassador in London, reporting the extent to which German colonial desires had been stimulated by the prospect of Spanish defeat, and ending with the admonition: "Therefore, I say again, let us try while we can to secure what we can for God's language."
The British made no secret of their desire to have the United States keep the Philippines as a means of enhancing Anglo-Saxon strength in the Far East, and also to prevent a struggle for their possession by other Powers, a contest in which Britain more than likely would have to take a hand. Rather than have the Philippines fall to Germany, the British would doubtless have pushed a claim of their own, and indeed when Salisbury conveyed to Hay the Ministry's wish that the United States hold them, the Prime Minister added the proviso that America give Britain the option of p92 purchase from Spain if for any reason she decided not to absorb them.
Germany's avidity for possessions in the Pacific astonished first the British Government, then the American Government. There seemed nothing the Germans would not do in the way of intrigue and short of open hostility, in London, Manila, Madrid, or Washington. To the German mind, Hay came to believe, "there is something monstrous in the thought that a war should take place anywhere and they not profit by it." Even the Germanophile Ambassador White in Berlin was moved to report that Germany "regarded the emergency in the East as one from which she must gain something, or lose prestige with Europe, and even with her own people." When Hatzfeldt went to Hay (as Spring-Rice had foretold) to discuss what he termed the tripartite problem of Hawaii, Samoa, and the Philippines, he conceded, under quizzing, that his country was powerless to enforce a claim in the Pacific. "We cannot remove our fleet from German waters," he murmured, referring, of course, to Britain's overmastering power in the North Sea.
Henry Adams, a guest of the Hays' at Number 5 Carlton Terrace, dined nightly with members of the governing elite. The talk of the British, warmly pro‑American, stimulated the American historian to irony, remembering as he did the bleak Civil War days when as secretary to the legation of his father (Charles Francis Adams) he endured the slights of these same persons or their elders. In the drawing-rooms of Park Lane, Adams discovered everyone alight with the new vistas opened for Anglo-Saxon authority in Asia and the Pacific. All emphasis was placed on the conquest of the Philippines, with its reaction on the "balance of power" in China. The hegemony which the United States was acquiring over the Caribbean everyone took for granted, believing, as Adams put it, that the duty of policing these islands fell "to our lot."
The spectacle of England and America throwing in together moved the Yankee aristocrat out of his assumed p93 aridity. Referring to himself in the third person, as always in The Education of Henry Adams, he wrote:
After two hundred years of stupid and greedy blundering, which no argument and no violence affected, the people of England learned their lesson just at the moment when Hay would otherwise have faced a flood of the old anxieties. . . . To Adams, still living in the atmosphere of Palmerston and John Russell, the sudden appearance of Germany as the grizzly terror which . . . frightened England into America's arms seemed as melodramatic as any plot of Napoleon the Great. He could feel only a sense of satisfaction at seeing the diplomatic triumph of all his family . . . at last realized under his own eyes.
The moment, as Adams viewed it, represented the grand climax of the work by Adamses, himself and his ancestors, for a hundred and fifty years looking toward an imperial relationship between the politically severed nations. Discerning for the first time the operation of "law in history," he claimed a "personal proprietorship by inheritance in this proof of sequence and intelligence in the affairs of man . . . and this personal triumph left him a little cold toward the other diplomatic results of the war."
Likewise moved to utterance by the new pro‑American climate was Chamberlain. A talk with Hay about the continuing reports of a Continental league against the United States, during which the Ambassador twittingly observed that the Ministry had not participated publicly in the post-Manila rapprochement, produced the Colonial Secretary's "startling speech" of May 13, an outgiving that rattled the windows at the Wilhelmstrasse. Chamberlain reverted to his chronic desire for a sealing of the Anglo-Saxon unity in battle, a tribal ambition he wouldn't live to see realized in 1917 and the true significance of which would escape his sons, Austen and Neville. Appealing for "closer . . . more cordial, fuller and more definite" arrangements with the United States, Chamberlain again ardently bespoke the day when the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack should wave together over an Anglo-Saxon alliance. . . . The union — the alliance p94 if you please — the understanding between these two great nations," said Chamberlain, "is indeed a guarantee of the peace of the world."
The Chamberlain accents rolled across Europe and the Atlantic alike. In Spain, Sir Henry reported, the speech was taken as a fresh evidence of English hostility. In the United States the New York Times, calling it the "most memorable speech in a generation" and wondering if Chamberlain was reporting a factual alliance, expressed a reservation that the American people would have heard it first, perhaps, from their own Government. Prophetically, the Chicago Tribune doubted that an Anglo-American alliance would be reduced to writing, but declared that the two "great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race" were drawing nearer "for coöperation in peace, and, in logical sequence, in war as well."
William T. Stead, the famous English journalist, reported that the Chamberlain speech had "discouraged" the Continental enemies of the United States and the British Press generally supported the burgeoning American entente. On May 1 the New York Times reported that "of all the newspapers in London only two, and they minor ones, in any way suggest any pro‑Spanish feeling." When the London Times endorsed the American cause wholeheartedly on April 21, the Pall Mall Gazette dubbed it a "tardy declaration," avowing that the time had come "when it is possible to abolish the ancient grudge and stimulate in America those feelings which have long been alive in England." The reconciling muse of Alfred Austin, the poet laureate, likewise was put to the service of the accord. His "Voice from the West," published simultaneously in England and America a month before the war, called for the mingling of the "Shamrock Thistle and Rose" with the "Star-Spangled Banner," the concluding stanza reading:
Yes, this voice on the brief March gale,
We severed too long have been:
But now we have done with a worn‑out tale,
The tale of an ancient wrong.
p95 And our friendship shall last long as love doth last
And be stronger than death is strong.
It remained for the retrogressive, cholerically anti-American Saturday Review to grumble that "the bulk of the English newspapers" were "calling on us to admire the attitude of the United States and accord our moral support to the Washington Government."
Chamberlain's speech acted as a prod to Bülow and Holstein in Berlin, and to Hatzfeldt in London. At once they undertook an attack on the Anglo-American accord. Dr. White, who had just assured the Foreign Office that his Government would welcome a sharing of its new Pacific holdings with a great "civilizing power" like Germany, was portentously warned that the Anglo-American tie would raise a Continental league against America. Quailing under the threat, White cabled the State Department that the "close relations and coöperation of the United States and Great Britain will certainly result in a Continental coalition against the United States." Assurances to Germany, he thought, would save "the United States later troublesome complications." White, already under State Department censure for his "untimely and embarrassing" proffers of collaboration in the Pacific, was informed that "nothing in the relationship between the United States and Great Britain need give any ground for apprehension on the part of the Continental Powers."
Hatzfeldt, holding that the accord could best be attacked in the United States, proposed to Holstein and Bülow that ways be found to persuade the Americans that (1) reports of German unfriendliness rested on English "invention," (2) German claims for a share of the fallen Spanish Empire would be more modest than English claims, and (3) the United States would have nothing to fear elsewhere if it made a deal with Berlin.
Fertile in supplying subject matter, Hatzfeldt was barren of suggestions as to how these concepts should be propagated in the United States. The American Ambassador, although perhaps willing, would be a poor vessel of communication. p96 "His personality and influence at home do not count for so much," Hatzfeldt adduced. As for Hay, his "intimate relations with President McKinley" would render him useful, but he was "obviously" pro‑British, and on top of that Hay — once described by Henry Watterson as a "helter-skelter . . . man of the world, crossed on western stock" — was a "very silent man, even Lord Salisbury complaining of his reticence." Hatzfeldt need not have concerned himself at the moment. The news that Vice-Admiral von Diederichs had treated Dewey contemptuously at Manila inflamed American opinion that summer, creating a resentment that would militate against Germany for many years.c
Otherwise, Hatzfeldt was kept busy submitting to Salisbury formulae for disposition of the Philippines, hatched in the minds of William and Holstein. The "fat spoils" of the Spanish South Seas appeared glitteringly before the Germans for weeks on end. Relying for a time on Dr. White's openhandedness the Germans represented to Salisbury that under no circumstances would the Americans wish to retain the archipelago. There were proposals that Germany be given a protectorate on behalf of the Concert of Europe, or, failing that, that Britain and Germany accept joint responsibility. The Prime Minister was also sounded on a suggestion coming from the Filipinos and Germans in Manila for the erection of the Philippines into an independent monarchy with a German prince as king. Germany, it was asserted, had grounds for interposing in the affairs of the islands because the Spanish Government had offered to make them over to Germany "in deposit." In their despair the Spanish had made the same offer to England. Salisbury terminated the importunities by observing that he feared the United States would "resent" any interference by Germany — or, for that matter, England — in the fate of the Philippines.
Convinced by midsummer of 1898 that the United States, backed by Britain, would have final say on the future of the p97 Philippines, the German Foreign Office industriously undertook to obtain its objectives — "maritime fulcra in East Asia" — from Washington and London. The Kaiser bade Holleben instruct the American Government as to the advantages of assuring German friendliness by a "practical application of the principle of 'live and let live.' " Hatzfeldt was ordered to demand British support for a Philippine coaling station "as the result of our participation in the protection of the Philippines." And Jules Jusserand, the French diplomatist, presenting a German viewpoint, cautioned Henry White that the Germans were anxiously "stirring" in the Far East and the United States might look for trouble unless it yielded something.
In Germany the vials of wrath against the United States were kept smoking, in the press, in the Reichstag, and in the Wilhelmstrasse. Hay wrote Lodge that the "jealousy and animosity felt toward us in Germany is something which can scarcely be exaggerated." He went on:
They hate us in France, but French hatred is a straw fire compared to the German. . . . The Vaterland is all on fire with greed and terror of us. They want the Philippine islands, the Carolines and Samoa — they want to get into our markets and keep us out of theirs. They have been flirting and intriguing with Spain ever since the war began and now they are trying to put the devil into the head of Aguinaldo.1 I do not think they want to fight. . . . But they want by pressure, by threats, and by sulking and wheedling in turn, to get some thing out of us and Spain.
Andrew White had been Minister to Germany from 1879 to 1881. The tenor of German-American relations was unexceptionable. The Germans recalled American sympathy in their war with France, the Americans were grateful that German bankers had bought United States Civil War bonds generously while they went begging in Paris and London. Returning as Ambassador in 1897, White confessed himself shocked to find a "generally adverse" feeling against America, some classes being "bitterly hostile." White found p98 this feeling by no means confined to the "more ignorant," adding: "Men who stood high in the universities, men of the greatest amiability, who in former days had been the warmest friends of America, had now become our bitter opponents, and some of their expressions seemed to point to eventual war."
The reasons behind this shift of national sentiment were in the main economic, growing out of an acute realization that German-American trade relationships placed Germany at a disadvantage. This boiled down to the fact that Germany was dependent on the United States for raw materials while the United States needed little in the way of imports from Germany. Moreover, internal stresses were set up in relation to the United States, the agrarians wished high duties on cheap American foodstuffs, low duties on manufactured goods, and the industrialists wishing the exact reverse. Moreover, in spite of German cartels, government assistance, and efficiency, the United States, with a higher wage level, was able to undersell German producers in certain lines — even in Germany.
Overriding all, through its succession of high tariff acts in the 1890's the United States had made it increasingly difficult for Germany to enter the huge American market. Hence trade between the countries remained always unbalanced. Dependence on American cotton, grain, and a host of other raw products prevented Germany from retaliating effectively. Thus in relationship to the English-speaking Powers at the end of the nineteenth century Germany felt herself inferior to the British on the seas and to America in commerce.
Envy of America's prodigious resources, her security behind her oceans, likewise played a part, for Germany was a country poor in raw materials and surrounded landward by potential enemies. There was also a psychological conflict in the German attitude toward this country, the product of ill‑digested pride and envy. In one breath the press blackened America in toto, in the next boasted of the millions of "fine Germans" who formed the backbone of that country. So p99 when Germany in 1898 ("in a perfect craze for colonial expansion," as Balfour reported to Henry White after a visit in October) found the United States, backed by Great Britain, blocking the way to a substantial share of the fallen Spanish Empire, German malevolence knew few bounds.
The Wilhelmstrasse's pertinacity did, however, gain a place in the Pacific sun. At the Paris peace conference ending the war with Spain the United States obtained Puerto Rico, accepted Cuba's independence in trust until a stable government could be formed, and agreed to reimburse Spain $20,000,000 for the Philippines and the Ladrone island of Guam. Before the conference met, Hay, who had become Secretary of State in August, informed Holleben of the American decision, indicating that the United States Government had no objection to Germany's acquisition of the other Ladrones and the Caroline Islands. The German Ambassador received the concession with "joyous amazement." Although these atolls in the high Pacific had little or no economic value and scarcely any strategic use to Germany, their absorption (negotiated directly with Madrid) created a mood of imperialist elation in the Reich, replacing the black depression that had existed since Dewey had sunk the Spanish squadron at Manila. Parenthetically, Hay's easy renunciation, as a result of which these islands passed to Japan during the First World War, rises to plague the United States Navy nowadays, flanking as the islands do the sea road from Hawaii to the Philippines.
At the end of the war Victoria rested uneasily under a long indictment of British neutrality submitted by the Queen Regent, who charged that Britain, although withholding coal from Spain, allowed it to be supplied to the Americans, along other materials from Hong Kong for the Americans and the Philippine insurrectos. She added that the British military attachés at Washington had co‑operated with the Americans. Maria Christina also cheerlessly reminded the Queen that the British press had been far from neutral. Although p100 the Queen Regent omitted mention of certain other matters, the Spanish Ministry bore a grudge over their belief that a British attaché in Washington had disclosed the arrival of Cervera's fleet at Santiago, the activities of an American secret agent in Montreal, and the fact that the Canadian Government had allowed the United States after war had begun to complete transfer of four revenue cutters from the Great Lakes to the sea by way of the St. Lawrence. One of the British attachés in Washington, Captain Arthur Hamilton Lee, observed the land war in Cuba, became an honorary Rough Rider, and in 1921, as Lord Lee of Fareham, First Lord of the Admiralty, would help to bring about the Washington Conference on the Reduction of Armaments.
Victoria referred the Spanish Queen's complaints to Lord Salisbury. As old age overtook the Queen, the task of clarifying the obvious in the many matters passing under her observation B.C. one of the most wearisome of the Prime Minister's chores. Salisbury affirmed the strict neutrality of his Government on all points, though he was "painfully aware" that the press had lacked something of impartiality. Replying to the Spanish Queen Regent, Victoria impressively quoted Lord Salisbury's asseverations, bidding Maria Christina reflect that an adverse press did not necessarily connote an adverse public opinion.
At the end of 1898 the United States, as Mahan foresaw, had again betaken itself to the sea and external action. The experience, moreover, had disclosed an Anglo-Saxon identity of interest ranging from the China Sea to the North Sea. In both countries, even as the war was being fought partisans of collaboration sought means of retaining the mutual goodwill being demonstrated on all sides. One effort took the form of the Anglo-American League, a forerunner of the English-Speaking Union of World War days. The league was organized in London and New York in July. James Bryce, the Duke of Sutherland, R. C. Maxwell, and Sir Frederick Pollock took the lead in England. In America Whitelaw Reid, a later Ambassador to England, William C. p101 Whitney, Carl Schurz, and Daniel S. Lamont filled offices, the Church being represented by Monsignor Corrigan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, and the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter, the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York.
The dividends flowing out of improved Anglo-American relations were reciprocal. This country still had a major task to perform in the American seas, a task requiring British acquiescence. Soon Great Britain would be engaged in a stubborn colonial war and her friendlessness in Europe would duplicate America's isolation in 1898 from the sympathy of continental Europe.
1 Aguinaldo was then leading the Philippine insurrection against American occupation.
a Our author forgot the Dutch: Suriname, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten and Saba; and the little island of St. Eustatius which was so important to the success of our American Revolution. The Netherlands are, like Britain, a naval nation and have been a natural ally of the United States thru several wars over the centuries, starting with the American War of Independence; and even before that, the sailing of the Mayflower from hospitable Dutch shores is worth noting.
c For Admiral von Diederichs' conduct, Dewey's response — and the support he received from the senior British naval officer at Manila — see George R. Clark et al., A Short History of the United States Navy, pp462 f., and in greater detail, C. S. Alden and Ralph Earle, Makers of Naval Tradition, pp268‑270.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
The Atlantic System
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY if its URL has a total of one *asterisk. If the URL has two **asterisks, the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use. If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 13 Oct 14