“Which Is the Safest Course?” American Sentinel 13, 23, pp. 354, 355.

HAVING had Washington’s advice against the United States ever forming any entangling alliance with European or any other foreign power, it will not be amiss to set down, for comparison, the arguments now offered in favor of such alliance and indeed directly against Washington’s advice. Then the reader can estimate the relative weight of argument, and wisdom, of the two courses advised.

Hon. Richard Olney, who was attorney general and secretary of state in President Cleveland’s cabinet, writes in the Atlantic Monthly, thus:—

“The rule of international isolation for America was formulated by Washington, was embalmed in the earnest and solemn periods of the Farewell Address, and has come down to succeeding generations with all the immense prestige attaching to the injunctions of the Father of his country and of the statesmen and soldiers who, having first aided him to free the people of thirteen independent communities, then joined him in the even greater task of welding the incoherent mass into one united nation. The Washington rule, in the sense in which it has been commonly understood and actually applied, could hardly have been adhered to more faithfully if it had formed part of the text of the Constitution….

“What is it that these utterances enjoin us not to do? What rule of abstinence do they lay down for this country? The rule is stated with entire explicitness. It is that this country shall not participate in the ordinary vicissitudes of European politics, and shall not make a permanent alliance with any foreign power. It is coupled with the express declaration that extraordinary emergencies may arise to which the rule does not apply, and that when they do arise temporary alliances with foreign powers may be properly resorted to. Further, not only are proper exceptions to the rule explicitly recognized, but its author, with characteristic caution and wisdom, carefully limits the field which it covers by bounds which in practice are either accidentally or intentionally disregarded.

“If the Government can do its duty with an ally, where it must fail without, and even if it can more securely and efficiently do that duty with an ally than it can without, it would be not mere folly, but recreancy as well, not to make the alliance.

“If we shall sooner or later—and we certainly shall—shake off the spell of the Washington legend and cease to act the rôle of a sort of international recluse, it will not follow that former alliances with other nations for permanent or even temporary purposes will soon or often be found expedient. On the other hand, with which of them we shall as a rule practically coöperate cannot be doubtful. From the point of view of our material interests alone, our best friend as well as most formidable foe is that world-wide empire whose navies rule the seas and which on our northern frontier controls a dominion itself imperial in extent and capabilities. There is the same result if we consider the present crying need of our commercial interests….

“But our material interests only point in the same direction as considerations of a higher and less selfish [355] character. There is a patriotism of race as well as of country, and the Anglo-American is as little likely to be indifferent to the one as to the other. Family quarrels there have been heretofore and doubtless will be again; and the two peoples, at the safe distance which the broad Atlantic interposes, take with each other liberties of speech which only the fondest and dearest relatives indulge in. Nevertheless, that they would be found standing together against any alien foe by whom either was menaced with destruction or irreparable calamity, it is not permissible to doubt. Nothing less could be expected of the close community between them in origin, speech, thought, literature, institutions, ideals.”

Lyman Abbott, editor of The Outlook, published in the North American Review, an article on “The Basis of an Anglo American Alliance,” in which he says:—

“The time has therefore passed when the United States can say, ‘We are sufficient unto ourselves, we will go our way; the rest of the world may go its way.’ The question is not, ‘Shall we avoid entangling alliances?’ We are entangled with all the nations of the globe: by commerce, by manufactures, by race and religious affiliations, by popular and political sympathies. The question for us to determine is not whether we shall live and work in fellowship with European nations, but whether we shall choose our fellowship with wise judgment and definite purpose or whether we shall allow ourselves to drift into such fellowships as political accident or the changing incidents of human history may direct….

“It is for this reason I urge the establishment of a good understanding between the United States and England, in the hope that in time it will grow to a more formal alliance—civic, commercial, and industrial, rather than naval and military—and yet an alliance that will make us, for the purposes of our international life, one people, though not politically one nation….

“It is true that in a sense the United States is neither a Christian nor an Anglo-Saxon nation. It is not officially Christian, if thereby is meant a nation which gives political or financial advantage to one religion over another. It is not Anglo-Saxon, if thereby is meant a nation which sets itself to confer political power upon one race over another. But though it is officially neither Christian nor Anglo-Saxon, it is practically both. Its ethical standards are not those of Mohammedanism or Confucianism, but those of Christianity. Its ruling force in the country, educational, political, and on the whole commercial, is not Celtic, nor Slavic, nor Semitic, nor African, nor Mongolian, but Anglo-Saxon. Thus in its religious spirit, though not altogether in its religious institutions, in its practical leadership, though not in the constituent elements of its population, and in its national history and the genesis of its political institutions, the United States is of kin to Great Britain. The two represent the same essential political ideals—they are both democratic; they both represent the same ethical ideals—they are Christian; and they both represent the same race leadership—they are Anglo-Saxon….

“It [an Anglo-American Alliance] would create a new confederation based on principles and ideas, not on tradition, and bounded by the possibilities of human development, not by geographical lines. It would give a new significance to the motto E Pluribus Unum, and would create a new United States of the World, of which the United States of America would be a component part. Who can measure the advantage to liberty, to democracy, to popular rights and popular intelligence, to human progress, to a free and practical Christianity, which such an alliance would bring with it? Invincible against enemies, illimitable in influence, at once inspiring and restraining each other, these two nations, embodying the energy, the enterprise, and the conscience of the Anglo-Saxon race, would by the mere fact of their coöperation produce a result in human history which would surpass all that present imagination can conceive or present hope anticipate.”

In an interview a member of President McKinley’s cabinet is reported as follows:—

“Under a broad and liberal territorial government established by the United States the people of the Philippine Islands will eventually be raised up to a condition of enlightenment and civilization that will make them able to establish a firm government.

“It is time that the people of this American Republic began to realize the greatness of their mission among the nations of the world. They must broaden their horizon, enlarge their views. Some people in their shortsightedness say that we cannot hold the Philippines without interfering with our established Monroe doctrine. So much the worse for the Monroe doctrine. Others say that we cannot hold outlying territory under the Constitution. We amended the Constitution at the close of the last war this country was engaged in. Why cannot we amend it again?

“An amendment to the effect that the United States may extend a protectorate over the islands of the sea (without assuring them a state government) for the purpose of affording the inhabitants thereof a good government, security to life and property, freedom of religion, etc., till they are able to set up a stable government of their own, would be agreed to by the people of this country if it were ever submitted to them.

“At the close of this war with Spain the United States will hold a very different position among the nations from that which it occupied previously. Our destiny is to extend the sphere of Republican government. Our Government will have an opportunity to show whether or not it appreciates the importance of that mission.

“These great questions have been brought to the front very suddenly. But I have no doubt that the American people will use their opportunity wisely and well.”

In individual life when a person has great influence, he always lessens it by trying to exert it. It is admirable to have great influence for right principles. But it is possible for a person to become proud of his influence and be ambitious to make it felt. Such pride and ambition, however, is just as subtle and dangerous as is any other sort. And all this is true of nations, which are but collections of individuals.

Right influence is most powerfully exerted, whether by individuals or nations, always in quietness and humility.

“Cromwell, I charge thee, Put away ambition.

By that sin fell the angels.”

A. T. J. [368]

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