Imágenes de páginas

freedom is most perfect and justice most pure, until the voices of the few visionaries, long ago crying in the wilderness, have become the sound of a multitude; and a public opinion of the world, insisting upon righteousness and peace among nations as among individuals, is beginning to be perceived and to effect the national purpose which governments represent.

It is inevitable that the men who are directed by these two widely differing impulses should sometimes be impatient of each other. The humanitarian is repelled by the hardness of the practical man, who seems unsympathetic in his failure to act upon views that are certainly sound in the abstract and which ought to be accepted by all the world. The practical administrator is distressed by the urgency of the theorist, who, ignorant of real conditions, urges him to a course of action which he knows cannot possibly be taken, or, if it were taken under existing conditions, would result only in evil. One tends to think lightly of the other as an impracticable theorist, and in return is condemned by the other as unfeeling and cynical. Both judgments are probably often, to some extent, true, but both are generally, and to a much greater extent, wrong. Each class plays its necessary part in the great work of advancing civilization. It cannot be doubted that the supreme results for humanity are secured by the combination, the union, the blending of the two impulses, to the end that national selfishness may be the most broadly intelligent, and humanitarian idealism the most effectively practical.

Your invitation to take part in the opening of this Peace Congress has come to me as an occasion to declare the alliance and sympathy of the American Government with that other power-the sentiment of humanity-which in all lands, and most strongly in our generation, without fleets, or armies, or titles, or dignities, or compulsion of force, is leading mankind continually to a nobler life. The American people are practical, material, strenuous in business, eager for wealth; energetic in production, and venturous in commerce; insistent upon their rights, proud of their country, jealous of its power and its prestige; but there is a stream of idealism in the American nature which saves our nation from the grossness of sordid materialism and makes it responsive to every appeal in behalf of liberty and righteousness, of peace with justice and of human

brotherhood the world over. No American Government could truly represent its people if it did not sympathize heartily with the purposes which this Congress meets to promote; and the American Government of to-day does sympathize heartily with those purposes. In behalf of the Government I give you the kindly and appreciative greeting of the people of the United States and welcome you as spiritual kindred of those Americans of great heart and clear intelligence who in times past, striving for ordered liberty and the peace of justice in this land, have conferred inestimable benefits upon all mankind, and whose memory and example are our most precious possessions.

He is mistaken who depreciates the value of such a meeting as this, or regards its discussions as merely academic, because its members have not the power themselves to give effect to their resolutions. The open, public declaration of a principle in such a way as to carry evidence that it has the support of a great body of men entitled to respect, has a wonderfully compelling effect upon mankind. The adoption of a new standard of human action is never the result of force or the threat of force; it is always the result of a moral process, and to the initiation and continuance of that process public assertion and advocacy of the principle are essential. When that process has been worked out and the multitude of men whom governments represent have reached the point of genuine and not perfunctory acceptance of the new standard, governments conform themselves to it.

It is a common saying that the world is ruled by force, that the ultimate sanction for the rules of right conduct between nations is the possibility of war. That is less than a half-truth. There was a time when the official intercourse between nations which we call diplomacy consisted chiefly of bargaining and largely of cheating in the bargain. Diplomacy now consists chiefly in making national conduct conform or appear to conform to the rules, which codify, embody and apply certain moral standards evolved and accepted in the slow development of civilization. The continual unceasing process of diplomatic intercourse by which these standards are pressed upon the government of every nation, backed by the tremendous power of the opinions of the civilized world, enforced by the desire for the good opinion and apprehension of the disfavor of mankind, form a strong

external restraint upon national conduct; and these standards have been created by the evolution of moral as opposed to physical forces.

The value of declaring a principle may be illustrated by the effect of the arbitration convention agreed upon in the International Peace Conference at The Hague in 1899. That Convention did a little more than to declare principles; it provided machinery by which there might be arbitration, but it bound nobody to arbitrate, or to mediate, or to accept mediation. The machinery provided has been but little used; the arbitrations at The Hague have been few and not of the first order of importance; yet no one can for a moment question the enormous impetus given to the principles of arbitration of international controversies in lieu of war by the open and public declaration that such controversies ought to be arbitrated.

The thoughts of all men who hope for the peace of the world are now turned toward the Second Peace Conference so soon to meet at The Hague. It is cheering to note the difference between the attitude of the world toward this conference about to meet and the way in which the world looked upon the First Conference at The Hague eight years ago. The generous impulse and noble sentiment of the Emperor of Russia which dictated the call for that Conference, supported by his great power and commanding position, compelled the respect or the appearance of respect from all the great powers; yet it is safe to say that the prevailing sentiment among the powers as to the practical value of the Conference was one of polite incredulity, and that the delegates whom he had called together met amid an almost universal belief that nothing would or could be accomplished. The primary object of the call for the First Conference-the accomplishment of the great design which Henry IV of France conceived three centuries ago for the limitation of armaments in Europe-failed for the time; yet the Conference accomplished other things of the highest value to humanity; and it demonstrated for the first time in the world's history the potent and epoch-making fact, that a Congress of the world's powers, convened not to deal with some concrete question demanding immediate solution, but convened to consider and discuss the application of the general and fundamental principles of justice and humanity under all circumstances and to all international questions, can be made a

practical and effective agency in the government of the world. It developed a new method and a new power for the betterment of international conduct, far superior to the ordinary rules of diplomatic intercourse, far broader in its scope, far nobler in its


Upon the eve of the Second Conference, whose very possibility demonstrates the success and approves the wisdom of the First, it seems to me that all men who love their fellowmen and who hope for the rule of righteousness and peace on earth, should feel a deep sentiment of gratitude toward that sovereign whose noble character led him to call together the First Conference and an equally deep sympathy with him in the hard and difficult task in which he is now engaged of establishing constitutional government in his own dominions.

The Second Conference is about to meet amid universal recognition that it is of practical significance; it commands respect; its possibilities are the object of solicitude; the resolutions which it may reach are anticipated as of probable potency in the affairs of nations; it is not regarded as an occasion for mere academic discussion, but finds its place among the agencies by which the world is governed. I cannot doubt that it will accomplish much for the benefit of mankind; that in many things it will bring the practice of nations into closer conformity with these great principles of conduct to which nations have accorded such ready assent in theory, but such reluctant compliance when their particular interests are involved. The First Conference relegated to a future Conference the consideration of three broad general questions affecting the conduct of nations toward each other: First, the rights and duties of neutrals; second, the inviolability of private property in naval warfare; and third, the bombardment of towns, villages and ports by a naval force. It is understood that all these subjects shall be considered at the Second Conference. The First Conference also adopted two resolutions relating to naval and military armament.

The first was:

"The Conference is of opinion that the restriction of military charges, which are at present a heavy burden on the world, is extremely desirable for the increase of the material and moral welfare of mankind."


The second was:

"The Conference expresses the wish that the governments, taking into consideration the proposals made at the Conference, may examine the possibility of an agreement as to the limitation of armed forces by land and sea and of war budgets."

The Government of the United States has been of the opinion that the subject matter of these resolutions ought to be further considered and discussed in the Second Conference; that the subject is in the nature of unfinished business and cannot be ignored, but must be dealt with; that there ought to be at least an earnest effort to reach or to make progress toward reaching some agreement under which the enormous expenditure of money and the enormous withdrawal of men from productive industry for warlike purposes may be reduced or arrested or retarded. We have not been unmindful of the fact that the question is one which primarily and in its present stage concerns Europe rather than America; that the conditions which have led to the great armaments of the present day are mainly European conditions, and that it would ill become us to be forward or dogmatic in a matter which is so much more vital to the nations of Europe than to ourselves. It sometimes happens, however, that a State having little or no special material interest in a proposal can, for that very reason, advance the proposal with the more advantage and the less prejudice. The American Government accordingly, at an early stage of the discussion regarding the program, reserved the right to present this subject for the consideration of the Conference; several European powers have also given notice of their intention to present the subject. It may be that the discussion will not bring the Second Conference to any definite and practical conclusion; certainly no such conclusion can be effective unless it meet with practically universal assent, for there can be no effective agreement which binds some of the great powers and leaves others free. There are serious difficulties in formulating any definite proposal which would not be objectionable to some of the powers, and upon the question whether any specific proposal is unfair and injurious to its interests each power must be, and is entitled to be, its own judge.

Nevertheless, the effort can be made; it may fail in this Conference, as it failed in the First; but if it fails, one more step will

« AnteriorContinuar »