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Congress of Paris of 1856 adopted a declaration on the subject of maritime law. Then, coming down to a later time and passing over many other important international conferences we have, in 1899, the great Conference at The Hague, the distinctive achievement of which was that it formulated and incorporated into treaties which have since been ratified, codes of law on various subjects. Among these codes we are no doubt most familiar with the convention for the amicable settlement of international disputes, by international courts of inquiry to investigate the facts, by mediation, and lastly by arbitration. And now it is proposed in the resolutions adopted by the present National Congress, just as it was proposed in the resolutions lately adopted by that remarkable body, the Interparliamentary Union, that the constitution and powers of the Hague Court shall be so enlarged and strengthened that it shall not continue to be, what it is now, only an eligible list from which judges may be chosen, but that it shall be an actual court, always open to suitors and always ready to adjust grievances when they arise.
Is there anything impracticable or strange in this proposal? To-day, in a spirit of curious inquiry, I ran through certain volumes and calculated the aggregate of years during which the arbitral tribunals of the United States had been in session. Since we began our national existence we alone have had with other powers more than sixty arbitrations; and I found that the total number of years during which these tribunals had sat was a hundred and twenty-five,-more than the entire duration of our national existence since the formation of the Constitution. The excess of aggregate time is explained by the fact that now and then there were two or three tribunals in session at once. It is also to be observed that the total expense of all our tribunals,and when we talk about Peace we always become very econom ical,-doubtless was greater, far greater, than would have been the cost of an actual court always in session.
So much for the idea of permanency. Let us now consider the classes of questions that have been adjusted by arbitration. I venture to say that, if you will look over the authentic records of our arbitral tribunals you will find that there is scarcely any sort of question that has not at some time been adjudicated by one of those bodies; not simply mere pecuniary claims, but claims affecting what we might call vital interests and national
honor. Take, for instance, the case of the Creole, a case that brought the United States and Great Britain to the verge of war, and that afterward almost caused a rupture of the conferences between Mr. Webster and Lord Ashburton, in 1842; a rupture which would almost certainly have resulted in hostilities. Who knows to-day what became of the case of the Creole? Hardly any one. And why? Because the case came before the Tribunal of Arbitration under the treaty of February 7, 1853, between the United States and Great Britain, and was disposed of so quietly that public attention never was drawn to the litigation. Let us take a later illustration. One of the greatest negotiations of modern times was that which resulted in the settlement of the Alabama Claims, a negotiation conducted on the part of the United States by a man whose name ought ever to be held in honor by Americans, and without mention of whose name no Peace Congress ought ever to adjourn-Hamilton Fish. (Applause.) A man who, while others talked of Peace, made Peace and averted a deplorable conflict. When the adjustment of the Alabama Claims by arbitration was first proposed to the British Government, what was the answer? Lord John Russell replied that the questions involved could not be submitted to arbitration, because, as he declared, they involved the honor of Her Majesty's Government, of which Her Majesty's Government was the sole guardian. And yet eight years afterward those very questions, after careful examination and critical formulation, were submitted to the Tribunal at Geneva, and finally decided.
Again, what is to be said as to the pecuniary values that have been involved in these arbitral proceedings, and how many cases have been disposed of by them? I will take one single illustration, the arbitral commission under the treaty of July 4, 1868, between the United States and Mexico. The claims of the United States against Mexico before that commission were more than one thousand in number. The claims of Mexico against the United States were nine hundred and ninety-eight; in all there were more than two thousand claims. And the total amount involved in the claims, taking their face value, was more than half-a-billion dollars. One single claim against the United States involved fifty million dollars, and a lawyer so good as Caleb Cushing had advised the Mexican Government that it was valid; but on full investigation it was disallowed.
Now, as to finality. Out of all the arbitral awards to which the United States has been a party, there is not one that has not been carried into effect without the concurrence of both governments. Now and then, in rare cases, after the proceedings were over, some new fact has been discovered or some circumstance disclosed that seemed to render a modification of the arbitrators' judgment desirable; but on all such occasions the parties have proceeded to a final adjustment in a spirit of justice and equity, and have eventually arrived at a mutual understanding.
I once heard of a great teacher, a famous historian and man of letters, who displayed in his lecture room this sentiment, "Above all nations is humanity." In the display of this sentiment, he neither inculcated nor was understood to inculcate a want of devotion to one's own land; he neither deprecated nor was understood to deprecate that patriotic feeling which has in all times inspired men promptly to respond to their country's call, whether in peace or in war. But what he meant was simply this, that, as every man owes a duty to his fellow-men, so nations owe duties one to another; and he wished to create in his hearers the hope, which had with himself become an intimate conviction, that the time would come when the perception of justice by nations would be so clear, when their recognition of each other's rights would be so quick, so full, and so generous, that they would look upon themselves no longer as enemies, but only as friendly rivals in the course of humanity. (Great applause.)
When Henry Ward Beecher spoke in Glasgow, during our Civil War, he won the attention of his audience by asking, "What do you suppose was the last thing my wife said to me before I left America?" They naturally stopped to listen, and he said, "She said to me, 'Henry, whatever else you do or whereever else you go, don't fail to visit old Scotland, where every loch is a poem and every mountain a monument.'"
I am sorry to be obliged to say that Mr. Bryce, the Ambassador from Great Britain, cannot be with us. Although he is President of the Alpine Club, the number of dinners he has been called upon to participate in by a Peace Congress has so tried his strength that he is not able to come here this evening. However, he has sent to us a most welcome representative in
Sir Robert Cranston, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and the capital of that fairyland which encircles the world and is dominated by the spirit of Sir Walter Scott.
SIR ROBERT CRANSTON:
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I think you all want to go home, and I am afraid it is a bit late for any man to arouse any assembly of this kind if he continues to speak upon the question of Peace.
Perhaps it may seem strange that I should come here, being for over forty-three years a citizen and a soldier, to speak upon the subject of Peace, but, I find in one of your President's addresses namely, William Henry Harrison, the following words: "As commander and defender of my country's rights in the field I trust my fellow-citizens will not see in my ardent desire to preserve the Peace with foreign powers any indication that their rights will ever be sacrificed." I think that is the feeling of every man to-day, to be ready and willing to serve as a citizen or as a soldier whichever his country may require. But at the same time I am perfectly certain that I speak the feelings of my own countrymen when I say that each of them are for "Peace on earth and good-will toward men." I know here, that you look upon us coming from the Old Country as being a little behind you, we are behind you in many things; nevertheless we are the mother country, and I think that if any country leads in Peace Conferences it should be Great Britain. She has often been spoken of as the mother country; therefore, her first duty is the love, guardianship and the care of all her children (applause); if she is to be the mother of all the English-speaking races all over the world, then her voice first should be heard saying, "Peace on earth, good-will toward men." I am perfectly certain that this is the feeling of the great bulk of the nation. Our hopes are that this Congress will do good, that all these conferences will do good. There are people even in politics and municipal affairs who say, "What influence have I?" There have been gathered together in the City of New York six, seven or eight thousand people during the last four days discussing the best methods of obtaining Peace. "What does it come to in the end?" someone asks. It may not be noticeable to-night, but these people go out to-morrow bidding farewell to each other
after having talked on the subject, going into every part of the world, and carrying with them the olive branch of Peace, demanding that all nations shall cease war. If this Congress has done nothing else, it has sent out into the world people-and new people, as it were to preach the Gospel of Peace, and surely it must be of some benefit. (Applause.)
To-night, while sitting in the other meeting, I thought of all these flags, not one of them stained or torn with bullets, and I thought of what was written over the head of a beautiful picture I once saw: "For God, for King, for Country." War is neither for God, nor King, nor Country, and surely the highest attributes of heavenly loyalty, guardianship and liberty of these people can be most easily obtained by spreading kindlier feeling all over the world. That will redound to the honor of God, and the honor of the King, and the satisfaction of the Country far more than any war can ever do. (Applause.)
I carry over from my own country to you the warmest and kindliest feelings, and my colleagues and I go back more than ever endeared to this great nation, for during our whole visit we have found the warm hand of friendship, the big heart, the hospitable reception. Permit me to thank you kindly for the courtesy with which we have been treated. We must indeed carry back into our countries more good-will than ever, and bind firmer together nation with nation, which will glorify God and bring Peace and happiness on earth and good-will toward all men. (Applause.)
Sir Robert Cranston's reference to the flags which he saw in the other building reminds me of the beautiful line with which Whittier commenced his centennial ode at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876. He began in this way:
"O, thou who hast in concord furled,
The war-flags of a gathered world."
It was under the inspiration of that thought, I am sure, that these flags, unstained with blood, were hung about the meeting halls of this Congress.
I have just received word from Mr. Carnegie thanking this company for the invitation to be here, but saying that his duty at the other dinner makes it impossible.