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part of the coast-line of the United States." A House Committee reported a resolution, March 8, 1880, that the United States was entitled to control any Isthmian canal and authorizing the President to terminate any treaty conflicting with that principle. The resolution was called up for the second time March 3, 1881, and failed to pass. Congress thus refused to abrogate the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.
Garfield modified Hayes's coast-line 'dictum into an assertion that we did not seek a "peculiar route." Frelinghuysen, who was Arthur's Secretary of State, undertook to put the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty to the test and negotiated a treaty with Nicaragua for the construction of a canal entirely under American control. One of Cleveland's first official acts after he became President in 1885 was to withdraw this Treaty from the Senate.
The Spanish-American war made the canal question a vital issue in American politics, and John Hay, then Secretary of State, undertook to bring about a modification of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. The first HayPauncefote Treaty was amended by the Senate, much to Secretary Hay's mortification. A new compromise treaty was then negotiated to "facilitate the construction of a ship canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by whatever route may be considered expedient," and to "remove any objection which may arise out of the convention of the 19th of April, 1850, commonly known as the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, to the construction of such canal under the auspices of the Government of the United States, without impairing the 'general principle' of neutralization established in Article VIII of that convention." This Treaty, which was received as another brilliant achievement in American diplomacy, provides that
The canal shall be free and open to the vessels of commerce and of war of all nations, observing these rules, on terms of entire equality, so that there shall be no discrimina
tion against any such nation, or its citizens or subjects, in respect of the conditions or charges of traffic, or otherwise. Such conditions and charges of traffic shall be just and equitable.
If ever language was clear, this language is clear. If this clause does not mean what it says, it means nothing. Indeed, the whole history of the treaty relations between the United States and Great Britain in respect to an Isthmian canal goes to prove that such a provision, even though it were as clumsily drawn as this provision is plainly drawn, could not mean anything else. Until the coastwise-shipping monopoly saw a chance to grab a million dollars or so a year at the expense of the National Treasury and of the national honor, nobody ever pretended that it meant anything else.
Mr. Hay is dead and Lord Pauncefote is dead; but Joseph H. Choate, who when American Ambassador to Great Britain helped negotiate the treaty, is still alive. No other living man is so well qualified to give testimony as to the meaning of this provision and this is what Mr. Choate says:
As the lips of both these diplomatists and great patriots, who were true to their own countries and each regardful of the rights of the other are sealed in death, I think that it is proper that I should say what I think both of them if they were here today would say-that the clause in the Panama Toll act exempting coastwise American shipping from the payment of tolls is in direct violation of the treaty.
I venture to say that in the whole course of the negotiations of this particular treaty, no claim, no suggestion, was made that there should be any exemption of anybody.
The whole civilized world is against the United States on this issue. As Senator Lodge says, we are threatened with the stigma of an "outlaw Nation" which has no respect for its solemn word or its solemn pledges. The President of the United States, in urging Congress to
repeal the special Canal privileges granted to the coastwise monopoly, had said:
I ask this of you in support of the foreign policy of the Administration. I shall not know how to deal with matters of even greater delicacy and nearer consequence if you do not grant it to me in ungrudging measure.
In the face of the record of such a solemn appeal, Lewis Nixon writes to The World to say that he has "never seen a sincere or logical argument to uphold the Hay-Pauncefote provision against remission of tolls." Senator O'Gorman, who is helping the coastwise monopoly keep its hand in the National Treasury, has even forgotten that he was once eminent as a Judge, and falls back upon the pettifogging argument that
The word "vessels" as used in the treaty applies solely to ships in the overseas trade. It does not apply and was never intended to apply to the coastwise trade.
In other words, a vessel is a vessel if it does not get a subsidy, but it is a raft or a derrick or a pike-pole if it does get a subsidy.
The Constitution provides that all treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be part of "the supreme law of the land." But Congress has recognized a higher law than the supreme law. That higher law is in the pockets of the coastwise-shipping monopoly. In order to give a million dollars a year to men who are already protected against every form of foreign competition, Congress undertakes to violate a treaty and break the pledge of the Nation. The Democratic part of Congress which upholds this tolls exemption is also turning its back upon the fundamental principle of its party and voting special privileges to a special interest at the expense both of the public Treasury and the public faith. And to what pur
pose? Not to build up an American merchant marine, for not a cent's worth of privilege is given to any American ship in the foreign trade. Every ship flying the American flag which goes through the Panama Canal bound to any foreign port must pay the same toll as a British ship or a German ship or a French ship.
The subsidy is all for the shipping that has no foreign competition. The treaty-breaking is all for a monopoly that has no foreign competition. The honor of the Nation and the historic principles of the Democratic party are alike flouted for the profit of a few coastwise carriers, while 95,000,000 American people are made to pay the bill in money and to pay the bill in international enmity.
The United States built the Canal subject to the provisions of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty and it is bound by those provisions. There is no external power or tribunal which can compel this country to respect its pledges, but the pledges are as valid as if we were the weakest instead of the strongest of nations.
This country began its national existence by proclaiming in the Declaration of Independence its "decent respect for the opinions of mankind." It must still maintain that 'decent respect for the opinions of mankind. Whatever Congress may think or whatever Congress may do at the behest of a monopoly's lobby, the American people are a people who want to keep the faith.
[April 24, 1921]
THE ratification of the Colombian treaty by the United States Senate has brought to an official end the most remarkable controversy in the journalistic life of The New York World or perhaps of any other American
In the Presidential campaign of 1908 certain events of no particular importance in themselves brought the Panama revolution of 1903 back into the news and revived public curiosity as to the inspiration of that revolution, the real ownership of the Panama Canal Company and the part that Theodore Roosevelt had played in the seizure of the Isthmus. The Panama revolution did not become in any sense an issue in the contest, but shortly after election Mr. Roosevelt saw fit to write a characteristic letter assailing the Indianapolis News. Mr. Roosevelt's statement of what had taken place in respect to Panama was so recklessly false that The World denounced his mendacity and called for a Congressional investigation. Mr. Roosevelt did not want a Congressional investigation or any other kind of investigation, so he hit on a highly ingenious 'device for smothering it. First he sent an abusive message to Congress personally attacking the late Joseph Pulitzer and accusing him of having "libelled the United States Government," and then he proceeded to invent a Federal libel law under which his charges could be prosecuted.
If Mr. Roosevelt had believed himself libelled in any way the courts of New York were open to him and he himself was a citizen of New York, but Mr. Roosevelt was not interested in bringing a libel suit under the laws of this State. That would have meant trying the case on its merits, and Mr. Roosevelt had no intention of allowing the case to be tried on its merits. The Department of Justice was instructed to proceed under a fantastic construction of a Federal statute drafted originally to punish minor misdemeanors committed on Federal property and not provided for in the Federal statutes. The indictments were obtained, and the issue was thus shifted from the Panama revolution to the constitutional power of the President to decree a Federal libel law.
The United States Courts made short shrift of Mr.