The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, May 17, 1901, Page 3, Image 3

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    NJjTjv - -tys
uelcotcd as . Nebraska's representatives in the
United States Senate.
The advocates of the single gold standard
have insisted that their financial policy was for
the best interest of the people. They have de
nied any favoritism towards corporationi
or monopolies. And if dependence could
be placed upon these declaimers, then the ad
vocate of the single gold standard must be as
radically opposed to corporation domination
in political affairs as the advocate of bimetal
lism could possibly be. But hero wo have
perhaps a leading exponent, among the
periodicals, of the single gold standard boast
ing of the election of two corporation men
as indicative of "a progress in education and
exceedingly gratifying." Unquestionably the
election of such men should be "a progress in
education" to people who have refused to be
lieve that little by little the corporations of the
country are seeking to install themselves in
power. Undoubtedly the election of such men
is "exceedingly gratifying" to the class inter
ests which they are expected to serve, and it is
not in the least surprising that the representa
tives of the money trust, the greatest of' all
trusts, should express particular gratification at
such selections.
Deceiving the Cubans.
When the Cuban Commissioners recently
visited Washington, we are told that they were
informed by the President and Secretary Root
that the Piatt amendment, which assumed to
lay dbwn rules for the guidance of the Cuban
people, is an established law and one whose
provisions the administration cannot avoid.
In the Neeley case the United States Su:
preme Court held:
"Cuba is foreign territory. It cannot be re
garded in any constitutional, legal or interna
tional sense as a part of the territory of the
United States. That island is territory held in
trust for. the inhabitants of Cuba to whom it
rightfully belongs and to whom exclusive control .
will be surrendered."
Now if Cuba is in fact foreign territory, if
it cannot be regarded in any constitutional,
legal or international sense as a part of the ter
ritory of the United States, if that territory
belongs rightfully to the inhabitants of Cuba,
if those inhabitants are entitled to the exclu
sive control of that territory by what right-
constitutional, legal, international or moral
do the United States assume to provide funda
mental laws for the organization of the Cuban
government and for the guidance of that gov
ernment after it shall have been organized?
The imperialist claims that the United
States have title to the Philippines, the island
of Guam, and the island of Porto Rico because
those islands were ceded to us in the treaty
with Spain. But in that same treaty, Spain
merely relinquished title to Cuba.
Turning back to our own ante-war declara
tions we find that the United States declared
that the people of Cuba are and of right ought
to be free and independent; that it was not the
purpose of the United States to exercise sov
ereignty, jurisdiction or control over said
island, except for the pacification thereof, and
The Commoner.
that when that was accomplished it was the in
tention to leave the control of that island to its
So far as concerns Cuba we do not possess
even what is called "color of title;" and the
highest court in our land has formally de
clared that wo arc without any authority other
than that of trustee whose duty it is simply to
deliver that territory to the inhabitants of
Cuba, to whom it "rightfully belongs," and to
whom "exclusive control" should be surren
dered. . And yet in the face of these facts the Presi
dent and his Secretary of War calmly announce
to the Cuban Commissioners that the Piatt
amendment is the law of the land and that the
people of Cuba are bound thereby
When men seek to do wrong, enter upon a
schomo of injustice and assume powers to which
they arc not entitled, they are very apt to ex
pose their own inconsistency not to call it
hypocricy and in this instance the inconsis
tensy is visible to the naked eye.
The Ratification of the Treaty.
A reader of The Commoner has called at
tention to the fact that republicans try to shirk
responsibility for an imperial policy by saying
that I advised the ratification of the treaty.
He asks that I state the reasons which led riib
to favor ratification. ' ' ' '
In a speech delivered at Indianapolis, Aug
ust 8, 1900, accepting the democratic nomina
tion, I took occasion to discuss this matter, the
following being an extract from that speech: '
When the president finally laid before the
senate a treaty which recognized the indepen
dence of Cuba', but provided for the cession of
the Philippine islands to the United States, the
menace of imperialism became so apparent that
many preferred to reject the treaty and risk the
ills that might follow rather than take the chance
of correcting the errors of the treaty by the in
dependent action of this country.
I was among the number of those who believed
it better to ratify the treaty and end the war, re
lease the volunteers, remove the excuse for war
expenditures and then give the Filipinos the in
dependence which might be forced from Spain by
a new treaty.
In view of the criticism which my action
aroused in some quarters, I take this occasion to
restate the reasons given at that time. I thought
it safer to trust the American people to give inde
pendence to the Filipinos than to trust the accom
plishment of that purpose to diplomacy with an
unfriendly nation.
Lincoln embodied an argument in the question
when he asked, "Can aliens make treaties easier
than friends can make laws?" I believe that we
are now In a better position to wage a successful
contest against imperialism than we would have
been had the treaty been rejected. With the
treaty ratified a clean-cut issue is presented be
tween a government by consent and a government
by force, and imperialists must bear the responsi
bility for all that happens until the question is
If the treaty had been rejected the opponents
' of imperialism would have been held responsible
for any international complications which might
have arisen before the ratification of another
treaty. But whatever difference of opinion may
have existed as to the best method of opposing a
colonial policy, there never was any difference aa
to the great importance of the question md there
fs no difference now as to the. course to ho pur
sued. The titlo of Spain being extinguished we were
at liberty to deal with the Filipinos according to
American principles. The Bacon resolution, Intro
duced a month before hostilities broko out at Ma
nila, promised indopendonco to tho Filipinos on
tho samo torms that It was promised to tho Cu
bans. I supported this resolution and believe that
its adoption prior to the breaking out of hostilities
would have prevented bloodshed, and that Its adop
tion at any subsequent time would have ended
If the treaty had been rejected considerable
timo would have necessarily elapsed before a new
treaty could have been agreed upon and ratified,
and during that timo the question would have been
agitating tho public mind. If the Bacon resolution
had been adopted by tho senate and carried out by
the president, either at the time of the ratification
of tho treaty or at any timo afterwards, it would
have taken the question of imperialism out of
politics and left the American people free to deal
with their domestic problems. J3ut the resolution
was defeated by tho vote of the republican vico
president, and from that time to this a republican
congress has refused to take any action whatever
in tho matter.
While the treaty was pending in the sen
ate, and about two months before the vote was
taken upon it, I wrote an article for the New
York Journal, giving reasons in support of tho
proposition to ratify the treaty and declare the
policy of tho government by resolution. This
article will be found on another page of this
The ratification of the treaty in no way
committed this nation to an imperial policy.
It simply terminated Spanish authority and left
the United States free to deal with the islands
according to American principles. The Bacon
resolution, which declared it to be the purpose
of the United States to establish a stable gov
ernment, which, when established, was to be
turned over to the inhabitants of the Philip
pine islands, was a tic vote in the senate, and
was only defeated by tho vote of the vice-president.
As the treaty required a two-thirds
vote for its ratification, it is evident that one
fourth of those who voted to ratify did so with
the understanding that the question remained
an open one.
Senator Wellington of Maryland voted for
the ratification of the treaty, and in a speech
delivered last fall he stated that he so voted
because the president promised him that the
Philippine Islands would not be held perma
nently. If the ratification of the treaty had
necessarily committed this country to an im
perialistic policy, then all who opposed im
perialism would have been justified in oppos
ing, aye, even compelled to oppose, the treaty.
But as ratification did not commit the nation
to an imperialistic policy, the only question the
senate had to consider was how best to cor
rect the errors in the treaty.
The payment of twenty millions of dollars
to Spain did not obligate this country to enter
upon a colonial policy. It could have been re
covered from the Filipinos in return for inde
pendence, and if not recovered, it was a small
contribution to the extension of liberty. We
had by one act of congress appropriated fifty
millions of dollars to secure independence for
the Cubans who numbered less than two mil-