Carl Russell Fish

While the American people were concentrating their attention upon the blockade of Santiago near their own shores, the situation in the distant islands of the Pacific was rapidly becoming acute. All through June, Dewey had been maintaining himself, with superb nerve, in Manila Harbor, in the midst of uncertain neutrals. A couple of unwieldy United States monitors were moving slowly to his assistance from the one side, while a superior Spanish fleet was approaching from the other. On the 26th of June, the Spanish Admiral Camara had reached Port Said, but he was not entirely happy.

In a large way, ever since the Spanish War, the United States has been adjusting its policy to the world conditions of which that struggle first made the people aware. The period between 1898 and 1917 will doubtless be regarded by the historian a hundred years from now as a time of transition similar to that between 1815 and 1829. In that earlier period John Marshall and John Quincy Adams did much by their wisdom and judgment to preserve what was of value in the old regime for use in the new.

The United States arrived in the Orient at a moment of high excitement. Russia was consolidating the advance of two centuries by the building of the trans-Siberian railroad, and was looking eagerly for a port in the sun, to supplement winter-bound Vladivostok. Great Britain still regarded Russia as the great enemy and, pursuing her policy of placing buffer states between her territories and her enemies, was keenly interested in preventing any encroachment southward which might bring the Russian bear nearer India.

While American troops were threading the mountain passes and the morasses of the Philippines, scaling the walls of Pekin, and sunning themselves in the delectable pleasances of the Forbidden City, and while American Secretaries of State were penning dispatches which determined the fate of countries on the opposite side of the globe, the old diplomatic problems nearer home still persisted.

As the acquisition of the Philippines made all Far Eastern questions of importance to the United States, so the investment of American millions in a canal across the Isthmus of Panama increased popular interest in the problems of the Caribbean. That fascinating sheet of water, about six hundred miles from north to south by about fifteen hundred from east to west, is ringed around by the possessions of many powers.

In 1815 the world found peace after twenty-two years of continual war. In the forests of Canada and the pampas of South America, throughout all the countries of Europe, over the plains of Russia and the hills of Palestine, men and women had known what war was and had prayed that its horrors might never return. In even the most autocratic states subjects and rulers were for once of one mind: in the future war must be prevented.

It became increasingly evident that the foreign policy of the United States could not consist solely of a Caribbean policy, a Pan-American policy, and a Far Eastern policy, but that it must necessarily involve a world policy. During the years after the Spanish War the world was actively discussing peace; but all the while war was in the air. The peace devices of 1815, the Holy and the Quadruple Alliances, had vanished.

No two nations have ever had more intimate relationships than the United States and Great Britain. Speaking the same language and owning a common racial origin in large part, they have traded with each other and in the same regions, and geographically their territories touch for three thousand miles. During the nineteenth century the coastwise shipping of the United States was often forced to seek the shelter of the British West Indies.

The impulse for expansion upon which Buchanan floated his political raft into the presidency was not a party affair. It was felt by men of all party creeds, and it seemed for a moment to be the dominant national ideal. Slaveholders and other men who had special interests sought to make use of it, but the fundamental feeling did not rest on their support.

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