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“A brief, informal conversation followed, during which Lord Salisbury said nothing to leave me to suppose that he is unfavorably disposed-much less hostile-to the construction of the canal under our auspices, provided that it is open to the ships of all countries on equal terms."
“Open to the ships of all countries on equal terms" was understood to mean:
"It is always understood by the United States and Great Britain that the parties constructing or owning the same shall impose no other charges or conditions of traffic thereupon than are just and equitable; and that the same canals or railways, being open to the citizens and subjects of the United States and Great Britain on equal terms, shall also be open on like terms to the citizens and subjects of every other State."
Negotiations were closed with this understanding according to Ambassador Choate:
"I wrote to the chairman of the committee, Senator O'Gorman, inclosing to him, by the express permission of the Secretary of State, a copy of my letters to Secretary Hay between August 3 and October 12, 1901, the same that you have. To my mind they establish beyond question the intent of the parties engaged in the negotiation that the treaty should mean exactly what it says, and excludes the possibility of any exemption of any kind of vessels of the United States. Equality between Great Britain and the United States is the constant theme, and especially in my last letter of October 2, 1901, where I speak of Lord Lansdowne's part in the matter, and say 'He has shown an earnest desire to bring to an amicable settlement, honorable alike to both parties, this long and
important controversy between the two nations.
In substance, he abrogates the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, gives us an American canal, ours to build as and where we like, to own, control, and govern, on the sole condition of its being always neutral and free for the passage of the ships of all nations on equal terms, except that if we get into a war with any nation, we can shut its ships out and take care of ourselves.'
“This was the summing up of our whole two months' negotiation.”
Closed with the understanding embodied in the following, according to Secretary of State John Haythe man who knew:
“All means all. The treaty was not so long that we could not have made room for the word 'other' if we had understood that it belonged there. 'All nations' means all nations, and the United States is certainly a nation."
“That was the understanding between yourself and Lord Pauncefote when you and he made the treaty?” I pursued.
“It certainly was,” he replied. “It was the understanding of both Governments, and I have no doubt that the Senate realized that in ratifying the second treaty without such an amendment it was committing us to the principle of giving all friendly nations equal privileges in the canal with ourselves. That is our golden rule.”
Senator McCumber properly says:
“I cannot imagine how any Senator in this chamber who will read the history that precedes the ClaytonBulwer treaty, who will read the Clayton-Bulwer treaty
following our declarations, and who will then read the declarations of this Government in all its statements from that time down to 1901, can for one moment question our great national policy of equality of treatment of all vessels which might use that canal. Then, when we come down to the conditions, the views of both Governments at the time we entered into the great obligation known as the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, when we stop and read the declaration of the British press and the declaration of the American press that coincide exactly, showing that the views of the two nations have never changed in the slightest degree, when we follow that up with the declaration of our negotiators
in which they declare over and over again that the general principles of neutrality enunciated in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty should not be violated or impaired by this Government, and when we follow that up by the declarations that are shown in the letters (of Ambassador Choate and Henry White] * * * I cannot conceive the possibility of any man's mind being so everlastingly prejudiced that he will close it to all this clear, unmistakable evidence of what they and we all understood this treaty to mean, and insist that notwithstanding all this we can read the treaty another way. Our duty is to read that treaty the way the parties understood it to mean when they signed it.”
The matter, as indicated in the foregoing by Senator McCumber, was so fully settled by those who actually negotiated the Hay-Pauncefote treaty and the treaty with Panama-Hay-Bunau-Varilla—and knew the intent of the parties that the great English and American
common law doctrine of stare decisis as to the rights of the parties should apply if the doctrine could be enforced in view of the original partnerships and vested rights. We are plainly obligated to operate the Panama Canal "for the benefit of mankind on equal terms to all."
Legal and Moral Aspects of Tolls-Exemption
Citizens of the United States should, as we see it, brush aside all personal, political and local considerations and approach the problem on a high moral plane and in a judicial frame of mind. We should turn a deaf ear to all race or religious appeals, and turn an equally deaf ear to the blair of party trumpets, however loud and thrilling, just as a judge should when he puts on his judicial robes and ascends the bench to decide a case of law on contracts, regardless of his personal preference, feelings or other considerations not a part of the record.
Careful examination of the record of the issue which has been made up; an issue which was begun, as far as the governing principles are concerned, as far back as 1826, which record is on file in the archives of all civilized Gov. ernments and of all large libraries of the world, constrained us to urge the repeal of this ill-considered act of Congress.
Before we, in that manner, go down not merely in American history, but in the history of the world, let us pause, examine the record again and reason together without race or party prejudice. Let us pause, and, with that immutable record before us, think again before we continue on a course with such far-reaching consequences.
So far as party platforms are concerned we will not