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The authors of this book, by learning and ability, are equipped to present "THE PANAMA CANAL TOLLS CONTROVERSY" with an impartial spirit, and they have rendered a useful service in presenting in a clear and connected form this important chapter in our legislative history, together with its bearing upon our international obligations. In the repeal of the Tolls Provision of the Panama Act, we were not cringing or yielding to either Great Britain or to any other foreign power; we were actuated not by a spirit of weakness, as some of the opponents of the repeal charged, but by a spirit of conscientious righteousness and of conscious strength. We yielded to our own exalted sense of public honor to the credit of this and future generations of America.
The example we have set will not be forgotten. That it was rightly interpreted by the chancelleries of the world and by Great Britain is shown by the speech made by Sir Edward Grey, her Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in the House of Commons. He said:
“It has not been done to please us, or in the interest of good relations, but I believe from a much greater motive-the feeling that a Government which is to use its influence among nations to make relations better must never, when the occasion arises, flinch or quail from interpreting treaty rights in a strictly fair spirit.”
This statement has a peculiar, if not prophetic significance in connection with the expressed reasons presented by Sir Edward Grey which impelled Great Britain to take part in this gigantic and deplorable war now devastating the European world,
OSCAR S. STRAUS.
UNITED STATES SENATE
WASHINGTON, D. C.
In this work, the authors have established the correctness of President Wilson's Panama Canal Tolls policy. They hold that the Hay-Pauncefote treaty is a world pact, and, as now construed, is an international agreement without a flaw. In this they are in full accord with the late President McKinley and his great Secretary of State, John Hay, by whom the treaty was negotiated.
In the dedication they show their appreciation of President Wilson in the following:
PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON
That the great Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan-confronted in this great international upheaval and calamity with graver questions and greater burdens in actual labor than have confronted any Secretary since the Republic was founded (in which tremendous labor
I happen to know he is and has been engaged with all his soul, body and mental faculties, which were long ago dedicated to his country and the final and permanent peace of the world, a cause now so rudely and suddenly interrupted, leaving his Government apparently, and for the time being, at least, its only hope and repository), should pause those labors to write an introduction to the book and commend its purpose and style, shows its importance now and for the future. The same can be said of the introduction (a substantial contribution in itself to the value of the work) by Hon. Oscar S. Straus, member for the United States of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, and, with the single exception of Colonel Roosevelt, the most prominent member of the leading minority (Progressive) party in the last national election; who, while the central figure at Washington, in an effort to bring about peace in Europe, paused to examine the manuscript and commend the work. No further comment on the importance or excellence of the work is necessary.
This book is intelligently conceived and well executed. It is on an important international question on which an enlightened public opinion is most desirable. It states the correct view on this question in a clear, logical and convincing argument. I commend it to the public as a creditable contribution to the discussion of the question.
The chapter which treats of the financial aspects of tolls-exemption is a novel contribution to the subject. It applies the principle developed in the regulation of national, state and municipal utilities to the management of the Panama Canal-an international utility whereof
the United States is merely trustee. It shows that the sentence of the Hay-Pauncefote treaty:
"Such conditions and changes of traffic shall be just and equitable" obligates the United States to manage it as a public utility, that is, for the benefit of mankind "on equal terms to all."
This chapter alone makes the work one of merit and commends it to the considerate attention of the public.
The work as a whole makes a searching analysis of the data (historical and contemporary) bearing on the meaning of the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, and shows the meaning that the data reveal in forceful English. It makes effective use of the conclusions arrived at by others. Thus the reader will get a comprehensive survey of the whole question in a single volume.
The authors of this work are members of the Progressive Party. Their vigorous defense of an important policy of a President belonging to another party is remarkable, and shows a commendable spirit. They aim at the elimination of tolls-exemption from domestic politics. To further this object, they have quoted extensively from Republican addresses while recognizing the great merit of contemporary Democratic addresses in the Senate and the House. The Democratic Party is given paramount credit for the repeal of the tolls exemption clause of the Panama Canal Act.
The tolls-exemption clause of the Panama Canal Act is repealed due to the zeal, sustained effort of exalted moral purpose of the President, supported by the great majority of the members of his own party. Re-enact
ment of such a statute should be made impossible. This book is a sane, forceful and unanswerable statement of the case against the right of the United States to exempt any of its shipping, coastwise and foreign, through the canal, as was proposed in the foregoing statute which was declared to be repugnant to the Hay-Pauncefote treaty.
This work should contribute much to the formation of a sound public opinion on this extremely delicate international question and thereby aid in eliminating it from domestic politics. Tolls-exemption is a dangerous question because of its susceptibility to the uses of the political demagogue. We own the canal and are sovereign in the Canal Zone. It is, therefore, only right and proper that we should manage it as we please. Why knuckle down to England? Such half-truths as these are more misleading than deliberate falsehoods, and make this question an annoying political issue because wrong may easily gain ascendancy. Therefore, all good citizens, regardless of party, should aid in forming a sound public opinion on this question. This is an admirable handbook for use in this connection.
Candidates for membership in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate who are opposed to the policy of tolls-exemption will find this work a great help in conclusively answering opponents who favor tollsexemption. They can effectively point to its authorship by two members of the Progressive Party and quote therefrom unanswerable arguments taken from notable addresses in favor of the repeal of the tolls-exemption clause of the Panama Canal Act by members of the Republican Party.