The Command of the Pacific

Albert J. Beveridge

1902

Fellow Americans of California and the Pacific Slope

The Pacific is the ocean of the future; and the Pacific is yours. The markets of the Orient are the Republic’s future commercial future is yours. Important as other questions are, the one great question that covers seas, and islands, and continents; that will last when other questions have been answered and forgotten; that will determine your present prosperity and the greatness of your children’s children in their day, is the mastery of the Pacific and the commercial conquest of the eastern world…

Let us consider the argument of advantage to ourselves, flowing from the Philippines, the Orient and from American mastery of the Pacific. What is the great commercial necessity of the Republic? It is markets — foreign markets. At one time we needed to build up our industries here and for that purpose to save them for our home markets. Protection did that; and today our home market is supplied. Now we have invaded the markets of Europe and filled them almost to their capacity with American goods. Our great combinations of capital devoted to manufacturing and transportation compete successfully with foreign manufacturers in their own countries.

But still we have a surplus; and an unsold surplus is commercial peril. Every unsold bushel of wheat reduces the price of every other one of the millions of bushels of wheat produced. If our manufacturers produce more than they can sell, that surplus product causes the mills to shut down until they produce no more than they can sell. And after we supply our own market, after we sell all we can to the markets of Europe, we still have an unsold surplus. If our prosperity continues this must be sold.

Where shall the Republic sell its surplus? Where shall the Pacific coast sell its surplus? And your surplus unsold means your commerce paralyzed, your laboring-men starving. Expansion answers that question…

If it is not true that her possessions help England’s commerce, why does not England give them up? Why does not Germany give up her possession in Northern China? Why is she spending tens of millions of dollars there, building German railways, German docks and vast plants for future German commerce? Why does Russia spend a hundred million dollars of Russian gold building Russian railways through Manchuria and binding that territory, vast in extent as all the states of the Pacific slop combined, to the Russian empire with bands of steel? Why is Japan now preparing to take Manchuria from Russia as she has already taken Formosa from China?

The Philippines do help us in Oriental commerce! They have helped us even now by making the American name known throughout the East, and our commerce with the islands and countries influence by the Philippines has in two short years leaped from $43,000,000 to $120,000,000.

If an American manufacturer established a great storehouse in London believing that it would help his business and then found his sales in London increasing 300 percent in less than three years, would he give away that brand establishment because some theorist told him that branch houses did not help trade and that he could sell as much and more if he shipped direct from his factory to the English purchaser?

An yet this practically is what the Opposition asks the American people to believe about and do with the Philippines. From every English and German possession in the East English and German goods are shipped in bulk and then reshipped as quick orders near at hand call for them. And these possession influence the entire population of the countries where they are located…

Has the decay of American energy begun with you, men of the West? Who says so is infidel to American character. Answer these slanders of your energy and power, people of the Pacific states — answer them with our ballots! Tell the world that, of all this masterful Nation, none more vial than the men and women who hold aloft the Republic’s flag on our Pacific shores!

If we need this Oriental market — and we can not dispose of our surplus without it — what American farmer is willing for us to give the Philippines to American’s competitors? What American manufacturer is willing to surrender this permanent commercial advantage to the nations who are striving for those very markets? Yet, that is what the Opposition asks you to do. For if we quit them certainly Germany or England or Japan will take them…

And wherever they [railroads] have gone Chinese commerce has increased, just as our own commerce increases here wherever a railroad goes. And wherever railways go wagon roads branch from them. Thus the methods of modern civilization are weaving a network of modern conditions among this most ancient of peoples. And if China now buys $250,000,000 worth of products from the rest of the world, what will she buy when all this change is now taking place brings her $400,000,000 as purchasers to the markets of the world? The most conservative experts estimate that China alone will buy at least one thousand million dollars worth of the products of other countries every year…

The Philippines and the Orient are you commercial opportunity. Does our duty as a Nation forbid you to accept it? Does our fitness for the work prevent us from doing it? Or does the Nation’s preparedness, the Republic’s duty and the commercial necessity of the American people unite in demanding of American statesmanship the holding of the Philippines and the commercial conquest of the Oriental world? …

Examine every example of administration of government in the Orient of Africa by a superior power and find the answer to that theory. Come nearer home. Analyze the three years of American administration in Porto Rico — American schools for the humblest, just laws, honest government, prosperous commerce. Now sail for less than a day to the sister island of San Domingo and behold commerce extinguished, justice unknown, government and law a whim, religion degenerated to voodoo rites, and answer whether American administration in Porto Rico, even if it had been without the consent of the governed, is not better for that people in San Domingo’s independent savagery.

Let us trust the American people! The most fervent belief in their purity, their power and their destiny is feeble, after all, compared with the reality on which that faith is founded. Great as our fathers were, the citizens of this Republic, on the whole, are greater still today, with broader education, loftier outlook. And if this were not so, we should not be worth of our fathers; for, to do as well as they we must do better. Over the entire Republic the people’s common schools increase, churches multiply, culture spreads, the poorest have privileges impossible to the wealthiest fifty years ago…

American soldiers, American teachers, American administrators — all are the instruments of the Nation in discharging the Nation’s high duty to the ancient and yet infant people which circumstance has place in our keeping. If it is said that our duty is to teach the world by example, I ask if our duty ends with that> Does any man’s duty to his children end with mere example? Does organized society owe no duty to the orphan and the abandoned save that of example? Why, then, are our schools, our asylums, or benevolent institutions, which force physical and mental training upon the neglected youth of the Republic? And does the parent of does organized society refrain from discharging this duty if the child resists?…

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