In Cuba such progress has been made toward putting the independent government of the island upon a firm footing that before the present session of the Congress closes this will be an accomplished fact. Cuba will then start as her own mistress; and to the beautiful Queen of the Antilles, as she unfolds this new page of her destiny, we extend our heartiest greetings and good wishes. Elsewhere I have discussed the question of reciprocity. In the case of Cuba, however, there are weighty reasons of morality and of national interest why the policy should be held to have a peculiar application, and I most earnestly ask your attention to the wisdom, indeed to the vital need, of providing for a substantial reduction in the tariff duties on Cuban imports into the United States. Cuba has in her constitution affirmed what we desired: that she should stand, in international matters, in closer and more friendly relations with us than with any other power; and we are bound by every consideration of honor and expediency to pass commercial measures in the interest of her material well—being.
In the Philippines our problem is larger. They are very rich tropical islands, inhabited by many varying tribes, representing widely different stages of progress toward civilization. Our earnest effort is to help these people upward along the stony and difficult path that leads to self—government. We hope to make our administration of the islands honorable to our Nation by making it of the highest benefit to the Filipinos themselves; and as an earnest of what we intend to do, we point to what we have done. Already a greater measure of material prosperity and of governmental honesty and efficiency has been attained in the Philippines than ever before in their history.
It is no light task for a nation to achieve the temperamental qualities without which the institutions of free government are but an empty mockery. Our people are now successfully governing themselves, because for more than a thousand years they have been slowly fitting themselves, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, toward this end. What has taken us thirty generations to achieve, we cannot expect to have another race accomplish out of hand, especially when large portions of that race start very far behind the point which our ancestors had reached even thirty generations ago. In dealing with the Philippine people we must show both patience and strength, forbearance and steadfast resolution. Our aim is high. We do not desire to do for the islanders merely what has elsewhere been done for tropic peoples by even the best foreign governments. We hope to do for them what has never before been done for any people of the tropics—to make them fit for self-government after the fashion of the really free nations.
History may safely be challenged to show a single instance in which a masterful race such as ours, having been forced by the exigencies of war to take possession of an alien land, has behaved to its inhabitants with the disinterested zeal for their progress that our people have shown in the Philippines. To leave the islands at this time would mean that they would fall into a welter of murderous anarchy. Such desertion of duty on our part would be a crime against humanity. The character of Governor Taft and of his associates and subordinates is a proof, if such be needed, of the sincerity of our effort to give the islanders a constantly increasing measure of self-government, exactly as fast as they show themselves fit to exercise it. Since the civil government was established not an appointment has been made in the islands with any reference to considerations of political influence, or to aught else Save the fitness of the man and the needs of the service.
In our anxiety for the welfare and progress of the Philippines, may be that here and there we have gone too rapidly in giving them local self-government. It is on this side that our error, if any, has been committed. No competent observer, sincerely desirous of finding out the facts and influenced only by a desire for the welfare of the natives, can assert that we have not gone far enough. We have gone to the very verge of safety in hastening the process. To have taken a single step farther or faster in advance would have been folly and weakness, and might well have been crime. We are extremely anxious that the natives shall show the power of governing themselves. We are anxious, first for their sakes, and next, because it relieves us of a great burden. There need not be the slightest fear of our not continuing to give them all the liberty for which they are fit.
The only fear is t[ha]t in our overanxiety we give them a degree of independence for which they are unfit, thereby inviting reaction and disaster. As fast as there is any reasonable hope that in a given district the people can govern themselves, self-government has been given in that district. There is not a locality fitted for self-government which has not received it. But it may well be that in certain cases it will have to be withdrawn because the inhabitants show themselves unfit to exercise it; such instances have already occurred. In other words, there is not the slightest chance of our failing to show a sufficiently humanitarian spirit. The danger comes in the opposite direction.
There are still troubles ahead in the islands. The insurrection has become an affair of local banditti and marauders, who deserve no higher regard than the brigands of portions of the Old World. Encouragement, direct or indirect, to these insurrectors stands on the same footing as encouragement to hostile Indians in the days when we still had Indian wars. Exactly as our aim is to give to the Indian who remains peaceful the fullest and amplest consideration, but to have it understood that we will show no weakness if he goes on the warpath, so we must make it evident, unless we are false to our own traditions and to the demands of civilization and humanity, that while we will do everything in our power for the Filipino who is peaceful, we will take the sternest measures with the Filipino who follows the path of the insurrecto and the ladrone.
The heartiest praise is due to large numbers of the natives of the islands for their steadfast loyalty. The Macabebes have been conspicuous for their courage and devotion to the flag. I recommend that the Secretary of War be empowered to take some systematic action in the way of aiding those of these men who are crippled in the service and the families of those who are killed.
The time has come when there should be additional legislation for the Philippines. Nothing better can be done for the islands than to introduce industrial enterprises. Nothing would benefit them so much as throwing them open to industrial development. The connection between idleness and mischief is proverbial, and the opportunity to do remunerative work is one of the surest preventatives of war. Of course no business man will go into the Philippines unless it is to his interest to do so; and it is immensely to the interest of the islands that he should go in. It is therefore necessary that the Congress should pass laws by which the resources of the islands can be developed; so that franchises (for limited terms of years) can be granted to companies doing business in them, and every encouragement be given to the incoming of business men of every kind.
Not to permit this is to do a wrong to the Philippines. The franchises must be granted and the business permitted only under regulations which will guarantee the islands against any kind of improper exploitation. But the vast natural wealth of the islands must be developed, and the capital willing to develop it must be given the opportunity. The field must be thrown open to individual enterprise, which has been the real factor in the development of every region over which our flag has flown. It is urgently necessary to enact suitable laws dealing with general transportation, mining, banking, currency, homesteads, and the use and ownership of the lands and timber. These laws will give free play to industrial enterprise; and the commercial development which will surely follow will accord to the people of the islands the best proofs of the sincerity of our desire to aid them.
I call your attention most earnestly to the crying need of a cable to Hawaii and the Philippines, to be continued from the Philippines to points in Asia. We should not defer a day longer than necessary the construction of such a cable. It is demanded not merely for commercial but for political and military considerations.
Either the Congress should immediately provide for the construction of a Government cable, or else an arrangement should be made by which like advantages to those accruing from a Government cable may be secured to the Government by contract with a private cable company.
No single great material work which remains to be undertaken on this continent is of such consequence to the American people as the building of a canal across the Isthmus connecting North and South America. Its importance to the Nation is by no means limited merely to its material effects upon our business prosperity; and yet with view to these effects alone it would be to the last degree important for us immediately to begin it. While its beneficial effects would perhaps be most marked upon the Pacific Coast and the Gulf and South Atlantic States, it would also greatly benefit other sections. It is emphatically a work which it is for the interest of the entire country to begin and complete as soon as possible; it is one of those great works which only a great nation can undertake with prospects of success, and which when done are not only permanent assets in the nation’s material interests, but standing monuments to its constructive ability.
I am glad to be able to announce to you that our negotiations on this subject with Great Britain, conducted on both sides in a spirit of friendliness and mutual good will and respect, have resulted in my being able to lay before the Senate a treaty which if ratified will enable us to begin preparations for an Isthmian canal at any time, and which guarantees to this Nation every right that it has ever asked in connection with the canal. In this treaty, the old Clayton—Bulwer treaty, so long recognized as inadequate to supply the base for the construction and maintenance of a necessarily American ship canal, is abrogated. It specifically provides that the United States alone shall do the work of building and assume the responsibility of safeguarding the canal and shall regulate its neutral use by all nations on terms of equality without the guaranty or interference of any outside nation from any quarter. The signed treaty will at once be laid before the Senate, and if approved the Congress can then proceed to give effect to the advantages it secures us by providing for the building of the canal.
The true end of every great and free people should be self-respecting peace; and this Nation most earnestly desires sincere and cordial friendship with all others. Over the entire world, of recent years, wars between the great civilized powers have become less and less frequent. Wars with barbarous or semi-barbarous peoples come in an entirely different category, being merely a most regrettable but necessary international police duty which must be performed for the sake of the welfare of mankind. Peace can only be kept with certainty where both sides wish to keep it; but more and more the civilized peoples are realizing the wicked folly of war and are attaining that condition of just and intelligent regard for the rights of others which will in the end, as we hope and believe, make world-wide peace possible. The peace conference at The Hague gave definite expression to this hope and belief and marked a stride toward their attainment.
This same peace conference acquiesced in our statement of the Monroe Doctrine as compatible with the purposes and aims of the conference.
The Monroe Doctrine should be the cardinal feature of the foreign policy of all the nations of the two Americas, as it is of the United States. Just seventy-eight years have passed since President Monroe in his Annual Message announced that “The American continents are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power.” In other words, the Monroe Doctrine is a declaration that there must be no territorial aggrandizement by any non-American power at the expense of any American power on American soil. It is in no wise intended as hostile to any nation in the Old World. Still less is it intended to give cover to any aggression by one New World power at the expense of any other. It is simply a step, and a long step, toward assuring the universal peace of the world by securing the possibility of permanent peace on this hemisphere.
During the past century other influences have established the permanence and independence of the smaller states of Europe. Through the Monroe Doctrine we hope to be able to safeguard like independence and secure like permanence for the lesser among the New World nations.
This doctrine has nothing to do with the commercial relations of any American power, save that it in truth allows each of them to form such as it desires. In other words, it is really a guaranty of the commercial independence of the Americas. We do not ask under this doctrine for any exclusive commercial dealings with any other American state. We do not guarantee any state against punishment if it misconducts itself, provided that punishment does not take the form of the acquisition of territory by any non—American power.
Our attitude in Cuba is a sufficient guaranty of our own good faith. We have not the slightest desire to secure any territory at the expense of any of our neighbors. We wish to work with them hand in hand, so that all of us may be uplifted together, nd we rejoice over the good fortune of any of them, we gladly hail their material prosperity and political stability, and are concerned and alarmed if any of them fall into industrial or political chaos. We do not wish to see any Old World military power grow up on this continent, or to be compelled to become a military power ourselves. The peoples of the Americas can prosper best if left to work out their own salvation in their own way.
The work of upbuilding the Navy must be steadily continued. No one point of our policy, foreign or domestic, is more important than this to the honor and material welfare, and above all to the peace, of our nation in the future. Whether we desire it or not, we must henceforth recognize that we have international duties no less than international rights. Even if our flag were hauled down in the Philippines and Puerto Rico, even if we decided not to build the Isthmian Canal, we should need a thoroughly trained Navy of adequate size, or else be prepared definitely and for all time to abandon the idea that our nation is among those whose sons go down to the sea in ships. Unless our commerce is always to be carried in foreign bottoms, we must have war craft to protect it.
Inasmuch, however, as the American people have no thought of abandoning the path upon which they have entered, and especially in view of the fact that the building of the Isthmian Canal is fast becoming one of the matters which the whole people are united in demanding, it is imperative that our Navy should be put and kept in the highest state of efficiency, and should be made to answer to our growing needs. So far from being in any way a provocation to war, an adequate and highly trained navy is the best guaranty against war, the cheapest and most effective peace insurance. The cost of building and maintaining such a navy represents the very lightest premium for insuring peace which this nation can possibly pay.
Probably no other great nation in the world is so anxious for peace as we are. There is not a single civilized power which has anything whatever to fear from aggressiveness on our part. All we want is peace; and toward this end we wish to be able to secure the same respect for our rights from others which we are eager and anxious to extend to their rights in return, to insure fair treatment to us commercially, and to guarantee the safety of the American people.
Our people intend to abide by the Monroe Doctrine and to insist upon it as the one sure means of securing the peace of the Western Hemisphere. The Navy offers us the only means of making our insistence upon the Monroe Doctrine anything but a subject of derision to whatever nation chooses to disregard it. We desire the peace which comes as of right to the just man armed; not the peace granted on terms of ignominy to the craven and the weakling.
It is not possible to improvise a navy after war breaks out. The ships must be built and the men trained long in advance. Some auxiliary vessels can be turned into makeshifts which will do in default of any better for the minor work, and a proportion of raw men can be mixed with the highly trained, their shortcomings being made good by the skill of their fellows; but the efficient fighting force of the Navy when pitted against an equal opponent will be found almost exclusively in the war ships that have been regularly built and in the officers and men who through years of faithful performance of sea duty have been trained to handle their formidable but complex and delicate weapons with the highest efficiency. In the late war with Spain the ships that dealt the decisive blows at Manila and Santiago had been launched from two to fourteen years, and they were able to do as they did because the men in the conning towers, the gun turrets, and the engine—rooms had through long years of practice at sea learned how to do their duty.
Our present Navy was begun in 1882. At that period our Navy consisted of a collection of antiquated wooden ships, already almost as out of place against modern war vessels as the galleys of Alcibiades and Hamilcar—certainly as the ships of Tromp and Blake. Nor at that time did we have men fit to handle a modern man-of-war. Under the wise legislation of the Congress and the successful administration of a succession of patriotic Secretaries of the Navy, belonging to both political parties, the work of upbuilding the Navy went on, and ships equal to any in the world of their kind were continually added; and what was even more important, these ships were exercised at sea singly and in squadrons until the men aboard them were able to get the best possible service out of them. The result was seen in the short war with Spain, which was decided with such rapidity because of the infinitely greater preparedness of our Navy than of the Spanish Navy.
While awarding the fullest honor to the men who actually commanded and manned the ships which destroyed the Spanish sea forces in the Philippines and in Cuba, we must not forget that an equal meed of praise belongs to those without whom neither blow could have been struck. The Congressmen who voted years in advance the money to lay down the ships, to build the guns, to buy the armor-plate; the Department officials and the business men and wage-workers who furnished what the Congress had authorized; the Secretaries of the Navy who asked for and expended the appropriations; and finally the officers who, in fair weather and foul, on actual sea service, trained and disciplined the crews of the ships when there was no war in sight—all are entitled to a full share in the glory of Manila and Santiago, and the respect accorded by every true American to those who wrought such signal triumph for our country. It was forethought and preparation which secured us the overwhelming triumph of 1898. If we fail to show forethought and preparation now, there may come a time when disaster will befall us instead of triumph; and should this time come, the fault will rest primarily, not upon those whom the accident of events puts in supreme command at the moment, but upon those who have failed to prepare in advance.
There should be no cessation in the work of completing our Navy. So far ingenuity has been wholly unable to devise a substitute for the great war craft whose hammering guns beat out the mastery of the high seas. It is unsafe and unwise not to provide this year for several additional Battle ships and heavy armored cruisers, with auxiliary and lighter craft in proportion; for the exact numbers and character I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Navy. But there is something we need even more than additional ships, and this is additional officers and men. To provide battle ships and cruisers and then lay them up, with the expectation of leaving them unmanned until they are needed in actual war, would be worse than folly; it would be a crime against the Nation.
To send any war ship against a competent enemy unless those aboard it have been trained by years of actual sea service, including incessant gunnery practice, would be to invite not merely disaster, but the bitterest shame and humiliation. Four thousand additional seamen and one thousand additional marines should be provided; and an increase in the officers should be provided by making a large addition to the classes at Annapolis. There is one small matter which should be mentioned in connection with Annapolis. The pretentious and unmeaning title of “naval cadet” should be abolished; the title of “midshipman,” full of historic association, should be restored.
Even in time of peace a war ship should be used until it wears out, for only so can it be kept fit to respond to any emergency. The officers and men alike should be kept as much as possible on blue water, for it is there only they can learn their duties as they should be learned. The big vessels should be manoeuvred in squadrons containing not merely battle ships, but the necessary proportion of cruisers and scouts. The torpedo boats should be handled by the younger officers in such manner as will best fit the latter to take responsibility and meet the emergencies of actual warfare.
Every detail ashore which can be performed by a civilian should be so performed, the officer being kept for his special duty in the sea service. Above all, gunnery practice should be unceasing. It is important to have our Navy of adequate size, but it is even more important that ship for ship it should equal in efficiency any navy in the world. This is possible only with highly drilled crews and officers, and this in turn imperatively demands continuous and progressive instruction in target practice, ship handling, squadron tactics, and general discipline. Our ships must be assembled in squadrons actively cruising away from harbors and never long at anchor. The resulting wear upon engines and hulls must be endured; a battle ship worn out in long training of officers and men is well paid for by the results, while, on the other hand, no matter in how excellent condition, it is useless if the crew be not expert.
We now have seventeen battle ships appropriated for, of which nine are completed and have been commissioned for actual service. The remaining eight will be ready in from two to four years, but it will take at least that time to recruit and train the men to fight them. It is of vast concern that we have trained crews ready for the vessels by the time they are commissioned. Good ships and good guns are simply good weapons, and the best weapons are useless save in the hands of men who know how to fight with them. The men must be trained and drilled under a thorough and well-planned system of progressive instruction, while the recruiting must be carried on with still greater vigor. Every effort must be made to exalt the main function of the officer—the command of men. The leading graduates of the Naval Academy should be assigned to the combatant branches, the line and marines.
Many of the essentials of success are already recognized by the General Board, which, as the central office of a growing staff, is moving steadily toward a proper war efficiency and a proper efficiency of the whole Navy, under the Secretary. This General Board, by fostering the creation of a general staff, is providing for the official and then the general recognition of our altered conditions as a Nation and of the true meaning of a great war fleet, which meaning is, first, the best men, and, second, the best ships.
The Naval Militia forces are State organizations, and are trained for coast service, and in event of war they will constitute the inner line of defense. They should receive hearty encouragement from the General Government.
But in addition we should at once provide for a National Naval Reserve, organized and trained under the direction of the Navy Department, and subject to the call of the Chief Executive whenever war becomes imminent. It should be a real auxiliary to the naval seagoing peace establishment, and offer material to be drawn on at once for manning our ships in time of war. It should be composed of graduates of the Naval Academy, graduates of the Naval Militia, officers and crews of coast-line steamers, longshore schooners, fishing vessels, and steam yachts, together with the coast population about such centers as lifesaving stations and light-houses.
The American people must either build and maintain an adequate navy or else make up their minds definitely to accept a secondary position in international affairs, not merely in political, but in commercial, matters. It has been well said that there is no surer way of courting national disaster than to be “opulent, aggressive, and unarmed.”
It is not necessary to increase our Army beyond its present size at this time. But it is necessary to keep it at the highest point of efficiency. The individual units who as officers and enlisted men compose this Army, are, we have good reason to believe, at least as efficient as those of any other army in the entire world. It is our duty to see that their training is of a kind to insure the highest possible expression of power to these units when acting in combination.
The conditions of modern war are such as to make an infinitely heavier demand than ever before upon the individual character and capacity of the officer and the enlisted man, and to make it far more difficult for men to act together with effect. At present the fighting must be done in extended order, which means that each man must act for himself and at the same time act in combination with others with whom he is no longer in the old-fashioned elbow-to-elbow touch. Under such conditions a few men of the highest excellence are worth more than many men without the special skill which is only found as the result of special training applied to men of exceptional physique and morale. But nowadays the most valuable fighting man and the most difficult to perfect is the rifleman who is also a skillful and daring rider.
The proportion of our cavalry regiments has wisely been increased. The American cavalryman, trained to manoeuvre and fight with equal facility on foot and on horseback, is the best type of soldier for general purposes now to be found in the world. The ideal cavalryman of the present day is a man who can fight on foot as effectively as the best infantryman, and who is in addition unsurpassed in the care and management of his horse and in his ability to fight on horseback.
A general staff should be created. As for the present staff and supply departments, they should be filled by details from the line, the men so detailed returning after a while to their line duties. It is very undesirable to have the senior grades of the Army composed of men who have come to fill the positions by the mere fact of seniority. A system should be adopted by which there shall be an elimination grade by grade of those who seem unfit to render the best service in the next grade. Justice to the veterans of the Civil War who are still in the Army would seem to require that in the matter of retirements they be given by law the same privileges accorded to their comrades in the Navy.
The process of elimination of the least fit should be conducted in a manner that would render it practically impossible to apply political or social pressure on behalf of any candidate, so that each man may be judged purely on his own merits. Pressure for the promotion of civil officials for political reasons is bad enough, but it is tenfold worse where applied on behalf of officers of the Army or Navy. Every promotion and every detail under the War Department must be made solely with regard to the good of the service and to the capacity and merit of the man himself. No pressure, political, social, or personal, of any kind, will be permitted to exercise the least effect in any question of promotion or detail; and if there is reason to believe that such pressure is exercised at the instigation of the officer concerned, it will be held to militate against him. In our Army we cannot afford to have rewards or duties distributed save on the simple ground that those who by their own merits are entitled to the rewards get them, and that those who are peculiarly fit to do the duties are chosen to perform them.
Every effort should be made to bring the Army to a constantly increasing state of efficiency. When on actual service no work save that directly in the line of such service should be required. The paper work in the Army, as in the Navy, should be greatly reduced. What is needed is proved power of command and capacity to work well in the field. Constant care is necessary to prevent dry rot in the transportation and commissary departments.
Our Army is so small and so much scattered that it is very difficult to give the higher officers (as well as the lower officers and the enlisted men) a chance to practice manoeuvres in mass and on a comparatively large scale. In time of need no amount of individual excellence would avail against the paralysis which would follow inability to work as a coherent whole, under skillful and daring leadership. The Congress should provide means whereby it will be possible to have field exercises by at least a division of regulars, and if possible also a division of national guardsmen, once a year.These exercises might take the form of field manoeuvres; or, if on the Gulf Coast or the Pacific or Atlantic Seaboard, or in the region of the Great Lakes, the army corps when assembled could be marched from some inland point to some point on the water, there embarked, disembarked after a couple of days’ journey at some other point, and again marched inland. Only by actual handling and providing for men in masses while they are marching, camping, embarking, and disembarking, will it be possible to train the higher officers to perform their duties well and smoothly.
A great debt is owing from the public to the men of the Army and Navy. They should be so treated as to enable them to reach the highest point of efficiency, so that they may be able to respond instantly to any demand made upon them to sustain the interests of the Nation and the honor of the flag. The individual merican enlisted man is probably on the whole a more formidable fighting man than the regular of any other army. Every consideration should be shown him, and in return the highest standard of usefulness should be exacted from him. It is well worth while for the Congress to consider whether the pay of enlisted men upon second and subsequent enlistments should not be increased to correspond with the increased value of the veteran soldier.
Much good has already come from the act reorganizing the Army, passed early in the present year. The three prime reforms, all of them of literally inestimable value, are, first, the substitution of four—year details from the line for permanent appointments in the so—called staff divisions; second, the establishment of a corps of artillery with a chief at the head; third, the establishment of a maximum and minimum limit for the Army. It would be difficult to overestimate the improvement in the efficiency of our Army which these three reforms are making, and have in part already effected.
The reorganization provided for by the act has been substantially accomplished. The improved conditions in the Philippines have enabled the War Department materially to reduce the military charge upon our revenue and to arrange the number of soldiers so as to bring this number much nearer to the minimum than to the maximum limit established by law. There is, however, need of supplementary legislation. Thorough military education must be provided, and in addition to the regulars the advantages of this education should be given to the officers of the National Guard and others in civil life who desire intelligently to fit themselves for possible military duty. The officers should be given the chance to perfect themselves by study in the higher branches of this art. At West Point the education should be of the kind most apt to turn out men who are good in actual field service; too much stress should not be laid on mathematics, nor should proficiency therein be held to establish the right of entry to a corps d’elite. The typical American officer of the best kind need not be a good mathematician; but he must be able to master himself, to control others, and to show boldness and fertility of resource in every emergency.
Action should be taken in reference to the militia and to the raising of volunteer forces. Our militia law is obsolete and worthless. The organization and armament of the National Guard of the several States, which are treated as militia in the appropriations by the Congress, should be made identical with those provided for the regular forces. The obligations and duties of the Guard in time of war should be carefully defined, and a system established by law under which the method of procedure of raising volunteer forces should be prescribed in advance. It is utterly impossible in the excitement and haste of impending war to do this satisfactorily if the arrangements have not been made long beforehand. Provision should be made for utilizing in the first volunteer organizations called out the training of those citizens who have already had experience under arms, and especially for the selection in advance of the officers of any force which may be raised; for careful selection of the kind necessary is impossible after the outbreak of war.
That the Army is not at all a mere instrument of destruction has been shown during the last three years. In the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico it has proved itself a great constructive force, a most potent implement for the upbuilding of a peaceful civilization.
No other citizens deserve so well of the Republic as the veterans, the survivors of those who saved the Union. They did the one deed which if left undone would have meant that all else in our history went for nothing. But for their steadfast prowess in the greatest crisis of our history, all our annals would be meaningless, and our great experiment in popular freedom and self—government a gloomy failure. Moreover, they not only left us a united Nation, but they left us also as a heritage the memory of the mighty deeds by which the Nation was kept united. We are now indeed one Nation, one in fact as well as in name; we are united in our devotion to the flag which is the symbol of national greatness and unity; and the very completeness of our union enables us all, in every part of the country, to glory in the valor shown alike by the sons of the North and the sons of the South in the times that tried men’s souls.
The men who in the last three years have done so well in the East and the West Indies and on the mainland of Asia have shown that this remembrance is not lost. In any serious crisis the United States must rely for the great mass of its fighting men upon the volunteer soldiery who do not make a permanent profession of the military career; and whenever such a crisis arises the deathless memories of the Civil War will give to Americans the lift of lofty purpose which comes to those whose fathers have stood valiantly in the forefront of the battle.
The merit system of making appointments is in its essence as democratic and American as the common school system itself. It simply means that in clerical and other positions where the duties are entirely non—political, all applicants should have a fair field and no favor, each standing on his merits as he is able to show them by practical test. Written competitive examinations offer the only available means in many cases for applying this system. In other cases, as where laborers are employed, a system of registration undoubtedly can be widely extended. There are, of course, places where the written competitive examination cannot be applied, and others where it offers by no means an ideal solution, but where under existing political conditions it is, though an imperfect means, yet the best present means of getting satisfactory results.
Wherever the conditions have permitted the application of the merit system in its fullest and widest sense, the gain to the Government has been immense. The navy-yards and postal service illustrate, probably better than any other branches of the Government, the great gain in economy, efficiency, and honesty due to the enforcement of this principle.
I recommend the passage of a law which will extend the classified service to the District of Columbia, or will at least enable the President thus to extend it. In my judgment all laws providing for the temporary employment of clerks should hereafter contain a provision that they be selected under the Civil Service Law.
It is important to have this system obtain at home, but it is even more important to have it applied rigidly in our insular possessions. Not an office should be filled in the Philippines or Puerto Rico with any regard to the man’s partisan affiliations or services, with any regard to the political, social, or personal influence which he may have at his command; in short, heed should be paid to absolutely nothing save the man’s own character and capacity and the needs of the service.
The administration of these islands should be as wholly free from the suspicion of partisan politics as the administration of the Army and Navy. All that we ask from the public servant in the Philippines or Puerto Rico is that he reflect honor on his country by the way in which he makes that country’s rule a benefit to the peoples who have come under it. This is all that we should ask, and we cannot afford to be content with less.
The merit system is simply one method of securing honest and efficient administration of the Government; and in the long run the sole justification of any type of government lies in its proving itself both honest and efficient.
The consular service is now organized under the provisions of a law passed in 1856, which is entirely inadequate to existing conditions. The interest shown by so many commercial bodies throughout the country in the reorganization of the service is heartily commended to your attention. Several bills providing for a new consular service have in recent years been submitted to the Congress. They are based upon the just principle that appointments to the service should be made only after a practical test of the applicant’s fitness, that promotions should be governed by trustworthiness, adaptability, and zeal in the performance of duty, and that the tenure of office should be unaffected by partisan considerations.
The guardianship and fostering of our rapidly expanding foreign commerce, the protection of American citizens resorting to foreign countries in lawful pursuit of their affairs, and the maintenance of the dignity of the nation abroad, combine to make it essential that our consuls should be men of character, knowledge and enterprise. It is true that the service is now, in the main, efficient, but a standard of excellence cannot be permanently maintained until the principles set forth in the bills heretofore submitted to the Congress on this subject are enacted into law.
In my judgment the time has arrived when we should definitely make up our minds to recognize the Indian as an individual and not as a member of a tribe. The General Allotment Act is a mighty pulverizing engine to break up the tribal mass. It acts directly upon the family and the individual. Under its provisions some sixty thousand Indians have already become citizens of the United States. We should now break up the tribal funds, doing for them what allotment does for the tribal lands; that is, they should be divided into individual holdings. There will be a transition period during which the funds will in many cases have to be held in trust. This is the case also with the lands. A stop should be put upon the indiscriminate permission to Indians to lease their allotments. The effort should be steadily to make the Indian work like any other man on his own ground. The marriage laws of the Indians should be made the same as those of the whites.
In the schools the education should be elementary and largely industrial. The need of higher education among the Indians is very, very limited. On the reservations care should be taken to try to suit the teaching to the needs of the particular Indian. There is no use in attempting to induce agriculture in a country suited only for cattle raising, where the Indian should be made a stock grower. The ration system, which is merely the corral and the reservation system, is highly detrimental to the Indians. It promotes beggary, perpetuates pauperism, and stifles industry. It is an effectual barrier to progress. It must continue to a greater or less degree as long as tribes are herded on reservations and have everything in common. The Indian should be treated as an individual—like the white man. During the change of treatment inevitable hardships will occur; every effort should be made to minimize these hardships; but we should not because of them hesitate to make the change. There should be a continuous reduction in the number of agencies.
In dealing with the aboriginal races few things are more important than to preserve them from the terrible physical and moral degradation resulting from the liquor traffic. We are doing all we can to save our own Indian tribes from this evil. Wherever by international agreement this same end can be attained as regards races where we do not possess exclusive control, every effort should be made to bring it about.
I bespeak the most cordial support from the Congress and the people for the St. Louis Exposition to commemorate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. This purchase was the greatest instance of expansion in our history. It definitely decided that we were to become a great continental republic, by far the foremost power in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of three or four great landmarks in our history——the great turning points in our development. It is eminently fitting that all our people should join with heartiest good will in commemorating it, and the citizens of St. Louis, of Missouri, of all the adjacent region, are entitled to every aid in making the celebration a noteworthy event in our annals. We earnestly hope that foreign nations will appreciate the deep interest our country takes in this Exposition, and our view of its importance from every standpoint, and that they will participate in securing its success. The National Government should be represented by a full and complete set of exhibits.
The people of Charleston, with great energy and civic spirit, are carrying on an Exposition which will continue throughout most of the present session of the Congress. I heartily commend this Exposition to the good will of the people. It deserves all the encouragement that can be given it. The managers of the Charleston Exposition have requested the Cabinet officers to place thereat the Government exhibits which have been at Buffalo, promising to pay the necessary expenses. I have taken the responsibility of directing that this be done, for I feel that it is due to Charleston to help her in her praiseworthy effort. In my opinion the management should not be required to pay all these expenses. I earnestly recommend that the Congress appropriate at once the small sum necessary for this purpose.
The Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo has just closed. Both from the industrial and the artistic standpoint this Exposition has been in a high degree creditable and useful, not merely to Buffalo but to the United States. The terrible tragedy of the President’s assassination interfered materially with its being a financial success. The Exposition was peculiarly in harmony with the trend of our public policy, because it represented an effort to bring into closer touch all the peoples of the Western Hemisphere, and give them an increasing sense of unity. Such an effort was a genuine service to the entire American public.
The advancement of the highest interests of national science and learning and the custody of objects of art and of the valuable results of scientific expeditions conducted by the United States have been committed to the Smithsonian Institution. In furtherance of its declared purpose—for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”—the Congress has from time to time given it other important functions. Such trusts have been executed by the Institution with notable fidelity. There should be no halt in the work of the Institution, in accordance with the plans which its Secretary has presented, for the preservation of the vanishing races of great North American animals in the National Zoological Park. The urgent needs of the National Museum are recommended to the favorable consideration of the Congress.
Perhaps the most characteristic educational movement of the past fifty years is that which has created the modern public library and developed it into broad and active service. There are now over five thousand public libraries in the United States, the product of this period. In addition to accumulating material, they are also striving by organization, by improvement in method, and by co-operation, to give greater efficiency to the material they hold, to make it more widely useful, and by avoidance of unnecessary duplication in process to reduce the cost of its administration.
In these efforts they naturally look for assistance to the Federal library, which, though still the Library of Congress, and so entitled, is the one national library of the United States. Already the largest single collection of books on the Western Hemisphere, and certain to increase more rapidly than any other through purchase, exchange, and the operation of the copyright law, this library has a unique opportunity to render to the libraries of this country—to American scholarship—service of the highest importance. It is housed in a building which is the largest and most magnificent yet erected for library uses. Resources are now being provided which will develop the collection properly, equip it with the apparatus and service necessary to its effective use, render its bibliographic work widely available, and enable it to become, not merely a center of research, but the chief factor in great co-operative efforts for the diffusion of knowledge and the advancement of learning.
For the sake of good administration, sound economy, and the advancement of science, the Census Office as now constituted should be made a permanent Government bureau. This would insure better, cheaper, and more satisfactory work, in the interest not only of our business but of statistic, economic, and social science.
The remarkable growth of the postal service is shown in the fact that its revenues have doubled and its expenditures have nearly doubled within twelve years. Its progressive development compels constantly increasing outlay, but in this period of business energy and prosperity its receipts grow so much faster than its expenses that the annual deficit has been steadily reduced from $11,411,779 in 1897 to $3,923,727 in 1901. Among recent postal advances the success of rural free delivery wherever established has been so marked, and actual experience has made its benefits so plain, that the demand for its extension is general and urgent.
It is just that the great agricultural population should share in the improvement of the service. The number of rural routes now in operation is 6,009, practically all established within three years, and there are 6,000 applications awaiting action. It is expected that the number in operation at the close of the current fiscal year will reach 8,600. The mail will then be daily carried to the doors of 5,700,000 of our people who have heretofore been dependent upon distant offices, and one—third of all that portion of the country which is adapted to it will be covered by this kind of service.
The full measure of postal progress which might be realized has long been hampered and obstructed by the heavy burden imposed on the Government through the intrenched and well-understood abuses which have grown up in connection with second-class mail matter. The extent of this burden appears when it is stated that while the second-class matter makes nearly three-fifths of the weight of all the mail, it paid for the last fiscal year only $4,294,445 of the aggregate postal revenue of $111,631,193. If the pound rate of postage, which produces the large loss thus entailed, and which was fixed by the Congress with the purpose of encouraging the dissemination of public information, were limited to the legitimate newspapers and periodicals actually contemplated by the law, no just exception could be taken. That expense would be the recognized and accepted cost of a liberal public policy deliberately adopted for a justifiable end. But much of the matter which enjoys the privileged rate is wholly outside of the intent of the law, and has secured admission only through an evasion of its requirements or through lax construction. The proportion of such wrongly included matter is estimated by postal experts to be one-half of the whole volume of second-class mail. If it be only one-third or one-quarter, the magnitude of the burden is apparent. The Post-Office Department has now undertaken to remove the abuses so far as is possible by a stricter application of the law; and it should be sustained in its effort.
Owing to the rapid growth of our power and our interests on the Pacific, whatever happens in China must be of the keenest national concern to us.
The general terms of the settlement of the questions growing out of the anti-foreign uprisings in China of 1900, having been formulated in a joint note addressed to China by the representatives of the injured powers in December last, were promptly accepted by the Chinese Government. After protracted conferences the plenipotentiaries of the several powers were able to sign a final protocol with the Chinese plenipotentiaries on the 7th of last September, setting forth the measures taken by China in compliance with the demands of the joint note, and expressing their satisfaction therewith. It will be laid before the Congress, with a report of the plenipotentiary on behalf of the United States, Mr. William Woodville Rockhill, to whom high praise is due for the tact, good judgment, and energy he has displayed in performing an exceptionally difficult and delicate task.
The agreement reached disposes in a manner satisfactory to the powers of the various grounds of complaint, and will contribute materially to better future relations between China and the powers. Reparation has been made by China for the murder of foreigners during the uprising and punishment has been inflicted on the officials, however high in rank, recognized as responsible for or having participated in the outbreak. Official examinations have been forbidden for a period of five years in all cities in which foreigners have been murdered or cruelly treated, and edicts have been issued making all officials directly responsible for the future safety of foreigners and for the suppression of violence against them.
Provisions have been made for insuring the future safety of the foreign representatives in Peking by setting aside for their exclusive use a quarter of the city which the powers can make defensible and in which they can if necessary maintain permanent military guards; by dismantling the military works between the capital and the sea; and by allowing the temporary maintenance of foreign military posts along this line. An edict has been issued by the Emperor of China prohibiting for two years the importation of arms and ammunition into China. China has agreed to pay adequate indemnities to the states, societies, and individuals for the losses sustained by them and for the expenses of the military expeditions sent by the various powers to protect life and restore order.
Under the provisions of the joint note of December, 1900, China has agreed to revise the treaties of commerce and navigation and to take such other steps for the purpose of facilitating foreign trade as the foreign powers may decide to be needed.
The Chinese Government has agreed to participate financially in the work of bettering the water approaches to Shanghai and to Tientsin, the centers of foreign trade in central and northern China, and an international conservancy board, in which the Chinese Government is largely represented, has been provided for the improvement of the Shanghai River and the control of its navigation. In the same line of commercial advantages a revision of the present tariff on imports has been assented to for the purpose of substituting specific for ad valorem duties, and an expert has been sent abroad on the part of the United States to assist in this work. A list of articles to remain free of duty, including flour, cereals, and rice, gold and silver coin and bullion, has also been agreed upon in the settlement.
During these troubles our Government has unswervingly advocated moderation, and has materially aided in bringing about an adjustment which tends to enhance the welfare of China and to lead to a more beneficial intercourse between the Empire and the modern world; while in the critical period of revolt and massacre we did our full share in safe—guarding life and property, restoring order, and vindicating the national interest and honor. It behooves us to continue in these paths, doing what lies in our power to foster feelings of good will, and leaving no effort untried to work out the great policy of full and fair intercourse between China and the nations, on a footing of equal rights and advantages to all. We advocate the “open door” with all that it implies; not merely the procurement of enlarged commercial opportunities on the coasts, but access to the interior by the waterways with which China has been so extraordinarily favored. Only by bringing the people of China into peaceful and friendly community of trade with all the peoples of the earth can the work now auspiciously begun be carried to fruition. In the attainment of this purpose we necessarily claim parity of treatment, under the conventions, throughout the Empire for our trade and our citizens with those of all other powers.
We view with lively interest and keen hopes of beneficial results the proceedings of the Pan-American Congress, convoked at the invitation of Mexico, and now sitting at the Mexican capital. The delegates of the United States are under the most liberal instructions to cooperate with their colleagues in all matters promising advantage to the great family of American commonwealths, as well in their relations among themselves as in their domestic advancement and in their intercourse with the world at large.
My predecessor communicated to the Congress the fact that the Weil and La Abra awards against Mexico have been adjudged by the highest courts of our country to have been obtained through fraud and perjury on the part of the claimants, and that in accordance with the acts of the Congress the money remaining in the hands of the Secretary of State on these awards has been returned to Mexico. A considerable portion of the money received from Mexico on these awards had been paid by this Government to the claimants before the decision of the courts was rendered. My judgment is that the Congress should return to Mexico an amount equal to the sums thus already paid to the claimants.
The death of Queen Victoria caused the people of the United States deep and heartfelt sorrow, to which the Government gave full expression. When President McKinley died, our Nation in turn received from every quarter of the British Empire expressions of grief and sympathy no less sincere. The death of the Empress Dowager Frederick of Germany also aroused the genuine sympathy of the American people; and this sympathy was cordially reciprocated by Germany when the President was assassinated. Indeed, from every quarter of the civilized world we received, at the time of the President’s death, assurances of such grief and regard as to touch the hearts of our people. In the midst of our affliction we reverently thank the Almighty that we are at peace with the nations of mankind; and we firmly intend that our policy shall be such as to continue unbroken these international relations of mutual respect and good will.