Thus Lincoln, because of Bright; and because of a word from Bright to Charles Sumner about the starving cotton-spinners, Americans sent from New York three ships with flour for those faithful English friends of ours.
And then, at Geneva in 1872, England paid us for what the Alabama had done. This Court of Arbitration grew slowly; suggested first by Mr. Thomas Batch to Lincoln, who thought the millennium wasn't quite at hand but favored "airing the idea." The idea was not aired easily. Cobden would have brought it up in Parliament, but illness and death overtook him. The idea found but few other friends. At last Horace Greeley "aired" it in his paper. On October 23, 1863, Mr. Adams said to Lord John Russell, "I am directed to say that there is no fair and equitable form of conventional arbitrament or reference to which the United States will not be willing to submit." This, some two years later, Russell recalled, saying in reply to a statement of our grievances by Adams: "It appears to Her Majesty's Government that there are but two questions by which the claim of compensation could be tested; the one is, Have the British Government acted with due diligence, or, in other words, in good faith and honesty, in the maintenance of the neutrality they proclaimed? The other is, Have the law officers of the Crown properly understood the foreign enlistment act, when they declined, in June 1862, to advise the detention and seizure of the Alabama, and on other occasions when they were asked to detain other ships, building or fitting in British ports? It appears to Her Majesty's Government that neither of these questions could be put to a foreign government with any regard to the dignity and character of the British Crown and the British Nation. Her Majesty's Government are the sole guardians of their own honor. They cannot admit that they have acted with bad faith in maintaining the neutrality they professed. The law officers of the Crown must be held to be better interpreters of a British statute than any foreign Government can be presumed to be..." He consented to a commission, but drew the line at any probing of England's good faith.
We persisted. In 1868, Lord Westbury, Lord High Chancellor, declared in the House of Lords that "the animus with which the neutral powers acted was the only true criterion."
This is the test which we asked should be applied. We quoted British remarks about us, Gladstone, for example, as evidence of unfriendly and insincere animus on the part of those at the head of the British Government.
Replying to our pressing the point of animus, the British Government reasserted Russell's refusal to recognize or entertain any question of England's good faith: "first, because it would be inconsistent with the self-respect which every government is bound to feel...." In Mr. John Bassett Moore's History of International Arbitration, Vol. I, pages 496-497, or in papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, Vol. II, Geneva Arbitration, page 204... Part I, Introductory Statement, you will find the whole of this. What I give here suffices to show the position we ourselves and England took about the Alabama case. She backed down. Her good faith was put in issue, and she paid our direct claims. She ate "humble pie." We had to eat humble pie in the affair of the Trent. It has been done since. It is not pleasant, but it may be beneficial.
Such is the story of the true England and the true America in 1861; the divided North with which Lincoln had to deal, the divided England where our many friends could do little to check our influential enemies, until Lincoln came out plainly against slavery. I have had to compress much, but I have omitted nothing material, of which I am aware. The facts would embarrass those who determine to assert that England was our undivided enemy during our Civil War, if facts ever embarrassed a complex. Those afflicted with the complex can keep their eyes upon the Alabama and the London Times, and avert them from Bright, and Cobden, and the cotton-spinners, and the Union and Emancipation Society, and Queen Victoria. But to any reader of this whose complex is not incurable, or who has none, I will put this question: What opinion of the brains of any Englishman would you have if he formed his idea of the United States exclusively from the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst.
In our next war, our war with Spain in 1898, England saved us from Germany. She did it from first to last; her position was unmistakable, and every determining act of hers was as our friend. The service that she rendered us in warning Germany to keep out of it, was even greater than her suggestion of our Monroe doctrine in 1823; for in 1823 she put us on guard against meditated, but remote, assault from Europe, while in 1898 she actively averted a serious and imminent peril. As the threat of her fleet had obstructed Napoleon in 1803, and the Holy Alliance in 1823, so in 1898 it blocked the Kaiser. Late in that year, when it was all over, the disappointed and baffled Kaiser wrote to a friend of Joseph Chamberlain, "If I had had a larger fleet I would have taken Uncle Sam by the scruff of the neck." Have you ever read what our own fleet was like in those days? Or our Army? Lucky it was for us that we had to deal only with Spain. And even the Spanish fleet would have been a much graver opponent in Manila Bay, but for Lord Cromer. On its way from Spain through the Suez Canal a formidable part of Spain's navy stopped to coal at Port Said. There is a law about the coaling of belligerent warships in neutral ports. Lord Cromer could have construed that law just as well against us. His construction brought it about that those Spanish ships couldn't get to Manila Bay in time to take part against Admiral Dewey. The Spanish War revealed that our Navy could hit eight times out of a hundred, and was in other respects unprepared and utterly inadequate to cope with a first-class power. In consequence of this, and the criticisms of our Navy Department, which Admiral Sims as a young man had written, Roosevelt took the steps he did in his first term. Three ticklish times in that Spanish War England stood our friend against Germany. When it broke out, German agents approached Mr. Balfour, proposing that England join in a European combination in Spain's favor. Mr. Balfour's refusal is common knowledge, except to the monomaniac with his complex. Next came the action of Lord Cromer, and finally that moment in Manila Bay when England took her stand by our side and Germany saw she would have to fight us both, if she fought at all.
If you saw any German or French papers at the time of our troubles with Spain, you saw undisguised hostility. If you have talked with any American who was in Paris during that April of 1898, your impression will be more vivid still. There was an outburst of European hate for us. Germany, France, and Austria all looked expectantly to England--and England disappointed their expectations. The British Press was as much for us as the French and German press were hostile; the London Spectator said: "We are not, and we do not pretend to be, an agreeable people, but when there is trouble in the family, we know where our hearts are."
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