HENRY CABOT LODGE: For Intervention in Cuba
Source: Record, 54 Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 1971-1972.
I, UNITED WITH THE REST of the Committee on Foreign Relations, with a single exception, in reporting the concurrent resolution which is now before the Senate. I will say, however, with perfect frankness, that I for one should be very glad if the Senate should see fit to go further in this direction; for I believe that the time has come when the United States should use their good offices to bring to an end the deplorable condition of affairs which now exists in the island of Cuba. In my opinion, the course which would meet with universal approbation of our own people and command the respect of the world would be to offer our good offices to mediate between Spain and the Cubans in order to restore peace and give independence to the island which Spain can no longer hold.
I think there are very few matters which are of more immediate importance to the people of the United States than this, not merely because their sympathies are engaged but also because in the condition of that island and in its future are involved large and most serious interests of the United States. . . .
We know that the railroad lines are cut; that the telegraph wires are down; that every report of a Spanish victory which comes to us in the newspapers is followed by the statement of a fresh insurgent advance. We know, as a matter of fact, that the whole of that island today, except where the Spanish fleets ride at anchor and where the Spanish armies are encamped, is in the hands of the insurgents. We know that they have formed a government; that they have held two elections; that every officer in the Army holds his commission from the civil government which they have established.
We know the terms of the provisional government, and in the presence of these facts, and of the fighting that those men have done, I think it is not unreasonable of them to ask some recognition at the hands of the people of the United States. They have risen against oppression, compared to which the oppression which led us to rebel against England is as dust in the balance and they feel that for this reason, if no other, they should have the sympathy of the people of the United States.
Martinez Campos, the ablest general in Spain, has been recalled because he failed to put down the insurrection - recalled when the insurgent troops had been actually in the suburbs of Havana - and in his place has been sent a man whose only reputation known to the world is that of the most cold-blooded brutality in the last war for liberty in that island. That is the actual condition of Cuba today, speaking broadly and without reference to the details of actions or skirmishes.
Now, Mr. President, the question arises, and I think the time has come and more than come to decide it - What are the duties of the United States in the presence of this war? What action should we take in regard to a condition of affairs which lies right at our threshold? We have heard a good deal in some of the recent debates of the ties of kindred, of our gratitude to other nations with whom we happen to be in controversy, and of how much consideration we should show for the nations of Europe in regard to matters where the interests of the United States are involved.
Whatever may be said as to our relations to some other countries, I think the relations of this country to Spain offer no ties of gratitude or of blood. If that for which the Spanish Empire has stood since the days of Charles V is right, then everything for which the United States stands and has always stood is wrong. If the principles that we stand for are right, then the principles of which Spain has been the great exponent in history are utterly wrong. . . . We have the right to look at this thing purely from the point of view of the interests of humanity and the interests of the United States. There are no ties, no obligations, no traditions to bind us.
Now turn to the other party in this conflict. Turn to the Cubans battling for their liberties. I think, Mr. President, that even the most bitter opponent of the Spanish-Americans would admit that free Cuba, under the constitution which now exists, would be an immense advance in civilization, in all that makes for the progress of humanity, over the government which Spain has given to that island.
The Cubans offer a free press and free speech. Both are suppressed there by Spain. Spain closed a Protestant chapel in the city of Matanzas. The Cubans by their constitution guarantee a free church in a free state. They guarantee liberty of conscience. Those are things in which Americans believe, and the Cubans, whatever their faults or deficiencies may be, stand also for those principles.
Our immediate pecuniary interests in the island are very great. They are being destroyed. Free Cuba would mean a great market to the United States; it would mean an opportunity for American capital, invited there by signal exemptions; it would mean an opportunity for the development of that splended island.
Cuba is but a quarter smaller than the island of Java, and the island of Java sustains 23 million people. Cuba has a population of 1,500,000 and she is one of the richest spots on the face of the earth. She has not grown or prospered because the heavy hand of Spain has been upon her.
Those, Mr. President, are some of the more material interests involved in this question, but we have also a broader political interest in the fate of Cuba. The great island lies there across the Gulf of Mexico. She commands the Gulf, she commands the channel through which all our coastwise traffic between the Gulf and our Northern and Eastern states passes. She lies right athwart the line which leads to the Nicaragua Canal. Cuba in our hands or in friendly hands, in the hands of its own people, attached to us by ties of interest and gratitude, is a bulwark to the commerce, to the safety, and to the peace of the United States.
We should never suffer Cuba to pass from the hands of Spain to any other European power. We may dismiss that aspect of the subject. The question is whether we shall permit the present condition of affairs to continue. The island today is lost to Spain. They may maintain a guerilla warfare for years. They may wipe out every plantation and deluge the island in blood. . . . Spain may ruin the island. She can never hold it or govern it again.
Cuba now is not fighting merely for independence. Those men are fighting, every one of them, with a price on their heads and a rope around their necks. They have shown that they could fight well. They are now fighting the battle of despair. That is the condition today in that island. And here we stand motionless, a great and powerful country not six hours away from these scenes of useless bloodshed and destruction.
I have spoken of our material interests. I have referred to our political interests in the future of Cuba. But, Mr. President, I am prepared to put our duty on a higher ground than either of those, and that is the broad ground of a common humanity. No useful end is being served by the bloody struggle that is now in progress in Cuba, and in the name of humanity it should be stopped. . . .
Of the sympathies of the American people, generous, liberty-loving, I have no question. They are with the Cubans in their struggle for freedom. I believe our people would welcome any action on the part of the United States to put an end to the terrible state of things existing there. We can stop it. We can stop it peacefully. We can stop it, in my judgment, by pursuing a proper diplomacy and offering our good offices. Let it once be understood that we mean to stop the horrible state of things in Cuba and it will be stopped. The great power of the United States, if it is once invoked and uplifted, is capable of greater things than that.
Mr. President, we have a movement in favor of peace and arbitration recently set on foot by some distinguished and very wealthy and eminent citizens of the city of New York and other great cities of the country. They are influenced beyond any question by devotion to the divine principle of "peace on earth and goodwill to men." I cannot suppose that for a moment they mean to confine their opposition to war merely to wars in which we are engaged. They must be opposed to all wars; and they are, I take it, but an expression of the general feeling of the American people that the mission of the great republic is one of peace.
Therefore, Mr. President, here is a war with terrible characteristics flagrant at our very doors. We have the power to bring it to an end. I believe that the whole American people would welcome steps in that direction.
Recognition of belligerency as an expression of sympathy is all very well. I think it is fully justified by the facts in Cuba, but I should like to see some more positive action taken than that. I think we cannot escape the responsibility which is so near to us. We cannot shrug our shoulders and pass by on the other side. If that war goes on in Cuba, with the added horrors which this new general brings with him, the responsibility is on us; we cannot escape it. We should exert every influence of the United States. Standing, as I believe the United States stands for humanity and civilization, we should exercise every influence of our great country to put a stop to that war which is now raging in Cuba and give to that island once more peace, liberty, and independence.
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