Campaign in America against the Nicaragua Canal to countercheck the Boche conspiracy to annihilate the Panama Canal.
IF I worked with all the fibres of my heart, all the cells of my brain, for the resurrection of Panama, it is because I felt the hand of the Boche behind the whole affair. I saw that it was a conspiracy against France, and I thought that the eventual ruin of the enterprise would be the forerunner of the ruin of France herself.
Thanks to George Morrison and Burr in the field of technical science; thanks to Hanna and Herrick in the field of national politics; thanks to Roosevelt, Hay, and Loomis in the final and eruptive phase of international politics, it has been possible to paralyze the dastardly Boche plot.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE NICARAGUA CANAL
Everybody will now understand why I fought so desperately to counteract the construction of the Nicaragua Canal and why I strove so hard to have the Panama solution vindicated by its adoption. I was then fighting for France, as much as for the United States, against the Boche. It was indeed the prelude of the Great War. The strategical positions to be occupied were to be of the greatest moment for the outcome of the war itself.
If, as every consideration made it probable, the Nicaragua Canal had been carried out, the object of the web of the Boche conspiracy would have been attained. The rejection of the Panama solution by a nation celebrated for its practical mind and sound judgment would have been held as a brilliant justification of the spreaders of calumnies made in Germany.
These calumnies would have taken a renewed force and France would have been convinced that they were the formal expression of the truth. She would have considered herself wholly betrayed by all her superior classes. She would have lost entirely all confidence in the genius, in the sagacity, in the sincerity of her legislators, her engineers, her financiers. She would have been brought to that state of mind which the consequences of the Mexican Expedition had determined in preceding generations. She would have been like the France of 1870---the victim of that nefarious depression.
One may imagine with what intensity of sentiment I entered the field of a battle from which was to result either the destruction or the salvation of France. The strain on my vitality produced by this extraordinary stake magnified the energy of my mind and the acuteness of my senses.
The battle royal, which lasted three years, ended with the triumph of Panama, and its adoption by the United States. In the book published in 1913, to which I have already made reference, I have related in minute detail all the phases of the struggle; but I refrained from mentioning whom I thought to be the prime movers of the destruction of Panama. I simply called them the "enemies of the Canal."
Now, however, I can call them by their name because the war has shown the underground activity of the Boches in all questions where their political interest is involved.
If I had said in 1913 what I am writing now, I should have been regarded as a dangerous disturber of the peace---of that peace for the preservation of which Germany constantly declared she acted as a guardian angel. She counted on the imbecility of her neighbours who never gave a thought to her bloody record of conquest which Prussia pursued for three hundred years (since 1619).
To-day the war has torn aside the veil with which Boche duplicity concealed its operations from the eye of the casual onlooker. One knows now the principal weapon used by the Boche during the periods of peace---his moral poisonous gas -it is: Calumny. It is with this moral gas that all the criminal attempts of the Boche have been made in times of peace.
BIGELOW'S LETTER TO SECRETARY HAY
At the end of the year 1898 two of my most sincere and devoted friends had, on my advice, made important suggestions to the Government of the United States.
One of them, the Hon. John Bigelow, was an ex-minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the Court of the Tuileries. He was the highest and most noble type of the American gentleman of the second half of the nineteenth century. He wrote to the Secretary of State, John Hay, counselling him not to make a rash decision, as everybody else had urged him to do, about the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, before investigating Panama.
John Hay had been the personal secretary of Lincoln, and, after the great President's cowardly assassination, was sent to Paris as secretary of embassy. There he placed his brilliant intellect and his noble heart at the service of his country under the orders of John Bigelow. Though thirty-five years had elapsed since that remote period the authority of Mr. Bigelow's mind had not decreased in John Hay's estimation. The opinions he expressed were always carefully considered by his former subordinate. There is not the slightest doubt that Mr. Bigelow's letter had very much to do with President McKinley's ultimate decision on this momentous question.
Simultaneously another friend of mine, Commander [now Captain] Asher Baker of the United States Navy, after many conferences with me in Paris, was called to Washington on official business.
He took advantage of his numerous and important connections in the capital to promote the cause of Panama, in which he firmly believed. In particular he conferred with the Speaker of the House---Read---and with the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means---Joe Cannon---the two most influential men in Congress at that moment. He did in the Legislative branch of the Government what Mr. Bigelow had done in the Executive branch.
THE WALKER COMMISSION
This double and capital diplomatic move, which I had started from Paris, yielded enormous consequences. A resolution was adopted by Congress ordering a double technical enquiry to be made, not only in Nicaragua but in Panama, when the session was to be closed and when the unanimous opinion was favouring Nicaragua.
For the first time in ten years the name of Panama was emerging from the heap of calumnies and abuses, made in Germany, which had doomed it in the eyes of the world.
The commission in charge of the investigation was formed of the best engineers of the United States under the presidency of Admiral Walker.
None of them, when he assumed his office, thought Panama deserved the slightest amount of attention. Everyone believed that Nicaragua was the perfect, the ideal solution. But as the law required an investigation, they performed it thoroughly and a delegation was sent to Paris.
I met there three of the delegates, very prominent men all of them: George Morrison, then considered as the greatest American railroad bridge engineer; William H. Burr, a most eminent engineer and Professor of Engineering at the Columbia University; and Lt.-Colonel of Engineers Ernst, of the American army.
I undertook to transform the notions they had gathered from the universal opinion then prevailing. I gave them---in support of my optimistic assertions about the magnificent solution offered by Panama and my pessimistic denunciations about the detestable one at Nicaragua---a book I had written eight years before: "Panama; le passé---le present---l'avenir." (Masson, Éditeur.)
"Burn this book," I said, "and hold me for a man without honour if, during your investigations, you find one statement which is not borne out by facts. But if you find every word of it confirmed by what you see, then you must follow its conclusions, adopt Panama, and reject Nicaragua."
When my three eminent new friends left Paris a large hole had been made in the dam of prejudice then existing against Panama in their minds---as in everybody's. This hole, I might say, was particularly large in Morrison's and Burr's minds.
It was the first attack against official prejudice built up by the campaign of calumnies initiated by Boche agencies. This prejudice was to crumble under my repeated blows and under the light thrown on the matter by the investigations of men of accomplished talent and of strict conscience.
At the end of 1900 a preliminary report was made which, though still recommending Nicaragua, showed that the initial faith in that project was dangerously punctured.
SPEECHES IN AMERICA IN FAVOUR OF PANAMA
At the end of December, 1900, 1 received by cable an invitation of the Commercial Club of Cincinnati, signed by Messrs. Taylor and Wulsin, to speak before the club on the Canal problem. I accepted it immediately.
I sailed early in January, 1901, for New York to go and attack the enemy on his own ground.
I knew how difficult it is for a technical commission to go against the unanimous wishes of press and public opinion. I wished to create a public opinion in favour of Panama or at least to conquer for the Panama side men who could command public opinion. This, I thought, was a sine qua non of the final and complete exteriorization of the pro-Panama ideas which I had sown in the minds of several of the commissioners. I therefore spoke in many cities, before audiences completely surprised to hear expounded anything about the Isthmian canal which was in favour of Panama.
At first reluctant to admit what I affirmed they ---without a single exception---came round and fully understood the hitherto-unrealized objections to Nicaragua and the unknown advantages of Panama.
CONSEQUENCES OF INVITATION OF COL. HERRICK
Among these meetings the one that had the greatest consequences took place at Cleveland, Ohio, on the invitation of Col. Myron T. Herrick.
This eminent man was afterward to become Governor of Ohio and, later, Ambassador to France. He displayed in Paris, during the march of the Germans toward that capital, magnificent qualities of sang froid and generous devotion to duty which made him the object of the everlasting gratitude of the French people. He was already, in 1901, a prominent personality in Ohio and the intimate friend of President McKinley and also of the celebrated Senator Hanna.
Around the club table, where he invited me to sit at luncheon, were twenty prominent men of Cleveland, all of them friends of Senator Hanna.
After the luncheon my exposé began, at about 1 P. M. It was about 5.30 P. M. when it ended. Every part of the great problem had been thoroughly examined. I had removed from the minds of my host and of his guests all trace of pro-Nicaraguism.
As all of them formed the group of men among whom Hanna lived, when in Cleveland, this day gave me indirectly an important command on the opinion of the all-powerful Senator.
"What is the matter?" Hanna asked Herrick, some days later; "Cleveland has become a Panama town!"
Herrick explained, and Hanna expressed the desire to confer with me on this all-important subject.
It was perhaps the only way to obtain access to his mind, surrounded as he was by an army of people trying to obtain his support for their own political interests or individual aspirations. Under these conditions to act a hearing from Hanna was equivalent to a high probability of victory. Hanna's opinion exerted a great influence on that of the President and on that of the Republican party which then was in overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress.
I met the great Senator several times in Washington and there I completed his conversion to Panama.
I was also received by President McKinley thanks to an introduction offered to me by Mr. Dawes, Comptroller of the Treasury. He was a personal friend of the President. Many years later I again met Mr. Dawes, as a brigadier general, in Paris where, during the war, he rendered the greatest services to the American army, and consequently to the common cause of the Allies.
Having fully accomplished my task I returned to Paris, certain of having placed the great Panama enterprise on the high road to recovery.
ARTICLES IN THE FRENCH PRESS
While travelling back home I asked myself whether I did not owe it to France to tell her all about the Panama situation.
The new Panama Canal Company had always observed a passive attitude, and, by its cowardly demeanour, encouraged the worst suppositions as to the possibility of ever completing the Canal.
I decided to make, at my own expense, this proclamation of facts which it had been the duty of the Company to do, but which it had shirked.
I published in all the newspapers of France two articles, each one covering almost an entire page, explaining the Panama situation.
I strongly urged a bold return to the task of finishing the great undertaking for the honour and for the profit of those who had begun the digging.
I have now finished my task and I have done my duty. Let everybody in his turn do his by expressing his opinion with complete frankness through one of the two ways I have indicated.
Let the advice of the Lion or the advice of the Hare be listened to and therefrom let a solution be arrived at. The one to which I am opposed---that whispered by the Hare---I still prefer infinitely to that lethargy the end of which is death: She of the two mothers who, at the tribunal of Solomon, preferred abandoning her child to strange hands rather than see him perish, was the veritable mother.
Whatever may come from my last effort I shall have satisfied my conscience. Even if my voice remains without an echo, it will never be possible to say that not a single citizen of France has risen to point out the road that should be followed.
At all events before the sacrifice, before the solution of despair I showed in advance as far back as 1892, I shall have established for contemporary history the balance sheet of this tragedy of mendacity and calumny. I shall have fixed the figure of the ransom that the country is paying to its victorious internal enemy; to the parricidal son who stabs the country's great men and sets fire to the structures their genius has erected for her glory and her welfare; to the traitor who, during the battle, sows panic in rear of the army and by falsehood and slander prevents a rally so that the true cause of the rout may not be exposed and so that he may draw an infamous profit from the ruins he has brought about.
I have said my say.
I published these two appeals to the belief in truth, to the contempt for calumny, to the energy of creation of my compatriots, the first on the 25th of April, the second on the 10th of May, 1901. 1 refused to contemplate asking the hospitality of any paper. I went to an advertising agent and requested him to pay for the publicity. It cost me $21,559.
This figure, better than any demonstration, shows that it was the knowledge of a grave danger for France that inspired my acts. Here is an important sum which could never be repaid to me by anybody under any form. It was spent for no personal business purpose. It was therefore a sacrifice prompted solely by what I considered the importance to France of seeing the Panama enterprise rescued from the marsh of infamy and degradation into which calumny had made it sink.
This shows materially how convinced I was that France, through the situation thus created, was exposed to the risk of losing the moral equilibrium necessary in case of a German attack.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE AMERICAN ADOPTION
When I wrote these appeals I desired, above all things, the completion of the Canal, because I thought that it was the only thing which could restore to France confidence in herself and the high esteem of her own power and grandeur. I desired at that moment that France should roll her sleeves up and conclude her task because it was the most noble way.
I was wrong then, and I think now that the better solution for France was to see the Canal finished by the United States. This spectacle was to give her just as much confidence in herself as if she had completed the work. But this solution was to introduce into the question a new element of infinite importance: America's friendship for France and confidence in her genius.
The acquisition of the Panama enterprise by America was to generate feelings of the most momentous political importance. They were to be the initial factors of the two great contributions of America to the salvation of the world which were: first, the delivery of munitions of war to the Allies from the outset of the conflagration, and second, the military association with them in the last period of the war.
I was wrong to desire the completion by French capital, because infinitely greater and happier consequences were automatically to attend the completion by America. It was the life of France that was saved by this solution at the cost of a loss of some billions of francs.
I do not, however, regret having then made a supreme effort for completion by a French company. It was the solution of the Lion; and no Frenchman can be justified in proposing to France the solution of the Hare.
After that solemn and universal declaration I had freed my mind. I was thenceforth relieved of the immediate moral obligation of working for the completion of the Canal by the French owners. I had only one task to accomplish: it was to save the noble conception of French genius through its adoption by America. I could concentrate on that great ambition all my mental faculties.
The completion of the Canal by the United States from that time on excluded all sources of material profits for the French owners which would have resulted from the prosecution of the works by a French company.
But the counterpart of that material loss was a flow of moral and political profits infinitely more valuable. They were bound to result from that association of the French genius with the American genius. The very preservation of the life of France was to be the final consequence.
HOW THE OFFER OF $40,000,000 WAS DETERMINED
I thought that the conquest to the cause of Panama of a man like Hanna, and the deep impression made by my various public demonstrations, had ensured a decision in favour of Panama. Having opened the way, and being sure of the final opinion of the great engineers of the Isthmian Canal Commission, I expected the new Panama Canal Company to do the rest.
But it did not.
Surprised by a success which it did not expect, the Board of Directors, instead of acting, began to talk. Frightened, most probably by its responsibility, it did not dare to fix a price which might, later on, be an eternal reproach to its lack of energy.
This inexplicable attitude on the part of the Company began to generate very bad feelings among the few but powerful friends I had converted in America to Panama. On the other hand, the situation of the Company was obviously desperate as it was under threat of the cancellation of its concessions by Colombia within three years. Its attitude in refusing to propose a price for its properties while asking America to buy them seemed, consequently, to cover a treacherous game and reinforced the powerful party of the Nicaraguans.
The situation was summed up by the Sun, in one of its terse and luminous editorials which have made that paper famous, on the 28th of December, 1901. It read:
If the representatives of the French shareholders desire to obtain from Congress consideration of a reasonable proposition to sell out to this Government, and if they have an attractive proposition to offer, the swiftest ship that crosses the Atlantic is none too fast for their service at this time.
Perhaps the last opportunity of Panama has already gone. Certain it is that with every week and day it is going. . . .
The only move that can now gain a hearing for the Panama route must be nothing short of Napoleonic in conception and execution.
At the very moment the Sun was publishing the above editorial in New York I was deciding to resort to moral violence on the Board of the Company to force a decision on its part.
As the Board dared not speak, I spoke in all the newspapers of Paris for the third time.
On January 1, 1902, appeared a new article which formed an adjunct to those of April 25 and May 10, 1901. I paid for its Publication, as advertisement, the sum of $5,970, which must be added to the $21,559 which I had disbursed for the two preceding ones.
In that article I fixed the sale price of the Canal property at $40,000,000. I urged the sale to the friendly United States with all the vigour at my command.
I began by recalling the closing portion of the latter of the first two articles:
She of the two mothers, who at the Tribunal of Solomon, preferred abandoning her child to strange hands rather than see him perish, was the veritable mother.
In conclusion I wrote, speaking of the realization of the Nicaragua Canal---if Panama failed to be adopted by America:
That would be a material loss of enormous proportions. It would be a moral loss much greater still, because the legend of infamy and mendacity which has been woven around the name of Panama, and which would be dissipated as its execution progressed even if carried out by a foreign nation, would be absurdly confirmed by a preference given to the virgin project of Nicaragua over the two-thirds-finished route of Panama.
To avoid this terrible abyss it is necessary to act and to act immediately; the duty of the Board is strictly defined by facts.
If they have not accomplished it between to-day and the 7th of January next their responsibility will be also explicitly defined before the people and before the law.
This publication entirely reversed the situation. Immediately the Board sent by cable an offer to sell all her property for $40,000,000.
The movement against the Nicaragua Canal which I had started in America had to be completed in France by starting a movement for the sale of Panama at a very low price. In both cases success followed the initiative.
The year of 1902 began with the wind blowing in the sails of Panama.
THE REASON OF AMERICAN FAITH IN NICARAGUA
The victory, however was not won. Immediately after the opening of the session in the first days of January, 1902, the House by all but two votes rejected Panama and adopted the Nicaraguan project.
Public sentiment---the entire press, with very few exceptions---held firm for Nicaragua.
An editorial of the New York Herald, published on January 14, 1902, gave a very accurate picture of the situation:
As far as can be judged national sentiment in America is unanimous for Nicaragua. Such unanimity is so much more significant when you think that the Isthmian Canal Commission has frankly shown all the disadvantages of the popular route.
All the objections shown have been admitted by the competent scientific authorities, but their weight is nil if compared with the instinctive conviction so deeply rooted in the American nation, that the Nicaragua Canal project is a purely national affair, conceived by Americans, sustained by Americans, and (if, later on, constructed) operated by Americans according to American ideas and for American needs. In one word, it is a national enterprise.
Sentiment must be reckoned with in national as in private affairs. The American people prefer to pay 30 per cent. more for their ships than would be necessary if built in foreign countries. They prefer to pay a surplus of 30 per cent. for having a fleet that is American from beginning to end. For the same reason it is almost certain that if the people were consulted on the Canal question, they would simply drown under their vote the foreign canal and extol the national canal in spite of its greater cost. This is demonstrated by the nearly unanimous vote of the House in favour of Nicaragua.
The question is this: Will the Senate be more permeable to foreign influence?
The great New York organ was thus describing with a mathematical accuracy the nature and the weight of the argument in favour of Nicaragua. It is a most eloquent testimony, which can be referred to if people wish to measure the tenacity of the resistance through which I had to break my way.
The quasi-unanimous vote of the House in favour of Nicaragua, given as soon as the session was open, did not dishearten me. In fact, nothing could dishearten me because I was fighting against what was everywhere considered as the inevitable.
When one thinks what was to be the price of the victory in that struggle for the realization of the impossible, one's head begins to swim.
People can see now that the defeat of Panama would have meant the triumph of the German manoeuvres for disheartening France and dissolving her moral sinews!
People can see now that the triumph of Panama has not only restored to France her control of herself but has established a powerful link between America and France!
People can see now that the outcome of the struggle was to be the salvation of France and the preservation of the universe from the yoke of Prussian slavery.
And, seeing these things, it is possible to judge the perspicacity of those who wired to the French Government that my persistence in believing in the success of an irretrievably lost cause justified the gravest suspicion as to my mental health. The Department of Foreign Affairs of France has this cablegram in its archives. It dates from the first months of 1902.
One can judge the gratitude the world owes to Hanna and Roosevelt who made the victory possible in the political and in the diplomatic fields respectively, and did not believe, as the representatives of France did, that my faith in the triumph of Panama indicated a derangement of my mental faculties.
American Congress between Panama and Nicaragua
The battlefield was transferred during the first half of 1902 to Congress. It had left the domain of the Isthmian Canal Commission, otherwise called the Walker Commission from its president's name.
Thanks to Morrison and to Burr the cause of Panama had won before the Commission and that route had been unanimously recommended.
It may be recalled that when the Commission was formed, not one of its members had ever dreamed of Panama even as of a remote possibility. The same transformation was to take place, in spite of all probabilities, in the Senate and later on in the House before the end of the session of 1902.
After many weeks of examination of the problem by the Senatorial Commission on Inter-oceanic Canals the public debate was opened.
As I have said already, the article of the New York Herald, which I have reproduced in a previous chapter, exactly expressed the state of public opinion.
The cause of Panama was doomed if I could not demonstrate to the Senate that the question of money was not the only one that was to be invoked against Nicaragua. To offset her enviable privilege of being the half-century-old choice of the American people there were infinitely more powerful arguments. They were of two kinds.
The first kind bore on the purely technical details such as: number of locks, length of sections of difficult navigation, sharpness of curves, etc.
Napoleon said that a small sketch is better than a large report. Never was this wise dictum more usefully put into application.
Demonstration of the superiority of Panama by speeches or by reports was impossible. In a political assembly nobody listens to a technical speech, nobody reads a technical report. So I distributed to every senator a pamphlet wherein fourteen decisive arguments were advanced and of which thirteen were accompanied by a diagram; there was one diagram for each page.
One minute was enough to look at each page and be convinced. In a quarter of an hour the plea was brought home.
The second kind of argument---which I had pressed against Nicaragua as far back as 1892 in the book I had then published on "Panama" was: volcanic activity. This argument was not by itself easy to illustrate through a diagram. But there happened an extraordinary incident which enabled me, however, to formulate it graphically.
This incident played, in the history of the world, a part infinitely greater than people may imagine, because its influence was paramount in the victory of Panama before the American Senate.
I allude to the eruption of Mont Pêlée in the island of Martinique and of the resultant destruction of the prosperous town of Saint-Pierre.
This tragic event---which has no counterpart in the history of Europe, except Pompeii at the beginning of the Christian Era---occurred on the sixth of May, 1902. It was less than a month before the beginning of the senatorial debates (2nd of June) on the choice between Panama and Nicaragua. I immediately sent to every senator the text of my speeches of the previous year wherein I had denounced in forceful terms the volcanic danger hanging over the Nicaragua Canal.
Another incident took place which was absolutely disastrous to the partisans of Nicaragua.
On the 14th of May a cablegram from New Orleans announced that a part of the Isthmus of Nicaragua had been shaken by a violent earthquake on the shores of Lake Managua, an annex of the lake of Nicaragua. It was due, said the despatch, to an eruption of Momotombo.
My eminent friend, Edward P. Mitchell, whose brilliant editorial pen, following that of Dana, has given such force and such prestige to the Sun, wrote the crushing article which follows. Speaking of Momotombo he said: "Its great voice has uttered a warning of incalculable value to the United States." He supposes in the article the voice of Momotombo addressing Senator Morgan, the unflinching partisan of the Nicaragua route.
My compliments to Senator Morgan. I beg leave to inform that gentleman, and others whom it may concern, that I am not only alive but am capable of sending down, without notice, through Lake Managua, and the Tipitata River into the adjacent lake of Nicaragua, a tidal wave of sufficient volume and malignity to overwhelm any canal that engineering skill can construct through this country, and to wipe out every dollar of the two or three hundred millions which the United States Government may invest within the reach of the waters subject to my power. Precisely the same thing can be done with equal facility, and on equally short notice, by my neighbours and allies Pilas, Nindiri, Zelica, Santa Clara, Oros, Isla Venada, Fernando, Mancaron, Zapatera, Mancaroncita, Madera, Omotepe, and the Hell of Masaya---any one of them or all combined.
We respectfully enquire of the Senate of the United States whether Momotombo did not tell the truth.
Naturally the gigantic sensation created by the thrilling and spectacular drama of Saint-Pierre, complemented by the Nicaraguan earthquakes, dominated the senatorial debate. These terrible manifestations of the earth's interior fire had come just in time to give a tragic echo to everything I had been saying and writing for ten years.
Senator Hanna, who played the main part in the discussion, was cartooned painting volcanoes on the map of the Isthmus guided by a man wearing the characteristic costume of a Frenchman---as depicted on the stages of American comic theatres.
This portrayed him before the people as a puppet in the hands of French intriguers. Senator Hanna was particularly irritated. It was a staunch Republican paper, the Evening Star of Washington, which had stung him so cruelly.
This little episode shows how broken were the party lines on this great question. It also shows how badly hurt by the "volcano argument" the Nicaraguan party had been.
Feeling that their confidence of victory was weakening they resorted to that most dangerous of weapons: cynical negation of truth.
Toward the end of the debate, the President of Nicaragua, Zelaya, sent a cablegram addressed to Señor Corea, Minister of Nicaragua at Washington, at the latter's request. Speaking of the earthquake reported by the telegram of May 15, the one resulting from the Momotombo eruption, he .said:
News published about recent eruptions of volcanoes in Nicaragua entirely false.
Senator Morgan presented to the Senate the presidential telegram with a statement of Señor Corea to the effect that Nicaragua had had no volcanic eruption since 1835.
The vote was going to be taken under that falsified impression!
To overcome an official document---to demonstrate that what it said was a deliberate and wilful fabrication---another official document was necessary; more than that, absolutely indispensable.
How could I obtain it in less than a week? Nicaragua was too far, her authorities too obviously disposed, to do anything that might ensure their victory!
A POSTAGE STAMP SETTLES THE CANAL ROUTE
Suddenly a flash revealed to me the needed official document. I had it under my thumb. It was a postage stamp representing a magnificent volcano belching forth smoke across the country. At the foot of the volcano was the shore of the lake where the recent earthquakes had taken place. The smoking volcano was precisely: "Momotombo."
The postage stamp officially gave the lie to the statement of the Nicaraguan authorities to the effect that "since 1835 no volcano had been in eruption in Nicaragua."
I immediately began to collect the precious stamps in Washington and in New York, and on the 16th of June I sent one of them, pasted on a sheet of paper, to every senator.
On the paper was printed the necessary explanation under the telling title: "An official proof of the volcanic activity of Nicaragua."
This was the last shot of the battle. It simply decided the fate of this long controversy.
The day following, Senator Gallinger asked the Senate if it was reasonable to undertake this colossal work in a country taking a smoking volcano as an emblem for its postage stamps.
On Jane 19, 1902, the bill giving preference to Panama over Nicaragua---the Spooner Bill---passed by a majority of eight.
Panama had won! The adoption of the great French conception, to which was attached the fate of the world, had made a first and enormous step.
I telegraphed to the Matin the great news in the following terms:
WASHINGTON, June 19. After fifteen days of desperate struggle majority of the Senate, answering the call of Truth and Science, rather than that of popular prejudices half a century old, has adopted the Panama route, the French project, in preference to the Nicaragua route, the American project.
This memorable victory of French Genius, unappreciated and proscribed by France, is the everlasting condemnation of the calumniators who poisoned public opinion and thus excited a blind and criminal ostracism against the glorious conception of Panama.
To-day we can name these calumniators. They are: the Boches!
We know wherefrom they came: Berlin.
We know what was their object: To create in France distrust of her government, of her scientists, of her financiers, of her legislators, of all their leaders; to create outside of France contempt for a nation described by herself as fallen in a state of such imbecility that she could allow for ten years a gigantic swindle to be carried out under the pretense of making a work which was beyond the power of man to transform into a reality.
On the 19th of June, 1902, the slender majority of eight votes in the American Senate was laying the foundation of the great monument of Franco-American friendship.
It is this Monument wherein France has found the weapons with which to defend not only herself but also the liberty of the world. It is this monument which the adoption and the construction of the Panama Canal has erected and under the shadow of which the American legions were formed which put the Boche to final rout under the leadership of Pershing.
The man who cemented that monument was a great noble American through whose heart flowed a streak of French blood. It was Marcus A. Hanna, Senator of Ohio. He had acted on the advice of and in council with Myron T. Herrick. They two were the principal masons of that epoch-making monument.
After the vote of the Senate the House had to decide whether its vote for Nicaragua at the beginning of January---unanimous but for two---was to be sustained or dropped.
The general sentiment of the House was still for Nicaragua.
I sent to every member one of the same stamps which had produced such good results on the Senate. I was fortunate enough to be able to find in New York, by searching various postage-stamp firms, the five hundred units necessary. I came hastily back to Washington with an equal number of pamphlets containing the substance of my speeches of 1901.
The day following the distribution of these documents to all the members of the House a strong wavering in the resistance to Panama was apparent. Soon after, on the 29th of June---say ten days after the vote of the Senate had been taken---the House in its turn reversed almost unanimously its decision of January.
By all but eight votes preference was given to Panama, and the Spooner Bill became law.
That vote sounded the knell of 'the sinister Boche conspiracy to demonstrate to France the decadence of her genius.
In my book: "Panama; the Creation---the Destruction---the Resurrection," will be found eloquent expressions of the deep emotion French hearts felt at seeing this memorable vindication of France.
It was the first battle lost by Germany in her preliminary operations for the World War of 1914.
Indeed it was the factor which prevented the war from bursting out three years later, in 1905.
The Boche intrigues in Bogota in 1902 to prevent the adoption of Panama by the United States
THE destruction of France's self-confidence was the aim of the annihilation of the Panama Canal enterprise in 1892. The adoption of the French conception by the Congress of the United States on the 28th of June, 1902, was a terrible German check. The object of the German diplomacy was to prevent this adoption from the very moment it loomed up above the horizon; that is, from the beginning of 1902.
At the same time a new idea took form. It was to acquire for Germany the command of that precious and unique communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
To have the military command it was necessary to obtain somewhere on the Atlantic coast a naval base. The Venezuelan coast was chosen as very well fitted for such a military establishment. To have the Canal itself it was sufficient to oust the United States from the game by well-planned intrigues in Colombia, and to acquire from Colombia the Canal rights. True it is that these rights were conceded to the French Company till 1910, but we shall see how this obligation could be annulled thanks to the cunning legerdemain of the Colombian politicians.
The Spooner Law ordered the adoption of Panama, provided that two questions were solved beforehand:
1st. The French Panama Company had to give a clear title for her concessions, properties, works, machinery, etc.
2nd. Colombia had to give to the United States a concession for the right of constructing and operating the Canal.
The enunciation of the first condition was a matter of course. It was a satisfaction given to the opposition which had invented this absurd proposition: "The Panama Canal cannot be purchased because the Panama Company cannot sell her property and give a clear title."
The second condition was infinitely more serious. The unavoidable necessity of obtaining a concession from Colombia was giving the Boche the needed opportunity for his intrigues. He trusted to them to oust the United States from the Canal Zone of Panama and to stay there himself, master, disguised under the garb of Colombian patriotism.
VENEZOLANO-COLOMBIAN INTRIGUES OF THE BOCHE
But even before the votes for the Spooner Law (19th-29th of June, 1902) the astute Boche had begun to cast his nets. From the end of 1901 the double-faced game was played both in Colombia and in Venezuela. It had been determined on when the extraordinary qualities of the Panama solution had been exposed to world-wide publicity in the course of 1901. In Colombia the Boche worked with that smooth, velvety method of which he is a past master when trying "not to leave any traces"-according to the Von Luxburg recommendations. They worked so successfully that many people were lured into the belief that Colombia had been the victim in the Panama matter.
Readers of these pages will be afforded a personal opportunity to judge for themselves whether the American Government did anything which it could regret. They will see whether Colombia did not deserve to the full the evils she has suffered. They will see whether, in that case, a vigorous justice has not acted hand in hand with the best interests of civilization.
I shall retrace, later, the true story of the Panama negotiations up to the signature of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty. Anybody wanting more details will find them in: "Panama; the Creation---the Destruction---the Resurrection."(7)
I shall afterward outline a parallel sketch of the Venezuelan incidents in which German brutality was employed for the same purpose as velvety smoothness in Colombia.
COLOMBIA BEGINS NEGOTIATIONS
The first negotiations between the United States and Colombia began at the same time as I launched my campaign of agitation in 1901. The Colombian Government then was eager to see the Canal accomplished, because the Boches were indifferent to the Panama question except for wrecking the French enterprise, and their action was not felt in Colombia. Don Carlos Martinez Silva was sent as minister plenipotentiary to Washington with instructions to help as much as possible the adoption of Panama by the United States. He gave the new Panama Canal Company the necessary authorization to open negotiations with the American Government for the sale of its concessions and property. He himself tried to induce the American Government to select the Panama solution.
Martinez Silva, Special Envoy of Colombia to Washington and important statesman of Bogota, thus formally initiated, in 1901, negotiations with the United States. It was in view of bringing her to abandon her national project of Nicaragua and to undertake the completion of the Panama Canal. In taking that step Colombia was pledging her honour to carry out in good faith the proposed plan and fully to do her share in the necessary arrangements between herself and the United States. When, later on, under the obvious pressure of German intrigues, she abandoned the path of sincerity and good faith, Colombia took certain risks which bad faith necessarily entails.
As we shall see, the revolt of Panama was a sincere and unanimous outburst of indignation of the Isthmian people, when crushed by the egoistical and treacherous policy adopted by Bogota at the suggestion of the Germans.
The action of the United States Government toward Panama after the proclamation of her independence was a legitimate and honourable proof of friendship toward a small but energetic nation proclaiming its right to exist.
It was a legitimate and honourable act of the United States simultaneously to uphold the principle that the construction of the international highways of commerce cannot be obstructed by the greed of the proprietors, or of the sovereigns of the territory through which such highways must pass.
It was a legitimate and honourable act of the United States to show, by her attitude toward Colombia, that the country had forfeited all rights to a friendly treatment on her part.
It was a legitimate and honourable act of the United States to use, to their extreme limits, all her treaty rights:
1st---To protect Panama.
2nd---To insure the execution of a highway made for the use of all nations under strictly equal conditions.
3rd---To show to Colombia that weakness is no justification for bad faith.
All the sophisms spread everywhere by the pro-German advocates of Colombia will never break the strong bulwark of facts: It was Colombia that in 1901 initiated the negotiations and offered the Panama Canal to the United States; it was Colombia that later on, in 1903, forfeited her pledge of honour, betrayed her word, and rejected the Hay-Herran Treaty by which the American acquisition was to be carried out.
No excuse can be found in the fact that the Senate, and not the Government, rejected the treaty. Everybody knows that Colombia was then a dictatorial autocracy, and that the same autocratic government was in power in 1901 and in 1903.
If anybody had the illusion that the elections in Colombia were free and independent of the Government, he can read the official documents transmitted to the American Senate. He will see there that immediately after the Panama Revolution offers were made by Bogota to ratify the Hay-Herran Treaty, the same treaty which had been rejected by the so-called independent Senate of Colombia.
GERMAN INTRIGUES MODIFY COLOMBIA'S ATTITUDE
In the beginning of 1901, when destiny seemed fixed forever in favour of the Nicaragua Canal, the Boche had not yet made any plans to control the precious transcontinental water route. He had done nothing but use his influence and intrigues to wreck the French enterprise and to develop in France a hectic political fever.
But when I had shown how the matter stood---both in America by the series of my speeches and in Europe by the three appeals published in all the papers of France---the situation began to change.
When in the beginning of 1902 the unanimous recommendation of the Isthmian Canal Commission for Panama was made, the German greed had then been already violently excited and Boche action had been prepared.
The desire to control the transcontinental water route must then have reached such proportions as to become an imperious necessity. We all know from the solemn statement of Germany's chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, before the Reichstag at the beginning of the war that, for the Boche moral aristocracy, "necessity knows no law."
The Panama Canal, then, having become a German necessity, neither law of righteousness nor law of decency could any longer be taken into account.
Consequently, the two neighbour countries, Venezuela and Colombia, were simultaneously treated by appropriate methods, the former by brutality, the latter by guile.
To Caracas the Kaiser sent an ultimatum as a new year's gift in December, 1901, and sent his men of war to rove along the Venezuelan coast.
To Bogota went sweet, oily emissaries calling the people's attention to the incalculable disasters to which Colombian honour, sovereignty, and patriotism were exposed by the proposed Americanization of the Panama Canal.
RECALL OF MARTINEZ SILVA---ARRIVAL OF CONCHA
The following results of this double move were soon apparent:
In Caracas, warlike attitude against Germany and confidence in United States' help. In Bogota, recall of Martinez Silva because he was friendly to the United States and favourable to the Americanization of the Canal. His successor, Concha, arrived on February 26, 1902.
He was just as hostile as his predecessor was favourable to the transfer of the Panama Canal to the United States.
The aggressive policy which began with the end of 1901 by the ultimatum to Venezuela and by the decision of Colombia to recall Martinez Silva is symbolic of the German action in tropical America. Both aimed at the control of Panama which was later on to be followed by a complete establishment of Germany both in Venezuela and in Colombia.
THE GERMAN ASPIRATIONS FOR TROPICAL TABLELANDS
Germany's acts in Caracas and Bogota were the offshoots of the German tropical policy.
This policy consisted for the New World in controlling the high plateaux of the Andes extending over Colombia and Venezuela and at the same time the precious connection between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the Panama Canal. It consisted, in Africa, in controlling the high plateaux between the Congo and the Zambesi and at the same time the precious deposits of copper ores of the Katanga region, the richest in the world.
Both these Venezolano-Colombian and Congo-Zambesian plateaux have an altitude which compensates their latitude. They offer to the white race magnificent zones of settlement and population.
The establishment of two great German centres of population on the two high Central American and Central African plateaux; the consequent control of the natural passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific in the first case and of untold quantities of copper, the metal par excellence for transmission of energy, in the second; such were the tropical policies of Germany in the first years of the twentieth century.
It is for the realization of these world policies that we saw the Boche intrigues in Venezuela and in Colombia in 1902-03. It is for the realization of these policies that we saw later the absorption of a part of the French Congo by Germany---thanks to the Moroccan blackmail begun by the same bandit nation in 1905.
This impudent Moroccan piece of roguery was undoubtedly started in order to obtain cause for the German aggression against France which was due about that time.
It was certainly the firm attitude of President Roosevelt which made the Boche bully step back in 1905, as it had made him step back in 1909, after raising the Venezuela question, as we shall see in Chapter XI.
The acquisition of a part of the French Congo was the only result obtained by Germany for the promotion of her tropical policies. It consoled her for her failure, both to control the Panama Canal and to declare war on France at the most propitious moment of 1905.
Without enlarging too much upon this side-light it is not unnecessary to have a knowledge of the three great German designs in 1901-05:
Aggression against France.
Acquisition of the tropical highland of America with the Panama Canal as adjunct.
Acquisition of the tropical highlands of Africa with the great copper mines of Katanga as adjuncts.
All these three plans were foiled thanks to President Roosevelt and to the Revolution of Panama, except for a trifling German success in the third of these plans.
THE OBSTRUCTION OF CONCHA
As I have said already, on the 26th of February, 1902, Señor Jose Vicente Concha, former Minister of War, at Bogota, arrived in New York to replace Señor Martinez Silva.
On the preceding day Mr. Martinez Silva had expressed to me how concerned he was about Mr. Concha's influence on the fate of the Panama Canal. He had several days earlier requested me to write to him a letter with the view of sending it to Bogota in order to influence President Marroquin.
As we were examining the dangers to which the situation was exposed, through the unfriendliness of Concha to the adoption of the Panama route by the United States, he said: "If your letter had reached President Marroquin!"
"Well," I replied, "it matters little; I am going to cable him if you think that it may relieve the situation."
He pressed my hand, quite moved, saying: "But that will cost you an enormous sum!"
The same day I wired to President Marroquin a long despatch in which I developed seven arguments demonstrating where the duty and the interest of Colombia lay. I strongly urged him to resist the suggestions of a foolish greed in demanding extortionate financial conditions to the United States for the grant of the concession.
Martinez Silva and I both supposed then that his recall and the arrival of an obstructionist like Concha meant the preponderance of a policy of extortionate financial conditions.
In fact, the evil was more deeply rooted. It was not the greed of Colombia which was at stake, it was the plans of conquest of Germany.
The wild excitation of an over-sensitive patriotism in Colombia was obviously the policy which was to be adopted by the enemies of the Americanization of the Panama Canal. It was the German policy, par excellence. It was this hypocritical policy which consists in winning in a foreign country the support of a political party, not only by adopting its tendencies but also fanning constantly to white heat the red cinders of its aspirations. The Boche succeeds thus in generating a catastrophic fire which practically destroys the nation in which he operates, but which develops there the conditions satisfactory for German political interests.
The best agents of German propaganda in most cases happen to be completely ignorant of the real part they are made to play. They are, with a very few exceptions, extremely patriotic and would rather kill themselves than knowingly serve a foreign interest antagonistic to that of their own country. But they serve it just the same by the absurd inflation of their otherwise justified opinions. During the Great War we have seen this system working with striking consequences in Russia.
The astute fanning, by Boche emissaries, of the socialist cinders existing in Russia has developed this horrible and maddened bolshevism which has destroyed Russia for the time being. It is the same Boche process by which, in France, the red cinders of discontent were fanned when the Panama Canal Company fell into financial difficulties. The subtle Boche calumnies artificially fabricated out of nothing a monumental scandal which almost entirely disrupted France, and would have made her a prey to the German aggressor as she was in 1870 thanks to the Boche-made Mexican Empire.
It was the same Boche process which fanned to a flame the red cinders of anti-semitic tendencies thanks to which was launched and armed the piratic boat of the Dreyfus affair. It created a moral civil war which coming on top of the wreck of the Panama Canal Company was intended to weaken France sufficiently to make her the easy victim of Germany's assault. It is the same Boche process by which the red cinders of French expansion in the New World had been fanned at the Court of the Tuileries in 1861-63. It is the same Boche process by which had been fanned in the United States the red cinders of legitimate resentment against France for violating the Monroe Doctrine.
The stupid policy followed by the chimerical-minded emperor, Napoleon III, at the suggestion of Bismarck's camouflaged agents, led to the Mexican Expedition, and was, as I have said already, the trap laid by the Prussians in view of preparing their war of 1870-71.
It was certainly the same Boche process by which the red cinders of anti-protestantism were fanned at the end of the glorious reign of Louis XIV. It had for dire consequence the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the consequent expulsion from France of her most progressive and most intellectual citizens.
Recently the descendants of French Huguenots have appealed to the pity of France in favour of the Hohenzollern who committed the crime of crimes, of William II. They based their plea on the favours the French Huguenots always received from the Hohenzollerns.
These Boche-transformed Frenchmen ought to have understood that the expulsion of the Huguenots from France was the most typical example of the influence of Boche political venom on the French political system. They ought to have seen that these Hohenzollern favours were nothing but the other end of the treacherous Boche diplomacy. Far from asking mercy for William II they ought to have exposed the German hypocrites fanning the red cinders of religious passions in France, in order to recruit her best citizens, her captains of industry, and later on heaping favours upon them to keep them solidly absorbed.
When we shall have seen clearly through our own history the constant action of the Boche in our politics, we shall begin perhaps to be aware of their poisonous influence.
My purpose now is to show their traces through the history of the Panama Canal. I wish to show that to stop its misdeeds it suffices to attack it, to fight it, to expose it. I have attacked for almost thirty years that remarkable Boche conspiracy in France, in Colombia, and in the United States. I followed it and fought it everywhere with Truth as my only weapon. I am now exposing it in the hope that a systematic organization will be established in America, England, France, and Russia to countercheck the German operations of similar nature in the future.
CONCHA AND THE HIGH-PRESSURE PATRIOTS OF COLOMBIA
When Mr. Concha arrived in New York, the new Colombian minister was the representative of the policy which Boche influence was creating in Bogota.
It is far from my thought to accuse Mr. Concha of being in any way conscious of the part Germany had of the policy he was sustaining. I repeat that the character of this insidious method to promote Boche interests is precisely to fan to white heat legitimate and generally patriotic passions.
The most sincere and best French patriots have unknowingly served the Boche interests in mental insurrections "made in Germany" which are called "the Panama and the Dreyfus affairs."
In Colombia, when the Boche intrigues were centred in Bogota in order to obtain control of the inter-oceanic passage, almost all the men who were blinded by a foolish patriotism and opposed the United States, served unknowingly also the Boche propaganda.
Concha was one of these men. He was representing the party of the extremists, the bolshevists of the right wing, always ready to sacrifice everything---their country included---to the spasmodic and exasperated love of the same country.
This party, fooled and excited by German influences, had obtained from the honest but weak man placed at the head of the Republic, President Marroquin, the recall of Martinez Silva.
The days following the arrival of Señor Concha in Washington witnessed violent discussions. On March 26th, I sent a telegram to the principal paper of the Isthmus, the Star and Herald, in which I made clear that Colombian diplomacy was practically putting to death the Isthmian population. This telegram was the reason of an exchange of correspondence between Señor Concha and myself in which I was able to make him realize the enormous responsibility he was assuming.
Under the influence of this pressure, and perhaps also under instructions from President Marroquin, Concha relaxed on the 27th of March from his obstruction and accepted decent conditions to form the base for the future treaty concerning the Panama Canal.
This temporary victory of common sense over political hysteria, carefully maintained by the Boche in adequate exasperation, allowed the Senate to vote in favour of the Panama route on June 19th. The House followed, as we know, ten days later.
Then began the fight for the final treaty. Señor Concha developed again in the autumn of 1902 the most energetic qualities of obstructionist. At a given moment all negotiations were suspended.
I decided to appeal by cablegram to President Marroquin.
This important message was dated November 23, 1902. In it I did not hesitate to make allusion to a possible secession of the Isthmus as a consequence of the policy adopted at Bogota. I predicted then what was to take place in the same month of the following year. Of course the prediction had to be carefully enveloped under rhetorical veils.
I warned him against "the development of INTERNATIONAL EVENTS of the gravest order from which might result that the CANAL BE MADE AT PANAMA AGAINST COLUMBIA instead of being made with her, amicably."
THE HAY-HERRAN TREATY
This warning apparently strengthened the hands of those who were in Bogota defending the real interests of Colombia against the clique supported by Boche intrigues. This clique, the party of the White Bolsheviki of Colombia, was also, probably at that moment, invited by Germany to relax its opposition and to let the other party win for a short space of time. At that moment the Boche was preparing the final move and the disembarkation of troops on Venezuelan soil. It was necessary to placate the United States and to make her believe in a success at Bogota and in the independence between Germany's action in Venezuela and the Colombian attitude regarding Panama.
Concha's successor, Herran, had been the Secretary of the Legation of Colombia in Washington for many years. He was a modest, prudent official, incapable of any action without an explicit order from his government.
After his taking charge of the office he soon agreed with Mr. Hay as to the conditions of partition of sovereignty in the Canal Zone. But again the question of money compensation brought out new difficulties and the negotiations again came to a standstill.
I decided once more to appraise President Marroquin the question and I cabled to him on the 19th of December, 1902. 1 formally advised him to propose to settle the controversy by the acceptance of $10,000,000 in cash and of an annuity of $250,000 for the grant of the Panama Canal concession to the United States.
On the 22nd of January, 1903, the treaty between the United States and Colombia was signed by Mr. John Hay, Secretary of State of the United States and Señor Herran, Chargé d'Affaires of Colombia.
The financial stipulation which had during the whole year caused limitless difficulties had been resolved according to my suggestion.
To-day it is possible to see clearly the basic cause of that signature. This cause is the collapse of Germany when faced by the energetic attitude of Roosevelt after her final ultimatum was brought on the 9th of December, 1902, to Caracas; after she had, in fact, declared war on Venezuela in order to seize a slice of that country's coast and there establish a military base controlling the Panama Canal.
On the 9th of January, 1903, it became known in New York that Von Holleben, the German Ambassador in Washington, had been dismissed by the Kaiser from the diplomatic service.
It was the final discomfiture of Germany's aggression on Venezuela. This surrender of the Boche bully forced him naturally to slacken entirely the reins in Colombia and from that situation resulted the signature of the Hay-Herran Treaty. We shall see later the account by Mr. Roosevelt himself of these memorable events. It corroborates minutely these views of the double-faced policy of Germany, both in Venezuela and Colombia.
Let us now prove the identity between the Boche policy in Venezuela and the Colombian policy in the United States, by the synchronism of successive events.
Both are the two faces of the same body.
THE TWO SIDES OF A BOCHE INTRIGUE TO CONQUER THE PANAMA CANAL BY HOOK IN VENEZUELA AND BY CROOK IN COLOMBIA
Furthering by the Boche of a cause of aggression against Venezuela, while -the attitude of Colombia is to obstruct the conception of an American-made Panama Canal.
January 3, 1902.---A telegram from Berlin published by the Paris Matin of the morrow states that an ultimatum was sent to Venezuela by Germany some days before.- It is the beginning of the policy of violence toward Venezuela to generate a quarrel from which shall result a seizure of territory. The ultimatum does not fix a time limit. It is a feeler.
January 10, 1902.---President Castro of Venezuela publishes a telegram said to have been sent by Secretary of the U. S. Navy Long of December 30, 1901, giving formal and precise instructions to the vice admiral commanding the Atlantic Fleet to oppose even by force any attempt of the Imperial German fleet cruising along the Venezuelan coast to seize any part of the territory of that republic.
This telegram, if genuine, demonstrates that from the start, the U. S. Government was wide awake on the political significance of the German move in the neighbourhood of the Caribbean Sea and that Mr. Roosevelt had already given his instructions to that effect.
February 26, 1902.---Señor Concha lands in New York as minister of Colombia to replace Martinez Silva who had acted in good faith for furthering an understanding between the United States, Colombia, and the Panama Company. Concha begins a policy of obstruction to a Canal understanding between America and Colombia. That policy has in view the confiscation of the property of the Panama Company by Colombia and its sale to the German Government disguised as a syndicate.
His arrival is undoubtedly the Colombian side of the policy of aggression of Germany, the ultimatum sent to Caracas being the Venezuelan side.
The arrival of such an aggressive man as Concha follows too quickly the opening of a policy of German aggression in Venezuela not to be in close connection with that German aggression.
Martinez Silva dies on his. way back to Bogota. Everybody believes that this sad event happened too "à propos " not to have been caused by Boche partisans.
Hectic attitude of Germany in Venezuela while it is smooth and oily in Colombia.
December 9, 1902.---A cablegram from Caracas announces the arrival of a special messenger bringing a formal ultimatum of 48 hours in the joint name of Germany and Great Britain.
December 13, 1902.---Another ultimatum is brought to Caracas from Italy who has sent a man of war to support the ultimatum.---Let us remember that Italy was at that time the ally of Germany and following a foreign policy inspired by Berlin.
It is the great clearing of the German decks for action against Venezuela, apparently against the U. S. in reality.
December 1, 1902.---Change of attitude of Colombia in Washington. Concha, the obstructionist minister, is replaced by a subaltern individuality, Herran, Secretary of the Panama Legation for many years. He is a puppet, chosen to soften provisorily the Colombian-American friction during the burning period which is going to be opened on account of the proposed seizure by Germany of a part of the Venezuelan coast. The Germans let the rein loose on the Colombian side, while they are going to pull strongly the other one, on the Venezuelan side.
Of course the relaxation will be temporary and the pull on the Colombian rein will begin again when the Venezuelan acquisition shall have been carried out.
The double part to be played by Herren is shown by his attitude. He is all smoothness in the first days of December and hardens again after the blackmailing attitude of Germany has been assumed.
December 19, 1902.---My telegram to President Marroquin saying: " Situation ameliorated by removal of diplomatic representative of Colombia is exposed to new and grave perils on the question of annual rentals." I conclude the telegram by suggesting the financial settlement.
Collapse of the German intrigues both in Venezuela and Colombia.
General surrender of the War Lord of Germany before Roosevelt's verbal ultimatum.
December 18, 1902.----Cablegram from Washington announcing that President Castro of Venezuela has given full power to Mr. Bowen, Minister of the United States at Caracas to settle all difficulties with Germany, England, and Italy.
January 9, 1903.---The Sun publishes a telegram from Berlin, dated January 8th, saying that notwithstanding official statements Dr. Von Holleben will not return to Washington except to take leave when he is formally recalled.
This is the submission of Germany in the Venezuelan theatre of Boche intrigue.
January 22, 1903---Signature of the Hay-Herran Treaty which allows the construction of the Panama Canal by America and prohibits Colombia to cede or lease to any foreign government any of its islands or harbours near the Bay of Panama, or on the Atlantic coast of Colombia between the Atrato River and the western boundary of the department of Panama.
January 31, 1903.---The New York Herald quotes a senator as saying that the foreign government against which this interdiction was specified is Germany.
This is the submission of Germany in the Colombian theatre of Boche intrigue
PROOFS AND SUSPICIONS OF BOCHE CONSPIRACIES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES WITH THE COMPLICITY OF THE RULING ELEMENTS OF COLOMBIA
This synoptic representation of the events of 1909--03 in Venezuela and Colombia shows clearly the rigid link between the two. It is the clearest and most vivid demonstration that they are but two faces of the same body. The Boche is beaten at the beginning of 1903 but he will soon begin a new intrigue in Colombia to throw out the United States and prevent the ratification of the treaty he has been obliged to allow the Colombian Government to sign.
However well concealed was the system of transmission of German intrigues it was suspected all along. Many papers made allusion to it.
The New York Herald (Paris edition) of January 16, 1903, reproduced a telling cartoon from Life alluding to the Panama situation. It shows Uncle Sam clad in Robinson Crusoe's attire and looking at footprints on the soil of South America on which he is walking.
Below the cartoon appears: "MORE THAN RUMOUR"; and above it: "UNCLE SAM [Robinson Crusoe] SEES GERMANY'S FOOTPRINT."
Various traces of boche intrigue in Bogota for defeating in 1903 the adoption of the Panama Canal by the U. S. after she had resolved to do so and signed the Hay-Herran Treaty.
FROM the 17th of March, 1903---date of the ratification by the American Senate of the Hay-Herran Treaty---to the 3rd of November following ---date of the Panama Revolution---the fate of the Panama Canal hung in the balance at Bogota.
It is beyond doubt that Marroquin, who was a real dictator, was earnestly desirous of seeing in force the treaty which he had ordered Herran to sign in spite of the White Bolsheviki of Bogota. But these fanatics---excited, as all extremists are, by the Boche propaganda, when Germany has to hope something from disorder sown in foreign lands---soon tried to take their revenge.
The track of the Boche hand, which was so clearly shown in the preceding period, is also easy to discover in this one.
SUSPICION OF GERMAN UNDERHAND PRESSURE
During the extremely interesting period of the discussion before the Colombian Congress which we shall narrate later on, the American minister in Bogota, Mr. Beaupré, mentions in a letter to Secretary Hay dated July 31, 1903, the shadow of Germany on Colombia. He writes:
At times I have thought, from the tone of the conversation of certain opponents, that foreign hostile influences were at work, but I have never been able to be certain of this. If there be opposition from this source, it is of too secret a nature to be discovered and cannot therefore be particularly effective.
Mr. Beaupré's last remark, that the "secret intrigues cannot be particularly effective," is indeed so full of candour as to disqualify him as a good judge of the dangers of German diplomacy.
He certainly would not repeat that statement to-day after the bitter experience the world has had of the effectiveness of the most secret German intrigues.
The conspiracy to unchain the criminal war of 1914 was indeed very secret. Was it not effective?
Von Luxburg's recommendation to sink neutral ships without leaving traces was indeed secret!
Did it prevent the submarine work from being effective?
Further down in the same letter Mr. Beaupré gives another proof of his naïveté in furnishing, as a proof of Germany's disposition, the following account:
I have certain but private information that Doctor Uricoechea---a member of the Senate's special Committee, heretofore referred to, and who lived a great many years in Germany---called on Baron Grunau, the German Chargé d'Affaires, to enquire what would be the attitude of the German Government in case of trouble arising out of the matter, and whether it would be willing to undertake or aid the construction of the Canal, in case the treaty with the United States should not be ratified.
Baron Grunau replied that he had no instructions bearing on the subject, but that he was of the positive opinion that, considering how desirous his government was at the present moment to remain on friendly terms with the United States, it would not take any steps with reference to the construction of the Canal controversy growing out of the present negotiation.
Evidently the German diplomats could not, six months after the abject surrender of William II in the Venezuela incident, bring him forward in a new scrap with Roosevelt.
Never would the German Government have taken any step, but private German citizens would have certainly done it under a proper camouflage.
The art of financial camouflage was not in its infancy. But Mr. Beaupré was not aware of the Boche tricks. (In extenuation, it may be said that very few people were---at that time.)
What we must retain of his letter is the fact that in spite of his obvious candour he could not have helped suspecting the Boche hand working against the United States in Colombia to kill the Hay-Herran Treaty.
The manifestation of the reality of Boche activity will be found in the motto of the enemies of the Hay-Herran Treaty.
We find it particularly well expressed in the Nuevo Tiempo of Bogota, October 16, 1903. Speaking of the Hay-Herran Treaty it said:
This treaty is a violation of our fundamental institutions. I desire, as do many of my compatriots, that whatever canal may be built across the Isthmus be, for eternity, in the rigorous acception of the word, A COLOMBIAN CANAL. If it cannot be a COLOMBIAN CANAL, then it cannot be built.
The above quotation is a formal demonstration of the same Boche influence on the white extremists of Colombia. It can be placed at the side of the demonstration resulting from the synchronous moves of the Germans in Caracas and of the Colombians in Washington during the year 1902 and January of 1903.
The Colombians may have erratic political opinions, but they can claim one thing: that is, not to deserve to be held as dull and stupid. They would be entitled so to be regarded if they had ever believed for one moment that Colombia could have a Colombian canal made at Panama by Colombian engineers and with Colombian money; that is, a Colombian canal in the rigorous acception of the word. To say and believe such a thing, after the failure of the French Company to collect the necessary funds from the public, is impossible to a rational being. Colombia, herself being entirely unable to construct even a railway of any importance, could not dream of financing the giant enterprise with her own resources. Only the money of a large government could finance the Panama Canal construction.
No other government in the world but that of Germany had enough interest in the matter to undertake it in competition with the United States. If another had had the interest, none would have had the nerve to do it. It may be said, therefore, that the enigma of a strictly Colombian canal has only one solution.
By the expression strictly Colombian canal was meant: a canal made by a Colombian company, under Colombian laws, with ostensibly private German subscribers but in reality with the money of the German Government itself. Of course not only the money but the engineers, the machinery, and the directorate would have been German. It would have been a replica of the Bagdad Railway. The canal would have been a strictly Colombian canal as to the exterior aspect. It would have been a strictly German canal as to the internal brains, nerves, sinews, and muscles.
This combination is the one and only rational explanation of the belief shared by many, if not all Colombians, that, by rejecting the Hay-Herran Treaty, the life of the Canal was ensured with many additional advantages for Colombia. Of course, as a preliminary step, Colombia was to steal the Panama Canal concession from the French Company and sell the stolen goods to Germany.
This was the programme implicitly contained in the declaration quoted hereabove from the Nuevo Tiempo of October 16, 1903.
When Colombia decided to throw off the American cooperation, the work of the Boche influences and programmes to that effect could be clearly detected. They were obvious then for a limited number of persons only but they can be now fully demonstrated. However carefully concealed from the public eyes, at that time its radiations could be detected by special observers.
QUOTATIONS FROM AMERICAN PAPERS IN 1903
1 am going to give quotations from the papers of the period considered, which entirely confirm the rational inductions which can be obtained from the facts as well as from the suspicions of Mr. Beaupré.
The New York Sun of October 23, 1903, published the following:
COLOMBIA TO BUILD CANAL?
SEEKING EUROPEAN CAPITAL TO COMPLETE THE PANAMA WATERWAY
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22.---Dr. Herran, the Colombian Chargé d'Affaires, had a talk with Secretary Hay to-day. Mr. Hay learned that Señor N---- of the Colombian diplomatic service, who arrived here this week supposedly with new proposals from his government for the negotiations of a Panama Canal treaty, brought no such proposals. . . .
The State Department had heard, however, through sources connected with the Panama Canal Company, that Señor N---- asserts that European capitalists are ready to advance the money to build the Panama Canal and that the Colombian Government is indifferent on that account to make another treaty with the United States. . . .
Who were the European capitalists who could then complete the Panama Canal? The answer is simple: No private capitalists could, but a government, camouflaged under the garb of private banks, might take such a risk. For political purposes a government might accept the financial challenge against Nature as to the cost of construction and against the American-made Nicaragua Canal as to that of operation.
Among the European governments, as we have seen already, only one, the German Government, could contemplate such a scheme.
This was Mr. Hay's opinion as expressed in the World of the same day, October 23, 1903, about the same Señor N----'s mission:
. . . . It is known that Mr. Hay fears that Canal matters may develop into international complication.
It is believed that Colombia will try to secure $10,000,000 from the Panama Canal Company. . . . If the Company refuses it is predicted from what Señor N---- has said that Colombia will declare void the law extending the franchise from 1904 to 1910 and confiscate the property with the idea of turning it over to a German syndicate.
There we have the whole plan condensed in a few lines by the World's representative at Washington.
It is the explicit echo of the Nuevo Tiempo of Bogota:
A Colombian canal in the full sense of the word.
We have there the rightful interpretation which we had already deducted by reasoning.
It is the final outcome, at the end of 1903, of the German intrigues in Colombia. These intrigues had begun in January, 1902, when Señor Concha went to Washington to prevent the Americanization of the Panama Canal and the consequent rapprochement of America and France. But it is not only on the rational examination of facts and on the appreciation of American newspapers that the demonstration of these intrigues is resting.
We have a most striking testimony expressed in a letter published by a newspaper of Lima and reproduced by the New York Tribune of October 27, 1903.
Here is the Tribune's article:
FAILURE OF CANAL BILL
GERMAN MINISTER SAID TO HAVE AIDED IN SECURING ITS DEFEAT
El Comercio, a newspaper of Lima, publishes in a recent issue a letter from its correspondent in Colon in which it is asserted authoritatively that the diplomatic representatives of Germany and Chili at Bogota worked secretly together to help the defeat of the Panama Canal Treaty. Rumours have been current for some time that a strong foreign influence was being used against the treaty. The article in El Comercio says in part:
The Colombian Senate took the action it did on the advice of Señor ---- the German Minister at Bogota.
Germany sent to Nicaragua a commission of civil engineers to make a thorough inspection of the proposed Nicaragua Canal and to report to Berlin on its feasibility. The commission reported that besides the tremendous expense that would be incurred by the adoption of the Nicaragua route, it was physically impracticable for the United States and against her interests.
This finding was immediately communicated to Señor--- who took care to make the Colombian Government acquainted with its purport.
The press of Colombia continues its violent agitation against the treaty.
It is obvious from these various quotations that however well concealed were the wires pulled by the Boche in Bogota, it was impossible to cover them entirely.
The great principle of Von Luxburg to commit political crimes without leaving traces is the hope of all law breakers, but it is not always fulfilled.
It is not only at the end of this long, treacherous struggle against America's civilizing and generous undertaking that the hiss of the Boche snake could be heard from outside. The strong smell revealed the trail of the reptile and we have found it everywhere.
At every critical phase it could be clearly distinguished in the period of 1902, as shown in the preceding chapters and in the period of 1903 as has been shown in this one.
President Roosevelt's testimony relative to the break-down ---thanks to a verbal ultimatum to Germany at the end of 1902---of the Boche-camouflaged naval and diplomatic operations to obtain on the Venezuelan shores a military base commanding the Panama Canal
I HAVE now demonstrated, I think to the satisfaction of the most sceptical mind, that interdependence existed between the attitude of Germany in Caracas (Venezuela) and the attitude of Colombia in Washington (United States) during the year 1902. I have shown how, at the three successive critical moments of the German blackmailing adventure in Caracas, there corresponded three synchronous and highly sympathetic movements of Colombia in Washington.
It remains for me to show what was the significance, for the American Government, of that German blackmailing adventure in Caracas. I have to show that this Boche move was indeed made against the Panama Canal, while Colombian sympathizers were working in Bogota; I have to show how the Boche was foiled in his expectations.
The most powerful---one might say the only---witness of the whole affair was the then President of the United States himself, Theodore Roosevelt. I am going to quote from Mr. Ralph Page's "Dramatic Moments in American Diplomacy" his momentous declarations about the matter.
After reproducing Mr. Roosevelt's testimony I shall give my own and narrate how, almost a year later, I was able to foil the German intrigue in Colombia by the creation of the Republic of Panama.
MR. ROOSEVELT'S TESTIMONY(8)
I also became convinced that Germany intended to seize some Venezuelan harbour and turn it into a strongly fortified place of arms, on the model of Kiau-Chau, with a view to exercising some degree of control over the future Isthmian canal and over South American affairs generally.
For some time the usual methods of diplomatic intercourse were tried. Germany declined to agree to arbitrate the question at issue between her and Venezuela, and declined to say that she would not take possession of Venezuelan territory, merely saying that such possession would be "temporary"; which might mean anything. I finally decided that no useful purpose would be served by further delay, and I took action accordingly. I assembled our battle fleet (there were more than fifty ships including every battleship and destroyer we had) under Admiral Dewey, near Porto Rico, for "manoeuvres," with instructions that the fleet should be kept in hand and in fighting trim, and should be ready to sail at an hour's notice. The fact that the fleet was in West Indian waters was of course generally known, but I believe that the Secretary of the Navy, and Admiral Dewey, and perhaps his chief of staff and the Secretary of State, John Hay, were the only persons who knew about the order for the fleet to be ready to sail at an hour's notice. I told John Hay that I would now see the German Ambassador, Herr Von Holleben, myself and that I intended to bring matters to an early conclusion. Our navy was in very efficient condition, being superior to the German navy.
I saw the Ambassador, and explained that, in view of the presence of the German squadron on the Venezuelan coast, I could not permit longer delay in answering my request for an arbitration, and that I could not acquiesce in any seizure of Venezuelan territory.
The Ambassador responded that his government could not agree to arbitrate, and that there was no intention to take permanent possession of Venezuelan territory. I answered that Kiau-Chau, was not a "permanent" possession of Germany---that I understood that it was merely held by a ninety-nine-years lease; and that I did not intend to have another Kiau-Chan held by similar tenure on the approach to the Isthmian canal. The ambassador repeated that his government would not agree to arbitrate. I then asked him to inform his government that if no notification for arbitration came within a certain specified number of days I should be obliged to order Dewey to take his fleet to Venezuelan waters and see that the German forces did not take possession of any territory.
He expressed very grave concern and asked me if I realized the serious consequences that would follow such action, consequences so serious to both countries that he dreaded to give them a name. I answered that I had thoroughly counted the cost before I decided on the step, and asked him to look at the map, as a glance would show him that there was no spot in the world where Germany, in the event of a conflict with the United States, would be at a greater disadvantage than in the Caribbean Sea.
A few days later the Ambassador came to see me, talked pleasantly on several subjects, and rose to go. I asked him if he had any answer to make from his government to my request, and, when he said No. I informed him that in such event it was useless to wait as long as I intended, and that Dewey would be ordered to sail twenty-four hours in advance of the time I had set. He expressed deep apprehension and said that his government would not arbitrate.
However, less than twenty-four hours before the time I had appointed for cabling the order to Dewey, the Ambassador notified me that His Imperial Majesty, the German Emperor, had directed him to request me to undertake the arbitration myself. I felt and publicly expressed great gratification at this outcome and great appreciation of the course the German Government had finally agreed to take. Later, I received the consent of the German Government to have the arbitration undertaken by the Hague Tribunal and not by me.
The author of "Dramatic Moments in American Diplomacy" adds to this testimony of Roosevelt that Von Holleben was recalled in disgrace by the Kaiser and dismissed from the diplomatic service.
As we have seen, Mr. Roosevelt's intervention had settled the whole matter within less than a month. It had been done between the opening of formal hostilities, December 9, 1902, and the arrival of the news of the disgrace of Von Holleben, January 9, 1903.
Precise, vigorous, decisive action had foiled the German conspiracy to establish a military base in Venezuela in order to command the entrance to the Panama Canal. It had also, for a time at least, broken down the Boche-made opposition of Colombia to a treaty with the United States. It was as a consequence of that ultimatum that the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed.
Chapter XII. Breakdown of Concealed Boche Diplomacy
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