THE two years of freedom from care and worry, of leisure and of travel, which followed the withdrawal from active business in 1903, restored Mr. Bacon's health and made it possible for him to devote himself to a career of public usefulness. He was always anxious to serve the public. He looked upon public service as a duty to be performed, not as an opportunity to be courted, and he felt that the call should be clear and unmistakable.
The summer of 1905 brought to Mr. Bacon this call and this opportunity. On the 5th day of September, 1905, when he accepted the post of Assistant Secretary of State, he renounced his personal preference for private life, offering whatever of ability he had to his country. Within fourteen years his public career began and ended, and upon his activity in these years Mr. Bacon's claim to public remembrance must chiefly rest.
To him they were busy years; to the world, they were eventful years. He met each changing issue face to face. He did the little things that came to him faithfully. He did the larger things with a sense of their largeness. He did all things with a great devotion. As Assistant Secretary of State, as Secretary of State, as Ambassador to France, and as a pioneer for preparedness for the war with Germany, which instinctively he felt was our war, and later, "somewhere in France," as an officer of the American Army, he showed in each capacity the same single consecration to duty; the same deep sense of responsibility. Officers of high rank with whom he served; civilians in almost every walk of life with whom he came into contact, many of whom he did not know, felt and even expressed the effect of his example---of his simple, sincere devotion to the cause in which his heart had enlisted. To him, America was indeed first, but it was an America united and strong at home in order to be just and generous abroad. For this America he lived; for this America he died.
On July 5, 1905, Mr. Elihu Root was offered the Secretaryship of State by President Roosevelt, to succeed Mr. John Hay, who had just died after months of failing health. Mr. Root accepted the post because he could not well refuse the call to duty from one in whose cabinet he had served as Secretary of War, and because he believed that Mr. Hay's policies, which he approved, and which in many instances as Secretary of State and Secretary of War they had planned and worked out together, should be carried out completely and sympathetically, in the spirit in which they were framed. Mr. Root wanted and required an assistant who would comprehend these plans, to whom their execution could be entrusted, and who could, in case of need, replace his chief in the Secretaryship. Mr. Root believed Mr. Bacon to be the man for the place. He therefore offered it to the younger man, who gladly accepted it.(80)
The Assistant Secretary is an understudy. Mr. Bacon was that, and he never tried to play the leading part. He always tried to think out what Mr. Root would do or want to have done; therefore, he saw to it that the policy of the Department was Mr. Root's policy carried out to the minutest detail, as Mr. Root would have carried it out if, like Briareus of old, he had had a hundred hands.(81) The result was that Mr. Root associated Mr. Bacon with all the work of the Department, having no secrets from him, as Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig said of Mr. Bacon on a later occasion. If Mr. Root had the mind to contrive, Mr. Bacon's was often the hand that executed.
Mr. Bacon's sense of duty and devotion to it are made wonderfully clear by a little incident that happened while he was still Assistant Secretary. As a loyal son of Harvard, he was anxious to have Harvard win the boat race from Yale. He had rowed on the crew when in college; his sons followed in the wake of their father. It was natural, therefore, that Mr. Bacon should want to see Yale beaten at New London in 1906, when his three sons rowed in the three Harvard boats. He slipped away from the Department late one afternoon, after giving minute instructions as to what should be done during his proposed absence of one day. However, he turned up as usual the next morning at the Department, saying in a confused and abashed sort of way that when he got to Jersey City, he thought of the Department and the day's work and came back. He took the night train back from the halfway station, justifying himself to those who chaffed him, "I can't help it, I'm just made that way."
Before assuming personal charge of the Department of State, Mr. Root took a survey of the outstanding business and made up his mind that certain things should be done during his tenure of office. A few words about some of them will show the training which Mr. Bacon received at the hands of a master, which fitted him for the highest posts at home and abroad.
Since the independence of the United States, the rights of American fishermen in Canadian and Newfoundland waters had off and on perplexed American statesmen as well as American fishermen. The Fishery Article of the Treaty of 1783 was supposed to have settled this question upon a basis satisfactory alike to mother country and erstwhile colonies by recognizing the rights of Americans, as far as Great Britain was concerned, to continue to take fish wherever they had fished before the Revolution. But the War of 1812 came, the British contending that war abrogating treaties necessarily abrogated the Fisheries Article of the Treaty of Independence(82); the Americans, that the Article was only suspended by and during the war. The Convention of 1818 between the two countries compromised the differences to the detriment of the fishermen, in a text which has ever since been differently interpreted by the British and American fishermen and their respective countries.
Mr. Root knew from experience that disputes might at any moment arise over this subject; he also knew from experience that the worst time to settle a dispute is during the tension and bitter feeling caused by it. He proved in practice that the best way to settle a difficulty is to get rid of its cause before the concrete dispute has arisen or has assumed political importance. Therefore, before assuming office, he visited the fishing fields in person, and, availing himself of the first friction in the fishing waters to raise the entire question, brought it to arbitration at a time of peace and friendly feeling. The Convention of 1818, authoritatively interpreted by an Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague in the summer of 1910, defined the rights and duties of all parties, and the recommendations of the tribunal, based upon special clauses of the agreement submitting the case to arbitration, provided a method of adjusting future difficulties when and as they should arise.
These great and beneficent results were accomplished by four men of intelligent good will: Mr. Root, assisted by Mr. Bacon on the one hand, and Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. James Bryce, British Ambassador to the United States, on the other.
The final negotiations submitting the fisheries dispute to arbitration at The Hague, under Mr. Root's agreement, were conducted by Mr. Bryce and Mr. Bacon. Years after Viscount Bryce said of his relations with Mr. Bacon, "How often have I recalled the work we did together for furthering friendship and good relations between America and England, and how pleasant it was to deal with him. Such was the candour of his mind and the earnestness of his wish to settle everything in a way fair and just all round---the right temper in which a Secretary of State in any country should approach his tasks."(83)
During the entire period of Mr. Root's Secretaryship of State Mr. Bacon lived in an atmosphere of Pan-Americanism---an Americanism so large and all-embracing as to include not merely the twenty-one Republics in esse, but also in posse, "The Lady of the Snows," the great dominion to the north of these United States.
The American Republics were to hold the third Conference of the Americans at Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 1906. There was a proposal by Russia, the initiator of the Hague Conferences, to hold the second conference of the series at The Hague during the summer of 1906. The two conferences could not well be held during the course of the same summer.
As the date of the meeting of the Pan-American Conference had "long been fixed" for the 21st day of July, 1906, Mr. Root felt that it should not be changed. He therefore proposed that the Conference at The Hague should be held at a later date. His suggestion was accepted, and that body met at The Hague in June of the following year.
Mr. Root was desirous that all the American Republics should be invited to send representatives to the conference at The Hague. He entered into negotiations to that end. They were all invited and, with the exception of Costa Rica and Honduras, they all attended. It seemed to Mr. Root that the Conference could not claim to represent and to speak for the world unless the American Republics were present. In addition, he wished to have them drawn into the world current, and become accustomed to play their part in international gatherings, in the belief, justified by the event, that the intellectual benefits of such participation to the American States would outweigh any resultant drawbacks to the Conference through the increase of its numbers. It is thus apparent that Mr. Root's interest in 'the American Republics was not merely Platonic; it was very deep and very real. It was so deep and so real that he attended the Conference in person, and, in the address which he delivered, as honorary president, he placed the relation of American States upon their right basis, proclaiming, as Mr. Bacon aptly called it, "the Root doctrine of kindly consideration and honourable obligation."
Mr. Root could not very well attend the opening session of the American Conference at Rio and refuse invitations to visit at least some of the Latin-American Republics. He would have preferred to visit them all, but he was able to accept invitations only to those within the range of the traveller who visits the eastern coast and returns by the western coast of South America. During his absence from the United States (he left on July 4th and returned to Washington on September 30th), Mr. Bacon was Acting Secretary of State.
Before leaving, Mr. Root prepared and left with President Roosevelt an account of business in the Department so that he might be informed of pending questions. Foreign affairs are and always have been under the special control of the President, who may, if he chooses, direct the policy of the country. The other Departments have laws for their guidance, as is possible in domestic matters; but foreign affairs are, as it were, a law unto themselves. They cannot be foreseen; they may arise unexpectedly, and must at all times be handled with tact and discretion. A strong Secretary of State runs his Department, but a dominating President may, if he is so minded, be his own Secretary of Foreign Affairs. This situation is recognized in practice, in that the President, not the Secretary of State, presents the report to Congress on foreign affairs while the other members of the Cabinet submit their annual reports directly to the Congress.
President Roosevelt and Secretary Root were both strong men, but they worked in harmony. It was obvious that it would be agreeable to the President to discuss foreign affairs with his classmate and lifelong friend, Robert Bacon. It was also clear that Mr. Root wanted him to do so, for he ended his report to the President with the statement, "whatever question comes up, you will find Bacon thoroughly cognizant of it and possessed of sound judgment upon it."
The English poet, Cowper, has a line or two in The Task, which, unfortunately, applies to the five Republics of Central America:
Make enemies of nations who had else
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."
Shortly before the departure of Mr. Root for South America, trouble broke out in Central America. One after another of the Central American Republics became so involved that a war affecting all of them seemed imminent. The crisis came during Mr. Root's absence, when Mr. Bacon was Acting Secretary, and it devolved upon him to suggest such action to the President of the United States as would not only prevent the war from spreading---for war it was---but bring the countries in conflict together and arrange a peace satisfactory to them and in the interest of every one of the Central American States. This Mr. Bacon succeeded in doing.
The facts of the case are few and simple. In May of 1906 a revolt broke out in Guatemala against the government of its President. This would seem to be a matter solely for the enlightened or misguided patriots of Guatemala. A glance at the map, however, shows how easily a rebellion can be aided from the border of a neighbouring state. San Salvador was accused of helping the rebels, and as it is so much easier to strike a blow than to ascertain truth and act wisely and justly, war resulted between the two neighbours. Guatemala has another neighbour on the south---Honduras---and nothing was more natural or easier than to embroil Honduras in the struggle. This was done by a party of Guatemalans who invaded Honduras. The result was that Guatemala found itself at fisticuffs with San Salvador and Honduras.
Mr. Bacon wisely felt that the Government of the United States should not alone extend its good offices; that Mexico should also be urged to do so. His view was that the intervention of the United States might be looked upon with suspicion, which the coöperation of Mexico would tend to avert. The American Ambassador to Mexico was instructed to invite President Diaz to coöperate. He agreed, and the good offices of President Roosevelt and President Diaz were accepted by the belligerents on July 16th.
Two days later an armistice was declared, and under the personal guidance of the American and Mexican ministers in Central America representatives of the jarring factions were got aboard the Marblehead, an American cruiser, which promptly steamed beyond the three-mile line so as to be on the high seas. Whether the calm of the ocean, or the sweet reasonableness of peace dawned upon the representatives, or whether finally they were overcome by mal de mer, is a matter of no moment. The fact is that on the 20th an agreement was reached and signed by Guatemala, San Salvador, and Honduras, providing for the establishment of peace, the withdrawal of military forces within three days, an exchange of prisoners, the negotiation within two months of a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation, and finally the reference of future differences to arbitration by the presidents of the United States and Mexico.
This agreement had the moral sanction of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.(84)
President Roosevelt voiced his appreciation in a very personal and characteristic note:
Oyster Bay, N. Y.
July 21, 1906.
. . . Let me repeat, my dear fellow, the congratulations I have wired you on the way you have handled this Central American business---and for the matter of that, the way you are handling all the business of the State Department. . . .
While Mr. Bacon was Acting Secretary of State, the most serious problem which arose was the insurrection in Cuba. Difficulties had long been developing there, owing to intense political passion and keen personal ambition. Individual armed encounters had occurred, and in August, 1906, open revolt began against the Government of President Palma.
In that month a small armed force took the field, and uprisings immediately followed throughout the country, led by prominent leaders disaffected with the Government. The power of this irregular force to do damage was incalculable. The greater part of the wealth of Cuba lies in its sugar plantations and sugar mills, most of which are owned by foreign capital, and the flaring of a few matches could in a short time have destroyed property to the value of millions of dollars.
The Government of Cuba found itself entirely unprepared. It had spent its funds for education rather than for military force. Its artillery and rural guard were comparatively small organizations, and so scattered as to be unable to cope with the insurrection. Desperate efforts were made to organize a militia, but with unsatisfactory results.
By the beginning of September, the Cuban Government realized its helplessness and applied to the United States Government for American intervention, and President Palma announced his irrevocable intention to resign his office in order to save his country from complete anarchy. The State Department, under Mr. Bacon's direction, did everything in its power to discourage the request, but the pleas of the Cuban Government continued. On September 14, 1906, President Roosevelt sent an official letter to Sr. Quesada, the Cuban Minister in Washington, in which he pointed out the disaster imminent in Cuba, adjured all Cuban patriots to band together and rescue the island from the anarchy of civil war; referred to his duties under the Platt Amendment(86), and announced that he would send to Havana the Secretary of War, Mr. Taft, and the Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Bacon, as special representatives of the American Government, to render all possible aid toward securing peace.
Although newspaper reports in the United States indicated that matters were bad, the real seriousness of the situation was not understood by the general public. It was, however, clear to Mr. Bacon, who said on September 16th, before starting for Cuba, "The situation in Cuba is extremely serious. The Cuban Government has been on its knees for a week asking for our intervention." He knew that the Government controlled little more than the larger towns and that most of the country districts were in the hands of the rebels. The need for an immediate departure of a peace commission was urgent, and it left Washington the afternoon of the same day. The party consisted of Secretary Taft, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Edwin V. Morgan, the American Minister to Cuba; Captain Frank McCoy, U. S. A.; Mr. F. S. Cairns of the Philippine Customs Service; Mr. Otto Schoenrich, and several clerks. Practically the entire railroad trip was one long conference, and at various stations telegrams were delivered showing the status in Cuba. It was apparent that the contending forces were tacitly observing a truce pending the arrival of the American commissioners. At Tampa they boarded a tug which carried them to the cruiser Des Moines, and early Wednesday morning, September 19th, the Commission arrived in Havana.
Secretary Taft and Mr. Bacon immediately had conferences with the Cuban Secretary of State and with President Palma. Havana was besieged, the Government forces holding only the city proper and the railroads leading out of it. Nevertheless, Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon accepted the invitation of the American Minister, Mr. Morgan, to live at his residence in Marianao, about nine miles from the city. The town of Marianao was in the neutral zone, between the Government and the insurgent lines, the insurgent outposts being about one thousand yards away. Messrs. Taft, Bacon, McCoy, and Schoenrich were lodged at the Minister's house, the clerks in a boarding house near by. If an attack had been made on the house the whole party could have been overwhelmed, but apparently no one gave a thought to this phase of the situation.
Long and varied conferences ensued with leaders of both factions in an attempt to find a basis of compromise. Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon closely followed the opinions expressed and asked many questions. There were also conferences with the insurgents in the field. The conferences continued day after day, in the forenoon, afternoon, and evening. At meal times the developments of the day were discussed. The opinions of Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon were inspired by a desire to preserve intact the good name of the United States and to render unselfish assistance to its neighbours. Yet they were not blind to the dangers which confronted them. Although Mexico was then at peace, and in a state of prosperity, Mr. Taft said one evening in the course of conversation: "I fear that in twenty-five years we may be obliged to govern not only the Philippines and Cuba, but Mexico as well," Mr. Bacon sighed but made no answer.
Long cablegrams in code went daily between President Roosevelt and Mr. Taft, and were submitted to and considered by Mr. Bacon.
After a few days Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon realized that it would be more convenient to continue holding the conferences in the city. Accordingly, they went by automobile from Marianao to Havana every morning, spent the day at the American Legation in Havana, and returned to Marianao in the evening. Their entry into the city in the morning was generally without incident. As they left at night they were always challenged by sentries two or three times when passing through the lines. Neither guards nor arms were carried, although occasionally rumours made the members of the commission realize that they were living on a volcano.
One evening, as they were about to leave the Legation for Marianao., two prominent Liberals came to them and reported on "trustworthy information" that Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon were to be ambushed and attacked in the evening, and urged them for safety's sake to remain in the city. Mr. Taft turned to Mr. Bacon and said, "Well, Bacon?", to which Mr. Bacon answered without hesitation, "Go ahead." "I think so, too," said Mr. Taft. "If anything has to come it may as well come now. We must take the risk." The night was as black as ink, but beyond challenges by the sentries, the return trip was made without incident.
In the same high spirit, Mr. Taft proposed that Mrs. Taft and Mrs. Bacon should be sent for, just to show, among other reasons, that the American Mission was not afraid. They started immediately, but arrived only two days before the departure of Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon from Cuba.
The report of the Peace Commission, published in the Report of the Secretary of War for the year 1906, tells the story of the negotiations. Although the situation changed from hour to hour, the general plan decided upon contemplated the resignations of the Vice-President, senators and representatives, governors and provincial councilmen elected at the elections of December, 1905; the surrender of arms by the insurgents; the constitution of a commission for the purpose of drafting laws most urgently needed; and the holding of elections under the provisions of an electoral law to be drafted by such commission.
The efforts which the Commissioners made to have the compromise accepted by all parties were without avail. President Palma refused to serve with those who had attacked and offended him so deeply, and the Moderate Party of which he was the head at first would hear of no other President. The Liberals, on the other hand, insisted upon the removal of the officers whom they considered to have been illegally elected. In view of the deadlock, intervention began to be considered seriously, although with great reluctance, especially on the part of Mr. Bacon. One evening Mr. Taft remarked, "Well, Bacon, I am ready to try intervention if you agree." Mr. Bacon frowned and looked worried. Clearly he would have preferred to uphold the Government, permitting the malcontents to assert their rights at a future election. Such a course, however, involved the risk of precipitating a civil war.
The fateful night of September 28th was at hand. President Palma and his Cabinet resigned, the Cuban Congress dissolved without electing a successor, and President Palma called on the Peace Commission to designate a responsible person to whom he could turn over the national funds. Secretary Taft accordingly issued a proclamation dated September 29, 1906, establishing the Provisional Government of Cuba by the United States and proclaiming himself Provisional Governor. The proclamation was brief but involved hours of conference between Mr. Taft, Mr. Bacon, and U. S. Consul General Steinhart. That evening, at 11 o'clock, the document was ready for translation, and Mr. Taft and Mr. Bacon returned to Marianao. At 2 A. M. it was delivered to a representative of the Official Gazette, with orders to have the proclamation scattered broadcast early the following morning.
The generous and conciliatory nature of the proclamation surprised the country. No one, for instance, had expected that the Cuban flag would continue to fly over the public buildings.
That fact, coupled with the sympathetic attitude of the American commissioners and the strenuous efforts which they had made to bring about a settlement, was deeply appreciated.
Mr. Taft continued as Provisional Governor and took counsel with Mr. Bacon until Mr. Magoon assumed office on October 13, 1906. The principal task was the disarming and disbanding of the insurgent forces. In this work a number of American army officers assisted. Mr. Bacon took special interest in the distribution of the American military units and in speeding the disarmament of the Cubans. In order to hasten this work he went personally to Matanzas to supervise the disarming of the force of General Montero.
After Governor Magoon had assumed office, the two Peace Commissioners, Mrs. Taft, and Mrs. Bacon left for the United States on an American battleship. The people of Havana showed what they thought of the Peace Commission's work by joining in a demonstration of gratitude for what had been accomplished. The shore of the bay was lined with thousands of cheering people, all available water-craft was pressed into service to escort the ships to the mouth of the harbour, the forts exchanged salutes with the vessels, and amid all possible display of good will the Peace Commission left Cuba.
Neither then nor after, however, did Mr. Bacon agree with the policy recommended by Mr. Taft and pursued by President Palma. The day before he left he said: "I am not satisfied. I shall be ashamed to look Mr. Root in the face. This intervention is contrary to his policy and what he has been preaching in South America." He thought that matters should have been left in status quo until Mr. Root's return from his South American trip, inasmuch as Mr. Root, as Secretary of War, had organized Cuba, and was more keenly interested in its welfare and more familiar with local conditions than any other North American. Mr. Bacon knew all this, and he knew further that Mr. Root believed it to be essential to the introduction and successful operation of constitutional government in Cuba and elsewhere that mistakes should be corrected by the ballot and not by revolution; that the defeated party should pursue such legal remedy as exists and triumph at the polls and not by revolt.
Fortunately, an appeal of the Liberals in 1917 against the results of a presidential election which turned out against them fell upon deaf ears, and the Cubans were taught the great lesson of constitutional government, that what cannot be cured must be endured until the next election.
It was hard to know then and there what would have been best; it is useless to speculate now what might or could have been done then. Probably another policy would have been preferable to the one actually followed. And Mr. Bacon would doubtless have questioned the wisdom of his views if they had been fully put into effect. Mr. Bacon always looked at an American question from the Continental point of view, and he considered three things: first, the interest of the United States, the interest of the special country concerned, and the effect that a policy would have upon America as a whole. He instinctively felt that intervention, although permitted and regulated by law, would disquiet Latin America, and then, too, he did not want the United States to get into the habit of intervening, fearing that some day the temptation to stay in that most beautiful of islands might become too great even for our good faith.
During the absence of Mr. Root in South America the Dominican Minister of Finance was in the United States in quest of a loan and of assistance in settling the Dominican debt. Under the direction of his financial adviser, a loan agreement was made and ail offer of settlement to the holders of debts and claims was drawn up. All the negotiations were carried on under the general supervision of Acting Secretary Bacon, with whom many conferences were had in the course of that hot summer. There were several modifications of detail afterward, but the work done in the summer of 1906 was the basis of the financial rehabilitation of the Dominican Republic. Claims aggregating more than thirty million dollars, exclusive of interest, were settled for less than seventeen millions, and at the same time several million dollars were made available for public works.
Mr. Bacon's prudent advice and suggestions in the matter were of the greatest value. At the same time, his distinguished bearing and the fairness of his views made a deep impression upon the Dominican Minister of Finance. The latter had come to the United States somewhat reluctantly, and full of suspicion of American intentions. In a short time he was fully convinced that the State Department was as keenly interested in his country's welfare as he himself, and he often expressed admiration of Mr. Bacon.
After Mr. Root's return from South America negotiations were continued with the Republic's creditors. Mr. Bacon retained his interest in Dominican affairs, and remained in close touch with the situation. A convention between the United States and the Dominican Republic was concluded at Santo Domingo, February 8, 1907, ratifications were exchanged July 8th, and the Convention was proclaimed July 25th, the proclamation being signed by President Roosevelt and by Robert Bacon as Acting Secretary of State. It recites that disturbed political conditions in the Dominican Republic had created debts and claims; that the Dominican Republic had effected a conditional adjustment with its creditors; that part of the plan of settlement was the issue and sale of bonds to the amount of twenty million dollars; that the plan was conditional upon the assistance of the United States in the collection of customs revenues of the Dominican Republic, and that "The Dominican Republic has requested the United States to give and the United States is willing to give such assistance." The Convention therefore provided that the President of the United States shall appoint a general receiver of Dominican customs who shall collect all the customs duties in the customhouses of Santo Domingo until the payment or redemption of the entire bond issue, and shall make specified payments to the fiscal agent of the loan and pay over the balance to the Dominican Government. The Dominican Government agreed to give the general receiver and his assistants all needful aid and the United States undertook to furnish them such protection as it might find was required for the performance of their duties. Further, the convention stipulated that until the payment of the full amount of the bonds, the Dominican Republic was not to increase its public debt or modify the import duties except by previous agreement with the United States.
President Roosevelt was more than satisfied with the way in which Mr. Bacon had handled the Dominican difficulty with Señor Valasquez, Minister of Finance of that Republic. Under date of July 21, 19o6, he wrote:
That is first class. Please in my name congratulate Señor Velasquez and say how delighted I am. . . .
The financial readjustment and the Convention of 1907 have been of inestimable benefit to the Dominican Republic. Their full significance is not yet realized.
The question of the Church lands in Porto Rico may be properly mentioned in this connection, although the settlement was not made during Mr. Root's absence in South America, but in the summer of 1908, when Mr. Bacon was again Acting Secretary.
The Roman Catholic Church had been from time immemorial established in Spain, and Church and State were united in the Spanish possessions beyond the Peninsula. Church and State are separate bodies in the United States, and it was necessary to disestablish the Church in the Philippines and Porto Rico if the American scheme of things was to exist in the insular possessions. Secretary of War Taft had in coöperation with Secretary of State Root adjusted the claims of the Church properties in the Philippines. These questions had likewise been settled in Cuba. They were still outstanding in Porto Rico.
Mr. Regis H. Post, Governor of Porto Rico at the time, has put the matter in its proper light in a few paragraphs:
When the United States acquired Porto Rico, the buildings and small parcels of lands scattered through the Island, and from whose taxes salaries of the priests and Church subsidies were paid, were taken possession of by the United States Government. . . .
On cessation of these payments the Church asserted its claim to the title to the buildings and lands. . . .
The situation was most annoying and embarrassing to the Roman Catholic Church in Porto Rico. Suddenly deprived of all revenue from the government it was obliged to appeal to its parishioners for support, and they were not only bitterly poor, but had always regarded the Church as a government institution like the police or fire department, and could not bring themselves to the point of contributing generously for its support. As a matter of fact, the Church was in bitter need of ready money.
In the spring of 1908, while I was on a visit to Washington, President Roosevelt asked me if there was not some way in which we could properly settle these cases out of court, to the advantage of both the Government and the Church. . . . The suggestion of a commission to. represent the Island, the United States Government, and the Church . . . met the President's approval, and he appointed Mr. Bacon, Assistant Secretary of State, and Major McIntyre, Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, to represent the United States. The Attorney General of Porto Rico and the Speaker of the House of Delegates represented the Island and the Vicar General of the Island and the Attorney for the Church, Señor Juan Hernandez López, represented the Church.
This commission met in the governor's residence in San Juan and sat for about three days. Mr. Bacon quickly took the lead and by his frank and businesslike method of conducting the discussions, carried the negotiations at once from petty haggling over details to a broad ground of settlement. He clearly demonstrated to all parties the simple fact that the two governments wanted the buildings and the Church decidedly did not; and that the Church did want cash of which both governments had plenty. Therefore, the question was what amount was proper to fix.
Again, with perfectly good manners and with the charm which he could exert so effectively, he "gentled" the representative of the Church from a somewhat optimistic idea of the value of the property, and shamed the representatives of the Insular Government out of an equally pessimistic opinion thereof, with the result that a cash payment to the Church was decided upon that was satisfactory to all.
A word or two may be said to supplement Mr. Post's interesting account.
As the bonds which were given to the Church when its property was taken over by the Spanish authorities long before the acquisition of the island by the United States had not been paid, the Church maintained that it was entitled to the property for which they were given. This contention was sustained by the Supreme Court of Porto Rico.(87) The Supreme Court of the United States likewise sustained this contention on appeal in another case involving the same issue.(88)
The property involved was the Convent of Santo Domingo and the Ballajá Barracks occupied by the United States, in the Municipality of Ponce, named after the first Governor of Porto Rico, the famous Ponce de Leon, who later lost his life searching for that will o' the wisp, the Fountain of Youth. The Church being entitled to this property, there was nothing for the United States to do but to surrender possession or to offer a fair sum of money, in the nature of a purchase, to the Church. Mr. Bacon proposed the latter, which was accepted, and the lands granted to the Dominican Order by Ponce de Leon himself, in the early and romantic days of American history, became the lawful property of the United States, for the paltry sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The people of Porto Rico paid the Church one hundred and eighty thousand dollars for certain properties in possession of the Insular authorities; other properties were returned to the Church, and the Church itself relinquished other claims.
The peculiar feature of the settlement was that all parties concerned were under the impression that they had made an excellent bargain. The law of the Porto Rican Assembly ratifying the settlement, approved in the fall of 1908, is almost exultant in tone.
The agreement received President Roosevelt's "entire approval"; the Congress of the United States saw "the great importance of the matter," and upon President Roosevelt's request made the necessary appropriations. The Vatican likewise approved the compromise. Mr. Bacon had settled out of court a most annoying and vexatious question, to the satisfaction of everyone, upon the basis of "kindly consideration and honourable obligation."
There was another matter outstanding, which Mr. Root wanted, if possible, to settle during President Roosevelt's administration. This was the bitter resentment in Colombia over the recognition of Panama by the United States after the Panama Revolution of November 3, 1903, and the building of the Canal under title derived from the new Panamanian Republic.
On his return from South America in September, 19o6, Mr. Root visited Carthagena to meet Mr. Vasquez-Cobo, the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had come from Bogota for that purpose, and they then agreed upon a basis of negotiation which was satisfactory to the Government of Colombia. The result was a tripartite agreement known as the Ship Canal agreement, signed at Washington, January 9, 1909. This consisted of three separate treaties. The first was between Colombia and the United States, the second was between Panama and the United States, and the third was between Colombia and Panama.
During the Roosevelt Administration, with Mr. Bacon as Secretary of State
Given by James R. Garfield at a farewell lunch to President Roosevelt
LESS than three weeks after the signing of the treaties with Panama and Colombia, Mr. Root had resigned the Secretaryship of State, and was succeeded as Secretary, on January 27th, by Mr. Bacon, who served during the rest of President Roosevelt's administration.
On taking leave of his associates in the. Department of State Mr. Root said:
"It is a source of great regret for me to lay down this work. There are many things I would like to go on with, but circumstances, quite apart from the official duties, made it necessary that I should make a change. . . . It is a cause of great satisfaction to me that I shall be succeeded for a time by so loyal and true a friend as Mr. Bacon . . ."
Mr. Root had expressed regret that he was unable to continue. He did continue, in the person of his "loyal and true" friend, Mr. Bacon, who regarded it as his first and greatest duty to carry to completion the projects which Mr. Root had begun and was unable to finish.
Through Mr. Bacon's deep interest and urgent personal appeals the Senate advised and consented, on February 24, 1909, to the treaty between Colombia and the United States. The Senate was harder to move in the second of the treaties, that between Panama and the United States. It yielded, although reluctantly, to Mr. Bacon's insistence and earnestness, for he was convinced that the ratification of this treaty as well as the other was in the interest of the United States and of a trustful Pan-Americanism. He felt, and rightly, that if Colombia should fail to ratify the treaties, the United States would be credited with an attempt to clear up the situation as a matter of policy, if for no higher reason.
The treaty between Panama and the United States wasadvised and consented to by the Senate, March 3, 1909, one day before the close of Mr. Roosevelt's administration. Colombia, however, would have none of the treaties. Minister Enrique Cortes, who had been transferred from London to Washington in order to negotiate directly with Mr. Root, had persuaded President Reyes, of Colombia, to conclude these various treaties. President Reyes, however, could not persuade his Government. The request to ratify the treaties caused an outbreak; the outbreak developed into a revolution; President Reyes' government was overthrown, he fled the country, and died an exile.
These agreements would have cleared up the entire situation. They would have restored friendly relations between Colombia and the United States; they would have defined the relations between Panama and the United States, and they would have put an end to the strained relations between Colombia and Panama. However, the Panama muddle was, it is to be hoped, settled by a treaty between Colombia and the United States concluded April 6, 1914, advised and consented to by the Senate, with sundry modifications, April 20, 1921. It was ratified by Colombia, March 1, 1922, and ratifications were exchanged on the same date. By this treaty the United States undertakes to pay Colombia the sum of twenty-five million dollars.
No American would have been more pleased than Mr. Bacon, although he would undoubtedly have preferred the earlier treaties, which cleared up the entire situation, not merely the relation of the United States to Colombia, but also the relations of each of the three contracting countries to one another. Three bites to a cherry are better than none, and, as President Lincoln has said, "Nothing is settled until it is settled right."
A conference of the representatives of ten naval powers, including the United States, met in London in the month of December, 1908, and adjourned in the last week of February, 1909, during Mr. Bacon's tenure of the Secretaryship of State. It was called to agree upon the rules of law to be applied by the International Prize Court which had been adopted by the Second Hague Conference. Great Britain was unwilling or unable to be a party to its establishment without an agreement upon the law to be administered by the judges in the determination of prize cases which might be referred to the Court from the different countries, for its decision. An agreement was reached upon these principles, and they were embodied in the so-called Declaration of London.
The Declaration of London proved unsatisfactory to Great Britain. It was not ratified by that power, and neither the Declaration of Prize Law nor the Prize Court has come into being.
During the course of the Conference at London, Mr. Bacon instructed the American delegates to make a proposal to invest the Prize Court with the jurisdiction of a permanent court of international justice. Sir Edward Grey, then His Majesty's Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was won over by Mr. Bacon's enthusiasm, and urgent appeals to accept the proposal, but the Conference was not. It believed that its mandate was limited to supplying the law for the Prize Court, and not to enlarging its jurisdiction. Some of its members, inclined to lend a helping hand, suggested that the method of appointing the judges of the Prize Court could be adopted for that of the Court of Arbitral justice, to use the name of this institution recommended by the Second Hague Peace Conference. In this way, each Court would be created and each would act within the sphere marked out for it by the Peace Conference. Mr. Bacon seized upon the idea and informed the Powers taking part in the Naval Conference that a circular note would be shortly sent by the Department of State advocating this method of appointing the judges for the first Permanent Court of International justice which the nations of the world had had the wisdom and foresight to propose.
An instruction to this effect, to Ambassador Reid, signed on the fifth day of March, at nine o'clock in the morning, and a moment before his successor took office, was the last official document to which Mr. Bacon put his hand as Secretary of State. It was in the form of a cable:
You will again convey to Sir Edward Grey this Government's high appreciation of his attitude toward investing the Prize Court with jurisdiction of [the] Court of Arbitral justice. . . .
You will inform Sir Edward that this Government will, upon receipt of the texts of the Conference, send an identic circular note to each of the participating powers. . . .
The note will also show the advisability of investing the Prize Court with the jurisdiction and functions of a Court of Arbitral justice in order that international law may be administered and justice done in peace as well as in war by a permanent international tribunal. . . .
It is not [the] intention of this Government to use pressure of any kind to secure acceptance of its views, but the United States feels that : . . creating [a] permanent court of arbitration would contribute in the greatest possible manner to the cause of judicial and therefore peaceable settlement of international difficulties.
The circular notes were sent by Secretary Knox and negotiations were undertaken which, but for the outbreak of the World War, would, it is believed, have resulted in the establishment of the Court of Arbitral Justice as a separate institution. The project, however, survived the war. The Court was constituted in 1921, and it was formally opened and installed in the Peace Palace of The Hague on June 15, 1922.
It was proposed by Mr. Root in his introduction to the American delegates at the Second Hague Peace Conference and its constitution in 1921 was largely due to Mr. Root's tact, wisdom, and personal efforts.
Mr. Bacon was an enthusiast for the conservation of natural resources. He was therefore properly appointed a delegate to a conservation conference, which met in Washington, February, 1909, to which Canada and Mexico were invited. It was suggested "that all Nations be invited to join together in Conference on the subject of world resources, and their inventory, conservation, and wise utilization."(89) This recommendation did not fall upon deaf ears. President Roosevelt forthwith directed Secretary Bacon to instruct American diplomatic agents to invite the Governments to which they were respectively accredited, and in accord with the Government of Holland,
To send delegates to a conference to be held at The Hague at such date as may be found convenient, there to meet and consult the like delegates of the other countries, with a view to considering a general plan for an inventory of the natural resources of the world and to devising a uniform scheme for the expression of the results of such inventory to the end that there may be a general understanding and appreciation of the world's supply of the material elements which underlie the development of civilization and the welfare of the peoples of the earth.(90)
The advantages to accrue to each nation, and therefore to all the nations, from the conservation of natural resources, Mr. Bacon thus stated:
It would be appropriate also for the Conference to consider the general phases of the correlated problem of checking and, when possible, repairing the injuries caused by the waste and destruction of natural resources and utilities, and make recommendations in the interest of their conservation, development, and replenishment.
With such a world inventory and such recommendations the various producing countries of the whole world would be in a better position to coöperate, each for its own good and all for the good of all, toward the safeguarding and betterment of their common means of support. As was said in the preliminary Aide-Mémoire of January 6th:
"The people of the whole world are interested in the natural resources of the whole world, benefited by their conservation and injured by their destruction. The people of every country are interested in the supply of food and of material for manufacture in every other country, not only because these are interchangeable through processes of trade, but because a knowledge of the total supply is necessary to the intelligent treatment of each nation's share of the supply."
Nor is this all. A knowledge of the continuance and stability of perennial and renewable resources is no less important to the world than a knowledge of the quantity or the term remaining for the enjoyment of those resources which when consumed are irreplaceable. As to all the great natural sources of national welfare, the peoples of to-day hold the earth in trust for the peoples to come after them. Reading the lessons of the past aright, it would be for such a conference to look beyond the present to the future.
President Roosevelt's administration was drawing to its close, and Mr. Bacon was no longer to be in the Department of State to urge the call of the Conference. A new administration has new policies and many a good suggestion of the old slumbers, if it does not die, in the change. But ideas survive and have a habit of making their way to the surface. It cannot be doubted that the movement for the conservation of natural resources will take visible form and shape, after the loss and destruction of the World War, and some day, when the world has grown wiser as the result of bitter experience, Mr. Bacon's conference will sit at The Hague, or elsewhere, to conserve what is left of this world's neglected and wasted resources.
With the 6th of March, 1909, Mr. Bacon's successor entered upon the performance of his duties. And he to whom Mr. Bacon referred as "my master, Elihu Root", wrote under date of March 31, 1909:
MY DEAR ROBERT:
Until to-night I have not permitted myself to realize that you are to leave Washington, and I feel as if I were marooned on a desert island.
It is hard for men to express to each other such feelings as I have about our association during these crowded and happy years of service in the State Department. You have proved yourself far more able and forceful than I had dared to hope---possessed of courage to take responsibility and conduct great affairs without flinching or loss of judgment or nerve---competent to fill any post of government with distinction and success. More than that, you have had the imagination to realize the ultimate objects of policy, and tireless energy and enthusiasm and self-devotion in pressing towards those objects, and your brave-hearted cheerfulness and power of friendship and steadfast loyalty have been noble and beautiful.
I am sure you have a still more distinguished career before you for all who love you to rejoice in.
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