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Title: The Lost Fruits of Waterloo

Author: John Spencer Bassett

Release date: April 26, 2016 [eBook #51865]

Language: English



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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited


Lost Fruits of Waterloo


Author of “Life of Andrew Jackson,” “A Short History
of the United States,” “The Middle Group
of American Historians,” “The
Federalist System,” etc.



New York

All rights reserved

Copyright, 1918

Set up and printed. Published April, 1918



This book was begun under the influence of the enthusiasm aroused by President Wilson’s address to Congress on January 22, 1917. It was then that he first gave definite utterance of his plan for a league, or federation, of nations to establish a permanent peace. The idea had long been before the world, but it was generally dismissed as too impracticable for the support of serious minded men. By taking it up the President brought it into the realm of the possible. In the presence of the great world catastrophe that hung over us it seemed well to dare much in order that we might avoid a repetition of existing evils. And if the idea was worth trying, it was certainly worth a careful examination in the light of history. It was with the hope of making such a careful examination that I set to work on the line of thought that has led to this book.

vi As my work has progressed the great drama has been unfolding itself with terrible realism. New characters have come upon the stage, characters not contemplated in the original cast of the play. At the same time some of the old parts have undergone such changes that they appear in new relations. I am not unmindful of the fact that events now unforeseen may make other and radical changes in the dramatis personæ before this book is placed in the hand of the reader. But always the great problem must be the same, the prevention of a return to the present state of world madness. That end we must ever keep in mind as we consider the arguments here advanced, and any inconsistency discovered between the argument and the actual state of events will, I hope, be treated with as much leniency as the transitions of the situation seem to warrant.

As I write, many things indicate that the great conflict is approaching dissolution. The exhaustion of the nations, the awakening voices of the masses, the evident failure of militarism to lead Germany to world empire, the rising spectre of the international solidarity of thevii laborers, and many other portents seem to show that the world will soon have to say “yes” or “no” to the plain question: “Shall we, or shall we not, have a union of nations to promote permanent peace?”

The warning that they must answer the question is shouted to many classes. Bankers are threatened with the repudiation of the securities of the greatest nations, manufacturers may soon see their vast gains swallowed up in the destruction of the forms of credit which hitherto have seemed most substantial, churches and every form of intellectual life that should promote civilization may have their dearest ideals swept away in a rush toward radicalism, and even the German autocracy is fighting for its life against an infuriated and despairing proletariat. Are not these dangers enough to make us ask if the old menace shall continue?

It is not my purpose to answer all the questions I ask. It is sufficient to unfold the situation and show how it has arisen out of the past. If the reader finds that mistakes were once made, he will have to consider the means of correcting them. No pleader can compel the opinions ofviii intelligent men and women. It is enough if he lays the case before clear and conscientious minds in an impersonal way. More than this he should not try to do: as much as this I have sought to do. If the world really lost the fruits of its victory over a world conqueror at Waterloo, it is for the citizen of today to say in what way the lost fruits can be recovered.

Many friends have aided me in my efforts to present my views to the public, and among them Dr. Frederick P. Keppel, Dean of Columbia University, deserves special acknowledgment. I am also under obligation to Dean Ada C. Comstock, of Smith College, for very careful proofreading. But for the opinions here expressed and the errors which may be discovered I alone am responsible.

John Spencer Bassett.

Northampton, Massachusetts,
February 5, 1918.



The nations of Europe fought a great war to a finish a hundred and two years ago, defeating a master leader of men and ending the ambitions of a brilliantly organized nation. They were so well satisfied with their achievement that they imagined that peace, won after many years of suffering, was a sufficient reward for their sacrifices. To escape impending subjugation seemed enough good fortune for the moment. They forgot that it was a principle and not merely a man they had been contending against, and when they had made sure that Napoleon was beyond the possibility of a return to power, they thought the future was secure. But the principle lived and has come to life again. It was the inherent tendency to unification in government, a principle that appeals to the national pride of most peoples when they find themselves in a position to make it operate to the supposed advantage of their own country. It has beenx seized upon by the Germans in our own generation, to whom it has been as glittering a prize as it was to the Frenchmen of the early nineteenth century. To conquer the world and win a place in the sun is no mean ideal; and if the efforts of the Entente allies succeed in defeating it in its present form, it is reasonably certain that it will appear again to distress the future inhabitants of the earth, unless sufficient steps are taken to bind it down by bonds which cannot be broken.

This conviction has led to the suggestion that when Germany is beaten, as she must be beaten, steps should be taken, not only to insure that she shall not again disturb the earth, but that no other power coming after her shall lay the foundations and form the ambition which will again put the world to the necessity of fighting the present war over again. When the North broke the bonds of slavery in the South in 1865 it was filled with a firm determination that slavery should stay broken. In the same way, when the nations shall have put down the menace of world domination now rampant in Europe, they should make it their first concern to devise a means by which the menace shall stay broken.

xi To kill a principle demands a principle equally strong and inclusive. No one nation can keep down war and subjugation; for it must be so strong to carry out that purpose that it becomes itself a conqueror. It would be as intolerable to Germany, for example, to be ruled by the United States as it would be to the United States if they were ruled by Germany. The only restraint that will satisfy all the nations will be exercised by some organ of power in which all have fair representation and in which no nation is able to do things which stimulate jealousy and give grounds for the belief that some are being exploited by others. This suggestion does not demand a well integrated federal government for all the functions of the state but merely the adoption of a system of coöperation with authority over the outbreak of international war and strong enough to make its will obeyed. It is federation for only one purpose and such a purpose as will never be brought into vital action as long as the federated will is maintained at such a point of strength and exercised with such a degree of fairness that individual states will not question that will.

This principle of federated action for a specificxii purpose was adopted by the United States in 1789, and though hailed by the practical statesmen of Europe as an experiment, it has proved the happiest form of government that has yet been established over a vast territory in which are divergent economic and social interests. In it is much more integration than would exist in a federated system to prevent war, where the action of the central authority would be limited to one main object. If it could be formed and put into operation by the present generation, who know so well what it costs to beat back the spectre of world conquest it might pass through the preliminary critical stages of its existence successfully. At any rate, the world is full of the feeling that such things may be possible, and it would be unwise to dismiss the suggestion without giving it fair and full consideration.

The discussion brings up what seems to be a law of human activities, that as the ages run and as men develop their minds they combine in larger and larger units for carrying on the particular thing they are interested in. And they make these combinations by force or through mutual agreement. We have before us the considerationxiii of the most important form of this unifying process, the unification of nations, which has generally come through force, but sometimes has come through agreement.

In recent industrial history is a parallel process so well illustrating the point at issue that I can not refrain from mentioning it. In his book, My Four Years in Germany, Mr. James W. Gerard contrasts great industrial combinations in the United States and Germany. In one country are trusts, in the other great companies known as cartels. The development of the trust we know well. It came out of a process of competitive war. Some large manufacturer who possessed ability for war, formed an initial group of manufacturers with the prospect of controlling a large part of the market. He was careful to see that his own group had the best possible organization, central control, and a loyal body of subordinates. Then he opened his attack on his smaller rivals, and in most cases they were driven into surrender or bankruptcy. It was a hard process, but it led to industrial unity with its many advantages.

The cartel began with co-operation. All thexiv persons or companies manufacturing a given article were asked to unite in its creation. They pooled their resources, adopted common buying and selling agencies, and shared the returns amicably. They proved very profitable for the shareholders, and they strengthened the national industry in its competition against foreigners. In the United States the trust has been unpopular, despite its many economic advantages. The reason is the battle-like methods by which it destroyed its rivals. The result was the enactment of laws to restrain its development, laws so contrary to the trend of the times that they have been very tardily enforced. The cartel, established with the co-operation of the whole group of manufacturers, aroused no antagonism and obtained the approval of the laws. It is not necessary to say which is the better of these two methods of arriving at the same object.

Turning to the subject with which we are here chiefly concerned, it is interesting to note that Germany has undertaken in the last years to carry forward her world expansion by methods that are entirely different. While she has federated in industrial life she appears in her foreignxv relations as a true representative of the spirit that built up the trusts. She means to unify her competitor states, not as she has united her industries, but as the American trusts secured the whole field of operations. First she forms a small group with herself at the head. In the group are Germany, Austria, Turkey, and, later on, Bulgaria. At this stage of her progress she has gone as far as the Standard Oil Company had gone when Mr. Rockefeller had perfected the idea of the “trust” in 1882. Her next step was to attack her rivals. France she would crush at a blow, first lulling Great Britain to inactivity by feigned friendship and the promise of gains in the Near East. Then she would do what she would with Russia. With these two nations disposed of, Britain, the unready, could be easily brought to terms, and the United States would then be at her mercy. The mass of German people had not, perhaps, reasoned the process out in this way; but it was so easily seen that it could not have escaped the minds of the leaders of the German military party. No trust builder ever made fairer plans for the upbuilding of his enterprise than these gentlemen made for puttingxvi through their combination, before which they saw in their minds the states of the world toppling. So well were the plans made and so efficient were the strokes that the utmost efforts of the rest of the world have become necessary to defeat the German hopes.

The United States have approached the problem of world relations in another spirit. Rejecting the spirit of the trust magnate, which Germany accepted, we have turned to coöperation as the means of avoiding international competition and distrust. President Wilson’s repeated suggestions of a federated peace are couched in the exact spirit of the cartel. He asks that war may be replaced by coöperation, pointing out the tremendous advantage to all if the machinery of competition can be discarded.

Viewed in its largest aspects, therefore, the present struggle has resolved itself into a debate over the amount of unity that shall in the future exist between states. It does not seem possible that Austria will ever be a thoroughly sovereign state again, nor that Turkey will escape from the snare in which her feet are caught. What degree of unity this will engender betweenxvii France and Great Britain, if the old system of international relations continues, it is not hard to guess. And as for the small states of Europe, their future is very perplexing.

This much rests on the assumption that Germany and her allied neighbours are going to make peace without defeat and without victory. If they should be able to carry off a triumph, which now seems impossible, it would not be hard to tell in what manner unification would come. However the result, the separateness of European states will probably be diminished, and their interdependence, either in two large groupings or in some more or less strong general grouping, will be increased.

No wise man will undertake to say which form of interdependence will be the result. But it seems certain that we stand today with two roads before us, each leading to the same end, a stronger degree of unity. One goes by way of German domination, the other by way of equal and mutual agreement. I do not need to say which will be pleasanter to those who travel. We cannot stand at the crossing forever: some day we shall pass down one of the roads. It is said that thexviii world is not yet ready to choose the second road, and that it must go on in the old way, fighting off attempts at domination, until it learns the advantages of co-operation. It may be so; but meanwhile it is a glorious privilege to strike a blow, however weak, in behalf of reason.



Introduction ix
I The Question of Permanent Peace 1
II Early Advocates of Universal Peace 23
III Problems of the Napoleonic Wars 43
IV Europe Under the Concert of the Powers 65
V The Later Phases of the Concert of Europe 83
VI The Balkan States 103
VII German Ideals and Organization 132
VIII The Failure of the Old European System 154
IX If the Submarines Fail 184
X Obstacles to an Enduring Peace 205
XI Arguments for a Federation of States 229
XII A Federation of Nations 254




When war broke over the world three years ago many ministers and other people declared that Armageddon had come. They had in mind a tradition founded on a part of the sixteenth chapter of Revelations, in which the prophet was supposed to describe a vision of the end of the world. In that awful day seven angels appeared with seven vials of wrath, and the contents of each when poured out wiped away something that was dear to the men of the earth. The sixth angel poured out on the waters of the river Euphrates, and they were dried up; and then unclean spirits issued from the mouths of the dragons and of other beasts and from the mouth of the false prophet, and they went into the kings of the earth, then the political rulers of mankind, and2 induced them to bring the people together “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” And the armies met at Armageddon and fought there the last battle of time. This striking figure made a deep impression on the early Christians, and out of it arose the belief that some day would come a great and final war, in which the nations of the earth would unite for their mutual destruction, after which the spirit of righteousness would establish a millennial reign of peace. And so when most of the nations of the world came together in war in 1914, many persons pronounced the struggle the long expected Armageddon.

It was easy to say in those days of excitement that this war was going to be the last. Madness it certainly was, and surely a mad world would come back to reasonableness after a season of brutal destruction. Common sense, humanity, and the all powerful force of economic interest would bring the struggle to an end, and then by agreement steps would be taken to make a recurrence of the situation impossible.

It was in the days when we still had confidence in civilization. Humanity, we said, had developed3 to such an extent that it could not return to the chaos that an age of war would imply. International law was still considered a binding body of morality, if not of actual law. International public opinion was believed to have power to punish national wrong-doers. We who teach said as much to our classes many times in those days of innocence. In all sincerity we felt that a nation could not do this or that thing because public opinion would not tolerate it. How far distant seem now the days of early summer in 1914!

We had adopted many specific rules to restrain needless barbarity in war. For example, we would not use dum-dum bullets, nor drop bombs on non-combatants, nor shell the homes of innocent dwellers on the seashore. It was considered an achievement of the civilized spirit that an army occupying enemy territory would respect the rights of the non-combatant inhabitants, set guards over private property, protect women and children from injury, and permit civilians to go about their business as long as they did not intermeddle with military matters. In three and a half horrible years we have drifted a long way from these protestations. Those of us who4 once studied the elements of international law may well study them again when the war is over, if, indeed, international law is still thought worth studying.

In the vision the angel poured out his vial on the great river, to the early men of Mesapotamia the symbol of the great waters. In our own day we have seen strange engines of wrath placed in the great waters, foul spirits that destroy men and ships in disregard of the rules of fair fighting. And out of the mouths of dragons and other loathsome beasts, and of false prophets as well, evil spirits have issued in these sad days. They have taken their places in the hearts and minds of self-willed men and made beasts of them; so that the rest of humanity have had to fight against them and suffer themselves to be killed by them, in order that the wicked shall not triumph over the whole earth.

The war has been gruesome beyond the imagination of man. No other recorded experience has told us of so much killing, and of so many different ways of killing. Men have been slain with swords, cannon, great howitzers, rifles, machine guns, tanks, liquid fire, electrified wires,5 and finally with the germs of disease deliberately planted. Nothing that science could invent for destroying human life has been omitted, except, possibly, dum-dum bullets; and in view of the use of much more cruel means we may well ask, “Why not dum-dums also?”

We must admit that if the author of the Book of Revelations had prophetic insight and foresaw the world struggle that now is, he did not overpaint its terrors. And so, asks the man of faith, if the first part of the vision comes true, why may not the second part likewise come true? If the seer could foresee the war and its horrors, may he not also have spoken truly when he foretold that after Armageddon wars would be no more; for God would wipe away the desire for them from the hearts of men?

To this question I answer: If a man is left in the world when this conflict is ended who glories in deliberate war, he is too bad to live in civilized society. Certain it is that the vast majority of men and women are already convinced that the desire for war, henceforth and forever, is wiped out of their hearts. In the stress of actual battle or in the preparations to6 sustain those who fight they may forget the fundamental folly of the whole thing for the time; but it is always at the bottom of their hearts. What is the human power of reasoning worth, if it is not able to devise some way to escape from this obsession of self-slaughter?

Do not be deceived by the strut of Mars. His Day has come with a vengeance. He has shot up rapidly, like a jimson-weed, and blossomed like a cactus. We may have laughed at him in the days of peace, but we now look to him for protection. We cannot decry the men who are dying for us, dying in the best sportsmanslike manner. But we do not like their business as a business, and we wish at the bottom of our hearts that it were abolished as a peril to humanity. And we believe that of all who hate war, none hate it more than those who are actually fighting in this struggle. Let us give Mars his Day and all the glory that belongs to it, but let us not forget peace while we serve war.

Nor should we be deceived by the pallid pacifist. He has his counterpart in every struggle; and in general he serves some good purpose in a multitude of opinions. But the day of stress7 and world crisis is not his Day; and the practical world loses little time in putting him in his place. The pacifist does not represent the peace movement in its freest and most significant form. The advocates of peace today who are best serving its promotion are those who are out in the armies bent on putting down that nation who is the most dangerous enemy of peace.

These men are not mere pieces of machinery in a great driving process. They are thinking men with political power in their hands, either actually or potentially. War is a great schoolteacher. It has lasted in our own time nearly as long as a course in college. The soldiers who survive from the beginning of this conflict may now be considered as more than half through their senior year. They know what war is and what it means, and they know something about the necessary form of coöperation that must exist in any society before the will of the people can be carried into effect. They knew little about war four years ago: they now know all the professors know. Behind the lines and here in our homes one never sees man nor woman who does not admit that it would be a blessing to8 make war impossible; but few of us have any idea how to go about getting it made impossible. Many of us think we shall never get people to act together in such a cause. But it seems unreasonable to expect that men who have raided through “No Man’s Land,” captured trenches and defeated great armies through organization and initiative should quail before the inertia of opinion, perhaps the chief obstacle confronting those who labor for a coöperative peace.

The example of the Russians is a useful point in this connection. At the beginning of the war their armies were as machine-like as any armies could be. The privates were generally peasants who did not know why they fought, and who certainly had nothing to say about the origin of the war. They were typical “cannon-fodder,” and as unthinking as any modern soldier can be. They have learned much from less than three years of war. They slowly acquired purpose, a sense of organization, and leaders whom they follow. Having made this progress they overthrew the imperial government, drove away the great nobles, put an ensign in the place of a former grand duke and two exiles in the seats9 of the highest officials, and stripped the highest born army officers of their titles and insignia.

At the present writing they are holding out against all attempts to overthrow them, they are playing the diplomatic game with Germany without discredit,1 and they are reported to be shaking the foundations of autocracy in Austria. At any rate, it must be confessed that a small group of the Russian “cannon-fodder” have made commendable progress in the process of education during the last ten months. The process seems to have been under the direction of the socialists, a small but well organized group of intelligent persons who do not lack initiative. It is they who are educating the Russian peasants into political self-expression.

1 Since the above was written events have occurred in Russia which seem to discredit the diplomacy of the revolutionists; but the general situation is so unsettled that no conclusions can be drawn at this time, February 27, 1918.

The possible results of this incident are tremendous. Nowhere else in the world have the agricultural classes fallen into one party with vigorous and trained leaders. If Russia is now embarking on an era of representative government,10 as seems probable, she is passing through a stage in which political parties are being crystallized. So far, it does not appear that any considerable party is organized in the vast empire on what we should call a conservative basis. It will be an interesting experiment in political history if Russia has a great peasant party in control of the administration.

The party that now controls Russia is committed to the idea of a peace through the coöperation of the nations. It is true that internationalism goes further than mere federation of nations; for it also implies the socialization of industry, the equal distribution of property. In short, it is the internationalism and unification of the industrial classes in all nations for a combined opposition to capital. With these aims we shall, probably, not be pleased. But they imply the destruction of war; and it now seems possible that Russia will stand before the world, at least until the radical elements fall before conservatives, as the most prominent champion of coöperative peace.

As to the socialistic purpose of the internationalists, it stands apart logically from that feature11 of their doctrine that relates to the mere coöperation of nations. They would say, probably, that coöperation is but incidental to their main desire, the unification of the workers of the world. But it is right to expect that they would support coöperation among the nations to obtain the destruction of war, since it would make it easier for the world to accept their other ideals. On the other hand the man who opposes internationalism as such, could accept the aid of a radical Russia in obtaining federated peace, without feeling that in doing so he was necessarily contributing to the promotion of the socialistic features of internationalism.

This remarkable shifting of power in Russia has had its counterpart on a less impressive scale in other countries. Whether it comes to the point of explosion or not, there is in the minds of all—the thoughtful people, the working-men, and all intermediate classes—a growing belief that a new idea should rule the relations of nations among themselves. From an age of international competition they are turning to the hope of an era of international agreement; and it does not appear that their influence will be unheeded12 when men come to face steadily the problems the war is sure to leave behind it.

Most notable influence of all in behalf of a federated peace is the position taken by President Wilson. In the beginning of this conflict he had the scholar’s horror of warfare, and he has taken more than one opportunity to suggest the formation of a league of nations to prevent the outbreak of future wars. His address to Congress on January 22, 1917, was a notable presentation of the idea to the world. Enthusiastic hearers pronounced the occasion a turning-point in history. Whether a league of nations is established or not, according to the president’s desires, his support of the idea has given it a great push forward. He has taken it out of the realm of the ideal and made it a practical thing, to be discussed gravely in the cabinets of rulers.

A year after the question has been brought forward, it should be possible to form an opinion of the attitude of European nations in regard to the suggestion. From all of them, including Germany and Austria, have come courteous allusions to the idea of the president; and the pope has given it his support. But it is not13 clear that all are sincerely in favor of a logically constituted league that will have power to do what it is expected to do. That President Wilson will continue to urge steps in this direction is to be taken as certain. The measure of his success will be the amount of hearty and substantial support he has from that large class of people who still ask: “Can’t something be done to stop war forever?”

When this page is being written the newspapers are full of a discussion of the two speeches that came from the central powers on January 25, 1918, one from Chancellor von Hertling of Germany, and the other from Count Czernin, of Austria. In the former is the following utterance:

“I am sympathetically disposed, as my political activity shows, toward every idea which eliminates for the future a possibility or a probability of war, and will promote a peaceful and harmonious collaboration of nations. If the idea of a bond of nations, as suggested by President Wilson, proves on closer examination really to be conceived in a spirit of complete justice and complete impartiality toward all, then the imperial government is gladly ready, when all other pending questions have been settled, to begin the examination of the basis of such a bond of nations.”

14 This very guarded utterance means much or little, as the German rulers may hereafter determine. By offering impossible conditions of what they may pronounce “complete justice and complete impartiality to all” they may be able to nullify whatever promise may be incorporated in it. On the other hand, the sentiment, if accepted in a fair spirit and without exaggerated demands, may be a real step toward realizing President Wilson’s desires. If, for example, Germany should insist, as a condition for the formation of a “bond of nations,” that Great Britain give up her navy, or dismantle Gibraltar, while she herself retained her immense Krupp works and her power to assemble her army at a moment’s notice, it is hardly likely the demand would be granted. We can best know what Germany will do in this matter when we see to what extent she is willing to acknowledge that her war is a failure and that her military policy is a vast and expensive affair that profits nothing. Moreover, there is a slight sneer in the chancellor’s words, as though he does not consider the president’s idea entirely within the range of the diplomacy of experienced statesmen; and this is15 not very promising for the outcome—unless, indeed, the logic of future events opens his eyes to the meaning of the new spirit that the war has aroused.

Among our own allies the suggestion of our president has found a kinder reception. Mr. Lloyd George has announced his general support of the proposition, and Lord Bryce and others have given it cordial indorsement. It seems that if the United States urges the formation of a league of peace, she will have the coöperation of Great Britain. As to the position of France and Italy, the matter is not so clear. They probably are too deeply impressed by the danger they will ever face from powerful neighbors to feel warranted in dismissing their armies, unless the best assurance is given that Germany and Austria accept federated peace in all good faith.

As the contending nations approach that state of exhaustion which presages an end of the war, the question of such a peace becomes increasingly important. Everything points to the conclusion that the time has arrived to debate this subject. If the hopes of August, 1914, that Armageddon16 would be succeeded by an era of permanent peace are to be realized, they will not come without the serious thought of men who are willing to dare something for their ideals. And if they come out of the present cataclysm it is time to be up and doing. The sentiment that exists in this country, and in other countries, must be organized and made effective at the critical moment. There is nothing more dispiriting to the student of history than to observe as he reads how many favorable moments for turning some happy corner in the progress of humanity were allowed to pass without effort to utilize them. It has been a hundred years since the world had another opportunity like this that faces us, and if it is not now tried out to the utmost possibility, there is little hope that the next century will be as bloodless as the past has been, even with the present conflict included.

Every general war in Europe since the days of the Roman Empire has brought humanity there to a state of exhaustion similar to that which now exists. So it was with the Thirty Years’ War, with the wars inaugurated by Louis XIV to establish the predominance of France,17 and with the Napoleonic wars a century ago. Each of these struggles, it will be observed, extended to a larger portion of Europe than its predecessor; and it was because the common interests of nations were progressively stronger; for it was ever becoming so that what concerned one state concerned others. In the present war the interrelations of nations is such that Japan and the United States have been brought into the conflict, along with China and several of the smaller American states. If the conflict recurs in the future it may be expected to involve a still wider area.

There is evidence that in each of these struggles the humane men then living were filled with the same longing for permanent peace that many men feel today.2 The feeling was especially strong during the last stages of the Napoleonic wars and immediately after they ended. Singularly enough it was strongest in Russia, due, however to the accident that an enthusiastic and idealistic tsar was ruling in that country. He had received his ideals from a French tutor who was deeply imbued with the equality theories18 of the revolution that swept over his own country. The tsar accepted them with sincerity and spent several years of conscientious effort in his attempts to have them adopted. More singularly still, they found their only sincere indorsement, among the rulers who had the right to indorse or reject, with the king of Prussia, who at that time was a very religious man. Most peculiar of all they found very strong opposition in England, where practical statesmen were in power. As I read the history of that day and reflect on what has been the train of events from the battle of Waterloo to the invasion of Belgium in 1914, it is hard to keep from wishing that a better effort had been made in 1815 to carry out the suggestion which the tsar urged on his royal brothers in Europe.

2 See below, pp. 46–62.

The defeat of Napoleon was purchased at immense sacrifices. To the people of the day the most desirable thing in the world seemed to be a prevention of his reappearance to trouble mankind. They took the greatest care to keep his body a prisoner until he was dead; but they did not seriously try to lay his ghost. Probably they did not think, being practical men, that his19 spirit would walk again in the earth. They were mistaken; for not only has the ghost come back, but it has come with increased power and subtlety. In fact, it was an old ghost, and having once inhabited the bodies of Louis XIV, Augustus Cæsar, and Alexander of Macedon, as well as that of Napoleon I, it knew much more than the grave gentlemen who undertook to arrange the future of Europe in practical ways in 1815.

As we approach again the re-making of our relations after a world war, it is worth while to glance over the things that were done in 1815, to understand what choice of events was presented to the men of that day, and what results came from the course they deliberately decided to follow. Thus we may know whether or not the course proved a happy one, and whether or not it is the course that we, also, should follow. And if it is not such a course, we ought as thinking people to try to adopt a better.

We should always remember that the conditions of today are more suitable to a wise decision than the conditions of 1815. We have, for one thing, the advantage of the experience of the past hundred years. There is no doubt in our20 minds as to how the old plan has worked and how it may be expected to work if again followed. It led to the Concert of Europe and the Balance of Power, both of which served in certain emergencies, but failed in the hour of supreme need. Indeed, it is probable that they promoted the crash that at last arrived.

Another advantage is that we have today in the world a vastly greater amount of democracy than in 1815. The people who pay the bills of Mars today can say what shall be done about keeping Mars in chains; and that is something they could not do in 1815. It is for them to know all his capers, and his clever ways of getting out of prison, and to look under his shining armor to see the grizzly hairs that cover his capacious ribs; and having done this to decide what will be their attitude toward him.

It is not the business of an author to offer his views to his reader ready made. Enough if he offers the material facts out of which the reader may form his own opinions. That is my object in this book. I do not disguise my conviction that some of the fruits of the war that ended at Waterloo were lost through the inexperience21 of the men who set the world on its course again. Whether or not the men were as wise as they should have been is now a profitless inquiry. My only object is to set before the reader as clearly as I can the idea of a permanent peace through federated action, to show how that idea came up in connection with the war against Napoleon, how it was rejected for a concerted and balanced international system, what came of the decision in the century that followed, and finally in what way the failure of the old system is responsible for the present war. If the reader will follow me through these considerations, he will be prepared to examine in a judicial spirit the arguments for and against President Wilson’s suggested union of nations to end war.

As these introductory remarks are written, we seem to be girding up our loins again with the firm conviction that we cannot talk of peace until Germany knows she is beaten. The decision is eminently wise. But if it is worth while to fight two or ten years more to crush Germany’s confidence in her military policy, how much ought it not to be worth to make the nations realize that22 if they really wish to destroy war they can do it by taking two steps: first, end this struggle in a spirit of amity; and second, make an effective agreement to preserve that state of amity by preventing the occurrence of the things and feelings that disturb it. That is the task as well as the opportunity of wise men, who can govern themselves; and it is for their information that this volume is written which undertakes to point out “The Lost Fruits of Waterloo” and the conditions under which we may seek to recover them. It is not a book of propaganda, unless facts are propagandists. It is not a pacifist book, although its pages may make for peace, if God wills. It is only a plain statement of the lessons of history as they appear to one of the many thousands of puzzled persons now habitants of this globe who are trying to grope their ways out of this fog of folly.



Those who have tried to point the world to universal peace may be divided into two schools: one advocating a form of coöperation in which the final reliance is to be reason, the other looking forward to some effective form of common action behind which shall be sufficient force to carry out the measures necessary to enforce the common will. It is convenient to describe the former group as advocating a league of peace, since we are generally agreed that a league is a form of concert from which the constituent members may withdraw at will, and in which does not reside power to force them to do what they do not find reasonable. The second group wish to have a federation, if by that term we understand a united group in which exists power sufficient to preserve the common cause against any possible disobedient member. To form a league is easier than to form a federation. States are tenacious24 of sovereignty. The Swiss cantons, the Dutch provinces, and the original thirteen states of North America are the most striking illustrations of states that were willing to submit themselves to the more strenuous process of union. They acted under stress of great common peril, and their first steps in federation were short and timid; but none of them have regretted that the steps were taken. It was the good fortune of these groups of states that they were able to unite at the proper time and that their actions were not overclouded by the counsel of “practical statesmen” to whom ideals were things to be distrusted.

In other states in periods of great distress from war men lived who dreamed of coöperation to promote peace, but their voices were too weak for the times. The most notable early advocate of this scheme was the Duke of Sully, if we may accept the notion that he wrote the work known as the Grand Design of Henry IV. In that plan was contemplated a Christian Republic, composed of fifteen states in Europe, only three of which were to have a republican form of government. They were to give up warring among25 themselves and to refer to a common council, modeled on the Ionic League, all matters of interstate relation that were of importance to the “very Christian Republic.” The only war this republic was to wage was the common war to expel the Turks from Europe. It was after Henry’s death that Sully published the plan with the assertion that his former master had formed it just after the treaty of Vervins, 1598.

Whether it was the work of king or duke, no attempt was made to put it into force. In 1598 Europe was in the throes of a long and hopeless struggle for religion. Cities were destroyed, men and women were butchered, and the safety of states was threatened. The Grand Design represents the reaction of either Henry’s or Sully’s mind against such a terror. It was a thing to be desired, if it could have been attained. One of the marks of peace that it displayed was the attitude it took towards the branches of the Christian faith. Complete tolerance was to exist for the three forms, Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism. This was a kind of idealism that was then unattainable; but in the course of time it has been achieved. I should not like to26 say the day will not come when the other side of the scheme, interstate peace, will also cease to be too ideal for realization.

The next important suggestion of union for peace was made by William Penn in 1693 in an Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe. At that time the Continent was racked with war—a result of the ambition of Louis XIV to raise France to a dominating position among the other nations—, the Palatinate had been devastated, and the will of the “Grand Monarch” was the dreaded fact in international politics. Penn realized that great sacrifices were ahead; for it was as true then as now that when a strong state rises to a position in which it can threaten universal rule, there is nothing for the other states but to combine and fight as long as they can.

Penn’s proposal was that the sovereigns of Europe should form a Great Diet in which all their disputes should be adjusted. If any state refused to submit to the judgment of the diet and appealed to arms, all the other states were to fall upon it with their armies and make it rue the course it had taken. Quaker though27 he was, he would have war to prevent war. His proposal made no impression on his “practical” contemporaries; but he was prepared for that. Men of his faith were used to “bearing testimony” in the expectation that “the world” would scoff. Although it was not included in the original folio edition of his works this essay remains to this day the best known thing he wrote. It is one of the most logical arguments for peace that we have.

From 1701 to 1714 was waged the War of the Spanish Succession, the last of the series of struggles in which Louis XIV wore out his kingdom in trying to make it supreme over its neighbors. It left France exhausted and miserable, and it had not realized the king’s ambition. In 1713, the year in which Louis was forced to accept the Treaty of Utrecht in token of his defeat, was published by the Abbé Castel de St. Pierre a book called Projet de Traité pour rendre la Paix Perpetuelle. Like the utterances of Sully and Penn, it was wrung out of the mind of the author by the ruin that lay around him. It differed from them in nothing but in its more abundant details. The abbé had taken many28 things into account, and the union of nations that he proposed was to do six important things.

1. There was to be a perpetual alliance of European rulers with a diet composed of plenipotentiary agents in which disputed points were to be settled amicably. 2. What sovereigns were to be admitted to the alliance was to be determined by the act of alliance, which was also to fix the proportion in which each should contribute to the common fund. 3. The union was to guarantee the sovereignty of the constituent states with existing boundaries, and future disputes of this nature were to be referred to the arbitration of the council. 4. States offending against the laws of the diet were to be put under the ban of Europe. 5. A state under the ban was to be coërced by the other states until it accepted the laws it had violated. 6. The council was to make such laws, on instruction from the sovereigns, as were thought necessary to the objects for which the perpetual alliance was created.

Like the two preceding plans the abbé’s scheme was too strong to be rated as a league. It does not allow us to think that a state could withdraw29 at pleasure from the alliance; and it gave to the council the authority to lay taxes, make laws that were binding, and punish defiant members. It is noteworthy for the large amount of power it gave to the sovereigns, since the members of the council were their agents and acted only on instructions. Under the prevalent notions of the divine right of kings no other method of selecting the members of the council would have been considered in France, Spain, or Germany. On the other hand, the abbé’s scheme was less liberal in this respect than Penn’s, which provided that the wisest and justest men in each nation should be sent to the council. It was also a part of Penn’s plan that the council should be a really deliberative body, a parliament of Europe as truly as there was in England a parliament of the realm.

We have no evidence that the arguments of the good abbé made a profound impression upon any of the sovereigns upon whose favor the scheme depended. The Treaty of Utrecht was followed by a season of peace. So deeply wounded was Europe by conflict that it had no stomach for war during a generation. It was a30 time of great industrial prosperity in England, France, and Prussia. Walpole, the wise guardian of peaceful society, dominated the first of these nations, Fleury, also a man of peace, was for a large part of the time the guiding hand in the second, and Frederic William I directed the development of the third with a sure sense of economy and the efficient use of resources. At the same time Austria was under the direction of Charles VI, a peaceful monarch who had too many anxieties at home to think of wars against the Christian sovereigns around him. The small struggles that occurred were without significance; and it was not until 1740, when a new generation was on the scene, that Europe again had a period of general war, precipitated by an imaginative young king who could not resist the temptation to use the excellent tool with which his father had provided him. Out of the twenty years’ struggle that now followed, no new plan arose for a system of coöperation to secure peace, but one of the great philosophers of the time made a new statement of the Abbé St. Pierre’s plan, which served as a new proposition.

31 It was during the last years of the Seven Years’ War that Rousseau received the papers of the good abbé, with the expectation that he would prepare them for publication in a more popular form than the twenty-one volumes in which the author’s thoughts were buried. He eventually gave up the task, but he produced two short summaries, one of which was entitled Extrait du Projet de Paix perpetuelle de M. L’Abbé de Saint-Pierre. The “extract” proper was followed by a “judgment” in which Rousseau voiced his own views. He advocated the creation of a confederacy mutually dependent, no state to be permitted to resist all the other states united nor to form an alliance with any other state in rivalry with the confederacy. The scope of the central authority was defined, and there was to be a legislature to make laws in amplification of that authority, such laws to be administered by a federal court. No state was to withdraw from the union. Thus, Rousseau made his proposed confederacy rest on force. In his mind it was to be vitally efficient government, capable of doing all it was created to do.

All the plans I have mentioned contemplated32 the creation of a central authority strong enough to make itself obeyed. They implied, therefore, that each constituent state should relinquish a part of its sovereignty in order to form the federation. Now this was, as at the present time, a strong objection to the scheme. No one has met it better than William Penn, who said:

“I am come now to the last Objection, That Sovereign Princes and States will hereby become not Sovereign: a Thing they will never endure. But this also, under Correction, is a Mistake, for they remain as Sovereign at Home as ever they were. Neither their Power over their People, nor the usual Revenue they pay them, is diminished: It may be the War Establishment may be reduced, which will indeed of Course follow, or be better employed to the Advantage of the Publick. So that the Soveraignties are as they were, for none of them have now any Soveraignty over one another: And if this be called a lessening of their Power, it must be only because the great Fish can no longer eat up the little ones, and that each Soveraignty is equally defended from Injuries, and disabled from committing them.”

A quarter of a century later, in the beginning of the French Revolution, Jeremy Bentham, the English philosopher, advocated the union of states in behalf of common peace, but he rested his argument on morality, not on force. There33 was to be a league of states, with a legislature and courts of justice, but the decisions were to be executed by the states themselves. He held that after the court gave a decision in a specified case and published the evidence and arguments, public opinion would be strong enough to enforce the judgment. By discarding force Bentham had the advantage of preserving the sovereignty of the states, a thing that is particularly esteemed by an Englishman. He is to be considered the first of a series of eminent peace advocates who look no further than a league of states bound together by their plighted word and relying on the weight of public opinion to coërce the individual states.

He had given his life to the task of fixing the sway of law in the minds of humanity, and it was a part of his general idea that a high court of justice, investigating a controversy, and exposing all the sides of it before a world of fair minded observers, would lessen the asperity of opposing passions so that the verdict of the court would be received as saving credit and honor to the party who had to yield. It is out of this attitude that our whole doctrine of arbitration as an expedient34 for escaping war has its rise, a doctrine of such importance in our general subject that no peace advocate would dare reject it wholly.

Bentham’s opinion was expressed in a stray pamphlet that made little impression in his time and has nearly escaped the notice of posterity. A more conspicuous achievement, and nearly contemporary, was an essay by Immanuel Kant, philosopher at Königsberg, in Prussia. In 1795 he published Zum ewigen Frieden, an outline for a league of perpetual peace. There was a time, he argued, when men lived by force under the laws of nature, each regulating his own conduct toward his neighbors, the strongest man having his way through his ability to overawe his associates. Then came the state and the rule of law, and with their arrival one saw the exit of personal combat. Kant applied the same argument to the intercourse of the nations, saying they were in a state of nature toward one another. He proposed to organize a super-state over them, with authority to bring them under a law prohibiting wars among themselves. He would assign a definite field of action to the new power, with the function of making laws in enforcing35 that authority, and it would have the necessary administrative and judicial officers. The law made by the united government was to be as good law for its own purposes as the law made by the individual states for their purposes.

Kant’s suggestion was closely kin to Rousseau’s ideas of the state, but he wrote at a time when the world, stampeded by the excesses of the Jacobins, was turning away from all the political theories that underlay the French Revolution. It had no use for the idea that government was the outcome of a social contract; and if this idea was not accepted for the state itself, how much less would it be accepted as a means of organizing the international state! The world suffered too much at the hands of Napoleon to like ideas that were responsible for the very beginning of the letting out of the waters. And this was especially true in Prussia, where the foot of the French conqueror was extremely heavy.

At the moment when Kant’s ideas were at the height of unpopularity came the young philosopher, Hegel, who announced a philosophical view of war that pleased the governing class of Prussia, bent on establishing a system36 of military training that would be sufficient for a redeemed country. He taught that war through action burns away moral excrescences, purifies the health of society, and stimulates the growth of manly virtue. This idea became the basis of much German reasoning, and it is not improbable that its defenders in trying to discern the virtues they argued for, were led to develop them. But in their enthusiasm they came to exaggerate these virtues into habits that were often mere manifestations of an exalted egoism. As to the claim that war burns up the effete products of society, it may be met by the undeniable assertion that it also burns much that is best. One does not burn a city to destroy the vermin that are in it.

The next attempt to bring about a system of coöperation to secure peace among the nations was the formation of the Holy Alliance, a futile attempt to apply principles like those just described, made by Alexander I, of Russia, at the close of the Napoleonic wars. It is considered at length in the chapter following this, where it finds its proper setting. The extremely religious spirit in which it was conceived was a drawback37 to success, but it is not likely that it would have fared better than it did fare, even if stripped of all its pious fantasy, since the world was not educated to its acceptance as a purely political idea.

At this stage one must notice the development of peace societies. Organized at first as local bodies they were drawn together into national organizations in the early decades of the nineteenth century. It was in 1816 that such a society was created in Great Britain, and in 1828 that the American Peace Society was formed out of local societies in the United States. In the same year was established at Geneva the first peace society on the Continent, the second being organized at Paris in 1841. The influence of such societies was weak for a long time; but within the past twenty years it has been much stronger.

One of the most striking examples of the prevalence of the peace idea in recent times is the growing use of arbitration as a means of settling international disputes. Another is the meeting of the Hague conferences to promote peace. The first was called by the tsar, Nicholas II, in38 1899 and laid a broad outline of the work that such conferences ought to do. A second assembled in the year 1907, and a third was about to convene when the Great War began in 1914. The conferences devoted their strongest efforts to the reduction of armaments and the checking of militarism; but in each case they found the German Empire planted boldly across their path, and in this respect their efforts were futile. It is not to be doubted that the attitude of Germany contributed much to develop the widespread suspicion of that country which has been one of her handicaps in the present war.

The “peace movement,” as the totality of these activities is called, has thus gained strength, and it would seem that it must eventually prevail in public opinion. It received an important momentum in 1910, when Mr. Andrew Carnegie gave $10,000,000 to establish the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an organization which has contributed powerfully to the promotion of peace ideas. It acts on scientific principles, seeking to gather and publish such facts bearing on international relations, the laws39 of economics and history, and the science of international law, as will show in what respect war is to be removed from its hold on society.

The careless enthusiasm with which a great many people hailed the outbreak of war in 1914 swept the peace advocates into the background and was the occasion of some sarcasm at their expense. But as the struggle grew in grimness and horrors the advocates of peace on principle returned to their old position in public esteem, and have steadily gained on it. It seems undeniable that the war has done more to convince the world of the madness of war than many decades of agitation could do.

One of the manifestations of the rebound here mentioned was the organization in June, 1915, of “The League to Enforce Peace.” This society was created in a meeting of representative men assembled in Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia, the place in which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Its principles are embraced in the following proposals: 1. A judicial tribunal to which will be referred judiciable disputes between the signatory powers,40 subject to existing treaties, the tribunals to have power to pass on the merits of the disputes submitted as well as on its jurisdiction over them. 2. The reference of other disputes between the signatory states to a council of conciliation, which will hear the cases submitted and recommend settlements in accordance with its ideas of justice. 3. If any signatory state threatens war before its case is submitted to the judicial tribunal or the council of conciliation, the other states will jointly employ diplomatic pressure to prevent war; and if hostilities actually begin under such circumstances they will jointly use their military forces against the power in contempt of the league. 4. The signatory states will from time to time hold conferences to formulate rules of international law which are to be executed by the tribunal of arbitration unless within a stated time some state vetoes the proposal.

The system of coöperation embodied in these proposals is not a federation, within the meaning that I have given to that term. It is what it pretends to be, merely a league. It seems to concede the right of a state to secede from the41 league at will. As to what would happen under it if a signatory state refusing to abide the decision of the tribunal or council of conciliation should attempt to withdraw and make war at once, we can have little doubt. In such a case the attempt to secede would probably be considered defiance and steps be taken to reduce the state to submission. Nevertheless it might happen that a state within the league, finding its action restricted so that it could not adopt some policy which it considered essential to its welfare, might proceed to withdraw in view of a line of conduct it intended to take at a later time. In that case it is difficult to see how the league could resist unless it was willing to take the position that it had a kind of sovereignty over all interstate relations, a position that involves more concentration than the form of the league seems to imply.

At this point in our inquiry into the subject of coöperation to secure universal peace an inviting field of speculation opens before us, but we must turn aside for the time, in order to consider various phases of the process by which the world has arrived at the crisis now before it. This chapter will serve its purpose if it gives the reader42 a view of the earliest suggestions of systems of common action and if it makes clear the differences between the two general plans that have been formulated, the league and the federation.



The career of Napoleon, which has long commanded the greatest interest, not to say enthusiasm, of students of history, aroused grave fears in the minds of most of the thoughtful men of his day who did not live in France. His design to conquer all his neighbors was most evident, and his apparent ability to carry it into execution caused him to be regarded as the embodiment of greed and insatiable ambition. Not since the days of Louis XIV had Europe felt such thrills of danger and horror. All its energy was called into play to withstand his attacks. Wars followed wars in a series of campaigns that ended after many years of extreme anxiety in his ruin, only when France had been worn out by his repeated victories. When he began his wars he was at the head of the best prepared nation in the world. He struck with sudden and vigorous blows against nations that44 were not united, defeating one after the other with startling effect. Their lack of preparation was most marked and was probably the most effective cause of his initial success. After years of conflict they learned how to oppose him. From his own example they learned the value of organization and method in fighting, and from their own disasters they at last acquired the sense of union that was necessary to give him the final blow that made him no longer a menace to their national integrity. It was not until 1815 that he was finally defeated and reduced to the state of ineffective personal power from which he had risen.

From the beginning of the struggle he was to his opponents the incarnation of all that was hateful in government. Few of the epithets now hurled at the kaiser were not as lavishly cast at Napoleon. He was tyrant, robber, brute, and murderer in turn, and it was pronounced a service to humanity to suppress him. In the beginning of the wars his pretensions were treated with disdain, but as his victories followed one another in bewildering rapidity, his power was treated with more respect, although there was no greater45 disposition to contemplate his triumph with complacency. As the struggle became fiercer, the other states than France began to think of some permanent form of coöperation for restraining him; and they even began to speculate on the possibility of some permanent arrangement by which the world might be saved from a recurrence of such a vast waste of life and treasure as was involved in the struggle. It was thus that suggestions were made during the Napoleonic era for abolishing war through international effort. For us, who are today burdened with the ruin of a similar but more stupendous struggle, these efforts have a special interest, and the space of a single chapter is none too much to give to their consideration.

It is singular that these plans should have found their most conspicuous supporters in the heads of the two governments most widely apart with reference to the popular character of their institutions. It was in autocratic Russia that one found the most advanced idea of dealing with the future, and in Great Britain, the most liberal of the great powers, that the most conservative design was held. Each plan46 was supported by the head of these two governments respectively, each ran through its own development while the armies were locked in deadly struggle, and each was debated with seriousness in the moment of victory when the statesmen of the winning powers met to arrange for the future relations of the states whose victories made them the arbiters of Europe.

The initiative was taken by Alexander I, of Russia. He was a man of the best intentions, and throughout the period with which we are now dealing he showed himself persistently favorable to views which, to say the least, were a hundred years ahead of his time. By temperament he was imaginative and sympathetic. In his personal life were irregularities, but not as many as in Napoleon’s, Louis XIV’s, or Talleyrand’s. He lacked the royal vice of despotism, and his escape from it was probably due to the influence of Fréderic César de La Harpe, an instructor of his youth, who arrived in Russia with his head full of the dynamic ideas of the French philosophers of the pre-revolutionary period.

While “liberty, equality, and fraternity” maddened47 France, long oppressed by the dull repression of the ancient régime, La Harpe was converting his royal pupil to the doctrine of the “Rights of Man.” So well was the lesson taught that a long series of encounters with the solid wall of Russian autocracy was necessary before the pupil ceased to try to do something to ameliorate the condition of his people. Historians have called Alexander a dreamer, but what is a man to do who is born a tsar and has the misfortune to believe in the doctrines for which we honor Lincoln and Jefferson? I am willing to call him impractical, but I cannot withhold sympathy from a man who tried, as he, to strike blows in behalf of the forms of government which makes my own country a home of liberty.

Alexander I came to the throne of Russia in 1801, anxious to carry out his liberal plans.3 In 1804, through his minister in London, he suggested to Pitt, the prime minister, a plan for settling the affairs of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon. France, he said, must be made to48 realize that the allies did not war against her people but against Napoleon, from whose false power they proposed to set her free. Once liberated she was to be allowed to choose any government she desired. From La Harpe he had imbibed a deep repugnance to the government of the Bourbons, and in all his future discussions of the subject he showed no enthusiasm for restoring that line to their throne.

3 For an excellent treatment of the events discussed in this chapter see W. A. Phillips, The Confederation of Europe, London, 1914.

One of the charges often made by the allies was that Napoleon overthrew international law. It was a part of Alexander’s plan to reëstablish its potency and to have the nations see to it that no future violations of it could occur. He also suggested that the firm agreement then existing between Russia and Great Britain should continue after the establishment of peace and that other great powers should be brought into it so that there should be a means of securing common action in affairs of mutual significance. At this time he had not, it seems, fully determined just what form of coöperation ought to be adopted, but in the suggestion of 1804 can be found the germ of all his later designs for permanent peace.

At that moment Pitt was looking for the renewal49 of the European war and he expected the formation of the great coalition of 1805, in which Russia, Great Britain, Austria, and Sweden undertook to defeat France. He did not dare, therefore, reject the tsar’s proposals outright. He gave approval to the suggestion in regard to the restoration of international law, but he qualified his sanction of the scheme for a future league of nations. Napoleon crushed, he said, it would be for the states to guarantee such an adjustment of European affairs as they should agree upon in solemn treaty. Looking into these two statements it is seen that the tsar had in mind the formation of some kind of league of nations, with well defined powers and duties, while Pitt looked forward to that kind of international coöperation which was later described by the term “Concert of Europe.” In the subsequent dealing of Alexander with the British leaders over this matter there was always this difference between them.

In 1807 Napoleon won the battle of Friedland over Russia and occupied a large part of the tsar’s domain. Then came the Treaty of Tilsit in which Alexander and Napoleon standing face50 to face came to an unexpected agreement to divide the accessible part of the world between them, Alexander ruling one half and Napoleon ruling the other. It is certain, however, that the tsar had in his mind that both he and his new ally would rule their respective halves in the spirit of La Harpe’s teaching. Napoleon baited his trap with no less attractive a morsel than self-government under a wise monarch in order to catch Alexander I.

The Moscow campaign brought the tsar to his senses. He himself said that it was the burning of the ancient city, 1812, that illuminated his mind and enabled him to see the true character of the Corsican. For five years he had been lulled into inactivity by the belief that some form of permanent peace was coming to the world through Napoleon. He now realized that he had been duped, and after making due acknowledgment of his error turned to the task of destroying the deceiver. From that time he did not waver in his determination.

Russia and Great Britain were thus in close alliance, and immediately began consideration of a permanent alliance looking toward a regulation51 of affairs in Europe after the war was ended. The British cabinet took up the question and in 1813 passed a resolution in which occurs the following declaration: “The Treaty of Alliance [between the states which were united against Napoleon] is not to terminate with the war, but is to contain defensive engagements, with mutual obligations to support the Power attacked by France with a certain extent of stipulated succors. The casus foederis is to be an attack by France on the European dominions of any one of the contracting parties.”4 This provision was kept secret for the time, but it remained the basis of the British policy throughout the negotiations that followed. Castlereagh, in ability and character the greatest statesman of his day, was then at the head of the British cabinet, and it seems certain that he inspired its policy.

4 Phillips, loc. cit., 67.

He was already suspicious of the position of the tsar in reference to France. That sovereign had in no way relaxed his friendship for the French people. Hating the Bourbons he would have prevented their restoration to the throne, and he had a project for allowing the French to52 determine whom they would have for king after Napoleon. If he could carry this plan through he would make himself very popular in France and would have a strong position with the ruler whose selection he should thus make possible. To Castlereagh this was nothing but a shrewd piece of policy for laying the foundation of a Franco-Russian alliance which would have overweening influence in Europe, and he set himself against its execution. He was forced to proceed cautiously, however, since Napoleon was not beaten and the aid of the tsar was essential. There is nothing to suggest that Alexander did not entertain his French views in all singleness of purpose. The worst his enemies said of him was that he was a dreamer; but he was not given to a policy of calculation.

To thwart Alexander and carry through his own views Castlereagh set himself to “group” the tsar, that is, to draw him into an agreement with other sovereigns in which such a policy was accepted as would serve to deflect the whole group of allies from the direct course which the tsar would have followed if left alone. Early in 1814 a treaty was signed at Chaumont by Great53 Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia in which all the problems then before the allies were taken up. The sixteenth article of the treaty dealt with the point which had caused Castlereagh so much anxiety. It ran:

“The present Treaty of Alliance having for its object the maintenance of the Balance of Europe, to secure the repose and independence of the Powers, and to prevent the invasions which for so many years have devastated the world, the High Contracting Parties have agreed among themselves to extend its duration for twenty years from the date of signature, and they reserve the right of agreeing, if circumstances demand it, three years before its expiration, on its further prolongation.”5

5 Phillips, loc. cit., 78.

By this means Alexander was “grouped” with his three allies in the support of a kind of coöperation which was not what he had hitherto insisted upon. It is probable that he did not realize how completely he was outplayed, when he was forced by the logic of events to set his hand to a treaty that provided for the Concert of Europe, and not for the league to which he had long looked forward. At any rate, he did not give up his ideals and he seems to have thought that in the hour of victory he could do what he54 had not been able to do in the hour of necessity.

The Treaty of Chaumont was followed by the battle of Leipzig, and that was followed by several smaller battles in which the allies fought their way through French territory until they stood before the gates of Paris in the autumn of 1814. Napoleon fled the Nemesis that had overtaken him, the city was opened to his enemies, and Alexander I, at the head of his splendid guard, led the conquering army down the broad avenue of Champs Elysée, the inhabitants of the city cheering the radiant pageant. Men reflected that two years earlier a great French army had penetrated to the Russian city of Moscow and found it smoking ruins; and they could but observe the contrast. It was worthy of the greatness of the tsar of the Russias to show a generous face to a beaten foe; and the Frenchmen were gallant enough to receive the friendship of the tsar in the spirit in which it was given. A lenient treaty by which France was saved from humiliation and Napoleon was given Elba, was also due chiefly to the good will of Alexander. An Englishman on the spot, who did not see things with the broad vision of the prime minister,55 wrote that the tsar “by a series of firm and glorious conduct has richly deserved the appellation of the liberator of mankind.” But as Alexander continued to “play the part of Providence in France” the same writer became alarmed and five days later wrote to London urging that Castlereagh come to the French capital. The hint was taken, and soon the manly stride of the handsome tsar was intercepted by the deftly woven webs of the skilled diplomat. Erelong France was handed over to the Bourbons, who came back to show that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

The center of interest now shifted to the Congress of Vienna, whose sessions lasted from September 10, 1814, to June 9, 1815. Europe had looked forward to it for many years as the means of effecting a wise and just reform in all the evils that afflicted the continent. “Men had promised themselves,” said Gentz, “an all-embracing reform of the political system of Europe, guarantees for universal peace, in one word, the return of the golden age.” Thus Alexander was not entirely ahead of his time. There were enlightened men then, as now, who56 hoped for a spirit that would rise above mere diplomatic self-interest; and we may look upon the tsar as their exponent. But they were to be disappointed. Spoils were to be divided and in the disputes that the expected division engendered, the spirit of reform was dissipated. Alexander spent his energy in trying to reëstablish the kingdom of Poland with liberal institutions, but his desire that it should be under his protection aroused the keenest opposition from the neighboring nations. If a victorious Russia stood as protector of a reëstablished France and a renewed Poland, who could foretell her power in future dealings among nations? Considering the extent to which jealousy carried the contentions of the states at Vienna, it is enough that the congress did not break up in an appeal to arms.

Gentz, whom we recall as the secretary of the congress, was one of the men who had entertained hopes that it would give a new and better form to the political structure of Europe. He avowed his disappointment at the results in saying:

“The Congress has resulted in nothing but restorations, which had already been effected by arms, agreements57 between the Great Powers of little value for the future balance and preservation of the peace of Europe, quite arbitrary alterations in the possessions of the smaller states; but no act of a higher nature, no great measure for public order or for the general good, which might compensate humanity for its long sufferings or pacify it for the future.... But to be just, the treaty, such as it is, has the undeniable merit of having prepared the world for a more complete political structure. If ever the Powers should meet again to establish a political system by which wars of conquest would be rendered impossible, and the rights of all guaranteed, the Congress of Vienna, as a preparatory assembly, will not have been without use. A number of vexatious details have been settled, and the ground has been prepared for building up a better social structure.”6

6 See Phillips, loc. cit., 118.

Looking back over the past century it is hard to find justification for Gentz’s optimism. The respite that Europe had for a generation from war was due in a sense to the lesson learned in the Napoleonic struggle; but it was not a permanent lesson. We shall proceed to examine the expedients that came to be used for the end specified; but it is certain that they did not achieve permanently the end desired. Had the Congress of Vienna done all that was expected of it, the world might today be at peace. If not58 at peace, we might at least say that the men of the Congress did all they could to secure peace.

If we ask for the fundamental cause of the failure of the Congress of Vienna to satisfy the hopes of liberal men in constructing what Gentz called “a more complete political structure,” the answer must lie in the illiberal views of the ruling classes in the European states. Self-government was less developed than in the most conservative state of today. Had the people of these states been in power, and had they been to a fair degree trained in the principles of good government, the result could hardly have been as it was. But the ignorant bureaucrats and arbitrary rulers were in power, men who in their own lives never knew the burdens of war, and to whom national egotism appeared a high virtue; and they thought only of gaining territory for their states. They placed such things above the high opportunity to reform the political structure of Europe. They turned to the future with the old principles still dominant, hoping that by a system of concert among the great states they could stave off war for an indefinitely long period. They could place self-interest against self-interest,59 forgetting that a time was likely to come when self-interest might lead the strongest to dare the rest of the world, hoping to move quickly in a moment of temporary advantage and thus gain ends that only the most severe sacrifices could take away. But that is a story reserved for another chapter.

Before we take up the Concert of Europe we must deal with the Holy Alliance, which, though but an interlude in the play, is so frequently mentioned in the books that it cannot be omitted from this discussion. It was signed at Paris, November 20, 1815, and may be considered only one of the forms in which the tsar’s ideal was embodied. Its religious character made it the butt of ridicule for the “practical” statesmen of the day, and the historian has been prone to look at it from their standpoint. But it was then popular to express political principles in religious phrases, and the alliance is to be interpreted by the purpose that lay underneath, rather than by the mere form in which it was set forth.

As we have seen, Alexander I had formulated his plan for a league of states long before the end of the war. He had relaxed his intentions in no60 sense when he met Baroness Krüdener in June, 1815. This remarkable woman, though nobly born, was a religious enthusiast who to the faculty of intense conviction added the gift of preaching. Wherever she went she found followers who hung on her words and yielded themselves to her impassioned appeals for religious devotion. In the height of her enthusiasm she came to think that she had revelations from God. Many a popular revivalist of recent times could be compared with her; and if we are tolerant of their undoubtedly well-meant efforts to stir humanity to righteousness, we may allow her also a fair share of our esteem as a would-be agent of good through the employment of human means to attain human ends.

Like the other religious teachers of the day she was deeply impressed by the calamities of the war. She knew of the tsar’s desire to establish a régime of peace and came to believe she was divinely called to induce him to take a conspicuous step in that direction. At first Alexander, who was not always religious, refused to see her; but in June, 1815, an interview was arranged while he was at Heilbron, on the campaign. He61 was deeply impressed and asked her to remain near him. When he went to Paris after the second defeat of Napoleon she was given quarters near his palace, and it was there, in the following autumn, that he drew up the plan of the Holy Alliance.

The “Alliance” was expressed in the spirit of a mediæval religious brotherhood. The signatory sovereigns pledged themselves to take the will of God for highest law, to give aid to an imperiled brother sovereign, and to hold the Alliance as “a true and indissoluble fraternity.” The constituent states were to make “one great Christian nation” and their sovereigns were to act “as delegates of Providence” in ruling their respective states. If such an ideal could have been accomplished at all, a stronger grip of the church on the springs of government would have been necessary than existed in that day. The tsar proclaimed the Holy Alliance on November 26, 1815. It was signed by all the states of Europe except Turkey, Great Britain, and the Papal State. Great Britain’s refusal to sign was due to Castlereagh, to whom the tsar seemed mentally unbalanced. He gave as his justification62 that the prince-regent, ruling in the place of his insane father, had no authority to sign, but said that he would support the principles of the Alliance. As it was to be a union of Christian states the sultan was not invited to sign. The Pope was not asked because of his overwhelming influence in matters connected with religion. Frederick William, of Prussia, was a religious man and is believed to have signed in good faith. Metternich advised the emperor of Austria to sign but said that the document was mere verbiage.

In all I have said hitherto about the tsar’s idea of preserving peace no definite plan has been mentioned. His most specific utterance was to ask for a league of nations, but he said nothing of its powers, its specific organization, or the limits of its action. The suggestion was vague, probably because the mind of its author was itself vague. If taken seriously it could be made to serve as the foundation of a unified state of Europe which might hold all other states under its hand, a unified state largely under the domination of Russia. That its author had no such object in view is not to be doubted for an instant;63 but who could tell how long he would remain in his existing state of mind, and how soon he might be succeeded by a tsar of far other spirit? As a plan for permanent peace the Holy Alliance was impossible, not only because it was cast in religious forms and thrown to a world in which the authority of religion had lost much of its ancient hold on the minds of men of influence, but because its indefinite form made it a possible instrument of greater evils than war.

Beneath its defects, however, was the great idea of a unified Europe, in which justice has the place of suspicion and intrigue, in which runs one law, one order, and one obedience to the majesty of the state. Alexander not only believed in such an ideal, but he was willing to cast his nation into the melting-pot in order to fuse such a state. He could have given no better proof of his support of his ideal. Of course, it was ahead of the time, how much so it is hard to say. The widespread popular longing for permanent peace would have gone far in accepting unification of the states, and in this sphere of opinion the religious cast of the scheme was not a great disadvantage. The thing which stood firmly in its way was the dull64 practicality of the upper, ruling class. If it could have passed these lions in the way, it might have had a chance of working its way forward into some acceptable form of a league in perpetuity. But it is a big if that I have used. Upper ruling classes know more about government than the lower classes, and that is a source of conservatism. The lower classes, knowing little, usually act upon their impulses; the members of the upper, ruling class, having information in varying degrees, usually strike an average of mediocre enlightenment, and it is a difficult thing for a new idea to gain possession of them. In 1815 the upper, ruling class was well settled in power in Europe, and it was most convinced of its superior wisdom. It never accepted the tsar’s plan; and failing to get its acceptance the plan was futile.



Having disposed of Alexander’s plan for a federation of nations it now remains to consider the other plan which, under the name of “Concert of Europe,” was adopted by Castlereagh and Metternich, though not for the same purpose as that which had inspired the tsar. Its fundamental idea had been in the positions taken by Pitt and Castlereagh when replying to the tsar’s proposals, but it found its official basis in a Treaty of Alliance signed by Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia at Paris, November 20, 1815, the same day they accepted the Holy Alliance. Its chief provisions were as follows: 1. The Powers bound themselves to see that the second treaty of Paris, regulating affairs between France and the allies, was executed. 2. They agreed to meet from time to time to take cognizance of the state of affairs in Europe. 3. They promised to suppress any recurrence of the66 revolutionary activity of France. 4. They settled upon the quota of men and supplies that each nation should furnish in case common action became necessary. 5. They undertook to “consolidate the intimate tie which unites the four sovereigns for the happiness of the world.” The most important of these provisions for the purpose of this inquiry was the second, taken in connection with the fifth.

The first meeting that may be said to have been called under the agreement was the Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1818. It was called to determine whether or not France should be relieved of her garrisons of occupation, a matter which was soon adjusted. Alexander I saw his opportunity and urged that the sovereigns should take steps to make the Holy Alliance a more vital kind of league. But Castlereagh interposed, as in former meetings, and turned the efforts of the tsar aside without arousing his displeasure. This may be considered the last gasp of the Holy Alliance, as it was the complete triumph of the Concert over it. At the same time France was admitted to the alliance of the four powers, which henceforth was known as the Quintuple67 Alliance. But if ever a question were to come up in which France was at variance with the four other Powers over matters connected with her obligations assumed in recent treaties, these four Powers would continue to act in their old capacity. Mr. W. A. Phillips remarks that the Quadruple Alliance still survived as “a rod in pickle for a France but doubtfully disciplined.” For us, who are chiefly concerned to see the result of the attempt to take the affairs of Europe under the protection of the great Powers, it is sufficient to remember that France gave no further trouble of the kind anticipated, and that the Quintuple Alliance, as the formal expression of the Concert of Europe, had other problems to consider.

The first arose out of revolutions in Spain and Naples, where armed men seized the power and forced the kings to accept liberal constitutions. Alexander I and Metternich looked on with different feelings. The former had been encouraging the liberals in Italy and was not greatly shocked by the revolution there, but he was deeply concerned over the upheaval in Spain and would have led a Russian army thither to68 suppress it. The suggestion alarmed Metternich, who did not relish the idea of Alexander’s marching through Austrian lands with a great body of men. He did what he could to discourage the expedition against Spain. At the same time he believed that Naples should be disciplined, since its revolution endangered the safety of Austrian possessions in Italy. It is amusing to see how self-interest ran across the currents of the general good as proclaimed in the Concert of Europe.

The tsar thought the situation warranted calling another conference of the Quintuple Alliance. Metternich objected, being chiefly concerned by the seeming certainty that the tsar would wish to carry into the situation his well-known views in support of liberalism. To him it seemed sufficient that the powers should agree severally to give their arms to the suppression of revolution, without meeting in conference. After much discussion a conference was called, at Troppau, but it was regularly attended by only three of the five powers. The suppression of constitutional government was not popular in Great Britain, and her government took no official part69 in the conference. France held aloof also; she was so much under the protection of Great Britain that she did not dare risk British displeasure by allying herself with the forces of repression.

Did the absence of two nations from Troppau presage the dissolution of the Alliance? Castlereagh gave a negative reply. His nation, he said, was not bound beyond her treaty obligations, the terms of which were clear and specific. They were embodied in the Treaties of Chaumont and Paris. He considered the project of dealing with revolution in its present form as beyond the meaning of these agreements. “If,” he said, “it is desired to extend the Alliance so as to include all objects present and future, foreseen and unforeseen, it would change its character to such an extent and carry us so far, that we should see in it an additional motive for adhering to our course at the risk of seeing the Alliance move away from us without our having quitted it.” These frank words show that the Alliance was strained but not broken. It would seem that a system like that of which we speak should have at bottom some broad common principles. In purpose it70 should be harmonious. As between the prevailing British idea of liberty and Metternich’s ideas of legitimacy there was no ground for mutual support; and out of this divergence of views was to grow the disruption of the Alliance, as we shall soon see.

Up to this time the two ideas that had run side by side were the tsar’s plan for a league to secure coöperation of a general nature and the British plan limiting common action to a few specific matters, chiefly connected with the repression of France in case she wished to return to a policy which would threaten the peace of Europe. As it became increasingly apparent that France was no longer a menace this type of union became less important, and the British ardor for it cooled, especially since it was becoming more and more certain that the Alliance was being used to support repression.

At the same time a change was passing through the mind of the tsar. In all he had done he had been supported by liberal ministers, against whose influence at his court Metternich did not hesitate to intrigue. Alexander’s conversion to the cause of repression came suddenly and completely in71 1820, when there was a mutiny in a favorite regiment of his guard. Sober advisers pointed out to him that the action of the regiment had no political significance, but he would not be convinced. He insisted he would not countenance revolt abroad, lest it encourage insurrection at home. All the fervor he had shown in behalf of liberal ideas he now manifested in behalf of repression. At Troppau he met Metternich in a spirit of profound repentance for what he had done in the past, saying with an outburst of emotion: “So we are at one, Prince, and it is to you that we owe it. You have correctly judged the state of affairs. I deplore the waste of time, which we must try to repair. I am here without any fixed ideas; without any plan; but I bring you a firm and unalterable resolution. It is for your Emperor to use it as he wills. Tell me what you desire, and what you wish me to do, and I will do it.” The speech astonished the Prince as much as it pleased him. All his schemes had lost in the defection of Castlereagh, and probably more, was made up in the accession of his new ally. Not only was the cause of legitimacy, as he advocated it, made safe; but the danger was72 removed of a Franco-Russian alliance, always a thing to be dreaded by the great Powers in the center of Europe.

In the conference at Troppau, Austria, Russia, and Prussia now acted together. Up to that time Metternich had ignored the Holy Alliance. He now brought it out as his stalking horse. The three sovereigns, controlling the conference, issued a declaration suspending from the Alliance any state that tolerated revolution in its borders and declaring that the other Powers in the Alliance would bring back the offending state by force of arms. Under the indefinite terms of the instrument this was a legal interpretation of power, but it was not in the spirit of the benevolent sovereign who made the Holy Alliance possible.

Those of us who now favor a league or federation of states as a means of preserving peace perpetually may well study the crisis to which a similar system had come in the development of international relations in 1820. The tsar’s ideal was a thing of glory thrown before a sordid world. Not even he, as we see, was proof against the debasement of his surroundings. If his73 plan had been adopted by all the nations, it is likely that the time would have come when the confederation thus formed would have become an agency for reaction against which liberal views would have been unable to contend.

On the other hand, we must not ignore the weight that a confederation would have had as an idea in promoting respect for liberal government. If it had been established under the protection of the tsar, it may well have been that Metternich would not have taken up the crusade of legitimacy, that the tsar and Castlereagh acting together in behalf of liberal institutions would have insured a steadier attitude on the part of the former, and that under such circumstances the kings of Spain and Naples would have been less inclined to the severe measures which provoked revolution. Of course, these are mere conjectures, but it is only fair to mention them as things to be said for the other side of the question.

When we come to apply the lessons of 1815–1820 to the present day, we must not forget that conditions are now very greatly changed. It was the supremacy of arbitrary government in74 Europe that made the hopes of 1815 come to naught. Of all the agents who then controlled affairs in the great states of Europe, Castlereagh, next to the tsar, was the most liberal. If a plan of union were adopted after the present war, it might not be a success, but the failure would not be for the same reasons as those that brought the Alliance of 1815 to a nullity.

Castlereagh made a protest against the purposes of the three Powers at Troppau in which were some telling arguments against such a league as was threatening. They were well made and would be applicable to the situation today, if it were proposed to establish a league like that which found favor at Troppau. The plan proposed, said he, was too general in its scope. It gave the projected confederation the right to interfere in the internal affairs of independent states on the ground that the general good was concerned, and if carried out the Alliance would, in effect, be charged with the function of policing such states. Against all this he protested, and he pointed out that so many grounds of dissatisfaction lay in the scheme that to try to enforce it would surely lead to counter alliances, the end75 of which would be war. It ought to be said, also, that Castlereagh was opposed to giving up war as a means of settling disputes. “The extreme right of interference,” he said, “between nation and nation can never be made a matter of written stipulation or be assumed as the attribute of an alliance.” If a man takes that position he can hardly be expected to see good points in any scheme to preserve peace perpetually.

The evils he pointed out are largely eliminated in the modern plans that are offered. For example, the jurisdiction of the proposed leagues or federations is strictly limited to the enforcement of peace. A supreme court held by eminent judges would pass upon cases as they come up and say whether or not the central authority should employ force. Under the plan it would be hard to bring a purely internal question before the court, and if brought there it would not be considered by the judges, since the pact of the federation would specify that such cases were not to be tried. The pact would be the constitution of the federation, and the court would be expected to pass on the constitutionality of measures from the standpoint of that instrument.76 Under a system like that recently advocated a revolution in Naples would have to be submitted to a court whose members were appointed from states in which free institutions are in existence. It could not be the tool of a Metternich. Under such a system the whim of a tsar, if such a ruler ever again wears a crown, could not make or mar a question like that which underlay the calling of the Conference of Troppau. So many are the differences that it is, perhaps, not profitable to dwell longer on this point. The study of the peace problem and the attempt to solve it a hundred years ago is extremely interesting to one who considers the situation now existing, but it is chiefly because the mind, having grasped the development of the former problem and become accustomed to see the process as a whole, is in a better state to understand the present and to know wherein it differs from the past and in what respect old factors are supplemented by new factors. Such lessons from the past are open to all who will but read.

These reflections should not make us forget the main thread of our story, which became relatively77 weak after Troppau. From that time it was clear that Europe had no hopes of peace through coöperation under either of the two plans that had been suggested. Almost immediately began a train of events which gave added impulse to the dissolution of the Alliance. In 1821 began the Greek War of Independence. Austria was in consternation lest the revolution should spread to her own people. Russia, however, was deeply sympathetic with the Greeks, partly through religious affiliations and partly because the Russian people, looking toward the possession of Constantinople, were anxious to weaken the Turk in any of his European possessions. Alexander I showed signs of going to war for the Greeks, and Metternich hastily sought to counteract any such course.

At the same time the situation in Spain’s American colonies was becoming more urgent, because the weakness of the government had stimulated the South American revolutionists to renewed activity until Mexico as well as the rest of the Continental colonies except Peru was in successful revolt. Metternich would have helped Turkey against the Greeks and allowed the78 tsar to carry out his long cherished wish of intervening in Spain, as a means of keeping him quiet. The situation seemed to call for another conference and after some discussion a meeting was arranged at Verona, 1822. France was anxious to take over the task of punishing the Spanish revolutionists, and as Russia, Austria, and Prussia agreed to her plan, four of the five Great Powers now stood side by side in favor of repression. They would have gone further, and settled the fate of the American revolutionists, but against that course Great Britain made such a protest that the question was left open.

It was not definitely closed until the next year, and then through the action of the United States, taken in association with Great Britain. For when France had performed her task, she looked forward to taking some of the Spanish colonies as indemnity for her expenses. The principle of federation among the Powers was working so well that it was considered only a natural thing to call another conference at which France could be assigned the right of conquering the colonies. Canning, at the head of the British government, was genuinely alarmed. The four united Powers79 were willing to defy Great Britain if she stood alone. He turned to the United States as the only ally in sight. Would we support him in opposition to the designs of the Powers? President Monroe, influenced by John Quincy Adams’ stout patriotism, replied in the affirmative and went a step further; for he insisted that the defiance of the Powers should be announced in Washington, not as a mere expedient to meet an isolated case, but as a general policy of our government. The Monroe Doctrine was one of the things that broke up the Quintuple Alliance, already weakened by the alienation of Great Britain.

The last blow was the revolution in France in 1880, which drove the Bourbon king into exile and made a liberal government possible. At the same time so strong were the manifestations of republicanism in other countries that the old conservatism was lowered in tone and chastened in pride. From France the revolutionary movement passed into Belgium, which the Congress of Vienna had decreed should be a part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. So completely was the revolution successful that even the Great Powers80 had to bow to it, and in a congress at London they recognized Belgium as a separate state and saw it set up a liberal constitution with a king at the head of the government. Several of the small German governments also adopted more liberal forms. Poland broke into rebellion and before its power of resistance was crushed by Russia the infection spread into Lithuania and Podolia. At last the arms of the tsar overpowered all resistance and peace reigned; but the reactionaries were sobered, and the dream of a league to enforce repression passed away.

Glancing backward we may see through what a development the ideas of reform had passed. Europe, distressed by the wars of 1800–1815, had hungered for peace. Having issued from a decade of discussion of liberty and humanity, the friends of freedom were more than ordinarily earnest for replacing war by an age of reason. In our own day the cause of universal peace stands on a broader and better laid foundation than a hundred years ago, but it is, perhaps, no more impressive. At any rate the philosophically inclined men of the earlier period supported Kant and Rousseau, among them, Alexander I. A81 considerable portion of the world believed that the outcome of the war madness then reigning must be an era of sanity.

We have seen that two plans of improvement were formed in the minds of men who were in position to have practical influence: the tsar’s scheme for a league, or federation, that was so strongly integrated that the central authority should be able to enforce its commands upon constituent states; and the plan of Castlereagh for prolonging the existing system of coöperation in a form which we may call the Concert of the Great Powers. We have seen that the tsar’s plan, ignored at first, was seized on by Metternich as a possibility for enforcing a system of reaction, that it met the opposition of Great Britain and aroused the revolutionary protest of 1830, and thus it came to an end. It was never the dream of any of the philosophers that a federation should be formed which might become an engine of despotism, yet practical use showed that such a course was within the bounds of possibility. The mere glimpse of such a thing was enough to make Europe prefer the old era of wars.

82 One does not have to look far into the situation to see that the real failure of the plan was due to the wide use of arbitrary government in Europe. Had Austria, Russia, and Prussia been ruled by the people, either as republics or as liberal monarchies, the great alliance of Europe could hardly have been turned to the side of repression; and under the guidance of enlightened statesmen it might have been the beginning of a long era of peace and international good will. The failure of the nineteenth century, therefore, does not prove that federation is essentially impossible. It only proves that a century ago the world was not ready to employ it successfully.



The revolutionary movement of 1830 did not destroy the influence of Metternich in Europe. He was too able a man to be overthrown as leader of the legitimists merely because the people were in a ferment. To his party he was still the man to be trusted, and as legitimacy managed to beat down revolution in most of the areas in which commotion appeared, the scope of his power was wide, although it was evident that he could not use it with former impunity.

At the same time he gave up the pretense of making the Alliance of the Powers a federation. He was content to try to secure that concert of action that would enable the states that leaned to legitimacy to act together against incipient revolution; and for a time he was successful. In anticipation of the failure of the plan to permit France to interfere in the Spanish colonies, Canning exclaimed: “Things are getting back84 to a wholesome state again. Every nation for itself and God for us all!” But the cry of joy was premature. The time had not returned in which each crisis was to be met in its own way, without reference to a recognized concert of action, and the reason was the deep consciousness of the states that certain grave questions that ever hung over the horizon had in them the possibilities of general war. Let one of these questions loom large, and common action was taken to avert the threatened danger. In such way the Concert of Europe was kept alive, and remained something to be reckoned with as a part of the background of European policy. In spite of its temporary disuse, it was a thing to be brought forth again if the nations decided that it was needed to meet an emergency.

In fact, it reappeared many times in the course of the nineteenth century, notably in 1840, when the so-called Eastern question became prominent. At that time Mehemet Ali, who had made himself lord of Egypt and seized Syria, was threatening Constantinople, having the support of France. Russia became alarmed, made a close alliance with the sultan, and seemed about85 to get that secure foothold on the Bosphorus for which she had striven many years. Great Britain, Austria, and Prussia resented this prospect and took steps jointly to counteract it. Their object was to preserve Turkey from the dangers that threatened to divide her. Before such a combination Russia was not able to stand, and she gave up her pretensions in order to join the other three powers. France, however, held to her purpose, supporting the adventurer of Egypt. Thus it happened that the four Great Powers, reviving the Concert of Europe, but leaving out the government of Louis Philippe, had a conference in London to settle Eastern affairs. They decided to offer Mehemet Ali certain concessions and to make war on him if he refused to accept them. He spurned their counsel and was expelled from Syria but was saved from utter destruction by the interference of France, who secured a settlement by which he was left in firm possession of Egypt, as hereditary ruler under the nominal authority of Turkey. All the powers now united in an agreement by which Turkey was to exclude foreign warships from the Dardanelles. Thus, by an86 appeal to the principle of the Concert of Europe, a grave crisis was averted, and war between Great Britain and Russia was avoided.

In 1848, seven years after the conclusion of these negotiations, Europe was thrown into convulsions by the appearance of a new era of revolution. France became a republic, and Germany, Austria, and Hungary went through such violent upheavals that the existence of arbitrary government hung for a time in the balance. Out of the struggle emerged Napoleon III, of France, who thought some military achievement was necessary to stabilize his power. At that time Russia was asserting a protectorate over all Christians in Turkey, and it was generally believed that she was about to establish vital political control. Napoleon took up the sword against her and Great Britain came to help, the result being the Crimean War, 1854–1856.

In the beginning of this struggle the Concert of Europe seemed to be dead, but two years of heavy fighting and nearly futile losses brought it to life again. The war, which began in an outburst of international rivalry, ended in the Conference of Paris, 1856, in which all the Great87 Powers but Prussia undertook to settle the Eastern question by neutralizing the Euxine and the Danube and by making new allotments of territory which were supposed to adjust boundaries in such a manner that rivalries would disappear. The Conference went on to take up the work of a true European congress by agreeing upon the Declaration of Paris, in which were assembled a body of rules regulating neutral trade in time of war. England gave up her long defended pretension to seize enemy goods on neutral ships and neutral goods on enemy ships, and in return gained the recognition that privateering was unlawful. Thus the Crimean War, fought by Great Britain and France against Russia, and in support of Turkey—with Austria and Prussia as neutrals—was at last ended by an agreement between all the parties concerned. The nations undertook to settle the long Eastern dispute by pledging the sultan to reforms which it was not in his nature to carry out.

The next three wars were fought without respect to the Concert of Europe. They arose from local causes and were soon determined without the aid of the Great Powers. They were the88 war of Austria and France over the liberation of Italy, 1859; the war between Prussia and Austria, 1866, in which Prussia overthrew the Austrian predominancy in Germany; and the Franco-Prussian war in 1870–1871, in which Prussia crushed France and made herself the head of the German Empire. In the first of these struggles no state could gain enough power to become a menace to the other states, since Italy was to be the recipient of all territory gained. Had the contest gone so far as to promise the vast enlargement of the power of France by reason of an alliance with enlarged Italy, interference might have resulted. In fact, the German states began to suspect such a result, and the realization of it was one of Napoleon’s reasons for withdrawing very unceremoniously from the war. Here we see, therefore, that the principle of concert was not entirely dead. The second and third wars were fought by a brilliantly organized state, Prussia, with whose successful armies no nation cared to make a trial of strength.

In 1877 Russia made war on Turkey and proceeded with such energy that she soon forced the sultan to sign the treaty of San Stefano, altogether89 in favor of Russia. The particulars of the struggle belong to another chapter,7 but here it is only necessary to point out that the Concert of Europe was now suddenly revived by the Great Powers, and Russia was forced to submit her well won victory to the Congress of Berlin, which scaled down the awards of San Stefano until Russia might well ask what was left of her victory. A similar thing happened in the Balkan War of 1912–1913. Here the parties concerned had fought their quarrel out to the end and had nearly expelled Turkey from Europe, dividing the spoils among themselves. Then in stepped the Great Powers, prescribing in a treaty at London the limits of gain to the successful contestants. They acted in the interest of peace; for Austria, watching the actions of Serbia and Greece, let it be known that she would not allow Serbia to have Albania, and the Powers interfered in order to prevent such action from kindling a great European war.

7 See below, p. 112.

Thus in three notable wars, the Crimean War, the Russo-Turkish War, and the Balkan War, the action of the Great Powers was not to prevent90 war, but to neutralize its gains. So far did this principle go that writers were known to suggest that war would no longer be profitable to nations, since in a Concert of Europe the Great Powers would ever nullify the gains of the contestants.

At this time concert had come to mean another thing than it meant in the decade after the fall of Napoleon. Then it was a fixed system of consultation and decision in anticipation of some issue that threatened war: now it was concerted action to keep a local war from going so far as to involve a general conflict. It was a last resort in the presence of dire danger. A more present means of preserving peace was the Balance of Power, which consisted in forming the states in groups one of which balanced another group and prevented the development of overwhelming strength. The principle was well known in the past history of Europe, but it was never so clearly defined in the remote past as in the last half century. For our purposes its modern phase begins after the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871.

Before that time Prussia was strong in Europe91 but not over-whelmingly great. On one side was Austria, long her enemy, and on the other was France. Within five years they were defeated with such quick and crushing blows that the world was startled and the Germans themselves were as much astonished as delighted. Out of this brilliant period of success arose the German Empire, with Prussia for its corner-stone and Bismarck for its builder and guardian. Immediately a singular thing happened. One would hardly expect that a beaten state would straightway form an alliance with the power that had humiliated her; yet such a relation was established between Germany and Austria, and it has lasted to this day. Where Germany has loved Austria has loved, where Germany has hated Austria has hated, and the ambition of one has been supported by the other. Bismarck’s policy had this state of friendship in view and he gave Austria generous terms of peace in 1866, when she was at his feet. Common blood bound the two states together and later led to the hope of unification in a great Pan-German empire.

With France, however, the empire which Bismarck92 founded was to have no such state of amity. Between them was no brotherhood, not even in the tenuous bonds of the theory of the rights of man. Back of 1871 were many acts of aggression, many bitter wars, and some very humiliating experiences for states inhabited by Germans. And now the tables were turned. France was weak and the often beaten Germans were strong and victorious. Their vengeance was expressed in the long siege of Paris, the proclamation of the German Empire in the château of the old French kings, the humiliating indemnity levied on the French people, and the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine, so long in the quiet keeping of France that they were thoroughly French in sympathy and political purpose. Bismarck usually ruled his heart with his head, but he lost himself for the moment when he sent a defeated neighbor under the yoke of needless disgrace, and Germany has paid the price many times over in maintaining a great army and parrying the diplomatic thrusts of France. The hostile feelings thus engendered gave rise to the particular kind of balance of power that has existed in Europe since 1871;93 for on whatever side Germany was found France was on the other, and however the elements shifted in the grouping of nations these two states were always opponents.

It was Bismarck’s idea to form an alliance so powerful that no other state nor group of states would dare attack it, and by holding his allies in hand to preserve peace. That was the way the Balance of Power was to serve to prevent war. For his purpose he formed what was known as the Three Emperors’ League, consisting of the rulers of Germany, Russia, and Austria. The combination was weak in one important point; for Russia and Austria had rival hopes of territorial gains in the Near East, and they were not likely to remain permanently in accord. With an eye to such a disruption of the alliance Bismarck looked about for another state which could be added to the group. He turned to Italy, bound to him because he had befriended her in her struggle for nationality.

To bring Italy into the alliance was not easy; for she was bitterly hostile to Austria, who still held the unredeemed part of the Italian people and who was still hated in the peninsula for her94 ancient oppression of Italian provinces. The Iron Chancellor generally carried his point, partly because of his personal ability and partly because it was felt that he could and would live up to his promises. He showed the king of Italy the advantages the kingdom would have under German protection, which would support it against France, strengthen it in the quarrel with the pope, and even hold back Austria if that power was inclined to pay off old scores. These arrangements were completed in 1882 and gave rise to the Triple Alliance, until 1914 a strong factor in European affairs. The greatness of Bismarck is well shown in the fact that he could carry this plan through and still retain Russia in coöperation with Austria and Germany. Until he retired from office in 1890 he had the support of the tsar.

After he withdrew the union of the three emperors was dissolved. But for his strong hand it could hardly have been formed. Russia and Austria were at bottom rivals. If Germany supported Russia in her plans for the Near East she would offend Austria, and if she lent herself to Austria she would lose Russia. Moreover, if95 she favored Russia openly she was likely to arouse the opposition of Great Britain, who was at that time very suspicious of the tsar’s designs on Constantinople. It was a delicate situation, and it was only good luck and Bismarck’s character that kept it intact for more than fifteen years.

After 1890 the Triple Alliance continued its existence, Italy suppressing her dislike for Austria as well as she could in view of her need of strong friends among the nations. But Russia fell away and in 1895 announced that she had formed a Dual Alliance with France, a thing which Bismarck had been very solicitous to prevent. By holding Russia in hand he had been able to isolate France in Europe, but her isolation was now a thing of the past. The Dual Alliance confronted the Triple Alliance and the result was peace. At the same time the rivalry of Russia and Austria over Turkey became more energetic, which tended to increase the probability of war.

Succeeding Bismarck came German statesmen who were not so steady as he, and their weaker hold on the situation added to the gravity96 of the prospects of peace. It can hardly be doubted that the fall of Bismarck lessened the prospect that Europe would remain at peace. The Balance of Power, which took so clear a form with the organization of the Dual Alliance, was not as good a guarantee of peace as it seemed; for while it made the checking of powers by powers more apparent, its very existence was evidence of a state of stronger rivalry of nations than existed before the Dual Alliance was formed. At the same time the men who now guided the fortunes of Germany were not so convinced as Bismarck that the country should have peace.

While these things happened Great Britain remained generally neutral. She was busy with trade expansion and the development of her colonies, especially in Africa; and her chief interest, so far as the schemes of the Continental nations were concerned, was to see that none of them interfered with her progress in that field of endeavor. Late in Bismarck’s time, however, she became convinced that Germany was becoming a rival both in trade and colonization. It is true that France was also a rival, and between97 her and Great Britain occurred some sharp passages; but France was not an aggressive nation and had no strong military resources to back her ambitions in the field of peaceful activities. Germany, on the other hand, was increasingly militaristic and the logic of events seemed to indicate that she would at some time in the future be willing to support her commercial and colonial ambition with a formidable appeal to arms. British anxiety was quickened when the young kaiser began to build a great navy, with the avowed object of making it equal to the British navy. For centuries it had been the key-note of British policy to have a navy that could control the seas; and while there was nothing in the will of Father Adam that gave Britons the dominion of the seas, the kaiser must have known that he could not challenge their superiority on water without arousing their gravest apprehension. During the Boer war (1899–1902) Germany gave added offense to Britain. She showed sympathy openly for the Boers, and it was generally believed in Great Britain that she took advantage of the opportunity to try to form a grand alliance to curb the power of the “Mistress98 of the Seas.” Rumor said that the plan was defeated only by the refusal of France to lend her assistance unless she received Alsace-Lorraine. If the report is true, it only shows what a costly thing to Germany was the hatred that Bismarck created when he put France to the humiliating dismemberment of 1871.

During this period Théophile Delcassé was head of the French foreign office (1898–1905). He was a man of great original ability and was desirous of restoring the prestige of France. When he came into office the French public was excited over the Fashoda incident, a clash of French and British interests in the Sudan which seemed to threaten war. The British government took a strong attitude, as it was likely at that time to do, when it felt that it was dealing with a weaker nation. Delcassé realized that the true welfare of his country demanded friendship with the one power which could help it against Germany, and at the risk of denunciation at home he gave up all that Great Britain demanded in the Sudan. He thus showed that he possessed that high trait of statesmanship99 which consists in the ability to convert an opponent into a firm friend.

The opportunity to which he was looking forward came when Germany set her plans into operation during the Boer war. He not only held out for the return of the lost provinces but, that failing, made overtures for a better understanding with the British. It was a time when a friendly hand was gladly received by the London government. The result was a series of agreements which became known as the Entente Cordiale, 1904. They marked the reappearance of Great Britain as a leading power in Continental affairs, after a long period of aloofness. She had become an active part of the Balance of Power, and her strength was thrown to the side which was bent on restraining the vast influence of Germany. Her action caused great alarm at Berlin, where her motive was interpreted as commercial jealousy, the statesmen of that city apparently forgetting that they had provoked it by their unfriendly attitude in the Boer war.

In the same year began the Russo-Japanese100 war (1904–1905). At first glance it would seem that this conflict threatened to weaken the Entente Cordiale, for Japan was allied to Great Britain and Russia was bound up with France by the Dual Alliance. But the result was just the opposite. The Entente was not only left intact, but it was actually strengthened. When Japan defeated Russia, Great Britain ceased to fear Russian aggression in the Far East, which made it possible for her to draw nearer to the Muscovite power. At the same time, Russia, always seeking an outlet to the sea, turned her eyes with greater eagerness than ever to the Near East, which brought her into a more intense state of opposition to Austria and Germany. Delcassé seized the opportunity offered him and succeeded in bringing together these two great nations, which for many years had been continually ready to fly at one another. He put into motion the negotiations out of which was formed the Triple Entente (1907) in which Great Britain, France, and Russia announced that they had settled their differences and would stand together in future crises.

The incidents that followed the culmination101 of Delcassé’s diplomacy are very striking, but they must be deferred until I reach a later stage of my subject. Here it is only proper to observe that it brought the theory of the Balance of Power to its logical development. Delcassé was in a world in which one great and most efficiently armed nation stood in a position to turn suddenly on the rest of Europe and sweep it into her lap. By her military and naval power, by her vast trained army, by her readiness for instantaneous action, by her well planned strategic railroads, and by her alliances with the middle-European states she was in a threatening position. At a given signal she could seize great domains, fortify herself, and defy all the world to drive her out of what she had taken. There was hardly an intelligent German who did not believe that this course would be followed in the near future and who did not feel confident that it would make Germany the dominating nation of the world. Against this system the Triple Entente was formed, as a means of balance. It was larger than the Triple Alliance but not so effectively led.

And here I must observe that these two groups102 had come into existence in the most natural way. Bismarck had founded the Triple Alliance as a means of preserving peace, not as a means of aggression; but it had become something more than he intended it to be. It had enabled Germany to play such a part in European politics that the creation of another great group as a balance was apparently demanded. Immediately that her position was lowered Germany felt aggrieved that the combination had been made against her. So powerful were her convictions about her wrongs that she threw away all thought of a concert of the Great Powers for the settlement of the difficulty. She had trusted to the Balance to protect her; but she now considered it something more than a state of equilibrium and she appealed to arms. Before this narrative recounts the actual events by which she felt that she was justified in taking this step, it is necessary to consider the Balkan question, a series of causes and events which for nearly a century has been an open menace to European peace and stability.



Viscount Grey has been criticized for not understanding the Balkan problem. If his critics understood how complex is the story of the last century in this part of Europe they would withold their strictures. I, at least, do not blame any man for failing to carry in his mind an appreciation of all that the mixed mass of races and religions in the Balkan country have striven and hoped for during the recent past. In this chapter the best that can be promised is an account of the main facts of Balkan history. A more detailed narrative would be confusing to the reader. A failure to mention the subject would leave much unexplained that is essential to an understanding of the origin of the present war. And we shall hardly know how to decide what kind of a peace the future security of Europe demands, if we leave out of consideration the proper disposition to be made of the small states of the Southeast.

104 In 1453 Turkey took Constantinople and began a series of conquests that carried her to the very gates of the city of Vienna. That important stronghold seemed about to fall into her hands in 1683, when an army of Polish and German soldiers came to its rescue in the name of Christianity, drove off the infidels, and wrenched Hungary out of their hands for the benefit of the Austrian power. This struggle proved the highwater mark of Turkish conquest in Europe. From that time to this, wars of reconquest have followed one another, the pagans always playing a losing game. But for a long time all that part of Southeastern Europe that could be reached from the Black Sea was held by the Turks, the part that was easily reached from Germany was held by the Christians, and the part that lay between, a broad belt of hilly country, was continually in dispute. Across it armies fought back and forth, each side winning and losing in turn, but with the general result in favor of the Christians, who slowly pushed back the frontier of their enemies.

The region held by the Turks was tenacious of its Christian faith and recognized the religious105 authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who, Christian though he was, stood under the control of the sultan. The inhabitants suffered many hardships and were reduced to the condition of serfs under Mohammedan masters. The long bondage to their overlords had a peculiar effect on their characters. They came to think it right to use fraud, violence, and subterfuge against their oppressors, and so they employed religion and patriotism to defend the commission of acts which in ordinary situations are considered without the pale of civilized conduct. To this day the Balkan states are not rid of their heritage from these years of moral darkness.

The Balkan people, ruled long as Turkish subjects, have gradually formed themselves into five principal groups as follows: the Serbians, dwelling in the interior of the country northwest of Turkey proper and occupying much of the hinterland lying east of the Adriatic; the Bulgars, settled east of the Serbs and extending as far as the shores of the Black Sea; the Wallachians and Moldavians, who were of kindred stock and became known as Rumanians because they believed themselves the descendants of the inhabitants106 of the ancient Roman colony of Dacia; the Albanians living along the lower eastern shores of the Adriatic; and the Montenegrins, of the same race as the Serbians, who defended themselves so well in their mountain strongholds that they could say they had never been conquered by the Turks. Many race elements entered into these groups, but the Serbs and Montenegrins were largely Slavic, while the Bulgars were generally of a distinct race of Asiatic origin, and the Rumanians were generally Vlachs, a name given to the Latin speaking population of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Albanians seem to be of mixed stock, but they have a strong sense of nationality. These five groups correspond respectively to the five civil divisions that have emerged from the Turkish provinces, each playing its part in the modern Balkan problem.

Montenegro aside, the first group to become a state was Serbia, whose hardy mountain inhabitants rose in revolt in 1804. A number of brave leaders appeared and valley by valley the Turks were forced out of the country. The Serbs were practically independent for a time,107 but the sultan did not acquiesce in their freedom, and the constant preparedness that was necessary to repel any attack he might launch was a source of much expense and anxiety to the people.

In 1821 the Greeks, also under the domination of Turkey, rose in revolt. Great sympathy was aroused in the rest of Europe and in spite of the disposition of the Great Powers to allow Turkey a free hand to preserve her territory intact, lest one of them gain over-balancing territory, public opinion forced them to intervene. The first to show sympathy was Russia, who had an interest in making herself the protector of the Christians in Turkey. The other powers resented her assistance to the Greeks, and finally Great Britain and France united in a project of intervention, sending a joint fleet to the Mediterranean which destroyed the Turkish fleet at Navarino in 1827. The stubborn sultan remained unyielding, and in 1828 Russia entered the war openly, having come to an agreement with the other Powers. She sent an army across the border which carried all before it, and the sultan was forced to make the treaty of Adrianople, in which Turkey recognized the independence108 of Greece and acknowledged Serbia as an autonomous state under Turkish suzerainty. At the same time Wallachia and Moldavia, where Rumans lived, were recognized as independent under a Russian protectorate. Thus one sovereign and three dependent but locally autonomous states stood forth out of the confused and misgoverned Christian area of Turkey in Europe.

The rest of the region, occupied by Bulgars and Albanians, with Bosnia and Herzegovina, claimed by the Serbs as legitimate parts of their national habitat, remained in an unredeemed condition and were governed by agents appointed by the sultan. Montenegro retained her position of practical independence, which Turkey had been forced to acknowledge in 1799. These arrangements were confirmed in a more formal treaty in 1832.

The successes of this period quickened the spirit of nationality in the Balkans. Just as the Greeks were swept by a wave of enthusiasm for their classical culture and sought to revive the language and ideals of the remote past, so the Balkan peoples set out to revive their ancient109 culture, long obscured by the shadow of Turkish masters. Serbs, Rumans, and Bulgars made grammars of their own languages, gathered up what was preserved of their ancient literatures and traditions, taught their children to revere the national heroes, and sought in many other ways to stimulate the spirit of nationality. The Slavic portion turned to Russia for support, whom they called their “big brother,” while the Rumans cultivated an appreciation of Italy and France, whom they considered kindred descendants of the ancient Romans. To their national hopes in these things was added the desire for religious independence. They disliked being under the ecclesiastical authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was appointed by the sultan, and looked forward to a time when they might have exarchs of their own, with jurisdiction not limited by the Patriarch.

In 1854 Russia was ready for another advance in the region of the Balkans, hoping to gain at last what Peter the Great had declared was essential to her progress, a window looking out on the Mediterranean. Great Britain and France came to the help of the sultan and the Crimean110 War followed. After a hard struggle it ended in Russia’s defeat, and at the Conference of Paris, 1856, the affairs of the Balkans were again up for settlement, but this time the victory leaned to the side of the Turk, although it was modified by the restraining hand of his two allies. The purport of the treaty was to reduce the power of Russia, and in doing so the aspirations of the Balkans states were checked. The protectorate the tsar had established over Wallachia and Moldavia was destroyed, and Bulgars, who had expected independence, remained under the rule of the sultan, while Greece, who had desired a large portion of Macedonia, was forced to continue in her old boundaries. This crisis was not the last in which the vexed Balkan question, seemingly near solution, was made to give way before the complicated problems of the general European situation. Looking backward we may well say that if Russia had secured her wish, expelled the Turk from Constantinople and liberated the Balkan states, the fortunes of France would not have been lessened, and Great Britain, safe through her supremacy at sea, would not have lost any of the strength she had in India.111 At the same time the sore spot of European relations would have been healed, and we should probably have had no war in 1914.

Wallachia and Moldavia were of the same stock and wished to unite as one kingdom. They made their desires known in the negotiations that resulted in the Treaty of Paris, but the Powers did not mean to create a large state on the borders of Russia which might prove a bulwark of influence for the tsar, and accordingly they denied the request. The two states found a way to accomplish their desire, soon after the conference at Paris adjourned. Meeting to select rulers each chose Alexander John Cuza simultaneously, and after hesitating two years the Powers acknowledged him as king. Thus was formed the united kingdom of Rumania; and its formation illustrated a weak point in the Concert of Europe. However much the Powers might interfere to prevent the consummation of an act they considered dangerous, they would think twice before trying to punish a Balkan state, since in doing so they might set off an explosion in the very system they were working to keep peaceful. Rumania understood this112 phase of the matter and took her chances. Her firm course had its reward.

The influence of Great Britain was now paramount at Constantinople. The sultan was satisfied with his ally, since he knew that of all the Powers he had least to fear from this state, which had no territories in that part of the Mediterranean and was committed to the preservation of his rule as a means of keeping Russia away from the Bosphorus. To justify herself for defending the Turk, Great Britain gave the world assurances that the sultan was about to become good. Under her insistance a series of reforms was announced, but they did not go far in the realization. Some of the promises referred to the government of the Balkans, but they were as fruitless as the others. Meanwhile French and British merchants found large profits in Turkish trade.

The tsar was humiliated by his loss of influence in the Southeast, and in 1877 he began another war against Turkey. He thought the time favorable for such action. Impeded for a while at Plevna, in Bulgaria, he at last swept the enemy before him and took Adrianople on January 16,113 1878. His successes created great enthusiasm among the Serbs, Bulgars, and Rumans, who flocked to his victorious standard. The panic-stricken sultan sued for peace and at San Stefano signed a treaty which granted all that was demanded of him. Serbia, Montenegro, and Rumania were recognized as completely independent, Bulgaria as an autonomous tributary province, and Bosnia and Herzegovina were assured of important administrative reforms. Russia was awarded some territory not strictly in the Balkans, but her greatest gain was the prestige she now had as liberator of Christian states.

The treaty of San Stefano alarmed Great Britain and Austria, both of whom felt that they had major interests at stake. They got a congress of the Great Powers to meet at Berlin, 1878, which revised the treaty in what they were pleased to call the interest of European peace. Complete independence was announced for Serbia, Rumania, and Montenegro, and the sultan accepted the fact of their perfect sovereignty. By the treaty of San Stefano Bulgaria was to include Macedon and eastern Rumelia, making one great buffer province between the Turkish114 and the Christian states. The three parts were now left distinct, Bulgaria proper being autonomous but under Turkish suzerainty, and the other two less independent.

To create a “Big Bulgaria” as a bulwark against Turkey had been Russia’s chief hope in the war. Her initial success awakened enthusiasm in all the Balkan people, and the results were expressed in the way in which they rallied to her aid. At last, said the onlookers, an opportunity had come to found a strong Balkan confederacy which would play an important part in the development of the Near East. The hand of Russia seemed strong enough to hold these nascent states to one policy, allay their incipient jealousies, and bring them to a great common ideal. If such a course could have been adopted the future of Europe would have been profoundly altered. It was defeated by that Concert of Europe which was supposed to exist in order that the world might be spared the burden of war. It was really prevented through the operation of the forces of national selfishness, safely esconced in the system which we have called the Concert of Europe.

115 The ambition of Austria-Hungary played a large part at the Congress of Berlin. This nation had long looked upon the region that separated her from the Adriatic as a sphere through which she was justified in extending her power at the expense of Turkey, and she now felt that the time had come to realize her plans. If she waited, Russia would acquire such an influence as to forestall Austrian advancement. Her eyes were fixed on Bosnia and Herzegovina, for some time in revolt against Turkish misgovernment. Her influence was such that the congress gave her the right to occupy and administer the two provinces under the reservation of sovereignty to the sultan. The inhabitants, who were largely Slavic, were forced to accept the decision, although they did not relax their cherished hopes of independence. They were pawns thrown to Austria as a balance for the gains of Russia. The transaction only whetted the Austrian appetite for more and deepened the Serbian resentment for Austria.

Great Britain had her advantage out of the bargain also. She retained her position of paramount friend at Constantinople, justifying herself116 with the assurance that the sultan would carry out reforms in his empire. She seemed to think that the “Sick Man of Europe” would cure himself under her guidance and then defend himself against states that tried to oust him from his seat of power. To enable her to watch the bedside of her patient from a convenient position, as well as to safeguard the Suez Canal, Great Britain was given the right to occupy and administer the island of Cyprus under nominal authority of Turkey. To be perfectly fair we must admit that there is little moral difference between her acquisition of Cyprus and Austria’s gain in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and it is clear that in this case the Concert of Europe was a concert for the gain of selfish ends. It is also worth while to note that two of the Great Powers took no benefit from the agreement. France was slowly recovering from the war of 1870–1871 and was in no condition to fight, although in 1881 she established a protectorate over Tunis. The German Empire, newly founded and not yet fully adapted to the imperial system, was also in no condition to undertake a stiff encounter. There were many Germans who wished that their117 government should not allow the other states to get large gains of territory while Germany got nothing; but they yielded to Bismarck’s wise policy which held that it was not yet time for Germany to assume an aggressive position in the world. The impatience of the German patriots lost nothing through having to wait.

No treaty ends the march of time, and the Balkan situation continued to develop along the old lines. In 1881 Greece acquired Thessaly in accordance with a promise made to her at the Congress of Berlin. In 1885 East Rumelia declared herself united to Bulgaria, acting in defiance of the will of the Congress of Berlin. The Powers did not interfere for the same reason that they did not act when Wallachia and Moldavia united in 1862. To attempt to undo the union would have precipitated a general war. The Concert was stronger to prevent a given action than to correct it after it was done. Serbia, however, took the action of the two provinces as a menace and declared war against the new state of Bulgaria. She seemed about to throw herself on her adversary when she suddenly118 made peace, evidently feeling she was not strong enough to carry on the war alone.

Thenceforth the Powers showed that they did not mean to allow the Balkan states to profit by seizing parts of the decaying Turkish Empire. But for their restraint it seems that the Turk would have been expelled from Europe before the end of the nineteenth century.

Their intention was clearly manifested in regard to the island of Crete, whose population long suffered from Turkish oppression. In 1896 the island was in revolt and the sultan was forced to promise reforms. The assurance proved empty and in 1897 Greece interfered in behalf of Crete. In the war that followed the Greeks fought heroically but alone and were no match for Turkey in operations on land. They made peace without success, but through the instrumentality of the Great Powers the sultan agreed to allow Crete self-government under an elected assembly. The powers let it be known that they would not have the island annexed to Greece, which they did not mean to make a preponderating influence in the Balkans. Now appeared a great Cretan leader, Eleutherios Venezelos,119 whom his admirers call the Cavour of Greece. Under his influence the Cretan assembly voted the union of the island with Greece in 1905, but again the Powers interposed, insisting that the sovereignty of the sultan should not be abrogated. However, they permitted the Greek king to appoint a representative to rule the island as a Turkish fief, and Greek officers were allowed to train the Cretan soldiers and police. At last the Balkan war (1912–1913) brought the completion of union, the Great Powers yielding their assent.

The explanation of the conduct of the Powers in this incident is to be found in the delicate nature of the whole Balkan question. With Austria and Russia keenly aroused and each of the Balkan states anxiously looking for the moment when the rest of the sultan’s territory in Europe was to be divided between them, it was evident that a little thing could precipitate a serious conflict. It was in view of this phase of the situation that the Balkans were called “the tinder-box of Europe.”

It will be observed that while these things happened the Balkan states were developing120 steadily in national resources and spirit. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania became vitally organized powers, it became more and more evident that they were no longer mere pawns in the diplomatic game, and the time was fast approaching when they would wish to take parts on their own initiative. So assertive were they becoming that it was certain that the time would soon come when the Great Powers would tire of the process of holding conferences to keep these states out of trouble. It is not an easy task to serve as custodian for a “tinder-box.”

A fair warning of this kind of danger occurred in 1908. For twenty-three years Bulgaria had remained undisturbed, giving herself to a rapid process of educational and industrial development, in both of which lines she had come under the influence of German methods. Suddenly she threw off her nominal Turkish sovereignty and declared herself an entirely independent state. At the same time, and evidently by agreement with the German Empire, Austria-Hungary announced that she would hold Bosnia-Herzegovina as an integral part of her empire, thus superseding the “occupation”121 that was authorized by the congress of Berlin, in 1878. Serbia took the matter as a great injury, but she could do nothing alone. Her natural ally was Russia, then recovering from the severe losses of the war against Japan. Had the tsar been ready for war it is doubtful if he would have drawn the sword in this instance; for a world war would have resulted, and the nations were not yet ready to think of such an undertaking. But Serbia nursed her wrongs and to Russia the sense of her shame grew as she thought how her weakness had been flaunted in the face of the world. The day came when the fire could no longer be smothered.

To understand Serbia’s feelings we must recall the national ideal by which her hopes had been formed for many years. Most of the people of Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Novi-Bazar, and the northwestern corner of Macedonia were Serbs by blood. To unite them into a great Serbia had long been spoken of in Serbia as the “Great Idea.” When, therefore, Austria took definite possession of Bosnia-Herzegovina the “Great Idea” seemed defeated forever. Rage and despair possessed the Serbs122 wherever they lived, patriotic societies voiced the feeling of the people, and vengeance was plotted. Probably it was the feeling that this wide-spread hatred should be uprooted in the most thorough manner that prompted Austria to make the heavy conditions that were demanded as atonement for the crime of Sarajevo.

After Austria took the fateful step of 1908 Turkey still held the territory just north of the Bosphorus, organized as the province of Adrianople. She also had in Europe the provinces of Macedonia, Albania, and the sanjak of Novi-Bazar. To drive her out of these possessions was the object of the Balkan states. In 1911 Italy began a war against the sultan to gain Tripoli. The Balkan States seeing their enemy embarrassed, concluded that the hour of fate had come. They formed the Balkan League, made up of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro, and made ready for war. Their action alarmed the Great Powers, who brought the Concert of Europe to bear against the League. They gave the allies fair notice that they would not permit them to take any of the sultan’s territory in Europe, even though123 a war was won against him. The reply to this threat shows how weak the Concert had become. It was voiced by Montenegro, the smallest of the states, whose king immediately declared war and called on his allies to aid him in driving the pagan out of Europe. The call was accepted gladly and an ultimatum was sent to the sultan, who, relying on the promise of the Powers, defied his opponents.

In the war that followed Turkey was confronted by a united army of nearly a million men. It was impossible to withstand them and in two months most of Macedonia was lost, Constantinople was threatened, and Turkey asked for an armistice. Negotiations began in London, the Powers seemingly forgetting their empty threat that they “would not permit at the end of the conflict any modification of the territorial status quo in European Turkey.” The allies demanded hard terms which seemed about to be accepted by Turkey when by a coup d’état the “Young Turks,” a patriotic party of reformers, got possession of the government at Constantinople and resumed the fighting. Although they fought well, they could not withstand the large124 numbers that were against them. Janina fell to the Greeks, Adrianople was taken by a Serbo-Bulgarian force, and Scutari was taken by the Montenegrins. The Turks now yielded definitely and negotiations for peace were resumed.

Behind the diplomatic proceedings was the following interesting situation: Austria-Hungary was dismayed at the prospect of having a strong and permanent league organized in the Balkans; for it would probably make it impossible for her to realize her desire to extend her territory in that direction. She was especially unwilling to allow Serbia and Montenegro to hold the conquered shore of the Adriatic, since it was here that she designed to gain additional outlets to the seas. Italy at the same time was alarmed at the extension of Serbian power, since she, also, did not relish the prospect of having a strong state on the eastern side of the sea. It was with unexpected short-sightedness, however, that she was willing to block Serbia in order to promote the schemes of Austria, a far more formidable rival in that quarter, if she were ever firmly established there. Both states, therefore, appeared at London to limit the expansion of Serbia, and125 Germany supported them, seemingly on the principle that she was merely standing by the members of the Triple Alliance. It has been supposed that she expected that Ferdinand, heir-apparent of Austria, when he came to rule, would promote a vital union of the two great Mid-Continental empires. If we accept this theory, we must conclude that she had a still more vital reason for wishing Austria to have a large Adriatic coast-line, with important commercial harbors.

These considerations ran exactly counter to Serbia’s hopes in Albania. She had already occupied the Albanian port of Durazzo and expected to make it the center of a fair commercial life. When ordered to withdraw she did not dare refuse; but it was a great humiliation to her to cut off the possibility of her future growth. For a second time Austria had given her a vital blow, and there was another wrong to be remembered by those Serbians who were inclined to remember. By the decree of the Powers Albania was made an autonomous state under Turkish suzerainty, and later on a German prince was appointed to rule it.

While these affairs were being discussed126 Montenegro besieged Scutari, in northern Albania and continued operation until the place was taken, notwithstanding the purpose of the Powers was well known. Her courageous conduct won the admiration of lovers of brave men everywhere. Eight days after the capture of Scutari, Austria announced that she would enter the war if the place was not evacuated, and Italy and Germany declared they would support her. Throughout all Slavic countries arose a cry of indignation. In Russia especially it was loud and bitter; and it seemed that a great war was about to begin when King Nicholas, of Montenegro, gave the world the assurance of peace by withdrawing his army from Scutari.

Then came that unhappy turn of affairs by which the Balkan League was dissolved and the hope disappeared that a strong power would arise which would take the Near East out of the position of pawn for the greed of the Great Powers. Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria had made an ante-bellum agreement for the disposal of the territory they would take from Turkey, and the first was to have a large part of Albania. Denied this region she asked her allies to make a new127 allotment. Bulgaria raised strong objection, since the new demand, if granted, would mean that her gains would be smaller than was first agreed. Angry speeches led to war, and after a sharp struggle Bulgaria was beaten and forced to make peace without honor. While they were locked in the conflict Turkey seized the opportunity to recover Adrianople, and eventually held it. It illustrates the sordid nature of some of the Balkan states that Rumania entered this war for purely predatory purposes. She had remained neutral during the common effort to drive the Turk out; but now that Bulgaria was marching to sure defeat she came into the battle against her, and at the end of the war she demanded and was given a large part of Bulgarian territory. The “July War,” as this stage of the Balkan conflict is called, left the allies filled with bitter hatred for one another, and Bulgaria, weakened as she was, felt little inclined to lean on any of her immediate neighbors. She was ripe for the reception of Teutonic offers of friendship, and the result was soon seen of all men.

I have thus followed the complex story of the Balkan States to the year 1913. Through a128 century of war and intrigue Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece, and the small state of Montenegro had emerged from the Christian lands over which the Turks had ruled. Russia and Austria had taken small portions of those lands and had definite plans to secure influence over larger portions. In the Balkans Russian prestige was great, but if a state feared it she was apt to look to Austria, or to Germany—which was the same thing—as a means of balancing against Russia. At the same time it was known that Russia was planning to construct strategic lines of railroad leading to the Black Sea along the western border of her empire, and this was considered an ominous sign for the future. Altogether, the “tinder-box” was ready for ignition.

As to Turkey, her fortunes shrank steadily. At the end of the Balkan War she retained only 1,900,000 subjects in Europe, inhabitants of the district around Adrianople. She was becoming a distinctly Asiatic power, and the sultan must have felt that his hold on Constantinople was precarious. At the same time, as we shall see later on, Great Britain had secured a foothold on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and Russia129 was extending her influence in Persia, two threats from the eastward. Any far sighted Turk could see that his country was in danger of being crushed in a vise of foreign aggression. To which of the great states should Turkey turn for that protection which had long been her safety? Not to Russia, whose ambition was for Constantinople itself, nor to Great Britain, who seemed to desire the Euphrates Valley, and who was safely established in Egypt. In her extremity she listened to the suggestions of German wooers, who promised industrial development, railroads, and financial aid. Here was laid the foundation of Turko-German sympathy which was to be very important in the Great War.

After a calamity has occurred it is easy to point out the course by which it might have been avoided. It seems certain that if we stood again where the world stood in 1914 we should not do what we did in 1914. So we can see in what respects the events of the Balkan history went wrong. But the men who settled the crises of the past were not able to see what we see. They had the same blindness for the future that we130 have for that which lies before us now. They fumbled their problems as most men fumble problems, as we shall, perhaps, go on fumbling until the end of time. It is asking much to expect that statesmen shall be as wise as we who review their deeds.

But there are great facts in history which it is possible to know and use with profit. One of them is the incompetency of the principle of the Concert of Europe to deal with a situation like that we have reviewed in the Balkans. Concert predicates a group of satisfied great states, without over-reaching ambitions, who are willing to unite their efforts to restrain small states, or even one large state, from a course which shall force the rest of the world into conflict. When a group of great states have united to carry out a certain policy, and another tries to restrain the first group, concert is in great danger of breaking down. That was the situation in the Balkans. These states were drawn into the whirl of general European politics, and they intensified its velocity at one particular corner, so that what may be contemplated as a harmonious rotary movement broke into a twisting tornado.131 If, when the present war is over, the nations of the world undertake to go on under the old system, trusting to concert as the means of avoiding war, there is no reason to expect that the future will be less turbulent than the past.



When wars begin between nations we usually see the leaders of thought on each side busy developing distrust among their own citizens for the people against whom they are fighting. In accordance with this fact, the people of the United States have read a great deal since August, 1914, to make them think very unkindly of Germany.

This chapter is not a plea for the Germans, and I agree that they did unnecessarily cruel and impossible things in Belgium. It is not to be denied that they played a most unwise part in the war game, when they tried to steal a march on France by invading through Belgium, a thing they were pledged not to do. It pays to keep faith; and when a nation does not keep faith other nations have no recourse but to treat it as if it were a pirate. If they do otherwise, the whole game will become a pirate’s game, and good faith will disappear from international relations.133 If Germany may violate Belgium at will, why may she not violate Switzerland, Holland, or any other state that stands in her way; and who would not expect her to do it, if no powers faced her that were willing and able to dispute her will?

It is not improbable that German leaders understood this as well as we who now pass it under review. They must have made their calculations on arousing the opposition of the world and proceeded with the expectation that they would gain so much by their sweep through forbidden Belgium that they could defy the world. And if things had gone well for them, the calculation would have been well made. For if Germany had carried France off her feet and placed her in a position to offer no further menace during the next ten years, and if she had dealt a similar blow to Russia, what power could have checked her in the future decade? By glancing at the situation in Europe today we may see how an intrenched Germany defies the united and unwhipped world. How much more might she not have had her way, if the thrust through Belgium had succeeded!

134 Let us suppose that the game of bad faith had proved successful as planned, what would have been the result? Probably Great Britain would have wakened slowly to her peril, but her position was such that she could have done nothing. Her fleet would have been useless against an enemy that rules on land. Her army could not have met the combined Teutonic armies, and she would have had no allies. Meanwhile, Germany and Austria at their leisure could have digested the Balkans and drawing Turkey into their net could have established a “Mittel-Europa” that would have left the rest of the world at their mercy. These were alluring stakes to play for, and it is not hard to see how a nation whose leaders have thrown aside the homely motto that “Righteousness exalteth a nation” would be willing to take a chance in order to obtain them.

When we think of such things as these we are in danger of concluding that they represent the real Germany. We look back to that Germany of the past which we saw in our youth, whose music we have heard all our lives, whose Goethe we have read, whose scholarship we have built upon, and whose toys have amused us and our135 children through many decades and ask ourselves whether or not we were mistaken in our ideas of Germany. Are there two Germanies, and if so, which is the true Germany? Probably the answer is that each is the real Germany manifesting herself in different moods. Fundamentally we have an intense and emotional people, swayed in one instance by artistic emotions, in another by the love of exact research for facts, in another by the feeling of domesticity, and in still another by the powerful impulse of a great national egoism. They are a people who can love much, hate much, play much, sacrifice much, and serve well when called into service. In their war-maddened mood they have stained a fair reputation, and they are now trying to think that the stain will not matter if they can only fight through to victory. But nations are like men in this that however successful one may become personally he never gets to be so great that he can afford to carry a tarnished reputation.

Let us turn to the Germany of old and see if we cannot observe the process by which she came to her present state of mind. While I realize that it is absolutely necessary for the136 world to crush her attempt to rule Europe, I cannot find it in my heart to hate her. She has risen to such a state of efficiency in social organization and in the capacity to spread the light of civilization that she commands respect from thinking foes. It is the duty of the world to chasten the spirit of arrogance out of her, but to leave her sound and able to deal with the future in that way in which she is so well fitted to play a strong and beneficial part. If ever a great people needed the discipline of disaster to teach them that nations, like men, should do to others as they wish others to do to them, that nation is the Germany of today. To understand in what way this splendid state has run away from its past we shall have to glance at its history in the recent past.

For a point of departure let us take the Seven Years’ War. This struggle was the result of the ambition of young Frederick, a strong and unethical king of Prussia. When he came to the throne he found that a parsimonious father had left him a full treasury, an excellent army, and a united kingdom, while fate had sent the neighboring state Austria, a young woman for ruler137 and an army that was not formidable. It was a favorable opportunity to seize Silesia, which Prussia considered necessary to her welfare, and to which she had the flimsiest pretense of right. The rapacity of Frederick, her king, cannot be justified on moral grounds, and it threw Europe into commotions for which nearly a quarter of a century was needed for settlement. The last phase of this quarter-of-a-century was the Seven Years’ War, 1756–1763. By the time it began Frederick of Prussia was looked upon by his neighbors as a menace to Europe; and Austria, France, and Russia united to crush him. He had a friend in Great Britain, who was generally found among the foes of France. In the great war he waged through seven years he fought off foes first on one side and then on the other until the war ended at last with Prussia still unconquered.

If hard and valiant fighting and solicitude for the welfare of his country could redeem the error of the invasion of Silesia the Seven Years’ War would relieve Frederick, whom posterity calls “Frederick the Great,” of all odium on account of the thoughtless way in which he began his138 wars. Unlike the present kaiser, he began a long reign rashly and ended it wisely. Administrative reforms and a policy of peace with his neighbors made his last years a period of happiness for Prussia.

But Silesia fixed a firm hold on the Prussian imagination. Long justified as an act necessary to the safety of the Fatherland, and therefore permissible, it has given sanction for the idea that wrong may be done that good shall result, if only the state is to be benefitted. It is a false doctrine, and it can do nothing but lead to wars. Nations are under the same obligations to do right as individuals.

The next phase of German history which has interest for us in connection with this study is that which lies between the years 1806 and 1813. It was a period of deep humiliation at the hands of Napoleon. The small states were huddled together in a Confederation which was, in fact, a tool of the Emperor of France, and Prussia lay like a trembling and crushed thing in his hand. No living man who hates Germany for the deeds of the present war could wish her a worse fate than Napoleon inflicted on her after the battle139 of Jena in 1806. He insulted the king, burdened the people with requisitions, and limited their armies. It was the acme of national shame for the nation that is now so strong.

The cause of these woes was the lack of organization, and perhaps Napoleon did the nation a service when he beat the Prussians into a realization of it. No nation is so poor that it has not reformers who see in what way its evils may be corrected. In the days that preceded the calamities of which I speak Prussia had her prophets crying to deaf men. Misfortune opened the ears of the rulers so that the prophets might be heard. Reforms were adopted out of which has grown the Germany of today. They all looked toward the unification of national energy, whatever its form; but they are expressed in three notable ways: universal military service, the correction of waste energy in civil life, and the inculcation of the spirit of obedience to authority. On these principles chiefly a new Germany was built.

We have said a great deal recently about crushing the German military system. Probably we do not know just what we mean in saying this. At least, it was not always our habit140 to decry the system. Many a time we have spoken with admiration of the reforms of Scharnhorst, of the glory of Leipzig and of the services of Blücher at Waterloo. If we stop to think we shall see that our real objection is the purpose for which the German military system has been used. And it seems that if it is to be broken into pieces it must be opposed with a stronger system built on a similar plan.

The next period that expresses Germany’s peculiar spirit is the era of Bismarck, 1862 to 1890. It was the time of the cult of iron. Bismarck was the “Iron Chancellor,” the nation offered its enemies “blood and iron.” Iron cannon, iron words, and iron laws became the ideals of the people. Statesmen, historians, poets, editors, professors, and all other patriots began to worship according to the rite of the new cult. And iron entered into the blood of the Germans.

To carry out Bismarck’s policy it was necessary to break down a promising liberal movement that seemed on the point of giving Prussia responsible government. It was his faith that a united Germany must hew her way into the position of great power in Europe, and in order to141 have a state that could do this there must be a strong central authority, able to direct all the resources of the state to the desired end. The large number of small nobles had long ago formed the celebrated Junker autocracy, a body with like ideals. He gave their restless energy a more definite political and military object, and made them take places as parts of his great state machine.

He had his reward. In 1866 he fought a decisive war against Prussia’s old enemy, Austria, and won it so quickly that even the Prussians were astonished. In 1870–1871 he threw the state against France in a war that left the land of Napoleon as completely at his feet as Prussia had been at the feet of the Corsican. And then in the moment of exultation over the victory he founded the German empire by uniting with Prussia the numerous smaller German states. There is much to support the suggestion that a similar stroke is held in reserve to create a Mittel-Europa of Germany and Austria-Hungary as a final glory of the present war, if Germany shows herself able to carry off the victory.

Bismarck’s ambition for Germany was to hold142 a position of arbiter in Continental affairs. He felt that this was the best way to make his country safe from hostile combinations, and it met his ideal of the dignity to which Germany ought to attain. He achieved his desire in the Three Emperors’ League and the Triple Alliance. Predominance in influence was the height of his ambition. The conquest of new lands, and the support of industry and trade by a policy of territorial expansion, were not within his plans. He was a man of an older generation to whom a predominance among the Great Powers was better than chasing the rainbow of world empire.

In 1888 died Wilhelm I, the king whom Bismarck made Emperor. He was an honest man who loved the simple and sound Germany in which he was reared. At this time the leading men of 1871 were passing from power and a group was coming on the scene who were young men in the intoxicating times of Sedan and Metz. A new emperor came to the throne, possessing great energy and the capacity of forming vast plans. He was eleven years old when the empire was proclaimed at Versailles, the age at which ordinary boys begin to wake from the143 dreams of childhood. From such dreams Wilhelm II passed to dreams of imperial glory. The idea of bigness of authority that he thus formed has remained with him to this day. Add the effects of an impulsive disposition and an unusual amount of confidence in himself and you will account for the peculiar gloss spread over a character that is strong and otherwise wholesome.

Early in his reign he gave ground for alarm by several acts that are hardly to be described in a less severe word than “bumptious.” He dismissed Bismarck from the Chancellorship, seemingly for no other reason than that he wished a chancellor who would be more obedient to the imperial will, and he uttered many sentiments which caused sober men to wonder what kind of emperor he was going to be. But as the years passed it was noticed that all his aberrations fell short of disaster, and as he was very energetic and devoted to efficiency in civil and military matters the world came at last to regard him with real esteem.

When the present war began the kaiser became its leader, as was his duty and privilege. Opinion in hostile countries pronounced him the144 agent responsible for its outbreak. Around his striking personality have collected many stories of dark complexion. At this time it is not possible to test their accuracy, but it is safe to say that many of them are chiefly assumption. On the other hand, it is undoubted that he is now a firm friend of the military party, and that he supports the autocracy in its purpose to carry the war to the bitter end. He has been a diligent war lord and he has shown a willingness to share the sacrifices of the people. Stories of apparent reliability that have come out of Germany in recent months imply that he has steadily gained in popularity during the conflict, while most of the other members of his family have lost.

If it is important to clear thinking to see the kaiser in an impartial light, it is equally necessary to understand the German Kultur. This term is used in Germany to indicate the mass of ideas and habits of thought of a people. It applies to art and industry, to religion and war, to whatever the human mind directs. From the German’s standpoint we have a Kultur of our own. We have no corresponding term, nor concept,145 and we cannot realize all he means in using the term if we do not put ourselves in his place. Now it is true that the German has won great success in intellectual ways. Scholarship, scientific invention, the application of art to industry, and well planned efficiency in social organization are his in a large degree. He is proud of his achievements; and when the war began he felt that it was the German mission to give this Kultur to other peoples. From his standpoint, a Germanized world would be a world made happy. It was an honest opinion, and it went far to support his desire for expansion.

The Germans are a docile people with respect to their superiors, and this trait is a condition of their Kultur. It is traditional in Germany for the peasant to obey his lord, the lord to obey his over-lord, and the over-lord to obey his ruler. To the kaiser look all the people in a sense which no citizen of the United States can understand without using a fair amount of imagination. The lords and over-lords constitute the Junkers, who in the modern military system make up the officer class. A high sense of authority runs through the whole population, the upper classes146 knowing how to give orders and the lower classes knowing how to take them.

Before the battle of Jena, 1806, the Prussian army was made up of peasants forced to serve under the nobles, who took the offices. Townsmen were excluded from the army. The peasant’s forced service lasted twenty years. The system was as inefficient as it was unequal, and a commission was appointed to reform it. The result was the modern system of universal service, put into complete operation in 1813. After a hundred years it is possible to see some of the effects of the system on the ideals of the people. It has taught them to work together in their places, formed habits of promptness and cleanliness, and lessened the provincialism of the lower classes. It has been a great training school in nationalism, preserving the love of country and instilling in the minds of the masses a warm devotion to the military traditions of the nation.

It has also produced results of a questionable value. By fostering the military spirit it has developed a desire for war, on the same principle that a boy in possession of a sharp hatchet has a strong impulse to hack away at his neighbor’s147 shrubbery. It is probable that the temptation to use a great and superior army was a vital fact in bringing on the present war. Furthermore, the wide-spread habit of docility leaves a people without self-assertion and enables their rulers to impose upon them. As to the influence of universal service in promoting militarism, that has been frequently mentioned.

On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that not all states that have had universal military training have been saddled with these evils. France, for example, has had universal training without becoming obsessed with the passion for war and without the loss of popular individualism. It seems well to say that universal training itself does not produce the evils sometimes attributed to it. In Germany, at least, it seems that it was the purpose for which the army existed, and not the army itself, that developed militarism and brought other unhappy effects.

Probably the German army before the war was the most efficient great human machine then in existence. There was less waste in it and less graft than in any other army. Since the army included all the men of the empire at some stage148 or other of their existence, it was a great training school in organization. Its effects on German history are hardly to be exaggerated.

I have said that military organization alone was not sufficient to make the modern Germany. It was also necessary to give the nation a definite national purpose, and this was the task of its intellectual leaders. The purpose itself was expressed in the idea of German nationality. By a bold stretch of fancy every part of Europe that had once been ruled by Germans, that spoke the German language, or that could be considered as a part that ought to speak that language was fixed upon as territory to be brought within the authority of the Fatherland. It was in accordance with this principle that Schleswig-Holstein was taken from Denmark in 1864 and Alsace-Lorraine in 1871. Here the march of annexation paused. Bismarck was too wise to carry the theory to an extreme; but a growing number of writers and speakers in the empire took up the idea and kept it before the people with winning persistence. It is thus that Pan-Germanism has come to be one of the great facts in German public opinion. By preaching149 race unity with patriotic zeal the intellectual leaders have established a powerful propaganda of expansion.

Of the men most prominently associated with this movement especial attention must be given to Heinrich von Treitschke, for years professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Berlin, whose remarkable influence reached all classes of people. He was a handsome man with an open face that invited admiration without appearing to care whether it was given or not. When he spoke the auditor heard “a raucous, half-strangled, uneasy voice” and noticed that his movements were mechanical and his utterances were without regard to the pauses that usually stand for commas and periods, while his pleasant facial expression had no apparent relation to what he was saying. The explanation was that he was so deaf that he did not hear himself speak. That such a speaker could fire the heart of a nation is evidence that he was filled with unusual earnestness and sympathy.

He had great love of country, and if he exalted royalty and strong government it was because he thought that Germany would reach her highest150 authority through them. It was no selfish or incompetent king that he worshiped, but one that lived righteously and sought diligently to promote the interest of the people. He held that the nobility should serve as thoroughly as the common men. Strong government in his idea did not mean privilege, as ordinarily understood, but vital energy in all the organs of administration, efficiently directed by a will that was not hampered by the contrarywise tugging of individual opinions.

Treitschke’s penetrating eloquence was heard throughout the land. Editors, preachers of religion, schoolmasters, authors, members of the legislative assemblies, high officials, and even ministers of state came to his class-room and went away to carry his ideas into other channels. He inspired the men who did the actual thinking for the nation. All his efforts were expended for what he considered the enhancement of Germany’s position among nations.

In giving him his due we must not overlook his faults. He was narrow in his ideas of international relations. His exaltation of Germany would have left other nations at her mercy. He151 seems to have had small respect for the principle of live-and-let-live among states. As much as any one in his country he was responsible for the idea that the British are a pack of hypocrites, offering inferior races the Bible with one hand and opium with the other. That they had not a good record with respect to the opium trade is true, but it was sheer narrowness to make it the chief characteristic of a people who have done a great work in behalf of the backward races.

Although Treitschke wrote many pamphlets on topics of current interest, all bearing upon what he considered the destiny of Germany, he was preëminently a historian. It was by telling the story of Germany since the revival of national feeling after the battle of Jena that he wished to serve best the generation in which he lived. For him it was the historian to whom was committed the task of making the citizen realize what place he had in the nation’s complex of duties and hopes.

He came upon the scene when history had become fixed upon the basis of accuracy and detached research. Men like Leopold von Ranke had insisted that history should deal with the152 cold exploitation of universal laws. For them Treitschke was a bad historian, and they used their influence to prevent his appointment at the University of Berlin. He was a Chauvinist, undoubtedly, and his History of Germany in the Nineteenth Century is a highly colored picture of what he conceived the reader should know about the history of his country. It is a work written to arouse the enthusiasm of the people for their country, rather than to instruct them in the universal laws of human development; and it would be a sad day for the world if all history were written as he wrote this. But it was a powerful appeal to national pride and energy. It played a great part in the formation of the Germany with which we are concerned in this chapter, the striving, self-confident, and aspiring empire that set for itself the task of dominating the European continent.

This chapter is not written to reconcile American readers to the German side of the controversy that now engages the attention of all men. I wish to enable the reader to have a clear view of the people with whom we fight. It is they with whom we must deal in building up the system153 out of which the future is to be constructed again; and we shall not know how to deal with them if we do not see their point of view and know what they are thinking about.

If in some of their ideals they are superior to other peoples, and if their organization of individuals into the state has some elements of strength not found in other systems, it is not for us to seek to destroy the advantage they have won. It would be better for us to adopt their good points, in order that we might the more surely defeat them on the field of battle. Having won the victory we desire, we should certainly not seek to destroy that which we cannot replace. Live and let live, a principle which Germans have ignored in some important respects, must be recognized after the military ambition of Germany is broken, if we are to have an enduring peace.



Much has been written to prove that one side or the other was responsible for the present war. Minute facts, as the words in a dispatch, or the time at which the troops were mobilized, or whether or not a preliminary summons of troops to the colors was in itself an act of mobilization, have become the subjects of bitter debate. Such questions will have to be settled by the historians of the future years: they cannot be discussed here with any profit, since this book is an appeal to the reason of men on each side of the controversy.

Back of the events of July, 1914, is a more fundamental cause of the war. It is the breakdown of the systems of concert and balance to which the powers had trusted themselves. Castlereagh and Metternich allowed themselves to slip into these theories, when they set aside the suggestion of a federated Europe, which came155 from Alexander I. Granted that the tsar’s dream was too ethereal for a world steeped in selfishness, it does not follow that a policy entirely devoted to the balancing of selfishness with selfishness would have preserved peace.

On the other hand, we must admit that nations are not idealists. Selfishness is their doctrine. So long as the project of a federation is viewed idealistically it is practically impossible. But if it ever comes to be admitted by the people who count in political things that it is for the interests of the nations to adopt it, that is, if it is brought within what we may call the sphere of selfishness, it ceases to be idealistic and comes to be a subject worthy of the consideration of the practical statesman.

Furthermore, the political philosopher has ever to answer the question, “What about the future?” What are we going to do after the present debauch of waste and murder is over? Are we to trust the world to the same old forces that brought us this ruin? One says that human nature is the same forever, that it learns only in the hard school of experience, and that it must fight its wars as the price it pays for being human156 nature. To such a man the Napoleonic wars did all that could be expected of them when they so impressed the world with the cost of war that a system was adopted which gave the world a measure of peace for a hundred years. “What more can you ask?” said such a philosopher to me. In humble responsibility to the throne of reason I reply that we can try as intelligent beings to remove the war madness permanently, making it our duty to posterity to do the best we can. Some generation must make the start, or we shall wring our hands forever.

In this chapter I wish to show in what way the old system crumbled before the desire of world power. It seems a vicious system by virtue of its innate qualities of selfishness, and it is all the more to be feared because its subtle spirit gets control of our own hearts as well as the hearts of other men. While our opponents—Germany and Austria—were following the system to its bitter conclusion, our friends—Great Britain, France, and Italy—were doing nearly the same things, but in a slightly different way. And there is no reason to expect that under the continuation of the balancing of great and ambitious157 world powers we shall have more respect for the rights of one another than we had in the past.

The system of Balance of Power flourished best in Bismarck’s time. It was his strong personality that held together the Three Emperors’ League for a brief season and the Triple Alliance for a longer period. Each of these groups had certain interests in common which gave them coherence: Bismarck alone knew how to exploit these mutual advantages and lessen the jars of clashing feelings. His objects were made easier by the fact that most of the other nations of Europe at that time had developed quarrels of their own. Great Britain and Russia were at swords’ points over the Far Eastern question, and France and Great Britain had not forgotten their century old antagonism, which only a minor dispute was sufficient to set aflame.

Moreover, Great Britain was engaged in a vast task of empire building. Manufactures increased rapidly in the United Kingdom, an ever growing trade threw out ever expanding tentacles to the remotest parts of the world, and the growth of the colonies produced greater prosperity158 at home and abroad than the most hopeful Briton had previously thought within the bounds of probability. She was too busy with this splendid process of internal prosperity to take notice of what was happening on the Continent, so long as her own interests were not threatened. From her standpoint Bismarck’s policy of preserving peace through the means of a German predominating influence was a welcome relief from other burdens.

This state of affairs was prolonged for at least fifteen years after the death of Bismarck. Kaiser Wilhelm II’s temperamental impetuousness did not break up the balance that had been established, although many prophets had foretold such a thing. As the corner-stone of the Triple Alliance Germany was looked upon as the protector of European peace, and the kaiser, it is said, was pleased to regard himself as the man especially responsible for that policy.

It is difficult to say when and how this happy situation began to be undermined and whose was the responsibility. One cause of the rupture was the rapid growth of German manufactures and trade, which brought about stern competition between159 the business interests of Germany and Great Britain. The newspapers of the two nations, like all other newspapers of modern times, were closely connected with the capitalistic interests of the respective states, and voiced the alarm and antipathy of the industrial classes. Thus the people of Germany and the people of Britain were stimulated to a condition of mutual distrust. They believed that each practiced the most disreputable tricks of competition against the other, and each talked of destroying the industry of the other. It is difficult to say who is responsible for the beginning of commercial rivalry.

Late in the last century Germany began to enlarge her navy with the evident purpose of making it rival the navy of Great Britain. Her justification was found in the idea that a navy was necessary to protect the great commerce that she was building up. At the same time German writers began to make many criticisms on the British claim of being mistress of the seas. “Freedom of the seas” became a phrase of comfort in their mouths. It is not clear that it meant what it seemed to say; for the seas were as free to160 the Germans in times of peace as to any other people, and Germany’s plan to build a great fleet that would defeat the British fleet would establish that same kind of rule at sea that Great Britain through her naval superiority then held.

Now it is very certain that Germany had a perfect right to enter each of these two fields of endeavor. The contests of industry are open to all, and the laws of peace protect them. She had the right, also, to build up her navy, although she should not have expected to overtop the British navy specifically without arousing the hostility of the British people. The insular position of the United Kingdom and its relations with its colonies are such that a navy is its surest protection if assailed in war; and to fall into a second position is to hold its life at the permission of another state. Germany must have seen this phase of the situation. Her statesmen were poor leaders of men if they did not realize that they were entering upon a rivalry in which was the possibility of great resistance.

Another phase of the opposition that was steadily rising against Germany was the general alarm at the growth of her military power. Her161 army and navy ever increased in size and readiness for that initial rush to victory which is half the struggle in modern war. At the same time German leaders did not disguise their desire for the enlargement of German territory on the Continent. The Pan-German party made a great deal of noise, and other nations were not reassured by being told that the party was not as strong as its agitation seemed to indicate.

Now and again one read in some German paper an assertion to the effect that Germany was bound to become the dominant power in Europe and that she would next turn on the United States. How many Americans have not heard some over-confident German friend make a prophecy of like import? It was evident that many Germans regarded the great republic of the West as an over-fattened commercial nation without the power of resistance and destined at the proper time to furnish rich nourishment for their conquering arms. That we considered these thoughts but the idle boasts of a nation intoxicated by success did not lessen the conviction of ourselves and others that Germany was running into a state of mind that required coöperative162 measures of resistance on the part of people who might become victims of her infatuation.

While these two processes of national feeling ran their courses, several political events, which have already been described added vigor to the antagonism that was rising against Germany. Her attitude toward the Boers when they were at war against Great Britain was one, Delcassé’s wise adjustment of the Fashoda incident was another, his clever formation of the Entente Cordiale between France and Britain was another, the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese alliance was still another, the defeat of Russia by Japan and her elimination as a threat against British interests in India was another, and the formation of the Triple Entente by Great Britain, France, and Russia, announced in 1907, was the final act of the series. Great Britain was not only again seriously concerned in Continental affairs, but a combination had been formed of three great European nations, with the strongest power of the East as a flying buttress, to hold back the much dreaded aggressions of the Triple Alliance, consisting of Germany, Austria, and Italy. The Balance of Power had come to its most logical163 state of development; for instead of having one great state balancing between the other states around it, we now had the great states of the world ranged in two camps, each side checking the other in the belief that in so doing it was preserving the world from war.

It is hard to establish a balance when two opposing sides are strong and mutually jealous of one another; for the opposition of forces is then formed to secure mutual advantages, and not to promote the common interest through the preservation of equilibrium. In such a case one side or the other, possibly each side, is apt to fancy itself the stronger, and if it acts on that assumption it arouses the apprehension of the other which finds itself tempted to make a counter stroke. Once such a step is taken equilibrium is lost. This is what happened in 1914. The train of events that led up to the destruction of the international balance is now to be described.

Here we must go back to the days when Delcassé was foreign secretary in Paris, 1898–1905. One of his achievements was to come to agreement with Spain and Italy in reference to the northern coast of Africa. He effected a treaty164 with the former nation by which French and Spanish spheres of influence in Morocco were defined, and another with Italy by which the right of France in Tunis was accorded in exchange for recognition of the right of Italy to Tripoli and Cyrenaica.

Making this treaty by Italy did not constitute treason to the Triple Alliance, since it was clearly advantageous for Italy without infringing the rights of either Germany or Austria; but it alarmed Germany, already drawing close to Turkey, because the object of Italian policy was to get territory over which Turkey had a vital claim. Nor was it pleasant for the kaiser to see one of the members of the Triple Alliance acting in coöperation with the members of the Entente in so important a matter.

Taking these achievements in connection with the formation of the Dual Alliance and the mutual approach of France and Great Britain, Germany had reason to feel that she was being isolated. Her whole population resented this turn of events, seeing in it a sort of challenge hurled forth by France, who at last found herself strong enough to assume a position of self-assertion. It165 is true that Delcassé only placed Germany in a position of isolation like that which Bismarck imposed on France for many years; and it was, in strict logic, as fair for him to treat Germany thus as for Bismarck to isolate France. Let Germany submit to her fate, as France submitted, when she had to submit. But we are not dealing with logical matters here. It is a plain fact that confronts us. Germany, who had been strong through three decades without seeking to expand her territory, suddenly realized that her opponents were forming a combination stronger than hers, their acquisition of territory that followed set her in a rage, and she made plans for getting her share in the world that was to be taken. Under the system of balance then recognized as the proper means of regulating international relations her course was a natural result of Delcassé’s policy.

The particular portion of the earth to which she turned her eyes was Turkey. While she supported the plans of Austria-Hungary to acquire territory on the Adriatic, she herself looked further to the East. She encouraged the party at Constantinople known as the “Young Turks,”166 she furnished improved arms to the Turkish army, she formed plans to establish her influence in Palestine, and she projected a great railroad to Bagdad in the center of the Euphrates-Tigris Valley. It was a sphere of influence that might be considered more than a fair offset for the lands her rivals were about to gain.

At the same time Germany found a means of restoring her prestige, which was sorely wilted by the progress of her rivals. The occasion arose in connection with France’s occupation of Morocco, which had begun without the aid or consent of the kaiser.

Morocco had long been under a line of independent sultans. Most of her commerce was with Great Britain although German capitalists had received concessions within her border. As the country next to the French province of Algeria, France looked upon it as her own particular sphere of influence. We have already seen that Italy conceded this claim, 1901, while France conceded Italy’s claim to Tripoli and Cyrenaica. In 1904 France conceded Great Britain’s practical supremacy in Egypt and in return was assured the protectorate over Morocco. She asked167 no concession from Germany but came to an agreement with Spain, who had a small strip of territory south of the Straits of Gibraltar.

In 1905 Delcassé was quietly preparing to carry out his plan for the development of Morocco, when the kaiser landed in Tangiers without the slightest warning, and announced in a public address that he had come to visit his friend, the independent sultan of Morocco, in whose country all foreign nations had equal rights. The speech was received by the world as a challenge to France and a means of announcing that Germany was no longer to be ignored. The moment of the landing at Tangiers was well chosen by the kaiser; for only three weeks earlier Russia, the ally of France, had been defeated by the Japanese at Mukden and could give her no assistance.

In this unfortunate situation it was necessary for France to bend before the storm. She agreed to submit the whole Moroccan question to an international congress, thus appealing to the principle of the Concert of Europe, and when she learned that the kaiser demanded that she dismiss the minister whose hands had been played168 so skillfully against Germany, she agreed to that also.

The dismissal of Delcassé recalls an incident of 1807. In that year Napoleon forced the king of Prussia to dismiss Stein, his great minister, who was bending all his efforts to reëstablish Prussia on a war footing. It marked the triumph of Napoleon’s power for the time being, but it was a futile action; for Stein out of office under such circumstances had more influence than ever, and the shameful way in which he was treated only emphasized Prussia’s humiliation and made the Prussians more determined than ever to assert their national power. Similar results in France in 1905 followed the stab given to that nation’s faithful and efficient minister.

The international congress assembled at Algeciras in 1906. It adopted a compromise decision, which gave something to each side and satisfied neither. Germany was supposed to have gained when the congress recognized the territorial integrity of Morocco under the sovereignty of the sultan and guaranteed equal rights of trade in the country to the citizens of all the signatory powers. On the other hand, France and169 Spain were jointly to have the right to instruct and furnish officers for the Moroccan police force. Winning in a quarrel rarely makes the victor think well of the vanquished. Certainly Germany, who had now blocked the plans of France, was not less bitter in her attitude toward that nation; while France, feeling that she had been caught at a disadvantage, smothered her indignation and waited for the opportunity to make things even.

In 1907 disturbances occurred in Moroccan ports and French marines were landed to preserve order. When they were not withdrawn in a year Germany protested and an irritating diplomatic discussion followed. At last Germany was persuaded to submit the point actually at issue to the Hague tribunal, whose decision was not conclusive and satisfied neither side. Then a Franco-German convention was held to pass on the rights of each nation in Morocco. Its decision, given in February, 1909, announced that the interest of Germany in the province was only economic; and as France agreed to give equal protection in such matters, the kaiser promised he would not interfere in the country.170 In each of these incidents war seemed about to begin, and Europe awaited the results in great anxiety. When the clouds lifted the nations breathed freely again.

Still there was no way under the existing system to solve the difficulty that presented itself, had Germany only decided that she would not trust her cause to peaceful negotiation. The fact that she took such a step was to her own people but a mark of the kaiser’s love of peace. This and similar incidents, in which the militarists carried their country to the verge of war only to be held back by the hand of the emperor served to lay the foundation for that popular belief in Germany that a peace policy had been steadily followed under provocations and that Europe was indebted to Wilhelm II for immunity from war. In reality the system of balance of power had needlessly brought the world to the verge of a bitter and unnecessary conflict.

Almost immediately after the war clouds lifted Europe had evidence of the small amount of tolerance the leading classes of Germany had for the slightest manifestation of the spirit of compromise in the matter under discussion. The171 chancellor under whom the recent settlement was made was von Bülow, who thought it better to adjust so small a quarrel than to incur the responsibility of war. His action received the stern denunciation of the military party. So strong was the criticism that he was forced to retire from office, his place going to Bethmann-Hollweg, who had the support of the militarists. The only explanation to be advanced for this turn of the affair is that the German national spirit was so much excited by the long agitation of men like Treitschke that a concession which others might consider only trifling seemed to them a sacrifice of national honor.

In 1911 occurred a third Moroccan incident, in which Bethmann-Hollweg took occasion to recover some of the attitude of assertiveness that von Bülow had given up in 1909. In pursuance of their plan to extend their protectorate over Morocco the French occupied Fez with a military force. A short time later the German warship Panther entered the Moroccan port of Agadir, ostensibly to protect German property. It was soon known that the German government proposed to hold the Panther at Agadir until the172 French withdrew from Fez. The war spirit again flared up. Russia still suffered from the wounds received from the hands of the Japanese, which Germany well knew; but Great Britain was in fighting condition and announced her support of France. After a short discussion Germany took a more complaisant attitude, and a settlement was made whereby the French were allowed a protectorate over Morocco on condition that they guarantee an “open door” in Moroccan trade and transfer to Germany two valuable strips of territory in the French Congo region.

Again Europe breathed easily, and again wise men reflected that no real settlement had been made. France had been bluffed out of a valuable portion of her Congo colony and was not disposed to endure the affront longer than was necessary. Some day Russia would be fully restored to her strength and ready to help her ally in the face of German aggression. Until then France would have to yield. Meanwhile she was consoled by the reflection that Great Britain had pronounced for her openly. That was something to take to heart. The great sea power,173 though slow to anger, was at last conscious of her danger if Germany overran France and seized a channel port.

On the other hand, Germany was not fully pleased at the outcome of the affair. The appearance of Great Britain in it was an indication that the Entente was a thing of vitality. Germany had been forced to moderate her demands, taking colonial territory while her whole thought for the future was not developing African colonies but curbing the power of France. Not only was France not checked, but she was much strengthened in a vital part of her power. She had acquired lands in just the region that she needed them to carry out her ambition to control the western end of the Mediterranean. If some day Spain were to become a republic, could she fail to establish cordial relations with the republic of France, and thus be swept into the anti-German group? It may well be that in these reflections were born two German impulses: first to win Great Britain to some kind of a compromise with Germany, detaching her, at least for a time, from the Entente; and second, to strike a vital blow before Russia was entirely recovered.174 Within the next three years she acted on each of these impulses.

At the same time it became evident that the Triple Alliance was crumbling, and this was another source of anxiety to Germany. It meant that she should hasten her steps if she was to carry forward her great purpose. It was in September, 1911, while the Agadir incident was still unsettled, that Italy began the war with Turkey to establish control of Tripoli and Cyrenaica. In view of Germany’s well-known friendliness with Turkey, this step was most unexpected. It could only mean that Italy was not disposed to subordinate her own interests to those of Germany at Constantinople. If she had not felt certain of support by the Entente powers, in case Germany turned on her, she would hardly have ventured to begin the war.

Another advance made by Entente powers within the period under consideration was in Persia. This ancient state was in sad disorder. Weak and unpatriotic shahs, bold bands of brigands, and foreign intrigues plunged it into such a condition that it invited the domination of foreign nations. Russia approached from the175 north, and Great Britain appeared in the south, where rich oil fields had caught her eye.

After some initial gains the two powers came to an agreement in 1907 by which they established their respective spheres of influence, so that Persia was occupied at the two ends, north and south, by strong powers, and the middle portion was in such a chaotic state that its future seemed very doubtful. By making loans to the shah and furnishing capital for public improvements British and Russian capitalists enabled their respective countries to tighten their grips on Persia. Soon that country was in the throes of revolution, a so-called Nationalist party came into power which was not able to rule without the aid of Russia and Great Britain. So far did the foreign influence go that Morgan W. Shuster, an American financial adviser of the shah who had tried hard to place the government on a satisfactory basis, was fain to withdraw from Persia in despair. To the rest of the world it seemed that the independence of the country was near its end.

A mere glance will show us what these developments meant for Germany and Austria-176Hungary. Remembering that Italy was acting with the Entente in her African policy, we see that the entire southern shore of the Mediterranean was passing into hands adverse to the central powers, and that the new combination stretched out a long arm to the Persian Gulf and the region south of the Caspian. In view of Germany’s hope that she would some day gain through Syria a railway route to the Far East, the trend of things in Persia threatened to close the narrow gap that was left her for such a route by completing the absorption of the kingdom of the shah. Should she allow the gap to be stopped, or should she strike while there was still time? And if she did not strike, what was there in the system of the Balance of Power that could be counted on as a guarantee that she was not a passive victim to the play of politics in the system then in use?

Furthermore, it was evident that Germany’s prestige was being undermined by the progressive steps of her rivals. Three times had she rattled the saber over the Moroccan incidents, and each time with decreasing terror in the minds of her opponents. Perhaps its rattling had been177 one of the main facts in promoting the union of those opponents, since it always brought before them the picture of Germany embattled against the rest of Europe. To strike a blow that would teach France and Russia a lesson would restore German prestige and bring the balance back to the German side of the rivalry, if it did not do more.

There is good ground for the guess that it was expected in high quarters in Berlin that the blow would do far more than restore prestige. It is true that the plan to which I am about to refer has not been openly accepted by responsible agents of state, but it was widely advocated by a portion of the people, the Pan-Germans. It involved the union of Austria-Hungary and Germany in a great state, Mittel-Europa, with strong influence in the Near East. Treitschke and many others had written and spoken for such a thing, and to a large number of Germans it had become a sacred ideal. When some one spoke to the deaf Colussus about the acquisition of territory in Africa he exclaimed: “Cameroons? What are we to do with this sand-box? Let us take Holland; then we shall have colonies.” It178 was a part of the dream of the Pan-Germans that the proposed Mittel-Europa should extend from the Baltic to the Black Sea. If such a thing could be carried through, how excellent a trump card to play against the Entente plotters!

Francis Joseph, of Austria-Hungary, was too stout a patriot to hand his country over to the schemes of the Pan-Germans, but he was approaching an already long deferred demise. The heir-apparent, Ferdinand, was supposed to be a great admirer of the kaiser, and the advocates of union had high hopes that he would promote their desires. Suddenly came the crime of Sarajevo. In a peculiar manner it dashed the hopes of the dreamers; for not only was their chief reliance taken away, but the new heir-apparent was supposed to be a pacific man who would favor constitutional government. Such a ruler would hardly support the formation of a great empire built after the fashion of Prussian autocracy. It was the inspiration of the moment to have the war come, and demonstrate the glory of Germany and Austria-Hungary, while the old emperor still lived. And if it was precipitated in the interest of Austria-Hungary, that was all179 the greater reason that the people of the dual empire should feel under obligation to the military power that carried it through. Possibly they would be so much impressed that they would sweep a youthful emperor on with them in the realization of a great united empire.

It is not certain how far the Pan-German party controlled the policy of government in July, 1914; but it does not seem too much to attribute such plans to men who did not hesitate to dream of the annexation of Holland and who had definitely planned for the acquisition of Constantinople. The imagination of a German patriot is no mean thing in ordinary situations; but a great sweep would be vouchsafed to it when its possessor realized that his country was being outplayed by the diplomats and the grim Captain of Death. It was an extraordinary situation that the Germans confronted in July, 1914, and there was not much time for deliberation.

This chapter is not written to show that Germany was, or was not, responsible for the war. If it explains how it was that the German people believed that the war was forced on them, it will accomplish more than it was designed to accomplish.180 But it is intended to enable persons to keep calm heads in these times of perplexity in order to understand how each side approached the great conflict. It is evident that the Entente powers thought that Germany wished to change Europe into a great empire with herself at the head, while the central powers felt that the chains were being riveted around about them.

In view of this long train of events the last week in that fateful July assumes small proportions. If Ferdinand had not been killed war would still have hung over the horizon. If Serbia had accepted the Austrian ultimatum war would still have threatened; for though it may have been averted for the moment, the Triple Entente would still have existed, nor would it have brooked the increase of German prestige that the backdown of Serbia would have implied. If Russia had not mobilized her army, Germany may not have mobilized, but the ancient fear of Russia as an overwhelming opponent when she was once organized in the modern way would have remained as a threat of dire consequences.

The theory of the Balance of Power is built181 upon the idea that states act for their own interests in the restraint of one another from overweening ambition. At bottom it is selfish. It assumes a state of rivalry; and it is necessary to the theory that as fast as one side gains in strength the other shall gain also. If the Entente nations acquire Morocco, Tripoli, Cyrenaica, and parts of Persia, the central powers must gain also or they are over-balanced. And who is to determine how much they shall gain? Manifestly each will strive to get all it can. The very process of gaining stimulates antipathy and makes war a probability.

Another observation that is worthy of consideration is that balance is logically possible only when more than two sides are opposed to one another. When Great Britain, France and Russia had varying purposes it was not difficult for Bismarck to play one against the other and so keep the equilibrium. But when it happened that the central powers became so strong that they constituted a threat against every other nation in the world, it was natural for the other nations to unite to check them. In such a condition no true balance of power could exist, and182 it was folly to expect that theory to serve as it served in former days.

One of the things the world ought to learn from the war that now afflicts it is that no nation can conquer the world by stealth. It is one of the happy shortcomings of political selfishness that its agents usually fancy they can cover their tracks. How often do we see a bad politician doing something wrong in the false confidence that while he knows what he is doing the people cannot see it! So with Germany in the years before the war. Making her plans for large accretions of power, she thought she could steal a march on other nations and gain in a spurt a position from which at a later time she could extend her power by other and still larger sweeps of conquest. She did not think that the other nations would take part until it was too late.

But the rest of the world was as wide awake as she. No man in England accustomed to view political things in the large failed to see the instant the war began that the hour of crisis for his country was at hand. If Great Britain had not fought in August, 1914, she would have been the stupidest nation in the world. To have allowed183 her greatest rival to sit down in the French channel ports would have been suicidal for her. The only probable explanation of Germany’s failure to realize this is that she had become so confident of the superiority of her own mind that she thought all other minds were sodden.

In a similar way, when she had carried on the war for two years and a half and resorted to the submarine in ruthless attacks on American ships of commerce, she should have known that she was giving the United States a reason for participating in the war at a time when it was clear to most Americans that their national safety demanded that they should take part. If by this kind of battle the Germans forced Europe to bend to her, what could we expect in the future? The very imminence of German success demanded that the United States should throw herself into the struggle. And after the war is over this truth will be written indelibly in the pages of history: No great nation can be allowed to conquer the world piecemeal.



The German people say the submarines will not fail. They seem to think that what they call the highest achievement of the scientific mind of Germany cannot fail. There is little doubt that they pin on this arm of the service their last hope of securing a decision in actual warfare. If it fails them they can look forward only to a long course of sheer dogged resistance, hoping they can last longer than their adversaries. Let us consider the probable results respectively of the success and the failure of the submarine campaign.

If the under-sea boats do all the Germans expect of them the result is soon told. Great Britain will be forced to make lame and inefficient war, France will be unable to do more than hold on to the line that she occupies, and the United States, unable to send her vast army across the seas in large numbers, will not be able to repair the loss of strength that her allies sustain.185 Under such circumstances Russia, even if she should recover from her present state of weakness, could hardly deliver the blows that would bring Germany to reason.

Under such conditions the war would end without the defeat of the Teutons, and Mittel-Europa would still be impending. If the enthusiasm of victory would stimulate such a union, the realization that Germany and Austria-Hungary were pressed back to the wall and must fight for their future existence might equally bring them to unite their fortunes. In fact, if these two states wish to unite it is hard to see how they are to be prevented, unless at the end of the war they are so much weaker than their opponents that they can be forbidden to take such a step, with assurance that the prohibition will be respected.

To form such a union would be, in fact, to snatch victory out of sore distress; for the united empires, even though Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey were left out of account, would have a population of 116,000,000, which is more than the population of the United States and smaller only than that of Russia and China. Ten years’ breathing space in which to reorganize the industrial186 and social life of so large a body of men would work wonders with them; and when reorganized and fired by a common ambition they would be able to dictate terms to any two of the nations of Western Europe. It is the probable union of these states rather than the power of either when acting alone, that makes it necessary for the rest of the world to procure their defeat.

In two ways the union can be prevented. One is to inflict such a defeat on the central allies that they will not dare run the risk of another war through endeavoring to combine. Possibly such a defeat could be inflicted by fighting long and winning great victories. It would have to be a greater victory than was won by Prussia over France in 1871; for after that victory France, fired with hatred for all that was German, was so much feared by her conquerors that it became a chief object of their diplomacy to keep her isolated by drawing possible allies over to the German interest. The great military strength of Germany at present hardly warrants the hope that she can be brought to a lower state than France at the end of the siege of Paris.

187 The other method is to bring about such a situation that union shall not be desired in the Teutonic states. For it is not to be disputed that if ever a strong and competent group of states wish to become an empire, nothing short of a great war by other states can stop them. It behooves us, therefore, to make our appeal to the reasons of the Germans, Austrians and Hungarians. It is not necessary to limit our arguments to words merely; it is, however, essential that the Teutonic mind shall understand what to threaten the equilibrium of nations means. To show that such a preponderance cannot be established practically would be an effective warning to those leaders who set up to preach Germanic militarism in the future.

As this chapter is being printed, it seems that the submarines are not a success. They have taken a great toll but not all the grist. Enough ships are left on the sea to carry the minimum of food and war material that our allies must have to maintain their grip on Germany. The war of the central powers does not force their enemies to their knees, and it seems that the best the kaiser can hope for is to hold out for a time188 with the expectation that victory will be snatched by accident out of the gloom that hangs over his cause.

When the war began it was essentially a contest between two groups of powers, each of which had been pursuing policies of aggrandizement. One group had progressively acquired territory in Africa and Asia, and the other had a plan equally definite for acquiring territory in Southeastern Europe and the Near East. If the war had been fought out as begun it would probably have led to the realization of one or the other of these desires. Either the Entente powers would have fixed their hold on their respective spheres of influence and broken the schemes of Germany and Austria-Hungary, or Germany would have made a great sweep forward and established herself in the keystone position of Europe, with immense consequences for the future.

As the war progressed it became evident that it was becoming a supreme test of the ability of one combination of nations to create a new empire that would dominate Europe. It is no stretch of imagination to say that the Germans dreamed of reëstablishing a modern Roman Empire of189 the Germans. If the scheme had materialized—and the future historian will probably conclude that it was near success at one time—the fate of the rest of the world would have been far different from what we wish it to be. A gigantic struggle would have been thrust upon the United States to save the Western World from conquest. It was the conviction that such a crisis actually menaced us that brought us to join in the attempt to block the German plans.

Assuming, therefore, that the anti-German allies are victorious, it is unthinkable that the war shall be allowed to end as a mere check on the plans of the central powers. To do so would be to grant that the Entente powers should be left to carry on their plans for national aggrandizement with carte blanche approval by the United States. It would mean that we are fighting at a great sacrifice in order to enable Great Britain to maintain her position as mistress of the sea and ruler of a far distant empire. Now we do not object to British rule in the distant parts of the earth: we have found it a tolerable thing that she should be entrusted with the task of developing the backward races over whom she190 has established her authority. But we have never meant to save her toppling empire for her own comfort, as an act of grace merely.

If we are to contribute a material part to the suppression of aggression in the world, we have a right to say in what way and to what end our sacrifice will have been made. As the greatest of the anti-German allies we shall have the largest burden to bear in proportion to the time in which we are to fight. That we should guarantee to Great Britain and our other allies the full existence of their rights is but fair. It is equally reasonable that we shall demand that the future does not inure to the special advantage of any one of the group; but in fixing upon the terms under which it shall be arranged the main end in view should be the good of all the nations in the world.

This is a view which is likely to have the support of all the anti-German allies, with the possible exception of Britain. France and Russia, to say nothing of the smaller states, have the same interest as we in making the common welfare the chief aim in peace negotiations. If we were not in the group and if victory came to191 it, these nations would perforce have to yield the lead to Great Britain, since she would outclass them in strength by reason of her sea power. She might well say that as the nation on which would fall the largest burden in keeping Germany in a state of restraint, she should have the largest influence in deciding what was to be done. She cannot make such a claim under existing conditions.

Of course, there is the difficulty that the United States may not be guided by statesmen who realize the importance of following a thoroughly American policy. It has long been a practice with a great many Americans to follow the lead of Great Britain. Unaccustomed to take a normal share of responsibility in world problems, we may now be inclined to hold back, leaving the game to hands that have acquired greater skill in playing it. Such a course would be a misfortune. It would mean that statesmen would be given charge of the situation who derived all their ideas under the old system of Balance of Power, and it would be strange if they did not try to carry on the world in the future with a strong squint at the only principles of international192 policy they know anything about. To break into this well crystallized realm of so-called practical ideas, demands an unusually strong man, a man well founded in principles and able to convince others of the wisdom of his views.

It is true that the President of the United States now in office has many of the traits that seem necessary to a correct conduct of the situation. A man who had the training of a mere politician might well be less than able to deal with the situation that faces us. President Wilson’s knowledge of history enables him to think in terms of large national movements. That is the chief value of historical training to a statesman. If he knows the history of the attempts to settle the affairs of the nations after the great world struggles of the past, he is better able to understand how the various suggested plans will work in the crisis that is to be passed through.

President Wilson has, also, the unusual faculty of doing what he wishes to do. When he has formed a purpose it is not generally a compromise with a number of men whose chief concern is how the result of action will affect their party support. At least this is true in matters193 not clearly within the bounds of party activity. Moreover, he has spoken and written words which seem to show that he understands the need of providing for such a course of conduct between the nations as will assure us of coöperation for the elimination of future wars. In his long delay in urging war and in his early pronouncement for a league of peace, he gave us the assurance, if nothing else, that he understands the situation and is capable of holding a firm course in accordance with his principles.

If the submarines fail, therefore, and if we come to a settlement of the largely new world problems that will confront us, and if our policy is in the hands of wise men, what principles will guide our actions and the actions of the rest of the world? This is a question that all intelligent citizens should consider, since it cannot be answered well unless there is a restrained and broad-minded public opinion to support the leaders of the people. It is a matter for the consideration of Germans as well as their opponents; for their attitude toward any policy adopted will have a strong effect upon the continuation of the policy.

194 The first question we should ask ourselves is: What are we to do to the Germans? How shall we punish them for what they have done to make the world miserable? My answer to that is: Let God punish them. For us it is not a question of giving the Germans their deserts but a question of coming out of this cataclysm with a clear gain for the cause of human happiness. Let us look upon the Germans as suffering from a kind of disease of the mind which produces bad results on those with whom they are in contact. It is ours to prescribe a cure, both for their sake and for ours. I suggest that we first put them on a liquid diet to reduce their exuberant vitality and then give them the rest cure. At any rate, that is better than cropping their ears or putting them into strait-jackets. To treat an impassioned man you do not kick and beat him but try to bring him to his senses. To bring the Germans into a realization that this world is run on the principle of live-and-let-live, we ourselves must show a willingness to let live.

We had a large amount of the opposite spirit in the United States from 1865 to 1875. The South, passionately convinced that slavery was195 no evil, had made as good a fight to preserve her cause as Germany has made or can make. She held out to the last with what her own people called a stout heart, but her foes said with a stiff neck. For a year and a half after the outside world concluded that she could never win, she held on in the hope that her adversaries would tire of war and make peace without victory. Now all this was exasperating, and the mass of the Northern people felt in 1865 that some punishment should be inflicted on the perverse people who had inflicted so much unnecessary misery on the country. But Lincoln did not feel that way. There is no reason to think that he gave a moment’s thought to making the South suffer for her course. For him all thought was how to smooth the wrinkles out of the present, and how to make the Southern people cast out their hatred of the union and come back to their former loyalty. The Lincoln spirit should guide the world at the end of the present struggle.

War lives on hatred. To make your people put all their energy into the fight make them hate the other people; and you may rest in the assurance that the leaders of the others are striving196 to make their followers hate the men on your side. The mill of hate grinds steadily and at a high speed while war lasts. In Germany in these days is a vast amount of industrious abusing of England. That makes the German people support the war. In Great Britain is a great activity in describing atrocities in Belgium and Armenia, and it exists in order to make the British people mad for war. When you see a new crop of the testimony concerning the torturing horrors of the first month of war in Belgium, you may know that the war spirit is running low in Britain. Unhappily, such propaganda is a necessary feature of war. We are naturally good-hearted, and we do not go out to kill men until we are made to hate them.

The moment war ends all this kind of thing should cease. The time will then have come for the propaganda of peace. Unfortunately there are few men whose mission it is to spread such ideas. Merchants and tourists may do what is their nature to do, but they are not sufficient; and it generally takes years for the fires to cool off.

The aftermath of our civil war was as unhappy a series of events as we have encountered197 within our national history. Undertaken as a means of making sure of the gains of the civil war, it became a procession of passion in which stalked all the worst feelings that divided the people in actual warfare. There are still men in the North who have Andersonville in mind when they vote, and men in the South who can never respect the republican party because it was responsible for the reconstruction acts of 1867. It will be extremely unfortunate if we take up the problems that are soon to be upon us in the spirit with which we assumed the duties of reconstructing the South.

During the civil war the South was possessed of a fixed idea: the same thing is true of Germany today. The South was committed to a position that the rest of the world had abandoned: Germany is committed to a type of bureaucratic government which is as much out of date in a modern world as slavery. No ordinary system of reasoning could show fair and honest Southern men in what respect they had the sentiment of civilization against them: the German is thoroughly convinced that he is fighting for the preservation of the most efficient type of government198 the world has seen. The South went to her defeat after a long and astonishingly effective resistance: Germany seems to be destined to a similarly long and steady process of reduction into complete prostration. The South was ruled by a small but able class of landed proprietors who refused to see the plain truth of the situation before them and prolonged the struggle until they were exhausted, although by making a favorable adjustment in accordance with the logic of the conditions before them they might have ended the war in 1864 and saved their people from the uttermost bitterness of defeat: the Germans, ruled by their Junkers, are equally deaf to argument, equally determined to die at their posts, and equally opposed to a compromise by which they will have to give up their antiquated “institution,” relinquish their special privileges, and make their country like the rest of the world. There are so many parallels between the two countries that we wonder if there will not also be a disposition of the victorious opposing allies to degrade Germany in her defeat.

Probably her best adjusted punishment will be the reflection that her “peculiar institution”199 proved a failure in time of need. For a century she has been training an army, but it is not the army that has failed her. It has done all that could have been expected of it. Nor did the Southern army fail the South. It is not the sense of loyalty, nor the scientific efficiency, nor the unity of purpose within the empire, that have failed her. They are all splendid and have done what could be demanded of them. The thing that has failed is the peculiar way in which the German ruling classes have made use of these forces. They have used army, scientific efficiency, loyalty, and unity of purpose to promote the ends of an aggressive ruling class. Now the best treatment is to defeat them in the war and allow them plenty of time, with no unnecessary antagonisms, to learn that their system does not pay, and that any attempt to revive it in the future will be followed by another punishment as severe as that which this war brought. The support of a military caste and the training of all the men in a great army are heavy burdens on the economic life of the state. Will any nation continue to bear them if they come to nothing in the day of trial? Armies for defense do not demand200 the great expenditures that Germany has made in the last decades.

No penalty that the victors could lay on Germany would be permanently effective in reducing her. So great are her economic energies that they would restore her to prosperity within a short time, and she would be ready to take advantage of any favorable combination to strike in revenge. Disarmament would not be a guaranty that she would cease to be troublesome to her neighbors; for she would still have her excellently trained soldiers who could be reassembled in a great army at short notice. She might well be required to dismantle her great armament factories; and since they are essential to the re-arming of a great army some check on her restoration would come from such dismantling. But it would be a temporary check. It is only necessary to remember that the beginning of the present German army was the attempt of one conqueror, Napoleon, to limit the Prussian army to 42,000 men.

Moreover, what nations could be expected to agree among themselves while standing guard over Germany? Under the Balance of Power, we might expect a fair amount of mobility of201 alliances. We have just seen that not even the Triple Alliance was proof against the skillful hands of Delcassé. If Italy could be withdrawn by France from that powerful combination, how can we doubt that a humiliated Germany would find means of weakening the combination against her? She would have the greatest inducement to do so; and it is not probable that complete harmony would prevail long between the victors, if they were held together only by the bonds of mutual friendship. The history of diplomacy is the record of broken friendships.

To see what readjustment might occur with respect to a humiliated Germany, it is only necessary to recall the position of France after the Napoleonic wars. Beaten beyond resistance, suspected of carrying the germs of bad government from which all other nations felt that they must be protected as from deadly disease, and held down by great armies of occupation, her situation would seem to have been most deplorable. But her isolation lasted for only a moment. She was admitted to the Congress of Vienna,—called to pass on the future arrangements of Europe,—because there was division among her conquerors.202 From that time she was suspected less and less, and at the Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1818, she was admitted to the Concert of Europe, but not with full fellowship; for the other powers made a secret agreement to watch her for a while longer. She progressed so rapidly in eliminating the republican virus in her system that in 1823 she was entrusted with the task of suppressing the constitution of Spain. Thus in eight years after the battle of Waterloo France was again in full accord with the other powers. Probably few people would have said in 1815 that her restoration would come about so rapidly. It would be no more singular if within ten years after the end of the present struggle a conquered Germany were to forget her antipathies of 1918 and be ready to give and be given in diplomatic alliances with as little regard for the past.

If, for example, a restored and highly nationalized Russia becomes a threat against Western Europe some years hence, the antagonisms of today would be forgotten and Germany, France, and Great Britain would probably be found fighting side by side to restrain the Muscovite giant. The old system is intensely selfish and it203 lends itself to rapid changes in policies. But it is an expensive thing to keep up the system. Large armies are necessary, great debts are created, and a vast amount of nervous strength is diverted from the normal activities of humanity. It is small hope for him who longs to see war put down permanently that only by fighting a war like that now raging may we expect the nations to defeat any future aspirant for universal power.

Finally, if the submarines fail and the anti-German allies break down the defenses of their enemies and thus are able to determine the kind of peace that is to be made, the treaty of peace should not have for its end the prolongation of the power of the Entente group. The history of the first half of the nineteenth century shows how easy it is for such a group to be re-arranged with the result that new wars threaten. We must trust the fair mindedness of human nature and the logic of the situation to do much for the Germans. It is on their acceptance of the issue that we must rest our hopes for a peaceful future.

These truths are especially pertinent to the interests of the United States. We are not fighting204 Europe’s war, but the world’s. We are the only nation in the struggle that has not a special interest at stake. We are the only member of our group of allies that has a right to take the side of the weakest member of that group against the desire of the strongest. If any one member should in a moment of more or less pardonable forgetfulness of the common good advance claims that would be based on a desire to recoup herself for her sufferings, we best of all could demand equal treatment and see that the seed of future discord are not sown. These are principles that every American citizen should understand.



By an enduring peace I mean a peace that shall last as long as we can see into the future. It is such a peace as has in it, so far as we can see, no fact that would seem to make for its ruin. If we adopt a peace that has the seed of destruction in its very nature, we cannot hope for relief from the evils of war. We must, under such a condition, take account of war as one of the permanent burdens of civilization, with the full consciousness that it will become increasingly expensive in life and property, and with the result that at recurring periods an intelligent world will drop its peaceful tasks to try to reduce its population to a nullity. From the possibility of such a strife we turn to ask the question: “Can nothing be done to save humanity from such madness?”

The answer is very simple: All people are unreasonable to some extent. In connection with the question now under consideration, each of the great states of the world, our own included,206 has its own special form of unreasonableness, which acts as an obstacle to the formation of a régime of peace. If the immense disaster by which we are depressed could serve as a means of bringing us to a state of entire reasonableness, the present war would be worth all it costs. Whether or not it can lead to such a result the reader must determine for himself.

An important obstacle to such a result is the economic competition of nations. Economic competition by individuals has ugly sides, but it is not dangerous in the sense in which national competition is dangerous. When two merchants undersell until one breaks down the business of the other, the victim passes out of sight in the business world, and the current of trade soon goes on as before. When two corporations, however great, engage in a business “war” and one is crushed or absorbed by its competitor, the ripple that was made is soon obliterated, and the victor serves the human wants with which it has to do without serious damage to humanity.

But when one nation finds itself in strong competition with another in the hope of controlling a sphere of trade, it is apt to seek territorial annexation207 to gain the desired field of exploitation. The competitor can only follow the same course. It is the only thing it can do, if it is not willing to give up the contest. If it is strong enough to dispute the will of the rival, its very sense of individuality demands that it shall not tamely yield before the aggression of a rival. When France acquired Morocco, Italy acquired Tripoli, and Great Britain acquired the southern part of Persia, economic advantage was a strong motive, but not the only motive. When Germany laid out the field of her future expansion in Turkish lands and when she expected to establish a permanent influence over the Balkans, the extension of her sphere of commerce was a chief motive.

Probably the fundamental wrong here was the idea, widely held by the present generation, that a nation has a right to establish bars around her national territory to keep the trade of other nations out, so that her own citizens shall have preferential advantages in the exploitation of the territory. That idea is so firmly held today that one must be a rash man who attempts to get the nations to give it up. But it is a fundamental obstacle to permanent peace in the world. Probably208 it is not too much to say that as long as the business men of the world insist on dividing themselves into national groups with these national preferences, so long may they expect business at recurring intervals to be burdened with the waste and ruin of war.

Against the existing practice we may place the “open door” policy, which we have known chiefly in connection with the trade of the undeveloped nations. It means the free opening of the trade of a given state to all the nations that may care to have it. We heard much of the “open door” in China a few years ago, and most of the benevolent governments approved of the suggestion. To have been perfectly logical they should have applied the same idea to their own commerce; and if the world ever comes to a perfect state of international comity, it is likely that national tariff barriers will be broken down.

It is true, however, that we can have enduring peace and have national protective tariffs, also. If nations agree that tariffs are one of the unhappy excrescences of an unreasonable world, they may find it in their hearts to tolerate such growths. To tolerate them would be, no doubt,209 better than going to war. But when a state sets its eyes on a certain part of the earth which it feels it must acquire in order to enlarge the territory in which it can trade without fair competition, the peace of the world is imperiled.

It is probable that this kind of motive played a large part in Germany’s decision to begin the present war. For a long time her industries had been developing at a rapid rate. Protected at home by tariffs they were able to sell goods to the German people at high prices, while they sold at cheap prices in foreign markets in order to drive their competitors away. The volume of German trade increased immensely, factories were multiplied, and large credits were extended by the banks in order to support this great structure. At last the situation became unsteady. The expansion of the foreign part of the national trade at small profits was a clog on the home trade, which could not be made to yield enough profit to keep the business of the country in a healthy condition. Then the manufacturers and capitalists came to the conclusion that it was to their interest for the country to go into a war of conquest in which new national territory should210 be laid at their feet for profitable exploitation. Thus, the large business interests, usually supporters of peace, swung to the support of the militarists. It is significant that the liberals, that party in the Reichstag which speaks especially for the traders, capitalists, and manufacturers, have been among the most outspoken advocates of annexation.

In a powerful, if indirect, way the laborers are reached by this argument. They see that if the manufacturers and transportation companies expand their business wages are better and employment more abundant, and this leads them to favor a policy of expansion. To what extent the remote organs of the business world are thus reached it is difficult to say. But it is evident that in a phase of human activity which has been organized most intricately the influence of the initial idea that a war of annexation helps business is far reaching.

We frequently encounter the assertion that economic laws are unchangeable; but the statement is not true, as it is made. Many economic processes that appeared fundamental in their time have changed as the minds of men have taken211 new grips on human life. The world has outgrown the mercantile school of economic ideas. The attitude toward private property and monopolies, and the view of the right of individual bargaining have been greatly modified in the process of time. If a so-called economic law stands in the way of a reasonable adjustment of human relations, it can be altered, if enough time and effort be given to the attempt to change it. Although it may seem to be fundamentally fixed in the minds of business men and laborers that a war for annexation is in their interests, if reason shows that they are mistaken, there should be a way of bringing reason to their minds, even as it has come to ours.

Another obstacle to enduring peace is a false sense of patriotism. If a man extols his own virtues we say he is a boaster: if he extols the good qualities of his town, state, or nation, we say he is a patriot. I am inclined to say that it is not permitted to a man to praise his country—I do not say love his country—in any sense but that in which he may praise himself, modestly and with reservations. At any rate, he should praise and magnify his country in the most restrained212 spirit possible. Patriotism does not demand national egotism in the good citizen. Those writers and teachers who try to create a national spirit should be careful lest they make men mere chauvinists.

Especially perilous is the doctrine that “self-preservation is the first law of nature” as applied to nations. Times come when a man is not justified in preserving his life. So to nations come crises in which they are not permitted by the rules of morality to save themselves by what appear to be the only means left. In the present war Germany asserted that she was justified by this principle in adopting the ruthless war of the submarine, since it was the only thing that would save her from destruction. It is better for a state to go to destruction, just as it is better for a man to go to his death, with clean hands than to live foully.

It is but an extension of this doctrine for men of normal morality to say they may do things for the benefit of the state which they may not do for their own benefit. A statesman has no more right to make his state steal another state’s lands than he has to take his neighbor’s watch.213 It is not a virtue if he lies for his state. The state cannot speak of itself: it speaks through its agents. It is sullied, even as a man is sullied in his character, when its only voice, the words and acts of its servants, is not true. Judged by the standards here set up, the world’s diplomacy needs amendment, and if amended one of the obstacles to peace will be removed.

A false sense of patriotism may lead to acts that imperil peace. When France acquired Morocco her object was not wholly to extend her economic interests. To increase the national strength was also a motive. Likewise, Germany’s desire to establish control over the territory southeast of her was not entirely economic in its origin. She also wished to increase the glory and strength of the Fatherland. How much we are to condemn this desire of a citizen for the glory of his country it is hard to say; but it seems to be clear that such a desire may manifest itself in such a way as to become a serious obstacle to peace.

At the end of the present war the victorious nations will be in a position to abate national glory in the interest of enduring peace. Our214 own citizens are supposed to be particularly proud of the achievements of the United States. If our efforts should contribute as much as we wish to the triumph of our own side, we should be careful lest we forget that we entered the war with the modest purpose of making the world a fit place of habitation for all people. Likewise we should be justified in using our influence among our allies to see that the desire of no statesman to enhance the glory of his nation leads to action which may imperil peace in the future. When we shall have fought long and suffered greatly our hearts are likely to become harder than now, in the beginning of the war; and there is danger that we shall forget early resolutions if we are not firmly committed to them at the outset.

Another obstacle to enduring peace is the sense of nationality. The older men of this generation who were students in Germany in their youth acquired much respect for the passionate desire of Germans to build up unity among all German speaking people. It was a sacred idea to young men and imaginative writers. Long had North Germany been disunited, stumbling forward under215 the lead of the Hapsburgs. To be able to form a dominating group among all the Germans in the world seemed no more than was their just due. We did not realize in those days to what an end these people who lost so many opportunities through internal weakness would put their strength when they had at last developed it. And yet, it was the right of the Germans to unite themselves into as strong a nation as they might form. The wrong came in the improper extension of the idea. When men like Treitschke talk about including Holland in the German Fatherland we may well ask where nationality’s pretensions are taking us?

It was natural, also, that the sense of nationality should be manifested in many other European countries. Each of the Balkan states had its own phase of it. Russia had a large hope of uniting in her control all the peoples of Slavic blood. Italy demanded Trieste as a part of the Italian-speaking world. Greece lived for the acquisition of Macedonia and the Greek Islands, and France never diminished her pathetic longing for Alsace-Lorraine, where lived French-speaking peoples.

216 Often the desire for nationality runs directly counter to economic laws. For example, what are we to do when we have Austria holding on to her only great Adriatic seaport as the essential outlet of her trade to the sea, and nationality proclaiming that this port shall be handed over to Italy? Moreover, different peoples are so intermixed in some parts of Europe that it is impossible for any but a scientific specialist to say which states, or sections of states, are occupied by a majority of one race and which by a majority of another. If we are to set out to divide Europe according to nationality we shall have a large task on our hands. In the United States the principle of nationality is not to be pleaded, since we are so intimately intermixed that it would be hopeless to try to range us into racial groups. Moreover, we get along very well as it is, having once agreed that we shall have to get along together. Perhaps if the nationalizing propaganda ceased in Europe race antagonism would subside.

Autocratic classes in society constitute still another obstacle to peace. We have heard much on this subject of late, and some of the things that217 have been said have been so ill-established in truth that they must make the real autocrats smile. It will probably help us to understand the situation if we undertake to enumerate the good things an autocracy can do. For truth never profits by falsehood, and the most autocratic people in the world have sense enough to know when they are misrepresented.

Let us remember that under favorable conditions an autocracy is composed of the more capable people in the community in which it exists. They are more capable because they have been brought up most carefully, that is, because they have the best trained minds. There is no law of nature by which more fools are born in an aristocracy than in a proletariat. In fact, the tendency is the other way; for since the aristocrats are in a position to cultivate themselves in a given generation, it is natural that a comparatively large portion of their children shall be well endowed mentally. To this gift of nature add the influence of better educational training, and you see how natural it is to expect an autocracy to be stronger mentally than those who would have to replace it if it were overthrown.

218 Again, an autocracy is not necessarily unpatriotic. Of course, it has its own idea of what patriotism is, but so have the classes below the autocracy. Its patriotism usually embraces an honestly held opinion that the autocratic state is the best form of society. On this basis it is willing to sacrifice much for the state. We see it putting “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” literally at the entire command of the state. No man can do more than give his all for that which he holds right.

An autocracy may be composed of men of the best private manners and principles. They frequently include the best poets, historians, novelists, philosophers, and teachers of the nation. It is they who encourage art, and set standards of taste in architecture, landscape gardening, and general culture. Compared with the leisure class of a prosperous industrial country they may be more courteous, more unassuming, and less given to offensive use of their wealth. They are the kind of men whom any of us could love if we knew them personally. These words do not, of course, apply to all members of the class, but to the group as a whole in ordinary conditions.

219 Of the German autocracy most of these things can be said, and more. It is a hard working group and generally speaking it is honest. In the service of the state it has a record of efficient government that few democratic countries can show. The officials of German towns and cities, provinces and states, taken from the hereditary upper classes, are well trained, faithful, and free from the suggestion of corruption. It will take New York or Chicago many years to develop the state of good government that exists in Berlin. Moreover, the German autocracy has the respect of the German people.

Up to last winter the Russian autocracy was an obstacle to peace. Many who looked forward to a reign of reason wondered how they were going to make the theory work while the largest Entente nation was in the hands of an autocracy that was less tolerable than the German autocracy. Fortunately, fate has settled the question, for the time at least. So uncertain is the condition of affairs in Russia, that no one can say what will be the outcome. It is by no means certain that the peasants, workers, and soldiers, will not make actual war against the former autocrats,220 leading to a state of chaos like the worst phases of the French Revolution. If such a thing happens, a reaction in favor of the former ruling class may well follow. If the war ends before the newly established government is firmly seated in power some such upheaval may be expected. Certainly the time of danger is not yet passed.

The German autocracy is better than that which ruled Russia. In fact, it would be less dangerous if it were less serviceable. Its sins are not the patent sins of peculation, cruelty, laziness, or despotism. It offends in that it takes away the confidence of nation in nation. It offends because it is filled with unfortunate purposes. It is possible to think of an autocracy that would be no menace for the peace of the world, an autocracy filled with no ambition for world conquest. It is true that most autocratic governments have not been of this kind, and they seem militarists by nature, whence arise the ideals with which they trouble the world.

When Hegel preached the philosophy of war that underlies the German’s devotion to war, he was largely right from the Prussian221 standpoint. He held that the mind becomes sluggish through inactivity and that war burns up its waste matter and leads to energy of character. This doctrine would not be essentially true in any normally organized society; for there are as many opportunities for self-expression in commerce, finance, manufactures, art, and other peaceful occupations as in war. But a century ago Prussia was filled, even more than today, with a mass of small nobles, unaccustomed to any ordinary form of labor, and with slender incomes. They were just the class that would fall into the effete vices of an aristocracy. To them the military life was an avenue of steady and moral employment. They took places in the great machine, and by 1870 they had been bred into its very spirit. The process saved the German nobles from vapidity. At the same time, as a class, they preserved their political privileges, and it has happened that they, with their official heads, the kaiser, kings, and princes, have been able to unite political power and military purposes until they have made of their country the most military state of modern times. If Germany has fought the present war with great ability,222 it is the organized autocracy that deserves the credit.

It is, therefore, the union of the political and military power in the hands of a privileged class in Germany that now constitutes the greatest obstacle to peace. It enables a small and efficient portion of the German population to wield the rest of the people for the ends they have decided are best. If this union of functions could be broken up, and if political power could be distributed as in the countries governed by the people, the obstacle would be reduced in size. It is not necessary to suppose that it would be removed altogether; for even if equal suffrage were established in Germany, and if autocracy were shorn of its preponderating electoral power, the nobles would still be the most capable class in the empire. Their personality would go a long way in perpetuating their influence. If they played the game of trying to lead the people they might remain rulers of Germany for a long time after losing their present electoral advantages.

It is fair to assume that a democracy will be less likely to go to war than an autocracy. It is223 the middle and lower classes that bear the chief burdens of war. They fight for no promotions. Generally the happiest thing that can come to one of them is a disabling wound to send him home with his head safely on his shoulders. Kings and their sons are rarely killed in battle. When this war began the kaiser was one of the proud Germans who had five tall sons of military age. After nearly four years of fighting none of them have been seriously injured. It would be interesting to know if there is another German father of five sons who has been so gently treated by fortune. Report says that fifty thousand schoolmasters were killed in Germany during the first two years of the war. It would be interesting to learn whether or not the titled class has given up so large a proportion of its members for the cause of the Fatherland.

And yet, it must not be thought that wars cannot exist in democratic countries. When Rome was a republic war was a constant thing. Athens in her republican days had many wars. In the region that is now the United States of America have been several wars. The war for independence was essentially popular. It was organized224 by that part of the population which resented British aristocratic institutions, the class we should today call “the plain people.” In the civil war the demand that slavery be destroyed did not come from the wealthy men of the North, the class that stood for the American aristocracy, but from the middle classes, men who filled the churches and who followed the common impulses of the heart. It was resisted by the South, as democratically organized as Germany would be with the Junkers turned out of power, and the struggle was as bitter as any the world had seen up to the fatal year 1914. Democratic states can fight, and they do fight, but they are less likely to go to war than autocratic states.

If it seems to any of us a necessary thing that autocracy must be removed from the earth, it is well to remember that autocracy can be removed only through the operation of a long and slow process. It can be reduced by some great catastrophe, but it cannot be smitten out in a day. Take away its political power, and perhaps its financial power will be left. Undermine that by raising up a rich bourgeoisie, and its social influence will perhaps still exist. You do not abolish225 it by decree; you banish it only when you have substituted a better thing.

What force exists in Germany with which the autocracy can be supplanted? Next to the radicals, a small faction at best, we have the socialists, numerous enough to have great influence, but committed to a theory of society which cannot be established until humanity has gone through centuries of development in the principles of equality. Then we find the national liberals, whose name is likely to mislead liberals in other parts of the world. They would be called the stand-pat, capitalistic portion of society in the United States, men who believe first of all in the protection of their large interests. In the present struggle they are committed to the Pan-Germany policy since it means the expansion of markets for German wares. Next come the centrists, Catholics in their primary interests, and fundamentally opposed to the doctrines for which the socialists stand. Finally we come to the conservatives, who believe in the autocracy. What magician can fuse these parties into a solid movement for the establishment of really parliamentary government?

226 Last obstacle of all that I shall mention here is the accumulated machinery of war that has been built up in modern states. I do not refer to ideas but to materials and men. Much has been written to show that munition makers have deliberately fostered a belief in war, so as to make a market for their products. Probably some exaggeration exists in most of these arguments and statements. The Krupps and their brethren have plausible grounds for saying that war is inevitable, and that they serve it but do not promote it. But giving them as much benefit of the doubt as they can expect, it must be true that their very existence, and their fine application of science to their business, have led states to count on war as a matter of course. These great aggregations of capital have vast influence in political circles. They have so many stockholders that they affect a large number of influential men. So much are they committed to the cause in which their fortunes and hearts are enlisted that they ought not to have the opportunity to wield their peculiar influence. When this war is over, it would be a real service if every munitions factory as such were taken into government hands and its227 capital stock closed out as a business enterprise. It is only the state, and the state in the hands of the people, that can safely be trusted with this powerful weapon for the creation of war sentiment.

The professional soldiers are also a part of the war machinery which stands in the way of an enduring peace. They can hardly be expected to become pacifists. They are trained to regard war as a necessity. All their ideas of virtue are wrapped up in the fine qualities of a brave soldier. Any other standard is strange to them. They may be expected to throw all their weight of influence in favor of recurring wars. Not that they wish wars to recur, but that they consider it improper to contemplate anything else in the natural order of events. This is a hard problem to deal with. A few professional soldiers may be brought to set their faces against war; but as to the great majority, I fear that those who try to abolish war will have to count on the opposition of the professional warriors until the end of the chapter.

This array of obstacles to enduring peace, is it not formidable? Economic competition, the actual228 if false sense of patriotism, the desire for nationality—which is liable to run into extreme assertions and sometimes to run counter to the strongest economic interests—the existence of autocratic government, and the powerful influence of munition makers and professional warriors—these are some of the obstacles against which those must contend who try to convince the world that peace is the better way. They may well appal the stoutest hearted friend of enduring peace.



The arguments against attempting to establish an enduring peace are undoubtedly formidable, but they do not leave the idealist entirely vanquished. On his side fight humanity and reason, and it is his function to stand by humanity and reason. He has long ago formed the habit of attacking obstacles. In this case the objections he meets are all rooted in the opinions of men, and he loves to change opinions, or, if he does not change them, to hammer away at them as long as life lasts. For his fine optimism we can but have great respect, and in this chapter I intend to summarize his arguments and give them to the public in as strong a light of plausibility as possible. If the stolid opposition of the “practical” world is not to be broken down, let it be shaken as much as may be. The time of its defeat is written in the book of fate. It may be that the time is near at hand.

230 In the first place, let me recall a statement made in the preceding chapter. To get any desired reform adopted and carried out, it is first necessary to get the people to imagine the reform in operation. I mean that they must have a clear mental picture of themselves living contentedly under the proposed plan. Let the proposition be made in such a way that the effective people who direct the government can not, or will not, in the mind’s eye see it in operation, and it will surely fail. Let them imagine its successful use and they will most likely find it unobjectionable. Likewise, if the people of the world could imagine a great coöperative union to promote peace, with enough force behind it to enforce the will of the union, if in their minds they could see themselves adjusted into such a system, with all its economy in taxes, human suffering, and ordinary governmental effort, it would not be very difficult to make such a scheme work in actual experience.

The “practical” man has but little imagination. He has to be deceived into the acceptance of reforms. Make him believe that a given plan has been made to work and his objections are231 diminished, if not overcome altogether. This is not said for scolding but as a sober fact confronting the man who reasons his way through matters that perplex him. The “practical” man is not responsible for his weakness, and he is in the majority among men. On the other hand, the man with imagination is not to be faint-hearted. If he can see and talk, he may, by reiteration finally make his brothers see also.

Fundamentally his position rests upon the reasonableness of his proposition: war is madness, brutality, useless waste of wealth and life, and the negation of civilization. It proceeds from the unnecessarily irritated state of the public mind. Reason demands that she be allowed to have an opportunity to exert her influence in a reasonable world over reasonable beings. Since law is the expression of the will of reasonable beings, let law be given the supervision of all the disputes which may possibly lead to war. How true all this sounds! And the preacher of peace says boldly that it is more worth while to plan, spend money, and take a chance in a great world effort to bring such a reasonable situation to pass than to go on planning, spending, and risking things in the232 efforts to make a system work that has ever led us around in a circle to the same old end, war and misery.

The advocate of peace points to the duel. There was a time when every man felt it his right and duty to settle his own quarrels. He was his own judge and his own sheriff. The result was so bad that law was created to enforce peace between individuals. The old condition survived in the duel, but in most countries this at last was brought under the authority of law. Private combat in its nature does not differ from public combat, and if one was eliminated by the creation of a law that was strong enough to forbid it, the other can be abolished by creating a still stronger law, powerful enough to restrain states as criminal law restrains individuals.

Kant’s argument for perpetual peace ran like this, but he, in sympathy with Rousseau’s social contract theory, argued that the law that restrained individuals was the result of agreement between individuals; and he went further and argued that all that was necessary to secure perpetual peace would be for the states to agree to establish a league, or a federation, to enforce it.

233 Now there was a fallacy in Kant’s argument that has a bearing on the subject immediately before us today. There is no reason to suppose that any state ever arose from an agreement of individuals. The ordinary process was growth out of several conditions. An enlarged family might become a state, or one tribe might conquer another and enlarge itself into a state. Kinship and force were probably the chief causes in producing the state; and reason seems to have played a small part. Similarly, law grew up, not as the result of reason, but as a body of tribal customs, reasonably interpreted by the wise men of the early state.

There is, therefore, no analogy between the proposed method of forming a great super-state with its own body of law, the object of which is to restrain the states from going to war, and the method by which the early state was created. In fact, if one great nation were to conquer the rest of the world and impose its peace on all the world, as it would do, we should have a process more analogous to the origin of the early state. And that is one way of having peace. Within the last years it has seemed a horribly possible234 method; for if Mittel-Europa becomes a fact, it will have such predominating power that it is difficult to see what will stop its march to general authority.

Pointing out Kant’s fallacy weakens his argument as such, but it leaves us in such a dilemma that we are prone to pronounce his suggestion worth trying as an escape from conquest by one great power. For if the world is tending toward unity through conquest, who can doubt that it would be better to anticipate the process, save a great sum of human suffering, and by agreement found the world federation which is the same result to which ages of war will lead us. That we could have such a super-state by contract is not to be doubted. It would be as possible as the creation of the United States of America by agreement.

Another argument of the peace advocate is that the old system by which the world was kept in equilibrium, the balance of power, has broken down, and cannot be trusted to preserve the peace of the future. Its chief characteristic was that several states mutually checked one another. If one manifested an intention that was alarming235 to the rest they combined to restrict the action of the aggressor. The several states were with regard to one another in a condition mobile enough to permit any state to shift from one side to another as the situation demanded. Now this condition no longer exists. There has developed a mid-continental alliance, apparently expecting to continue to act as one state for practical purposes, which in itself threatens to dominate Europe. To hold it in check calls forth all the united force of the other states and then success is obtained only through the greatest amount of preparedness. Such a condition is anything but the old system which was to work through balance and concert of action.

The central position of the Germans and Austrians gives them an immense advantage, if the world is to go on in its national rivalries. On the west lie the two nations who are today doing most to hold them in restraint, France and Great Britain. The former could never stand against Germany alone, and the latter is remote enough from the German frontier to make it improbable that her forces could reach that spot in time to prevent the Germans from gaining the initial advantage236 which, in a state of efficient preparation is the only military success that either side can hope to win. In the face of a strong and threatening Germany it would be very likely that these two nations would have to make a more than formal alliance. Even if that happened, it is possible that Germany would construe it as a threat and begin war.

The only other strong check on the central powers is Russia, now in a sad state of change. What her future is going to be is still problematic. It is a stupendous task for so large a nation, composed of landlords and peasants for the most part, to pass from an autocracy to a self-governing nation. It took France, a smaller country, from 1789 to 1879 to pass through the various changes and counter-changes by which she reformed her government into a republic. It is safe to say that in the Russian development the changes will come more rapidly, but it is not impossible that in this country a period of prolonged unrest is ahead. Under such circumstances Russia could hardly be counted on to give much aid to the Western nations who wished to restrain Germany. In fact, so fluid would be the237 state of her society that she might well become the victim of German ambition and contribute valuable parts of her empire to swell the resources of her aggressive western neighbors.

One insecure spot must be pointed out in this argument. It is the continuous close alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary. If that breaks down the whole argument fails. At the present time it is impossible to say what may happen in this respect. Much will depend on the new emperor of the Dual Empire. That he has a very difficult problem before him is without question. On one hand is the intense Hungarian aversion to absorption by Germany, on the other the passionate desire for union by the German people in the Dual Empire. It is supposed that the emperor does not favor absorption; but it seems certain that he is not able at this time to take an open stand against it.

The strong part Germany has taken in saving Austria from Russia gives Germany a firm hold over the imagination of the Austrian people. It is possible that financial aid has also been extended to such an amount that Austria would be embarrassed if called on to pay back. Nor is the238 kaiser in Berlin in a mood to brook defiance from Vienna. If, therefore Kaiser Karl wishes to be free of his too intimate dependence on Kaiser Wilhelm, he will find it to his advantage to conceal his desire for the time being. It is probable that we shall not know the present true state of feelings in Austria for several years after the war. But unless she is very well Germanized, it would seem that she must soon realize that she is playing a losing game in the combined movement. The real advantages of this war, if any are obtained, are German advantages. It is German trade, German kultur, and German prestige that are being enhanced by the war. Austria as Austria is not reaping advantages commensurate with the gains of her greater partner.

The financial argument seems to be much on the side of the peace advocate. Let us consider the situation in which the European states will find themselves after the return of peace. Bankruptcy is a relative term, if we so interpret it. That is to say, if the people are willing to bear patiently their great burdens they will bear them, and the debts that have been acquired will be shouldered. If one nation repudiates this debt,239 or scales it down, it is probable that the others will do the same, since to continue to carry the debt would leave the faithful nation at a disadvantage with the other nations in reference to future struggles with one another.

No one knows as yet just who owns the bonds in the several nations. From Germany we hear that they are widely held. It is the policy of the government of any nation to distribute a heavy debt as widely as possible; and we have in recent history instances of great patriotism in assuming debts of this kind. Now it is fair to say that the more widely the debt is distributed, the greater its likelihood of permanency. The larger the number of poor people who own it, the harder it will be to lessen the burden of the nation. It follows that in this case the immense interest charge is likely to persist as a permanent encumbrance on the economic life of the country.

On the other hand, let us say that it turns out that the debt is not very widely distributed after all, or that after the war it follows the course of most national debts and passes into the hands of the rich. Then we have the situation likely to promote class friction. The taxes necessary to240 pay the interest will fall on the mass of people, who will probably come to believe that they are taxed for the benefit of the wealthy. Class jealousy will lead to suggestions of repudiation. Such a course is more than ordinarily easy in Germany, France, and Russia, where there are well organized socialist parties, already keenly suspicious of the capitalists.

Thus, whether the debt is widely distributed or not, it contains a menace to society. In one case it constitutes such a burden that it absorbs the financial strength of the government. In the other it invites the most formidable struggle of the poor against the rich that the world has seen in a century.

Such a situation is bad enough in itself, but it does not directly affect the question of peace, our main consideration at this time; for the debt will exist as a result of the war, and nothing in the view of the friends of peace can prevent it. But through whichever of the two contingent courses it goes, the state will have difficulty in continuing the old system.

Let us say that we have a permanent great debt with a huge interest fund, and the state241 wishes to add to the taxes in order to keep up its measures of preparedness. The result must be to produce uneasiness in the minds of the taxpayers. In Germany, for example, the interest charge and the provision for pensions on account of the present war will probably be considerably more than a billion dollars a year. Added to the ordinary expenses of government it will make a burden more than double that of 1913. Can the government go on providing armaments, that may lead to another war, without jeopardizing the loans that are already issued? In the face of such heavy taxation it would not be surprising if the people sold their holdings of bonds to the capitalists and later turned toward repudiation. On the other hand, it would be to the interest of the capitalists to favor moderate expenditures for armaments and armies, lest the patience of the people under their burdens might be exhausted.

But suppose the debt was not distributed widely in the first place, and suppose it was repudiated after a class struggle, or for any other reason scaled down. The result would be a severe blow to credit, and in the future it might be so difficult to raise funds that war could not242 be carried on. No nation can afford to contemplate war if it has not borrowing capacity. If the debts of one war are repudiated those of another may also be repudiated. It behooves the capitalists, therefore, to support a policy which will make armed conflict impossible. While bonds benefit the banker when issued up to a certain point, they can in some conditions become his most serious difficulty. So many perils await the capitalist from a renewal of struggles like the present, that it is not too much to count upon him as a supporter of peace until the financial situation in Europe shall become better than it will be for many a day. It is his true interest to support a federated peace, which will tend to make his bonds secure.

As to the influence of autocracy, the advocate of peace must admit that it is by nature hostile to his system of coöperative peace. Such coöperation must depend on mutual confidence and trust between nations; and it is natural for distrust to exist between republican and autocratic states. The whole trend of autocracy is to self-assertion. As it exists in Germany today it could hardly be relied on to take its place in any243 union of states which would involve the subordination of individual national interests to the common good.

Granting this, the advocate of peace can assert that Germany must eventually give up autocracy. As the only great nations that hold to this relic of a departed age Germany and Austria-Hungary are becoming anachronisms. They are set against the spirit of the twentieth century. If they tide over the crisis that now confronts them they will encounter more furious storms at a later time, and eventually autocracy must be broken down. The argument rests on faith in progress. It is the result of confidence in the innate qualities of human nature. So many times in the past ages have the people risen against bad government, that it is safe to say they will repeat the process until all inequality shall have been reduced.

German autocracy, a survival of a past century, exists only because it takes for its object the good government of a parliamentary system. In intelligence and honesty it is not like the ancient system. The resemblance is only in forms. The republican says: “I will give the people244 just, intelligent, and honest government.” The German autocrat says: “I will do all these things”; and he redeems his promise. His brother of the eighteenth century had no such purpose, being so certain of his position that he did not have to promise the people anything. The German autocrat lives in fear of an overthrow. Perhaps some day he will make a slip—it may be from the action of an unwise emperor or a selfish party clique—and away will go the whole system.

Last summer a crisis arose in Berlin. The very life of the autocracy seemed about to be taken. It was saved finally by a narrow margin, and with the making of promises which seem a long step forward. The people were assured that such was their meaning. If the promises are broken, there will be a reckoning. It may be said that there will never again be so good an opportunity to force the granting of parliamentary reforms. That statement is contestable. The autocracy needs the support of the people at present, in order to bring Germany through the crisis that has arisen from the action of the autocracy, and it may seem from that standpoint245 that the people never had and will never have an equally good opportunity to strike a blow. But the call of patriotism is strong in Germany, and if the liberally minded persons were to stand deliberately for the defeat of the war credits unless they were given the reforms they demanded, it is doubtful if the people would support them. It is hard to carry a country through a great political revolution while the very life of the country is threatened.

After war comes a time of questioning. The German people will have reason to ask themselves what has been done to them. The burdens of taxes, the loss of commerce, the wrecks of human life through maiming, and the great gaps in population through death, all these things can but come to the minds of the people. At that time the press must lose something of its rigorous control, for it is impossible that when the Germans get over the feeling that their country is in danger they will continue to tolerate a press whose every word is dictated by the one thought of keeping the people solidly united in war sentiment. If it should happen that the empire has an emperor who is not trusted by the people it246 may be that the questioning will sweep away many old doubts and forms.

These things should not be taken as prophecy, but as possibilities for tempering the opinion that Germany is destined to be permanently autocratic. The advocate of an enduring peace has a right to think a self-governing Germany well within the bounds of possibility before another decade has elapsed. If such a thing happens, certainly one of the most serious obstacles to peace will have been removed.

I shall venture to put one more argument into the mouth of the advocate of peace. Probably he has not used it as I am going to use it, but it works his way; for it shows that a tremendous fate threatens, unless some coöperative movement is established to avert it. Stated briefly it is this: Through the ages runs a law of unification in society, and it seems probable that the world has today come to the point at which the unifying force is likely to take a long stride forward, a force which may operate in one of two directions. I mean that with the next century unification seems imminent by conquest, if not by common consent.

247 It is not easy to say that the process of concentration in human society is a law in the sense in which there is law in natural science. But there is a general social tendency, seemingly irrepressible, operating steadily from the beginning of history, for the political units to be larger and ever larger. If this tendency is not a law it is an extremely strong force; and we may well ask if it is not about to take one of its great steps forward.

A glance at the past will show how the process has gone on. In ancient times diminutive states were absorbed by larger but still very small states, which in turn were welded into so-called confederacies, or leagues, which at last became integrated states. The concentration went forward in cycles, one empire rising in power until it ruled most of its known world, and then it broke into pieces through its lack of cohesive power. Thus it was with Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Whenever the bubble burst the process of unification began again immediately, and on a larger scale. After the fall of Rome it was again set in motion in an area that included most of Europe, the unifying hand belonging to Charlemagne, king of the Franks.248 His personal valor won the triumph of his will, but his empire fell away soon after he relaxed his hold upon it.

Then began a rebuilding process. Feudal states evolved out of clashing duchies, counties, and bishoprics. Immediately feudal states began to devour one another. With each century the unit of government became larger. At last rose the great power of Spain, so great that it became a threat to other powers, and then followed a series of wars to decide whether or not Spain should be the supreme state in Europe, and Spain lost. A century later France seemed to be seeking to establish herself in the same kind of supremacy, and again the combined force of Europe was necessary to break her purposes. Still later came the Napoleonic wars, in which Europe seemed for a moment to be subjected by one central will, but again it was saved through great suffering. To some people it seemed that the Napoleonic attempt would be the last.

Of these modern struggles in Europe it is seen that each has been harder than the struggle that preceded it. That is because in each the implements249 and organization of warfare were improved as compared with the former struggle, and because states were stronger and more capable of endurance. It is also evident that each of these great wars was the result of the ambition of one sovereign, supported by a strong and well united nobility, while in each case the most effective resistance was offered by the states in which some degree of self-government had been adopted.

The struggle that now exists is the highest manifestation of this tendency to unification that the world has seen since the fall of Rome. Although Napoleon seemed at certain moments in his career to stand nearer absolute success than Germany now stands, he never really gained as much as the kaiser now holds; for he won his successes against the poorly trained and dispirited troops of Prussia, Austria, and Spain, while the Germans have won what they have won against some of the best troops of history. Moreover, Napoleon’s power was founded on his success solely, while the German victories rest on the long established and certain foundation of the German empire. It seems reasonable to say that250 Europe stands today nearer to unification than it has stood since the fall of Charlemagne’s power.

Two great combinations are fighting for mastery. One has the avowed purpose of extending its power until it is in a fair way to absorb the rest of the states one after the other. The other group fights to beat off the fate that threatens, and it acknowledges that it cannot succeed unless it crushes its opponents into such a state as will take from them the desire and the power to attempt another war for supremacy. Whichever side wins, the other will feel an impulse to continue to act in alliance. And we may have a Europe of two great federal states, with the little states at their mercy.

For example, how can Great Britain and France ever be opponents again, as in the old days? The sense of common sacrifices would of itself make them more than friends, but the consciousness that each depends on the other in dealing with the great danger will never fail them, and it will force them into some kind of political union. In the same way, we should expect to see a greatly altered relation between Great251 Britain and her colonies. Three-quarters of a million of colonial defenders constitute a contribution that demands reward. As the colonies depend on the mother country for some important elements of defense, and Great Britain cannot comfort herself with the assurance of safety unless she has a broad imperial power for its basis, it would seem natural to expect some kind of imperial union. As to Belgium, when she escapes from the grasp of Germany, what mind has the ingenuity to foresee her fate? If she relies on the promise of neutralization, she is again tempting fate. If she is annexed to France, with some kind of autonomy, German enmity will be aroused.

Probably her fate is to be bound up with the fate of the other small states of Europe, states which in the present war are hardly entirely sovereign. Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, and Portugal have lost something of the power to direct their internal affairs. In war they have had a lesson of the necessity of bending to the will of an external government, which they will probably remember many times in the days of peace. When once a252 state has yielded at the dictation of a neighbor, and made money out of it, the next time it is pressed yielding becomes an easier thing. The fate of these small states in a possible era of fierce competition between two great groups would be very perplexing. In an era of peace through federation, says the advocate of peace, it would be much happier.

In short, it is a practical question that our idealist puts to us. Here is a world that has gone mad, shall it not turn to reason again? The old system has broken down, shall we try to make it work again? To do so will lead us to just the disaster that now overwhelms us. Shall we not try a plan which will not cost us in money half what the old system of preparation cost, and which if it fails cannot be more of a failure than the old system has proved? If autocracy stands in the way, let us hope that autocracy will give way before the march of the spirit of the times. And finally, the law of unification is working so strongly in these days of international relations, that we are at last at the point at which we cannot longer elect to remain distinct in our national activities. We must choose between a253 world state through conquest, and a world state through mutual agreement. Which shall we take? To try to go on with the states entirely distinct, is to invite their conquest by a great state.



Taking into consideration the obstacles and the advantages summarized in the two preceding chapters what are we going to do when the war comes to an end? The easiest and most likely thing is to adjust ourselves as quickly and quietly as possible to the peace that is given to us, take up the old problems of living as nearly as we can where we left them in 1914—or in 1917, when the war began for the United States—and trust to our good stars to guide us to a happy haven. But if there is one thing this war has shown, it is that trusting to stars is not a safe protection against war. The only thing sensible people ought to count on in these days is the judgment of their capable and efficient minds. And it seems that the suggestion of the men who wish to obtain peace by coöperation is worthy of the most careful debate by men who have the best interest of humanity at heart.

When the war ends it may be that the world255 will not have arrived at the time when such a scheme can be adopted, but we should not be hasty in saying so. It is not a scheme to be disposed of by newspaper editors, who rarely have time to weigh the conditions of such a serious matter, or of senators and representatives, whose views arise out of party interests, or of high officials as a class, who are usually overburdened with administrative matters. It is a thing for all the people to consider, and in order that it may have the fairest and most conspicuous hearing, there should be a great world congress, not composed of theorists merely, but of the most practical statesmen, who will take up the matter in a spirit of friendliness, with the intention of adopting the scheme if it can be received in a manner that warrants the hope of success.

Every nation in the world has reason to desire the establishment of an enduring peace; but the United States has a larger interest in such an issue of the war than any other nation. Since we became a nation we have gone on developing along peaceful lines. Having had no reason to fear our neighbors and being so remote from Europe that we were not likely to be molested256 from that part of the world, we formed our institutions on the basis of peace. Our public ideals, our sense of citizenship, the aims of our law-making have all been such as are natural for a nation that has nothing to fear from external enemies.

One result of the present war is to relegate these ideals into the junk-heap of institutions, unless we can be assured that peace is a certainty. Under a system of competition between states we cannot afford to be less ready for war than any other great nation. We must have a large navy and a great army ready to meet the blows of any power that feels that it has reason to interfere with our peaceful development. We must become a militaristic republic, a thing which seems against nature. When such an attempt has been made in the past, the result has been an oligarchy. In the United States it would probably lead to a sad clash of social classes mingled with vicious party politics and timidity in the national legislature. And yet, under a continuation of the old system it would be folly to endeavor to get along without an army and navy large enough to protect us from the initial swoop of some powerful adversary.

257 If from this fate the advocate of coöperation can offer an escape, it behooves us to listen to his scheme. We should weigh it carefully and be willing to take some kind of a chance to secure its adoption, if in it there is the possibility of successful operation.

To be perfectly fair to those who suggest leagues or federations we should remember that we are not dealing with the ideas of pacifists, as such. The schemes that are set forth by the friends of lasting peace come from men who are giving all their energies to the prosecution of the war. They believe, as much as any of us, that the war should be pressed with every ounce of the nation’s strength. They are fighting as hard as any one in the country, and they desire the defeat of Germany as much as any soldier or statesman in the world. They are fighting to establish a basis on which the peace of the world can be built. They are not cranks, and even if they are mistaken, they are honestly trying to call mankind to the better way.

One of their suggestions is a league of peace, to be composed of the civilized nations. As we have seen, it is loosely organized and does not258 allow the central authority of the league enough power to punish a state that tries to withdraw from the league. Nor does it grant the central authority the right to punish a state which, after submitting its case to the proposed tribunal of arbitration and losing the decision, decides to go to war in defiance of the tribunal’s judgment. What would Germany do, for example, if she had lost such a judgment and did not wish to accept her defeat? Strong and well prepared for war, she might disregard all respect for the opinion of the world, if she felt that her future was at stake, and we can hardly doubt that her own people would support her.

Connected with the idea of a league is the plan, advocated by those who place respect for law above all other considerations, for creating a high court of judicature, with judges selected from all nations, which shall have authority to try and give judgment on all disputes of nations. As a part of a strongly organized federation such a court would have great influence, but if it existed under a league it could hardly have enough authority to secure the obedience of the great states. As for the small states, they never give259 trouble any how, except as they act in association with some great state, or as they are threatened by some great power. No union for peace can accomplish its object that does not deal with the great states, and any scheme suggested may leave the small states out of consideration. On the other hand, the small states are deeply interested in forming such a union, since it would give them a safety they could hardly get otherwise.

The proposed plans for a league of peace and for an international court of arbitration were announced before the war or in its early stages. They were made with an eye to the most that the nations could be induced to give up of their control over their own actions. It is possible that their authors would not follow the same plans if they were forced to make them today. The war has shown us several things. It has revealed Germany’s reason for opposing steadily all the real peace plans at the Hague conferences. It has shown us what fate awaits the world after the war, unless there is a return to reason and coöperation. It is possible that in writing out a plan for peace today the gentlemen who met in Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia, in June, 1915,260 would feel justified in supporting a stronger proposition.

Mr. H. N. Brailsford, in a book called A League of Nations, London, 1917, announces the outline of a working scheme, which he hopes the friends of peace will consider. Its chief features are: 1. An international court of justice to consider and pass on justiciable cases, with a council of conciliation to pass on non-justiciable cases, and a pledge by the states that they will not make war nor mobilize their troops until the court or council has within a stipulated time passed on the several matters in dispute. 2. An executive of the league to take steps, military or economic, to enforce the obligations of the members of the league. 3. The guarantee of the right of secession together with the possibility of expelling a state. 4. A consideration of disarmament on land and sea. 5. An international commission to see that all the signatory powers have access to raw material in manufactures, with a pledge to permit trading among themselves without discrimination and to follow the “open door” policy in trade with the undeveloped regions of the world.

261 In this scheme we see the influence of the war. The author is brought to see that some form of central authority to coërce a state is necessary. On the other hand, he does not allow his league to become a law-making body, an omission that goes far to weaken the united efforts of the league. Guaranteeing the right of secession, also shows that the author of the plan is unwilling to merge the nations into a great state, in which they will each give up a portion of their sovereignty. His plan is a little stronger than the American plan but it nevertheless falls short of being a federation.

If we are to make a serious attempt to obtain enduring peace by coöperation it behooves us to start on the basis of sufficient force to insure that the attempt will be worth while. If that cannot be done, it is unwise to make the attempt, since to trust ourselves at this juncture to that which we have good reason to believe insufficient only lulls us to a false sense of security and dissipates resolution that might with better effect be used in an opposite direction. If we do not have peace through coöperation we must maintain a sharp state of preparation for war.262 Furthermore, no people can be rallied to a scheme which seems insufficient to them. Give them that which they can trust and they can perhaps be made to support it, in spite of the inconveniences they find in it.

Probably it is not too much to say that the only form of united action that can be relied on is a federation with enough cohesive force to guard against secession, repress any constituent state that defies the united will, make laws that concern the purposes for which the federation is formed, exercise the right of interpreting those laws by a system of federal courts, and maintain an executive that can make itself obeyed. It need not have these extensive functions for all the areas of government, but it should have them for those things that concern the declaration of war and the preservation of peace. It means that to escape an era of conflict ending, perhaps, in a world united through conquest as the Roman Empire was united, we establish by agreement a world united through federation, as the United States of America were united. A league of nations, under the plans suggested above, would be only a half-way house that would lead to rupture and263 failure or to some future struggle out of which a world taught by experience might possibly form “a more perfect union.”

Some of the fundamental ideas of a federation were embodied, as we have seen, in the plans of the Abbé St. Pierre and the philosopher, Kant. Living at a time when the state was conceived as the seat of power, they trusted to force to execute the will of the suggested government that was to provide peace. Bentham, however, was deeply impressed with morality as a force for good government, and he was willing to trust his proposed system to the reasonable impulses of men. To him it is possible to reply that if men were so reasonable that they would respect an agreement to settle disputes by arbitration, they would be reasonable enough to avoid the differences which run into such disputes. In our modern world reason thrives best when it is reënforced by authority.

The attempt of Alexander I, of Russia, to obtain some practical realization of the principle of a federated Europe in behalf of peace followed these lines as closely as could be expected, but, it must be confessed, in a very lame way. The264 failure of his efforts has been taken as proof that the idea is impracticable. But it does not follow that it is impracticable to the same extent and in the same way today as in 1815. No Metternich now controls the policy of the majority of the European courts. Republican institutions exist to an appreciable extent in most of them. The mind of Europe is more nearly a unit today than a century ago, and commerce, travel, and international sympathy bind nations together as never before. Moreover all these unifying forces are growing rapidly. When the feeling engendered by the war subsides, and it always does subside after a war, the nations will be more conscious of one another and less willing to challenge one another than before they engaged in the present appalling struggle. In these things there is a hope that the federation of Europe for the preservation of peace would be more possible than in the times of Metternich. I do not mean that all obstacles are removed, but they are fewer than formerly.

Considering these things I find myself driven, in closing my essay, to a serious examination of the possibility of creating a world federation265 out of the chaos that now floats over the globe—not an integrated world empire, with power over all phases of political action, but a federation that will have authority to regulate the forces that make for war. If such a thing could be created and accepted by the states of the world, it would make the present struggle, with all its horrors, the best and most fortunate event that has come to humanity since the beginning of the Christian era. If the war should result in the thorough defeat of the present régime in Germany, followed by the creation of a world federation into which Germany should be forced to come, with her pride so reduced that she could be kept obedient to the federation until the virus of world power should get out of her system, the world would have passed a milestone in civilization, and for our part in it future generations would thank us to the end of time.

The organization of the American Union in 1787–1789 was a similar process on a smaller scale. So many of its features are analogous to conditions that suggest themselves in connection with the proposition of a world federation that it is worth while to recall them. If we are not led266 to conclude that a similar step should be taken at this time in the larger sphere, we shall at least have a clearer idea of what such a federation would mean, and it may happen that we shall conclude that it is not so difficult a thing to establish as appears on first sight.

Before the war for independence the American colonies it is true, were not as separate as the present European states, but they were so distinct in their ideals and purposes that no one thought their union possible. When Franklin proposed a very mild sort of concentration in 1754 his suggestion was rejected in the colonies because it involved the surrender of some of the colonial separateness. Had no pressure come from the outside it is difficult to see what would have forced the thirteen colonies to come together.

The external pressure was the conviction that Great Britain was about to adopt a policy by which the interests of the colonies would be subservient to the interests of British traders, thus destroying their partially avowed hope of a distinctly American policy. Then came seven years of war and four years of fear lest Great Britain should recover through American dissension267 what she had lost in the trial of arms. Under such conditions the newly liberated states were willing to form the American union.

A similar pressure on the nations will exist in the burden of preparedness and the danger of a renewal of the present struggle. The last three years of conflict are more burdensome to the world than the seven years of the American revolution to the states engaged against Great Britain. Moreover, the danger of chaotic conditions in the future is as great as the danger that confronted the Americans in 1787. Every period is a critical period in history, but that which follows the present struggle is especially important.

When our revolution ended a majority of our people thought the old system good enough. The men—and there were many of them—who pointed out the advantages to the western world of a great federated state were pronounced idealists. “Practical” men meant to go on living in a “practical” way. But the idealists were led by Washington, Madison, and Hamilton, and the logic of events came to their aid. Dissensions appeared, taxes were not paid, and the national debt seemed on the verge of repudiation. Then268 the country was willing to listen to the idealists; and the American federated state was established.

It was received with derision by the publicists of Europe. They could not believe that republican government would succeed in an area as large as that of the thirteen states. Their fears were not realized and today most of their descendants live under republican government of some form or other. We should not blame them too much. They had never seen republican government operated on a large scale, and they were not able to imagine that it could operate on a large scale. If they could have seen it working with their mind’s eye, they would have had confidence in its operation. The Americans were accustomed to using their imagination, and seeing the “experiment” working in their imagination, they could adopt it and make it work.

The greatest obstacle to “federation” in the American constitutional convention was the jealousy of small states toward the large states. Since it would have been unwise to leave any state out of the proposed system, the small states were in a position to make demands. When they269 were allowed equality in the senate they became quite reasonable. This obstacle could hardly exist in the formation of a great federation for the elimination of war; for the small states would probably be the first to accept such a plan, as our small states were most willing to adopt our constitution, once it was prepared. It would give them as perfect security as they could desire, and without such a guaranty their continued existence is always precarious.

Next to the fears of the small states was the unwillingness of many people in the states to give up the idea that only a state should control the happiness of its citizens, and that the union, if formed, would destroy or lessen individual liberty. This idea inhered in whatever idea of state sovereignty the people of the day held. To form a federation to enforce peace would undoubtedly limit to some extent the sovereignty of the present states of Europe. But sovereignty in itself is worth nothing. It exists to give in general some forms of life and dignity to states. If a surrender of part of a state’s sovereignty will give that state immunity from wars perpetually, is it not sovereignty well exchanged? No American270 state suffered because it gave up control over its right to make war, but, on the contrary, it gained immensely. Such a right is a costly necessity, a thing to be held tenaciously as long as we are in a condition which makes wars necessary, but to be given up as quickly as we can do without it.

To enter a federation would mean that individual nations would give up the right to expand their territories. Germany could not acquire more territory under such a system, unless she got it by agreement of the parties concerned. The British empire could become no larger by any forceful process. But this would not be a hardship. The only real justification of expansion is to enlarge trade areas. A federation to eliminate war would necessarily adopt a policy which allowed all states an “open door” in trade. This was one of the essential things in the formation of our union; for we read that no state shall interfere within its borders with the rights of the citizens of other states to trade there. Under such circumstances territorial expansion becomes useless.

When the American states were trying to form that simple kind of union that was expressed in271 the articles of confederation, Maryland long refused to join. She was jealous of the great size of her neighbors and especially of Virginia, whose claim to the Northwest was in general not disputed. Experience showed that her fears were groundless. Virginia not only never became a menace to Maryland, but she soon realized that her wide boundaries were worthless to her under a system which guaranteed her against quarrels with her neighbors, and as a result she surrendered her Northwestern lands. Under a federation an undeveloped part of Asia or Africa would be open as freely to Germans as to others for trade, settlement, and the happiness of life, just as our Northwest was open to Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and New Englanders alike. The only thing that Virginia gave up in relinquishing her lands was the right to call herself a big state, that is, self-glorification, a thing the nations would have to give up in a federation. But might it not be well exchanged for the right to call themselves safe from warfare?

When the American constitution was being debated the small states declared they would not “federate” unless they were given privileges272 which guaranteed them against absorption by the large states, while the large states declared they would not “federate” unless it was arranged that the small states should not have the power to defeat measures that were for the common good. Each side was very honest in suspecting the other, and great patience and persistence were necessary to bring them together in a compromise which gave neither what it at first demanded. For us it is interesting to observe that in actual practice there has never been a time when the large states seemed to threaten to devour the small states, nor a time when the small states placed their welfare against any measure that concerned the general good of the country. The union formed, the people began to debate questions that had nothing to do with this or that state, general policies that cut across great sections of the federation, without regard to the states as such.

It seems that if a federation of Europe were once formed a development might be expected of a somewhat similar nature. At least, it is not unlikely that the clashes predicted by the doubters would not be as violent as they fear. It seems certain that at once a new class of issues273 would engage the minds of the politicians, issues that would spring from the general interests that were conceived essential to life in the new grouping. It is not possible to say what clashes might grow out of these general issues, but it is probable that the genius of man would be as competent to take care of them as to direct the issues that will arise if the world goes on under a system like that now in use; for clashes we must have in any event. After all, humanity has to manage its own problems, and there will never be a government under which it will not have all it can do to make the doubts of today resolve themselves into the confidence of tomorrow.

In our American constitution-making one often heard the question, “What will become of the liberties of the citizen of the state under the federation?” The answer was well made at the time: “Will not the citizen of the state still be the citizen of the state, and will not the state continue to guarantee him all that it can now guarantee him? Does he not also pass under the protection of the federation as truly as the citizens of any of the states? All that the federation proposes to do is to take charge of the functions that concern274 the things for which the federation is founded, and these are things to which the states are not so well adjusted as a united government.” And so it proved in practice. No American has ever had reason to think his liberty lessened because the union was formed; and he has been immensely stronger in all his rights on the high seas, in traveling abroad, in being safe from the burdens of foreign wars, and in his rights of trade in the uttermost parts of the earth; for he has been the citizen of a great federation of small states.

Applying the analogy to the suggested federation of the world it appears that under such a system the citizen of France, Great Britain, Russia, or the United States would in nowise lose his rights under his own government, and he would gain vastly in relief from burdens. He would no longer have to think of wars, his trade relations would be adjusted in such a way that no other man could have what he did not have. In short, for all the purposes for which the federation was founded he would stand on equal footing with any other man, and for the purposes for which his own state existed he would have all the rights he had before. His only losses would be275 in casting off the burdens that grow out of international rivalry under the present system.

One of the things for which the American union was created was the payment of the revolutionary debts. Compared with the debts the colony had incurred individually before the revolution, and compared with their ability to pay them at the time, these debts were large, although they proved, under the union, a very small burden. It was the sense of security under a government which had eliminated the possibility of interstate wars that made the burden light.

The amount of indebtedness that the several nations in the present war have contracted seems appalling. It would become a comparatively light burden, if we could feel that for the future the world had nothing to do but to pay it. The waste of interstate rivalry, the burden of preparations for future wars, the loss to industry through uncertainties on account of wars, all these things would disappear from the consideration of the financiers, the credit of a federated world would become excellent, and bonds that are likely to be quoted very low when the artificial stimulus they get from patriotism is taken away would be considered276 better investments than any bonds ever offered under the existing system of states. The capitalists of the world, like the American capitalists of 1787–1789, should be the most earnest supporters of federation.

In the United States a great deal has been said about “entangling alliances.” As the term was used a century ago it meant an alliance that was likely to make us parties to the quarrels of European states, one against the other. Into such a maze of selfish maneuvers it would never be well for us to enter. But to take our place in a federation to preserve peace would be quite another thing. That it would pledge us to the discharge of a duty is not to be doubted; but we should be entering no intrigue. We should be doing the most patriotic thing possible; for the very essence of the act would be to protect ourselves from the possibility of being drawn into “entangling alliances” with Europe. Let us suppose that the old system is continued, and that Germany has a mind to pay off what she may consider an old score. Suppose she tries to set Mexico up against us, or to induce Japan to attack the Philippines, or to interfere with any277 weaker American government in such a way as to threaten the integrity of the Monroe doctrine, have we not an “entangling alliance” on hand? If Germany emerges from the present war strong enough to threaten the world as before the war, when other nations found it necessary to form ententes against her, we shall not dare remain outside of some kind of alliance that will be formed to check her pretensions. World federation is the guaranty against the formation of “entangling alliances” on the part of the United States.

In drawing the parallels between the formation of our union and the possible creation of a federation of nations, it is hard to avoid the inference that the two systems lead to the same end, federated general government. And yet they are not the same. Our union was created to take over a large area of government which the individual states could not conduct successfully. It has a direct bearing on the citizens of the states, it even has its own citizenship, although it was a long time after 1787 before it was defined. It has popular elections, a postal system, and hundreds of other things which no one would allot to278 the kind of federation discussed here. It has been cited only for the argument that can legitimately be derived from analogous conditions relating to the difficulties of forming the union.

A world federation, on the other hand, could have only one main purpose, the preservation of peace. No other bonds should knit it together except those which exist for that purpose. They would be strong enough for the strain that would be put upon them, and no stronger. They would be made for a specific object by persons who would be careful that they were properly made. A federation of this kind could not be adopted until it was approved by the authorities in the constituent nations, which would guarantee that it did not sacrifice the individuality of those nations. In fact, so great would be the obstacles at this point that it is safe to say that there would be more danger that the federation would be too weak rather than that it would be too strong.

* * * * *

Here ends this statement of the arguments for the only possible plan of coöperation that will, if adopted, give the world enduring peace. It would be easier to form a league to enforce peace279 by arbitration and moral suasion than to form a federation with power sufficient to enforce its decrees. But a league would in all probability be flouted by the states as often as their interests seemed to them to make it advisable. Reverting to the analogy of our own formative period in national government, a league would be like our articles of confederation, weak and insufficient because they did not authorize the central government to coërce a recalcitrant state. As a step toward a more desirable end the articles of federation were worth while: as a similar step a league of nations might be better than nothing, but it would not lead to the end to which the world is looking.

The idea of a federation of nations has been behind many a philosopher’s dream. Jesus looked forward to it when he offered the world “my peace,” and many another has held that somewhere in the shadowy future a millennial era of super-government and peace will fall upon the earth. It would be a great thing if at this day we could take a step toward the realization of an ideal whose universality attests its desirability. The “fruits of Waterloo” were lost a280 century ago by a wide margin, due to the less perfect comprehension the world then had of the advantages of federated peace. If they are lost at the end of this war it will be by a smaller discrepancy. Some time they will be secured, not because men have dreamed of them; but because, in such a case at least, dreams are but “suppressed desires.”

The writer of a book can do no more than raise his voice to the people who do things. To that large class who make things happen he can only give impulse and hope. His cry goes to those who govern, to those who direct the press, and to all citizens who feel responsibility for the formation of good public opinion. If he speaks to them faithfully and without prejudice or mere enthusiasm, he has done all he can do. The results are on the knees of the gods.




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Back in the middle of the last century there was a greater demand for history than today, when there are more historians. Sparks, Bancroft, Prescott and Motley as well as Col. Peter Force, the compiler, brought to their work a patriotic fervour touched with literary genius which made their histories works of literature and themselves distinguished figures in a distinguished past. It is of them and their conception of the historical tradition that Prof. Bassett writes, linking their lives to what they lived to make—the history of their country’s early days.

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Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

Page 5: “Mesapotamia” was printed that way.

Page 212: “insistance” was printed that way.

Page 114: “esconced” was printed that way.

Page 138: “benefitted” was printed that way.