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History of the United States by Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard
» PART VI. NATIONAL GROWTH AND WORLD POLITICS
» CHAPTER XX

«·CHAPTER XX · American Foreign Relations (1865-98)·»


AMERICA A WORLD POWER (1865-1900)

It has now become a fashion, sanctioned by wide usage and by eminent historians, to speak of America, triumphant over Spain and possessed of new colonies, as entering the twentieth century in the r le of “a world power,” for the first time. Perhaps at this late day, it is useless to protest against the currency of the idea. Nevertheless, the truth is that from the fateful moment in March, 1775, when Edmund Burke unfolded to his colleagues in the British Parliament the resources of an invincible America, down to the settlement at Versailles in 1919 closing the drama of the World War, this nation has been a world power, influencing by its example, by its institutions, by its wealth, trade, and arms the course of international affairs. And it should be said also that neither in the field of commercial enterprise nor in that of diplomacy has it been wanting in spirit or ingenuity.

When John Hay, Secretary of State, heard that an American citizen, Perdicaris, had been seized by Raisuli, a Moroccan bandit, in 1904, he wired his brusque message: “We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” This was but an echo of Commodore Decatur’s equally characteristic answer, “Not a minute,” given nearly a hundred years before to the pirates of Algiers begging for time to consider whether they would cease preying upon American merchantmen. Was it not as early as 1844 that the American commissioner, Caleb Cushing, taking advantage of the British Opium War on China, negotiated with the Celestial Empire a successful commercial treaty? Did he not then exultantly exclaim: “The laws of the Union follow its citizens and its banner protects them even within the domain of the Chinese Empire”? Was it not almost half a century before the battle of Manila Bay in 1898, that Commodore Perry with an adequate naval force “gently coerced Japan into friendship with us,” leading all the nations of the earth in the opening of that empire to the trade of the Occident? Nor is it inappropriate in this connection to recall the fact that the Monroe Doctrine celebrates in 1923 its hundredth anniversary.


«·CHAPTER XX · American Foreign Relations (1865-98)·»