« AnkstesnisTęsti »
the liberation and restoration to nationhood of races in slavery to Austrians and Hungarians, how can Mr. Colby declare that the policy of our Government stands for the return to slavery of nations whose life was extinguished by the Russians? We asked the blessing of God upon our arms to assure us the victory because we were fighting for humanity. In our prayers we put no limit on our philanthropy.
On July 4, 1918, when President Wilson received the representatives of subject races at Mount Vernon, he made a solemn pledge in the name of the American people to all subject races. A Lithuanian stood with the others before Washington's tomb. Neither in that speech nor in any other did Wilson say, "You understand, of course, that the victorious allies mean to free and restore only the subject races whose freedom and restoration will be at the expense of and to the confusion of our enemies." Had he said this, it would have been a manly confession-to avoid false hopes and false pretences of what was afterward evident at the peace conference, that the yearning for humanity was a sham and the proclamation of the doctrine of self-determination a falsehood. The moral issue was simply bunk to make people feel good and arouse them against the Germans. Because races were conquered by the Romanoffs, have they less right to freedom than if they were conquered by the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns?
When we read carefully the Colby note, which is meant to justify the refusal of the State Department to follow the example of our associates in recognizing and dealing with and helping the Baltic Sea republics, we can challenge its logic as well as its misrepresentation of the American idealism expressed by President Wilson during the war. Poland and Finland were portions of "integral Russia"; so was Russian Armenia; so was Bessarabia. Without consulting Russia, we have recognized the independence of Poland, Finland, and Armenia, and have agreed to the inclusion of Bessarabia in Rumania. The State Department expert will respond that Poland and Finland had a special status under the Treaty of Vienna. Why go
back in regard to Russia only to the Treaty of Vienna? In making the treaties of Versailles and St.-Germain we canceled the Treaty of Vienna. We ignored this treaty and all other treaties in dealing with subject races of Austria-Hungary and Germany. The attempt to justify partiality of treatment between Poland and the Baltic Sea republics on the ground of the Treaty of Vienna fails even if we did accept the Treaty of Vienna as the law and the prophets. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania enjoyed an individual status in the Russian Empire by virtue of arrangements made before the Napoleonic period and not infringed upon until 1830. The charter of Lithuania was not finally abrogated until 1848, and the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania was assumed by the Russian czar on a par with that of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland at coronations. This acknowledgment of the separate identity of Lithuania in the empire was never given up. The late Nicholas was crowned Grand Duke of Lithuania.
From a historical point of view the American State Department has no ground to stand upon in regarding Lithuania as a Russian province and at the same time holding that Poland is an independent kingdom. The relations of the two countries toward the Russian Empire are strikingly alike. Both lost their independence through the partitions of the eighteenth century, after having been for centuries great and flourishing empires. Both are Catholic countries. Both suffered horribly from czardom during the nineteenth century. Both were battle-grounds during the late war. Commander Gade, an American reserve naval officer who represented us in the Baltic provinces and has since been able to impress his personal opinions upon the State Department, justifies the non-recognition policy on practical economic grounds. He maintains that these countries cannot exist independently, and ought not to be encouraged in their aspirations for nationhood, because Russia needs them as an economic outlet to the sea, while much of their prosperity must come from transit trade. Commander Gade has advanced this point of view earnestly and plaus
ibly. It appeals to American common sense, which believes that in union there is strength.
But we forget the treaties of Versailles and St.-Germain. One may have his own opinion about the advisability of the policy of émiettement (breaking in pieces) of political organisms that represented the economic evolution of past centuries. We are committed, however, to just that policy. It is too late to question it. I have never been an unreasoning and sentimental pleader for the doctrine of self-determination, but I have maintained, as a student of nationalist movements, that the effort to limit the application of self-determination to races whose liberation helps the fancied interests of a few great powers is disastrous and makes impossible the establishment of peace. Political expediency is never more than a temporary makeshift. Old problems are solved only by creating new ones. It stands to reason that we cannot in one breath lop off frontier provinces from Germany on the ground of the alien character of their inhabitants and destroy the Hapsburg Empire on the ground of the right of its various elements to an independent existence, and in the next breath tell other, and neighboring, subject races that they have no future outside of the Romanoff Empire. Lithuania has a better economic raison d'être than Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. Lithuania and the other Baltic Sea republics have precedents that refute the argumentation of Gade and our State Department not only in regard to their right and ability to exist independently of Russia, but also independently of one another.
If the reader will take the map of Europe and look at the location of the German Empire and follow its river courses in relation to Belgium and Holland, and then compare the similar situation of Russia in relation to Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia, he will readily see how the Gade position, which our State Department has foolishly adopted, resembles the position of German economists toward Belgium. Standing between a great empire and the sea is no reason to deny the right of a race to nationhood. The Dutch and a part of the Belgians are very much closer the Ger
mans racially than the Lithuanians and Latvians are to the Russians and Poles. The access to the sea argument for a big fellow crushing the life out of a little fellow I thought we had definitely scotched. It is disconcerting to see it crop up in our own country in official circles. The other two parts of the Gade economic argument are also refuted by Belgium and Holland. These countries have existed economically, flourished, and been able to defend themselves against Germany, England, and France. And they have existed now for nearly a hundred years as separate entities. Why should not Baltic Sea states get along as well as North Sea states? The Baltic Sea already has little states less extensive in territory and some of them less populous than the new Baltic Sea republics.
But Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia, by asking for the recognition of their independence, do not close the door upon the possibility of a Russian federation or a federation among themselves. In this time of upset and confusion they are asking simply for a free hand to look out for their own interests. As Russian provinces, with no separate international status, they could resist neither Bolshevists nor Russian reactionaries. They would be in the plight of the rest of Russia now, and to-morrow, when the reaction comes, have to submit to a return to the old intolerable conditions, alien landowners and alien office-holders grinding the life out of them. The Baltic Sea republics may develop into vigorous independent states, or they may return to membership in the political organism of a new and regenerated Russia; but in the meantime they have to live, and when the moment for the reconstitution of integral Russia comes, these subject races will know by experience whether independence is possible or preferable from an economic point of view, and will be able to lay down political and social stipulations if they feel that it is wisest to go back to Russia. The best thought in Great Britain is in favor of looking upon the Baltic Sea republics in this light. The British Government stands for giving them a chance. The AngloSaxon instinct says, give them a chance! Why do we have to tolerate such an unjust and stupid policy as that outlined in
the Colby note? One is thankful that President-elect Harding has promised "a complete reversal" of American foreign policy. For our honor as well as for our interests, the election of Harding is a great victory. We may not be able to take on the defense of the small nations the world over; at least we shall refrain from giving official sanction to stifling their aspirations.
In an article in this magazine advocating independence for Poland, when the Poles had no friends in Entente official circles and Americans regarded the resurrection of Poland as a dream in the category with the restoration of AlsaceLorraine to France, I warned the Poles against the danger of an inordinate territorial appetite.1 A year later, when the Russian Revolution had made encouragement of Poland a diplomatic possibility for the Entente, I heard M. Roman Dmowski, at the Comité National d'Etudes in the Cour de Cassation, Paris, set forth the aspirations of Poland. M. Dmowski spoke as if two racial units alone, the Russians and the Poles, faced each other from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He limited the problem of the future border-lands between Russia and the Central empires to the recognition of Poland's independence and the backing of Poland's claims at the peace conference. Dmowski did not mention the Lithuanians and the Ukrainians. This was the beginning of a policy that has ruled the Polish attitude toward the eastern frontiers of their state. The Poles insisted in the west on the inclusion of every district inhabited by Poles. In the east they have regarded the ethnographical argument as nonexistent.
Poland claims all the Russian borderlands, including Lithuania, as part of historic Poland. The Ukrainians and Lithuanians, whose ethnographical territories are thus refused them, claim also to have ruled all these lands at one time. The Lithuanians deny ever having been conquered by the Poles or having formed more than a personal union with the Polish state, and declare that they were victims of the partitions not as a part of
Poland, but as an independent state. The historic argument applied to the Russian border-lands is very much like that used by the Balkan States in their rival claims to Macedonia. At some time or other each in turn was the upper dog and owned the disputed territories.
The ungenerous attitude of Poland toward all her neighbors is peculiarly disheartening. One would think that the Poles had suffered so much from the hands of their masters that they would instinctively refrain from playing the detested rôle themselves. But one must reluctantly admit that the Poles seem to have learned only how to employ the brutal methods of their own conquerors. As Russians and Germans acted toward the Poles, so have the Poles been acting toward Lithuanians and Ukrainians. We remember how the Poles pilloried the colonization schemes of their Prussian masters. Exactly the same schemes they are adopting in turn toward weaker races. The seizure of the capital of Lithuania by General Zellgouski has led to a new The Poles have taken on as enemies all their neighbors, Germans, Czecho-Slovaks, Ukrainians, Russians, and Lithuanians. The state they are trying to form contains so many alien elements in juxtaposition geographically to "brothers of blood" that it is bound to collapse under the weight of a circle of irredentist movements. The Poles ought to have made friends of the Lithuanians. By Zellgouski's move, if not disavowed and punished, Poland will find the Baltic Sea republics allied against her either with Germany or Russia or both.
What is the moral for us? If our Government intends to give active aid in the establishment of peace and reconstruction in Europe, we cannot pursue a different policy in the Baltic from that of Great Britain. We must recognize and seek to strengthen the Baltic Sea republics, incidentally looking around for opportunities for trade in Eastern Europe. If we are going to disinterest ourselves in the politics of Europe, and look for a field for our diplomatic and commercial activities elsewhere, let us stop putting in our oar where we do not intend to row.
1 See the "Reconstruction of Poland" in THE CENTURY for November, 1916.
Lost Ships and Lonely Seas V.-Captain Paddock on the Coast of Barbary
By RALPH D. PAINE
HE veterans of the Revolution of '76, who had won a war for freedom, were still young men when American sailors continued to be bought and sold as slaves, for a few dollars a head, on the farther side of the Atlantic. It was a trade which had flourished during the colonial period, and was unmolested even after the Stars and Stripes proclaimed the sovereign pride and independence of this union of States. Indeed, while hundreds of American mariners were held in this inhuman bondage, their Government actually sent to the Dey of Algiers a million dollars in money and other gifts, including a fine new frigate, as humble tribute to this bloody pirate, in the hope of softening his heart. It was the bitterest touch of humiliation that this frigate, the Crescent, sailed from the New England harbor of Portsmouth, whose free tides had borne a few years before the brave keels of John Paul Jones's Ranger and America.
The Christian nations of Europe deliberately protected these nests of searobbers in Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli, in order that they might prey upon the ships and sailors of weaker nations and destroy their commerce. This ignoble spirit was reflected in a speech of Lord Sheffield in Parliament in 1784.
It is not probable that the American States will have a very free trade in the Mediterranean. It will not be to the interest of any of the great maritime Powers to protect them from the Barbary States. If they know their interests they will not encourage the Americans to be ocean carriers. That the Barbary States are advantageous to maritime Powers is certain.
It was not until 1803 that the United States, a feeble nation with a little navy, resolved that these shameful indignities
could no longer be endured. While Europe cynically looked on and forbore to lend a hand, Commodore Preble steered the Constitution and the other ships of his squadron into the harbor of Tripoli, smashed its defenses, and compelled an honorable treaty of peace. Of all the wars in which the American Navy has won high distinction, there is none whose episodes are more brilliant than those of the bold adventure on the coast of Barbary. The spirit of it was typical of Preble, the fighting Yankee commodore, who fell in with a strange ship one black night in the Strait of Gibraltar. From the quarter-deck of the Constitution he trumpeted a hail, but the response was evasive, and both ships promptly manoeuvered for the weather-gage.
"I hail you for the last time. If you don't answer, I'll fire into you," roared Preble. "What ship is that?"
"His Britannic Majesty's eighty-fourgun ship-of-the-line Donegal," came back the reply. "Send a boat on board."
Without an instant's hesitation the commodore thundered from his Yankee frigate:
"This is the United States forty-fourgun ship Constitution, Captain Edward Preble, and I'll be damned if I send a boat aboard any ship. Blow your matches, boys."
Until the hordes of Moorish and Arab cutthroats were taught by force to respect the flag flown by American merchantmen, there was no fate so dreaded by mariners as shipwreck on the desert coast of northern Africa. For a hundred and fifty years they risked the dreadful peril of enslavement under taskmasters incredibly inhuman, who lashed and starved and slew them. In the seventeenth century it was no uncommon sight in the ports of Salem and Boston to see an honest sailor trudging from house to house to beg money enough to