The Republican Party/Chapter XIII

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The Republican party has been prolific of additions to the Union and to the national domain. It came into existence in the midst of a struggle—and largely because of that struggle—over the creation of new western states, and through its far-seeing policies of granting homesteads to settlers, encouraging migration and immigration and providing transcontinental railroads to make the remotest regions accessible it promoted the development of wilderness territories into populous and prosperous commonwealths. Several of the western states, thus fostered by Republican statesmanship, were actually received into the Union under Democratic administrations, but their fitness for such reception was to be credited to the Republican party; while all the states but one taken into the Union since the Civil War were brought in by Republican Presidents and Congresses.

Minnesota in 1858, Oregon in 1859 and Kansas in 1861 entered the Federal Union under a Democratic administration, though the Republican party was even then a powerful influence in effecting those results. Nevada in 1864, Nebraska in 1867 and Colorado in 1876 were Republican creations. The four States of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington date from November, 1889 when a Republican President and Congress were in office. The same is true of Idaho and Wyoming in 1890. Utah in 1896 came in under Democratic rule. Oklahoma in 1907 and New Mexico and Arizona in 1912, completing the Union, were Republican admissions.

The outlying territories belonging to the United States are also with a single exception Republican acquisitions. We have already seen how the great and rich territory of Alaska was secured. The next addition to our territorial possessions was Hawaii, a group of mid-Pacific islands of almost incalcu1able richness and value. These were annexed without cost in 1898 by a Republican President and Congress against the bitter and persistent opposition of the Democrats. The next year, as a result of our little war with Spain for the liberation and independence of Cuba, we acquired Porto Rico, the vast and priceless archipelago of the Philippines, and the small but useful mid-sea islet of Guam. These were secured by a Republican administration against Democratic opposition so bitter that made the matter the leading issue of the 1900 Presidential campaign; in which the Republican policy of “expansion” was overwhelmingly approved by the nation. The acquisition of Tutuila in the Samoan group in 1900 and of the Panama Canal Zone under a perpetual lease in 1904 were also purely Republican achievements. The purchase of the Virgin Islands, or Danish West Indies, in 1917 was indeed effected by a Democratic government, though the policy of making that purchase was originally adopted, against Democratic opposition, by the Republicans.

In addition to such territorial expansion, an enormous extension of American political influence and commercial interests in all parts of the world was effected under Republican direction. It was under Republican administrations that the United States participated prominently and influentially in both of the international Peace Congresses at The Hague. It was a Republican Secretary of State, John Hay, under a Republican President, who enunciated the great principle of the “open door” in China and secured the acquiescence of all other nations therein. It was under a Republican government that the United States participated in the international expedition into China to rescue the beleaguered legations and to save that ancient empire from anarchy. It was a Republican President who successfully offered mediation between Japan and Russia for the termination of their war, and thus won the gratitude of both those countries and secured for the United States a commanding prestige in in the far East.

In the Western Hemisphere, too, Republican policies have been inestimably advantageous in international affairs. The Pan-American movement which led to the formation of the Pan-American Union, or Bureau of American Republics, and which has been of the greatest possible service in promoting cordial and profitable relations between this country and the other American Republics, was conceived, founded and developed to its present great usefulness by Republican statesmen. It was a Republican President, Mr. Hayes, who first enunciated the policy of making whatever canal should ever be constructed across the American Isthmus an American canal under American control; and it was another Republican President, more than a score of years later, who successfully executed that policy by acquiring the unfinished Panama Canal and vigorously pushing it to completion. It was also a Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, who, when the German Kaiser had fitted out a formidable naval and military expedition for the invasion and conquest of Venezuela, calmly but resolutely informed him that the German expedition on its arrival in American water would be met by the American battle fleet ready for action; at which announcement the sailing of the German expedition was promptly countermanded. It was under a Republican government that the dispute between this country and Great Britain over the Alaska boundary was settled through arbitration and the title of the United States to all that it had claimed was finally confirmed.

It was, indeed, because of Republican policies and under Republican government that the United States began to be spoken of as a “world power.” The phrase was something of a misnomer, no doubt, for the United States had in theory and to a degree in fact been a world power since its foundation. But it was Republican statesmanship that so made the legitimate influence of this nation felt throughout the world as to cause a general use of that designation and to emphasize its appropriateness.

The policy of the Republican party has, indeed, been notably that which was wisely established at the beginning of our national life by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson and their compeers. It has been to develop to the full our own continental Republic and to cultivate its territorial possessions; to vindicate the independence of American states against any European attempts at re-subjugation; to participate freely in the commerce of the world and in whatever international intercourse is calculated to advance the humane welfare of mankind; to lend the weight of our example and participation to the practice of arbitration and international adjudication, and to the supremacy of law and justice and peace among the nations; but to withhold this nation scrupulously from all wanton meddling with the affairs of other nations and from all “entangling alliances” which might compromise our own independence or impair our impartial standing.