No. 233.
Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard .

No. 351.]

Sir: At the request of the Society of the Friends of Peace, I have the honor to send herewith three printed copies of an appeal to the civilized [Page 285] world, issued by that philanthropic association, of which one is intended for yourself and the two others for the presiding officers of the two Houses of Congress.

I have, etc.,

Robert M. McLane.
[Inclosure in No. 351.—Translation.]

To his excellency the minister of foreign affairs of the United States of America:

Mr. Minister: War, notwithstanding the progress of civilization, still remains in the front rank of the scourges which afflict mankind.

All nations when subjected to the ravages of this scourge agree in deprecating it. There is not one, be its power and its resources what they may, that does not shudder at the thought of the calamities that war may unexpectedly bring upon it; not one, whatever may be the nature of its institutions, that does not openly complain of the constantly increasing sacrifices required by this rivalry in arming, which, under pretense of guarantying its safety, but too often endangers it.

It must be admitted, however, that among the states of Europe at least peace, although continually menaced, has about half a century been disturbed more rarely and with greater difficulty. The wisdom of governments, influenced by the feelings of the people, is more and more inclined to settle the questions which divide them without bloodshed, and to substitute less violent and more truly effective means for the hazardous decisions of force.

Sometimes under the name of mediation, and sometimes under the juridical name of arbitration, conflicts which seemed to be on the point of setting the world on fire have, thanks to the moderation of the powers interested and to the conciliatory intervention of friendly powers, been happily appeased.

The ever-famous case of the Alabama claims, the more recent Afghanistan case, and finally the important case of the Carolines—to mention the most memorable ones only—are remembered by everybody.

Diplomacy, however, has not only, to its great honor, prepared and effected in a number of cases these beneficent combinations, it has introduced the principle thereof into the written law of Europe, and by declarations whose value can be contested by none it has more than once invested them with authority of an international character which now causes them to be adopted and respected by all.

By the twenty-third protocol of the conference of 1856 the representatives of the great powers that signed the treaty of Paris unanimously expressed the hope that those states between which any serious disagreement should arise would, before taking up arms, have recourse, as far as circumstances would permit, to the good offices of a friendly power.

The powers not represented at the conference were formally invited to adhere to this protocol, which almost all of them did.

The treaty itself officially stipulated, in its seventh article, that if any disagreement should arise between the Sublime Porte and one or more of the signatory powers Of such a character as to menace the maintenance of their relations, the Sublime Porte and each one of the powers, before resorting to the use of force, should enable the other contracting parties to prevent such an extremity by their mediatorial action.

These declarations, notwithstanding the restrictions by which they were unfortunately surrounded, were very significant. They constituted on the part of the signatory powers, in the first place, and on that of the adhering powers, in the second, a positive and solemn affirmation of the duty thenceforth proclaimed by all and for all, to exhaust, before being authorized to appeal to force, every means to secure an amicable arrangement, and they established above the rival pretensions of both parties a kind of common and superior jurisdiction whose function it was to speak in the name of all.

Several European parliaments, viz, that of Great Britain, that of Sweden, that of Norway, that of Belgium, that of the Netherlands, that of Italy, and that of France, and, outside of the continent of Europe, that of the Republic of the United States, have at various times and in various ways expressed a desire that their respective Governments should enter into negotiations with other Governments with a view to extending, generalizing, and strengthening these auspicious beginnings.

[Page 286]

The congress which met at Berlin in 1878, on whose table, among other documents submitted to its consideration, were the treaty of Paris and the protocols appended thereto, recognized and confirmed in its turn their value and authority by stating, in express terms, that the unabrogated stipulations of the previous treaties and conferences should remain in force.

Finally, another conference held at the same place, viz, that of 1884–’85, relative to the Congo State, expressed similar sentiments by making the following declaration:

“In case serious disagreements relative to the boundaries of the aforesaid territories shall arise between the signatory powers and such as may hereafter give in their adhesion, these powers agree, before resorting to arms, to have recourse to the mediation of one or more friendly powers.

“In this case the same powers reserve the privilege of having recourse to arbitration.”

In order to render these beneficent provisions more ample, and likewise to render them, to the great advantage of all, more imperatively and more certainly applicable to the settlement of all difficulties that might arise among the nations of Europe, it would be sufficient, as your excellency cannot fail to perceive, to remove the restrictions (more apparent than real) which, contrarily, beyond a doubt, to the generous intentions of the high contracting parties, might in certain cases diminish their scope and paralyze their action.

The treaty of Paris and the Berlin conference spoke only of the differences that might be occasioned by Turkey or the Congo, because they were specially called to consider matters relating to Turkey or the Congo. It is not possible that they desired by giving to their declarations a restrictive character to confine to questions connected with those states the right and the duty of exercising vigilance and of taking care, which right and which duty they meant to recognize as being possessed by and being incumbent upon Europe, and that they desired to leave for all the rest the field open to greed, passion, and every possible hazard.

Let the powers that are already bound by previous engagements agree, by a collective declaration which will be nothing more than a confirmation of their individual declarations, to recognize these engagements as possessing the character of a general principle of international law, obligatory in all contingencies and upon all parties; they will establish by this simple act a common mediation invested with authority very different from that of the partial mediations which have, nevertheless, done such good service, and possessing almost infallible efficacy in definitely securing the maintenance of that peace which is so necessary to all and the gradual diminution of those military burdens which weigh so heavily upon all.

It will doubtless not be the compulsory introduction into international law of the principle of arbitration, which has already produced so many happy results, and which is destined to produce others of a still more decisive character when it shall be more frequently and more thoroughly put into practice. There are still weightier reasons why it will not be the formation of that high court of nations which is looked for and desired by great and noble minds as the supreme organ of international justice and a definitive guaranty of peace based upon that justice. Yet it will at least be a new and important step onward in the path in which the enlightened diplomacy of Europe has been advancing since 1856, and another unequivocal victory gained by it over the old spirit of violence and barbarity. The world can never be sufficiently grateful to those whose skillful and happy efforts shall have secured this benefit to it.

It is for you, Mr. Minister, by acting in the name of your Government, in concert with the ministers of the other Governments, to contribute to this glorious result and to receive your share of these blessings.

It surely can not enter the mind of any one to ridicule as visionary and Utopian a proceeding which, as we have already remarked, is based upon the public law of Europe, as that law has been established with equal consistency and clearness by the common and reciprocal declarations of all the powers.

We confidently submit these views to your excellency’s consideration, feeling sure that we are giving expression to the aspirations of the vast majority of the civilized world, and we beg you at the same time to accept the assurance of our most profound respect.

For the peace societies of Europe and America.

The presidents:
  • Frederic Passy.
  • Ad. Pranel.

Deputy and member of the Institute:

  • Aug. Eschenauer,
  • Hippolyte Destreau.