Message of the President, annual

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The relations of the United States with other countries have continued during the past 12 months upon a basis of the usual good will and friendly intercourse.


The year just passed marks an important general movement on the part of the powers for broader arbitration. In the recognition of the manifold benefits to mankind in the extension of the policy of the settlement of international disputes by arbitration rather than by war, and in response to a widespread demand for an advance in that direction on the part of the people of the United States and of Great Britain and of France, new arbitration treaties were negotiated last spring with Great Britain and France, the terms of which were designed, as expressed in the preamble of these treaties, to extend the scope and obligations of the policy of arbitration adopted in our present treaties with those Governments. To pave the way for this treaty with the United States, Great Britain negotiated an important modification in its alliance with Japan, and the French Government also expedited the negotiations with signal good will. The new treaties have been submitted to the Senate and are awaiting its advice and consent to their ratification. All the essentials of these important treaties have long been known, and it is my earnest hope that they will receive prompt and favorable action.

claim of alsop & co. settled.

I am glad to report that on July 5 last the American claim of Alsop & Co. against the Government of Chile was finally disposed of by the decision of His Britannic Majesty George V, to whom, as amiable compositeur, the matter had been referred for determination. His Majesty made an award of nearly $1,000,000 to the claimants, which was promptly paid by Chile. The settlement of this controversy has happily eliminated from the relations between the Republic [Page X] of Chile and the United States the only question which for two decades had given the two foreign offices any serious concern and makes possible the unobstructed development of the relations of friendship which it has been the aim of this Government in every possible way to further and cultivate.

arbitrations—panama and costa rica—dominican republic and haiti.

In further illustration of the practical and beneficent application of the principle of arbitration and the underlying broad spirit of conciliation, I am happy to advert to the part of the United States in facilitating amicable settlement of disputes which menaced the peace between Panama and Costa Rica and between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Since the date of their independence, Colombia and Costa Rica had been seeking a solution of a boundary dispute, which came as an heritage from Colombia to the new Republic of Panama, upon its beginning life as an independent nation. Although the disputants had submitted this question for decision to the President of France under the terms of an arbitration treaty, the exact interpretation of the provisions of the award rendered had been a matter of serious disagreement between the two countries, both contending for widely different lines even under the terms of the decision. Subsequently and since 1903 this boundary question had been the subject of fruitless diplomatic negotiations between the parties. In January, 1910, at the request of both Governments the agents representing them met in conference at the Department of State and subsequently concluded a protocol submitting this long-pending controversy to the arbitral judgment of the Chief Justice of the United States, who consented to act in this capacity. A boundary commission, according to the international agreement, has now been appointed, and it is expected that the arguments will shortly proceed and that this long-standing dispute will be honorably and satisfactorily terminated.

Again, a few months ago it appeared that the Dominican Republic and Haiti were about to enter upon hostilities because of complications growing out of an acrimonious boundary dispute which the efforts of many years had failed to solve. The Government of the United States, by a friendly interposition of good offices, succeeded in prevailing upon the parties to place their reliance upon some form of pacific settlement. Accordingly, on the friendly suggestion of this Government, the two Governments empowered commissioners to meet at Washington in conference at the State Department in order to arrange the terms of submission to arbitration of the boundary controversy.

[Page XI]

chamizal arbitration not satisfactory.

Our arbitration of the Chamizal boundary question with Mexico was, unfortunately, abortive, but with the earnest efforts on the part of both Governments which its importance commands, it is felt that an early practical adjustment should prove possible.

latin america.


During the past year the Republic of Venezuela celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of its independence. The United States sent, in honor of this event, a special embassy to Caracas, where the cordial reception and generous hospitality shown it were most gratifying as a further proof of the good relations and friendship existing between that country and the United States.


The recent political events in Mexico received attention from this Government because of the exceedingly delicate and difficult situation created along our southern border and the necessity for taking measures properly to safeguard American interests. The Government of the United States, in its desire to secure a proper observance and enforcement of the so-called neutrality statutes of the Federal Government, issued directions to the appropriate officers to exercise a diligent and vigilant regard for the requirements of such rules and laws. Although a condition of actual armed conflict existed, there was no official recognition of belligerency involving the technical neutrality obligations of international law.

On the 6th of March last, in the absence of the Secretary of State, I had a personal interview with Mr. Wilson, the ambassador of the United States to Mexico, in which he reported to me that the conditions in Mexico were much more critical than the press dispatches disclosed; that President Diaz was on a volcano of popular uprising; that the small outbreaks which had occurred were only symptomatic of the whole condition; that a very large per cent of the people were in sympathy with the insurrection; that a general explosion was probable at any time, in which case he feared that the 40,000 or more-American residents in Mexico might be assailed, and that the very large American investments might be injured or destroyed.

After a conference with the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, I thought it wise to assemble an Army division of full strength at San Antonio, Tex., a brigade of three regiments at Galveston, a brigade of Infantry in the Los Angeles district of southern California, together with a squadron of battleships and cruisers and [Page XII] transports at Galveston, and a small squadron of ships at San Diego. At the same time, through our representative at the City of Mexico, I expressed to President Diaz the hope that no apprehensions might result from unfounded conjectures as to these military maneuvers, and assured him that they had no significance which should cause concern to his Government.

The mobilization was effected with great promptness, and on the 15th of March, through the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, in a letter addressed to the Chief of Staff, I issued the following instructions:

It seems my duty as Commander in Chief to place troops in sufficient number where, if Congress shall direct that they enter Mexico to save American lives and property, an effective movement may be made. Meantime the movement of the troops to Texas and elsewhere near the boundary, accompanied with sincere assurances of the utmost good-will toward the present Mexican Government and with larger and more frequent patrols along the border to prevent insurrectionary expeditions from American soil, will hold up the hands of the existing Government and will have a healthy moral effect to prevent attacks upon Americans and their property in any subsequent general internecine strife. Again, the sudden mobilization of a division of troops has been a great test of our Army and full of useful instruction, while the maneuvers that are thus made possible can occupy the troops and their officers to great advantage.

The assumption by the press that I contemplate intervention on Mexican soil to protect American lives or property is, of course, gratuitous, because I seriously doubt whether I have such authority under any circumstances; and if I had, I would not exercise it without express congressional approval. Indeed, as you know, I have already declined, without Mexican consent, to order a troop of Cavalry to protect the breakwater we are constructing just across the border in Mexico at the mouth of the Colorado River to save the Imperial Valley, although the insurrectos had scattered the Mexican troops and were taking our horses and supplies and frightening our workmen away. My determined purpose, however, is to be in a position so that when danger to American lives and property in Mexico threatens and the existing Government is rendered helpless by the insurrection I can promptly execute congressional orders to protect them, with effect.

Meantime I send you this letter, through the Secretary, to call your attention to some things in connection with the presence of the division in the Southwest which have doubtless occurred to you, but which I wish to emphasize.

In the first place, I want to make the mobilization a first-class training for the Army, and I wish you would give your time and that of the War College to advising and carrying out maneuvers of a useful character and plan to continue to do this during the next three months. By that time we may expect that either Ambassador Wilson’s fears will have been realized and chaos and its consequence have ensued or that the present Government of Mexico will have so readjusted matters as to secure tranquillity—a result devoutly to be wished. The troops can then be returned to their posts. I understood from you in Washington that Gen. Aleshire said that you could probably meet all the additional expense of this whole movement out of the present appropriations if the troops continue in Texas for three months. I sincerely hope this is so. I observe from the newspapers that you have no blank cartridges, but I presume [Page XIII] that this is an error or that it will be easy to procure those for use as soon as your maneuvers begin.

Second. Texas is a State ordinarily peaceful; but you can not put 20,000 troops into it without running some risk of a collision between the people of that State, and especially the Mexicans who live in Texas near the border and who sympathize with the insurrectos, and the Federal soldiers. For that reason I beg you to be as careful as you can to prevent friction of any kind. We were able in Cuba, with the army of pacification there of something more than 5,000 troops, to maintain them for a year without any trouble, and I hope you can do the same thing in Texas. Please give your attention to this, and advise all the officers in command of the necessity for very great circumspection in this regard.

Third. One of the great troubles in the concentration of troops is the danger of disease; and I suppose that you have adopted the most modern methods for the preventing and, if necessary, for stamping out epidemics. That is so much a part of a campaign that it hardly seems necessary for me to call attention to it.

Finally, I wish you to examine the question of the patrol of the border and put as many troops on that work as is practicable, and more than are now engaged in it, in order to prevent the use of our borderland for the carrying on of the insurrection. I have given assurances to the Mexican ambassador on this point.

I sincerely hope that this experience will always be remembered by the Army and Navy as a useful means of education, and I should be greatly disappointed if it resulted in any injury or disaster to our forces from any cause. I have taken a good deal of responsibility in ordering this mobilization, but I am ready to answer for it if only you and those under you use the utmost care to avoid the difficulties which I have pointed out.

You may have a copy of this letter made and left with Gen. Carter and such other generals in command as you may think wise and necessary to guide them in their course, but to be regarded as confidential.

I am more than happy to here record the fact that all apprehensions as to the effect of the presence of so large a military force in Texas proved groundless; no disturbances occurred; the conduct of the troops was exemplary, and the public reception and treatment of them was all that could have, been desired, and this notwithstanding the presence of a large number of Mexican refugees in the border territory.

From time to time communications were received from Ambassador Wilson, who had returned to Mexico, confirming the view that the massing of American troops in the neighborhood had had good effect. By dispatch of April 3, 1911, the ambassador said:

The continuing gravity of the situation here and the chaos that would ensue should the constitutional authorities be eventually overthrown, thus greatly increasing the danger to which American lives and property are already subject, confirm the wisdom of the President in taking those military precautions which, making every allowance for the dignity and the sovereignty of a friendly state, are due to our nationals abroad.

Charged as I am with the responsibility of safeguarding these lives and property, I am bound to say to the department that our military dispositions [Page XIV] on the frontier have produced an effective impression on the Mexican mind and may, at any moment, prove to be the only guaranties for the safety of our nationals and their property. If it should eventuate that conditions here require more active measures by the President and Congress, sporadic attacks might be made upon the lives and property of our nationals, but the ultimate result would be order and adequate protection.

The insurrection continued and resulted in engagements between the regular Mexican troops and the insurgents, and this along the border, so that in several instances bullets from the contending forces struck American citizens engaged in their lawful occupations on American soil.

Proper protests were made against these invasions of American rights to the Mexican authorities. On April 17, 1911, I received the following telegram from the governor of Arizona:

As a result of to-day’s fighting across the international line, but within gunshot range of the heart of Douglas, five Americans wounded on this side of the line. Everything points to repetition of these casualties on to-morrow, and while the Federals seem disposed to keep their agreement not to fire into Douglas, the position of the insurrectionists is such that when fighting occurs on the east and southeast of the intrenchments people living in Douglas are put in danger of their lives. In my judgment radical measures are needed to protect our innocent people, and if anything can be done to stop the fighting at Agua Prieta the situation calls for such action. It is impossible to safeguard the people of Douglas unless the town be vacated. Can anything be done to relieve situation, now acute?

After a conference with the Secretary of State, the following telegram was sent to Governor Sloan, on April 18, 1911, and made public:

Your dispatch received. Have made urgent demand upon Mexican Government to issue instructions to prevent firing across border by Mexican federal troops, and am awaiting reply. Meantime I have sent direct warning to the Mexican and insurgent forces near Douglas. I infer from your dispatch that both parties attempt to heed the warning, but that in the strain and exigency of the contest wild bullets, still find their way into Douglas. The situation might justify me in ordering our troops to cross the border and attempt to stop the fighting, or to fire upon both combatants from the American side. But if I take this step, I must face the possibility of resistance and greater bloodshed, and also the danger of having our motives misconstrued and misrepresented, and of thus inflaming Mexican popular indignation against many thousand Americans now in Mexico and jeopardizing their lives and property. The pressure for general intervention under such conditions it might not be practicable to resist. It is impossible to foresee or reckon the consequences of such a course, and we must use the greatest self-restraint to avoid it. Pending my urgent representation to the Mexican Government, I can not therefore order the troops at Douglas to cross the border, but I must ask you and the local authorities, in case the same danger recurs, to direct the people of Douglas to place themselves where bullets can not reach them and thus avoid casualty. I am loath to endanger Americans in Mexico, where they are necessarily exposed, by taking a radical step to prevent injury to Americans on our side of the border who can avoid it by a temporary inconvenience.

[Page XV]

I am glad to say that no further invasion of American rights of any substantial character occurred.

The presence of a large military and naval force available for prompt action, near the Mexican border, proved to be most fortunate under the somewhat trying conditions presented by this invasion of American rights. Had no movement theretofore taken place, and because of these events it had been necessary then to bring about the mobilization, it must have had sinister significance. On the other hand, the presence of the troops before and at the time of the unfortunate killing and wounding of American citizens at Douglas, made clear that the restraint exercised by our Government in regard to this occurrence was not due to a lack of force or power to deal with it promptly and aggressively, but was due to a real desire to use every means possible to avoid direct intervention in the affairs of our neighbor, whose friendship we valued and were most anxious to retain.

The policy and action of this Government were based upon an earnest friendliness for the Mexican people as a whole, and it is a matter of gratification to note that this attitude of strict impartiality as to all factions in Mexico and of sincere friendship for the neighboring nation, without regard for party allegiance, has been generally recognized and has resulted in an even closer and more sympathetic understanding between the two Republics and a warmer regard one for the other. Action to suppress violence and restore tranquillity throughout the Mexican Republic was of peculiar interest to this Government, in that it concerned the safeguarding of American life and property in that country. The Government of the United States had occasion to accord permission for the passage of a body of Mexican rurales through Douglas, Ariz., to Tia Juana, Mexico, for the suppression of general lawlessness which had for some time existed in the region of northern Lower California. On May 25, 1911, President Diaz resigned, Señor de la Barra was chosen provisional President. Elections for President and Vice President were thereafter held throughout the Republic, and Señor Francisco I. Madero was formally declared elected on October 15 to the chief magistracy. On November 6 President Madero entered upon the duties of his office.

Since the inauguration of President Madero a plot has been unearthed against the present Government, to begin a new insurrection. Pursuing the same consistent policy which this administration has adopted from the beginning, it directed an investigation into the conspiracy charged, and this investigation has resulted in the indictment of Gen. Bernardo Reyes and others and the seizure of a number of officers and men and horses and accoutrements assembled upon the soil of Texas for the purpose of invading Mexico. Similar proceedings had been taken during the insurrection against the Diaz Government, [Page XVI] resulting in the indictments and prosecution of persons found to be engaged in violating the neutrality laws of the United States in aid of that uprising.

The record of this Government in respect of the recognition of constituted authority in Mexico therefore is clear.

central America—honduras and nicaragua treaties proposed.

As to the situation in Central America, I have taken occasion in the past to emphasize most strongly the importance that should be attributed to the consummation of the conventions between the Republics of Nicaragua and of Honduras and this country, and I again earnestly recommend that the necessary advice and consent of the Senate be accorded to these treaties, which will make it possible for these Central American Republics to enter upon an era of genuine economic national development. The Government of Nicaragua, which has already taken favorable action on the convention, has found it necessary, pending the exchange of final ratifications, to enter into negotiations with American bankers for the purpose of securing a temporary loan to relieve the present financial tension. In connection with this temporary loan and in the hope of consummating, through the ultimate operation of the convention, a complete and lasting economic regeneration, the Government of Nicaragua has also decided to engage an American citizen as collector general of customs. The claims commission, on which the services of two American citizens have been sought, and the work of the American financial adviser should accomplish a lasting good of inestimable benefit to the prosperity, commerce, and peace of the Republic. In considering the ratification of the conventions with Nicaragua and Honduras, there rests with the United States the heavy responsibility of the fact that their rejection here might destroy the progress made and consign the Republics concerned to still deeper submergence in bankruptcy, revolution, and national jeopardy.


Our relations with the Republic of Panama, peculiarly important, due to mutual obligations and the vast interests created by the canal, have continued in the usual friendly manner, and we have been glad to make appropriate expression of our attitude of sympathetic interest in the endeavors of our neighbor in undertaking the development of the rich resources of the country. With .reference to the internal political affairs of the Republic, our obvious concern is in the maintenance of public peace and constitutional order, and the fostering of the general interests created by the actual relations of the two countries, without the manifestation of any preference for the success of either of the political parties.

[Page XVII]

the pan american union.

The Pan American Union, formerly known as the Bureau of American Republics, maintained by the joint contributions of all the American nations, has during the past year enlarged its practical work as an international organization, and continues to prove its usefulness as an agency for the mutual development of commerce, better acquaintance, and closer intercourse between the United States and her sister American Republics.

the far east.

the chinese loans.

The past year has been marked in our relations with China by the conclusion of two important international loans, one for the construction of the Hukuang railways,1 the other for the carrying out of the currency reform2 to which China was pledged by treaties with the United States, Great Britain, and Japan, of which mention was made in my last annual message.

It will be remembered that early in 1909 an agreement was consummated among British, French, and German financial groups whereby they proposed to lend the Chinese Government funds for the construction of railways in the Provinces of Hunan and Hupeh, reserving for their nationals the privilege of engineering the construction of the lines and of furnishing the materials required for the work. After negotiations with the Governments and groups concerned an agreement was reached whereby American, British, French, and German nationals should participate upon equal terms in this important and useful undertaking. Thereupon the financial groups, supported by their respective Governments, began negotiations with the Chinese Government which terminated in a loan to China of $30,000,000, with the privilege of increasing the amount to $50,000,000. The cooperative construction of these trunk lines should be of immense advantage, materially and otherwise, to China and should greatly facilitate the development of the bountiful resources of the Empire. On the other hand, a large portion of these funds is to be expended for materials, American products having equal preference with those of the other three lending nations, and as the contract provides for branches and extensions subsequently to be built on the same terms, the opportunities for American materials will reach considerable proportions.

Knowing the interest of the United States in the reform of Chinese currency, the Chinese Government, in the autumn of 1910, sought the [Page XVIII] assistance of the American Government to procure funds with which to accomplish that all-important reform. In the course of the subsequent negotiations there was combined with the proposed currency loan one for certain industrial developments in Manchuria, the two loans aggregating the sum of $50,000,000. While this was originally to be solely an American enterprise, the American Government, consistently with its desire to secure a sympathetic and practical cooperation of the great powers toward maintaining the principle of equality of opportunity and the administrative integrity of China, urged the Chinese Government to admit to participation in the currency loan the associates of the. American group in the Hukuang loan. While of immense importance in itself, the reform contemplated in making this loan is but preliminary to other and more comprehensive fiscal reforms which will be of incalculable benefit to China and foreign interests alike, since they will strengthen the Chinese Empire and promote the rapid development of international trade.

neutral financial adviser.

When these negotiations were begun, it was understood that a financial adviser was to be employed by China in connection with the reform, and in order that absolute equality in all respects among the lending nations might be scrupulously observed, the American Government proposed the nomination of a neutral adviser, which was agreed to by China and the other Governments concerned. On September 28, 1911, Dr. Vissering, president of the Dutch Java Bank and a financier of wide experience in the Orient, was recommended to the Chinese Government for the post of monetary adviser.

Especially important at the present, when the ancient Chinese Empire is shaken by civil war incidental to its awakening to the many influences and activities of modernization, are the cooperative policy of good understanding which has been fostered by the international projects referred to above and the general sympathy of view among all the powers interested in the Far East. While safeguarding the interests of our nationals, this Government is using its best efforts in continuance of its traditional policy of sympathy and friendship toward the Chinese Empire and its people, with the confident hope for their economic and administrative development, and with the constant disposition to contribute to their welfare in all proper ways consistent with an attitude of strict impartiality as between contending factions.

For the first time in the history of the two countries, a Chinese cruiser, the Haichi, under the command of Admiral Ching, recently visited New York, where the officers and men were given a cordial welcome.

[Page XIX]

new japanese treaty

The treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and Japan, signed in 1894, would by a strict interpretation of its provisions have terminated on July 17, 1912. Japan’s general treaties with the other powers, however, terminated in 1911, and the Japanese Government expressed an earnest desire to conduct the negotiations for a new treaty with the United States simultaneously with its negotiations with the other powers. There were a number of important questions involved in the treaty, including the immigration of laborers, revision of the customs tariff, and the right of Americans to hold real estate in Japan. The United States consented to waive all technicalities and to enter at once upon negotiations for a new treaty on the understanding that there should be a continuance throughout the life of the treaty of the same effective measures for the restriction of immigration of laborers to American-territory which had been in operation with entire satisfaction to both Governments since 1908. The Japanese Government accepted this basis of negotiation, and a new treaty was quickly concluded, resulting in a highly satisfactory settlement of the other questions referred to.

A satisfactory adjustment has also been effected of the questions growing out of the annexation of Korea by Japan.

The recent visit of Admiral Count Togo to the United States as the Nation’s guest afforded a welcome opportunity to demonstrate the friendly feeling so happily existing between the two countries.


There has been a change of sovereigns in Siam, and the American minister at Bangkok was accredited in a special capacity to represent the United States at the coronation ceremony of the new King.

europe and the near east.

In Europe and the near East, during the past twelvemonth, there has been at times considerable political unrest. The Moroccan question, which for some months was the cause of great anxiety, happily appears to have reached a stage at which it need no longer be regarded with concern. The Ottoman Empire was occupied for a period by strife in Albania and is now at war with Italy. In Greece and the Balkan countries the disquieting potentialities of this situation have been more or less felt. Persia has been the scene of a long internal struggle. These conditions have been the cause of uneasiness in European diplomacy, but thus far without direct political concern to the United States.

[Page XX]

In the war which unhappily exists between Italy and Turkey this Government has no direct political interest, and I took occasion at the suitable time to issue a proclamation of neutrality in that conflict. At the same time all necessary steps have been taken to safeguard the personal interests of American citizens and organizations in so far as affected by the war.

commerce with the near east.

In spite of the attendant economic uncertainties and detriments to commerce, the United States has gained markedly in its commercial standing with certain, of the nations of the Near East. Turkey, especially, is beginning to come into closer relations with the United States through the new interest of American manufacturers and exporters in the possibilities of those regions, and it is hoped that foundations are being laid for a large and mutually beneficial exchange of commodities between the two countries. This new interest of Turkey in American goods is indicated by the fact that a party of prominent merchants from a large city in Turkey recently visited the United States to study conditions of manufacture and export here, and to get into personal touch with American merchants, with a view to cooperating more intelligently in opening up the markets of Turkey and the adjacent countries to our manufactures. Another indication of this new interest of America in the commerce of the Near East is the recent visit of a large party of American merchants and manufacturers to central and eastern Europe, where they were entertained by prominent officials and organizations of the large cities, and new bonds of friendship and understanding were established which can not but lead to closer and greater commercial interchange.

coronation of king george v.

The 22d of June of the present year marked the coronation of His Britannic Majesty King George V. In honor of this auspicious occasion I sent a special embassy to London. The courteous and cordial welcome extended to this Government’s representatives by His Majesty and the people of Great Britain has further emphasized the strong bonds of friendship happily existing between the two nations.

settlement of long-standing differences with great britain.

As the result of a determined effort on the part of both Great Britain and the United States to settle all of their outstanding differences, a number of treaties have been entered into between the two countries in recent years, by which nearly all of the unsettled questions [Page XXI] between them of any importance have either been adjusted by agreement or arrangements made for their settlement by arbitration. A number of the unsettled questions referred to consist of pecuniary claims presented by each country against the other, and in order that as many of these claims as possible should be settled by arbitration a special agreement for that purpose was entered into between the two Governments on the 18th day of August, 1910, in accordance with Article II of the general arbitration treaty with Great Britain of April 4, 1908. Pursuant to the provisions of this special agreement a schedule of claims has already been agreed upon, and the special agreement, together with this schedule, received the approval of the Senate when submitted to it for that purpose at the last session of Congress. Negotiations between the two Governments for the preparation of an additional schedule of claims are already well advanced, and it is my intention to submit such schedule as soon as it is agreed upon to the Senate for its approval, in order that the arbitration proceedings may be undertaken at an early date. In this connection the attention of Congress is particularly called to the necessity for an appropriation to cover the expense incurred in submitting these claims to arbitration.

presentation to germany of replica of von steuben statue.

In pursuance of the act of Congress, approved June 23, 1910, the Secretary of State and the Joint Committee on the Library entered into a contract with the sculptor, Albert Jaegers, for the execution of a bronze replica of the statue of Gen. von Steuben erected in Washington, for presentation to His Majesty the German Emperor and the German nation in recognition of the gift of the statue of Frederick the Great made by the Emperor to the people of the United States.

The presentation was made on September 2 last by representatives whom I commissioned as the special mission of this Government for the purpose.

The German Emperor has conveyed to me by telegraph, on his own behalf and that of the German people, an expression of appreciative thanks for this action of Congress.


By direction of the State Department, our ambassador to Russia has recently been having a series of conferences with the minister of foreign affairs of Russia, with a view to securing a clearer understanding and construction of the treaty of 1832 between Russia and the United States and the modification of any existing Russian regulations which may be found to interfere in any way with the full [Page XXII] recognition of the rights of American citizens under this treaty. I believe that the Government of Russia is addressing itself seriously to the need of changing the present practice under the treaty and that sufficient progress has been made to warrant the continuance of these conferences in the hope that there may soon be removed any justification of the complaints of treaty violation now prevalent in this country.

I expect that immediately after the Christmas recess I shall be able to make a further communication to Congress on this subject.


Negotiations for the amelioration of conditions found to exist in Liberia by the American commission, undertaken through the Department of State, have been concluded, and it is only necessary for certain formalities to be arranged in securing the loan which, it is hoped, will place that Republic on a practical financial and economic footing.

recognition of portuguese republic.

The National Constituent Assembly, regularly elected by the vote of the Portuguese people, having on June 19 last unanimously proclaimed a republican form of government, the official recognition of the Government of the United States was given to the new Republic in the afternoon of the same day.

spitzbergen islands.

Negotiations for the betterment of conditions existing in the Spitzbergen Islands and the adjustment of conflicting claims of American citizens and Norwegian subjects to lands in that archipelago are still in progress.

international conventions and conferences.

international prize court.

The supplementary protocol to The Hague convention for the establishment of an international prize court, mentioned in my last annual message, embodying stipulations providing for an alternative procedure which would remove the constitutional objection to that part of The Hague convention which provides that there may be an appeal to the proposed court from the decisions of national courts, has received the signature of the Governments parties to the original convention and has been ratified by the Government of the United States, together with the prize court convention.

The deposit of the ratifications with the Government of the Netherlands awaits action by the powers on the declaration, signed at [Page XXIII] London on February 26, 1909, of the rules of international law to be recognized within the meaning of article 7 of The Hague convention for the establishment of an International Prize Court.

fur-seal treaty.

The fur-seal controversy, which for nearly 25 years has been the source of serious friction between the United States and the powers bordering upon the north Pacific Ocean, whose subjects have been permitted to engage in pelagic sealing against the fur-seal herds having their breeding grounds within the jurisdiction of the United States, has at last been satisfactorily adjusted by the conclusion of the north Pacific sealing convention entered into between the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia on the 7th of July last. This convention is a conservation measure of very great importance, and if it is carried out in the spirit of reciprocal concession and advantage upon which it is based, there is every reason to believe that not only will it result in preserving the fur-seal herds of the north Pacific Ocean and restoring them to their former value for the purposes of commerce, but also that it will afford a permanently satisfactory settlement of a question the only other solution of which seemed to be the total destruction of the fur seals. In another aspect, also, this convention is of importance in that it furnishes an illustration of the feasibility of securing a general international game law for the protection of other mammals of the sea, the preservation of which is of importance to all the nations of the world.

legislation necessary.

The attention of Congress is especially called to the necessity for legislation on the part of the United States for the purpose of fulfilling the obligations assumed under this convention, to which the Senate gave its advice and consent on the 24th day of July last.

protection of industrial property union.

The conference of the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property, which, under the authority of Congress, convened at Washington on May 16, 1911, closed its labors on June 2, 1911, by the signature of three acts, as follows:

A convention revising the Paris convention of March 20, 1883, for the protection of industrial property, as modified by the additional act signed at Brussels on December 14, 1900;
An arrangement to replace the arrangement signed at Madrid on April 14, 1891, for the international registration of trade-marks, and the additional act with regard thereto signed at Brussels on December 14, 1900; and
An arrangement to replace the arrangement signed at Madrid on April 14, 1891, relating to the repression of false indication of production of merchandise.

The United States is a signatory of the first convention only, and this will be promptly submitted to the Senate.

international opium commission.

In a special message transmitted to the Congress on the 7th of January, 1911, in which I concurred in the recommendations made by the Secretary of State in regard to certain needful legislation for the control of our interstate and foreign traffic in opium and other menacing drugs, I quoted from my annual message of December 7, 1909, in which I announced that the results of the International Opium Commission held at Shanghai in February, 1909, at the invitation of the United States, had been laid before this Government; that the report of that commission showed that China was making remarkable progress and admirable efforts toward the eradication of the opium evil; that the interested Governments had not permitted their commercial interests to prevent their cooperation in this reform; and as a result of collateral investigations of the opium question in this country I recommended that the manufacture, sale, and use of opium in the United States should be more rigorously controlled by legislation.

Prior to that time and in continuation of the policy of this Government to secure the cooperation of the interested nations, the United States proposed an international opium conference with full powers for the purpose of clothing with the force of international law the resolutions adopted by the above-mentioned commission, together with their essential corollaries. The other powers concerned cordially responded to the proposal of this Government, and, I am glad to be able to announce, representatives of all the powers assembled in conference at The Hague on the first of this month.

Since the passage of the opium-exclusion act, more than 20 States have been animated to modify their pharmacy laws and bring them in accord with the spirit of that act, thus stamping out, to a measure, the intrastate traffic in opium and other habit-forming drugs. But, although I have urged on the Congress the passage of certain measures for Federal control of the interstate and foreign traffic in these drugs, no action has yet been taken. In view of the fact that there is now sitting at The Hague so important a conference, which has under review the municipal laws of the different nations for the mitigation of their opium and other allied evils, a conference which will certainly deal with the international aspects of these evils, it seems to me most essential that the Congress should take immediate action on the antinarcotic legislation to which I have already called attention by a special message.

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buenos aires conventions.

The four important conventions signed at the Fourth Pan American Conference at Buenos Aires, providing for the regulation of trade-marks, patents, and copyrights, and for the arbitration of pecuniary claims, have, with the advice and consent of the Senate, been ratified on the part of the United States and the ratifications have been deposited with the Government of the Argentine Republic in accordance with the requirements of the conventions. I am not advised that similar action has been taken by any other of the signatory Governments.

international arrangement to suppress obscene publications.

One of the notable advances in international morality accomplished in recent years was an arrangement entered into on April 13 of the present year between the United States and other powers for the repression of the circulation of obscene publications.

foreign trade relations of the united states.

In my last annual message I referred to the tariff negotiations of the Department of State with foreign countries in connection with the application, by a series of proclamations, of the minimum tariff of the United States to importations from the several countries, and I stated that, in its general operation, section 2 of the new tariff law had proved a guaranty of continued commercial peace, although there were, unfortunately, instances where foreign governments dealt arbitrarily with American interests within their jurisdiction in a manner injurious and inequitable. During the past year some instances of discriminatory treatment have been removed, but I regret to say that there remain a few cases of differential treatment adverse to the commerce of the United States. While none of these instances now appears to amount to undue discrimination in the sense of section 2 of the tariff law of August 5, 1909, they are all exceptions to that complete degree of equality of tariff treatment that the Departmen of State has consistently sought to obtain for American commerce abroad.

While the double tariff feature of the tariff law of 1909 has been amply justified by the results achieved in removing former and preventing new, undue discriminations against American commerce, it is believed that the time has come for the amendment of this feature of the law in such way as to provide a graduated means of meeting varying degrees of discriminatory treatment, of American commerce in foreign countries as well as to protect the financial interests abroad of American citizens against arbitrary and injurious treatment on [Page XXVI] the part of foreign governments through either legislative or administrative measures.

It would also seem desirable that the maximum tariff of the United States should embrace within its purview the free list, which is not the case at the present time, in order that it might have reasonable significance to the governments of those countries from which the importations into the United States are confined virtually to articles on the free list.

record of highest amount of foreign trade.

The fiscal year ended June 30, 1911, shows great progress in the development of American trade. It was noteworthy as marking the highest record of exports of American products to foreign countries, the valuation being in excess of $2,000,000,000. These exports showed a gain over the preceding year of more than $300,000,000.

facilities for foreign trade furnished by joint action of department of state and of commerce and labor.

There is widespread appreciation expressed by the business interests of the country as regards the practical value of the facilities now offered by the Department of State and the Department of Commerce and Labor for the furtherance of American commerce. Conferences with their officers at Washington who have an expert knowledge of trade conditions in foreign countries and with consular officers and commercial agents of the Department of Commerce and Labor who, while on leave of absence, visit the principal industrial centers of the United States, have been found of great value. These trade conferences are regarded as a particularly promising method of governmental aid in foreign trade promotion. The Department of Commerce and Labor has arranged to give publicity to the expected arrival and the itinerary of consular officers and commercial agents while on leave in the United States, in order that trade organizations may arrange for conferences with them.

As I have indicated, it is increasingly clear that to obtain and maintain that equity and substantial equality of treatment essential to the flourishing foreign trade, which becomes year by year more important to the industrial and commercial welfare of the United States, we should have a flexibility of tariff sufficient for the give and take of negotiation by the Department of State on behalf of our commerce and industry.

crying need for american merchant marine.

I need hardly reiterate the conviction that there should speedily be built up an American merchant marine. This is necessary to assure favorable transportation facilities to our great ocean-borne commerce [Page XXVII] as well as to supplement the Navy with an adequate reserve of ships and men. It would have the economic advantage of keeping at home part of the vast sums now paid foreign shipping for carrying American goods. All the great commercial nations pay heavy subsidies to their merchant marine, so that it is obvious that without some wise aid from the Congress the United States must lag behind in the matter of merchant-marine in its present anomalous position.

extension of american banking to foreign countries.

Legislation to facilitate the extension of American banks to foreign countries is another matter in which our foreign trade needs assistance.

chambers of foreign commerce suggested.

The interests of our foreign commerce are nonpartisan, and as a factor in prosperity are as broad as the land. In the dissemination of useful information and in the coordination of effort certain unofficial associations have done good work toward the promotion of foreign commerce. It is cause for regret, however, that the great number of such associations and the comparative lack of cooperation between them fails to secure an efficiency commensurate with the public interest. Through the agency of the Department of Commerce and Labor, and in some cases directly, the Department of State transmits to reputable business interests information of commercial opportunities, supplementing the regular published consular reports. Some central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country and able to keep purely American interests in closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs would, I believe, be of great value. Such organization might be managed by a committee composed of a small number of those new actively carrying on the work of some of the larger associations, and there might be added to the committee, as members ex officio, one or two officials of the Department of State and one or two officials from the Department of Commerce and Labor and representatives of the appropriate committees of Congress. The authority and success of such an organization would evidently be enhanced if the Congress should see fit to prescribe its scope and organization through legislation which would give to it some such official standing as that, for example, of the National Red Cross.

With these factors and the continuance of the foreign-service establishment (departmental, diplomatic, and consular) upon the high plane where it has been placed by the recent reorganization this Government would be abreast of the times in fostering the interests of its foreign trade, and the rest must be left to the energy and enterprise of our business men.


improvement of the foreign service.

The entire foreign-service organization is being improved and developed with especial regard to the requirements of the commercial interests of the country. The rapid growth of our foreign trade makes it of the utmost importance that governmental agencies through which that trade is to be aided and protected should possess a high degree of efficiency. Not only should the foreign representatives be maintained upon a generous scale in so far as salaries and establishments are concerned, but the selection and advancement of officers should be definitely and permanently regulated by law so that the service shall not fail to attract men of high character and ability. The experience of the past few years with a partial application of civil-service rules to the Diplomatic and Consular Service leaves no doubt in my mind of the wisdom of a wider and more permanent extension of those principles to both branches of the foreign service. The men selected for appointment by means of the existing executive regulations have been of a far higher average of intelligence and ability than the men appointed before the regulations were promulgated. Moreover, the feeling that under the existing rules there is reasonable hope tor permanence of tenure during good behavior and for promotion for meritorious service has served to bring about a zealous activity in the interests of the country, which never before existed or could exist. It is my earnest conviction that the enactment into law of the general principles of the existing regulations can not fail to effect further improvement in both branches of the foreign service by providing greater inducement for young men of character and ability to seek a career abroad in the service of the Government, and an incentive to those already in the service to put forth greater efforts to attain the high standards which the successful conduct of our international relations and commerce requires.

I therefore again commend to the favorable action of the Congress the enactment of a law applying to the Diplomatic and Consular Service the principles embodied in section 1753 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in the civil-service act of January 16, 1883, and the Executive orders of June 27, 1906, and of November 26, 1909. In its consideration of this important subject I desire to recall to the attention of the Congress the very favorable report made on the Lowden bill for the improvement of the foreign service by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. Available statistics show the strictness with which the merit system has been applied to the foreign service during recent years and the absolute nonpartisan selection of consuls and diplomatic-service secretaries who indeed, far from being selected with [Page XXIX] any view to political consideration, have actually been chosen to a disproportionate extent from States which would have been unrepresented in the foreign service under the system which it is to be hoped is now permanently obsolete. Some legislation for the perpetuation of the present system of examinations and promotions upon merit and efficiency would be of greatest value to our commercial and international interests.

Wm. H. Taft.

  1. See Foreign Relations, 1910, p. 269. See also p. 86, this volume.
  2. Due to political disturbances in China the arrangement was not completed.