|[General Joseph Wheeler's striking personality gives distinction to his
utterances whether on military or general affairs. From his opportunities as
commissioner to investigate and report upon the conditions of our acquisitions
in the East, and his long experience as a legislator and man of business, his
views here expressed have a special value.
General Wheeler joined the Confederate army on April 22, 1861. He was attached
to General L. P. Walker's staff with the rank of Colonel; but after a short
service on the staff, he went back to Alabama and raised a regiment. When it was
proposed to make him a Brigadier-General in the Confederate army, objection was
offered on account of his youth, but the objection was overcome, and the wisdom
of the appointment was justified by his results. He became a daring and skilful
commander of cavalry, dividing with General Forrest the honors of that arm of
the service on his side.
Since his disabilities were removed after the close of the Civil War, General
Wheeler has been continuously in Congress from the Eighth Alabama district. He
left his seat to accept a commission as Major-General of Cavalry in the war with
Spain. In his absence the Governor of Alabama, acting upon the rule prohibiting
any member of Congress from holding employment under the government, declared
his seat vacant, and ordered an election to be held to fill the vacancy. General
Wheeler's constituents met in convention and promptly nominated him to fill the
vacancy by unanimous action.
He has been an interesting, active, and respected Congressman. He is but five
feet two inches tall and weighs one hundred and ten pounds. His nervous vitality
and physical restlessness made him a marked personage. One of the characteristic
stories of this peculiarity is told of the Hon. Thomas B. Reed, then Speaker of
the House, who cherished high respect for General Wheeler's unswerving integrity
of character and firmness of purpose. After the death of an old member of the
House, a group was discussing those left alive. General Wheeler was present, an
old member, and one of the group observing him, remarked, "Well, we have General
Wheeler left." "Yes," remarked the Speaker quickly, "the Almighty has never been
able to find the General long enough in one place to lay His finger upon him."
Nobody enjoyed the epigrammatic comment more than the subject of it. He was one
of the strongest men of the Ways and Means Committee. When asked by Mr. Dingley
if he would like to go to Manila as Military Governor, he replied that he wanted
to go to Cuba, where he could more readily help to bring things to a close. He
had been a student of the operations of the Cuban insurgents. At sixty-two
General Wheeler displayed at Santiago the same indomitable spirit that
distinguished him in the Civil War. He left his sick bed and went on horseback
to the front of the line all day at San Juan, and, though burning with fever
after twelve hours of fierce battle and exposure, interposed before discouraged
officers who were suggesting retirement from the positions already won and that
could only be held by unflinching bravery, and indignantly refused to hear of
retreating one foot. He warned General Shafter against the proposal and by his
splendid and fearless courage of heart and determination turned the disheartened
ones the other way about, by infusing his own tenacity of purpose into them.
At San Juan, during the hottest fighting, it is told that General Wheeler forgot
his whereabouts on the calendar of time for a moment, and, as the enemy showed
signs of weakening, cried out impulsively to his troops: "Give those Yankees h-
ll now, boys!" His aides and those standing near, burst into laughter and told
him what he had said. "Oh, well," he explained with a smile of deprecation, "I
just forgot a moment - but you all know I meant the Spanish. I'm a Yankee
myself, now, wearing the uniform and following the old flag of the country where
Yankee and Dixie are the same words to the whole land."
General Wheeler's military experience did not cease with the campaign in Cuba,
for he was among those who sought and obtained further work in the Philippines.
He arrived too late to take any prominent part in the war with the insurgents,
but his advice regarding the use of cavalry (his favorite arm of the service)
contributed materially towards the suppression of the insurrection. When the war
degenerated into a guerrilla contest, offering no further opportunities except
to those in command of small scouting parties, General Wheeler returned home,
maintaining his connection with the army, it is said, in deference to the wishes
of President McKinley, who wished to nominate him for a rank in the regular army
commensurate with the importance of his services.]
Decisive events in American history seem to have been thrust upon us by a power
which has come unheralded, unfelt and unseen. There appears to have been an
impelling something quite akin to elective force and the laws which govern
everything in nature. For thousands of years the light of progress and
civilization has been travelling westward, growing brighter and brighter at
every step of its steady and measured advance.
Our wonderful country was the home of savage Indians for forty or probably fifty
or more centuries during which the vast populations in that part of Asia
adjacent to the Pacific Ocean enjoyed many elements of high civilization.
The often repeated expression "Westward the star of Empire takes its flight,"
which as generally accepted only referred to this country, in reality applies to
the progress of all enlightened nations of which we have any positive
Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome successively felt the light and blessing of
civilization, perhaps not precisely, but nearly so in their order of western
longitude, and finally the Mediterranean became the field of the world's
commerce, and the countries washed by its waters became the seat of progress,
arts and civilization, England, then barbaric, soon felt the dawn of a new life,
and the Atlantic, up to that time unexplored, except near European shores, was
crossed and the American continent made known to the world. Settlements upon the
Atlantic coast of this new country, and the gradual but steady expansion
westward did not result from a matured plan, emanating from a human mind, but it
was rather the logical course of events, impelled forward by an unseen hand.
Nearly four centuries were occupied in populating and bringing this country to a
high state of civilization, and in establishing a system of government which has
become the pride and glory of mankind.
The constant and rapid creation of new and unexpected conditions have always
been met by inventive genius, and discovery and development of new elements and
When oil from the whale no longer supplied the needs of mankind, petroleum and
gas, either natural or manufactured, took its place. The necessity for rapid
travel and communication was answered by steam and electricity. The timber of
the forests became inadequate to supply the demand to create heat and to build
edifices and ships, and the deficiency was met by the use of coal and iron. The
industry, thrift and inventive genius of Americans developed so rapidly that
American production became far in excess of the possible consumption of the
people of our home market, and those foreign markets to which we enjoyed easy
From statistics, some of which are more than two years old, I have prepared the
following table showing the world's production of iron ore, coal, pig iron and
steel, and specially illustrating the commanding industrial position of the
WORLD'S PRODUCTION OF IRON ORE, COAL, PIG IRON AND STEEL, ACCORDING TO LATEST
COUNTRIES. Iron Ore, Tons. Coal, Tons. Pig-Iron, Tons. Steel, Tons.
United States.. 25,000,000 230,838,973 13,620,703 10,639,831
Great Britain.. 14,176,938 202,054,516 8,609,719 4,665,986
Germany and Luxemburg.. 15,893,246 130,928,490 7,232,988 5,779,570
France.. 4,582,236 32,439,786 2,534,427 1,473,100
Belgium.. 240,744 22,075,093 979,101 653,130
Austria-Hungary.. 3,335,005 35,939,417 1,308,423 880,696
Russia.. 4,107,470 12,862,033 2,222,469 1,145,758
Sweden.. 2,302,914 236,277 531,766 265,121
Spain.. 7,125,600 2,526,600 261,799 213,015
Italy.. 200,709 314,222 8,393 63,940
Canada.. 51,929 3,725,585 68,755 21,540
Other countries (about).. 2,374,810 23,312,028 125,226 15,287
Totals.. 79,391,631 697,258,020 37,503,769 25,816,974
These figures present a comparison with other countries of which every American
should be proud, but our progress during the last two years has been such that
even this gratifying condition is far exceeded by American production at this
We now produce almost one-half of the steel, nearly one-half of the coal, nearly
one-half of the iron ore and finished iron of the world, and more than one-third
of the pig iron. We produce one-quarter of the wheat, one-ninth of the wool,
three-fourths of the corn, four-fifths of the cotton, two-thirds of the
petroleum and three-fifths of the copper, and I can safely say that upon an
average the United States now produces very nearly one-half of the staple
products of the world. This condition has been reached within the last few years
and the increase in American productions is advancing with rapid strides and the
productive capacity of our mines, factories and farms will in a few years far
exceed what they are to-day.
We have but one-twentieth of the earth's population, and it is evident that we
must either seek new markets for the products of American toil, or else our
progress in agriculture and manufactures must be checked or curtailed. I feel
confident that no American can contemplate any such condition for a single
Heretofore the rapidly developing west has been a wonderful consumer of the
products of our growing industries, but now that section of our country is
changing from being a valuable consumer to an aggressive competitor, and all
thoughtful minds have realized that new markets would soon be essential for the
products of American factories and farms.
When the heart of the American people was touched by the cruelty and terrors
which were being enacted in the island of Cuba, and when added to this came the
distress caused by the harrowing tidings of the destruction of the battleship
Maine, and the instant death of 267 of her gallant crew, but one thought
pervaded the American heart, and a demand came from every city, town and hamlet
that this great Republic do its duty to suffering humanity, and strike a
decisive blow in defence of national honor.
War with Spain followed, and the banner of free America led to prompt and
glorious victories upon both land and sea, and almost at the same time in both
hemispheres of the world. The treaty of peace which was concluded at Paris
placed upon our country the responsibilities with which we are now confronted,
and as an incident thereto new conditions were presented, with which it has
become the duty of the American Republic to deal.
Very frequently during the century and a quarter of our existence as an
independent sovereignty diplomatic complications have arisen, all of which have
been settled in a manner in every respect creditable to us as a nation. There is
no question but that the problem now confronting us will be solved so as to
advance the cause of civilization, and work out results not only to our
advantage, but also to benefit materially all who are brought under American
control and influence. The early completion of the Nicaragua canal, bringing as
it will all American ports nearer to oriental markets than those of any other
civilized nation, will hasten the realization of this much to be desired end.
The wonderful progress of our country has been due to the individual incentive
enterprise and indomitable energy of our people. It is that which has erected
manufactories, constructed railroads, and changed forests and trackless prairies
into fields of smiling plenty. A people endowed with these characteristics will
be prompt to avail themselves of the opportunities which are offered to them.
The Preamble to the Constitution tells us that one of the purposes of the
framers of that instrument was to "promote the general welfare." Much has been
said and written in the discussion of the purport of these words, the
contentions as to the power meant to have been conferred by the framers of the
Constitution often taking a wide range, but I believe all concur that it is the
duty of the government, so far as possible, to adopt policies which will develop
our industries. Certainly one of the best methods to accomplish this is for us
to shape our policy so as to give the products of American toil easy access to
the markets of the world.
Of course such action should be in strict conformity with the limitations of the
Constitution and should be consistent with our system of government. It must
protect individual enterprise in its commendable efforts at development, and
much can be accomplished by a diplomacy which brings our people nearer those of
other nations and establishes between them friendly and commercial relations.
What was the best policy a century or even a half-century ago would not apply to
the condition of our country to-day. During the days of Washington, Jefferson
and Jackson we were essentially an agricultural country. The question of
manufacturing for a foreign market had hardly been considered, and it was years
before our farm products were exported to any considerable extent.
Now all is changed; now we far out-rival all nations in the products of both our
farms and factories. Our production of cotton, corn, coal, steel, pig iron,
finished iron, iron ore, wheat, copper and petroleum far exceeds the production
of those staple articles by any other nation.
It must certainly be assumed that those in authority and power will seize every
opportunity to assist our people in seeking and entering all markets where
American products are in demand.
I have as much respect as any American for the traditions of our country and the
expressions of the great statesmen to whom we are indebted for the creation of
our present form of government; but we must construe all their expressions in
conformity with the great changes that have taken place. We must remember that
from the least we have become the greatest producing country, and from one of
the weakest the most powerful, wealthy and influential. Half the population of
the world is in what we call the Orient. Its productions are very largely
articles which the world needs, and which can be produced only under its
favoring skies, or at least can be better produced there than elsewhere. This
gives a great purchasing power to this vast population. We are among the nations
which produce the articles their changed condition will demand.
The needs of all people increase as they advance in civilization. Sewerage
systems will be constructed in all their great cities. This alone means the sale
of sewerage pipe to the value of many thousands, or rather, many millions, of
dollars. This is but one single item.
These people will also want piping and machinery for water-works, electric and
gas-works for lighting their cities and houses. Railroads and locomotives will
be needed in numbers far beyond our present conception. Then come electric
street railroads, telegraphs, telephones, agricultural implements, sewing-
machines, typewriters and the thousands of other articles which we manufacture
and these people will purchase. American capital will find very profitable
investments in the various permanent improvements, such as railroads, including
those for city streets, water-works, telegraph and telephone lines, and pipes
for sanitary purposes. These newly opened countries will also need structural
steel for building. Those who exercise the most energy and good judgment will
secure the largest proportion of this trade. Probably the greatest advantage to
our country would be the market we would secure for cotton goods. We now produce
nearly seven-eighths of the raw cotton which finds its way to the world's
markets. The selling price of the annual crop of this raw cotton is about
$300,000,000. If made into cloth and thread, its increase in value would be
enormous. Even when transformed into the cheapest cotton cloths, its value is
greatly enhanced, and when manufactured into thread and fine goods, its
increased value would be ten, twenty or even thirty fold.
The southern states produce the articles needed in the far East more cheaply
than they can be produced anywhere else on earth. With the Nicaragua Canal
completed, our Gulf ports will be nearer to these markets than those of the
Atlantic Coast, and far nearer than any of the ports of Europe. The effect of
such a condition upon the Gulf states, it seems to me, almost surpasses our
Other nations are exercising every means within their command to secure
favorable commercial relations with these people, and certainly we will not
neglect an opportunity where such advantages are possible to be attained. The
question as to whether the war with Spain should or should not have been
avoided, and whether or not it was good judgment to provide in the treaty of
peace for the cession of the Philippine Islands, are now matters of the past.
While the trade with the Philippines will be valuable, if by no means measures
the advantages we can legitimately seek. When we once obtain a foothold in that
part of the world, we can successfully compete for a large share of the trade of
the vast population of Asia. The superiority and the cheapness of our products
give us advantages, but in order to successfully compete with rival nations, it
is necessary to establish depots near their great centres of trade.
The conditions in China are interesting, and to many people perplexing. The
Chinese have a government with a history extending back 4,700 years. Some
writers can see in them no virtues. They denounce them as odious and their
religions as abominations. Other writers extol their religious devotion, commend
their worship at the tombs of their ancestors, speak in praise of their
industries, their endurance, and even write of their soldierly qualities in
battle. We have certainly evidence that they possess some of these qualities,
and the lack of individual incentive may account for the little progress China
has made, when considering her wonderful resources.
I do not hesitate to say that the unlocked mineral wealth of that empire is
greater than that found in any other country. Coal is found in limitless
quantities, and is worked so easily that in Shansi it sells at thirteen cents
per ton at the mines. Iron ore of many varieties, including the best, abounds,
and lead, tin, zinc, copper and gold are found in many different localities.
Notwithstanding that these elements of wealth are bountifully possessed by
China, her people have not seemed to be disposed to develop resources and
encourage industries which would compete with ours, and their principal articles
of export appear to be those which we do not and cannot produce.
The same is in a measure true regarding the Philippine Islands. Rice, their
great staple, is all consumed in supplying food for that vast population of some
11,000,000 people, and although the soil and climate are adapted to cotton, the
inhabitants prefer to produce other articles, and nearly all the cotton used in
the one cotton-mill in Manila is imported, and much of it comes from New
Sugar is produced in large quantities, but the largest export any year was some
eight years ago when it reached 261,000 tons.
It is true that cotton to the amount of one and a half to two million bales is
raised in the Chinese empire, but it is substantially all manufactured in the
localities where it is grown.
At present the principal imports into China from America are cotton goods, flour
and coal-oil. In 1897 the United States exported to China cotton goods to the
amount of $7,500,000, coal-oil to the amount of $5,000,000, and last year China
took $4,000,000 worth of flour from the United States. This is but a small
fraction of the foreign trade of this empire. The exports to and imports from
Great Britain alone were $200,000,000 during one year, four years ago, and they
have increased steadily ever since that time.
We should send wise and conservative agents among the people with whom we seek
to establish trade relations. The importance of using every possible effort to
avoid antagonizing prejudices cannot be overrated.
It is true that within certain limitations human nature has been found to be the
same in all places and during all ages, but the important question in dealing
with these people is to realize in the beginning that their training and the
training of their ancestors running back for centuries has been different from
ours. Ignoring this truth accounts in a great measure for the difficulties in
our dealings with the people of China. This is well explained by A. R. Colquhoun
in his work entitled "China in Transformation."
On page 265, he says:
"Almost every conceivable action of a Chinaman's life is prescribed by a minute
etiquette which no one dreams of disregarding. Being unintelligible to
foreigners, this necessarily creates friction in their mutual relations. But in
addition to this the Chinese, even the most reasonable and most practicable, are
under the dominion of sorcerers and fortune-tellers and the reign of luck to
such an extent, that they are in constant apprehension of doing or saying things
at the wrong time, the wrong place, in the wrong way, or in company with the
wrong people. A promising combination may be spoiled by some occult warning, and
a Chinaman may often have bad faith imputed to him when he is really under the
constraint of some influence which he dare not avow, and which causes him to
make a shuffling and mendacious excuse."
So it is, in a measure, with the Filipinos. We must consider that for years
these people have been constant sufferers from Spanish duplicity, and for two
years they have been repeatedly told that Americans have come to the Islands to
inflict hardships and impose burdens far more unendurable than anything they had
suffered under the Spaniards. Constant efforts have been made to convince them
that the only purpose Americans have in view is to rule the islands for their
own benefit and to the detriment of the Filipinos.
No greater mistake can be made than to attempt the enforcement of American ideas
and customs upon our new people. France has been very unfortunate in her late
efforts at colonization. Her possessions in Asia are rich and prosperous
countries. She has Cochin-China with an area of 22,000 square miles and nearly
2,000,000 people, Cambodia with 62,000 square miles and 1,000,000 people, Annam,
including Tongking, with 250,000 square miles, and 20,000,000 population; and
yet the total trade is only about 250,000,000 francs, and much of this is
monopolized by England. Colquhoun gives one reason.
He says, pages 330-331:
"But they have not the power of adapting themselves to new peoples and to new
"The majority of the colonial officials, according to Chailley-Bert, set about
the work of governing by bringing with them that passion for uniformity, that
mania for routine, that love of making regulations, that dread of initiative and
of responsibility which crush the mother-country as well as the most vigorous of
her colonies. The French codes are applied without change in every quarter of
the world, and in the modern Eastern possessions exactly as they were in the old
colonies of France."
The Spanish war though brief in its duration has been momentous in its results.
During a third of a century of peace we had become the leading of all nations in
material progress, and in a war of less than one hundred days our victories on
both land and sea demonstrated to the world that we were superior to all nations
in martial prowess, and in maintaining the highest order of military and naval
It has made us all prouder that we are Americans. The newest yet the richest
country on earth - a country which has always sought to remain at peace with all
the world, yet when forced into war, startled mankind by the courage, endurance
and heroism of her soldiers and the victories they won; a country which has
always sought to avoid entangling alliances or interference with other nations.
Yet our fair, honorable, just and wise diplomacy has won for us the respect and
admiration of all civilized people.
The Spanish war has also resulted in a marvellous extension of our commercial
and trade relations, and in the spreading of American civilization.
While civilization is in the abstract utterly opposed to warfare, yet strange as
it may seem it has been its great forerunner and promoter. It may be described
as the exercise of force in brushing away the impediments which have stopped or
retarded the advance of civilized ideas and customs.
Another effect of wars has been to call into action, in all their strength and
breadth, the energies and resources of a people, and though at the close of such
struggle the country seems prostrated, the latent influences that were evoked
have always rendered the work of rehabilitation easy.
A great war also demonstrated to the world the resources of a nation, and after
it is over greatly assists in the enlargement of its commercial relations, and
in its material progress and prosperity. We all recall the prosperity enjoyed by
England during the period following her triumph in her wars with Napoleon.
Napier, in his history of the first fifteen years of this century, shows how
thoroughly the British people appreciated the fact that their greatness and
power were due to the glory achieved by British arms. He says: "Wellington was
victorious; the great conqueror (Napoleon) was overthrown; England stood the
most triumphant nation of the world, but with an enormous debt, a dissatisfied
people, gaining peace without tranquillity, greatness without intrinsic
strength, the present time uneasy, the future dark and threatening, yet she
rejoices in the glory of her arms, and it is a stirring sound."
The rapidity with which England emerged from this condition of "debt,
dissatisfaction and despondency," is an interesting chapter of history. Her
commerce followed the flag borne by her navy into all the corners of the earth,
her manufacturing industries attained a prosperity never dreamed of, and in a
few years England became the wealthiest country on earth, the mistress of the
sea and the pride and glory of the world.
The enjoyment of peace is a blessed boon to humanity and all Christian people
deprecate war with its train of miseries and suffering, and it is to be
earnestly hoped that civilization will soon make war a thing of the past.
The cable tells us that the last request of the great and good Queen to her son
and grandson was a pledge upon their knees that the two powerful empires which
they rule should always remain at peace with each other, and that their efforts
should be exerted to maintain peace throughout the world. If this be true, and I
hope and pray that it may be so, the possible effect may be all that the most
ardent advocate of universal peace could desire. If these great rulers were to
bend their powerful influence in that direction, they could readily count upon
being joined in so laudable an effort by both Russia and the United States; and
if these four great powers were to combine to attain that end, truly we might
hope that the peace and good will on earth prayed for by Jesus of Nazareth
nineteen centuries ago was to be the crowning blessing of the twentieth century
of the Christian era.
We are informed that Queen Victoria often referred with sorrow to the suffering
caused by the war in Cuba, and also by that which so soon followed in South
Africa. It was these thoughts which caused the request to her offspring that
they would seek to prevent armed contests.
Can we not hope that our blow for mercy and humanity in 1898 may include in its
results the bringing about of a condition of universal peace?
General Joseph Wheeler