The Potential Advantages of the Mandate System, May 13, 1921


MISS ADDAMS: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Academy: Mr. Gibbons' account of the state of mind of the United States at the present moment reminds me of a story I once heard of Noah Webster, of the dictionary fame. I think, perhaps, it is an improbable story, ↑certainly↓ I don't give it as an historic incident, but the story runs ↑in↓ this wise: His wife went into the kitchen one day and found him kissing the cook. She drew herself up with great ↑such↓ dignity ↑as the occasion permitted↓ and said she was ↑very much↓ surprised; and her husband replied, "My dear, will you never learn to speak the English language? I am surprised, you are merely astonished." (Laughter). I imagine something of that sort is the state of mind between Europe and ourselves. We are somewhat astonished as these things unroll before us, but it is really Europe with her various, shall we say, hidden motives in the mandates, who is being surprised.

and if I might give a little ↑May I tell you from↓ personal history ↑experience something↓ of the feeling which [page 2] many people in my neighborhood had ↑shared↓ when the League of Nations was first talked about and when they believed, as simple people all over the world believed, that it was going to be the friend ↑and↓ the big brother ,so to speak of the ↑friendless and weak everywhere.↓ weak in various parts of the world and in ↑In these↓ various orders ↑classes↓ of society who hadn't ↑feel that they haven't↓ had ↑adequate governmental protection↓ chance, it will, perhaps, register something of the ↑a↓ bitter disappointment of ↑for↓ the moment, which we believe, however, is only for the moment, which has taken ↑the place of the hopes which so recently filled their↓ contristation, if I may say, in the hearts. of those very simple people.

For many years at Hull House we have ↑seen something↓ had a great deal to do with ↑of the↓ Italians who had left South ↑gone from↓ Italy for ↑to↓ South America to gather in the crops and to do other plain and hard agricultural labor. They used to have a very naïve way of beginning on the South side of the equator and then ↑of↓ following the ripening of the crops, as best they may, up ↑might sometimes↓ into North Dakota. and ↑They would↓ then go home for a few months and begin again. It was a very interesting scheme, and it would have worked very well but for one thing -- that for so much of the time they were on the water, for ↑so↓ much of the time they were ↑or↓ in remote parts of South American countries, and sometimes Central Mexico and sometimes in our own States where they could not easily find an Italian Consul. They seemed to belong to a No Man's Land, and ↑During these long periods↓ no man seemed to be very much concerned about their rights and ↑or↓ about their protection. A Committee of such Italians came to me in the early days of the League of Nations ↑discussion↓ and asked whether or not it ↑the League↓ was going to do something to take care of what we, may call nomadic labor, or the ↑type of↓ labor which had so little chance to [page 3] be fostered by its own nationality and which was exploited, ↑sometimes to the verge of peonage↓ more or less, by all the other nationalities ↑with whom it came in contact.↓ They feel ↑Some of these Italians to me that they feel↓ very grateful many of these Italians to President Taft, because at one time when he was serving as a Federal Judge and a case having to do with the West Virginia mines came before him, he gave a decision in favor of some emigrants, who had taken out their first papers and ↑whom he held [were]↓ therefore ,were in a sense wards of the United States, allowing them to have some ↑claim↓ compensation, which in the steel mills and in other places had systematically been denied them unless they were ↑full↓ citizens of the United States. There was no money paid at that time to a widow or her little children living in Italy if the ↑alien↓ bread-winner were killed or injured in this country. There were many things which had to do with that nomadic labor which they hoped, and which we, their friends, hoped might be taken care of when the League of Nations was established; and then there are other aspects of it which came very near home, as Mr. Moore said, in a place where one has to do with all kinds of people, many of whom came to this country in search of more protection and more freedom than they were able to find at home, but in the minds of these people and in many little discussions which I have had with small groups of them there has been a bitter disappointment that the League of Nations in its first activities, and again this is registered in the mandatory system as it is in other commissions, was so slow to have anything to do with the economic side of life, and I am sure many of them feel, as people in this audience, [page 4] certainly a few people in this audience, must feel that if you have nothing to do with the economic resources of a country which is handed over to another country for protection and care, is in a certain way to beg the question. It is like being good or being moral according to an old-fashioned test but refusing to measure up to the current test of the moment, to the test which after all is the thing which asks whether or not you are moral contemporaneously, whether you are ethical up to the last standard of ethical conduct, or whether you are content to apply a standard which was very good, perhaps, merely in the political sense, when politics had to do with merely, shall I say, political relations and had not yet openly acknowledged that they were also dealing with economic relations.

Now, perhaps, this can be illustrated if I may venture into Mesopotamia, so far afield, by the fact that, as you know, in the secret treaties France was to have Mesopotamia but England's troops won Mesopotamia, ↑and↓ England was able to produce a concession for the oil interests in Mesopotamia, and so when the thing was finally adjudicated England was given the mandatory over Mesopotamia, with 3/4ths of the oil -- with 2/3rds of the oil, I think it was -- and France had 1/3rd. The oil was apportioned before the mandate was given, because all of these allocations, as I understand it, were made by the Supreme Council and were not made by the League of Nations. The League of Nations merely undertakes to see that the reports are made, and other things [page 5] which are provided for under the paragraph on mandatories.

Now, if that is the test, and an Englishman has recently said that this will be the test there, as it will be in other places, then if England could say to Mesopotamia, "Of course, this oil must be developed. It belongs to the world; it doesn't belong to these tribes of Kurds and Arabs who happen to live in this immediate neighborhood. It is needed for the heat and light and comfort of all the world, but we will put our capital into it and pay our capital a good percentage. We will put men there, experts, to develop these oil fields and pay them well, but after that is done, after all the nations of the earth have a chance to buy this oil, the profits therefrom shall be returned, at least, a goodly percentage of them shall be returned into the development of Mesopotamia." That would be fair and square, what we call a guardianship, would it not? Let us say that a child had lost its parents and is given a guardian. It is the business of this guardian to make a report to the Probate Judge. He makes a report on having kept the child in law and order, and let us say that he makes a report on giving the child the right to vote and getting him ready for his vote when he is 21; he makes a report on all sorts of things but he never makes a report on the property which might be supposed to belong to the child. He says, "No, I prefer not to make a report on that." Now, it seems to me that it is something of that sort in these mandatory situations. I have been guardian of many children during the many years that I have lived at Hull House. Mothers are always giving them to me at the last desperate moment. [page 6] Some of them are very dependent and some of them are very backward, and they have a little property, usually what comes from an insurance, and if there is one thing that is pathetic about these little bereft creatures it is this, that they are reaching out, they are so eager to find some one to take the mother's place. They don't stand aside, but they make an imperious claim, "My mother is dead and you are now to be my mother," and they bring sometimes their little bags and baggages, after I have made very careful arrangements to ↑have them↓ live with some Aunt or relative, and camp on the door-steps of Hull House and say, "You are my guardian, and, of course, I am going to live with you."

Something of that sort it seems to me, is the situation. If there are simple people in the world who are unable to govern themselves -- and I think there are very few of us, although we like to assert there are no such people, who are quite ready to assert that -- then we ↑ought↓ also say, "Let that nation which is given its right over them give some account of the economic resources which are found within the borders of the backward nation."

Now, I claim, of course, that it is a great thing to have publicity on these matters. Perhaps the first Probate Court was established without having very much to do with property, although I imagine that lawyers would tell me that it had only to do with property and didn't care much about what happened to the child, but if we can only begin with publicity -- these various nations have to report back once a year, ↑and↓ that is a great deal to be gained -- and it may be possible that gradually the other thing also will be accounted for. [page 7]

The British [Labour] Party in 1917, in the early months of 1917, when that remarkable cry came out from Russia, "No indemnities and no reparations" -- no, what was it -- "No annexations and no indemnities" -- the British [Labour] Party said this, "Let the League of Nations take all of the colonies in tropical Africa, not only the German colonies but the Belgium colonies and the French colonies and the Portuguese colonies. Let them administer them for the benefit of the people who are there, of course, and also if there are vegetable oils and if there are other valuable things to be found there, let them be allocated to ↑the↓ other nations of the earth;" and this was the point that they made, that because these interests came in all of the time -- the trader and the concessionaire and the planter and the rest of them -- it was very hard for the nationalistic administrators to stand firm. I think no one would doubt that there has been a splendid civil service administration of the British African colonies, and when things went wrong in that colony, as perhaps -- it certainly did in other colonies -- it was under the pressure of the Nationals of the various nations who came in hoping to get some advantage, and perhaps rightly, some advantage of the economic resources which were hidden in tropical Africa. Now, if the British [Labour] Party had carried out this scheme, what would follow then? There would have to be some sort, as an Englishman recently said, some sort of civil service training for men who are going to represent the League of Nations, ↑and↓ as they made continuous inquiries into what was happening in this [page 8] tropical South Africa, which had formerly belonged to at least four different nations, they might make a protest against the conscription of native troops, and they might make a protest against various things which are happening in other colonies in South Africa, and they would develop an international mind, as Dr. Butler calls it. They would develop a point of view which had not to do with the good fortune or good will of one trader or another, but primarily that the resources there should get out to serve all the world, and secondarily, if you please, that the people in that region should have a chance for development. Then we would have a Probate Court out of the League of Nations mandatory system, a Probate Court that had to do with all the aspects of this backward child, if we pleased to call him that, because after all any guardian who should come and say, "I was interested, of course, in taking care of the child but I was also interested in lining my own pockets," would I think be thrown out of Court, even in corrupt -- well, I won't mention -- I was going to say Chicago, please don't think I meant Philadelphia (laughter) -- in Chicago our Courts are supposed to be somewhat under the influence of the City Hall.

I should like to say one more thing. I remember in the early days, when we all began to talk about the Philippines, that one day Mr. Dooley said to Mr. Hennessey, "We are all talking about the Philippines now as if we had known them from infancy, and only last week I didn't know whether they were islands or canned goods." (Laughter). I think something of the same sort is true about these islands -- Yap -- I innocently called it Yap [page 9] but I see that Dr. Gibbons pronounces it Yap, and I am very glad of the correction -- and the other island [underlined blank space] which has phosphates in it. England and her colonies have had these phosphates allocated to them, ↑by↓ the supreme ↑council↓, but they still have to give an account to their stewardship to the League of Nations which will be made public and all the world will gradually know what their administration is. They have nationalized these phosphates, if we may call them nationalized when Australia and New Zealand also has a share in these phosphates, and that certainly is a move forward. Now, is it going much further to say that they should be administered, at least, so far as their allocation is needed by farmers who cannot raise grain to feed this hungry world because their soil lacks certain constituents? Could we not say it is the beginning in various directions, in all sorts of little subtle ways for an administration of so-called backward peoples of the earth in the interest, first, of the world and that their possessions may get out into the world -- that's the way it will have to read at present, I think -- and secondarily for the people themselves, and then, perhaps, it won't be very long until the Assembly, and I hope you agree with me that the hope of the League of Nations seems to reside in the Assembly, perhaps it will not be long before the Assembly will make some trenchant suggestions having to do with these matters.

I am in a very curious position in regard to the League of Nations. I used to go around making very eloquent [page 10] speeches for it before there was any League of Nations at all and one's mind could range over the world in a most marvelous fashion, and then there was a League of Nations, and somehow my mouth was stopped -- to the great advantage of my audiences -- [illegible] I have never said a word against it, but I did not go about advocating it. Then there was the meeting of the Assembly and suddenly all sorts of things cleared up and it seemed as if, after all, we were going to have the nations of the earth get together and discuss openly, and freely and kindly, for the most part, and unselfishly, if you please, for the most part, the various concerns of the world. It was the beginning of a new era, and perhaps this public discussion and this good will and this international intent was the beginning, after all, of a real League of Nations. Of course, the Secretariat is doing wonderful things, and why not? It has been picked from the best men in all the nations, exactly as Col. House picked the best men he could find here and laid out a wonderful Secretariat before the Peace Commission, but the crux of the situation seemed to all of us to come when something was brought up before the Supreme Council which touched the individual interest of the nations that were represented there. Of course, they adjudicated the Finland and Sweden difficulties, but that was not so difficult. It was very fine, however, and we were glad to have it done, but now the next thing, if something should go wrong in Syria, and that should come up before the Supreme Council with France's interest involved -- Mr. Hamilton Holt had the courage [page 11] yesterday to mention Ireland, I don't know where he ↑ever↓ got the courage ↑from↓ -- he said that the United States might bring up the question of Ireland to the Supreme Council -- what would happen then? And so one has to say, so far so good -- publicity for the care of backward people, publicity for all sorts of treaties which will be invalid if they are not registered with the Secretariat at Geneva, publicity coming in all directions, and, perhaps, most of all the free and open discussion of those matters which adhere to the interests of all nations. (Applause).