Address on International Arbitration, January 7, 1912

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Ladies and gentlemen, the last speaker has said that the treaties we are considering tonight embody the final word in the peace progress of the world, and it does seem most fitting that that final word should be spoken in a treaty between the United States and England.

In the whole history of modern peace, these two nations have led the way.

The first peace society of later days was found in the United States in [1815]. We have all heard of the Jay treaty. We know that the suggestion for a continual tribunal at the Hague, was made by an American; that the first case brought to the Hague tribunal was brought by the United States and Mexico and so one could go on through the whole history of this later movement.

We will never find a treaty written by such a friend to America as James Bryce. If he dies, it will be a long time before we can find any other man who knows us so well, who believes in us so thoroughly.

He wrote his splendid vindication of America at the moment when our corruption was most profound; when we even found it amusing that our city should be handed over to corrupt politicians. It was easy to believe in us then, and it is easy now that we are ready to take this next forward step.

The people who have believed in peace, who have belonged for many years to the peace societies -- and I remember once when a pitiful little peace society met in Chicago [page 2] to send a [representative] to the international association which met in America. There were only three of us at the meeting and we had to pool together all of our pennies, in order to get enough to send one representative to the Association.

We have always felt, not that human nature will change in its instincts, but that it does change and is continually changing in its attitude toward certain questions, toward certain relations between men and between nations.

And it is upon this changed attitude that arbitration is largely founded.

If two nations mean to arbitrate a situation they are going to cool, their mood changes, and the entire change is a shifting. The arbitration of necessity may go against one; if it does not, it will certainly be more or less against the other; but by the time a decision is rendered, the entire situation has cooled down on both sides. Their instincts have not changed, but they have been enormously modified, and the fact that they have been held in check during the weeks or months while the arbitration was going on has evidenced to both nations they can hold them in check a little longer.

International arbitration has two distinct trends. One, is arbitration, pure and simple, which is merely an enlargement of the diplomatic function, save that in addition to the representatives of two nations, you have a third or more, so that the decision is more easily brought back by the diplomatic corps, which may have failed to secure all that it wanted.

And then there is the other side which is much more stirring, the side which has been so fully represented to us here, which is slowly building up international law, and which is [page 3] slowly building up a permanent court, and we must depend upon the arbitral decisions, one after another, quite as much as the other courts within nations have always been built up when the chief or the great man of the community began to arbitrate differences between members.

Now there is one especial reason, it seems to me, why the United States should be ready to take this last step, this final step, which seems so much more complete than any of the others have been, and that is that we have had every good chance in our domestic arrangements to learn how nations may live together and how they may arbitrate their differences when those nations are represented by individuals.

We once made a count of the nations in the 19th Ward of Chicago, only one ward, and a fairly representative ward, and we found living there in considerable quantities 26 different nationalities. It sometimes happens that two of these nationalities, individuals from two of these nationalities, fall into serious difficulties, one with the other. They take their differences to the judge who represents perhaps another nationality and this difference may be heard and listened to by a jury which may represent 12 different nationalities, and I assure you that those differences are adjudicated, they are brought to some sort of a conclusion which is in the main satisfactory to the sense of justice of those residing in the community.

And if a nation has learned to do that, ought not we be the first to say that the differences -- and I believe there are things deeper and finer than outside differences, there are courts of appeal, there is that inner sentiment within the heart and mind of man which bridges over every difference, those [page 4] differences represented by languages, religion, color or whatever you please to name them, and upon that experience it seems to me, we ought to be ready to say that a large nation having lived together in a certain degree of comity and good-will, although we are made up from people of all parts of the earth and we believe that on a larger scale this same comity and good-will be extended, if we once take it for granted that all differences can be adjudicated; if we once take it for granted that all differences must be adjudicated, if we once take into account the nonsense or business of going to war and flying at each other's throats, and this difference of attitude, it seems to me, or expectation that righteousness will prevail, if we can reason together, such great advances which international arbitration has to make, and it is most fitting from our traditions, from our relationship with England, from the habit of mind that the Anglo-Saxon who builds so slowly has, one precedent after another in a certain direction until he attains his object, from our own experience in history it seems to me, that the United States should take this last and final step in this splendid movement which the last century inaugurated.

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