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The CHAIRMAN. The letter will be inserted in the record.
(Personal and urgent.)
AMERICAN COMMISSION ON IRISH INDEPENDENCE,
Paris, July 22, 1919. M. GEORGES CLEMENCEAU,
President of the Peace Conference and Premier of France, Paris. Monsier le PRESIDENT: We are in receipt of information from sources of high authorities that, as president of the peace conference, you have notified American peace plenipotentiaries that, so far as further consideration of the Irish question is concerned, the matter is one in which you will take no action. We understand this decision covers :
1. That the resolution of the American Senate, officially forwarded to you by the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, and the recommendations contained therein expressing sympathetic support to the people of Ireland in their efforts to obtain a government of their own choice, is, by this action, denied in a manner suggestive of your entire disregard of American public opinion as rendered in the deliberate resolution of our highest legislative body.
2. That the peace conference further ignores the request of the Hon. Messrs. Walsh and Dunne for the appointment of an international tribunal to investigate into the charges of barbarities and inhuman conduct, in violation of the rules of civilized warfare, perpetrated by the British Government through its military forces in occupation of Ireland, and upon its defenseless people.
The knowledge of your decision in these matters has been up to now withheld from the American public. The results of the publication of this information will doubtless have very material weight at this time while the attention of the United States Senate is occupied in matters of international importance, in which we feel France has a material interest. Arrangements have already been made for giving widespread publicity in America to this decision on your part. But before taking this step, we respectfully suggest that an audience may be granted by you to the undersigned to present the importance of the situation, particularly in its relation to the future interests of France, of America, and of Great Britain.
There are 20,000,000 citizens of Irish blood in the United States, and the effect of this information when published there needs no characterization by us to indicate how grave may be the danger to the continuance of those sanie relations of amity and esteem that have marked the friendships existing between the French, American, and Irish peoples.
Trusting that I may be accorded the honor of this audience with you at your earliest possible convenience, and with assurances of high esteem and respect, we have the honor to remain, Sincerely, yours,
AMERICAN COMMISSION ON IRISH INDEPENDENCE,
JOHN ARCHDEACON MURPHY, Commissioner in Charge. Mr. MURPHY. I was aware that the information I had received had not been made public in America, and that it was held under the the veil of secrecy from publication by request of the American representatives. After the letter was delivered to Mr. Clemenceau, the information was conveyed back to me in circuitous fashion that if I were to make public the information that I had outlined in that letter to Mr. Clemenceau it would not be wise or judicious, while I was a guest in Paris. Therefore I refrained from making it public until I returned to America; but it was known, not in one circle but in many, that there was an effort made to conceal from the American people and from the American Senate this action on the part of Clemenceau until they had, as it was hoped, passed favorably upon and ratified the league of nations.
Senator BRANDEGEE. You speak of this information as having been conveyed to you circuitously. Do you know from whom it originated ?
Mr. MURPHY. You mean the information that it should not be published ?
Senator BRANDEGEE. Yes.
Mr. MURPHY. No; I can not say that of my own knowledge, except to say that one of the most important men who is accredited to have the ear of the French Government, the foreign editor of Le Temps, advised an associate and friend of mine, Mr. Erskine Chillers, a former major in the British army, a man who has espoused the cause of the Irish Republic in a wholehearted and unadulterated manner, and one of the best known publicists in England. The foreign editor of Le Temps conveyed this information to him and I have reason to believe that that was an inspired message. I did not say that that was a message brought from Mr. Clemenceau, but either Mr. Clemenceau or Mr. Tardieu were the only two who had knowledge of it unless they conveyed that knowledge to some one else.
Senator BRANDEGEE. What I wanted to know was, in your judgment, did that information represent the French opinion, or did it represent the desire of the American commission?
Mr. MURPHY. I construed it as representing the French request, in accordance with the action of the American commission.
Senator BRANDEGEE. That is all I care to ask.
Mr. MURPHY. There is one more incident that I would like to present to you, and then I will give way to others. I am not going to occupy your time with the delivery of any argument on this question. There is a short presentation of one phase of the question that. with your permission, I will ask to insert in the record later:
At or about this time, by reason of family connections and business interests, I desired to visit England and Ireland. I made my request before Consul Reed in the ordinary manner, for an amendment to my passport. My passport did not give me permission to proceed anywhere except to France, as it stated, to attend the peace conference in the interest of self-government for Ireland. I was told my request would have to be sent to Washington. After waiting two weeks on the pleasure of Washington, as they explained to me, I had called three or four times to ascertain if there was any reply to my request to amend my passport, and on August 8 I received the following letter:
UNITED STATES PASSPORT BUREAU,
Paris, August 8, 1919. John A. MURPHY, Esq.,
Grand Hotel, Paris. SIR : Referring to your recent call at the passport bureau, you are informed that a telegram has been received from Washington instructing the bureau to refuse to amend your passport for Ireland.
There is inclosed herewith the amount of 0.80 frane in stamps, which represents the balance due you after the cable charges have been deducted from the sum of 100 francs which you deposited. I am, sir, Respectfully yours,
E. C. REED,
American Consul. I felt surprised, Mr. Chairman and Senators, that in pursuit of my private business as an American citizen my Government should deny me the right to proceed to the British Isles. My request for a passport was not to go to Ireland. My request for a passport was to
proceed to the British Isles. I had personally said that my purpose was not political; that I desired no exemptions from the laws of the land. I had desired to proceed there for family and personal reasons. Now, Mr. Chairman and Senators, on the other matter which I wish to present to the committee I wish to say that during a stay of about two months in Paris, where I met many of the editors of the French press and many of the public men of France, I have had opportunity to get a vision of the proposed league of nations somewhat different from that which would naturally otherwise have been given to me.
From my training and environment I have naturally paid most attention to the economic and industrial aspect of the treaty. The trouble with the treaty is that it is neither a treaty of vengeance nor a treaty of justice; it is calculated to maintain forever a commercial supremacy to one or two of the high contracting parties. I regret to say that America does not seem to be included as one of those parties.
The condition of France at the present time, as admitted to me in private conference by their thinking minds, is one of gravest import. Its finances are in a depleted condition; it has exercised its power of taxation so far as it is believed the people of France will endure, and still the income is more than a billion dollars below the absolute requirements of its budget, even with its army demobilized.
I spent some days driving over the devastated regions of northern France, and the paralysis of the country is appalling. The difficulties of obtaining raw materials and coal are greater than I can describe.
There has been no outlet for commercial development accorded to it by this present proposed treaty. Even the commercial advantages which have accrued to France from its old protectorate of the Christian people of the Orient is being imperiled by the British control in Mesopotamia and the Near East. Fifty-five per cent of the German indemnity which is supposed to be obtained by France is incomplete and uncertain reparation. Many eventualities may occur which would defer or avoid the payment of these indemnities, and neither France nor the world at large could ever be called to arms for the purpose of enforcing at the point of the sword payment which may or may not be beyond the will or the possibilities of the central powers to pay.
On the other hand, the question of sovereignty over subject people is understood in a more material way abroad than we generally understard it in America. It is understood as the right of commercial exploitation, and whether it be in the guise of mandatories for itself or its colonies, the British Empire has most successfully obtained the control of countries and people which are more than a commercial compensation for the losses endured even by the British Empire in the prosecution of war. I refer to the control that England now possesses under the terms proposed by this treaty, of almost one-third of the earth's surface. I am not discussing the freedom of the seas for the minute. Gibraltar, Malta, Suez, Aiden, and all the other strategic points held by England are solid answers in denial of the assertion that the freedom of the seas now exists.
This present treaty proposes to subject forever the sovereignty of Egypt, to condemn the oldest nation in the world to serfdom and to commercial exploitation; Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, Thibet, Burmah, India, form an unbroken chain in the interest of England to meet and to connect its links with the sphere of influence claimed, and by this treaty yielded to the Imperial Government of Japan.
Japan, whose losses in this war were of a negligible quantity, is to be confirmed in its control of Korea with its 20,000,000 of people, and to be accorded the control of Shantung, with its iron, and coal, and mineral resources, and its many millions of Chinese inhabitants, and which must be regarded as the commercial jugular vein of China; by it, and through its waterways and railways of the interior of China, will be acquired by commercial and treaty advantages.
It is not necessary to more than glance at the map of Africa to see that from Cairo to the Cape it is to be dominated in the British interest.
I point out these things to you gentlemen to call your attention to the undying antagonism that exists between the principles upon which a Government like ours is founded, of the people and for the people, and the principles upon which an imperial government is founded, where the Crown is, if not the right divine, at least it is the center around which rallies in support the commercial, the military, and selfish oligarchies of privilege. All of this, which I believe you will admit as self-evident, is to my mind trained and aimed more especially against America than any other country in the world; it is asserted that our factories produce in eight months our domestic requirements, so that for four months of the year we are forced either to seek foreign markets or to shut down our factories. England well knows that it can not stop the fertility of our fields from producing cotton and corn and the necessaries of life in bounteous plenty; nor our mines in their production of raw material in practically unlimited quantities; nor can it fetter the energy and the power of American industrial and commercial development. It Therefore seeks, under the specious title of a league of nations, to draw a wall of iron around the markets of the world, where, by a preferential imperial tariff, the products of our factories will be handicapped in their efforts to obtain a foreign market; where from time to time a slight concession here and there on their part may be looked upon and exploited as an act of generosity on their part toward their American cousins, and so through the aid of finance and intrigue an invisible British Empire may be superimposed upon the destinies of America.
We are asked to abdicate our sovereignty in favor of a sovereignty of a composite body in which we have but one vote as against six votes of the British Empire, and the six votes of the British Empire are but a small portion of its influence. It will be in a position to offer to every country in the world—France, Italy, Greece—special concessions and considerations for their vote on every question that arises wherein American interests might be circumscribed and impeded, regardless of principle or regardless of the eternal right in the controversy involved.
I have not attempted in these few words to enter into any discussion of the question from the Irish point of view, because I wanted it plain that my objections against this are American in the most
intense and vital things. But I respectfully submit for your consideration that the question of Ireland is interminably involved in this whole scheme of operation. America is at the present time engaged in the development of a mercantile marine to make it independent of either the good will or capacity of any other power in delivering to foreign markets the products of our factories, and especially for our trade with Europe. Her ships must have a point of debarkation as well as embarkation. In other words, a line of mercantile marine without harbors in Europe would be short lived and unprofitable. The harbors of England are and will be insufficient for the British commerce; the harbors of Europe will be dominated and controlled in the interest of their respective governments. Ireland alone offers to America friendly, sufficient, and secure harbors for the termini of its mercantile marine in the European carrying trade. From these harbors by packet steamships may be made the quickest, the cheapest, and the best distribution in Europe of American goods and merchandise.
What the attitude of England would be to bar the development of Irish harbors in this connection was illustrated in 1913, when Europe was at peace. The White Star Line, at the instance of the British Government, discontinued Queenstown as a port of call. The Hamburg-American Line announced that it would make Queenstown a port of call, but before even one ship of that line made a call at Queenstown, the British Government, in pursuance of its policy of commercial isolation with which it has surrounded Ireland informed the Imperial Government of Germany that making Queenstown a port of call would be considered by the British Government unfriendly, and it was undesirable.
I therefore submit for your consideration that the recognition of the Irish Republic, the de jure government of Ireland is not only right and desirable as reasoned by every standard of justice and of American ideals, but that America has an enlightened self interest in the doing of this commendable act.
The brevity of the space allotted to me compels me to deal in conclusions rather than in a presentation of the premises and the logic of the case. But we are asked by this treaty to subscribe our fortunes and the lives of our children and their children's children to continuation in serfdom of hundreds of millions of human beings whom God has created in freedom and equality; we are asked to lock the door against ourselves as an American nation in our own commercial development and while reservations and amendments may draw many of the fangs from this thing serpentine of iniquity, the American answer should be to kill it and in its place erect a true league of nations imbued with American ideals of justice and equality of opportunity for all. To lay these foundations securely and broadly and deeply and from here, in America, to bring about a league of nations that shall be of all things just to the world and all its peoples, and shall also kill this threatened encirclement of American commerce that lies hidden but real in the terms of the proposed treaty you are now asked to sanction.
Peace can only come and endure as a result of justice, and until the fabric of this treaty is reconstructed and until the thought that controls its reconstruction becomes American in its democracy, we