- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Feb 1921, p. 75-87
- Stewart, John A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A toast to Sinn Feinism. Anglo-American relations. Talks with the President-to-be and his thoughts and comments on the matter. The work of the Sulgrave Institute in the furtherance of good will and understanding among English-speaking peoples. The importance to the world of Angle-American friendship. The issue of the Irish question being settled. Words from President Monroe in the Monroe Doctrine. The historical background to the Doctrine. This Doctrine a challenge to autocracy throughout the world for one hundred years. An invitation to Canadians to join those in America in celebrating adequately the second great historic instance in which America and Great Britain have joined for the welfare of the world.
- Date of Original
- 24 Feb 1921
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
GOODWILL BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
AN ADDRESS BY MR. JOHN A. STEWART,
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF
THE SULGRAVE INSTITUTE OF AMERICA
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
February 24, 1921
PRESIDENT MITCHELL, in a brief address introduced the Speaker of the day who said:
Friends, and Fellow Canadians,-I should like to ask you to join me in drinking a toast today. I can translate the toast into English, but unfortunately my knowledge of Gaelic is not sufficient to permit me to translate it from English into Gaelic, but the toast I ask you to drink is this: "Sinn Fein," with this addition, "To us, ourselves and to everybody, good will to your neighbor?" (Applause)
That is the kind of Sinn Feinism in which I believe, in which you believe, and I think in which the good of the earth believe. It is always a temptation in coming to Canada, in this atmosphere of free-born men of lawful age to speak right out from the heart as the mind thinks. But today I have a message which like all messages will very likely be tiresome, but I hope it will put some
John Appleton Stewart, LL.D., is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Sulgrave Institute, New York. In conjunction with President Roosevelt he initiated the AmericanBritish Friendship Movement, organized the Hundred Years of Peace celebration committees in 1909, and in 1914 was the prime mover in the establishment of the Sulgrave Institute which was incorporated to foster friendship and prevent misunderstandings among Englishspeaking peoples. As head of the Sulgrave Institute, he took the lead in establishing the celebration of "Britain's Day" in the United States.
thing into your minds to cause you to think. It is about a year now since I came up here and in that time the propaganda which was then rampant has grown into a virulence and a violence and malignity that was not equalled during the war nor during the years preceding the war. I want to give utterance to the thought which I ventured last year to leave with you in order that it may impinge itself upon your inner consciousness, and that is, no matter what you may read in the newspapers of the United States, no matter what you may hear that anybody has said, remember that the United States and its people are a nation filled with good will for Canada and for the Canadian people; and that the American Republic and the British Commonwealth shall persist in association for purposes of good will no matter who may state otherwise. Now, we are going to start right in this good will matter at high noon on the 4th of March next when Warren Gabriel Harding will, upon a Bible-a Masonic Bible-take the oath of office as President of the United States.
Now I have just come from St. Augustine where I had two very delightful talks with the President-to-be and I may say without any fear of contradiction on his part that he is a man whose mind is filled with good will for the people of Canada and that during his term of office nothing will be done by him to break that good will or to sever the friendship which should exist between you and us.
During the campaign I wrote to Senator Harding, the nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States, and I said to him, "Senator, we of the Sulgrave Institution are engaged with seventy-one other virile American organizations, in celebrating one of the most outstanding events in all history; the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on the coast of Massachusetts and we should like a sentiment from you upon the subject of friendship among English speaking peoples, because that is what this celebration means. It is to foster friendship among those who speak the English tongue," and I received from the Presidential nominee shortly afterwards a letter which I kept in my desk for over three months because I didn't believe it to be good politics at that time to bring into the campaign, which was already running at a pretty high tension, extraneous issues, one which was not political at all, but had for its essence the creed. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"; and therefore I have kept it until the other day, when I gave a copy of it to some British newspaper men. When they cabled it abroad it was received as indicative of the attitude of the approaching Administration towards the matter of Anglo-American friendship. This is what the man who is about to be inaugurated President of the United States said to me: "The labor of uniting into still closer amity and understanding the English speaking peoples of the world has a significance of good to all Americans and to all nations and races of the world. Destiny has made it a historical fact that the English speaking peoples have been the instrument through which civilization has been flung to the far corners of the globe. I am impressed not so much by the glory that English speaking peoples may take to themselves, as by the profound duties that God has thrust upon them-duties of being restrained, tolerant and just. These duties will find their greatest recognition in a united, unshakable friendship, and understanding, and openness of purpose, not for the exclusion from brotherhood of others, but for a better brotherhood flowing towards others. I believe that when the wisdom of America is summoned to assist the world in building a workable, as distinguished from a bungling agreement, or association, for the prevention of war, the unity of English-speaking peoples will play no small part, not to invade the rights or exclude the fellowship of other nations, but to protect and include them." Thus, the President-elect of the United States, President Harding has been criticised for writing this letter to me. Only the other day a good English friend, a correspondent of one of the great London daily papers, said to a friend of mine, in the course of a luncheon, that he believed that President-elect Harding had been impolitic in writing any such letter as that, and when asked the reason for it he said, "Why, the moment that was published, other nations, inspired by jealousy, began to plot against the consummation which we all so devoutly wish to see." I don't believe there is a man here that will hold with any such opinion in regard to that which President-elect Harding has done. The finest thing in life, the greatest thing in the world for men and for nations, is friendship; and friendship and silence at a time of stress are as anomalous as oil and water. They do not mix, they cannot mix and they ought not to mix. The Sulgrave Institution stands for friendship. It glories in the fact that its work is in the furtherance of good will and understanding among English-speaking peoples. It believes that the good, the welfare and the progress of humanity depend upon that friendship. It believes that a policy of un-friendship is a policy of fools and that no man with the mentality of statesmanship would wilfully indulge in pin-pricks or in words that irritate; in a policy which leads to disruption rather than in the cause of good will which brings in return good will to him that gives it. But we are up against a pretty hard situation to which human nature lends itself--to which it always has and to which I suppose it always will. I got a letter the other day from a dear friend in Canada, and it was a letter blotted with tears; it was soaked in sobs as it were; and he said, "My dear friend, what is the matter with the United States?" He said, "It seems as if a conspiracy existed all through your Republic, a conspiracy of enmity against Canada and against the people of Great Britain." Well, I have lived in the United States for fifty-five years, and I have gone north and south and east and west, and I have a mailing list of people with whom I come in contact, more or less, of something like four hundred thousand, and I have never discovered a conspiracy of un-friendship against Canada among Americans, and I never have discovered many Americans to evince any ill will against their neighbors on the north. Once in a while Mr. Hearst breaks out. But if Mr. Hearst didn't occasionally break out life would lose a great deal of its gayety, and I am afraid some of the Canadian and British papers would have not quite so much to write about. Therefore, let us bless Mr. Hearst. On the other hand, occasionally Mr. "John Bull" Bottomley breaks out in a diatribe against America, and you would think from the report the immortal John makes, that war was imminent and within a week the British Fleet would sail for New York to bombard it; but nothing seems ever to happen, and our daily life goes on about as of yore. Nobody, apparently, is disturbed, and nobody minds.
Three years ago I preached a little sermon in this same room on the policy of regarding generalities as if they were concrete circumstances, to dispel the logic which puts red hair upon the heads of all the persons of a locality simply because a certain person who makes the assertion happens to meet five red-headed persons in one block on the way to a destination. Now when Mr. Hearst says something, it by no means implies that Mr. Hearst speaks for the people of the United States and because Mr. "John Bull" Bottomley says something else about the people of the United States it by no means implies that the people of Great Britain are enemies of the United States. We live under a constitution which permits a great many atrocities to be performed. The other day I wrote a reply to my dear friend "Punch", who in an epilogue dedicated to the United States of America, put down in pen and ink some pretty sharp things which showed only that the man who wrote it didn't understand his subject, and I said, "My dear friend Punch, I remember one twenty-four hours in the United States when, by resolution, Ireland was freed from British rule, Germany became dominant throughout the universe, the property of all plutocrats was divided among the proletariats-whoever the proletariats may be -I hope I am one of them-and by the same resolution men suspended natural law and lifted themselves by their boot-straps over the nearest wall; and I remember also, by the same token, being in Hyde Park when I was one of one hundred and twenty-five thousand people and by resolution and voice I witnessed the utter disruption of the British Government. I saw the Premier of Great Britain hanging from the yard arm of the ship of State, I saw all the gold in Great Britain divided among the people thereof, I saw a commonwealth of socialism established, and I saw other miracles performed too numerous to mention; all this within the short space of six hours. Now your people and my people and the people of Great Britain can do this sort of thing under the form of Government which we find best fits our conditions. They can do almost anything, they can say almost anything; and through the friendship, shall I say-or let us say acquiescence-of a police force they may even tear down the British flag from the walls of the Union Club and trample it in 5th Avenue, and they can tear down the British flag from in front of the Capitol Theatre and do the same thing; and I have known an American flag to get the same fate in one or two parts of Canada within the last fifteen or twenty years. We have never been at war over it or regarded it as the subject of diplomatic conversation; and why should we? The Irish question undoubtedly is one of the burning questions of the day, and a mighty long day at that, and undoubtedly Irish activities of propagandists lie somewhat towards the bottom of that sinister influence which is constantly furthering enmity between America and Great Britain, but not wholly. A friend of mine told me that only the other day she and a friend sat in a hall where the Friends of the Irish Republic-or whatever the particular name of the organization is under whose auspices the meeting was held-were having one of their usual talkfests, and they weren't hitting the high spots enough. They were not hitting Britain-they were not twisting the tail of the lion enough-when a voice out in the midst of the audience cried out, "yell, vat about the Irish question?" But you know the old saying, "Scratch a Russian and generally you will find a Tartar," and that propaganda is going on with greater violence today than it has ever gone on before and is more detrimental and seemingly better financed, and where the money comes from only the good Lord knows, we haven't been able to find out. But yet, let me tell you, when you read any fool thing that appears in the newspaper that seems in contravention of common sense, don't take any stock in it. You and I could put all sorts of stories in papers which would be sheer lies to further an ulterior purpose, but it wouldn't get us anywhere. I tell you, my friends, and I tell my Irish friends-and there is no one would like better to see the Irish question settled than I would--that when the Irish tore down the British flag from in front of the Union Club, they did themselves more damage in America than they can undo in the next five years". (Applause)
By the bye--and I am departing widely from my text, I cannot talk to friends and preach a sermon-I have a conundrum for you: How far is the Union Club from the Cathedral? That is where the riot began, in front of the Cathedral. You don't know, you give it up, and I say, "Just a stone's throw." Get me? That is the latest in New York. (Laughter) Well now, my friends, to talk seriously on a serious subject, I tell you we do not understand the importance to the world of Anglo-American friendship. It would be the crime of all the ages if we permitted these pestiferous, insolent propagandists to separate you from us and us from you; and we do not purpose to take any stock in them, and do not purpose to believe them and play into their hands. The thing for us to do is to keep cool, keep our heads, because they want us to lose them. Don't let's do it, and every time an editorial appears by an American editor directed at something in Great Britain, that is a little snappy and bitter, that is playing into the hands of these people, and every time a British or Canadian editor notices something which amounts to absolutely nothing, and writes a bitter editorial which is spread all over the United States, we play into their hands and are simply their puppets. They want us to do that sort of thing, and don't let's do it. Now, in common with all of you, I think, I should like to see the Irish question settled but there are in America Americans who think and are recognizing the fact that underlying the Irish question are questions of race and questions of religion and questions of temperament and of inherited impulses, all of which are the very antithesis of those things of which we are a part and which are a part of us. The Irish question deals with fundamentals, and when I hear Americans say, "Why, in God's name, don't the British settle the Irish question?" I am inclined to say, "Why, in the name of the Almighty, didn't we settle the question of reconstruction in the South, where we had the same problem, and we made quite as bad a bungle of it as the British seem to have made of this, and for precisely the same reason?" Because, underlying, there is the question of race; and race consciousness is an inherited passion in the human make-up and a man, if he be a man, can no more divest himself from that sub-conscious emanation which we call race consciousness than he can divest himself of his body. It is a part of us and it is a blessing from God that it is a part of us. Back of us is a certain impulse that urges us on, and I believe that God in His mercy to humanity said, "Let the Anglo-Saxon being have mixed in him those elements of good will, of justice, of sense of fair play, so that he may be an example of all these things for all the world," and so that there may be sometime established on this earth universal government "of the people by the people and for the people," and undoubtedly at this juncture it seems that only the Anglo-Saxon peoples understand what government of the people means and what democracy means. How I wish that the Irish question were settled! I dissent from the view of Viscount Grey which appeared in the New York papers the day before yesterday, and which I assume appeared yesterday in your newspaper press, that the Irish question has dissevered America and Great Britain. I do not believe that. I do believe, and I know that all of us feel that we should like to have the Irish question settled and should like to have it compromised upon the basis of rule by the majority with a due regard for the rights of the minority that our form of government confirms and concedes. Whether it can be done depends a great deal upon good will. I tell you goodwill is the greatest weapon that ever was forged for use in war and in peace, for' good-will begets good-will, and love begets love, and neighborliness and kindly feeling beget neighbourliness and kindliness, and it is only by that good-will the world progresses and becomes better--anything else is a retrogression. I devoutly wish, we could settle the Irish question as if it were through the verdict of a Coroner's jury and say, "The situation is an act of Providence," and let it go at that. Unfortunately, we cannot. However, I can say this, and I believe I do speak the mind of the majority of the people of the United States, that we all wish Britain well, and we wish her no harm, and by every means, if good-will will affect that thing, we have that good will for her which will bring her out of her trouble and which will ultimately solve the Irish question, and then we will turn our attention to more or less important things.
The other day in St. Augustine I talked with the President of the United States, to-be, about adequate celebration of the anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, a matter of whose importance I found him fully conscious, and as to which I found him very sympathetic. Subsequently we had a meeting in the City of New York and have begun the organization to celebrate that outstanding event, not precisely as an emanation from the President himself, but as a matter in which for the second time in their joint history Great Britain and the United States of America came together for a beneficent purpose. The first was when we joined hands with you and with Great Britain and put our signatures to the Rush-Bagot agreement, and for 104 years the frontier between America and Canada has been an exemplification to all the world of what is possible if only two peoples meet one another in a spirit of neighbourliness and good-will, and for 104 years that compact has never been disputed or broken. Now, the second time when we came together for joint action for the world's good was in 1823, when President Monroe promulgated the Monroe Doctrine. I should like to read his words. President Monroe declared, "As a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American Continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subject for future colonization by any European powers," and the implication for any disregard of this warning was war, and back of that implication was Great Britain and the British Fleet. In 1798, the Government of Great Britain conferred with the American Government upon the proposition of a joint interposition in the affairs of South America, but at that time President John Adams was reluctant to further any such undertaking. The republic was new, and he didn't believe it would be policy at that time for America to join any nation in the furtherance of any object which lay outside of its own borders, but in 1802, only four years afterwards, Thomas Jefferson said in regard to the possibility of a French domination in Louisiana, "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans-seals the union of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the Oceans. From that moment, we must marry ourselves to the British Fleet and Nation, holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purpose of united American and British peoples." Now those are strong words, my Canadian friends, and words which those who are conspiring against British-American friendship are mighty sick ever were written. But all through American history you will find words such as these, written by the greatest of our Presidents-always the impulse in America has trended towards friendship among English-speaking peoples. The Monroe Doctrine is the very essence of an association for world welfare between the American Republic and the British Commonwealth. Later, after President Monroe had taken office, the British Premier, George Canning, brought the matter up, but at that time the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, was not prepared to acquiesce in any such proposition, although that great statesman, Henry Clay, immediately espoused it in the halls of the House of Representatives, and in 1820, I believe, brought about the passage of a joint resolution recognizing the belligerency of the South American Republics, and later the bill was passed providing money for the erection of a diplomatic establishment by America in all of the South American countries. Later, George Canning, who was a canny man, but obstinate, and never gave up a purpose, came back at the Americans, and for the second time, and then again for the third time proposed a joint pronouncement by America and Great Britain which should warn Spain that her dominancy of the South American and Central American nations had passed by. Now the answer to Canning's activities was an agreement between France and Prussia and Austria and Russia in the Holy Alliance which met at Verona and decreed that the Doctrines of the Divine Right of Kings had always been established upon this earth, and that these four nations should use their power to continue that domination. It has ever been and always will be one of the brightest pages in English history when she said to France and Austria and Russia and Prussia, 'We do not believe in that doctrine, we stand by the United States of America in the protection of the recently established republics in South America.' (Applause) And Great Britain again proposed that we join her in a pronouncement. Now John. Quincy Adams, likewise an emanation of Britain, obstinate and self-willed, said, 'No, we cannot, for reasons of policy, join Great Britain in the promulgation of any such doctrine, but we will of our own volition acquiesce in the proposition to the extent of making a declaration for ourselves which by implication included Great Britain, and which was of very great interest to her because of the existence of Canada and of her South American possessions. Then on December 2nd, 1823, President Monroe promulgated the doctrine which bears his name, and which I have already quoted. The President further asseverated that any attempt on the part of European nations to extend their systems to America would be regarded by us to be dangerous to our peace and safety, and that, as we should not interfere in European matters, so we should resent with all our power any interference on the part of European nations in the vital affairs of the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine in its very essence, despite the assertions of historians on both sides of the water, was, after all, a joint interposition in affairs upon this continent which proved inevitable to establish upon the Western Hemisphere a form of government and a system of democracy and democratic action, the end for which we had always sought; and so Spain and the Holy Alliance ceased to trouble the Western Hemisphere, and one of the brightest pages in Anglo-American history was written. Now, my friends, the Monroe Doctrine has continued for one century. It has shown its worth. It has given to the South American Republics, to men of Latin temperament and not acclimated to the vigorous, virile rules of government which we have established in the ordering of our own households throughout Anglo-Saxondom, a freedom which they would not have had otherwise.
The Monroe Doctrine has been for one hundred years a challenge to autocracy throughout the world. It was a challenge to Germany in 1914 when she would establish her will upon the world, and it was the underlying idea, that underlying sense of common danger, that knowledge and sense of a common destiny which brought America and Great Britain together to fight again-and finally, let us hope-for the establishment of good-will upon earth. (Applause) I think it was James Russell Lowell, as American Minister to Great Britain, who gave utterance to a happy thought which has turned out so prophetic, when he said at the banquet given to American and British riflemen at Wimbledon in 1872, "Let us pray God that the rifles in the hands of Americans and of Britons will both point the same way against a common enemy, and never against each other." (Applause) Oh, how the Holy Alliance as it is established on earth today and as it was established on earth in 1914, would wish that Mr. Lowell's prophecy had been just the other way about, and that American rifles and British rifles had been turned towards each other and not against a common foe! Now, my friends. Canada has common rights and common privileges with us, and a common obligation in the Monroe Doctrine. I said to President--elect Harding in one of our talks in St. Augustine, "Senator, do you know what rankles in the minds of our South American friends? It is the words of former Secretary of State Olney when he said in 1895: "The United States is practically sovereign on this continent and its fiat is law upon the subjects upon which it confines its interposition." This is the thought I would leave with you after inviting you, my Canadian friends, to join us in America in celebrating adequately the second great historic instance in which America and Great Britain have joined for the welfare of the world: rather may we not now, through an international rejoicing over this centenary, publish a new interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine, which shall be the very antithesis of Secretary Olney's dictum, and declare that
"The free nations of North and South America are sovereign on this continent; their fiat is law upon the subjects to which they limit their joint interposition. They harbour no thought of aggression against the rest of the world, desiring only to be permitted to progress in the arts, customs and activities of peace, and to work out, in their own way on this Hemisphere, an enduring civilization that will bless the world."
May God Almighty bless and strengthen the good-will which underlies the associations between the American Republic and the British Commonwealth. May He by His great and beneficent power further the work which we are undertaking so feebly to bring about as between you and us, and us and you, and bestow upon us an era of good men; and good-will will be the policy of all nations. My friends, I thank you. (Applause)