History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

=The World Tour of the Fleet.=—­As if to assure the world then that the United States placed little reliance upon the frail reed of peace conferences, Roosevelt the following year (1908) made an imposing display of American naval power by sending a fleet of sixteen battleships on a tour around the globe.  On his own authority, he ordered the ships to sail out of Hampton Roads and circle the earth by way of the Straits of Magellan, San Francisco, Australia, the Philippines, China, Japan, and the Suez Canal.  This enterprise was not, as some critics claimed, a “mere boyish flourish.”  President Roosevelt knew how deep was the influence of sea power on the fate of nations.  He was aware that no country could have a wide empire of trade and dominion without force adequate to sustain it.  The voyage around the world therefore served a double purpose.  It interested his own country in the naval program of the government, and it reminded other powers that the American giant, though quiet, was not sleeping in the midst of international rivalries.


=A Constitutional Question Settled.=—­In colonial administration, as in foreign policy, President Roosevelt advanced with firm step in a path already marked out.  President McKinley had defined the principles that were to control the development of Porto Rico and the Philippines.  The Republican party had announced a program of pacification, gradual self-government, and commercial improvement.  The only remaining question of importance, to use the popular phrase,—­“Does the Constitution follow the flag?”—­had been answered by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Although it was well known that the Constitution did not contemplate the government of dependencies, such as the Philippines and Porto Rico, the Court, by generous and ingenious interpretations, found a way for Congress to apply any reasonable rules required by the occasion.

=Porto Rico.=—­The government of Porto Rico was a relatively simple matter.  It was a single island with a fairly homogeneous population apart from the Spanish upper class.  For a time after military occupation in 1898, it was administered under military rule.  This was succeeded by the establishment of civil government under the “organic act” passed by Congress in 1900.  The law assured to the Porto Ricans American protection but withheld American citizenship—­a boon finally granted in 1917.  It provided for a governor and six executive secretaries appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate; and for a legislature of two houses—­one elected by popular native vote, and an upper chamber composed of the executive secretaries and five other persons appointed in the same manner.  Thus the United States turned back to the provincial system maintained by England in Virginia or New York in old colonial days.  The natives were given a voice in their government and the power of initiating laws; but the final word both in law-making and administration was vested in officers appointed in Washington.  Such was the plan under which the affairs of Porto Rico were conducted by President Roosevelt.  It lasted until the new organic act of 1917.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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