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Full text of "The Rush-Bagot agreement"

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THE 

RUSH-BAGOT 
AGREEMENT 

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY 



The Rt. Hon. Sir CHARLES FITZPATRICK 

CHIEF JUSTICE OF CANADA 



AT THE LAWYERS' CLUB IN THE 
CITY OF NEW YORK 



MARCH 17, 1917 



18349—1 



7 J 



e^ 



AN ADDRESS 



DELIVERED BV 



SIR CHARLES FITZPATRICK 

Before the Lawyers Club, Xe^c York City, 
March 17, 1917. 



1 want to thank you. Mr. ("liairnKin, for \our very generous 
references to myself. 1 do not, of course, j)retcncl to deserve 
them, but I ai)preciate the siiirit which moved \()U to s]x>ak 
of me as >ou have done. 

I felt much honoured, Gentlemen, 1)> the in\itation to 
appear before you on this occasicm, but, as Mr. Spencer has just 
told you, it was not without misgiving that I accepted it. I 
felt then, and now that I ha\e attempted the task, I feel to a 
much larger degree, the tryth of the saying of the writer in the 
Book of Ecclesiasticus, "that the wisdom of the scribe conieth 
of the opportunity of leisure." It is (me of the many draw- 
backs of a fairly busy professional and political life, that, howcAer 
great one's interest ma\' be in subjects concerning the histor>- 
of one's own country-, e\en if allied to the work of one's profes- 
sion, and however strong ime's views, the time necessary to 
manifest usefully the one, or to gi\e practical effect to the 
other, is almost invariably wanting. 

The subject assignetl to me is full of interest, and it is 

fitting that, at a time when the whole Briti.sh Empire is staking its 

life for the sake of a treaty, we shouUl assemble here to-day to 

commemorate an Agreement whicli has not been broken, but 

18349—2 



has been faithfully kept for a hundred years. When John 
Quincy Adams in November, 1815, on behalf of the Government 
at Washington, first approached Lord Castlereagh with a 
proposal for mutual disarmament on the Great Lakes, he was 
happy in his opportunity. The message, which, as the United 
States Minister in London, Adams had to deliver to the British 
Government, was drafted by James Monroe, then Secretary of 
State. The Great War which had devastated the world for 
more than twenty years was over, Waterloo had been fought 
and won, and Napoleon, not satisfied with Elba, had gone to 
St. Helena. The ^Koples of Euroi^e were blindly feeling their 
way, and groping out towards some happier system, which 
would rid the world of war for ever. Already statesmen were 
building cloud-casilcs in the air, and dreaming of the reign of 
universal ]>eace, entirely oblivious of the fact that, as Joseph de 
Maistre said, "(k']iuis Ic jour ou Cain tua Abel il y a toujours 
"eu ca et la sur la surface du globe dcs marcs de sang, que n'ont 
"pu dessecher, ni les vents avec leurs brulantcs haleines, ni le 
"soleil avec tons ses feux." Visionary schemes were the subject 
of eager discussion, and found a ready welcome, and some of 
the best minds of Europe were being dazzled by the dream 
which afterwards took form as the Holy Alliance, — that strange 
system by which the banded kings were pledged to regard each 
other as brothers, and their peoples as their children, and to 
ensue the (jospel of Christ. That Alliance has been well 
described as a "piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense." 
The Great Powers who were parties to it did not realize that 
we live "in a world of flux and change," and that with peoples 
as with individuals "growth and development are among the 
conditions of life." The political situation in Europe proves 
the futility of "an attempt to fit growing organisms into iron 
cases." 

Then suddenly came the short practical message from 
across the Atlantic. It offered no revolution in the world's 



affairs, and held out no special promise of permanency; but 
its work endures to-day, while the Holy Alliance is dead and 
its very purpose forgotten. The reason of the difference is not 
far to seek. To some, treaties and conventions are mere talk 
with which sentimental philanthropists amuse themselves, 
scraps of paper, to be consigned to the waste paper basket when 
they stand in the way of the ambitious designs of emperors and 
kings, whilst to others, agreements mean the plighted word 
and have their sanction in the Divine precept which enjoins 
that man must, in public as in private life, "keep sacred his 
covenant." 

Monroe's letter was a model of brevity, clearness and 
simplicity, and ran as follows: — 

"The information you give, of orders ha\ing l)een 
"issued by the British Government, to increase its naval 
"force on the Lakes, is confirmed by intelligence from that 
"(luartcr, of measures having been actually adopted for 
"the purpose. It is evident if each party augments its 
"force therewith a view to obtain the ascendency over 
"the other that \ast expense will be incurred and the 
"danger of collision will be augmented in like degree. The 
"President is sincereh' desirous to prevent an e\il which, 
"it is presumed, is etjually to be deprecated by both Govern- 
"ments. He therefore authorizes you to propose to the 
"British Goxernment such an arrangement respecting the 
"naval force to be kept on the Lakes by both Governments, 
"as will demonstrate their pacific policy and secure their 
"lieace. He is willing to confine it on each side to a certain 
"moderate number of anned vessels, and the smaller the 
"number the more agreeable to him; or to abstain alto- 
"gether from an armed force beyond that used for the 
"revenue. \'ou will bring this subject under the con- 
"sideration of the British Go\ernnient immediately after 
"the receipt o( this letter." 

Lord Ca>tlereagh was sur])rised and ])eri)kxcd. and naiur- 
all>' inclined at first to be a little siis])icious. Such an engage- 
18349— 2 J 



6 

ment would tie the hands of both parties until war should have 
commenced, and the Americans, by their proximity, would be 
able to prepare armaments for attack, much sooner than those 
of the British could be prepared for defence. On January 31, 
1816, Adams writing to Monroe says: "I think the proj^sal 
will not be accepted." But the proposal was renewed in a note 
of which the following extract is far-sighted: — 

"The increase of naval armaments on one side upon 
^|the lakes during peace, will necessitate the like increase 
*'on the other, and besides causing an aggravation of use- 
II less e\ix?nse to both parties, must operate as a continual 
stimulus of suspicion and of ill-will upon the inhabitants 
'I and local authorities of the borders against those of their 
I' neighbours. The moral and political tcndencv of such 
"a system must be to war and not to {K-ace." 

Words pregnant with wisdom and political foresight. 

One would imagine that when he wrote that letter Mr. 
Monroe had i^resent to his mind this ])hrase from Bacon 
(Essay of Em])irc) : "Let men beware how they neglect and 
suffer matter of trouble to be ])re])ared; for no man can forbid 
the sixirk nor tell whence it may come." 

Certainly if C'astlereagh had been inclined to take a narrow 
\ lew of the situation, there was abundant ground for hesitation. 
At that very time C.reat Britain was making a determined 
effort to secure a superiorit\- of na\al iorcc on the Lakes. At 
Kingston a shi])-of-the-linc built to carry 110 guns and two 
vessels that were able to mount 74 guns, were being hurried to 
conii)letion. Morecner insistent demands were being made 
in both Houses of Parliament for a more vigorous policy, and 
the building of a formidable fleet for Canadian waters. Still 
the folly and waste of such a comi)etition were a])parent, and 
in April Adams was able to report Castlereagh as admitting, 
that "to keep a number of armed vessels parading about upon 
"the Lakes in times of peace would be ridiculous and absurd. 



"There could be no motive for it. and ever> thinjr beyond what 
^'should be necessary to guanl against smuggling.' wouUl be 
"calculated only to produie mischief." 

^ But he then jxjinted out, that though disarmament was so 
desirable in itself, the disiulvantages attending it would be 
felt only by Creat Britain. If war broke out >uddenlv. and 
found both countries without a na\al force on the Liikes. ckarly 
the Tnited States would be in a much better jKJMtion than 
C.reat Britain to extemi)<)rize a Heet. In those days of wooiicn 
vessels, the building materials were ready at hand in the forests 
along the shores of the Lakes, and C.reat Britain from the 
geographical position would be ho])elessly handica])i)ed. For 
her, if she looked for war. the ])olicy of a i)eriK-tual prep.iredness 
was absolutely essential. Hapi)ily Lord Castlereagh took the 
larger view. He .was keeiiK alive to the waste of (•omi)eiitive 
armaments, and admitted all Mr. .Adams had to urge in regard 
to the constant occasion of ])ro\-ocation, which nnist ari.sc- on 
lK)th sides, out of the i)resence of armed vessels in the same inland 
waters. What a danger to international peace, this in-o\imit\- 
of naval fleets in confined waters. imi>i haw i)ro\\(l will 1,,. 
api)arent if we consider for a moment the casi' <.f the Creat 
Ocean fleets of the world. Vou will remember how, in tlic days 
before the war, the nax.il esiimaio .uid ])rogramim> of the 
great Powers were alwa\s the object of jealous scrutiiu in e\er\ 
country. No excei)tion was made e\en in the c.ise of C.nat 
Britain, for whom a supreme fleet is sim])l\ a life belt ; without it 
she sinks at once, and starves before she goes under. Her 
fleet, as a necessity of self defence, is neither a tlire.it nor a 
challenge to any, and her >hii)s cruise imi)ariiall> fi-oni .Xn h- 
angel to Hong K(mg. and are etiually at home in the Atlantic 
and the Pacific, in the Red Sea. the Whiti- Sea. the Yellow 
Sea or at the gales of the Black Sea. But a British war ^ e-el 
on the ('.real Lakes could have only one i)OhsibIe oi)i>oiient, 
and the presence of an American shij) on the same waters 



8 

necessarily suggested comparisons, and inevitable speculations 
as to the result of a trial of strength with her rival. In these 
circumstances, what opportunities there would be for rumours, 
and exaggerations, and the suspicions born of both, whenever 
there was any special activity in the shipyards at either end 
of the Lakes, bathing the frontiers of both countries ! And here 
remember, that at the beginning of the last century, each lake 
was a separate entity. To-day, there is an uninterrupted water- 
way from Fort William to the Strait of Belisle. Then, Lake 
Superior was cut off from all communication with Huron, and 
the canals on either side of the rapids of the Sault Ste. Marie, 
which, in the year befor the war, carried a traffic three times as 
great as that of the Cireat Waterway at Suez, had not even 
been thought of. In the saine way. Lake Ontario was cut oft 
by the rapids of the St. Lawrence and the Falls of Niagara, 
while the Falls of the Ste. Claire River eft^cctively closed Lake 
Erie, so that any ship built on the border of one of these lakes 
had to be maintained there, and spend the rest of its existence 
on that ^larticular lake. Its sole function and purjiose was to 
counteract the influence of some rival vessel on the other side 
of the lake. Lord Castlereagh could not forecast the future, 
but he was a good judge of the present, and had schooled him- 
self to the thought that to prevent war was better than pre- 
paration for it. 

Mr Adams wrote to the impatient Monroe on March 30. 
1816:— 

"You may consider certain that the proposal to dis- 

"arm on the Lakes will not be accepted;" 

But a fortnight later the princi])lc of the pro])osal had been 
accepted. Before this conclusion, however, was arrived at. 
Lord Castlereagh took the opportunity to remind Mr. Adams, 
that there would have been no need for the present apprehen- 
sions if only the recommendations of the British Commissioners 
at Ghent had been adoi)ted. Mr. Adams re])ortcd as follows: 



9 

"He then pointed out that Great Britain had proposed, at the 
"negotiations at Ghent, that the whole of the Lakes, including 
^'the shores should belong to one party. In that case there 
"would have been a large and wide natural separation between 
j^the two territories, and there would have been no necessity 
"for armaments." Surely here was insight and vision! If 
all the (}reat Lakes, and their coasts, to a suitable depth, 
including the sites now occiipied by Chicago and Milwaukee! 
Detroit and Buffalo had l)een assigiied to Canada, there would 
have been no (luestion of rival naval forces, and I would be 
deprived of the i)leasurc of being >(Hir guest today. But if 
Lord Castlereagh sighed like a statesman over thc> vanished 
scheme, he proposed like a practical man to deal with the 
facts as he found them. On August 13th. 1816, the new British 
Minister at Washington. Mr. Charles Bagot. was able to give 
the assurance that "all further augmentation of the British 
" naval force now in conunission on the Lakes will be immediateh" 
"suspended." In August, matters were carried a stc}) further 
when Bagot gave Monroe full particulars of the existing British 
Heet. Considering that, in those da\s. it often took months 
to get a reply between Loiuhm and Washington, it cannot be 
said that the negotiations had been unduly ])rotracte(l. But 
lhe>- were not ciuick enough to please Mr. Monroe. And here 
let me remark that in the past, in her dealings with England, 
the United States has generally had this advantage, that her 
troubles have come to her singly and not in battalions. On 
the other hand, the harassed statesman who rei)resented (;rcat 
Britain has often had urgent claims (m his attention from many 
parts of the world and so been temiHed to let one care (lri\e out 
another. In that way dela>s and silences have often followed, 
which have gi\'en occasion for sus])icions of rudeness or indiffer- 
ence. In November. pAb, Mr. Monroe in a letter to Adams 
notes Lord Casilereagh's silence and then goes on to use words 
which show that he was beginning to distrust the good faith of 



10 

the British representative: "The limited powers that were 
"given to Mr. Bagot had much appearance that the object was 
"to amuse us rather than to adopt any effectual measure. The 
"supply in the interim of Canada with a vast amount of 
"cannon and munitions is a circumstance which has not 
"escaped attention." 

But there was no ground for -these misgivings and an 
exchange of notes ratifying an agreement on the lines originally 
suggested by Mr. Monroe, took place on the 28th and 29th of 
April, 1817. This document bore the signature of Charles 
Bagot, British Minister at Washington and Richard Rush, 
who was now Secretary of State. 

Of the two men whose names thus acquired an immortality 
of fame, Mr. Bagot played the slighter part, owing to the very 
limited nature of the powers entrusted to him. One hopes he 
enjoyed his stay at Washington; but as the first representative 
of Great Britain after a war which had left such bitter memories 
as those of the fratricidal struggle in 1812-14, his position was a 
difficult one. That he did not expect to find a bed of roses at 
Washington may perhaps be inferred, from the following passage 
in a letter addressed to him, just after his appointment, by 
Canning: "1 am afraid the question is not so much how you 
"will treat them (the Americans) as how they will treat you, 
"and that the hardest lesson which a British Minister has to 
"learn in America is not what to do, but what to bear. But 
"even this may come round. And Waterloo is a great help to 
"you, perhaps a necessary help after the (to say the least) bal- 
"anced successes and misfortunes of the American War." How 
curious all this reads when one thinks oi the leave-taking of 
Mr. Brycc! However, Bagot went out with instructions to do 
whatever was possible to promote the restoration of cordial 
good feeling between the two countries. Of Richard Rush, 
who was Secretary of State when the Agreement was signed, 
and American Minister in London for the greater part of the 



11 

year which elapsed before the arrangement was finally approved 
of by the Senate and proclaimed by the President, we get pleasant 
glimpses in the pages of that very entertaining book "Memor- 
anda of a residence at the Court of London." In its opening 
chapter he thus describes the dispositions in which, in his 
opinion, an American Minister to London ought to approach 
his task: "No language can express the emotion which almost 
"every American feels when he first touches the shores of 
"Europe. This feeling must have a special increase, if it be the 
"case of a citizen of the United States going to England. Her 
"fame is constantly before him; he hears of her statesmen, her 
"orators, her scholars, her philosophers, her divines, her patriots. 
"In the nursery he learns her ballads. Her i^oets train his 
'imagination. Her language is his, with its whole intellectual 
'riches, past and forever newly flowing— a tie, to use Burke's 
"figure, light as air and unseen, but stronger than links oi iron. 
"In spite of political differences, her glory allures him; in spite 
"of hostile collision he clings to her lineage. 'Three thousand 
'"miles', said Franklin, 'are as three thousand years; intcrven- 
"'tion of space seems to kindle enthusiasm, like intervention 
"of time. Is it not fit that two such nations should be friends? 
'"Let us hope.' It is the hope which every Minister from the 
"United States should carry with him to England; it is the 
"hope in which every British Minister of State should meet 
"him. If. nevertheless, rivalry is in the nature of things, at 
"least let it be on fair principles; let it be generous, never paltry, 
"never malignant." 

Mr. Rush was a man of wide culture and gifted with an 
historic imagination. When the vessel that was taking him to 
England was off the Isle of Wit^ht. he tells how he reflected 
that perhaps thev were passing in the ver>- track of the Armada, 
and how his comrades talked of the "hero Queen of Tilbury. 
When the Portsmouth bells were set ringing in liis lionotir on 
the evening of his arrival, he says: "It passed in <.ur thoughts 



12 

" that the same bells might have rung their peals for the victories 

"of Hawke and Nelson." 'Perhaps,' said one of the party, 'for 

"Sir Cloudsley Shovel too.' His reception in London was from 

the first all that he hoped for, and he was soon the object of 

hospitalities, of which at a later i>eriod he wrote: "they can 

"neither pass from the memory nor grow cold upon the heart." 

But though Mr. Rush never spared himself in his efforts to 

bring about a better understanding between the two countries. 

he proved himself a sturdy ])atriot, and succeeded in wresting 

from Oeat Britain concessions in regard to the cod fisheries 

which afterwards caused great resentment in the Maritime ]->ro- 

vinces of Canada. Possibly, however, if the attempts to settle 

the disinite about the Oregon boundary, which were made while 

Rush was in Lomhju, had been successful, the frontier line 

between our two countries might have been jilaced further 

south. He notes the inquisitive habits of the British, which 

had led them into the remotest comers of the earth, and with 

the composure of an historian and the detachment of a jihilost)- 

pher muses over the persistency of the racial type. After 

recalling that in the days of Queen Mary, British traders had 

carried their wares all the long road from Archangel to Bagdad, 

he goes on to say: "It makes a parallel ])assage in their histor> 

"to see them at the i)resent day ])ressing forward to supply 

"with rifles and blankets savage hordes who roam through the 

"woods and paddle their canoes over the waters of the farthest 

"and wildest ]X)rtions of the American continent — on shores 

"which the waters of the Northern Pacific wash in solitude." 

But it was a British statesman who would have given away the 

whole of British Columbia on the ground that a countr\ 

where the salmon would not rise to a fl>- could not be worth 

keeping. 

The agreement which bears the names of Rush and Bagot 
was at least a model of brc\ity and simplicity. Both sides 



13 

knew what they wanted and they wanted the same thing. It 
was agreed that: 

The naval force to be " maintained " by each Government 
on the Great Lakes should be limited, on Lake Ontario, to one 
vessel not exceeding 100 tons burden and armed with one 
18-pound cannon; on the upper Lakes, to two vessels of the same 
burden and armament; and on Lake Champlain, to one similar 
vessel. All other armed vessels on the Lakes were to be forth- 
with dismantled, and "no other vessels of war" were to be 
"there built and anjied." This stipulati(m was to remain in 
effect till six months after either party should haxe gi^•t'n notice 
to the other of a desire to terminate it. 

The British authorities at once dismantled, or broke up, 
three ships-of-the-line, six medium-sized \essels and a number 
of smaller craft, while the blessed work of destruction was 
carried on in the American harbours on a still more cxtensi\c 
scale. 

It was (miy some months later that doubt arose as to the 
validity of the Agreement, as to whether it so far i)artook of 
the nature of a foreign treaty as to require the assent of the 
United States Senate. It was thought better to avoid all 
]X)ssible complications on this score !)>■ bringing the matter 
fomialh- before the Senate. This was done in due course and. 
on April 16. 1818, the Senate "a])i)roved and consented," and 
a few da\s later, the terms of the agreement were formally 
})roclaimed by President Monroe. 

To this day, however, "the Rush-Bagot Agreement" has 
never been regarded or six)ken of as a formal international 
treaty. It was an Agreement by an exchange of notes to wliich 
each side gave effect. The arrangement worked well and smoothly 
from the first, and its conditions have been faithfulU kei)t, 
in the spirit, if not always in the letter, by both sides. During 
the years 1838-41 the rebellion in (^anada led the British 
Government to increase somewhAt its na\al force on the Lakes. 



14 

American remonstrances were met by the explanation to the 
effect, that the measures taken were purely defensive and 
temporary-, and that the normal state of things would be 
restored at the earliest possible moment. In 1857 the British 
Government complained of the presence of the "Michigan" on 
the Upper Lakes as that of an armed vessel of much greater 
tonnage than the agreement allowed. That, on this occasion, 
the British Foreign Office was not over-hasty to take offence, 
may ])erha])s be inferred from the fact that the "Michigan" 
had been on the Upper Lakes for thirteen years before this 
objection was raised. In reply the United States Government 
at once admitted that the "Michigan" was many times too 
big, but urged in extenuation that it was armed only with the 
sort of toy gun which the Agreement sanctioned. I understand 
this vessel is still aHoat.-an historic relic,-as the "Wolverine". 
Nine \ears later, graver issues were involved. Parties of 
Confederates, using Canada as their base, had ca])tured Federal 
steamers on lake Erie, and had raided a town in Vermont. 
Mr. Seward, the American Secretary of State, gave notice that 
"owing to recent hostile and ])iratical proceedings on the lakes" 
it would be necessary- to increase "the observing force" main- 
tained there. At the same time, following the precedent set 
at the time of the Canadian rebellion, he ex])lained tliat the 
stei)s i.iki'U wire nureK' defensi\e, and would be discontinued 
as soon as the danger they were designed to meet had ])assed 
awa\ . Mr. Seward furlher ;ind righll\- insisted that "neither 
"])art\ meant lo relin(iuish the right of self-defence in the 
"e\ent of ci\il war." At the same time, to make the ]M)siti()n 
of his Government absolutely correct, and to secure a free hand 
in the future, he ga\e the reciuisite six months' notice to termin- 
ate the Agreement. This was accepted by Great Britain with 
the ex])ression of a ho])e that the old arrangement might be 
restored after ])eace. This action of Secretary Seward was 
formally' .'ip])roved at a joint session of Congress in February. 



15 

1855^ But at that time the triumph of the Northern Armies 
was in sight, and, before the six months had elapsed, the notice 
to terminate the Agreement was withdrawn. The United 
States Government informed His Majesty's Government that 
they were wilHng that the Agreement should remain "practi- 
"cally" in force, which has been construed to mean that the 
arrangement must be regarded as still in existence. 

It would be hard to overrate the blessings that that Agree- 
ment has been to both countries. It has been the keynote of 
their policy of. peace for a hundred years, and at the same time 
has happily influenced the attitude of both Governments 
towards the whole question of fortifications. And what an 
object lesson has been here for the rest of the civilized world. 
The longest frontier on the earth's surface has at the siime 
time been the most defenceless — and the most safe. If there 
had been the slightest disposition to bad faith on either side, 
the Rush-Bagot Agreement would ha\e broken down a score 
of times. It made no distinction between vessels of war and 
ships armed for the revenue service, which remained outside its 
restrictions; and \et neither side has ever thought of taking 
advantage of that loop-hole of e\asi<ni. The Agreement just 
because it was founded in good-will has outlived all tiio condi- 
tions of its birth, /j^ailing vessels lia\e gi\en way to steam, and 
wood to iron, and lakes that were then isolated and inde])endent 
have now free access to the sea, while their shores which were 
then almost tractless solitudes are now, thick with great and 
crowded cities. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, speaking in the House of 
Commons at Ottawa, six >ears ago, used these memorable words: 
"If my voice could be heard that far, I would ])resume to sa>- 
''to our American friends; there may be a si)ectacle, i)erhai)s. 
"nobler than that of a United Continent — a si>ectacie that would 
"astound the world by its novelty and grandeur— the s])ecta(le 
"of two ]ieoples living in amity side by side for a distance of 
"four thousand miles along a line which is hardK- \isil)lc in 



16 

"many quarters, with no cannon, no guns frowning across it, 
"with no fortresses on either side, with no armament one 
"against another, but hving in harmony and mutual confidence, 
"and with no other rivalry than generous emulation in the arts 
"of peace. To the Canadian people I would say that if it is 
"possible for us to maintain such relations between these two 
"growing nations, Canada will have rendered to Old England a 
"service unequalled in its present effect and still more in its 
"far-reaching consequences." 

Surely to-day we may say that splendid dream is far on 
the way to realization. From the Atlantic to the Pacific the 
Canadian frontier line stretches for three thousand eight hun- 
dred and forty miles, and its strength lies not in armaments. 
Holy Alliances, or Leagues of Peace, but in Canada's trust in C.od 
and in the honour and good faith of its great neighbour. A 
cynic might say that this long line remains without fortifications 
on either side because much of it is geographically incapable of 
effective military defence. But that would be a very sujx-rficial 
contention. When the Old World peo])les plan a readjustment 
of international boundaries the first thing done is to seek out 
what is called a strategical frontier. In the New World the 
simplicity of a unit of latitude has sufficed. PVom the Lake of 
the Woods to the Pacific the forty-ninth parallel is good enough 
for us, and I doubt not, if circumstances had permitted, the 
Equator itself would have been pressed into service and made 
to ser\-e as an American frontier line; and why this difference 
between the Old World and the New? The only answer is 
that strategic frontiers are unnecessary where good faith and 
mutual trust prevail. 

At the same time, and at this monemt, I cannot but remem- 
ber that there is another people that ])ut its whole trust in a 
treaty and that that trust was betrayed, when Germany struck 
her foul blow and violated the frontier of Belgium. And yet, 
on the other hand, note — and it is verv relevant to this dis- 



17 

cussion— that (ireat Britain was the tir.st of the inutral powers 
to enter the war. and that she did s*) for the sake of that s.inie 
treaty. If Enghmd. and the four Dominions, of Canada, 
Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, are at war to-chiy, 
and have staked their h\es on the issue, it is ])rinuirily he(.iu>e 
they are minded to he faithful to Bel^iym and tr\ie to the 
treaty which Great Britain has signed. 

A friend who heard of my coming here observed CNnicalK : 
"So many vessels have been dri\en through that centur>-old 
"agreement that it is now but a thing of shreds and i)atclu^. 
"Ships of war aggregating over S, 000 tons .uul nearly 2,000 
"naval volunteers can now be found under the Anierican Hag on 
the (ireat Lakes." 1 sus])ect that nian\ of ilie Mnniner ni.m- 
ci'uvrcs are organized to enable handsome \(»ung Anu-ricanN 
to visit the Lake wateritig places and dis])Uiy their natt\ iniilnrnis 
for the benefit of their lady friends. As I have alreath said, 
\\e live in a world of flux and change, and if ociasion ri(iuires 
it, win- should the agreement not be modiliid to hi tlie new 
oriler of things, with such ada])tation to tin- exigencies of tin- 
future as prudence may forecast. 

Time and occasion will not i»ermit of an\ but the briel\>t 
discussion of the inadeciuacy of the Agreement to nutt tin- 
exigencies of the changed conditions of modern da\s. 1 su])])()m' 
the prohibition of construction of \essels of war is tin- 
])rincipal source of trouble, due to the \ery natural desire of 
the shi])building establishments, which have grown u]) on the 
Lake shores, to share in the construction of the Initeil States 
Navy. 

Is it ])ossible to satisfy this wisli witliotit incurring the same 
dangers as were foreseen, and intended to be guarded against, 
V)\- the treat\ made in 1S17? The situation in the twocoimtries 
is not alike, for, a]xirt from an\- (juestion of greater facilities 
for building modern warshi]-is which ma\- l»e ]K»ssessed 1)> the 



18 

l.nitcd SlaUs. the Imperial .\.iv\ is nol ronslructed on this 
continent, as the Inited Slates Nav\ is. The construction of 
\varshi])s without limitation would largeh' de])ri\-e the treat>" 
of an\ \alue. It is. h(nve\er. difficult to imagine an\- restrictions 
which will not hi- o]H'n to the same objection on the ])art of 
tho!>e who may be ])revented !>>■ them from obtaining a \aluable 
contract. This, it must be remembered, will ai)ply to shij)s to 
be built for foreign governments as well as for the Inited Slates. 
The flifficulties to be met will be great, and 1 cannot 
attem])t to offer any salisfactor>' solution of them. I gladh , 
ht)wever, welcome the o])])ortunit\ of suggesting tlu'in for the 
consideration ot this assenibK- of so much of the most eminent 
legal auth(»rit\- in >-our countr\. if m> remarks should be the 
means of turning \()ur attention to ilu- subjett and \()ur wisdom 
di\ise pro\ ision to attain an oi)ject of such im])ortance to the 
weltare of each of <nir countries, I shall fei-l that I have not 
idl\ ociupied Nour lime and for m>self shall have obtained a 
great rew.ird. 



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