7. Reconstructing American Foreign Policy
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151 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 7 RECONSTRUCTING AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY In his inaugural address Ulysses S. Grant devoted one brief paragraph WRIRUHLJQDͿDLUV+HVDLGQRWKLQJDERXWDQ\VSHFLÀFLVVXHEXWLQVWHDG spoke in generalities about his commitment to peace and to equitable relations with all nations. With the nation’s internal war now four years LQWKHSDVWKHVSRNHZLWKDTXLHW\HWIHUYHQWFRQÀGHQFHLQWKHFDSDFLW\ and will of the newly united nation to defend its interests in the world. “I would respect the rights of all nations, demanding equal respect for our own.” But, he warned, “If others depart from this rule in their dealings with us, we may be compelled to follow their precedent.” The 1HZ TXHHQ·V@SURFODPDWLRQKDG prepared the way,” he insisted. “Had it not been made, no rebel ship could have been built in England.” Sumner proved even more audacious in his calculation of Britain’s liability. He estimated individual losses to citizens caused by the destruction of merchant vessels and their cargo at $15 million. But under the rubric of “national losses,” Sumner posited two additional categoULHV RI%ULWDLQ·VOLDELOLWLHV)LUVWZDVWKHÀQDQFLDOORVVWKHQDWLRQVXVWDLQHG E\WKHUHÁDJJLQJRI$PHULFDQPHUFKDQWYHVVHOVLQIRUHLJQFRXQWULHV DQGWKHFRQVHTXHQWGLPLQXWLRQRIWKHQDWLRQ·VPHUFKDQWÁHHWWKH rise in insurance rates for American ships and cargo, and the reduction of the country’s imports and exports. Sumner invoked the estimate of an unnamed “intelligent statistician” and pegged these losses at the huge sum of $110 million. His assertion of another category, however, was truly breathtaking. The Union government had expended $4 billion in suppressing the rebellion. Because of Britain’s pro-Confederate RͿHQVHV ´WKH ZDU ZDV GRXEOHG LQ GXUDWLRQµ DQG WKHUHIRUH %ULWDLQ was “justly responsible for the additional expenditure to which our country was doomed.” This added another $2 billion, bringing the aggregate to $2.125 billion. This “colossal sum-total,” he concluded, represented the losses to individuals, “the destruction of our commerce, and the prolongation of the war, all of which may be traced directly to England.”10 To no one’s surprise, the Senate rejected the Johnson-Clarendon Convention by a vote of 54 to 1. More important for Sumner’s purposes, DWOHDVWLQWKHVKRUWWHUPKLVVSHHFK\LHOGHGSUHFLVHO\WKHSROLWLFDOHͿHFW he desired. Michigan senator Zachariah Chandler, who, among others, had suspected Sumner of harboring pro-English feelings, moved that the Senate take the unusual step of lifting the secrecy of its executive session and permitting the publication of Sumner’s speech. Sumner lost no time in ordering a large number of copies from the government printer, and he used his franking privilege to distribute them widely. The response was gratifying. Frederick Douglass hailed the speech as “grand and masterly.” The 1HZD@EUHDWKµ18 Delay in renewing negotiations with the British would allow time for the possible resolution of another issue complicating the claims question . In October 1868 insurgents in Cuba had launched a revolt against Spanish control of the island. Representatives of the rebels organized juntas based in New York, where they solicited American aid in men DQGPDWpULHO7KH\SOD\HGRQZLGHVSUHDG$PHULFDQV\PSDWK\IRUWKHLU VWUXJJOHWRWKURZRͿ(XURSHDQPRQDUFKLFDOFKDLQVDQGWKHLUFKLHIGLSlomatic aim was to win recognition from the United States government. In pursuing that end, they enjoyed substantial support in Congress and in the press.19 The administration approached the question cautiously. A movement toward establishing a constitutional monarchy was under way in Spain, and some members of Grant’s cabinet hesitated to jeopardize WKHVHVHHPLQJO\OLEHUDOL]LQJHͿRUWVE\FRQFHGLQJEHOOLJHUHQF\VWDWXVWR the Cuban insurgency. Fish kept leaders of the junta at arm’s length and told the Spanish minister in Washington, Don Mauricio Lopez Roberts, that even though Spain had granted belligerent rights to the Confederacy , the United States would not be “over hasty” in recognizing the Cuban revolutionary government. Yet, President Grant sympathized with WKH&XEDQV2Q$SULOKHWROGWKHFDELQHWWKDW´VWULFWMXVWLFHZ>RXO@G justify us in not delaying action” in granting them belligerent status, but he also acknowledged that “early recognition might prejudice our case with Great Britain with respect to our claims.” Although the Cubans’ staunchest supporter in the cabinet, Secretary of War John A. Rawlins, urged “more speedy action,” Grant “decided not to entertain it at present .” Four days later the House of Representatives, by...


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