Statement Against Expanding the Navy, January 15, 1909 (summary)

Prominent Men of Country Set Forth Their Reasons.

Declaration Is Made That Money Spent for Warships Better Be Used to Improve Internal Conditions -- One of the Principal Reasons Is That Nation Has No Cause to Expect War in Future.

The following statement of reasons why our navy should not be enlarged has just been issued with the [endorsement] of a large body of the leading men of the country.

Because we have fought foreign foes, English, Spanish, and Mexican, only six years in the 125 years since the Revolution. In every foreign war we made the first attack. With less danger from attack than any other nation, we are now spending more for past war and preparation for future war than any other nation in the world.

Because our extent of coast line has little relation to danger from attack. The second Hague conference has provided for immunity from bombardment of all unfortified towns and from levying contributions by threat of bombardment. We should be safer still if we reduced fortifications, as one of our delegates to The Hague has said.

Because The Hague conference also provided for arbitration of disputes over contractual debts, thereby removing excuse for our keeping a navy to prevent forcible collection of such depts of South America to Europe.

Because a navy is less needed that ever to protect South America, as it is now perfectly capable of a defensive alliance among its nations to repel any wanton attack from outside. Reasons which made the Monroe doctrine necessary when there was a "holy alliance" and the weak South American republics were unconnected by telegraphs and railroads have no application when modern communications soon to include the Panama Canal, and enormously increased population, wealth, and mutual friendship make them now far from eager to continue our overlordship. With the price of a few torpedo boats we might secure by education and diplomacy a federation of South American states.

China and Japan Peaceable.

Because there is no danger from China, a peace-loving nation friendly to us. Our return of the indemnity has done more to promote peace with her than anything else could do. According to the testimony of Secretary Luke Wright, of John W. Foster, of President-Elect Taft, and of more than 100 missionaries to Japan familiar with the language, customs, and politics, there is not the slightest foundation for the violent and frothy talk which is emanating from a few Americans against Japan and is poisoning the minds of millions of our uninformed citizens.

Because our three foreign wars since 1781, which lasted only six years, cost in life, all told, in battle, nothing comparable with our reckless slaughter by accidents every year in time of peace. The $60,000,000 increase of the navy asked for last year, if spent in fighting disease, ignorance, waste, and wickedness at home, probably could save as much life and property as all our foreign and civil wars have cost. In five years we have lost alone by fire, largely preventable, $1,2000,000,000. In four years we have killed, by accident, largely preventable, 80,000 more than were killed on both sides in the four years of civil war.

Because we already spending over 65 [percent] of the nation's revenue in payment for past war and in preparation for future war, and have but one-third of our national revenue left for judicial and executive departments, coast guard, lighthouses, quarantine, custom houses, [post offices], census, waterways, forestry, consular and diplomatic service, and all other constructive work.

Because we are protected by nature as is no other country, and have not the excuse for a great navy which England has, nor for a strong army which Germany has. Our wealth is as great a protection as our geographical position.

No Reason to Expect War.

Because we have not the faintest ground to suspect there will ever be a war again with England so long as our northern frontier is free from her fortifications; nor with Spain, whose interests hereafter cannot cross ours; nor with any of the other nations with whom we have always be at peace, and who could fight us only at a range of thousands of miles from their base of supplies.

This statement is signed by Charles Francis Adams, Jane Adams, Samuel Bowles, John Graham Brooks, Andrew Carnegie, James Duncan, President Faunce of Brown University; A. B. Farquhar, Edwin Ginn, Washington Gladden, Edward Everett Hale, William D. Howells, Chester Holcombe, Prof. William James, the Rev. Charles E. Jefferson, President Jordan of Leland Stanford University; Bishop William N. McVickar, Marcus Marks, N. O. Nelson, Gen. Wililam J. Palmer, the Rev. Charles H. Parkhurst, George Foster Peabody, Bliss Perry, Dean Henry Wade Rogers, of the Yale Law School; Prof. William G. Sumner, Lincoln Steffens, Ida M. Tarbell, President Thwing of Western Reserve University; President Thompson of the State University of Ohio; Booker T. Washington, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, President Mary W. Woolley , of Mount Holyoke College, and others.