4155 HOW THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA
the United States of America to depart from its traditional policy of not
intruding upon, interfering with, or entangling itself in the political questions or policy or internal administration of any foreign State; nor shall
anything contained in the said convention be construed to imply a relinquishment by the United States of America of its traditional attitude toward
purely American questions."
At The Hague we pledged ourselves, in case we ever went to war, to observe certain broad general rules of decency and fair fighting. But at the
same time we cleared ourselves from any responsibility for forcing other
nations to observe similar pledges. And in 1906, when our delegates took
part in the Algeciras Conference, which was to regulate the affairs of the
distracted kingdom of Morocco, they followed the same formula there.
While acquiescing in the new regime which guaranteed the independence
and integrity of Morocco, we explicitly announced that we assumed no
police responsibility for the enforcement of the treaty. And if any honest
doubt was left as to our attitude in regard to the enforcement of Old World
agreements, it was dispelled five years later, when our Government refused
to protest against the overthrow of the Acte d'Algeciras.
We declined to be drawn into quarrels abroad which might endanger
in any way our traditional policy.
Our second great tradition in international relations has been our persistent effort to secure a stable and equitable agreement of the nations upon
such a maritime code as would assure to all the world a just freedom of
This effort was born of our vital need. For although it was possible for
the Republic to keep aloof from the nineteenth century disputes that rent
the Continent of Europe, we could not be indifferent to the way in which
war was conducted at sea. In those early years of our national life, when
we were still but a few communities ranged along the Atlantic coast, we
were a seafaring people. At a time when our frontiersmen had not yet
reached the Mississippi, the fame of our daring clipper ships had spread to
all the seven seas. So while we could watch the triumphant march and the
tragic countermarch of Napoleon's grand army with detached indifference,
his Continental Blockade and the British Orders in Council at once affected
the lives of our citizens intimately and disastrously.
So it was in the case of the Barbary pirates. We had no interest in the
land quarrels and civil wars of the Barbary States, but we fought them for
obstructing the freedom of the seas.
And in the decades ever since, although the imagination of our people