Page images

these two countries, but under the Federal Constitution it is Congress, not the President and Senate, which has the power to declare war.

Before the close of his administration President Wilson, by a proclamation dated December 24, 1920, withdrew the American troops from Santo Domingo; this withdrawal being mainly brought about on account of protests, both in the United States and in Central and South America, against the methods of the United States in Santo Domingo.

Hon. Warren G. Harding in a political speech made during the campaign which resulted in his election to the Presidency said:

Nor will I misuse the powers of the Executive to cover with a veil of secrecy repeated acts of unwarrantable interference in domestic affairs of the little republics of the Western Hemisphere, such as in the past few years have not only made enemies of those who should be our friends but have rightfully discredited our country as their trusted neighbor.


The latest chapter in the history of the gradual usurpation of the war-making powers by the Executive is a short one. It comprises merely the sending of marines into Nicaragua to support the tottering rule of the revolutionary President Adolfo Diaz, and the President's argument in support of this action in his message of January 10, 1927.

The facts as to the military intervention are still so recent that they do not need here be recounted in detail. It is sufficient to say that the intervention on this occasion clearly constitutes "war," if we are to use the definition of that term contained in decisions of the United States Supreme Court and in the public utterances of a long line of Presidents and Secretaries of State.

The President in his recent message concluded his argument as follows:

It has always been and remains the policy of the United States in such circumstances to take steps that may be necessary for the preservation and protection of the lives, the property, and the interests of its citizens and of this Government itself. In this respect I propose to follow the path of my predecessors.

Consequently I have deemed it my duty to use the powers committed to me to insure the adequate protection of all American interests in Nicaragua, whether they be endangered by internal strife or by outside interference in the affairs of that Republic.

This message brings the question squarely to an issue. It is in effect here asserted that the President of the United States has the power to wage an offensive war, upon his own authority, against any country, and for any reason which in his opinion appears to affect "the lives, the property and the interests of its citizens and of this Government itself. If this claim is correct, it would only be necessary to appeal to Congress if an increase in the numbers of the land and naval forces were required.

An attempt has here been made to discuss the question from a strictly legal standpoint. The questions of the justice and wisdom of the recent attitude of the United States toward Latin-American countries does not fall within the proper scope of this article. In the determination of the question of constitutional construction involved it is not necessary to consider whether the United States in its attitude toward Mexico and Nicaragua, toward Santo Domingo and Haiti, has acted in the rôle of a disinterested philanthropist or in that of a self-interested exploiter. The construction of the United States Constitution can not be affected by such questions as whether Mexico is endeavoring unjustly to confiscate American-owned property or whether the United States is endeavoring to collect by threats or force claims against Mexico which, in the mind of the claimants, are so dubious they can not safely be submitted to arbitration; whether Calles is destroying religious liberty or whether he is upholding religious equality; and whether the intervention by the United States in Nicaragua was necessary to protect legitimate American interests or whether, as is charged, it is in support of a rebellion financed by American interests who desired to keep control of property in Nicaragua after they had sold the same to the Government of Nicaragua, and whether the only American in one of the towns occupied by the United States was a single beach comber who arrived in town only a few hours ahead of the marines.

The only question to be here considered is that as to whether the recent exercises of the war-making power by the executive department are justified under the Constitution of the United States.

In support of the claim now made by the Executive can be cited a few scattered and dubious actions by the executive department since November 1, 1903, and in this connection it is evident that there has been no administration, even among those during this period, the complete record of which can be presented as a precedent to justify the recent sending of the marines to Nicaragua; while President Roosevelt intervened in Panama his Secretary of State took the initiative in securing the adoption, by the Second Hague Conference, of the provision against the use of force for the collection of contract debts; President Taft openly expressed his doubts as to his power to intervene in Mexico; and President Wilson asked the authorization of Congress before he sent troops into Mexico.

Against the recent claim of the executive department are arrayed the plain and express wording of the Constitution of the United States, the debates in the Federal Constitutional Convention, the explanation of the Constitution contained in The Federalist, various decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the attitude and conduct of both legislative and executive departments of the Government down to November, 1903.

These precedents would seem to indicate that under the Constitution of the United States the power to declare war, including the power to authorize the use of offensive force abroad, is vested exclusively in the Congress of the United States.

The recent history of the United States would seem to indicate that this was one of the wisest innovations made by the framers of the Federal Constitution.


[blocks in formation]


JANUARY 11 (calendar day, JANUARY 13), 1928.-Read; referred to the Com

mittee on Foreign Relations and ordered to be printed

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of State requesting that legislation be enacted to provide funds to cover the expense of this Government's participation in the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference to be held at Habana commencing March 31, 1928. The Secretary of State sets forth in his letter the reasons why it is considered advisable that the United States be represented at this conference.

I concur in the view of the Secretary of State that this Government should participate in the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference, and therefore request of the Congress legislation appropriating $5,000 for each and every expense connected with the representation of the United States at that conference, including travel, subsistence or per diem in lieu thereof in amounts authorized in the discretion of the Secretary of State (notwithstanding the provisions of any other act), and compensation of employees as the Secretary of State shall consider necessary and authorize in his discretion.


Washington, January 13, 1928.



The Cuban Government, through its embassy in Washington, extended an invitation on July 18, 1927, to this Government to participate in the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference, which will be held at Habana commencing March 31, 1928. On August 20, 1927, the Secretary of State sent a note to the Cuban Embassy requesting that the thanks of the United States Government for the invitation be conveyed to the Cuban Government and that the Cuban Government be informed that this Government would be glad to consider the invitation when it had had an opportunity to examine the agenda of the conference.

After copies of the agenda had been received, communications were addressed to the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor on December 17, 1927, apprising them of the receipt of the invitation under discussion and transmitting copies of the agenda with the suggestion that a conference be held between representatives of the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the United States Public Health Service for the purpose of discussing the question of participation in the conference to be held in Habana.

On December 29 representatives of the three departments met at the State Department and after due deliberation reached the conclusion that it would be advisable for the United States to send a delegation to the Habana conference because of the following considerations: First, the United States appears to be in some degree committed to such participation not only by reason of the fact that it was formally represented in the previous conference on the same subject held in Rome in 1924, but more especially in view of the fact that the chairman of the American delegation at that conference cast his vote in favor of the convening of a second conference, i. e., that to be held at Habana in March. Second, the conference is to be held in a Latin American country, and will be largely attended by delegates from the Latin American nations whose immigration problems are similar to those of this country, as was evidenced by their attitude at the recent meeting of the Interparliamentary Commercial Conference held at Rio de Janeiro in September of last year.

While the opinion of the conferees that the United States should accept the invitation was based chiefly on the considerations set forth in the foregoing paragraph, they did not lose sight of the advantage to this country in having the traditional position of the United States, that immigration is strictly a domestic matter, reaffirmed at this conference. Should delegates be appointed, they will accordingly be instructed to make clear this Government's position on immigration and to take no action inconsistent with the attitude and prerogatives of the Congress of the United States in this connection.

This matter has been submitted to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget who advises that it is not in conflict with the President's financial program.

I believe, therefore, that attendance at this conference will be in the public interest, and have the honor to recommend that, as an act of international courtesy and as a means of reaffirming the historic policy of this country on immigration and of cooperating with American countries with similar immigration problems, the Congress be requested to appropriate funds to cover the expense of sending a delegation to the Second International Emigration and Immigration Conference. It is not believed an amount in excess of $5,000 will be necessary for this purpose.

It is my further recommendation that the delegation from the United States consist of a representative of the Department of Labor, a representative of the United States Public Health Service, a representative of this department, and a consular officer who has had extensive experience in immigration matters. Respectfully submitted.


Washington, January 12, 1928.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »