William Howard Taft

Message to the Senate Transmitting Authenticated Copy of the Treaty Between the United States and France, Negotiated August 3, 1911

August 04, 1911

To the Senate:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to the ratification of the treaty, I transmit herewith an authenticated copy of a treaty signed by the plenipotentiaries of the United States and France on August 3, 1911, extending the scope and obligation of the policy of arbitration adopted in the present arbitration treaty of February 10, 1908, between the two countries, so as to exclude certain exceptions contained in that treaty and to provide means for the peaceful solution of all questions of difference which it shall be found impossible in future to settle by diplomacy.

Signature of William Howard Taft

The White House, August 4, 1911.

Note: The treaties with Great Britain and France, which were transmitted with the two messages of August 4, 1911, differed from previous pacts having for their purpose the arbitration of international controversies by frankly including in the differences susceptible of adjudication even questions involving national honor, theretofore the most elastic pretexts of war. An idea of the character of the treaties (which were the same in each case) may best be obtained by following the steps provided for therein in a supposititious case of an act contrary to the Monroe Doctrine on the part of Great Britain. Even though such an injury to our national pride aroused a fervor throughout the country as passionate as the popular sentiment that forced the government to declare war in 1898, and even though public opinion and the administration were united in the belief that the question was not properly subject to arbitration, yet would we be bound by the treaty to request Great Britain, through diplomatic channels, to appoint three members to constitute with three American members the Joint High Commission of Inquiry provided for by the treaty. Either party might, according to the treaty, postpone convening the Commission until one year from the date of our request, thus affording opportunity for warlike preparations, for diplomatic negotiations, or for moderate counsels, as the case might be; but if neither party desired such postponement the Commission would convene immediately. The six Joint High Commissioners would hear the two sides of the controversy, subpoena and administer oaths to witnesses, and make a report which should elucidate the facts, define the issues, and contain such recommendations as it may deem appropriate. This report would not be considered as a decision on the facts or the law, and, if five or all of the six Commissioners considered the matter properly subject to adjudication, the controversy would, under the treaty, go to some arbitral tribunal like that at The Hague for settlement, no matter whether or not the people of both countries were unanimous in demanding war.

William Howard Taft, Message to the Senate Transmitting Authenticated Copy of the Treaty Between the United States and France, Negotiated August 3, 1911 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/365183

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