The Peace Progressives

In this class, we'll be analyzing a series of Senate debates involving the US intervention in Nicaragua from 1927 through 1929. All of the debates are in the course packet; they follow the Gronna speech and run through 1929.

A sizeable contingent of Marines (around 6000) were sent to the Central American country in 1927 to uphold the Tipitapa accords. The accords, negotiated by the ubiquitous Henry Stimson, called for the US to supervise elections in 1928; in exchange, the Liberal Party forces, then in rebellion, agreed to lay down their weapons. (The Liberals were attempting to uphold the presidential claim of Vice President Juan Sacasa, whose government had been deposed in a coup.) But one Liberal leader, General Augusto Sandino, declined to agree to the accords and launched a guerrilla war that would last for the next seven years.

The Senate debate you will read for class was triggered by amendments introduced by two peace progressives--first John Blaine and then C.C. Dill--to cut off funds for the intervention. Below are some of the key figures.

John Blaine, a Wisconsin Republican, was in many ways the most intellectually creative of the Senate peace progressives. We'll be reading from a quite remarkable address he delivered before the Senate in early 1928, in which he offered his version of the history of inter-American relations but also articulated the basics of his anti-imperialist vision.
Hiram Bingham, a Connecticut Republican, was the most formidable Senate defender of imperialism. A former Yale professor trained in Latin American history, Bingham combined a knowledge of Latin American culture with a power-political worldview to demand an even more forceful U.S. presence in the Caribbean Basin than the administration desired.
William Borah, the mercurial chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, played a typically unpredictable role in debate over the Nicaraguan intervention. A strong partisan of the Nicaraguan Liberal Party (which he mistakenly believed actually held "liberal" beliefs) he adjusted his policy recommendations according to what best served the Liberals' interests at any given moment.
William Cabell Bruce, a Maryland Democrat, could always be counted on to represent the most extreme element of Senate opinion: he once advocated extending the "blessing of bullets" to the Nicaraguans.
C.C. Dill, a Washington Democrat, was a peace progressive who sponsored the first successful amendment (in 1929) to terminate funding for the Nicaraguan intervention. Though the upper chamber later reversed itself on the measure, passage of the Dill amendment marked the beginning of the end of the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua.
Irvine Lenroot, a Wisconsin Republican, lost his seat to John Blaine in the 1926 primaries. Until that time, he had defended an assertive U.S. presence in Latin America, but, unlike Bingham and Bruce, had attempted to develop arguments that might appeal to an increasingly anti-interventionist American public.

And, for background, please take a look at Paterson, Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, pp. 76-114.