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 Tuesday's
class was triggered by amendments introduced by two peace
progressives--first John Blaine and then CC Dill--to cut off funds for the
intervention. Below are some of the key figures.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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