background info. on Maryland senator Isidor Rayner, one of the
Democrats' leading foreign policy spokesmen of the TR presidency.
The speech excerpted below deals with Rayner's opposition to a US
financial receivership over the Dominican Republic. These remarks
were delivered on January 8, 1906.
I would like it to be known that I subscribe to every sentiment of the Monroe Doctrine: that is, the genuine doctrine, the old text, and not the revised edition; the original document and not the counterfeit presentment . . .
Was it ever contemplated that we should, under any circumstances, assume a protectorate, political or financial, over any of the Caribbean islands or over any of the Latin American Republics? . . .
I respectfully deny that foreign nations are within their rights when they actively intervene in favor of the contractual claims of their subjects [citizens]. With great deference to the President [TR], this proposition is at war with the elementary principles of international law . . .
The Monroe Doctrine does not come into operation until there is an actual attempt upon the part of foreign governments to subvert republican institutions upon this hemisphere . . .
I have looked carefully over the various provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and I find no clause that empowers this government to act as a receiver for any other government. [sarcastically] It might be supposed that through some error on the part of the printer it was omitted from the original proof sheet of the Constitution, but in examining the debates of the convention and the notes of Mr. Madison I am unable to discover that there was any discussion of this receivership matter in that body . . .
We know that these concessionaries [foreign investors] must submit to the judgment of the [local] courts that have jurisdiction over them. We cannot bombard Venezuela because these [local] tribunals have rendered an improper decision. Let us reverse positions for a moment. Here are hundreds of decisions flooding us every day in this country, from county, circuit, and municipal courts, and from district, appellate, and supreme tribunals. Suppose that every jury that rendered an improper verdict and every judge who pronounced an unsatisfactory decision were to be bombarded. Why, the land would reverberate with the roar of cannon and the firmament would be draped in fire . . .
I believe that, however well intentioned [TR’s] present purpose may be, a financial protectorate over any of these republics will gradually yield to a political protectorate over them, and then by insidious process to annexation . . .
I do not believe that, looking upon this subject calmly and practically, there is the slightest danger of any foreign government seizing the custom-houses of these [Latin American] states. The President’s fears upon this subject will prove to be unfounded. He is generally apprehensive that we are continually in danger of war, and possessed of this belief he properly concludes that we ought to be continually making preparations for war in time of peace . . .
Let is be understood that I would place no obstacle in our way as a world power, . . . but if we mean by becoming a world power that we are to take part in all the conflicts between other nations, that whenever a country is to be stolen we shall have equal opportunity to participate in the plunder, that whenever the territory of a defenseless people is to be partitioned that we are to have a share of the booty . . . if this is what we mean by a world power—and it looks to me this is what we do mean—then I denounce this whole crusade against human rights as a policy that is at war with the providence of God . . .
I am with the save in every darkened corner of the globe where he is struggling to be free, and I hope the day will come when every government that is built on the bowed bodies of its subjects may disintegrate, and that upon its ruins republican institutions may arise. As deeply as I love my country, I would rather see that flag lowered and trampled upon than used as a pirate’s ensign and raised, not as an emblem of honor, but as an instrument of terror and oppression to the helpless and enfeebled races of mankind.