Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White - Vol. 1

By Andrew Dickson White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
AS COMMISSIONER TO SANTO DOMINGO -- 1871

RETURNING from Russia and Germany, I devoted myself during thirteen years, first, to my professorial duties at the University of Michigan; next, to political duties in the State Senate at Albany; and, finally, to organizing and administering Cornell University. But in the early winter of 1870-71 came an event which drew me out of my university life for a time, and engaged me again in diplomatic work. While pursuing the even tenor of my way, there came a telegraphic despatch from Mr. William Orton, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, a devoted supporter of the administration, asking me whether I had formed any definite opinion against the annexation of the island of Santo Domingo to the United States. This question surprised me. A proposal regarding such an annexation had been for some time talked about. The newly elected President, General Grant, having been besought by the authorities of that republic to propose measures looking to annexation, had made a brief examination; and Congress had passed a law authorizing the appointment of three commissioners to visit the island, to examine and report upon its desirability, from various points of view, and to ascertain, as far as possible, the feeling of its inhabitants; but I had given no attention to the matter, and therefore answered Mr. Orton that I had no opinion, one way or the other, regarding it. A day or two afterward came information that the President had named the commission, and in the following or-

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