Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XXXVI "The War of 1812"

LATE in September the Mahans sailed from Cherbourg. They had left Lyle behind them in the spring, too devoted to Miss Madeline Johnson to be interested in the European tour. Now they reached home just in time for his wedding. As soon as the festivities were over, Mahan set to work preparing Sea Power in Its Relations to the War of 1812 for publication as a book. At the same time he continued to write on the Russo-Japanese War and other current topics.

Plans for a second Hague Conference prompted him to renew his correspondence with President Roosevelt. His apprehensions were aroused because the United States Government had put in the foreground of subject for consideration "the exemption from capture at sea of 'private property.' " Mahan had carefully studied this subject. It had been advanced by the United States at the first Hague Conference in 1899, but only as a comparative side issue, added by President McKinley "as part of the traditional policy of the United States." Because it was traditional Mahan thought it worth while to determine if "it may not have lost the fitness it possibly once had to national conditions."

There is no more moral wrong in taking "private property" than in taking private lives; and I think my point incontestable that property employed in commerce is no more private, in uses, than lives employed en the firing lines are private. One is at the communications of the war, the other at the front . . . the question is one of expediency, and what was expedient to our weakness of a century ago is not expedient to our strength today. Rather should we seek to withdraw from out position of the flag covering the goods.

-254-

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