IT was a double drama which came to a climax in Washington in the hot June days of 1870. The struggle over Santo Domingo moved to its inexorable decision on the last day of the month. Meanwhile an almost equally desperate conflict was raging over the Cuban question. It also terminated in a clear-cut decision, but not until Fish had been compelled to exert every ounce of his strength. Two great incubi, the danger of annexing an alien tropical people and the renewed danger of war with Spain, were simultaneously lifted from the republic. But before the crisis passed Congress had been thrown into turmoil; one of the ablest members of the Cabinet had been forced to resign; Fish and Grant had reached the very verge of a quarrel; the Administration had almost been wrecked. Less than half the events of these crowded weeks were known to the public, and not much more than half have been recorded in history.
This chronicle has failed of its object if it has not shown that Fish cared little, in one way or the other, about Santo Domingo. Left to himself, he would have opposed annexation, but he correctly deemed the issue less important than two others. His real concern was with the British and Cuban questions. Caution, delay, peace in both--these were his prime objects. He knew that the Alabama question could and would wait. While it was easy for Chandler and Butler to bluster about war with the British Empire, the solid sense of the two kindred peoples still constituted an impassable barrier to jingoes. But Cuba presented an ever-imminent threat.
Fish had realized the previous fall that he could never defeat Cuban intervention against the united weight of Rawlins, Grant, and Congress. But Rawlins had opportunely died; and Grant had been diverted by Babcock's glittering bauble of the Dominican adventure. The Dominican Treaty had immediately weakened the interventionists in Congress. Two risky Caribbean enterprises could not well be pushed simultaneously, and it was significant that most of Cuba's friends opposed Dominican annexation. Nevertheless, the interventionist forces remained formidable in both houses. As spring advanced they redoubled