Môle St. Nicolas
IN 1890, expansionists in Washington no longer saw Haiti as a peculiar little republic to which a loyal black supporter of the party could be sent in order to placate the black electorate. It had become a prize in the game of empire building, of adjusting and readjusting the international balance of power. With the British still in firm control of their West Indian islands and Cuba still in Spanish hands, the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti on the western part and the Dominican Republic on the eastern, was the barbell waiting to be pressed high by North American muscular Christians vying now with other Western powers for domination of the Caribbean.
The big boys were not going to war, but they were flexing their biceps as if they wished they were. Thirty years before, the Civil War had been for Americans—the slaveholding Confederates as much as the Douglasses of the land—a war that had to be. But now there was no particular reason for a war; three centuries of assaults against the Indians ended in December 1890 with the merciless ugliness of Wounded Knee, which completed control of the continental empire. At the close of the nineteenth century, in an ominous line of thinking essentially new to America, war would have to be its own reason for being, not the last resort for occasions when peaceful politics failed. "War is one of the great agencies by which human progress is effected," Admiral Stephen Bleecker Luce was to declare in the same volume of the North American Review in which Douglass defended his own more pacific 1891 exercise in diplomacy. "The ancient and 'immovable civilization' of China," Luce wrote, "... shows the stagnation of a people unaccustomed to war with a superior race. China,