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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 202–212 | Cite as

An Atlantic triangle in the 1900s: Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘special relationships’ with France and Britain

  • Serge RicardEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article aims at highlighting two ‘special’ transatlantic relationships whose cultivation resulted from Theodore Roosevelt’s personal diplomacy. One of them was between America and Britain - the celebrated ‘special relationship’ par excellence - and the other - the lesser-known one - was between America and France. The latter bilateral rapport was by far the most satisfying one for Roosevelt as the outcome of personal ties; it rested on a fascinating character, France’s ambassador to Washington, Jean Jules Jusserand, who assisted America’s 26th president on both sides of the Atlantic through his contacts in France and Britain. Transatlantica, which would owe a lot to Roosevelt’s cosmopolitanism, was then in the making, paradoxically marked in its incipient stage by Anglo-American bickering over the Alaska boundary and US honeymooning with the French. The Gallic factor, thanks to Jusserand, would bring about diplomatic cooperation and harmony between America and France throughout Roosevelt’s major foreign policy initiatives, three of which are singled out in this essay: the second Venezuelan crisis, the Russo-Japanese war, and the Moroccan crisis.

Keywords

special relationship France Britain Jean Jules Jusserand Theodore Roosevelt’s diplomacy Alaskan boundary Venezuela Portsmouth Morocco 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Serge Ricard, ‘Un Français à Washington: Jean Jules Jusserand, témoin de l’Amérique et acteur des relations transatlantiques (1903-1924)’, in Mythes et réalités transatlantiques: dynamique des systèmes de representation dans la littérature, ed. Christian Lerat (Bordeaux: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine, 1997), 97–109. The present essay partly draws on that article.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, La France et les Etats-Unis des origines à nos jours (Paris: Seuil, 1976), 53–67.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Serge Ricard, ‘The French Historiography of Theodore Roosevelt’, Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal 10, no. 2 (1984): 21–3.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
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  5. 4a.
    Michel Chevalier, Lettres sur l’Amérique du Nord (Paris: Charles Gosselin et Cie, 1836).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, 2 vols (London: Macmillan and Co., 1888).Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    For example, Theodore Roosevelt to Cecil Arthur Spring Rice, 11 August 1899, in Elting E. Morison and John M. Blum, eds., The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 8 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951-1954), vol. 2: 1051–52 (hereafter cited as Letters of TR).Google Scholar
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    Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, 4 vols. (New York: Putnam, 1889-1896).Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Howard K. Beale’s brilliant Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press Paperbacks, 1984; orig. pub. 1956) is practically unsurpassed more than a half-century after its publication; and William N. Tilchin’s masterful Theodore Roosevelt and the British Empire: A Study in Presidential Statecraft (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997) comes close to being the definitive account of Anglo-American relations during the 26th presidency. 9. Beale, Theodore Roosevelt, 260.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 131, 134, 435-38, 452.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid., 131-34.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See in particular Letters of TR, vol. 3, 65n1; Tyler Dennett, John Hay: From Poetry to Politics (New York: Dodd, 1933), 351–63; Beale, Theodore Roosevelt, 110-31Google Scholar
  13. 12a.
    Charles S. Campbell, Jr., Anglo-American Understanding, 1898-1903 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957)Google Scholar
  14. 12b.
    Frederick W. Marks III, Velvet on Iron: The Diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), 61–64, 105-111; Tilchin, Roosevelt and British Empire, 36–49.Google Scholar
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    TR to Arthur Lee, 24 April 1901, Letters of TR, vol. 3, 65–66.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    TR to John Hay, 10 July 1902, 14 January 1903, ibid., 286-88, 405.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Beale, Theodore Roosevelt, 113-14; Marks, Velvet on Iron, 62–63, 85; Tilchin, Roosevelt and British Empire, 38.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    See for example TR to US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, 25 July 1903, Letters of TR, vol. 3: 529-31.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    TR to Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge, and George Turner, 17 March 1903, ibid., 448-49. See also Dennett, John Hay, 355, 357-58.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    On the Canadian viewpoint and reaction, see David G. Haglund and Tudor Onea, ‘Victory without Triumph: Theodore Roosevelt, Honour, and the Alaska Panhandle Boundary Dispute’, Diplomacy & Statecraft 19, no. 1 (2008): 20–41, and David G. Haglund, ‘The TR Problem in Canada-US Relations’, London Journal of Canadian Studies 23 (2007/2008): 31–44, which stresses the 26th president’s oft-unnoticed concessions.Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    TR to Charles Arthur Moore, 14 February 1898, Letters of TR, vol. 1, 772.Google Scholar
  22. 20.
    ‘There seems good ground for believing that France is decadent’. TR to Spring Rice, 29 May 1897, Ibid., 620.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    TR to George Otto Trevelyan, 1 October 1911, Letters of TR, vol. 7, 380.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    See his unfinished memoirs, published in the US the year after he died: J.J. Jusserand, What Me Befell: The Reminiscences of J.J. Jusserand (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1933), 96–106, 152-55. Characteristically, these memoirs were written in English by a lover of Anglo-Saxon culture, in tribute to his second adopted homeland.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    Ibid., 219.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    Ibid., 266.Google Scholar
  27. 25.
    J.J. Jusserand, With Americans of Past and Present Days (New York: Scribner’s, 1916), translated into French by the author as En Amérique jadis et maintenant (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1918).Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    Jusserand, What Me Befell, 267-68, 271-78, 282.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
    The episode is reexamined in Serge Ricard, Theodore Roosevelt: principes et pratique d’une politique étrangère (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de l’Université de Provence, 1991), 279–94, as well as in Serge Ricard, ‘The Anglo-German Intervention in Venezuela and Theodore Roosevelt’s Ultimatum to the Kaiser: Taking a Fresh Look at an Old Enigma’, in Anglo-Saxonism in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1899-1919, ed. Serge Ricard and Hélène Christol (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de l’Université de Provence, 1991), 65–77. Among recently published works Edmund Morris’s Theodore Rex (New York: Random House, 2002), 177-82, 185-92, 628, 632-33, 635, 640, and Henry J. Hendrix’s Theodore Roosevelt’s Naval Diplomacy: The U.S. Navy and the Birth of the American Century (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009), 25–53, 49, 170-71, 181–85, 217, notably cling to the December 1902 dating.Google Scholar
  30. 28.
    Jusserand to Théophile Delcassé, 16 May 1905, Ministere des Affaires étrangères, Commission de publication des documents relatifs à la guerre de 1914, Documents diplomatiques français (1871-1914), 2nd series (1901-1911), vol.6 (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1935), 511-12 (my translation). Jusserand reported on this conversation in French. One can only conjecture what Theodore Roosevelt’s exact words were in English.Google Scholar
  31. 29.
    Jusserand to Premier Maurice Rouvier, 30 June 1905, telegram no. 107, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, NS 15, Maroc, Politique étrangère, Negociations secretes, IV, June–November 1905, sheet no. 83 (recto).Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    TR to Spring Rice, 1 November 1905; to Whitelaw Reid, 27 June 1906; to Henry White, 14 August 1906; all in Letters of TR, vol. 5, 63, 319, 358-59.Google Scholar
  33. 31.
    Jusserand, What Me Befell, 252-54.Google Scholar
  34. 32.
    Ibid., 267-68, 271-78, 282.Google Scholar
  35. 33.
    Ibid., 302-3.Google Scholar
  36. 34.
    TR to White, 27 December 1904, Letters of TR, vol. 4, 1082; Beale, Theodore Roosevelt, 135-36; TR to Meyer, 26 December 1904, Letters of TR, vol. 4, 1078-80; TR to Spring Rice, 27 December 1904, ibid., 1083.Google Scholar
  37. 35.
    For a detailed treatment of Roosevelt’s mediation, see Ricard, Roosevelt, 339-54 and Serge Ricard, ‘Foreign Policy Making in the White House: Rooseveltian-Style Personal Diplomacy’, in Artists of Power: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Their Enduring Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy, ed. William N. Tilchin and Charles E. Neu (Wesport, CT: Praeger, 2005), 14–17. The best and probably definitive account of the Portsmouth negotiations is to be found in Raymond A. Esthus, Double Eagle and Rising Sun: The Russians and Japanese at Portsmouth in 1905 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1988), notably 131-63. See also Esthus, Theodore Roosevelt and the International Rivalries (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 1982; orig. pub. 1970), 25-37; and Beale, Theodore Roosevelt, 277–314.Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    Roosevelt summarised his secret intervention for the benefit of Whitelaw Reid, US ambassador to London, in one of his ‘posterity letters’, with copies of his correspondence with the German and French governments. TR to Reid, 28 April 1906, Letters ofTR, vol. 5, 230-51.Google Scholar
  39. 37.
    For the whole episode (1904-1906), see Douglas Eden, ‘The First US Intervention in Europe: Theodore Roosevelt’s Diplomacy to Prevent War in 1905-1906: Why Was an Important Centenary Disregarded?’, a paper presented to the 8th annual conference of the Transatlantic Studies Association, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England, July 2009. See also Ricard, Roosevelt, 371-89, and Ricard, ‘Foreign Policy Making in the White House’, 17–22.Google Scholar
  40. 38.
    J.J. Jusserand, The School for Ambassadors and Other Essays (New York: G.P. Putnam’s, 1925; orig. pub. 1924), 58; Idem, L’Ecole des ambassadeurs, 4th ed. (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1934; orig. pub. 1924), 186.Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    Jusserand, School for Ambassadors, 59; Jusserand, Ecole des ambassadeurs, 189-90.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    TR to George von Lengerke Meyer. 26 December 1904, Letters of TR, vol. 4, 1079.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Sorbonne NouvelleParisFrance

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