The Control of Foreign Relations

Quincy Wright
1921 American Political Science Review  
"A treaty entering the Senate is like a bull going into the arena; no one can say just how or when the final blow will fall—but one thing is certain—it will never leave the arena alive." When John Hay put this in his diary he had been secretary of state for six years. During this period he had seen seventeen treaties borne from the Senate, lifeless or so mutilated by amendments that they could not survive. We can pardon the harassed secretary's earlier statement. "The fact that a treaty gives
more » ... at a treaty gives to this country a great, lasting advantage, seems to weigh nothing whatever in the minds of about half the Senators. Personal interest, personal spites, and a contingent chance of petty political advantage are the only motives that cut any ice at present."It is, however, with the objective aspect of Secretary Hay's statement that we are primarily concerned. Statesmen, as others, may occasionally express impatience, but if the practical function of the Senate in treaty making is that of the matador at a bull fight, there are more serious grounds for concern. If its duties resemble those of picadors or banderilleros, the matter is serious enough, and of its goading tactics we have early evidence. Thus, John Quincy Adams writes in his diary: "Mr. Crawford told twice over the story of President Washington's having at an early period of his Administration gone to the Senate with a project of a treaty to be negotiated, and been present at their deliberations upon it. They debated it and proposed alterations, so that when Washington left the Senate-chamber he said he would be damned if he ever went there again. And ever since that time treaties have been negotiated by the Executivebeforesubmitting them to the consideration of the Senate."
doi:10.2307/1944023 fatcat:tjyfahj26ndcxdy26cannbklru