At the beginning of our meeting this morning, Secretary Day presented a dispatch just received from Bellamy Storer, our Minister in Belgium. It was a copy of the dispatch he was sending to the State Department reporting a very confidential message brought to him from the palace by the legal advisor of King Leopold to the effect that the Spanish government had offered to cede to him the entire Philippines. The dispatch was a little confused (apparently owing to some blunder in transmission or deciphering) as to the conditions. But it seemed to read as if they had proposed to do this provided the United States would make no objection.
It was at once noted that such a cession would naturally be expected to carry an obligation for the amount of the Philippine debt. I commented on this as a deliberate effort on the part of a bankrupt power to dispose of its property before settling with its creditors. Judge Day now raised very seriously and persistently the question whether we could not get together on some definite agreement as to any final concessions we should make, whether as to money payment or in territory to secure a treaty and avoid a rupture. Senator Gray again expressed himself against taking anything beyond a coaling station. Senator Frye intimated a willingness to accept the old Bradford division line of the archipelago, leaving to Spain everything south of it. This would abandon the Visayas as well as Mindanao. Senator Davis expressed himself strongly in favor of taking the whole archipelago and giving no money.
I had declined to express myself when Judge Day first asked me, “in advance of the grave and reverend Senators.” But now [I] said I would be willing to give them some money, possibly twelve to fifteen millions for the whole of the archipelago, together with the dependencies governed from it, including the whole of the Carolines and [the] Ladrones. [I] then said that as a last resort I would be willing to leave them the Mohammedan part of the archipelago and take the rest without any money payment. Judge Day named substantially the same amount of money, and was willing to make the division on Bradford’s line. Finally, it was agreed that we should have a meeting in the afternoon at four and each present in writing his views for transmission to the State Department.
After a drive with my wife in the Bois, and a long walk in the Avenue des Accacias, I sat down to write out mine. At the afternoon meeting the others presented their dispatches all written out at some length. Senator Frye went into a great many details about religious liberty, trade regulations, harbor restrictions, etc. Senator Gray had compressed into effective form his objections to taking any Asiatic territory, and Senator Davis had taken much the same ground as in the morning meeting. My proposition was elaborated a little so as to give two alternatives. When I finished reading it Senator Gray asked me whether if I were a Spaniard and heard such a proposition, I would not think it very hard and unreasonable. I replied that if I were a Spaniard I would try to remember that
people who insisted upon dancing must pay the piper. I added that it seemed to me our first duty was not to consider what the Spaniards would think, but what our duty to our own country required, and what our own countrymen would think. Secretary Moore thought my statements as to general agreement on the doctrine that the successful nation had a right to exact an indemnity for the full cost of the war might be too sweeping. Judge Day afterwards said to me privately that he also inclined to think it a little too strong, and so I shaded this part of it down. At last about six o’clock all the dispatches were ready and placed in the hands of the secretary [Moore] to be put in cipher and transmitted.
Judge Day did not leave the room till about half past six. I still had to put my dispatch in shape and hand it to the secretary. On returning [I] had barely time to dress for dinner, when I was interrupted with the report that Judge Day had been taken suddenly ill, had had a violent chill and had been sent to bed.