More than 20 years ago, in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt sat chatting with Leonard Wood after a stiff fencing bout. Leonard Wood had recently completed a health-harassing, nerve-defying job which history may well record as the most brilliant proconsulship of the age. (History is even now saying that in four years Leonard Wood advanced Cuban civilization four centuries.)

The two friends were talking about another U. S. colonial venture at the other end of the world, which had not prospered so well. In particular,...

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