« AnteriorContinuar »
France might demand Cuba as a price for restoring Ferdinand.
Through its agents the British Government had become aware of the danger threatening the United States from the Continent of Europe. Mr. Canning, the British Foreign Secretary, sought an interview with Mr. Richard Rush, the United States Minister to Great Britain, and Mr. Rush reported the gist of his conversation with Mr. Canning immediately to Mr. J. Q. Adams, the Secretary of State at Washington. Mr. Rush referred to a note which Mr. Canning had previously sent to the British Ambassador in Paris. In that note the British Foreign Secretary had stated : “As his Britannic Majesty disclaimed all intention of appropriating to himself the smallest portion of the late Spanish possessions in America, he, Mr. Canning, was satisfied that no attempt would be made by France to bring any of Spain's possessions under her dominion either by conquest or by cession from Spain.' Commenting upon this important note Mr. Rush reported to the United States Secretary of State:
By this we are to understand in terms sufficiently distinct, that Great Britain would not be passive under such an attempt by France, and Mr. Canning, on my having referred to this note, asked me what I thought my Government would say to going hand in hand with the British Government in the same sentiment; not, as he added, that any concert in action under it could become necessary between the two countries, but that the simple fact of our being known to hold the same sentiment would, he had no doubt, by its moral effect, put down the intention on the part of France, admitting that she should ever entertain it. ... Reverting to his first idea, he again said that he hoped that France would not, should even events in the Peninsula be favourable to her, extend her views to South America for the purpose of reducing the colonies, nominally, perhaps, for Spain, but in effect to subserve ends of her own; but that, in case she should meditate such a policy, he was satisfied that the knowledge of the United States being opposed to it, as well as Great Britain, could not fail to have its influence in checking her steps. In this way he thought good might be done by prevention, and peaceful prospects all around increased. As to the form in which such knowledge might be made to reach France, and even the other Powers of Europe, he said, in conclusion, that that might probably be arranged in a manner that would be free from objection.
On August 20, a few days after this conversation, Mr. Canning sent to Mr. Rush a letter marked ‘Private and confidential' in which he said :
Before leaving town I am desirous of bringing before you in a more distinct, but still in an unofficial and confidential shape, the question which we shortly discussed the last time that I had the pleasure of seeing you. ... We conceive the recovery of the American colonies by Spain to be hopeless. ... We aim not at the possession of any portion of them ourselves. We could not see any portion of them transferred to any other Power with indifference. If these opinions and feelings are, as I firmly believe them to be, common to your Government with ours, why should we hesitate mutually to confide them to each other and to declare them in the face of the world ?
If there be any European Power which cherishes other projects, which looks to a forcible enterprise for reducing the colonies to subjugation, on the behalf or in the name of Spain, or which meditates the acquisition of any part of them to itself, by cession or by conquest, such a declaration on the part of your Government and ours would be at once the most effectual and the least offensive mode of intimating our joint disapprobation of such projects. . . . Nothing could be more gratifying to me than to join with you in such a work.
Commenting upon the foregoing letter Mr. Rush reported to Mr. Adams on August 28, 1823 :
... The tone of earnestness in Mr. Canning's note, and the force of some of his expressions, naturally start the
inference that the British Cabinet cannot be without its serious apprehensions that ambitious enterprises are meditated against the independence of the South American States. Whether by France alone I cannot now say on any authentic grounds.
On August 23 Mr. Canning sent to Mr. Rush another * Private and confidential'letter, in which he said:
I have received notice—but not such notice as imposes upon me the necessity of any immediate answer or proceeding—that as soon as the military objects in Spain are achieved (of which the French expect, how justly I know not, a very speedy achievement) a proposal will be made for a Congress, or some less formal concert and consultation, especially upon the affairs of Spanish America.
Mr. Adams, the American Secretary of State, communicated the news which he had received from Mr. Rush to the President of the Republic, Mr. Monroe, and President Monroe wrote for advice to his eminent predecessors in office, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, two of the surviving founders of the American Republic, who had co-operated with George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
Mr. Jefferson replied on October 24, 1823 :
Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe ; our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and particularly her own. One nation, most of all, could disturb us in this pursuit ; she now offers to lead, aid, and accompany us in it. By acceding to her proposition we detach her from the bands, bring her mighty weight into the scale of free government, and emancipate a continent at one stroke, which might otherwise linger long in doubt and difficulty. Great Britain is the nation which can do us the most harm of any one, or all, on earth; and with hər on our side we need not fear the whole world. With her, then, we should most sedulously cherish a cordial friendship; and nothing would tend more to knit our affections than to be fighting once more, side by side, in the same cause.
Mr. Madison wrote to Mr. Jefferson on November 1; 1823 :
With the British power and navy combined with our own we have nothing to fear from the rest of the world ; and in the great struggle of the epoch between liberty and despotism we owe it to ourselves to sustain the former, in this hemisphere at least.
From the sixth volume of the ‘Memoirs of Mr. J. Qi Adams, who at the time was the United States Secretary of State, we learn that he did not believe that the Holy Alliance had any intention of ultimately attacking the United States; but, if they should subdue the Spanish provinces, they might recolonise them and partition them out among themselves. Russia might take California, Peru, and Chile; France Mexico, where she had been intriguing to get a monarchy under a Prince of the House of Bourbon, as well as at Buenos Ayres; and Great Britain, if she could not resist this course of things, would take at least the island of Cuba as her share of the scramble. Then what would be the situation of the United States-England holding Cuba, and France Mexico ?
The danger that France, supported by the Powers of the Holy Alliance, would interfere on the American Continent was great, and this was generally recognised in America. In the North American Review for October, 1823, we read, for instance:
If success should favour the allied monarchs, would they be satisfied with reforming the Government of Spain ? Would not the Spanish colonies, as part of the same Empire, then demand their parental attention ? And might not the United States be next considered as deserving their kind guardianship ?
On December 2, 1823, President Monroe published his
annual message, which contains the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine-one ought really in fairness to call it the Canning-Monroe Doctrine in the following words :
The occasion has been judged proper for asserting as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United Stats are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonisation by any European Powers. . . . We owe it, therefore, to candour, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those Powers, to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European Power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any European Power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
After the reading of President Monroe's famous message Mr. Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, caused the following resolution to be introduced :
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the people of these States would not see, without serious inquietude, any forcible intervention by the allied Powers of Europe, in behalf of Spain, to reduce to their former subjection those parts of the continent of America which have proclaimed and established for themselves, respectively, independent governments, and which have been solemnly recognised by the United States.
Commenting upon the genesis of the Monroe Doctrine