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Honduras, which he signed on the 28th of September, 1849, provisions for acquiring land for naval stations on that island or on the continent in its vicinity. By what is called a protocol, of the same date, Honduras ceded Tiger Island to the United States, pending the ratification or rejection of the general treaty, provided that the time should exceed eighteen months.
These stipulations were entered into by Mr. Squier without instructions from the Department, and when the treaty and additional articles were received, he was reproved for them. They were never laid before the Senate. It is not to be doubted, however, that they occasioned uneasiness to the British Government, and in a great degree led to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of the 19th of April, 1850.
The preamble of that treaty states that its object was to fix the views and intentions of the parties in regard to the ship canal.
The first article of the treaty, still referring to the ship-canal, stipulates that neither party will erect fortifications commanding the same, or in the vicinity thereof, or occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise dominion in any part of Central America.
It seems obvious that the renunciation by the parties to this instrument of a right to acquire dominion in Central America was intended to prevent either of them from obtaining control over the proposed shipcanal. At the time the treaty was concluded there was every prospect that that work would not only soon be begun, but that it would be carried to a successful conclusion. For reasons, however, which it is not necessary to specify, it never was even commenced, and at present there does not appear to be a likelihood of its being undertaken. It may be a question, therefore, supposing that the canal should never be begun, whether the renunciatory clauses of the treaty are to have perpetual operation.
Technically speaking, this question might be decided in the negative. Still, so long as it should remain a question, it would not comport with good faith for either party to do anything which might be deemed contrary to even the spirit of the treaty.
It is becoming more and more certain every day that not only naval warfare in the future, but also all navigation of war vessels in time of peace must be by steam. This necessity will occasion little or no inconvenience to the principal maritime powers of Europe, and especially to Great Britain, as those powers have possessions in various parts of the globe where they can have stores of coal and provisions for the use of their vessels. We are differently situated. We have no possession, beyond the limits of the United States. Foreign colonization has never been favored by statesmen in this country either on general grounds or as in harmony with our peculiar condition. There is no change or likely to be any in this respect. It is indispensable for us, however, to have coaling stations under our own flag for naval observation and police, and for defensive war as well as for the protection of our widely spread commerce when we are at peace ourselves. This want, even for our commercial marine, is nowhere more sensibly felt than on the track between Panama and San Francisco. The question then occurs what points beyond our jurisdiction would be most eligible for this purpose? Whatever opinion might be entertained in regard to any other sites, there would be no question that Tiger Island would be exceedingly desirable for that purpose.
Under these circumstances, you will sound Lord Clarendon as to the disposition of his government to favor us in acquiring coaling stations in Central America, notwithstanding the stipulation contained in the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty. In doing this, however, you will use general terms only, and will by no means allow it to be supposed that we particularly covet Tiger Island. You will execute this instruction at such time and in such way as to you may seem best, and inform the Department of the result, so that the United States minister to Honduras may be directed to proceed accordingly.
It is supposed that you may probably be able to introduce the subject to the Earl of Clarendon's attention by Suggesting that a negotiation with a view to the special end mentioned might be made an element in a general negotiation for settlement of the north west-boundary question and of the conflicting claims of the two countries which have arisen during the late rebellion in the United States.
I am, &c.,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
64.-Extract from the report of Mr. Fish, Secretary of State, accompanying President Grant's message to the Senate of July 14, 1870.
The avoidance of entangling alliances, the characteristic feature of the foreign policy of Washington, sprang from this condition of things. But the entangling alliances which then existed were engagements made with France as a part of the general contract under which aid was furnished to us for the achievement of our independence. France was willing to waive the letter of the obligation as to her West India possessions, but demanded, in its stead, privileges in our ports which the administration was unwilling to concede. To make its refusal acceptable to a public which sympathized with France, the cabinet of General Washington exaggerated the principle into a theory tending to national isolation.
The public measures designed to maintain unimpaired the domestic sovereignty and the international neutrality of the United States were independent of this policy, though apparently incidental to it. The municipal laws enacted by Congress then and since have been but declarations of the law of nations. They are essential to the preservation of our national dignity and honor; they have for their object to repress and punish all enterprises of private war, one of the last relics of mediæval barbarism; and they have descended to us from the fathers of the republic, supported and enforced by every succeeding President of the United States.
The foreign policy of these early days was not a narrow one. During this period we secured the evacuation by Great Britain of the country wrongfully occupied by her on the lake; we acquired Louisiana; we measured forces on the sea with France, and on the land and sea with England; we set the example of resisting and chastising the piracies of the Barbary States; we initiated in negotiations with Prussia the long line of treaties for the liberalization of war and the promotion of international intercourse; and we steadily demanded, and at length obtained, indemnification from various governments for the losses we had suffered by foreign spoliations in the wars of Europe.
To this point in our foreign policy we had arrived when the revolu
tionary movements in Spanish and Portuguese America compelled a modification of our relations with Europe, in consequence of the rise of new and independent states in America.
The revolution, which commenced in 1810 and extended through all the Spanish-American continental colonies, after vain efforts of repression on the part of Spain, protracted through twenty years, terminated in the establishment of the independent states of Mexico, Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chili, Bolivia, the Argentine Republic, Uruguay, and Paraguay, to which the Empire of Brazil came in time to be added. These events necessarily enlarged the sphere of action of the United States, and essentially modified our relations with Europe, and our attitude to the rest of this continent.
The new states were, like ourselves, revolted colonies. They continued the precedent we had set, of separating from Europe. Their assumption of independence was stimulated by our example. They professedly imitated us, and copied our national Constitution, sometimes even to their inconvenience.
The Spanish-American colonies had not the same preparation for independence that we had. Each of the British colonies possessed complete local autonomy. Its formal transition from dependence to independence consisted chiefly in expelling the British governor of the colony, and electing a governor of the State, from which to the organized Union was but a step. All these conditions of success were wanting in Spanish America, and hence many of the difficulties in their career as independent states; and further, while the revolution in British America was the exclusive result of the march of opinion in the British colonies, the simultaneous action of the separate Spanish colonies, though showing a desire for independence, was principally produced by the accident of the invasion of Spain by France.
The formation of these new sovereignties in America was important to us, not only because of the cessation of colonial monopolies to that extent, but because of the geographical relations to us, held by so many new nations, all, like ourselves, created from European stock, and interested in excluding European politics, dynastic questions, and balances of power from further influence in the New World.
Thus the United States were forced into new lines of action, which, though apparently in some respects conflicting, were really in harmony with the line marked out by Washington. The avoidance of entangling political alliances, and the maintenance of our own independent neutrality became doubly important from the fact that they became applicable to the new republics as well as to the mother country. The duty of noninterference had been admitted by every President. The question came up in the time of the first Adams, on the occasion of the enlistment projects of Miranda. It appeared again under Jefferson (anterior to the revolt of the Spanish colonies) in the schemes of Aaron Burr. It was an ever-present question in the administrations of Madison, Monroe, and the younger Adams, in reference to the questions of foreign enlistment or equipment in the United States, and when these new republics entered the family of nations, many of them very feeble, and all too much subject to internal revolution and civil war, a strict adherence to our previous policy and a strict enforcement of our laws became essential to the preservation of friendly relations with them; for, since that time, it has been one of the principal cares of those intrusted with the administration of the government, to prevent piratical expeditions against these sister republics from leaving our ports. And thus the
changed condition of the New World made no change in the traditional and peaceful policy of the United States in this respect.
In one respect, however, the advent of these new states in America did compel an apparent change of foreign policy on our part. It devolved upon us the determination of the great international question, at what time, and under what circumstances, to recognize a new power as entitled to a place among the family of nations. There was but little of precedent to guide us, except our own case. Something, indeed, could be inferred from the historical origin of the Netherlands and Switzerland. But our own case, carefully and conscientiously considered, was sufficient to guide us to right conclusions. We maintained our position of international friendship and of treaty obligations toward Spain, but we did not consider that we were bound to wait for its recognition of the new republics before admitting them into treaty relations with us as sovereign States. We held that it was for us to judge whether or not they had attained to the condition of actual independence, and the consequent right of recognition by us. We considered this question of fact deliberately and coolly. We sent commissioners to Spanish America to ascertain and report for our information concerning their actual circumstances, and in the fullness of time we acknowledged their independence; we exchanged diplomatic ministers, and made treaties of amity with them, the earliest of which, negotiated by Mr. John Quincy Adams, served as the model for the subsequent treaties with the Spanish-American republics. We also, simultaneously therewith, exerted our good offices with Spain, to induce her to submit to the inevitable result, and herself to accept and acknowledge the independence of her late colonies. We endeavored to induce Russia to join us in these representations. In all this our action was positive, in the direction of promoting the complete political separation of America from Europe.
A vast field was thus opened to the statesmen of the United States for the peaceful introduction, the spread, and the permanent establishment of the American ideas of republican government, of modification of the laws of war, of liberalization of commerce, of religious freedom and toleration, and of the emancipation of the New World from the dynastic and balance of power controversies of Europe.
Mr. John Quincy Adams, beyond any other statesman of the time in this country, had the knowledge and experience, both European and American, the comprehension of thought and purpose, and the moral convictions which peculiarly fitted him to introduce our country into this new field, and to lay the foundation of an American policy. The declaration known as the Monroe doctrine, and the objects and purposes of the congress of Panama, both supposed to have been largely inspired by Mr. Adams, have influenced public events from that day to this, as a principle of government for this continent and its adjacent
It was at the period of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle and of Laybach, when the "holy alliance" was combined to arrest all political changes in Europe in the sense of liberty, when they were intervening in Southern Europe for the re-establishment of absolutism, and when they were meditating interference to check the progress of free government in America, that Mr. Monroe, in his annual message of December, 1823, declared that the United States would consider any attempt to extend the European system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. "With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power," he said, "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 feeling towards the United States."
This declaration resolved the solution of the immediate question of the independence of the Spanish-American colonies, and is supposed to have exercised some influence upon the course of the British cabinet in regard to the absolutist schemes in Europe as well as in America.
It has also exercised a permanent influence on this continent. It was at once invoked in consequence of the supposed peril of Cuba on the side of Europe; it was applied to a similar danger threatening Yucatan; it was embodied in the treaty of the United States and Great Britain as to Central America; it produced the successful opposition of the United States to the attempt of Great Britain to exercise dominion in Nicaragua under the cover of the Mosquito Indians; and it operated in like manner to prevent the establishment of a European dynasty in Mexico.
The United States stand solemnly committed by repeated declarations and repeated acts to this doctrine, and its application to the affairs of this continent. In his message to the two houses of Congress at the commencement of the present session, the President, following the teachings of all our history, said that the existing "dependencies are no longer regarded as subject to transfer from one European power to another. When the present relation of colonies ceases, they are to become independent powers, exercising the right of choice and of self-control in the determination of their future condition and relations with other powers." This policy is not a policy of aggression; but it opposes the creation of European dominion on American soil, or its transfer to other European powers, and it looks hopefully to the time when, by the voluntary departure of European governments from this continent and the adjacent islands, America shall be wholly American.
It does not contemplate forcible intervention in any legitimate contest; but it protests against permitting such a contest to result in the increase of European power or influence; and it ever impels this government, as in the late contest between the South American republics and Spain, to interpose its good offices to secure an honorable peace.
The congress of Panama was planned by Bolivar to secure the union of Spanish America against Spain. It had originally military as well as political purposes. In the military objects the United States could take no part; and indeed the necessity for such objects ceased when the full effects of Mr. Monroe's declarations were felt. But the pacific objects of the Congress, the establishment of close and cordial relations of amity, the creation of commercial intercourse, of interchange of political thought, and of habits of good understanding between the new republics and the United States and their respective citizens, might perhaps have been attained, had the administration of that day received the united support of the country. Unhappily they were lost; the new states were removed from the sympathetic and protecting influence of our example, and their commerce, which we might then have secured, passed into other hands, unfriendly to the United States.
In looking back upon the Panama congress from this length of time, it is easy to understand why the earnest and patriotic men who endeavored to crystallize an American system for this continent failed.