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benevolent protection to one of imperialistic aggression. As a matter of fact, the Monroe Doctrine has never been regarded by the United States as in any sense a self-denying declaration. President Monroe said that we should consider any attempt on the part of the European powers “to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” The primary object of the policy outlined by President Monroe was, therefore, the peace and safety of the United States. The protection of Latin-American states against European intervention was merely a means of protecting ourselves. While the United States thus undertook to prevent the encroachment of European powers in Latin America, it has never admitted any limitation upon the possibility of its own expansion in this region. The silence of the Monroe Doctrine on this question has been remedied to some extent by President Wilson, who, at the outset of his administration, gave the assurance that “the United States will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest.” This declaration, followed by his refusal to be forced into war with Mexico, has done much to remove the suspicion with which our recent policies in the Caribbean have been regarded by our Southern neighbors. His sincerity was further attested by his ready acceptance of the proffered mediation of the ABC powers in the Mexican embroglio and by the encouragement which he has given to the Pan American movement.
The Pan American movement, which has for its object the promotion of closer social, economic, financial, and political relations between the independent republics of the Western Hemisphere, has attracted much attention in recent years. The Pan American ideal is an old one, dating back, in fact, to the Panama Congress of -1826. The object of this congress was not very definitely stated in the call which was issued by Simon Bolivar, but his purpose was to secure the independence and peace of the new Spanish-American republics either through a permanent confederation or through a series of diplomatic congresses. Henry Clay, who was secretary of state
at the time, was enthusiastically in favor of accepting the invitation extended to the United States to participate in the congress. President Adams agreed, therefore, to the acceptance of the invitation, but the matter was debated at great length in both House and Senate. In the Senate the debate was particularly acrimonious. The policy of the administration was denounced as dangerous, and it was asserted that a participation in the congress at Panama could be of no benefit to the United States and might be the means of involving us in international complications. One of the topics proposed for discussion was “the manner in which all colonization of European powers on the American
continent shall be restricted." The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs objected strenuously to the United States in any way committing itself to guaranteeing the territory of any other American state. The slavery question also projected itself into the debate, mainly because the negro Republic of Haiti was to be represented and because most of the other states had proclaimed the emancipation of slaves. The Senate finally agreed to the nomination of Richard C. Anderson, of Kentucky, and John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, as envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the assembly of American nations at Panama, and Congress made the necessary appropriation. The delay proved fatal to the plan, however, for the American delegates did not reach Panama until after the congress had adjourned.
In view of the opposition which the plan encountered in Congress, the instructions to the American delegates were very carefully drawn by Secretary Clay and their powers were strictly limited. They were cautioned against committing their government in any way to the establishment of “an amphictyonic council, invested with power finally to decide controversies between the American states or to regulate in any respect their conduct. Such a council might have been well enough adapted to a number of small contracted states, whose united territory would fall short of the extent of that of the smallest of the American powers. The complicated and various interests which appertain to the nations of this vast continent cannot be safely confided to the superintendence of one legislative authority. We should almost as soon expect to see an amphictyonic council to regulate the affairs of the whole globe. But even if it were desirable to establish such a tribunal, it is beyond the competency of the government of the United States voluntarily to assent to it, without a previous change of their actual constitution."
The delegates were also instructed to oppose the formation of an offensive and defensive alliance between the American powers, for, as Mr. Clay pointed out, the Holy Alliance had abandoned all idea of assisting Spain in the conquest of her late colonies. Continuing, he said:
Other reasons concur to dissuade the United States from entering into such an alliance. From the first establishment of their present constitution, their illustrious statesmen have inculcated the avoidance of foreign alliances as a leading maxim of their foreign policy. It is true, that in its adoption, their attention was directed to Europe, which having a system of connections and of interests remote and different from ours, it was thought most advisable that we should not mix ourselves up with them. And it is also true, that long since the origin of the maxim, the new American powers have arisen, to which, if at all, it is less applicable. Without, therefore, asserting that an exigency may not occur in which an alliance of the most intimate kind between the United States and the other American republics would be highly proper and expedient, it may be safely said that the occasion which would warrant a departure from that established maxim ought to be one of great urgency, and that none such is believed now to exist. Among the objections to such alliances, those which at all times have great weight are, first, the difficulty of a just and equal arrangement of the contributions of force and of other means between the respective parties to the attainment of the common object; and secondly, that of providing beforehand, and determining with perfect precision, when the casus foederis arises, and thereby guarding against all controversies about it. There is less necessity for any such alliance at this juncture on the part of the United States, because no compact, by whatever solemnities it might be attended, or whatever name or character it might assume, could be more obligatory upon them than the irresistible motive of self-preservation, which would be instantly called into operation, and stimulate them to the utmost exertion in the supposed contingency of an European attack upon the liberties of America.'
The British government sent a special envoy to reside near the congress and to place himself in frank and friendly communication with the delegates. Canning's private instructions to this envoy declared that,
Any project for putting the U. S. of North America at the head of an American Confederacy, as against Europe, would be highly displeasing to your Government. It would be felt as an ill return for the service which has been rendered to those States, and the dangers which have been averted from them, by the countenance and friendship, and public declarations of Great Britain; and it would probably, at no distant period, endanger the peace both of America and of Europe.
The Panama Congress was without practical results, and it possesses merely an historical interest. As a matter of fact, only four republics, Colombia, Central America, Peru, and Mexico, were represented. Several treaties and conventions were drafted with the view mainly of combined defense against Spain, but ratification was withheld by all of the states except Colombia, which gave only a partial approval to what had been done. Before adjourning, the Congress of Panama decided to meet again at the town of Tacu
1 International American Conference, Vol. IV (Historical Appendix), p. 122. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1890.