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THE MONROE DOCTRINE: AN OBSOLETE
HON. WILLIAM KENT
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
JULY 18, 1913
PRESENTING AN ADDRESS OF
We may well consult some ancient guideposts as to the path of wisdom in our present uncertainties. In the Book of Proverbs are found the following remarks, which authoritatively refute our jingo riew of the Monroe doctrine:
My son, if thou hast become surety for thy neighbor, if thou hast stricken thy hand for a stranger, thou art shared with the words of thy mouth.
He that passes by and vexes himself with strife that belongeth not to him is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
He that is surely for a stranger shall smart for it.
In transmitting the pamphlet reprint to Members of the House of Representatives the following letter was inclosed :
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, July 24, 1913. MY DEAR CONGRESSMAX; I would respectfully present the inclosed document for your careful consideration.
At this time of strain and stress, whether you agree with the author or not, you will surely be interested in his lucid exposition of his views of the matter discussed
I fear that we are altogether too prone to talk about national duties and national honor in careless terins. We can not afford to set up controverted doctrines to be needlessly fought over. Many a man entitled to life will lose it if we heedlessly and unnecessarily adopt or uphold theories and policies that others feel justified in resenting.
For my part, I would go all lengths to sustain our right-
To protect the integrity of the race and to avoid the troubles certain to arise by the introduction of those who can not be assimilated.
But the lives of American soldiers should not be sacrificed, the people's treasure should not be wasted, in protecting “ the property rights” of those of our citizens who, having gone beyond our borders, have “taken a chance" on the laws and conditions of peoples beyond our control.
As one financially interested in Mexico, inasmuch as I would not jeopardize my own life nor the lives of my sons to protect my property, I would be a coward and a murderer if I should send any of my countrymen to death in behalf of that property. Yours, truly,
WILLIAM KENT. 2
HON. WILLIAM KENT,
Mr. KENT. Mr. Speaker, in asking unanimous consent to extend my remarks in the RECORD, I wish to be of service to the Congress and to the people of the United States, by bringing to their attention a remarkably thoughtful and able essay on “The Monroe doctrine: An obsolete shibboleth,” printed in the Atlantic Monthly, June, 1913.
The author, Hiram Bingham, Ph. D., professor of Latin-American history and curator of the collection on Latin America at Yale, is an archæologist of note, a man brought up in sympathetic association with different races of men, and whose great work in exploration has made him especially familiar with the people of the South American Continent and with their point of view. I commend a careful reading of his statement to all those who, as Members of the National Legislature, must soon face definite issues that concern this dictum, which is neither international law nor doctrine, but merely an expression of our own views, a statement of our intentions, which can only be enforced upon others by the power of arms. The article is as follows: THE MONROE DOCTRINE: AN OBSOLETE SHIBBOLETH.
" (By Hiram Bingham.)
“1. "The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by European powers.
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 inter
position for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in cany other manner, their destiny, by any European power, in
any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly dis position toward the United States.
Thus, in 1823, did President James Monroe, acting under the influence of his able Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, enunciate a doctrine which has been the most universally accepted foreign policy that we have ever had. No one questions the fact that the enunciation of this policy of 'America for Americans, and our firm adherence to it for so many years has had a very decided effect upon the history of the Western Hemisphere.
* There have been times when ambitious European monarchs would have liked nothing better than to help themselves to poorly defended territory in what is now termed Latin America. When the doctrine was originated the Holy Alliance in Europe
was contemplating the overthrow of republican government in Spain, and unquestionably looked with extreme a version at the new Republics in South and Central America, whose independence we were hastily recognizing. Russia was reaching out beyond Alaska. The firm declaration of this policy of exclusion, backed up by England's attitude toward the Holy Alliance, undoubtedly operated to give the American Republics sufficient breathing space to enable them to get on their feet and begin the difficult process of working out their own salvation, a process which was rendered all the more difficult by reason of Hispanic racial tendencies, of centuries of autocratic colonial goyernment, and of geographical conditions which made transportation and social intercourse extremely arduous.
Journeys across Peru even to-day may be beset with more difficulties than were journeys from Mississippi to California CO years ago—before the railroads. It still takes. longer to go from Lima, the capital of Peru, to Iquitos, the capital of Peru's la rgest Province, and one which the Putumayo atrocities have recently brought vividly to our notice, than it does to go from London to Honolulu.
“Had it not been for the Monroe doctrine the American Republics would bave found it very much more difficult to maintain their independence during the first three-quarters of a century of their career. And this notwithstanding the fact that the actual words “Monroe doctrine' were rarely heard or seen.
“In 1845, without mentioning this shibboleth by name, President Polk declared that the United States would not permit any European intervention on the North American Continent, This, as Prof. Coolidge has brought out (see, for an able exposition of the Monroe doctrine, Prof. A. C. Coolidge's The United States as a World Power (Macmillan).-The Editors), pushed the theory further than it has been carried out in practice, although it restricted the original idea by leaving South America out of account.
“A few years later, while we were engaged in civil war, Napoleon III attempted to set up a European monarch in Mexico. Scarcely had we recovered, however, from the throes of our great conflict when Mr. Seward took up with the French Government the necessity for the withdrawal of the French troops from Maximilian's support. Here we were acting strongly accordance with the best traditions of the Monroe doctrine, and yet the mysterious words were not employed in the correspond
“ In fact, while it was generally understood that we would 'not countenance any European interference in the affairs of North and South America, it was not until 1995, during the second administration of President Cleveland, that a Secretary of State thought it expedient or necessary to restate the Monroe doctrine and to bring us to the verge of a European war by backing it up with an absolutely uncompromising attitude. Venezuela had had a long-standing boundary dispute with British Guiana. Nobody cared very much either way until it was discovered that in the disputed territory were rich gold fields. In the excitement which ensued the Venezuelans appealed to the United States, and Secretary Olney, invoking the Monroe doctrine, brought matters to a crisis.
“Our defiant attitude toward Great Britain astonished the world and greatly pleased the majority of American citizens.
The very fact that we had not the slightest personal interest in the paltry 60,000 square miles of jungle southeast of the Orinoco added to our self-esteem. It raised our patriotism to the highest pitch when we realized that we were willing to go to war with the most powerful nation in Europe rather than see her refuse to arbitrate her right to her ancient possession of a little strip of tropical forest with a Government which was not in existence when England took British Guiana, but which was an 'American Republic.' Fortunately for us Lord Salisbury had a fairly good sense of humor and declined to take the matter too seriously. Instead of standing, in the proverbial British manner, strictly for his honor and his rights, he politely ignored the boundary commission which we had impetuously called into existence, and, dealing directly with his neighbor Venezuela, arranged for an international court of arbitration.
“ In our exuberance over the success of Mr. Olney's bold and unselfish enunciation of the Monroe doctrine we failed to realize several aspects of this question.
In the first place, we had proudly declared the Monroe doctrine to be a part of international law, failing to distinguish between law and policy.
“In the second place, we had assumed a new theorem. In the words of Mr. Olney: The States of America, South as well as North, by geographical proximity, by natural sympathy, by similarity of governmental constitutions, are friends and allies, commercially and politically, of the United States.'
"A few years earlier the then Secretary of State, Blaine, had brought into existence the International Union of American Republics and had enunciated the doctrine of pan-Americanism, which has glowed more or less cheerfully ever since.
“Mr. Olney's words recognized this doctrine. But when he : gave 'geographical proximity! as one of the reasons for this pan-American alliance he overlooked the fact that the largest
sf South America are geographically nearer to Spain and
than to New York and New England. He failed to er that the rich east coast of South America is no farther from Europe than it is from Florida, and that so far as the west coast is concerned, it actually takes longer to travel from Valparaiso, the chief South American west coast port, to San Francisco, the chief North American west coast port, than it does to go from Valparaiso to London. Peru is as far from Puget Sound as it is from Labrador.
“ Most of our statesmen studied geography when they were in the grammar school and have rarely looked at a world atlas since. In othér words, we began the new development of the Monroe doctrine with á false idea of the geographical basis of the pan-American alliance.
“ Furthermore, the new Monroe doctrine was established on another false idea, the existence of natural sympathy' between South and North America. As a matter of fact, instances might easily be multiplied to show that our South American neighbors have far more natural sympathy for, and regard themselves as much more nearly akin to, the Latin races of; Europe than to the cosmopolitan people of the United States.
“How Spain feels was shown recently in the case of a distinguished Spanish professor who was able to find time to make an extended journey through Latin America, urging pan-His