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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 in accordance with the best traditions of the Monroe Doctrine, and yet the mysterious words were not employed in the correspondence.
In 1866, when Chile was at war with Spain, Secretary Seward wrote to our minister in Chile: “The policy of the United States in regard to the several SpanishAmerican States is, or ought to be, well known now, after the exposition it has received during the last five years. We avoid, in all cases, giving encouragement to expectations which, in the varying course of events, we might find ourselves unable to fulfil, and we desire to be known as doing
more than we promise, rather than of falling short of our engagements.
On the other hand, we maintain and insist, with all the decision and energy compatible with our existing neutrality, that the republican system which is accepted by the people in any one of those states shall not be wantonly assailed, and that it shall not be subverted as an end of a lawful war by European powers. We thus give to those republics the moral support of a sincere, liberal, and we think it will appear a useful friendship. We could claim from foreign states no concession to our own political, moral, and material principles, if we should not conform, in our own proceedings in the needful intercourse with foreign states, to the just rules of the laws of nations.
“We therefore concede to every nation the right to make peace or war for such causes, other than political or ambitious, as it thinks right and wise.”
There is great dignity in Mr. Seward's words and no attempt to assume any arbitrary right to interfere in American matters. In 1870, when General Grant was Presi
dent, there arose a question relating to Santo Domingo, which led the President to insert in his message to Congress the following clause: “The Doctrine promulgated by President Monroe has been adhered to by all political parties, and I now deem it proper to assert the equally important principle that hereafter no territory on this continent shall be regarded as subject of transfer to a European power.”
It is worthy of note that the words “this continent,” including in this case the islan of Santo Domingo, are apparently used as synonymous with the whole of the western hemisphere.
At the same time, owing probably to the necessity of paying strict attention to our own internal affairs, following the ravages of the Civil War, it was not until the late part of the 80's and the beginning of the 90's that we began to assume an aggressive attitude in our foreign policy.
While it was generally understood that we would not countenance any European aggressiveness or land hunger so far as the states of the western hemisphere were con
cerned, nor any political interference in the affairs of North and South America, it was not until 1895, 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 that 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 sixty thousand square miles of jungle south-east 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.
We fairly shouted with joy. Even thirteen years later, one of our most widely read
syndicate journalists,” writing in a fine frenzy of jingoism, summed up the Venezuela episode as follows: “Lord Salisbury and the British Government came down from their high horse, the British lion slunk away with its much twisted tail between its legs, and England agreed to arbitrate the boundary dispute. England got most of the ter