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POLITICAL INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES IN SOUTH AMERICAN REPUBLICS.
It was in 1808 that the interference of Napoleon with the affairs of Spain enabled the South American republics to rejoice in the assurance of their own autonomy. But a long struggle was necessary in order to establish the independence they hoped for. For twenty years they looked vainly for succor or approval from European monarchies. They had been all along looking to the Republic of the North, and copying her splendid example. They now began to look for substantial recognition, and they found in Henry Clay their earliest and ablest champion. In 1818 Mr. Clay made a passionate appeal in the House of Representatives for their recognition, and in the same year the condition of the South American provinces became a subject of consideration at a cabinet meeting, James Monroe being President . Four years afterwards, the recognition they sought from the United States came, and it was soon followed by recognition on the part of Great Britain. In the next year, 1823, President Monroe, in his message to Congress, and in discussing the relation of foreign powers toward those on the American Continent, said:
"In wars* of European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers (of Europe) is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of our most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations subsisting 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."
This was the " Monroe Doctrine;" this the note of warning, to monarchical Europe to keep hands off the political destiny of a Continent. It was of this doctrine that Daniel Webster, in a speech in the House, April, 1826, upon the subject of an appropriation to send a mission from the United States to the South American Congress at Panama, said:
"I look on the message of December, 1823, as forming a bright page in our history. I will neither help to erase it or tear it out, nor shall it by any act of mine be blurred or blotted. It did honor to the sagacity of the government, and I will not diminish that honor. It elevated the hopes and gratified the patriotism of the people. Over those hopes I will not bring a mildew, nor will I put that gratified patriotism to shame."
CONGRESS OF REPUBLICS.
In 1821 the Republic of Colombia suggested the idea of a closer connection between the Spanish colonies in Central and South America. In July, 1822, and before their independence had been recognized by the United States, Colombia and Chili negotiated a treaty looking to a Congress of the new Republics, resembling the one already constructed in Europe (The Holy Alliance, which was an attempt to fetter all Europe with absolute monarchy), and having for its object "The construction of a continental system for j America."
The idea ripened slowly, though it was sedulously cherished by Bolivar and other leaders, Bolivar being then at the head of the Republic of Peru. It was not until December 7, 1824, that he issued his invitation to the Republics south of us, to meet in conference at Panama. Most of them accepted, and the " General Assembly of the American Republics " met at Panama, June 22, 1826.
What was singular about this Congress or General Assembly was that it was no part of Bolivar's design to invite the United States to participate. The Republics of South America had abolished African slavery in 1813. Doubtless Bolivar felt that the interest which the United States had at that time in preserving and extending slavery would tend to embarrass her acceptance of an invitation, or make her an unwelcome, if not dangerous, participant. The invitation to the United States came from Colombia and Mexico, after an inquiry through Mr. Clay as to whether it would be acceptable to President Adams. Mr. Adams was so far satisfied as that he appointed two representatives to the Congress or Conference, subject to the "advice and consent of the Senate."
In his message to the Senate, Mr. Adams gave among
Other reasons for his action the following, which is valuable in this connection as showing the dawn of the idea that mutual commercial intercourse with the South American States might well become a subject of consideration in such a conference as that proposed. He said:
"But the South American nations, in the infancy of their independence, often find themselves in positions with reference to other countries, with principles applicable to which, derivable from the state of independence itself, they have not been familiarized by experience. The result of this has been that sometimes in their intercourse with the United States they have manifested dispositions to reserve a right of granting special favors and privileges to the Spanish nation as the price of their recognition; at others, they have actually established duties and impositions operating unfavorably to the United States, to the advantage of European powers; and sometimes they have appeared to consider that they might interchange among themselves mutual concessions of exclusive favor, to which neither European powers nor the United States should be admitted. In most of these cases their regulations unfavorable to us have yielded to friendly expostulation and remonstrance; but it is believed to be of infinite moment that the principles of a liberal commercial intercourse should be exhibited to them and urged with interested and friendly persuasion upon them, when all are assembled for the avowed purpose of consulting together upon the establishment of such principles as may have an important bearing upon their future welfare."
The debate in the Senate upon the proposed mission was exceedingly acrimonious. Serious charges were brought against President Adams, and the policy and purposes of his administration were denounced as dangerous, It waa declared that the mission would lead to international com plications. The slave-holding members affirmed that in reference to the rest of America, as well as to Europe, slavery must be and remain the prime motive of the foreign policy of the United States, and they said that they saw in the conference peril to their "peculiar institutions," for the history of these Southern Republics as to slavery furnished an example "scarcely less fatal than the independence of Hayti to the repose of the slave States of the Union." They had not only copied from the revolutionary records of the United States the words "freedom," "equality" and "universal emancipation," but had actually broken the chains of all slaves.
THE COMMERCIAL THOUGHT UPPERMOST.
The defenders of the proposed mission and of the President's action made many elaborate arguments for their side, all of which embraced in some form the idea of more extended and intimate commercial intercourse, upon the basis of mutual or reciprocal trade. When Mr. Adams was asked by the House for further information respecting his view and his action he responded in a lengthy message, in which he said: —
"The first and paramount principle upon which it was deemed wise and just to lay the corner-stone of all our future relations with them was disinterestedness; the next was cordial good will to them; the third was a claim of fair and equal reciprocity."
Then in further allusion to the commercial idea he said: — "It will be within the recollection of the House that immediately after our War of Independence a measure closely analogous to this Congress of Panama was adopted by the Congress of our Confederation and for purposes of precisely