Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/574

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556
[Dec.
The Whig Party:

gress this inchoate project of the inhabitants of the valleys of the Columbia river to assert their right to self-government and independence, will be sufficiently matured to be made a matter of serious deliberation, it is impossible now to conjecture. Meantime, the appearances are, that the party which professes the greatest respect for the doctrine of the right of self-government, will be found discouraging, if not resisting, the exercise of that right, in its full extent, by the ultra-montane Americans, and that it will be desired rather to hold them as colonists, whose fate must ultimately be united with ours under one and the same government, than to assist or encourage them in asserting their own separate nationality and entire independence.

In every aspect, therefore, which this subject may assume, it will appeal strongly to the feelings, the principles, the sound judgment, the wise forecast, and the unshrinking tirmness of the Whig party.

In throwing out the reflections we here present, we design them as suggestions merely—not counsels—for the occurrences of the next hour may overthrow, in an instant, all present combinations in calculation.

One point only may, we think, be stated as incontrovertible, and upon that point we trust the Whigs will be found united to a man—and that is, that war for Oregon, unless an attempt be made to wrest it forcibly from our possession, is an absurdity at once and a crime.

There still remains one great question for examination which has not fallen within the domain of ordinary politics or of merely local or domestic interests, and presents many new and complicated features. It is that of the independence of the American Continent from the control, political or physical, of European nations.

It is now almost a quarter of a century since this idea was first formally enunciated on this side of the Atlantic, and then it seemed to speak the general sentiment of the country. Circumstances connected with the emancipation of the Spanish American colonies from the dominion of the mother country, and with the long, and for a time uncertain, struggle which some of them were called upon to maintain, led to an apprehension in this country that, under the plea of putting a stop to the waste of human life, and to the bloody and remorseless warfare which characterizes in a special manner civil contests among the Spanish race, some of the leading European governments might offer their aid to Spain for the purpose of pacifying or reducing her revolted colonies. Such an interposition in the affairs of this hemisphere, could not be regarded with indifference by the government of the United States—the great power of this Continent, with all its sympathies naturally enlisted in behalf of a neighboring people struggling for their freedom—this government had nevertheless studiously maintained its neutrality between Spain and her revolted colonies. Having thus evinced its own self-denial and its scrupulous respect for the principle, that to each people it belongs to decide upon and adopt the form of government best suited to it, and that no foreign nation can rightfully control by arms such free choice and decision, the American government was manifestly in a position to say authoritatively to Europe, that the principle of non-intervention, so faithfully, and under such trying circumstances, observed by it, must not be departed from nor violated by other governments, especially by those removed by position out of the American system. Utterance was accordingly given to this sentiment by the then President, Mr. Monroe, in his seventh annual message to Congress, in this passage:

"Of events in that quarter of the globe with which we have had so much intercourse, and from which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators. The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced, that we resist injuries or make preparations fur 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 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 their 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 existing between the