Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/575

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1845.]
557
Its Position and Duties.

United States and those powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend any portion of their system to 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 interefere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have on great consideration and on just principle 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 towards the United States.

"In the war between those new governments and Spain, we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur, which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security."

In a subsequent part of the same message the President, after referring to the then recent armed interposition by the Allied Powers, "on a principle satisfactory to themselves," in the internal concerns of Spain, contrasts therewith the policy of the United States in regard to Europe, and distinctly intimates that we should require a like policy towards this continent from Europe. This is the explicit language used:

" Our policy in regard to Europe, which we adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same—which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a firm, frank and manly policy; meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to these continents, circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can any one believe that our Southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference."

The nation seemed generally to adopt these truly American sentiments—appealing as they did, and do, to a feeling of comprehensive nationality, founded on position or similarity of political features, and identity of political aims. As a matter of fact, in South, as in North, America, the new nations were all of European origin; had been planted as colonies, oppressed as colonies, as colonies had rebelled; and through much carnage and suffering had turned rebellion into successful revolution. Everywhere the rights of human nature, and the capacity of men for self-government, were asserted, and made the basis of the new forms of government; and hence there arose a common American interest to oppose any and every attempt, on the part of European powers, other than Spain, to reduce or revolutionize the country.

"Fortified by the concurrence of public opinion, at the next session, in December, 1824, President Monroe, in the last annual message he delivered, thus returned to the subject:

"The disturbances which have appeared in certain portions of that vast territority have proceeded from internal causes, which had their origin in their former government, and have not yet been thoroughly removed. It is manifest that these causes are daily losing their effect, and that these new states are settling down under governments elective and representative in every branch, similar to our own. In this course we ardently wish them to persevere, under a firm conviction that it will promote their happiness. In this, their career, however, we have not interfered, believing that every people have a right to institute for themselves the government which, in their judgment, may suit them best. Our example is before them, of the good effect of which, being our neighbors, they are competent judges, and to their judgment we leave it, in the expectation that other powers will pursue the same policy. The deep interest which we take in their independence, which we have acknowledged, and in their enjoyment of all the rights incident thereto, especially in the very important one of instituting their own governments, has been declared, and is known to the world. Separated as we are from Europe by the great Atlantic Ocean, we can have no concern in the wars of European governments, nor in the causes which produce them. The balance of power between them, into whichever scale it may turn in its various vibrations, cannot affect us. It is the interest of the United States to preserve the most friendly