Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/577

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1845.]
559
Its Position and Duties.

pean intervention, and yet more decisive- ly from the actual armed interpositon, now in progress, by the combined French and British forces, in the affairs of the La Plata—the responsibility must, it is feared, be traced in part to the flinching of what calls itself the democratic party from the legitimate consequences of the American policy declared by Mr. Monroe. For when, in the succeeding administration of John Quincy Adams, that sound American proposed to send ministers from this republic to the congress of ministers from the other republics of this continent, about to assemble at Panama, there to discuss the general principles of public policy to be pursued with regard to European interference—as well as questions of mutual friendly and commercial intercourse among each other—thus giving reality and substance, as it were, to what before was a significant but barren formula—the whole democracy rallied as one man against the proposition, and Mr. Adams was represented as transcending his constitutional power, in accepting the invitation of our American neighbors to meet them in friendly consultation about American interests—in jeoparding our peaceful relations with Europe—and in seeking, by entangling engagements with the new states, to erect an American confederacy, as a counterpoise against the influence of the Holy Alliance of Europe.

This chapter of our political history may be instructively re-opened and perused at the present juncture; and we propose, therefore, in the next number of this Review, to recall and examine it in some detail. Suffice it here to say, that, throughout the discussion—first, in secret session of the Senate on the appointment of ministers; and secondly, in the House of Representatives on the bill making appropriations for the mission—sentiments, the most offensive to the new American republics, were uttered, and apprehensions, not the most manly, indulged, of European resentment, if we should aim to establish an American system as a counterpoise to that of Europe, by the leaders of that party which now, through its official organ, seems so full of defiance towards the Old World, and so resolute that no European foot shall ever tread in sovereignty on any part of the New World now emancipated from colonial dependence.

Whatever the justice of the conjecture that the European pretension, and its actual practical operation in the Rio de la Plata, to interfere in the affairs of this continent for the maintenance of a fancied balance of power, or under any other pretext, derived confidence from the course of leading American politicians in the Panama Mission, it may be assumed, we apprehend, as the almost universal sentiment of this country, that the language of Mr. Monroe in 1823 and in 1824, on this subject, does embody its actual feeling and determination; and that, whether in Oregon, in California, in Cuba, or in the River Plate, the United States will not see with indifference the attempt permanently to establish a European influence, much less a European colony—nor fail to resist it, if persevered in, after frank and friendly remonstrance.

It is not in the spirit of, nor with a view to, territorial aggrandizement, that this course is indicated as that which the nation should pursue, but simply as the wise and necessary precaution of self-defence. In the existing relations of the different governments and peoples of this continent to each other, or to ourselves, we seek to effect no change. We neither desire nor claim the right of interposing in their domestic affairs, content to leave them, as we require ourselves to be left, to decide all such affairs as suits those whom they immediately concern and are primarily to affect. If then we, belonging to the same hemisphere, and in many respects identified with these American nations, abstain scrupulously from attempts at influencing or coercing the course or conduct of their governments, we are entitled to expect and to require like abstinence on the part of distant Europe.

So again, as to large portions of territory lying within the nominal jurisdiction of some of the other American governments—either unsettled, or so sparsely settled, as hardly to be considered under the subjection of any authority—we seek not to possess ourselves thereof, content to leave to time and opportunity, and the character of their future population, the arbitration of their destiny. But we cannot, with due regard to our own safety and relative preponderance, consent that the system of European policy—of European institutions—or of a balance of power of European device and maintenance—shall be fastened upon-those territories, thence to be radiated, it may be, to the derangement or the overthrow of our systems. Europe has her systems, in which America seeks not to interfere: America should have her