The New International Encyclopædia/Ostend Manifesto
OSTEND MANIFESTO. A dispatch drawn up at Ostend, October 9, 1854, and signed by James Buchanan, John Y. Mason, and Pierre Soulé, at that time the United States Ministers to Great Britain, France, and Spain respectively, declaring that the sale of Cuba would be as advantageous and honorable to Spain as its purchase would be to the United States, but if Spain refused to sell, self-preservation required that it be wrested from her by force. Encouraged by the acquisition of Texas, the pro-slavery leaders had been affording ready assistance to filibustering expeditions directed against the islands of the Spanish West Indies, and especially Cuba. These expeditions and the probable future action of the Federal Government in regard to the island created anxiety in Europe, and in 1852 Great Britain and France addressed a joint note to the United States proposing a tripartite convention by which the three Powers should disclaim all intention to obtain possession of Cuba and should discountenance such attempts by any Power. Everett, then Secretary of State, replied, refusing to accede to such an arrangement, while declaring that this country would never question Spain's title to the island. President Pierce in August, 1854, directed the American ministers resident at London, Paris, and Madrid to meet at some convenient point for discussion of the Cuban question. They met at Ostend, October 9th, and subsequently at Aix-la-Chapelle, though it was at the former place that the memorandum known as the Ostend Manifesto was prepared.
The declaration was not approved in the United States in the platforms of either party, and it was strongly condemned in Europe. Consult: Cluskey, Political Text-book (Philadelphia, 1860); also Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power (Boston, 1872-77).