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On January 28 and again on April 6, 1825, the Brazilian Chargé d'Affaires proposed upon behalf of his Government,
(1) that the United States should enter into an alliance with Brazil to maintain its independence, if Portugal should be assisted by any foreign power to reestablish her former sway, and (2) that an alliance might be formed to expel the arms of Portugal from any part of the Brazilian territory of which they might happen to take possession."
To this suggestion Mr. Clay, on April 13, 1825, replied by stating that while the President adhered to the principles announced by his predecessor, President Monroe, on December 2, 1823, yet the apparent nearness of peace between Brazil and Portugal would seem to make unnecessary the suggestion made as number one, as also the alliance proposed as number two. Mr. Clay stated that the suggested treaty would be contrary to the policy which the United States had pursued—
that whilst the war is confined to the parent Country and its former Colony, the United States remain neutral, extending their friendship and doing equal justice to both parties."
On December 10, 1827, Mr. Everett, our Minister to Spain, made for the Spanish Secretary of State a confidential memorandum, in which among other things it was stated:
His Catholic Majesty can not of course be ignorant, of the movements commenced a few months ago by the British Ministry, in conjunction with the Spanish refugees in London, and now in a course of execution, for the purpose of revolutionizing the Island of Cuba and the Canaries.'
Mr. Moore states that Mr. Everett added "that the United States would not consent to Cuba passing to any third power." "
A war was carrying on between the Argentine Republic and the Emperor of Brazil. The Argentine Republic made inquiry as to the scope of the Monroe Doctrine as declared by President Monroe. Mr. Clay stated as to the existing belligerency between the two powers that the situation could not be conceived
as presenting a state of things bearing the remotest analogy to the case which President Monroe's message deprecates. It is a war strictly Ameri
'Moore, ibid., p. 437.
"MS., Notes to Foreign Legations, vol. III, p. 213.
'Moore, ibid., p. 448,
can in its origin and its object. It is a war in which the Allies of Europe have taken no part. Even if Portugal and the Brazils had remained united, and the war had been carried on by their joint arms, against the Argentine Republic, that would have been far from presenting the case which the message contemplated."
Secretary Van Buren instructing Mr. Van Ness, our Minister to Spain on October 2, 1829, set out the views of the United States upon Cuba and its relationship to this country in this language:
The Government of the United States has always looked with the deepest interest upon the fate of those islands, but particularly of Cuba. Its geographical position which places it almost in sight of our southern shores, and, as it were, gives it the command of the Gulf of Mexico, and the West Indian seas, its safe and capacious harbors, its rich productions, the exchange of which for our surplus agricultural products and manufactures, constitutes one of the most extensive and valuable branches of our foreign trade, render it of the utmost importance to the United States that no change should take place in its condition which might injuriously affect our political and commercial standing in that quarter. Other considerations connected with a certain class of our population, make it the interest of the southern section of the Union that no attempt should be made in that island to throw off the yoke of Spanish dependence, the first effect of which would be the sudden emancipation of a numerous slave population whose result could not but be very sensibly felt upon the adjacent shores of the United States.
On the other hand, the wisdom which induced the Spanish Government to relax in its colonial system, and to adopt with regard to those Islands, a more liberal policy which opened their ports to general commerce, has been so far satisfactory in the view of the United States, as in addition to other considerations, to induce this Government to desire that their possession should not be transferred from the Spanish Crown to any other power."
Instructing Mr. Van Ness on October 13, 1830, with reference to the information which had come to the United States that if Spain should continue in her attempts to reconquer the Spanish colonies which had declared and maintained their independence that then those colonies would "feel it to be their duty as well as their interest to attack her colonial possessions in our vicinity-Cuba and Porto Rico," Secretary Van Buren referred to his general instructions to Van Ness and added:
They inform you that we are content that Cuba should remain as it now is, but could not consent to its transfer to any European power. Motives
MS., Instructions to United States Ministers, vol. xII, pp. 51-52.
of reasonable state policy render it more desirable to us that it should remain subject to Spain rather than to either of the South American States. Those motives will readily present themselves to your mind. They are principally founded upon an apprehension that, if possessed by the latter, it would, in the present state of things be in greater danger of becoming subject to some European Power than in its present condition. Although such are our own wishes and true interests the President does not see on what ground he would be justified in interfering with any attempts which the South American States might think it for their interest in the prosecution of a defensive war to make upon the Islands in question. If, indeed, an attempt should be made to disturb them by putting arms in the hands of one portion of their population to destroy another, and which, in its influence, would endanger the peace of a portion of the United States, the case might be different. Against such an attempt the United States, (being informed that it was in contemplation), have already protested, and warmly remonstrated in their communications, last summer, with the Government of Mexico. But the information lately communicated to us, in this regard, was accompanied by a solemn assurance that no such measures will, in any event, be resorted to; and that the contest, if forced upon them, will be carried on, on their part, with strict reference to the established rules of civilized warfare.10
Bay of Honduras
The Government of the United States came into possession of information that Great Britain and Spain had begun very early to make encroachments upon the land surrounding their holdings and that this operation had become so pronounced in Central America that its Government had become alarmed and had appointed a commissioner to proceed to Great Britain for the purpose of remonstrating. It also appeared that the British occupants of the territory had likewise despatched a representative to London to ask that the encroachments be declared a colony of Great Britain with limits coextensive with the encroachment. Our information also indicated that this agent had also been instructed to go to Madrid to attempt to arrange matters with the Spanish Government. Secretary Forsyth instructed Mr. Barry, our Minister to Spain, as follows (June 30, 1835):
The Government of Central America has asked the intermediation of the United States in the negotiation which is about to be set on foot with the Court of St. James. It is expected that you will keep an eye upon
the movements of the agent above mentioned in Madrid, and that you will use all prudent means to prevent the conclusion of any arrangement on the subject, as being incompatible with the rights of the Republic of Central America, and injurious to the commercial interests of the whole world, including those of Spain herself."
10 Ibid., pp. 187-188.
"MS., Instructions, Spain, vol. xiv, p. 72; Moore, International Law Digest, vol. VI, p. 442.
Secretary Forsyth, instructing Mr. Vail, our Minister to Spain on July 15, 1840, said:
Should you have reason to suspect any design on the part of Spain to transfer voluntarily her title to the island [Cuba], whether of ownership or possession, and whether permanent or temporary, to Great Britain, or any other power, you will distinctly state that the U. States will prevent it, at all hazard, as they will any foreign military occupation for any pretext whatsoever and you are authorised to assure the Spanish Government that in case of any attempt from whatever quarter, to wrest from her this portion of her territory, she may securely depend upon the military and naval resources of the U. States to aid her in preserving or recovering it."
Information came to this Government, and was transmitted to the American Consul in Cuba, that affairs in Cuba were in a dangerous and critical condition; that the slave trade had been carried on until 1841, the local authorities being impotent in the situation; that both the British Government and abolition societies in Great Britain were determined to bring immediate and total ruin to the island; and that they had gone so far as to offer independence to the creoles provided the latter would unite with the colored people in effecting the emancipation of the slaves. This came upon the authority of some person of alleged high standing in Cuba who also pictured that Great Britain with her 800,000 blacks in the West Indies and 600,000 blacks in Cuba, was aiming to strike at slavery in the United States. The Cuban writer expressed the opinion that the white creoles would maintain their independence even with the black population present and that the Spanish authorities would leave. The American Consul, Mr. Campbell, was instructed to investigate and report. Secretary Webster, January 14, 1843, concluded his despatch with the following observations and instructions:
In thus communicating to you the substance of the statements of this writer, you will distinctly understand that your Government neither adopts nor rejects his speculations. It is with his statement of supposed facts that it concerns itself; and it is expected that you will examine and report upon them with scrupulous care, and with as much promptness as strict secrecy and discretion will permit; and the whole of the statements is now imparted to you, not to limit, but to guide and direct the inquiries you are called upon to make in so
12 MS., Instructions, Spain, vol. xiv, p. 127.
delicate a matter. It is quite obvious that any attempt on the part of England to employ force in Cuba, for any purpose, would bring on a war, involving, possibly, all Europe, as well as the United States; and as she can hardly fail to see this, and probably does not desire it, there may be reason to doubt the accuracy of the information we have received, to the extent to which it proceeds. But many causes of excitement and alarm exist, and the great magnitude of the subject makes it the duty of the Government of the United States to disregard no intimations of such intended proceedings which bear the least aspect of probability.
The Spanish Government has long been in possession of the policy and wishes of this Government in regard to Cuba, which have never changed and has been repeatedly told that the United States never would permit the occupation of that island by British agents or forces upon any pretext whatsoever; and that in the event of any attempt to wrest it from her, she might securely rely upon the whole naval and military resources of this country to aid her in preserving or recovering it.13
The annexation of Texas
Rumors having reached the Government of the United States of a protest on the part of the French and the British Governments against the proposed annexation of Texas by the United States, Secretary Calhoun instructed our Minister to France, Mr. King, under date of August 26, 1844, as follows:
Such a step, had it been taken by France, must have excited unkind feelings, and given to the United States just cause of complaint. The Government of the United States will confidently rely on the assurances of Mr. Guizot; and it is hoped that, neither separately, nor jointly with any other Power, will France adopt a course which would seem so little in accordance with her true interests, or the friendly relations which have so long subsisted between the two countries. In regard to Mr. Guizot's inquiry respecting a proposed guaranty of the independence of Texas, your reply was well-timed and judicious. The settled policy of the United States has been to avoid entering into such guaranties, except in cases of strong necessity. The present case offers no reasons to warrant a deviation from that policy. On the contrary it presents a strong additional reason why it should be adhered to,-as such a guaranty would permanently defeat the proposed measure of annexation which both countries seem anxious to advance. A suggestion of the same purport was made to me, by the British Minister here, Mr. Pakenham, during a casual conversation, soon after I came into office; and he was promptly informed that the Government of the United States could not accede to such a proposition."
13 British and Foreign State Papers, vol. XLIV, p. 176; Moore, International Law Digest, vol. vi, p. 451.
"MS., Instructions, France, vol. xv, pp. 24-25.