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On October 8, 1851, Mr. Crittenden, Acting Secretary of State, was advised by the French Chargé that France had ordered its ships of war in the West Indies "to give assistance to Spain and to prevent by force the adventurers of any nation from landing with hostile intent on the island of Cuba." A few days prior to this time the British Chargé had informed this Government that similar orders had been issued to its naval forces. Mr. Moore glosses a note from Mr. Crittenden to M. de Sartiges, the French Minister (dated October 22, 1851) as follows:
the President regarded this action of the two powers as a matter of grave importance. The orders had no doubt been occasioned by the then recent unlawful expedition of less than 500 men which had evaded the vigilance of the United States and escaped from New Orleans. The expedition was landed by the Steamer Pampero, in Cuba, where it was soon captured, and many of its members were executed. The President did not regard this accident as a sufficient basis for the combined action of the two great European powers. Their object could hardly be accomplished without claiming a dangerous power of visit and search; but, apart from this, there was another point of view in which the intervention of France and England could not be viewed with indifference by the President. The geographical position of Cuba was such that it would become, in the hands of any European nation, an object of just jealousy and apprehension to the people of the United States. The Government of France and other European nations had long been officially apprised that the United States could not see without concern the island transferred by Spain to any other European state. Moreover, the people of the United States were "naturally jealous of European interference in American affairs."
Rumors reached the Department that a treaty had been made between France, Spain, and Great Britain guaranteeing Cuba to Spain. In a letter from President Fillmore to Secretary Webster, dated October 2, 1851, President Fillmore pointed out the danger of friction which would result from an attempt upon the part of Great Britain to search any of our vessels on the high seas. Secretary Webster replying to President Fillmore under date of October 4, 1851, also reverted to this phase of the question and recalled that in General Jackson's time we had intimated to Spain that if she would not cede Cuba to any other power, we would assist her in maintaining her possession of it. Secretary Webster then observed: Mr. J. Quincy Adams often said that, if necessary, we ought to make war with England sooner than to acquiesce in her acquisition of Cuba. It is
26 Moore, International Law Digest, vol. vi, p. 453.
indeed obvious enough what danger there would be to us, if a great naval power were to possess this key to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea."
On December 17, 1852, Secretary Everett writing to Mr. Rives, then our Minister to France, informed Mr. Rives of the measures taken by France, England and the United States "to preserve the tranquillity and integrity of the Eastern portion of the Island of San Domingo.' After commenting upon the power of the United States to gain a permanent foothold in San Domingo had it wished to do so, and upon our need of a naval station at Samana, he stated that it had been our rule, however, not to disturb the existing political relationships of the West Indies and added:
We have felt that any attempts on the part of any one of the great maritime powers to obtain exclusive advantages in any of the Islands where such an attempt was likely to be made, would be apt to be followed by others and end in converting the Archipelago into a great Theater of national competition for exclusive advantages and territorial acquisitions which might become fatal to the peace of the world.28
On October 18, 1854, Messrs. James Buchanan, American Minister to Great Britain, Pierre Soulé, American Minister to Spain, and J. Young Mason, submitted to Secretary Marcy, pursuant to instructions which they had received from the President, a report dated at Aix-la-Chapelle (known as the "Ostend Manifesto ") upon the situation in Cuba and particularly upon the purchase of that island by the United States from Spain. Three paragraphs of that "manifesto" may be quoted:
It must be clear to every reflecting mind that, from the peculiarity of its geographical position, and the considerations attendant on it, Cuba is as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present members, and that it belongs naturally to that great family of States of which the Union is the providential nursery.
But if Spain, dead to the voice of her own interest, and actuated by stubborn pride and a false sense of honor, should refuse to sell Cuba to the United States, then the question will arise, What ought to be the course of the American government under such circumstances?
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, with States as well as with individuals. All nations have, at different periods, acted upon this maxim. Although it has been made the pretext for committing flagrant injustice, as in
the partition of Poland and other similar cases which history records, yet the principle itself, though often abused, has always been recognized.
It would appear from another paragraph of the "manifesto" that Messrs. Buchanan, Mason, and Soulé had in mind as a price for the island one hundred twenty millions of dollars.
During the debates in Congress concerning the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, certain discussions were had regarding the Monroe Doctrine. These have been summarized by Mr. Dana in his note 36 to Wheaton (herein quoted in another place) as follows:
In the debates on the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, in 1855-56, above referred to, all the speakers seemed to agree to this position of the subject. Mr. Clayton said: "In reference to this particular territory, I would not hesitate at all, as one Senator, to assert the Monroe Doctrine and maintain it by my vote; but I do not expect to be sustained in such a vote by both branches of Congress. Whenever the attempt has been made to assert the Monroe Doctrine in either branch of Congress, it has failed. The present Democratic party came into power, after the debate on the Panama mission, on the utter abnegation of the whole doctrine, and stood upon Washington's doctrine of non-intervention. You cannot prevail on a majority, and I will venture to say that you cannot prevail on one-third, of either house of Congress to sustain it." Mr. Cass said: "Whenever the Monroe Doctrine has been urged, either one or the other house of Congress, or both houses, did not stand up to it." Mr. Seward said: “It is true that each house of Congress has declined to assert it; but the honorable senators must do each house the justice to acknowledge that the reason why they did decline to assert the doctrine was, that it was proposed, as many members thought, as an abstraction, unnecessary, not called for at the time." Mr. Mason spoke of it as having "never been sanctioned or recognized by any constitutional authority." Mr. Cass afterwards, in a very elaborate speech (of Jan. 28, 1856), gave his views of the history and character of the doctrine. He placed it upon very high ground, as a declaration not only against European intervention or future colonization, but against the acquisition of dominion on the continent by European powers, by whatever mode or however derived; and seemed to consider it as a pledge to resist such a result by force, if necessary, in any part of the continent. He says: "We ought years ago, by Congressional interposition, to have made this system of policy an American system, by a solemn declaration; and, if we had done so, we should have spared ourselves much trouble and no little mortification." Referring to Mr. Polk's message, in 1845, he said there was then an opportunity for Congress to adopt the doctrine, not as an abstraction, but on a practical point. "We refused to say a word; and, I repeat, we refused then even to take the subject into consideration." He denied the correctness of Mr. Calhoun's explanation (vide supra), and contended that the non-colonization clause was intended to be, and understood by England to be, a foreclosure of the whole continent against all future European dominion, however derived. It may well be said, however, and such seems now to be the prevalent opinion, that the complaints
29 H. Ex. Doc. No. 93, 33d Cong., 2d sess., pp. 128–131.
of Mr. Cass and others of his school, of the neglect and abandonment of the Monroe Doctrine, apply rather to their construction of the doctrine than to the doctrine itself.30
It will be recalled that the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850 dealt with the construction of a canal over the Nicaraguan route. It will also be recalled that that treaty contained a guaranty relating both to the use and the security of the transit route as also to its neutrality. Secretary Cass instructing Mr. Lamar, our Minister to Central America, on July 25, 1858, with special reference to the neutrality of a transit route of approximately the location of the present Nicaraguan canal route, laid down certain observations regarding the relationship in the nature of protectorates of European States and Latin American States. Mr. Cass said:
But the establishment of a political Protectorate by any of the Powers of Europe, over any of the Independent States of this continent, or in other words, the introduction of a scheme of policy, which would carry with it a right to interefere in their concerns, is a measure to which the United States have long since avowed their opposition, and which, should the attempt be made, they will resist by all the means in their power. The reasons for the attitude they have assumed have been fully promulgated and are every where well known. There is no need upon this occasion to recapitulate them. They are founded on the political circumstances of the American Continent which has interests of its own, and ought to have a policy of its own, disconnected from many of the questions, which are continually presenting themselves in Europe, concerning the balance of power, and other subjects of controversy, arising out of the condition of its States, and which often find their solution of their postponement in war. It is of paramount importance to the States of this Hemi. sphere that they should have no entangling union with the Powers of the old world, a connection which would almost necessarily make them parties to wars, having no interest for them, and which would often involve them in hostilities with the other American States contiguous or remote. The years which have passed by since this principle of separation was first announced by the United States have served still more to satisfy the people of this country of its wisdom and to fortify their resolution to maintain it, happen what may.31
News having reached the United States of the fitting out of naval and military armament by Spain with the purpose of attacking Mexico, Secretary Cass instructed Mr. Dodge, our Minister to Spain under date of December 2, 1858, that any attempt by Spain "to subdue or hold possession" of Mexico "would be considered by the
Wheaton, Elements of International Law, 8th ed. (Dana), pp. 109-110.
MS., Instructions, American States, vol. xv, pp. 333-334; Moore, Interna· tional Law Digest, vol. VI, p. 443.
United States as an unfriendly act and would be firmly opposed by them." 32
Information coming to the Department of State of the plans which seemed maturing on the part of Great Britain and France to adopt measures of force toward Mexico, Secretary Cass on May 12, 1859, addressed to Mr. Dallas, American Minister at London, and to Mr. Faulkner, American Minister to France, on August 31, 1860, communications explaining the position of the United States with reference to these proposed movements. Secretary Cass in his letter to Mr. Faulkner declared that while the United States did not question the right to compel Mexico, by force if necessary, to deal justly with France, yet
the permanent occupation of any part of the territory of Mexico by a Foreign Power, or an attempt in any manner forcibly to interfere in its internal concerns or to control its political destiny, would give great dissatisfaction to the United States.33
A little later in the year Secretary Cass writing to Mr. Preston, American Minister to Spain, regarding the same subject, reported an interview with Mr. Tassara, the Spanish Minister, regarding the rumored operations of Spain against Mexico, in which Mr. Cass had said:
I told him we had important interests in that quarter, and that our Naval Commander had been ordered to afford all proper and necessary protection to American rights and interests, should these be placed in danger. I still further informed him, that the United States did not call in question the right of Spain to make war against Mexico for the redress of its grievances, and that instructions had been given to our commanding officer, that, should the Government of Spain resort to war measures against Mexico, he would, of course, not resist them. I added, at the same time, that the United States were utterly opposed to the holding possession of Mexico by any foreign Power, under any circumstances whatever, and to any forcible interference with a view to control its political destiny, and that any measures for such objects would be resisted by all the means in their power."
A little later in the same month Secretary Cass instructing Mr. McLane, our then Minister to Mexico, with reference to the anticipated hostilities by the Spanish Government and the Government of Juarez, said:
While we do not deny the right of any other power to carry on hostile operations against Mexico, for the redress of its grievances, we firmly object to its holding possession of any part of that country, or endeavoring by
MS., Instructions, Spain, vol. xv, p. 197; Moore, International Law Digest, vol. VI, p. 480.
33 MS., Instructions, France, vol. xv, p. 482.