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original design, they invariably point to the retreat of the French from Mexico. But we did not on that occasion profess to act upon the Monroe Doctrine. Our position rested upon the principle of opposition to manifest and dangerous aggression, and doubtless would have been the same if President Monroe's message had never been written.
On April 30, 1865, Spain (which had issued a royal decree pronouncing the annexation of Dominica to Spain in 1861, concerning which action the United States had protested but had also avowed its determination to maintain "the same neutrality" which it had exacted of friendly nations in our own Civil War) abandoned the island, such abandonment becoming a legal fact by reason of the signature of a law passed by the Cortes and signed by the Queen on April 30, 1865.56
Spain, engaged in war with Peru, appeared to be taking the position that since she had never recognized the independence of Peru she was entitled to reacquire the Chincha Islands belonging to Peru. On May 19, 1864, Secretary Seward instructed Mr. Koerner, our Minister to Spain, as follows:
The United States cannot yield their assent to the positions thus assumed in the name of Spain, or regard with indifference an attempt to reduce Peru by conquest and re-annex its territory to the Kingdom of Spain."
Further correspondence and exchange of views having taken place between the two Governments, in the course of which a note presented by the Spanish representative, Mr. Tassara, was withdrawn upon that gentleman's reading the reply which Secretary Seward proposed to make to it, Secretary Seward confidentially advised the American Minister in Spain that he should intimate to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs—
in an informal and most friendly manner, without entering into writ ten correspondence, that the President sincerely and earnestly trusts that Spain may not proceed to any reoccupation of the Chincha Islands, because such a proceeding would seriously tend to disturb the harmonious relations with Her Catholic Majesty's Government which it is the President's desire may remain without interruption.
56 Moore, ibid., pp. 517-518.
Papers relating to Foreign Affairs (Diplomatic Correspondence), pt. iv. 1864, p. 24.
'MS., Instructions, Spain, vol. xv, p. 570; Moore, ibid.,
The consideration by the British Parliament of the British North America Bill, which established the Dominion Government for Canada, led to action by the House of Representatives of the United States as set out below.
Under date of March 27, 1867, the following entries are found in the Congressional Globe: 59
Mr. Banks, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, reported a joint resolution respecting the proposed confederation of Provinces on the northern frontier of the United States; which was read a first and second time.
The joint resolution, which was read at length, declares that the people of the United States cannot regard the proposed confederation of the Provinces on the northern frontier of this country without extreme solicitude; that a confederation of States on this continent, extending from ocean to ocean, established without consulting the people of the Provinces to be united, and founded upon monarchical principles, cannot be considered otherwise than in contravention of the traditions and constantly-declared principles of this Government, endangering its most important interests, and tending to increase and perpetuate embarrassments already existing between the two Governments immediately interested.
After a brief colloquy between Mr. Banks and Mr. Brooks, Mr. Banks made this further statement:
Mr. Speaker, I understand that a principal point of the contest in the Provinces, and also with the opponents of this measure in the British Government, is that the proposition to confederate these Provinces on the northern frontier has never been submitted to the people of the colonies, though the Legislatures of most of the colonies have assented to it. One of the Provinces, Nova Scotia, by a remonstrance signed by thirty thousand of its citizens, has protested against the confederation. The citizens joining in this remonstrance constitute a majority of all who would be permitted to vote even under our laws; yet the Legislature of Nova Scotia has approved and consented to the confederation. That I understand to be the fact.
Mr. Chanler and Mr. Banks concluded the debate with the following observations, after which the resolution was passed:
Mr. CHANLER. I want to see whether I understand the resolution. I agree with the principles which underlie it; but it seems to me to be illogical. The gentleman protests against the establishment of a monarchical Government to northeast of this Union. If Great Britain rules her colonies under a monarchical form of government, why not meet it at once, and say we take issue with Great Britain in holding any dominions on this continent, unless she gives them the right of self-government such as we now have? A monarchical form of government does exist in Canada to-day. The Queen of England rules that Government directly to-day under the laws of England and under the imperial system of England. I do not see that the resolution contains anything positive; that it fulminates anything from this Congress which is going to dis
turb a hair of the British lion; and unless he intends to carry this matter to some point which will make our power felt, I think it is wiser for us to remain silent. If we propose to make up a political issue with Great Britain as to the form of Government in her colonies on this continent, well and good. Let us insist on the independence of Canada, and take up arms with Canada on that issue.
This resolution means nothing. It contains nothing which is true. It assumes the Government of Canada to-day is not monarchical. I merely make the suggestion as the tendency of my views on this question.
Mr. BANKS. It was not the intention of the committee to present any menace or any threat or to make any protest on this question, not even to determine the character, but looking to positive results proposed in her colonies by the Government of Great Britain. But it does express an opinion, so far as this changed condition of the colonies is concerned, extending as they do from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, representing principles hostile to the interests, antagonistic to the Government of this country, that it cannot but be regarded with solicitude and as in contravention of the rights and interests of this Government. Beyond that the committee did not think it was proper to go, nor is further action required at this time. I demand the previous question.
The previous question was seconded and the main question ordered; and under the operation thereof the joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time; and being engrossed, it was accordingly read the third time.
The debates upon this act in the British House of Parliament will be found in Hansard's Parliamentary Debates,60 under dates of February 26, 1867, and following. Of those who spoke upon the matter at that time, the remarks of Mr. Bright may be quoted here:
I believe there is no delusion greater than this-that there is any party in the United States that wishes to commit any aggression upon Canada, or to annex Canada by force to the United States. There is not a part of the world, in my opinion, that runs less risk of aggression than Canada, except with regard to that foolish and impotent attempt of certain discontented notlong-ago subjects of the Queen, who have left this country. America has no idea of anything of the kind. No American statesman, no American political party, ever dreamt for a moment of an aggression upon Canada, or of annexing Canada by force. And therefore, every farthing that you spend on your fortresses, and all that you do with the idea of shutting out American aggression, is money squandered through an hallucination which we ought to get rid of. I have not risen for the purpose of objecting to the second reading of this Bill. Under the circumstances, I presume it is well that we should do no other than read it a second time. But I think the Government ought to have given a little more time. I think they have not treated the Province of Nova Scotia with that tenderness, that generosity, and that consideration which is desirable when you are about to make so great a change in its affairs and in its future. For my share, I want the population of these Provinces to do that which they believe to be the best for their own interests-remain with this country if they like, in the most friendly manner, or become independent States if they like. If they should prefer to unite themselves with the United States, I should not complain even of that. But whatever be their course, there is no man in this
6° Third ser.,
30 Victoria, 1867, vol. 185, pp. 1015 et seq.
House or in those Provinces who has a more sincere wish for their greatness and their welfare than I have, who have taken the liberty thus to criticize this bill."1
Cuba, Spain and existing colonies
President Grant in his first annual message of December 3, 1869, made the following comment upon relations in Cuba and to the Spanish Americas generally:
As the United States is the freest of all nations, so, too, its people sympathize with all people struggling for liberty and self-government; but while so sympathizing it is due to our honor that we should abstain from enforcing our views upon unwilling nations and from taking an interested part, without invitation, in the quarrels between different nations or between governments and their subjects. Our course should always be in conformity with strict justice and law, international and local. Such has been the policy of the Administration in dealing with these questions. For more than a year a valuable province of Spain, and a near neighbor of ours, in whom all our people can not but feel a deep interest, has been struggling for independence and freedom. The people and Government of the United States entertain the same warm feelings and sympathies for the people of Cuba in their pending struggle that they manifested throughout the previous struggles between Spain and her former colonies in behalf of the latter. But the contest has at no time assumed the conditions which amount to a war in the sense of international law, or which would show the existence of a de facto political organization of the insurgents sufficient to justify a recognition of belligerency.
The principle is maintained, however, that this nation is its own judge when to accord the rights of belligerency, either to a people struggling to free themselves from a government they believe to be oppressive or to independent nations at war with each other.
The United States have no disposition to interfere with the existing relations of Spain to her colonial possessions on this continent. They believe that in due time Spain and other European powers will find their interest in terminating those relations and establishing their present dependencies as independent powers-members of the family of nations. These dependencies are no longer regarded as subject to transfer from one European power to another. When the present relation of colonies ceases, they are to become independent powers, exercising the right of choice and of self-control in the determination of their future condition and relations with other powers."2
Island of St. Bartholomew
In this year the United States was approached by Sweden as to a possible purchase by the United States of the island of St. Bartholomew. It appeared that Italy had offered to purchase the island from Sweden which apparently intimated to the United States
Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 3d ser., 30 Victoria, 1867, vol. 185, p. 1185. "Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. vII, pp. 31–32.
that it might purchase it on the same terms. The offer was declined, Secretary Fish saying:
As however, we would prefer to avoid any controversy with a friendly power which the acceptance by Sweden and Norway of the offer of Italy. might involve, an acceptance which might be construed as adverse to that cardinal policy of the United States which objects to new colonies of European governments in this hemisphere. It is hoped that it may comport with the views of your government to postpone for the present any definite disposition of the subject.63
On June 17, 1869, Secretary Fish had communicated with Mr. Bartlett, our Minister to Sweden and Norway, as follows:
Until recently, the acquisition of outlaying territory has not been regarded as desirable by us. The purchase of Russian America and the proposed purchase of the Danish West India Islands of St. Thomas and St. John may seem to indicate a reversal of the policy adverted to. Those measures, however, may be presumed to have been adopted for special reasons. In any event it appears to be inadvisable to decide upon the offer of St. Bartholomew while the question of the cession of St. Thomas and St. John shall be pending, and even when that question shall have been disposed of, the President, before he should make up his mind upon the subject, would probably prefer to consult Congress in regard to it, either directly or indirectly.**
In his second annual message, dated December 5, 1870, President Grant made the following statements regarding affairs in Latin America and our general policy in connection therewith:
The long-deferred peace conference between Spain and the allied South American Republics has been inaugurated in Washington under the auspices of the United States. Pursuant to the recommendation contained in the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th of December, 1866, the executive department of the Government offered its friendly offices for the promotion of peace and harmony between Spain and the allied Republics. Hesitations and obstacles occurred to the acceptance of the offer. Ultimately, however, a conference was arranged, and was opened in this city on the 29th of October last, at which I authorized the Secretary of State to preside. It was attended by the ministers of Spain, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. In consequence of the absence of a representative from Bolivia, the conference was adjourned until the attendance of a plenipotentiary from that Republic could be secured or other measures could be adopted toward compassing its objects.
The allied and other Republics of Spanish origin on this continent may see in this fact a new proof of our sincere interest in their welfare, of our desire to see them blessed with good governments, capable of maintaining order and of preserving their respective territorial integrity, and of our sincere wish to extend our own commercial and social relations with them. The time is not probably far distant when, in the natural course of events, the European political connection with this continent will cease. Our policy should be shaped, in view of this probability, so as to ally the commercial interests of the Spanish
63 MS., Notes to the Swedish Legation, vol. vi, p. 222. "MS., Instructions, Sweden, vol. xiv, p. 169.