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American States more closely to our own, and thus give the United States all the preeminence and all the advantage which Mr. Monroe, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Clay contemplated when they proposed to join in the congress of Panama.
Baron Gerolt, the German Minister to the United States, under instructions from his Government, confidentially approached Secretary Fish on the question of joining with certain European powers in a "joint and concerted movement to urge on Venezuela a more orderly government, better observance of her engagements, etc. etc." In declining this proffer, which was merely an intimation and not to be formally made if the United States were unwilling to accept, Secretary Fish spoke to Baron Gerolt as follows:
He was told that we had a vivid recollection of a combined European movement against Mexico, a few years since, and that we would wish to know the causes of Germany's complaint, and the precise object and means which they proposed and the limits which they intended to prescribe to their operations.That the United States could not look with indifference, upon any combination of European Powers against an American State,-that if Germany or any other Power had just cause of war against Venezuela, this Government could interpose no objection to her resorting thereto.
If the object of Germany be a united remonstrance to Venezuela against the anarchy and chronic revolutionary condition of that State, or an appeal to honesty in the observance of her engagements, this Government would not object, but would, of itself, make a similar remonstrance and appeal. If, however, the object be a forcible demonstration of coercion, by a combination of European States, the United States could not regard it with indifference.
You will inquire confidentially of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any proposal has been made, in behalf of the German Government to that of Great Britain on this subject, and ask whether the Government of Her Majesty has it in contemplation to unite therein. You will at the same time, delicately, but decidedly express the anxiety which the suggestion of the proposition has excited in this Government, and may say that the President hopes that the suggested proposal may not be carried to the extent of disturbing the sensibilities which would be aroused by a combination of European powers, against one of the Republics of this Continent."
Bay Islands, Honduras
Reports having come to this Government in 1880 that Great Britain desired to secure the Bay Islands from Honduras, Secretary Evarts, instructing Mr. Logan, our Minister to Central America, stated:
Aside from the well understood doctrines of this government as to any new acquisitions of American territory by European powers, it seems unquestion
Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. VII, pp. 98-99. MS., Instructions, Great Britain, vol. XXII, pp. 472–473.
able that the Clayton-Bulwer treaty precludes the acquisition of those islands by Great Britain. The intentions which are imputed, therefore, to that power, looking in that direction, may well be discredited. Still, they should awaken the attention and arouse the vigilance of this government. Even should the tendency you report toward the alienation of the Bay Islands take another direction, it would, of course, be impossible for us to remain indifferent, or to acquiesce in any other European power acquiring any of them."
In this year the dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain regarding the boundary line between British Guiana and Venezuela began to assume a more serious aspect. The application of the Monroe Doctrine to the situation was fully developed by Secretary Olney in his instruction to Mr. Seward, our Ambassador to Great Britain, of July 20, 1895, under which date that instruction will be found.
Mole St. Nicholas
In 1883 Haiti had proposed to sell to the United States the Mole St. Nicholas or the whole island of Tortuga for a certain sum of money and specified guaranties. This offer was declined.
A year later it was reported that Haiti was about to sell the Mole and the island to France. The suggestions, said Secretary Frelinghuysen, seem to be
that the aim of this Government in pressing the Pelletier and Lazare claims to a settlement is to obtain possession of the Mole St. Nicholas as a strategic point to command the Panama Canal. The statement carries refutation on its face. Mr. Preston, in the first place, is aware that the Pelletier and Lazare claims are removed from the field of diplomatic discussion for he recently signed a conventional agreement with this Government under which the claims in question are being arbitrated.
Moreover on the 8th of November, 1883, the Government of Hayti made a proposition of a cession to the United States of the peninsula of Le Mole, or of the whole island of Tortuga in consideration of certain specified guarantees, and the payment of a sum of money to Hayti by the U. S. This proposition was declined on account of the obstacles which our national policy interposes to such acquisitions.
It is quite incredible that President Salamon could have sanctioned the issuance of instructions to Mr. Preston, based on premises which President Salamon knew to be false, and which Mr. Preston could not but know to be without foundation. It may be true that negotiations looking to the improvement of the ports named, by a chartered French Company are in progress, and as to this, as well as to the general subject I will thank you to exercise your utmost
vigilance, and to communicate promptly to the Department any information you may be able to obtain.
You will not communicate the information contained in Mr. Langston's No. 696 to the French Government, or let Mr. Ferry suppose we have it, but should a proper occasion arise you may in suitable terms call the attention of the Foreign Office to the fact that acquisition of Haytian territory by France would conflict with the principles of our public policy known as the Monroe Doctrine.
Secretary Bayard declined to join Great Britain in making a joint demand against Venezuela 69 and in the same year the United States instructed our Minister to Great Britain to tender the arbitration of the United States between that country and Venezuela.70
Rumors having reached the United States that efforts were being made to induce France to declare a protectorate over Haiti or even to annex the country, Secretary Bayard instructed our Ambassador to France (December 21, 1888), as follows:
That Government [the French] is perfectly aware of the wellsettled policy of the United States which would lead us to oppose any attempt on the part of a European government to extend its influence in any portion of America. In view of events which are currently reported to be taking place in France at this time arising out of the pecuniary embarrassments of the Panama Canal Company, and of the possibility of the French Government being asked to undertake the construction of that work as a National measure, it may be well for you, without referring especially to affairs in Panama, to take this opportunity also to call the attention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in somewhat explicit language, to the consistent attitude maintained by the United States in regard to this subject. The wish of the United States has always been that the independent countries to the south of us should be left free to develop their own resources in such manner as they might deem most advisable for their own interests free from foreign dictation or interference of any kind. The United States has no interest other than that of the well-being and prosperity of its neighbors. It has never attempted colonization, but it has consistently maintained that no part of America is to be considered as a subject for future colonization by any European power. The views of this Government in this regard have heretofore been fully explained to the government of France, not only on the occasion above referred to, when some acquisition by it of Haytian territory was reported to be in contemplation, but also on the occasion of the expedition to Mexico, undertaken upwards of 25 years ago,
68 MS., Instructions, France, vol. xxi, p. 174.
Moore, International Law Digest, vol. vi, pp. 532–533.
and at the time of the commencement of work by the French company upon the Panama Canal."
Island of Tortuga
In this same year a rumor reached the United States that Great Britain intended to seize the island of Tortuga whereupon Secretary Bayard instructed Mr. Phelps, our Minister to England (February 24, 1887), that if he found any such step was in contemplation he was promptly "to remonstrate in suitable terms against the consummation, of any measure on the part of Her Britannic Majesty's Government, which would violate the well known principles of the Monroe Doctrine." 72
Secretary Bayard in reporting to President Cleveland under date of January 20, 1887, regarding the Pelletier case said:
The United States has proclaimed herself the protector of this Western World, in which she is by far the strongest power, from the intrusion of European sovereignties. She can point with proud satisfaction to the fact that over and over again has she declared, and declared effectively, that serious indeed would be the consequences if European hostile foot should, without just cause, tread those states in the New World which have emancipated themselves from European control. She has announced that she would cherish, as it becomes her, the territorial rights of the feeblest of these states, regarding them not merely as in the eye of the law equal to even the greatest of nationalities, but, in view of her distinctive policy, as entitled to be regarded by her as the objects of a peculiarly gracious care. I feel bound to say that if we should sanction by reprisals in Hayti the ruthless invasion of her territory and insult to her sovereignty which the facts now before us disclose, if we approve by solemn executive action and Congressional assent that invasion, it will be difficult for us hereafter to assert that in the New World, of whose rights we are the peculiar guardians, these rights have never been invaded by ourselves.73
It was on July 20, 1895, that Secretary Olney addressed to Mr. Bayard, our Ambassador to England, his famous instruction announcing the application of the Monroe Doctrine to the boundary dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain. As this is perhaps the most complete exposition of the Monroe Doctrine as applied to a concrete situation which has ever appeared in our diplomatic history, it is quoted in extenso, as also Lord Salisbury's response of November 25 of that year in which is set out the British view of the Monroe Doctrine, and finally, pertinent extracts from the annual message of President Cleveland of March 2, 1895, and of his special message of December 17, 1895.
"MS., Instructions, France, vol. xx1, pp. 625-626. "Moore, ibid., p. 433.
73 S. Ex. Doc. No. 64, 49th Cong., 2d sess., p. 15.
Mr. Olney, in his note of July 20, 1895, after tracing the history of the controversy, discussed the Doctrine itself in this language:
The accuracy of the foregoing analysis of the existing status cannot, it is believed, be challenged. It shows that status to be such that those charged with the interests of the United States are now forced to determine exactly what those interests are and what course of action they require. It compels them to decide to what extent, if any, the United States may and should intervene in a controversy between and primarily concerning only Great Britain and Venezuela and to decide how far it is bound to see that the integrity of Venezuelan territory is not impaired by the pretensions of its powerful antagonist. Are any such right and duty devolved upon the United States? If not, the United States has already done all, if not more than all, that a purely sentimental interest in the affairs of the two countries justifies, and to push its interposition further would be unbecoming and undignified and might well subject it to the charge of impertinent intermeddling with affairs with which it has no rightful concern. On the other hand, if any such right and duty exist, their due exercise and discharge will not permit of any action that shall not be efficient and that, if the power of the United States is adequate, shall not result in the accomplishment of the end in view. The question thus presented, as matter of principle and regard being had to the settled national policy, does not seem difficult of solution. Yet the momentous practical consequences dependent upon its determination require that it should be carefully considered and that the grounds of the conclusion arrived at should be fully and frankly stated.
That there are circumstances under which a nation may justly interpose in a controversy to which two or more other nations are the direct and immediate parties is an admitted canon of international law. The doctrine is ordinarily expressed in terms of the most general character and is perhaps incapable of more specific statement. It is declared in substance that a nation may avail itself of this right whenever what is done or proposed by any of the parties primarily concerned is a serious and direct menace to its own integrity, tranquillity, or welfare. The propriety of the rule when applied in good faith will not be questioned in any quarter. On the other hand, it is an inevitable though unfortunate consequence of the wide scope of the rule that it has only too often been made a cloak for schemes of wanton spoliation and aggrandizement. We are concerned at this time, however, not so much with the general rule as with a form of it which is peculiarly and distinctively American. Washington, in the solemn admonitions of the Farewell Address, explicitly warned his countrymen against entanglements with the politics or the controversies of European powers.
Europe, [he said,] has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. During the administration of President Monroe this doctrine of the Farewell Address was first considered in all its aspects and with a view to all its practical consequences. The Farewell Address, while it took America out of the field of European politics, was silent as to the part Europe might be permitted to play in America. Doubtless it was thought the latest addition to the family of nations should not make haste to prescribe rules for the guidance of its older members, and the expediency and propriety of serving the powers