Page images
PDF
EPUB

annexation the distinctive measure of his administration, and wished, as secretary of state, to have the handling of it.

Pierce, preferring to gain the glory himself, sent Pierce's policy

Buchanan to England, and, unfortunately for his purposes, chose Marcy as secretary. In his inaugural he announced his purpose. “The policy of my administration,” he declared, “will not be controlled by any timid forebodings of evil from expansion. Indeed, it is not to be disguised that our attitude as a nation and our position on the globe render the acquisition of certain possessions not within our jurisdiction eminently important for our protection."

In the spring of 1854 Pierce seemed likely to win Cuba by conquest. The Black Warrior, a United States merchant Black Warrior steamer engaged in the Cuban trade, was affair

seized by the Spanish customs officials for a trifling violation of some new port regulation. Marcy instructed Soulê, our minister in Spain, to demand three hundred thousand dollars damages. Meantime the island authorities withdrew from their position, restored the vessel, and returned to their former rules. Before this news, unassisted by cable, reached Spain, however, Soulé had acted. Intent on bringing about war, he presented his demand as an ultimatum to be answered in forty-eight hours. His note, nicely calculated to arouse all the Spanish pride and obstinacy, produced its result, for the answer met the tone of the demand with an eloquent refusal. Straightway public opinion in the United States, just quieted from the episode itself, again took fire. General Quitman, now in the House of Representatives, moved that the neutrality laws be suspended and our fighting spirit let loose. Marcy, however, realizing that the situation did not warrant war, instructed Soulé to take no further steps in the matter.1

It was decided to undertake the formulation of a complete program. Distrustful of Soulé, Marcy wrote to him that

1 H. L. Janes, “The Black Warrior Affair," Amer. Hist. Review, 1907, i 280-298.

festo

the President thought that "weight and perhaps efficiency" would be gained if “two other of our most distinguished citizens” should be associated with him.

Renewed neThese two were James Buchanan, minister to gotiations Great Britain, and John Y. Mason, minister to France. A rivolution in Spain seemed to offer an occasion, and in the Fall after the Black Warrior affair the three met at Ostend to formulate a policy.

This took the form of the “Ostend Manifesto," a declaration setting forth that the position of Cuba made its acquisition necessary to the United States. We

Ostend Manishould offer Spain one hundred and twenty millions for it. If she refused the offer, “it will then be time to consider the question, does Cuba in the possession of Spain seriously endanger our internal peace and the existence of our cherished union.” This, it was urged, was actually the case, because emancipation was threatened by the overwhelming influence of Great Britain on Spain. The situation was similar to that which existed when emancipation was threatened in Texas, but it was more serious because of the number of the Cuban negroes; emancipation meant "Africanization,” which would be a constant incentive to negro revolt in the United States. “Then, by every law, human and divine,” concluded the manifesto, "we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power; and this upon the very same principle that would justify an individual in tearing down the burning house of his neighbor if there were no other means of preventing the flames from destroying his own home.”

It was another combination of the arguments of "manifest destiny" and international nuisance which were becoming so familiar to us.

The force of these arguments was, however, counteracted in the United States by the development of the slavery struggle. Politicians and statesmen alike were divided between the possibility of distracting public attention from internal conflict by pointing the way to national glory, and the

fear that the sections would divide all the more quickly in fighting for the spoils. Spain refused to sell, the foreign minCuba and ister declaring that “to part with Cuba would slavery

be to part with national honor.” Yet Marcy would not follow the policy of the manifesto, and Congress during the next administration steadily refused to endore Buchanan's earnest plans for action.

An attempt was made to inject the subject into the campaign of 1860. Both branches of the Democracy declared

in favor of annexation, upon terms "honorable Expansion and the failure of to us and just to Spain.” Although forced out compromise

of the campaign discussions by other issues, it reappeared conspicuously between December, 1860, and March, 1861, in the deliberations over the question of compromise. In fact, it was the universal belief that we were destined to absorb the country to the south of us, or at least that the question of such absorption would continue to be pressed, that created the final obstacle to compromise. The sections were able to agree upon the status of slavery in all our then existing territory, but not upon that in future annexations to the south.

One dominant fact characterizes the period from 1844 to 1860,—the national territory had expanded about fifty Territorial ex per cent. The result was our possession of a pansion

region consolidated and self-contained, so situated that we could never have a neighbor, unless with European connections, strong enough to cause us anxiety, and giving us outlet on both oceans. To this diplomacy had contributed but little. The people had expanded, diplomacy was expected merely to justify and confirm their action. This it had done with decided success. Never before had our boundary been so unquestioned; only at the extreme northwestern corner was controversy still serious. In its attempt to extend our territory beyond the limits of actual expansion, however, diplomacy had signally failed.

Commercially our efforts had been mainly devoted to securing equality of rights for the shipping of all nations on such pathways of commerce as were indis- Commercial pensable to world trade but yet fell territorially gains under the jurisdiction of some one power. In this field decided progress had been made, and even the question of isthmian transit seemed solved. The opening of Japan and the increased use of the Pacific had presented less difficulty, and our success had been even more marked and momentous.

We had definitely refrained from using our strength to play a part in world politics. The question of our diplomatic quietude seemed to rest almost wholly with Prospect of ourselves. Unless we decided to press forward peace our territorial expansion beyond the limits which our citizens actually occupied, the only important question that remain was that of establishing the status of our naturalized citizens when abroad. When Lincoln came into office he found, as had Jefferson and Jackson, a sky which seemed to be almost clear of foreign complications.

CHAPTER XXII

THE CIVIL WAR 1

NOVEMBER 10, 1862, Lincoln wrote to Carl Schurz, “The administration ... distributed to its party friends as nearly

all the civil patronage as any administration Change in diplomatic ever did.” This was certainly no exaggeration service

of the break in the diplomatic service which the triumph of the Republican party brought about. Not only were those found in office Democrats, but a very large proportion were from the South; for Buchanan had aimed to give the slave states, not a proportional representation in the higher civil posts, but an equality. The almost complete change in personnel was less important than the change in weight and character. Until 1861 there had never been a time, except for brief periods under Jackson and Taylor, when some member of the administration had not been possessed of direct experience in foreign affairs. From 1861 until John Hay became secretary of state in 1898 the only members of any administration who had such experience were Carl Schurz under Hayes, and Levi P. Morton and J. W. Foster under Harrison. While there continued to be brilliant men and occasionally accomplished diplomats in foreign posts, it is obvious that they were not called upon to share in the outlining of our national foreign policy. It seems also a safe conclusion that the aggregate of ability employed in

1 For the history of the Civil war, historians are as much indebted to the late Charles Francis Adams, son of the minister to Great Britain at that time, as they are to Henry Adams, another son, for the diplomacy of the Napoleonic period. His researches and conclusions, which have appeared in many essays, will shortly be combined in his forthcoming life of his father. Rhodes's History of the United States, vols. iii.-vii. is also strong on the diplomatic side.

« PreviousContinue »