Page images
PDF
EPUB

but without any strong insistence in our exclusive right to tender such good offices.

The centre of European interest was the mouth of La Plata, the bone of contention between Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. In the latter country French

French infuinfluence was strong, and from 1838 to 1849 ence in Uru

guay was constantly on the alert. This foothold was seized upon with vigor by the second French republic in 1848, and Eugène Guillemot was sent to represent her. He reported, December 12, 1848, “Two opposed elements contend at present in all South America, the local element and the European.

.. Around the first group all the tendencies, stationary and retrograde . . .; around the other, colonization, expansion, in all good senses, agricultural, industrial, and commercial. But let the local element prevail, and a new element, influence, and perhaps control, the Anglo-American, will not be long in appearing in the midst of the social torpor, if not anarchy, and will produce a complete and without doubt violent renovation, and more or less our exclusion as well as that of Europe.”

March 19, 1849, Guillemot advised that France send six thousand troops to Montevideo: “It is not a conquest that France will make for herself, it will be only a Second Revast rendezvous of emigration for the use of public and the Europe that she will open. ... South Amer- trine ica is occupied nearly entirely by natives of Iberian descent. A fruitful germ of our nation ought to be deposited among them, and if some day the Anglo-Americans pretend to pass over Panama and descend towards Cape Horn, it is well that they find at least on the route a people of our race, not less hardy than theirs, which may serve to head the column of the others.” He was not unmindful of the Monroe Doctrine, just then being insisted upon by Polk; but he put too much stress upon its temporary, humanistic element of opposition to monarchy, and too little on the fundamental opposition to European influence. April 10, 1849, he wrote,

9

"Let France declare her disinterested views in the matter, and the Americans of the North will find nothing to say, especially as republican France has rights other than those of monarchical France, they know it and they say it." No permanent establishment of French power or population came from this program; but its formulation at a period when the French people, released from administrative control, found opportunity to express their national enthusiasms, shows that the vision of an American empire had not died.

The division of the United States in 1861, and the consequent paralysis of her forces, therefore released European Seward's ad- ambitions and projects which her power had justable policy repressed. The first country to take advantage of the new situation was Spain. In 1861 either Spain or the Spanish authorities in Cuba managed by some method to receive from the Dominican Republic, the eastern and formerly Spanish portion of the island of Santo Domingo, a request for annexation. This voluntary reincorporation of a former colony raised a delicate question with reference to the interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine; and the difficulty was increased by the fact that, owing to southern opposition to the recognition of a negro republic, we had never been on terms of diplomatic intercourse with the island government which thus determined on suicide, although we had maintained a consul there for most of the period since 1800. Nevertheless, Seward hesitated not a moment as to the applicability of our traditional policy. April 2, 1861, he wrote to the Spanish minister at Washington that, should Spain sustain this action, the President would “be obliged to regard” her “as manifesting an unfriendly spirit towards the United States, and to meet the further prosecution of enterprises of that kind in regard to either the Dominican Republic or any part of the American continent or islands

1 Eugène Guillemot, La politique et l'avenir de la France dans l'Amérique du Sud: also British Public Record Office, Foreign Office Records, Buenos Ayres, 1846.

.

with a prompt, persistent, and, if possible, effective resistance.” Spain disregarded the threat, and on July 1, 1861, the Spanish minister announced to Seward the annexation of Dominica. Carl Schurz, our new minister in Spain, asked for instructions, and in August, 1861, Seward wrote to him that circumstances prevented him from giving a definite answer.

This change of tone needed no explanation, but it illustrates the influence of the Civil war on the Monroe Doctrine. In refraining from answering Schurz's question, Seward alike saved himself from offending Spain when he had not the power to awe or oppose her, and left open the door for future protest. Meanwhile, by an indirection of statement, he attempted to lead Spain to suppose that this tolerance of a situation which we had so often declared intolerable, was due to her “observance of the blockade and the closing of Spanish ports to the insurgent privateers.” The supreme test of our passivity came when, in 1863, war broke out between the Spanish government and the islanders. Seward promptly declared our neutrality.1

Although Spain was interested in this undertaking to the extent of sending more than thirty thousand troops to the island, the task of maintaining her local hold, Spain leaves

Dominica in spite of the neutrality of the United States, was so exhausting that in 1865 she voluntarily surrendered her claim. Spain's reoccupation of Dominica seems to have been part of a general, though vacillating, purpose on her part to take advantage of our weakness in order to inaugurate an active American policy. In 1864 she went Spain and

Peru to war with Peru, and some of her representatives claimed that, as she had never recognized Peru's independence, she might without violation of any established sovereignty recover the Chincha islands. Seward, more at ease than in 1861, ordered our minister at Madrid, now G. Koërner, to make known to the Spanish government that

1 Carl Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, and Political Papers (6 vols. New York, etc., 1913), i. 185–205.

we could not accept such an argument or "regard with indifference" an attempt at re-annexation. The Spanish government disclaimed any idea of encroachment, but occupied the islands, and in 1866 announced that it might take possession of them without any intention of acquiring territory, but merely to reimburse itself for the expense of the war by the sale of guano. It was now too late. Our new minister in Spain, J. P. Hale, was instructed that, in case of even such a temporary occupation, the United States could not be expected “to remain in their present attitude of neutrality.” The Civil war was over, and Spain withdrew.

The same successive adjustment of our policy to circumstance that has been observed in the case of Spain is to be

found in the more important issue of the acSecond Empire and

tivity of France in Mexico. The latter counMexico

try was the scene of constant revolution and guerrilla warfare. The claims of United States citizens that in Buchanan's administration had seemed to him to warrant cour interference were paralleled by those of the citizens of all other foreign nations doing business there, particularly those of Great Britain, France and Spain. These nations were in 1860 moving toward interposition, and Buchanan, in his message of December 3, 1860, regretted that we had not taken action earlier. “We should thus," he said, “have been relieved from the obligation of resisting, even by force should this become necessary, any attempt by these Governments to deprive our neighboring Republic of portions of her territory-a duty from which we could not shrink without abandoning the traditional and established policy of the American people."

In 1861 the Mexican Congress voted to defer the payment of interest on foreign bonds; whereupon Great Britain, Convention of France, and Spain decided that action must be

taken. They invited the United States to join them, but she refused. In a convention signed at London, October 31, 1861, they decided forcibly to demand "more ef

London

ficacious protection for the persons and the properties of their subjects, as well as the fulfillment of obligations." The high contracting parties engaged "not to seek for themselves . . any acquisition of territory ... or any special advantage, and not to exercise in the internal affairs of Mexico any influence of a nature to prejudice the right of the Mexican nation to choose and to constitute freely the form of its government.” Nevertheless, Schurz wrote to Seward, November 16, 1861, of the intriguing rivalries for the throne of Mexico. The importance of the movement of the allies was indicated by the choice of General Prim, the leading man in Spain, to head it. He assured Schurz, before embarking, of his sympathy with the United States.

Once in Mexico, the allies occupied a number of customshouses and collected the duties, but in April, 1862, Spain and England made an arrangement with the gov

Mexico a ernment and withdrew.1 France was left. French quesThis was the opportunity for which Napoleon had been working. His basis for interference was not so much the French claims, which consisted chiefly of bonds with a face value of fifteen million dollars, purchased by the firm of Jecker for seven hundred and fifty thousand from an ephemeral revolutionary government, as the hope that the Second Empire might, by carrying out the French national aspirations, successfully fulfill the colonial vision of the First. Morny, Napoleon's relative and confidential adviser, believed that the United States was a menace to Europe, and wished to create in Mexico an empire that would become the protector of all the Latin republics and with them constitute a power capable of resisting us.

With such views in mind, Napoleon, on the withdrawal of the other powers, presented an ultimatum and ordered his army on to the city of Mexico. Finding no stable government with which to treat, the French commander called an

tion

a

1 H. Léondaron, “L'Espagne et la question du Mexique, 1861–1862,” Annales des Sciences Politiques, 1901, xvi. 59–95.

« PreviousContinue »