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of the Monroe Doctrine," as evinced by the correspondence of Monroe with Jefferson and Madison. Mr. Cook shows clearly that it was Jefferson's position, clear and decisive, rather than the more cautious one of Madison, or that of John Quincy Adams, that was taken by the President.
By the time then that, under Monroe's administration, it had become necessary for us to decide on our attitude, if the Holy Alliance should undertake to interfere in Spain's behalf against her South American colonies, which had declared and partially effected their independence, Jefferson was prepared in set opinion for the event. Monroe, who generally met Jefferson every Spring and consulted with him verbally, but had not been able to do so this year, wrote him two letters upon this subject. Jefferson's replies are memorable, since his suggestions make the very soul of the subsequent declaration, which came to be known as “the Monroe Doctrine," and for which Monroe deserved the credit because his was the responsibility. Jefferson goes somewhat further than the President and his Cabinet thought prudent to follow.
Meantime Canning made his proposition, which was, in substance, that America should declare that she would regard the intervention of the powers constituting the Holy Alliance, as an unfriendly act, and intimated that Great Britain would stand with us behind the announcement. The President thereupon had written to Mr. Jefferson his second letter and, on October 24th, Jefferson wrote him a reply, in which the Monroe Doctrine stands full born:
“The question presented by the letters you have sent me is the most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. That made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the course which we are to steer through the ocean of time opening upon us. And never could we embark on it under circumstances more auspicious. Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second — never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicile of despotism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere that of freedoin. One nation, most of all, could disturb us in this pursuit; she now offers to lead, aid and accompany us in it. . . . Not that I would purchase even her amity at the price of taking part in her wars. But the war in which the present proposition might engage us, should that be its consequence, is not her war, but ours. Its object is to introduce and establish the American system, of keeping out of our land all foreign powers, of never permitting those of Europe to intermeddle with the affairs of our nations. It is to maintain our own principle, not to depart from it. . . . But I am clearly of Mr. Canning's opinion, that it will prevent instead of provoking war. With Great Britain withdrawn from their scale and shifted into that of our two continents, all Europe combined would not undertake such a war. For how would they propose to get at either enemy without superior fleets? ... I could honestly, therefore, join in the declaration proposed, that we aim not at the acquisition of any of these possessions; that we will not stand in the way of any amicable arrangement between them and the mother country; but that we will oppose, with all our means, the forcible interposition of any other power, as auxiliary, stipendiary, or under any other form or pretext, and most especially their transfer to any other power by conquest, cession, or acquisition in any other way.
Note especially the last paragraph. It is broader, more far-reaching and clearer than the doctrine as
announced officially by Monroe, though Jefferson's suggestion contains every word of the Monroe declaration and even all that we have since changed it to mean.
Jefferson set the precedent while Secretary of State for the forms now obtaining in the Department. They are of the utmost simplicity and thoroughly democratic. A Secretary of State is not properly addressed even as an, “Honorable,” as are Senators and Representatives and other Department officials. He is “Mr. John Smith, Secretary of State,” or “John Smith, Esquire, Secretary of State.” We have in our State Department no bureau of ceremonials and etiquette and precedents. Such bureaus exist in other countries, . even in the Republic of France, as well as in the Monarchy of Great Britain. In France there is a man whose special business it is to introduce Ambassadors, and act as master of ceremonies at the Elysée. A good many snobs regret our simplicity; some of them engaged in the service of the State Department at Washington, and some elsewhere writing or talking. It has also been regretted that we have not imitated the British in some other respects. The British Foreign Office, for example, requires its clerks to know German and French, and the degree of knowledge of French required is very great. This cuts the British Foreign Office off from very much talent. Some of the best clerks in our State Department, if such a rule existed there, would have to go. Of course, a knowledge of foreign languages is needed in the translating department, but there is no sense in requiring that all clerks should be acquainted with these two, or any foreign languages.
There exists a very general impression that other countries have the advantage of us in diplomatic affairs, because they have greater secrecy. It is a mistake. There is no country anywhere, where the public knows less of the negotiations going on in the Department of Foreign Affairs, until they are ready to be announced or communicated to the Senate. First as Secretary and later as President, Jefferson insisted on and practiced this secrecy in preliminary negotiations.
Our Minister of Foreign Affairs — which is what our Secretary of State's title really ought to be — has one embarrassment that his colleagues in other countries do not have. The Senate has always asserted the right to amend a treaty, as well as to ratify or reject it. At first this caused a good deal of friction. Canning, when Prime Minister, read us a regular lecture upon the subject, as if we had been school children and he schoolmaster. The custom grows out of that clause of the Constitution which says that the President, "with the advice and consent of the Senate,” shall conclude treaties. The Senate has construed the authority to “advise” to be an authority to amend. It "advises the ratification" "with the following amendments” etc. Jefferson stoutly maintained the right of the Senate.
Mr. Jefferson followed the British example of using English, as the official language of diplomacy in Washington, and by our Ministers and Ambassadors abroad. Neither our Government, nor that of Great Britain, has ever conceded the point, that “French is the language of diplomacy.”
He early adopted the rule, which existed in some other countries, of "first come, first served,” when Ambassadors and Ministers came to confer with the Secretary of State. In Jefferson's day, however, we neither sent nor received Ambassadors. “Minister Plenipotentiary” or “Envoy Extraordinary” were the highest titles of our Diplomatic Corps. Here, as always elsewhere, he displayed genuine democratic simplicity — Jeffersonian simplicity — no mystery — no airs — no set forms. Common sense and kindly feeling and courteous treatment, constituted an allsufficient etiquette for foreign and official, as for domestic and private affairs.
The letters exchanged between Jefferson, as Secretary of State, and Hammond, as British Minister, are well worth attention, especially Jefferson's dispatch to Hammond dated May 29, 1792. In it are many things of permanent value, besides, it is one of the most carefully and convincingly written even of Jefferson's great papers touching international law and international relations.
During these negotiations at one time Hammond suggested the idea of both parties giving up all fortified posts along the Canadian border, having no "posts," except for trading. Jefferson replied that this “accorded well with two favorites of mine, of leaving commerce free, and of never keeping an unnecessary soldier.” Since then, this policy of disarmament on the border and on the Great Lakes became a settled and mutual policy of both nations, and I doubt not that it accounts for the fact that we are soon to celebrate the centennial anniversary of uninterrupted peace with Great Britain.