Imágenes de páginas

sitions, nor manifested the slightest dissatisfaction at their having been taken. Most of the new American Republics have declared their entire assent to them; and they now propose, among the subjects of consultation at Panama, to take into consideration the means of making effectual the assertion of that principle, as well as the means of resisting interference from abroad with the domestic concerns of the American governments.

"In alluding to these means, it would obviously be premature at this time to anticipate that which is offered merely as matter for consultation; or to pronounce upon those measures, which have been or may be suggested. The purpose of this goverment is to concur in none which would import hostility to Europe, or justly excite resentment in any of her states. Should it be deemed advisable to contract any conventional engagement on this topic, our views would extend no further than to a mutual pledge of the parties to the compact, to maintain the principle in application to its own territory, and to permit no colonial lodgments or establishment of European jurisdiction upon its own soil; and, with respect to the obtrusive interference from abroad, if its future character may be inferred from that which has been, and perhaps still is exercised in more than one of the new states, a joint declaration of its character, and exposure of it to the world, may be probably all that the occasion would require. Whether the United States should or should not be parties to such a declaration, may justly form a part of the deliberation. That there is an evil to be remedied, needs little insight into the secret history of late years, to know, and that this remedy may best be concerted at the Panama meeting, deserves at least the experiment of consideration. A concert of measures, having reference to the more effectual abolition of the African slave trade, and the consideration of the light in which the political condition of the island of Hayti is to be regarded, are also among the subjects mentioned by the minister from the Republic of Colombia, as believed to be suitable for deliberation at the Congress. The failure of the negotiations with that Republic, undertaken during the late administration, for the suppression of that trade, in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives, indicates the expediency of listening, with respectful attention, to propositions, which may contribute to the accomplishment of the great end, which was the purpose of that resolution,

while the result of those negotiations will serve as admonition to abstain from pledging this government to any arrangement, which might be expected to fail of obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate, by a constitutional majority to its ratification.

"Whether the political condition of the island of Hayti shall be brought at all into discussion at the meeting, may be a question for preliminary advisement. There are in the political constitution of government of that people, circumstances which have hitherto forbidden the acknowledgment of them by the government of the United States, as sovereign and independent. Additional reasons for withholding that acknowledgment, have recently been seen in their acceptance of a nominal sovereignty, by the grant of a foreign prince; under conditions equivalent to the concession by them, of exclusive commercial advantages to one nation, adapted altogether to the state of colonial vassalage, and retaining little of independence but the name. Our plenipotentiaries will be instructed to present these views to the assembly at Panama: and should they not be concurred in, to decline acceding to any arrangement, which may be proposed upon different principles.

"The condition of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico is of deeper import, and more immediate bearing upon the present interests and future prospects of our union. The correspondence herewith transmitted, will show how earnestly it has engaged the attention of this government. The invasion of both those islands by the united forces of Mexico and Colombia, is avowedly among the objects to be matured by the belligerent states at Panama. The convulsions to which, from the peculiar composition of their population, they would be liable, in the event of such an invasion, and the danger there from resulting of their falling ultimately into the hands of some European power, other than Spain, will not admit of our looking at the consequences to which the Congress at Panama may lead, with indifference. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon this topic: or to say more, than that all our efforts in reference to this interest, will be to preserve the existing state of things, the tranquillity of the islands, and the peace and security of their inhabitants.

"And lastly, the Congress of Panama is believed to present a fair occasion for urging upon all the new nations of the south, the just and liberal principles of religious liberty. Not by any inter

ference whatever, in their internal concerns, but by claiming for our citizens, whose occupations or interests may call them to occasional residence in their territories, the inestimable privilege of worshipping their Creator according to the dictates of their own consciences. This privilege, sanctioned by the customary law of nations, and secured by treaty stipulations in numerous national compacts; secured even to our own citizens in the treaties with Colombia, and with the Federation of Central America, is yet to be obtained in the other South American States and Mexico. Existing prejudices are still struggling against it, which may perhaps be more successfully combatted at this general meeting, than at the separate seats of government of each Republic.

"I can scarcely deem it otherwise than superfluous to observe that the assembly will be in its nature diplomatic and not legislative. That nothing can be transacted there, obligatory upon any one of the states to be represented at the meeting, unless with the express concurrence of its own representatives; nor even then, but subject to the ratification of its constitutional authority at home. The faith of the United States to foreign powers cannot otherwise be pledged, I shall, indeed, in the first instance, consider the assembly as merely consultative; and although the plenipotentiaries of the United States will be empowered to receive and refer to the consideration of their government any proposition from the other parties to the meeting, they will be authorized to conclude nothing unless subject to the definitive sanction of this government, in all its constitutional forms. It has therefore seemed to me unnecessary to insist, that every object to be discussed at the meeting should be specified with the precision of a judicial sentence or enumerated with the exactness of a mathematical demonstration. The purpose of the meeting itself, is to deliberate upon the great and common interests of several new and neighbouring nations. If the measure is new and without precedent, so is the situation of the parties to it. That the purposes of the meeting are somewhat indefinite, far from being an objection to it, is among the cogent reasons for its adoption. It is not the establishment of principles of intercourse with one, but with seven or eight nations at once. That, before they have had the means of exchanging ideas and communicating with one another in common, upon these topics, they should have definitively settled and arranged them in concert,

is to require that the effect should precede the cause. It is to exact as a preliminary to the meeting, that for the accomplishment of which, the meeting itself is designed.

"Among the enquiries which were thought entitled to consideration, before the determination was taken to accept the invitation, was that, whether the measure might not have a tendency to change the policy, hitherto invariably pursued by the United States, of avoiding all entangling alliances, and all unnecessary foreign con


"Mindful of the advice given by the Father of our country, in his farewell address, that the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible; and faithfully adhering to the spirit of that admonition, I cannot overlook the reflection, that the counsel of Washington, in that instance, like all the counsels of wisdom, was founded upon the circumstances in which our country and the world around us, were situated at the time when it was given.-That the reasons assigned by him for his advice, were, that Europe had a set of primary interests, which to us had none, or a very remote relation. That hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which were essentially foreign to our concerns. That our detached and distant situation, invited and enabled us to pursue a different course. That by our union and rapid growth, with an efficient government, the period was not far distant, when we might defy material injury from external annoyance; when we might take such an attitude as would cause our neutrality to be respected; and with reference to belligerent nations, might choose peace or war, as our interests, guided by justice, should counsel.

"Compare our situation and the circumstances of that time with those of the present day, and what from the very words of Washington, then, would be his counsels to his countrymen now? Europe has still her set of primary interests with which we have little or a remote relation. Our distant and detached situation, with reference to Europe, remains the same. But we were then the only independent nation of this hemisphere; and we were surrounded by European colonies, with the greater part of which we had no more intercourse than with the inhabitants of another planet. Those colonies have now been transformed into eight in

[blocks in formation]

dependent nations, extending to our very borders. Seven of them republics like ourselves; with whom we have an immensely growing commercial, and must have, and have already important political connexions. With reference to whom, our situation is neither distant nor detached. Whose political principles and systems of government, congenial with our own, must and will have an action and counteraction upon us and ours, to which we cannot be indifferent if we would."

It will be observed, in one of the extracts just recited, that the President considers the meeting diplomatic, and others, who have gone more into detail on the subject, have compared it to the Congresses assembled at different times in Europe, such as those of Westphalia, Nimeguen, Ryswick, Utrecht, Vienna, Verona and others. It is diplomatic, inasmuch, as it is a meeting of deputies from sovereign states, furnished with powers and instructions, and mutually exhibiting their respective credential letters; but in origin and object it bears no resemblance to either of those general assemblies. They were composed of the deputies of parties, that had been engaged either in the war of thirty years, or of Holland, beginning in 1672, or of Germany of 1688, or of the war for the succession of Spain, beginning in 1702, and the wars commencing with the French Revolution.-At those Congresses not only peace was made between the principal states (France, Spain, the Empire, England, Sweden, the States General, &c.) but a variety of matters, connected with the causes of the war and the maintenance of peace, were settled. Europe, shaken and convulsed during these different conflicts, met in convention to discuss and decide a great number of topics, in which each member, composing that illustrious family of nations, was concerned. England did not refuse to appear at Vienna or Verona, because for twenty years she had been a principal associate, nay the leader in the wars, in which all the powers there represented, had been embarked. But she did refuse to become a member of the Holy Alliance, for her policy forbad it, and, as Mr. Canning declared, it would have been unconstitutional. The true object of resemblance, the just

« AnteriorContinuar »