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with joke, playfulness, or the politician's method of indirectly and evasively elbowing off a teasing Congressman than it is with a serious statement. The two Congressmen who heard it, coming away not in the most kindly frame of mind towards Mr. Seward, who had thrown cold water on their request, obliged to repeat to Mr. Schurz their failure and naturally swift to shift the blame for it on somebody else than themselves, could easily give the reply of Mr. Seward any color or phraseology that suited them; and of course the most offensive would suit them best. They might have said, “ The old man was mad as a hatter, and damned you and the Republican convention that did n't nominate him. He went for old Abe and called him an Illinois county pettifogger.” On the other hand, if Mr. Seward had at once complied with their demand, they would very likely have used the following language: “ When we told Seward that you would be disappointed if you do not get the Spanish mission, he rose from his chair and was very warm and cordial and jolly. He walked up to us and said, Oh, in politics you know we all have our disappointments. The only sensible way is to take them philosophically. I had a pretty severe disappointment myself. A week before the convention everybody would have said that I was sure of the presidential nomination. Mr. Lincoln was little known outside Illinois. As a lawyer he was not at the head of the bar of his own State, and I don't know that he ever argued a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. But we underestimated him. He laid me out flat on my back. Here I am one of his Cabinet. But what a fool I should be to talk about disappointment!'”
And finally, it is mighty unfair to put words — words that belittle the man to whom they are imputed - into the mouth of an absent fellow mortal who cannot correct their import or cross-examine the relater — especially in the mouth of a dead man whose lips are sealed forever. In this instance Mr. Seward has not been heard. Suppose, when Potter made his report to Schurz it had been reported back to Mr. Seward. Would it not be interesting to hear his version of the conversation? Or if it be said that he was an interested party, though he was not more interested than Potter or Schurz, would it not be interesting to hear the version of any other person who was present, and it is probable that other persons, even if only
some clerk, were there? In that case what do you think would become of this whole story? It would explode like an iridescent bubble, whereas it will henceforth be part of the bed rock of what we call history, confirmed by the justly great authority of Carl Schurz. Our children, summing up Mr. Seward, will say that he was a great figure, identified with the critical era of the antislavery reformn, but that after all there was mean streak in him ; he could not control his temper, he was jealous of Lincoln and stabbed him in the back whenever he got a chance.
If Mr. Schurz, who was a high-minded man, had thought twice, he would not have retained this item, or, if he had, would have blue-pencilled the printer's proof of it.
Now, to anticipate the very proper comment that may well be made on what I said at the beginning, if it be worthy of any comment at all, sight is not to be lost of the weighty fact and inestimable value of the new spirit of historical criticism, study, and writing. More than ever before it now sifts its material and runs it to the roots. It discards the rubbish. It searches for the truth and not for the show of things. It is at once the purpose and product of such a society as this. It cannot attain perfection. Human nature is too subtle in its tortuosities, and prejudice and bias are too inherent in it for that attainment. But it is true that its standard at least is now the standard of the truth. Veritas is the soul, if not the motto, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the modern historian is judged by his failure or success, not in reaching the absolute truth, but in approaching it.
Mr. EDWARD STANWOOD read the following paper:
AN ANTICIPATION OF THE MONROE DOCTRINE.
Probably no two publicists would agree upon the exact terms of a definition of the Monroe doctrine. They have the same difficulty that is experienced when one attempts to express in phrases that will be generally accepted the powers of the national government under the Constitution, and the limit of those powers. Like the Constitntion as interpreted at different times and by men of diverse political opinions, the Monroe doctrine as we know it to-day is an evolution. In its original form it was nothing more than the expression of an opinion, of a statement, of the attitude of the national mind toward an enterprise which was supposed to be contemplated by the Holy Alliance. The President told Congress and the world that although we had not interfered and should not interfere with any existing European possessions on American soils, this country would regard an attempt on the part of the powers of Europe“ to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety”; also that we should consider it as an unfriendly act if those powers were to interpose for the purpose of oppressing or otherwise controlling the destiny of the newly formed republics. That was all. There was no threat of physical opposition to either measure. Merely, if certain powers should perform certain acts we should not like it.
But as the nation has grown in strength and in the consciousness of its power, the somewhat timid outgiving of Monroe has become a national rule of action, a principle which the country is ready to defend with the sword, if necessary. At the same time, although there is only a remote danger that any European power will attempt to extend its system to any portion of this hemisphere, and no danger at all that any two powers will combine to restore Spanish America to Spain, which was what Monroe had in mind when he spoke of oppressing them or controlling their destiny, the doctrine has been expanded and extended until it is now in the view of the United States — a continental system. It is not international law, as many writers undertake to prove, as though that were worth while, and do prove. It is, as I before remarked, a rule of national action, which the government has a perfect right to adopt, — “ without the advice or consent of any other nation,” as our sixteen-to-one friends used to say of our right to re-establish bimetallism.
The additions to the doctrine - and those additions have been made with quite as much authority as was behind the original promulgation – involve the self-imposed duty upon this country to resist the invasion of any of the independent countries of the continent by a European power with a purpose of territorial aggrandizement, and a consequent duty to require these countries to refrain from acts that would justify such invasion.
There is another addition, which is not logically derivable from the original Monroe doctrine, namely, that although we have not interfered and shall not interfere with existing European possessions in this hemisphere, we shall not tolerate the transfer of any such possession from one such power to another. No case has ever arisen that called for a formal expression of national policy on this point, but public sentiment has been very decided whenever such a transfer has been rumored, — for example, when it was suggested that although Denmark would not sell its West Indian possessions to the United States, it might dispose of them to Germany, or to some other European power.
But the earliest expression of opposition to such a transfer certainly antedated the Monroe doctrine by more than eighteen years. Probably the first time that it was ever enunciated was in April, 1805, by Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Bowdoin, which has just seen the light in the second volume of Bowdoin and Temple Papers recently published by this Society.
Writing on April 27, 1805, to Mr. Bowdoin, who had lately been appointed minister at the Court of Spain, President Jefferson remarks upon the unsatisfactory condition of the relations between the United States and Spain, and adds, “We want nothing of hers: & we want no other nation to possess what is hers.” It is but one clause of the sentence, the rest of which relates to the manner in which Spain had met our advances. But it is a distinct anticipation of one phase of the doctrine which was not evolved from Monroe's principle until many years after the fear of the Holy Alliance had disappeared. Monroe went only so far as to say “ we have not interfered and shall not interfere” with existing European possessions. His predecessor in the presidential chair thought the question out to the end. We not only do not want what is theirs; we shall not allow other powers to take or to receive what is theirs. America for Americans !
Mr. Charles C. Smith communicated for Mr. WORTHINGTON C. FORD, of Washington, D. C., a Corresponding Member, copies of a large number of letters of James Cheetham, an English radical who escaped to this country in 1793, was editor of the “ American Citizen," and died in New York in 1810, at the age of thirty-seven.
The position of James Cheetham as a political pamphleteer is too well known to require extended notice. The following letters, taken from the Jefferson Papers in the Library of Congress, describe the history of a very dull and pretentious volume, which still makes some figure in booksellers' catalogues. For a “suppressed” work is supposed to be charged with matter dangerous to reputations, and the spice of the secret, the flavor of what cannot be spoken abroad, gives it a value far above its real merits. There was little to choose between the author of the History of the administration and James Cheetham. They were fair representatives of the political writers of the day. To show the continued relations existing between the President and the scribbler, I have added letters of a later date.
To Thomas Jefferson.
American Citizen Office,
New YORK, June 1, 1801. Sir, We take the liberty of addressing you upon a subject highly interesting to our Country. We are placed in an important section of the United States as the guardians, in some degree, of the republican welfare of the Country.
As republicans faithfully attached to the Constitution and the rights of the people, we feel considerable responsibility attached to our efforts ; but while we are sensible of this, we are not less so that there are different grounds on which we may be placed by the measures of government, which will extend or curtail the power of rendering service to the cause in which we are engaged.
There are no citizens who more highly value your tallents, your virtues and the republican services which you have rendered your Country, than ourselves — there are none who are more willing at the present moment to bestow confidence and just applause - none whose affections more anxiously include the idea of a successfull issue to the administration which the people and the Constitution have Committed to your charge.
We wish to observe, however, that the people of this City and State look to the new administration with full Confidence for a thorough Change in the different offices, so as to exclude obnoxious characters, those who were enimical to the revolution, or have since become hostile to the Constitution and to the principles and progress of republican government. We wish respectfully to express to you our firm opinion that a measure of this sort is absolutely necessary to preserve that