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RETROSPECTION is as little the wont of just now, that we propose to revive the young nations as of young persons. history, and as briefly as possible to rePressing onward with the hope and elas- view the course, of this country and of ticity which disappointment has not its leading public men, in relation to the chilled, nor age impaired, there is little Congress of Panama, held in 1826–7. time and little temptation to look back. When in 1823, President Monroe for “Onward and forward are especially the first time enunciated as the sentiment the rallying words of our day and gene- and determination of the American people, ration. The past recent—as is our most that this continentwas no longer to be condistant past-is speedily forgotten and un- sidered subject to European interference willingly recalled. Reverence is not a or colonization—under the reservation, living principle of the American man of always, of the then existing relation of this epoch. His boast is entirely of the such portions of it as still acknowledged future—his glories are in anticipation. colonial allegiance to a European supre• Progress” is his device, and he hears macy-he but gave utterance to a prinimpatiently, and esteems lightly, all ad- ciple evolved by time and the course of monitions or warnings purporting to be events, and to which time and events derived from the experience of other days have since added force and authority. It and other men.
was in some sort a logical and political There are circumstances, neverthe- necessity, that when the nations inhabitless, which impose it as a duty upon ing this continent grew to the stature and publicists, sometimes to remind those to the wisdom of men, they should be a whom they would serve, hy instructing law unto themselves and unto each other, them, of their own antecedents, and to without caring to ask, or desiring to rerecall and restate doctrines and princi- ceive, their codes from distant peoples, as ples which, even in the lapse of a single diverse from them in institutions as in generation-so headlong is our course interests. may have passed from the public mind. As the oldest in the rank of free Ame
It is in this view, and because of the rican nations, most experienced in the peculiar aspect of our political affairs art of self-government, and not certainly
without experience of the evils of Euro- Spain joined her appeal too, and invoked pean interference and intrigues on our the aid of the Holy Alliance to put a stop continent, the conviction of the truth of the to such a warfare, and to bring back her great principle proclaimed by Mr. Mon- revolted colonies to the mild dominion roe—and of the expediency of solemnly which they so ungratefully sought to declaring it—was earliest forced upon us. throw off, there was motive and cause
Its utterance was precipitated by events enough for the interposition of the High over which we had no ontrol, though
ntracting Parties. we might, in their result, be largely affect At this precise juncture, well informed ed by them. The whole of this conti. by the faithful, intelligent and competent nent had, at successive periods preceding ministers who, then at European courts, that to which we are now referring, been represented this Republic, President Mondeclared free and independent. The colo- roe uttered his calin but memorable pronies of Spain and Portugal had all with- test. It alluded to nothing done, or medidrawn themselves from the control of the tated in the Councils of the European Almother country; and with various for- liance—it was pointed at no particular tune, but unfaltering determination, were case, and offended by no exceptional alluwaging battle with what remained of the sions or reservations—but broadly, firmarmies of their oppressors. The contestly, and irrevocably took the ground that had been long and bloody—the issue was whatever nations, having colonies in still undecided.
America, might do, or forbear to do, in In Europe the tide of the French revo- regard to those colonies—the United lution seemed stayed. Its child and cham- States could not see “ with indifference” pion, after bestriding that region of the the intervention of other nations, not thus earth like a Colossus, overthrowing at a situated, with the affairs of this continod, thrones, principalities and powers, nent. Weighty, well considered, and of had himself been overthrown-and, like decisive effect, were the words then and Prometheus, chained to a rock in the thus spoken by the American President. ocean, was doomed to perish beneath the They paralyzed at once the inchoate vulture beak of his own fierce passions movements for a European intervention, and disappointed hopes.
diplomatic in form, but military and A Holy Alliance undertook the resto coercive in fact; and Spain was left to ration of ancient usages and ancient privi- her own time and resources to subjugate, leges; they carved, and they cui, in order if she could, or recognize as independent to establish a “ balance of power.” They when she would, her former colonies. “ mediatized” some little sovereigns The result of the conflict, when it once who stood in their way, and they mag- became apparent that Spain would not nified some large ones who would not be receive any aid in carrying it on from put out of the way. They subverted the other powers, could not remain doubtful, constitutional government of Naples, de- and before long not a Spanish soldier was nounced the constitutional government of left, in hostile guise, on the continent of Spain; and, having settled Europe upon America. With all the natural sympathy the sure foundation, as they fancied, of of a free people in the struggles of others prescriptive rights and monarchical insti- to become free, we had looked upon the tutions, they had leisure to turn their fierce conflict; yet faithful ourselves to attention to the American continent. the obligations we prescribed to others,
They were not wholly without a pre- we interfered not in it. But when the text for so doing. The nature of the con strife was ended, and independent governflict carried on in the former Spanish- ments were established and sustained, American colonies, was bloody and re where before colonial bondage alone exmorseless to a degree that shocked the isted, we, first among nations, recognized common feeling of mankind ; thus far, that independence; and when, subse. too, it had been unproductive of any quently, Mr. Canning, as Prime Minister countervailing benefits; the issue was of England, following our lead in recog. still doubtful, blood still flowed, rapine, nizing the new nations, declared with lust and slaughter, still ravaged coun- ostentatious egotism in the House of tries, than which no fairer or finer are Commons that he had called the South shone upon by the sun in his unceasing American nations into existence,” he asround. Humanity therefore seemed to sumed as his own, a trophy which, in appeal to man and heaven against the truth, belonged to Henry Clay and the continuance of such hostilities, and when American Congress.
These nations were not insensible of John Q. Adams, then President of the the importance of our early friendship, United States, accepted this invitation, in nor unmindful of it, and when a time the spirit in which it was given. In his came in which they could with calmness message of 15th March, 1826, to the examine their own position, their rela- House of Representatives, in reply to a taions to each other, 10 Europe and the resolution of that body calling on the United States, and thus be enabled to ap- President for information respecting the preciate the value of an American system mission and its objects, Mr. Adams says: of nations—if the phrase may be allowed-as contradistinguished from the “I deem it proper to premise that these European system, their first care was objects did not form the only, nor even the to invite our attendance and coöperation principal motive for my acceptance of the in an American Council-a Council for invitation. My first and greatest induce. consultation, and not for alliance—a
ment was to meet, in the spirit of kindCouncil where the greater experience, that spirit by three sister republics of this
ness and friendship, an overture made in the greater weight, and the assured po- hemisphere. The great revolution in husition as a people, of the United States,
man affairs which has brought into existcould not fail to exercise a large and ence, nearly at the same time, eight sovesalutary influence. Hence sprang the reign and independent nations in our CONGRESS OF PANAMA, of which we will own quarter of the globe, has placed the now proceed to sketch the history as United States in a situation not less novel, briefly as possible.
and scarcely less interesting than that in The protracted struggle between Spain which they had found themselves by their and her colonies first led to the sug
own transition from a cluster of colonies
to a nation of sovereign states.” gestion that all these colonies should make a common cause and a common effort. Difficulties, however, occurred in far as the ministers from this country
The general objects of the Congress so reducing this idea to practice, and although the Western States of South
were to take part in it, are thus briefly America were greatly aided in the set forth in a report from the Secretary of achievement of their independence by the State, H. Clay: unpurchased valor of their sister repub
- The President believed that such a lics on the Atlantic border, there was Congress as was contemplated might be no general plan of coöperation for the highly useful in settling several important common object. It was not, indeed, disputed questions of public law, in aruntil the struggle was virtually aban- ranging other matters of deep interest to doned by Spain, that the treaties between the American Continent, and in strengthColombia and Peru in 1822, and in the ening the friendship and amicable interthree succeeding years, between Colom. course between the American powers.” bia, Chili, Guatemala and Mexico were made. It was in virtue of these treaties There would seem, in this exposition that a Congress of American nations was of the spirit in which the invitation was agreed upon, and the Isthmus of Panama given and accepted, and of the motives named as the place of holding it. In 1825, recommending such a Congress, nothing Colombia, Mexico, and Central America, that patriotism should question, or that by their ministers at Washington, formally an enlightened regard for our own interinvited the United States to be present ests, or for preëxisting obligations towards by a minister or ministers at that Con- other nations, could render inexpedient. gress, after having, in the first instance, Our neutrality, so faithfully observed with great consideration, privately in. when the battle was raging, could not he formed themselves whether such formal hazarded by attendance at a peaceful invitation would be unobjectionable and council, especially under the reservation agreeable to this government. It was also that the ministers of the United States intimated distinctly by these ministers were to take no part in any deliberation that their governments did not expect respecting the future conduct of the nomithat the United States would change their nal war still existing ; nor was the prinpresent neutral policy, nor was it desired ciple so wisely laid down by Washington that they should take part in such of the endangered—ihat we should avoid endeliberations of the proposed Congress as tangling alliances with other nations. might relate to the prosecution of the Nevertheless, the annunciation by the existing war with Spain.”
President in his message to Congress of
December 6, 1825, that the invitation to or project importing hostility to any other attend the Congress of Panama “had nation. But the South American nations, been accepted, and ministers on the part in the infancy of their independence, often of the United States will be commissioned find themselves in positions, with reference to attend at those deliberations, and to to other countries, with the principles ap
plicable to which, derivable from the state take part in them so far as may be com
of independence itself, they have not been patible with that neutrality from which familiarized by experience. The result of it is neither our intention, nor the desire this has been, that sometimes in their interof the other American States, that we
course with the United States, they have should depart,”—was received by the manifested dispositions to reserve a right of party in opposition with vehement cen- granting special favors and privileges to sure and denunciation.
the Spanish nation as the price of their The President was charged with an recognition; at others they have actually unconstitutional exercise of authority in established duties and impositions operthus assuming to accept the invitation of ating unfavorably to the United States to our sister republics, and in instituting a
the advantage of European powers; and new mission without first ascertaining that they might interchange among them
sometimes they have appeared to consider the sense of Congress, or at least of the selves mutual concessions of exclusive Senate; with hazarding our neutrality, favor, to which neither European powers and with seeking to entangle us in in nor the United States should be admitted. convenient and dangerous alliances with In most of these cases, their regulations unother countries, in opposition to the es. favorable to us have yielded to friendly tablished policy and received opinion of expostulation. *
# The consenour own. The danger of giving offence taneous'adoption of principles of maritime to Europe by thus interesting ourselves neutrality, and favorable to the navigation in the councils of the nations of our own
of peace, and commerce in time of war, Continent, was largely dwelt upon, while will also form a subject of consideration the character, deeds and destinies of the ships make free goods, and the restrictions
to this Congress. The doctrine, that free American Republics were proportionably of reason upon the extent of blockades, depreciated.
may be established by general agreement, Nothing moved from his high designs with far more ease, and perhaps with less by this clamor, the President on the 26th danger, by the general engagement to adDec. sent in to the Senate the names of here to them, concerted at such a meeting, Richard C. Anderson, of Kentucky, and than by partial treaties or conventions with John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania,“ as en
each of the nations separately. An agreevoys extraordinary and ministers pleni. ment between all the parties represented potentiary to the assembly of American at the meeting that each will guard, by its Nations at Panama.” In the message future European colony within its borders
own means, against the establishment of any communicating these nominations, the may be found advisable. This was more President, after referring to that passage than two years since announced by my in his annual message which announced predecessor to the world, as a principle rethe invitation to the Congress of Panama, sulting from the emancipation of both the and its acceptauce, thus proceeded : American Continents. It may be so de
veloped to the new Southern nations, that “ Although the measure was deemed to they will all feel it as an essential appenbe within the constitutional competency dage to their independence.” of the Executive, I have not thought proper to take any step in it before ascertaining That portion of the Senate of the that my opinion of its expediency will con- United States, which claimed to be emicur with that of both branches of the nently friendly to the progress of free Legislature: first, by the decision of the institutions, to the cause of liberty and Senate upon the nominations to be laid be the rights of man, could see nothing in fore them; and second by the sanction of the mission thus projected and explained, both Houses to the appropriations, without which it cannot be carried into ef. nothing in “an assembly of American fect. *
nations,” most of them just sprung into
[From the papers communicated,] it will be seen that the being-self-constituted and self-vindicatUnited States neither intend nor are fex. ed—to enlist their sympathy, or conpected to take part in any deliberations of a ciliate their judgment. On the contrary, belligerent character; that the motive for they met the whole subject with a stern their attendance is neither to contract al- and pertinacious opposition. liances, nor to engage in any undertaking The special message and the nomi
nations were, on the 28th, (two days after apprehension existed. The main object they were sent in,) referred to the Com of the correspondence with Mexico and mittee on foreign relations. On the same Colombia, was to dissuade both those day, Mr. Branch of North Carolina (after governments from a purpose, then supwards Secretary of the Navy under Presi- posed to be entertained, of wresting from dent Jackson), submitted a resolution and Spain the two islands above named. preamble, which were printed for the On the 16th January, Mr. Macon as use of the Senate, of which the purport Chairman of the Committee on Foreign was, that the President “ does not consti- Relations, made a long report adverse to tutionally possess either the right or the the views of the President, and concludpower to appoint ambassadors or other ing with this resolution : public ministers, but with the advice and consent of the Senate, except when time, for the United States to send any
“ Resolved, that it is not expedient, at this vacancies may happen in the recess."
ministers to the Congress of American naThe Senate continued to occupy itself tions assembled at Panama.” in secret session with this subject. On the 4th Jan. a resolution was adopted on
The Committe of Foreign Relations of motion of Mr. Macon of North Carolina, the Senate, was composed at that session calling upon the President to communi- of the following persons : Mr. Macon cate confidentially to the Senate any con
of North Carolina, Mr. Tazewell of Vir. ventions between the new States relative ginia, Mr. Gailliard of South Carolina, to the Congress at Panama, and any other Mr. Mills of Massachusetts, and Mr. information tending to show the propriety
White of Tennessee. of a mission from the United States to
On the 25th March, in the House of said Congress. On the 10th the Presi- Representatives, Mr. Crowninshield from dent communicated the papers asked for the Committee on Foreign Relations of consisting of four Conventions between the House, reported favorably on the misColombia and Peru, Colombia and Chili, sion, and concluded with this resolution : Colombia and Central America, and Col. “ Resolved, that in the opinion of this ombia and Mexico—and of certain cor House, it is expedient to appropriate the respondence between the Executive gov- funds necessary to enable the President of ernment of the United States, and the the United States to send ministers to the
of Panama." governments of Russsia, France, Colombia and Mexico.
The Committee on Foreign Relations The Conventions between the new of the House was thus constituted-Mr. American States were all—1st, for a Forsyth of Georgia, Mr. Crowninshield mutual, defensive alliance, in order, as of Massachusetts, Mr. Trimble of Ohio, the treaty betweeen Chili and Colombia Mr. Archer of Virgina, Mr. Worthington expresses it, “ to maintain their inde- of Maryland, Mr. Everett of Massachuspendence of the Spanish nation, and of etts, and Mr. Stevenson of Pennsylvania. any other foreign domination whatso As these two conflicting Reports preever;" 2ndly, for commercial purposes; sent substantially the argument relied on and finally, for the convening of a “gen on either side, for the support of the eral assembly of the American States.” views taken by each, we proceed to fur
The correspondence communicated con- nish a brief analysis of each, beginning sisted of copies of letters to and from our in the order of time with that of the Sen. ministers in Russia, France, Mexico and ate, to which, in some sense, the Report in Colombia; those of the ministers in Eu- the House is a reply. rope, related to the steps taken by them In entering on the examination of a in conformity with instructions from the subject of so much novelly, delicacy, State department—to invite the govern- and high importance to the character and ments to which they were accredited, to future destinies of the United States, the use their good offices in inducing Spain to committee of the Senate say, they were put an end to the quasi war against her somewhat embarrassed by the declaration former colonies, by recognizing their in the President's message that he had alindependence, but more particularly to ready accepted the invitation to send a minexpress to those governments the de- ister to Panama. Inasmuch, however, as termination of that of the United States, the correspondence of the Secretary of State “not to allow a transfer of the Islands of intimates to the several foreign ministers Cuba and Porto Rico to any European who joined in the invitation, that the Power”-of which, at that period, some concurrence of the Senate was indispenVOL. III.- No. 1.