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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

According to President Monroe's declaration


On

this question, too, Canning announced to the House of Commons a determination on the part of the English Government which put an effectual stop to this audacious policy. Canning declared that, although Spain had long since lost any real control over her transatlantic colonies, yet if she were to attempt their actual reconquest for herself England, however little in sympathy with such a purpose, might not feel that it was any part of her business to interfere by force of arms. But he went on to tell the House that, if Spain should claim the right to hand over any of those colonies to France as a part of the policy arranged between France and Spain, the English Government would then intervene directly and at once on behalf {44} of the Spanish-American colonies. This was the course of action which Canning described to the House of Commons in an immortal phrase when he told the House "that he had called in the New World to redress the balance of the Old." No words employed by an English minister during the last century have been more often quoted, and none have ever more thoroughly justified themselves in history. The schemes of the French and the Spanish Bourbons were blighted in the bud by Canning's memorable declaration.

[Sidenote: 1822-27--The Monroe Doctrine]

Canning had indeed called in the New World to redress the balance of the Old in a sense more complete than the accepted meaning of his words, at

the time, appeared to signify. He had secured for his policy the moral co-operation of the New World's greatest power--the Republic of the United States. It was on the inspiration of Canning that the President of the United States embodied in a message to Congress that declaration of principle which has ever since been known as the Monroe doctrine. President Monroe, who knew well that he was proclaiming no doctrine which his influence and his authority with his country would not enable him to carry out, made known to Congress that it was his intention to warn European sovereigns against the danger of setting up their systems in any part of the New World. The United States, according to President Monroe's declaration, had no idea of interfering with existing systems, but if European sovereigns were to set up governments of their own on any other part of the American continents and against the wishes of the populations, the United States must regard any such attempt as a menace and a danger to the American Republic. This is in substance the meaning of that Monroe doctrine which has often been criticised unfairly or ignorantly on this side of the Atlantic, and its proclamation was undoubtedly due, at the time, to the advice which came from George Canning. President Monroe never meant to say that the Government of the United States had any idea of interfering with British North America or with the Empire of Brazil. The {45} Canadian provinces of Great Britain were, of course, perfectly free to remain a loyal part of the British Empire so long as it suited the interests and the inclinations of the Canadians. If the people of Brazil chose to be governed by an emperor, the United States Government did not assert any right to interfere with their choice. But what the Monroe doctrine did declare was that if any foreign sovereigns attempted to bring liberated American colonies again under their sway, or to set up by force new subject colonies on American shores against the wishes of the populations concerned, the United States must regard such action as a menace and a danger to the American Republic, and must not be expected to look quietly on without any attempt at intervention. This was, in the truest sense, the announcement of a policy of peace, for it frankly made known to the despotic rulers of the Old World what their risk must be if they ventured on the futile experiment of setting up despotic states on the shores of the New World.


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