CHAPTER I. The Monroe Doctrine

In 1815 the world found peace after twenty-two years of continual war. In the forests of Canada and the pampas of South America, throughout all the countries of Europe, over the plains of Russia and the hills of Palestine, men and women had known what war was and had prayed that its horrors might never return. In even the most autocratic states subjects and rulers were for once of one mind: in the future war must be prevented. To secure peace forever was the earnest desire of two statesmen so strongly contrasted as the impressionable Czar Alexander I of Russia, acclaimed as the "White Angel" and the "Universal Savior," and Prince Metternich, the real ruler of Austria, the spider who was for the next thirty years to spin the web of European secret diplomacy. While the Czar invited all governments to unite in a "Holy Alliance" to prevent war, Metternich for the same purpose formed the less holy but more powerful "Quadruple Alliance" of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and England.

The designs of Metternich, however, went far beyond the mere prevention of war. To his mind the cause of all the upheavals which had convulsed Europe was the spirit of liberty bred in France in the days of the Revolution; if order was to be restored, there must be a return to the former autocratic principle of government, to the doctrine of "Divine Right"; it was for kings and emperors to command; it was the duty of subjects to obey. These principles had not, it was true, preserved peace in the past, but Metternich now proposed that, in the future, sovereigns or their representatives should meet "at fixed periods" to adjust their own differences and to assist one another in enforcing the obedience of subjects everywhere. The rulers were reasonably well satisfied with the world as it was arranged by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and determined to set their faces against any change in the relations of governments to one another or to their subjects. They regretted, indeed, that the Government of the United States was built upon the sands of a popular vote, but they recognized that it was apparently well established and decently respectable, and therefore worthy of recognition by the mutual protection society of the Holy Alliance.

The subjects of these sovereigns, however, did not all share the satisfaction of their masters, and some of them soon showed that much as they desired peace they desired other things even more. The inhabitants of Spanish America, while their imperial mother was in the chaos of Napoleon's wars, had nibbled at the forbidden fruit of freedom. They particularly desired freedom to buy the products of British factories, which cost less and satisfied better than those previously furnished by the Spanish merchants, secure in their absolute monopoly. With peace came renewed monopoly, haughty officials, and oppressive laws dictated by that most stupid of the restored sovereigns, Ferdinand VII of Spain. Buenos Aires, however, never recognized his rule, and her general, the knightly San Martin, in one of the most remarkable campaigns of history, scaled the Andes and carried the flag of revolution into Chili and Peru. Venezuela, that hive of revolution, sent forth Bolivar to found the new republics of Colombia and Bolivia. Mexico freed herself, and Brazil separated herself from Portugal. By 1822 European rule had been practically swept off the American mainland, from Cape Horn to the borders of Canada, and, except for the empire of Dom Pedro in Brazil, the newly born nations had adopted the republican form of government which the European monarchs despised. The spirit of unrest leaped eastward across the Atlantic. Revolutions in Spain, Portugal, and Naples sought impiously and with constitutions to bind the hands of their kings. Even the distant Greeks and Serbians sought their independence from the Turk.

Divine Right, just rescued from the French Revolution, was tottering and had yet to test the strength of its new props, the "Holy" and the "Quadruple" alliances, and the policy of intervention to maintain the status quo. Congresses at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, at Troppau in 1820, and at Laibach in 1821, decided to refuse recognition to governments resting on such revolutions, to offer mediation to restore the old order, and, if this were refused, to intervene by force. In the United States, on the other hand, founded on the right of revolution and dedicated to government by the people, these popular movements were greeted with enthusiasm. The fiery Clay, speaker and leader of the House of Representatives, made himself champion of the cause of the Spanish Americans; Daniel Webster thundered forth the sympathy of all lovers of antiquity for the Greeks; and Samuel Gridley Howe, an impetuous young American doctor, crossed the seas, carrying to the Greeks his services and the gifts of Boston friends of liberty. A new conflict seemed to be shaping itself - a struggle of absolutism against democracy, of America against Europe.