CHAPTER IV. Blaine And Pan-Americanism

During the half century that intervened between John Quincy Adams and James G. Blaine, the Monroe Doctrine, it was commonly believed, had prevented the expansion of the territories of European powers in the Americas. It had also relieved the United States both of the necessity of continual preparation for war and of that constant tension in which the perpetual shifting of the European balance of power held the nations of that continent. But the Monroe Doctrine was not solely responsible for these results. Had it not been for the British Navy, the United States would in vain have proclaimed its disapproval of encroachment. Nor, had Europe continued united, could the United States have withstood European influence; but Canning's policy had practically destroyed Metternich's dream of unity maintained by intervention, and in 1848 that whole structure went hopelessly tumbling before a new order. Yet British policy, too, failed of full realization, for British statesmen always dreamed of an even balance in continental Europe which Great Britain could incline to her wishes, whereas it usually proved necessary, in order to preserve a balance at all, for her to join one side or the other. Divided Europe therefore stood opposite united America, and our inferior strength was enhanced by an advantageous position.

The insecurity of the American position was revealed during the Civil War. When the United States divided within, the strength of the nation vanished. The hitherto suppressed desires of European nations at once manifested themselves. Spain, never satisfied that her American empire was really lost, at once leaped to take advantage of the change. On a trumped up invitation of some of the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, she invaded the formerly Spanish portion of the island and she began war with Peru in the hope of acquiring at least some of the Pacific islands belonging to that state.

More formidable were the plans of Napoleon III, for the French, too, remembered the glowing promise of their earlier American dominions. They had not forgotten that the inhabitants of the Americas as far north as the southern borders of the United States were of Latin blood, at least so far as they were of European origin. In Montevideo there was a French colony, and during the forties France had been active in proffering her advice in South American disputes. When the second French Republic had been proclaimed in 1848, one of the French ministers in South America saw a golden chance for his country to assume the leadership of all Latin America, which was at that time suspicious of the designs of the United States and alarmed by its rapid expansion at the expense of Mexico. With the power of the American Government neutralized in 1861, and with the British Navy immobilized by the necessity of French friendship, which the "Balance" made just then of paramount interest to Great Britain, Napoleon III determined to establish in Mexico an empire under French influence.

It is instructive to notice that General Bernhardi states, in "Germany and the Next War" which has attracted such wide attention and which has done so much to convince Americans of the bad morals of autocracy, that Great Britain lost her great chance of world dominance by not taking active advantage of this situation, as did France and Spain. It is indeed difficult to see what would have been the outcome had Great Britain also played at that time an aggressive and selfish part. She stayed her hand, but many British statesmen were keenly interested in the struggle, from the point of view of British interests. They did not desire territory, but they foresaw that the permanent separation of the two parts of the United States would leave the country shorn of weight in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. North and South, if separated, would each inevitably seek European support, and the isolation of the United States and its claim to priority in American affairs would disappear. The balance of power would extend itself to the Western Hemisphere and the assumption of a sphere of influence would vanish with the unity of the United States.

Nor did the close of the Civil War reveal less clearly than its beginning the real international position of the United States. When the country once more acquired unity, these European encroachments were renounced, and dreams of colonial empire in America vanished. There was a moment's questioning as to the reality of the triumph of the North - a doubt that the South might rise if foreign war broke out; but the uncertainty was soon dispelled. It was somewhat embarrassing, if not humiliating, for the Emperor of the French to withdraw from his Mexican undertaking, but the way was smoothed for him by the finesse of Seward. By 1866 the international position of the United States was reestablished and was perhaps the stronger for having been tested.

In all these years, however, the positive side of the Monroe Doctrine, the development of friendly cooperation between the nations of America under the leadership of the United States, had made no progress. In fact, with the virtual disappearance of the American merchant marine after the Civil War, the influence of the United States diminished. Great Britain with her ships, her trade, and her capital, at that time actually counted for much more, while German trade expanded rapidly in the seventies and eighties and German immigration into Brazil gave Prussia a lever hold, the ultimate significance of which is not even yet fully evident.