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THE MONROE DOCTRINE AND MOMMSEN'S LAW.

THREE PHI BETA KAPPA ADDRESSES.

LEE AT APPOMATTOX, AND OTHER PAPERS.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
In American Statesmen Series.

RICHARD HENRY DANA.
A Biography. With Portraits.

MASSACHUSETTS:
Its Historians and its History. An Object Lesson.

THREE EPISODES OF MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY.
I. The Settlement of Boston Bay. II. The Antinomian
Controversy. III. A Study of Church and Town Gov-
ernment. With two Maps. 2 vols.



HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

BOSTON AND NEW YORK



THE MONROE DOCTRINE
AND MOMMSEN'S LAW



THE

MONROE DOCTRINE

AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

BY

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS




BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

(t)E fttorrtiDc prcjtf Cambrtboe

1914 v









COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published May JQIJ



Read before the American Society
of International Law, Washington,
April 22, 1914.



THE MONROE DOCTRINE
AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

SIXTY-EIGHT years ago the 6th of
December last, J. Q. Adams, at
the time serving in Congress, had oc-
casion to meet George Bancroft, the
historian, then Secretary of the Navy
in the Cabinet of James K. Polk. Of
what passed, Mr. Adams, after his
wont, next day made a detailed diary
record. In so doing he incidentally
observed that the manner of the Sec-
retary was conciliatory and apparently
cordial ; and then added, Mr. Ban-
croft "seemed anxious to know my
i



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

opinion " on the parts of the annual
message of Mr. Polk, transmitted to
Congress a few days previous, relat-
ing to the controversy with Great
Britain over the Oregon boundary,
that known in history as the " Fifty-
four Forty or Fight " message. Mr.
Adams then went on as follows :
" I said that I approved entirely of
Mr. Folk's repeated assertion of the

| principle first announced by President
/ James Monroe in a message to Con-
gress, that the continents of North
and South America were no longer
to be considered as scenes for their

I future European colonization. [Mr.
Bancroft] said he had heard that this



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

part of the message of Mr. Monroe
had been inserted by him at my sug-
gestion. I told [Mr. Bancroft] that
was true; that I had been authorized
by [Mr. Monroe] to assert the prin-
ciple in a letter of instruction to Mr.
Rush, then Minister in England, and
had written the paragraph in the very
words inserted by Mr. Monroe in his
message. It was Mr. Monroe's cus-
tom, and has been, I believe, that of
all the Presidents of the United States,
to prepare their annual messages, and
to receive from each of the heads of
Departments paragraphs ready written
relating to their respective Depart-
ments, and adopt them as written, or
3



f



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

with such modifications as the writer
of the message deemed advisable.
That this principle thus inserted was
disagreeable to all the principle Euro-
pean sovereigns I well knew/'

The very memorable passage in
Monroe's message here referred to is
familiar. It reads as follows:

" The American continents, by the
free and independent condition which
they have assumed and maintain, are
henceforth not to be considered as sub-
jects for future colonization by Euro-
pean powers. . . . We should con-
sider any attempt on their part to
extend their system to any portion of
this hemisphere as dangerous to our
4



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

peace and safety. With the existing
colonies or dependencies of any Euro-
pean power, we have not interfered
and shall not interfere. But with the
governments who have declared their
independence, and maintained it, and
whose independence we have, on great
consideration, and on just principles,
acknowledged, we could not view any
interposition for the purpose of op-
pressing them, or controlling, in any
other manner, their destiny, by any
European power, in any other light
than as the manifestation of an un-
friendly disposition towards the United
States."

I am here this evening scheduled
5



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

to speak on the " Origin of the Mon-
roe Doctrine/' so called, and it is in
that connection I quote the above pas-
sages from the "Memoirs" of J. Q.
Adams, and from the 1823 message of
President Monroe. Historically speak-
ing, my understanding is that in his
remarks to Secretary Bancroft, Mr.
Adams only referred to the first of
two distinct and widely separated pas-
sages in the message that relating
to colonization' as originating with
him. The second passage bore on the
aims at that time of those party to the
Holy Alliance ; and for this the pa-
ternity of George Canning is asserted ;
though, as it stands in the message, it
6



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

was presumably submitted, "ready
written/' to the President by the Sec-
retary of State. A distinction between
the two passages must, under existing
conditions, be observed. As I shall^
presently have occasion to point out,
the portion of the message of 1823
which related to colonization is now,
under existing conditions, practically
obsolete. It is, however, to a degree
different as respects the portion relat-
ing to the independence of American
nations in the sense of the popular
phrase "America for the Americans."
In this respect it may with a certain
plausibility be claimed that the Mon-
roe Doctrine is still alive, a sentiment
7



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

the strength and vitality of which the
lapse of years has not impaired.

Disposing thus of the Monroe Doc-
trine in both its parts, I will proceed
further to premise that, as we all real-
ize, nothing, whether in philosophy,
history or law, is ever definitely
settled, and every conclusion supposed
to be finally arrived at is sure soon or
late to be challenged. Accordingly, I
want it at the outset distinctly under-
stood that I am not now claiming for
an ancestor of mine the origin of the
"Doctrine" referred to. It may, I
admit, as has been contended, have
been developed twenty years before ;
nor am I prepared either to advocate
8



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

or dispute either of two later conten-
tions, one that his Secretary of
State imposed it on a timid President,
the other that a Bismarckian chief
dictated it to an amazed and pallid
scribe. My sole present purpose is to
call attention to the fact that, as it ap-
pears in the Message of 1823, the
" Doctrine " assumed shape from the*
pen of Mr. J. Q. Adams, then Secre-^
tary of State. Such being the case, we
have a basis on which to discuss not
only its origin but also its significance
and intent. Knowing when it was for-
mulated and by whom, we have to
consider the environment and experi-
ences of him who held the pen, and
9



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

the objects he had in view under in-
ternational conditions then prevail-
ing.

The " Doctrine" was enunciated in
the closing months of 1 823. The Sec-
retary of State, who put it in form,
was then in his fifty-seventh year.
Born in 1767, his earliest and strong-
est impressions related to personal
experiences in the eventful period
between 1774, when his memories
began, and 1782, when, a youth, the
companion of his father and the other
commissioners representing the Amer-
ican Congress in Europe, he practi-
cally participated in the negotiation
which transformed the United States
10



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

from the condition of British prov-
inces to an independent nationality.
Later, he had himself come into pub-
lic life during the wars of Napoleon,
representing his country at various
European courts, The Hague, Ber-
lin, St. Petersburg, and London
and, from 'positions of close proxim-
ity, studied anxiously the European
situation as it then existed, always
with a view to American interests.

Bearing these facts in mind, it is
not difficult, perhaps, to understand
what J. Q. Adams was driving at
when he set forth the " Doctrine."
His thought naturally reverted to the
conditions existing in his own coun-
ii



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

try prior to and during the Revolu-
tionary War, that is, the " Colonial
Period " and the " Provincial Status/'
his mind being influenced and his
expression colored by what he pre-
sumably had observed and gone
through during a long and intimate
subsequent European diplomatic ex-
perience. He was one of the very few
who at that juncture understood both
American conditions and European
modes of thought and procedure. Un-
der these conditions, what must he
have been aiming at when he drafted
the passages submitted by him, and
incorporated in President Monroe's
Message of 1823? To reach a con-
12



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

elusion on that point, it is necessary
in the first place to separate ourselves
from the present and have a clear con-
ception of conditions then existing. It
is to be remembered that in 1823 the
world, just emerged from the Napo-
leonic wars, was still, as compared
with what it now is, largely mediaeval.
Napoleon, " the armed soldier of
Democracy," as he has been some-
times termed in that stilted phraseol-
ogy in which men so delight, had been
effectually suppressed. He'was extin-
guished ; and the turn of the despots
had come. The " Holy Alliance/' so |
called, signifying the absolute sup-
pression of popular government, was
13



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

in full swing. The United States had
emerged from the War of 1 8 1 2 a rec-
ognized sea power; and the Spanish
dependencies in America were carry-
ing on their long struggle with the so-
called " mother country/' So Mon-
roe's Secretary of State, recalling the
experiences of his early youth and the
lessons he , had later learned in Eu-
rope, framed the "Doctrine" as a
manifesto of somewhat defiant char-
acter. Issued in the face of Europe,
it was aimed at further American col-
onization by European powers, com-
bined with the proposed suppression
by them of the struggling Latin-
American nationalities. It was, so to






AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

speak, a formal notification on the part
of the American Republic, designed
primarily to administer a check to any
colonizing intentions on the part of
European powers, as colonization was
understood in the period preceding
the " Sphere of Influence " dispensa-
tion. Colonization, meanwhile, was
in 1823 an entirely different thing
from what it is now. The colony was
in the European conception what it
had been in the days of Athens, a
dependency and adjunct of the mother
state. Going further, the Holy Alli-
ance, quoad America, was a reactionary
movement looking to the perpetua-
tion of that colonial status which
'5



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

Mr. Adams so distinctly recalled
among the memories of his child-
hood. Out of that status the
United States had painfully strug-
gled, and the idea of Mr. Adams was
to encourage other American colonies
to move along the same lines to a sim-
ilar result. On the other hand, know-
ing little or nothing of the antecedents
of those colonies and dependencies, he
gravely misconceived the situation.
He had his countrymen and the Eng-
lish-speaking communities always in
mind.

Meanwhile, every single condition
referred to has since ceased to exist.
The character of the problem has
16



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

wholly changed. In the first place,
both the American continents are now
occupied, and occupied by responsible
and independent powers this with
the exception of certain English-
speaking dominions and dependen-
cies, practically self-governing.

On the other hand, new industrial,
financial, and racial movements have
asserted themselves. In 1 8 2 3 in this re-
spect wholly undeveloped, the Amer-
icas, North and South, are now a fa-
vorite field for European investment.
Their railroad lines, their banks, their
improvements ol every character, are
largely held, and, in many cases, con-
trolled and managed, in European fi->







THE MONROE DOCTRINE

nancial circles. A tide of emigration
of the most pronounced character,
composed of many different currents,
has developed, from every country in
Europe. This, as a voluntary migra-
tion and in its present form, dates from
the Irish movement which set in a
score of years after the Monroe Doc-
trine was promulgated. The more re-
cent movements do not need to be
referred to.

It is, however, a noticeable feature
in our American development that so
far from bringing with them their own
government, laws, and political institu-
tions, there is no portion of the Amer-
ican population which would regard
it



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

with so little favor the introduction of
European methods or mother-country
practices as emigrants to America
taken as a whole. This is true of the
English, the French, the German, the
Italian and the Slav no less than] of
the Irish. One and all, they would
object even more than the stock known
as "native American" to that form
of colonization at which the Monroe
Doctrine was .aimed. The "Doc-
trine" as enunciated, therefore, is now
obsolete. It has no apparent application
to existing conditions and theories.

Moreover, it is to be remembered
that it Jsj. " Doctrine," and in no re-
spect a natural Jaw; and if, I next
19



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

submit, there is one thing politically
more dangerous than another, it is a
"Doctrine,"- so called, misapplied, or
one which, having lost its original sig-
nificance, is now applied in an unin-
telligent way, or a "Jingo" spirit.
Such a " Doctrine," degenerated into
a cult or fetish, is apt to come in im-
pact with some real underlying law of
Nature and, when it does, the result
is the unexpected !

Numerous examples at once sug-
gest themselves of these "Doctrines,"
hardened into accepted cults. Let one
suffice. The " Balance of Power Doc-
trine," now a by-word, a century ago
was a terrible reality. Of it John

20



AND MOMMSEN'S^LAW

Bright always a name to conjure
with in America has said :

" I think I am not much mistaken
in pronouncing the theory of the bal-
ance of power to be pretty nearly dead
and buried. You cannot comprehend
at a thought what is meant by that
balance of power. If the record could
be brought before you but it is not
possible to the eye of humanity to scan
the scroll upon which are recorded the
sufferings which the theory of the bal-
ance of power has entailed upon this
country. It rises up before me when I
think of it as a ghastly phantom which
during one hundred and seventy years,
whilst it has been worshipped in this

21



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

country, has loaded the nation with
debt and with taxes, has sacrificed the
lives of hundreds of thousands of Eng-
lishmen, has desolated the homes of
millions of families. ... I am very
glad to be able to say that we may re-
joice that this foul idol- fouler than
any heathen tribe ever worshipped
has at last been thrown down, and that
there is one superstition less which has
its hold upon the minds of English
statesmen and of the English people."
Is it not barely possible that, as
things are now tending, a century
hence some future statesman or pub-
licist may comment in not dissimilar
terms on our Monroe Doctrine, the

22



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

scope and significance of which is to-
day, I submit, as little understood as
was the scope and significance of the
"Balance of Power Doctrine" in
Europe a century ago ?

Returning, however, to my proper
theme, the origin of the Monroe Doc-
trine, while to-day's existing condi-
tions never in the remotest degree
entered into the conception of the
framer of that " Doctrine/' and the
conditions which then confronted him
have since wholly disappeared it is
interesting to consider what results
he contemplated as likely to ensue at
a not remote day from the position
assumed. Two of those results are, I



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

think, apparent and indisputable. I
refer, of course, to results existing in
his conception of the probable out-
come of the future as forecast from
the 1823 standpoint.

Of " Hegemony " we now hear
much. As a political term it had in
1823 not come into existence. Greek
in origin, even as late as 1860 it was
explained in the London "Times" as
"leadership among states," or, as that
"land of professors" phrased it, "the
hegemony of the Germanic Confed-
eration." The origin of the term must,
of course, be looked for in the history
of ancient Greece, where it signified
the leadership of Athens on the one
24



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

hand, and Sparta on the other. There
can be no question that when enunci-
ating the famous "Doctrine," Mon-
roe's Secretary, a student of history as
well as a scholarly man, had in mind
a family of American States under
the hegemony, or, as he would have
expressed it, the leadership, of the
United States; this country alone
having then achieved a standing
among nations, as well as independ-
ence. Using a familiar form of
speech, the United States was, in Mr.
Adams's mind, to be the " Big Bro-
ther" in that family circle. This fact
is evidenced in the struggle over the
Panama Congress, subsequently such a
25



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

distinctive feature in the J. Q. Adams
Administration. The scheme, as we
all know, proved abortive, and sub-
sequent experience shows clearly that
neither Mr. Adams nor Mr. Clay had
any realizing sense of the limitations
under which, humanly speaking, he-
gemony was practicable. Indeed, at
that time those limitations had not
forced themselves on the minds of
public men. Napoleon, for instance,
planned that Eastern Europe, wholly
irrespective of racial considerations,
was to constitute a family, or circle,
of kingdoms under the hegemony of
France. He had not the faintest con-
ception of a limiting law. We, a cen-
26



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

tury later, after abundant lessons al-
most as severe as those incident to the
"Balance of Power" dispensation,
have had occasion to realize that he-
gemony, practically speaking, is only
possible with communities of the same
racial descent. A distinctly foreign
element invariably asserts a disturbing
presence. This, before his downfall,
Napoleon had occasion to realize; and
now the law may be studied in oper-
ation in the cases of Norway and
Sweden, Holland and Belgium, Aus-
tria and Italy, Austro-Hungary, Great
Britain and Ireland, and most recent
of all, in that of the Balkans. It is
a long record^ of unending discords.
27



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

Results in such cases are never satis-
factory. For this reason, and under
conditions now existing on the two
American continents, the hegemonic
application of the Monroe Doctrine
is, I confidently submit, out of the
question. Racial limitations bar the
way. So much for hegemony, and
the law of its limitation. I now pass
to another law.

I will call it " Mommsen's Law/'
because nowhere else than in Momm-
sen's " History " have I seen it stated
with such Germanic directness, bor-
dering on brutality. This "Law"
reads as follows : ;

" By virtue of the law, that a people
28



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

which has grown into a state absorbs
its neighbors who are in political non-
age, and a civilized people absorbs its
neighbors who are in intellectual non-
age, by virtue of this law, which is
as universally valid and as much a law
of nature as the law of gravity, the
Italian nation (the only one in anti-
quity which was able to combine a
superior political development and a
superior civilization, though it pre-
sented the latter only in an imperfect
and external manner) was entitled to
reduce to subjection the Greek states
of the East which were ripe for de-
struction, and to dispossess the peo-
ples of lower grades of culture in the
29



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

West Libyans, Iberians, Celts, Ger-
mans by means of its settlers; just
as England with equal right has in
Asia reduced to subjection a civiliza-
tion of rival standing but politically
impotent, and in America and Aus-
tralia has marked and ennobled, and
still continues to mark and ennoble,
extensive barbarian countries with the
impress of its nationality. ... It is
the imperishable glory of the Roman
democracy or monarchy for the two
coincide to have correctly appre-
hended and vigorously realized this its
highest destination." '

Not until the framer of the Mon-

1 History of Romt^ book v, chap. viu.

30



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

roe Doctrine had been ten years in



his grave did Mommsen lay the law



down in these terms ; yet Mr. Adams
manifestly had its essence clearly in
mind when he penned the "Doc-
trine" incorporated in the message of
1823. In Europe he had been a care-
ful observer of the forcible goings-on
of Napoleon Napoleonic "Benev-
olent Assimilation " ! He had repre-
sented this country in Russia for a
number of years; and, as a reminis-
cence of that struggle for independ-
ence which had figured so largely in
the memory of his childhood, he
vividly recalled the partition of Po-
land. It is unnatural to assume that
3 1



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

these memories and lessons were not
uppermost in his mind when he
put the Monroe Doctrine in written
shape. So far as Europe and Momm-
sen's Law were concerned, exempli-
fied in the case of Poland and practiced
by Napoleon, he wished to lay down
for America a doctrine of" hands off."
And this he did.

While both "Hegemony" and
"Mommsen's Law" were thus dis-
tinctly present in the enunciation of
the Monroe Doctrine, the last en-
tered into consideration only so far
as Europe was concerned ; and, from
that point of view, the " Doctrine "
served its purpose. Both Mommsen's
32



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

Law and the law of hegemonic
limitation are, however, still opera-
tive ; nor can they be left out of con-
sideration in any discussion of the
" Doctrine" in its present possible ap-
plication and practical working. The
question presents itself, Has the
United States, as the original " Big
Brother," and now the dominant Am-
erican world-power, taken in this
matter the place of Europe? In
other words, conceiving a family of
American States, it is well to bear
in mind that, while the Monroe Doc-
trine proper has become inoperative,
the law of limitations in the case
of "Hegemony" and " Mommsen's
33



THE MONROE DOCTRINE

Law " is, and will remain, in opera-
tion. This Mr. Adams had occasion
to realize in the latter years of his life,
though it is questionable whether he
ever appreciated the operation of the
law he had vetoed as respects Europe
when working to the accretion of his
own country. He certainly offered all
the resistance in his power to it when
it presented itself under the guise of a
" Reannexation of Texas," and in the
name of "Manifest Destiny." Natural
laws in their operation have thus a
way of assuming strange names ; later
we meet " Mommsen's Law," re-
christened as the "Ostend Manifesto,"
and only recently it again masquer-
34



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

aded as "Benevolent Assimilation."
All these, however, are merely aliases;
"Sphere of Influence" is the very
latest. Be not in this matter deceived
by forms of speech. Keep in mind
the French aphorism Cbercbez la
femme !

I state these propositions in connec-
tion with my theme, the " Origin of
the Monroe Doctrine." It is for oth-
ers, during the discussions now begun,
to refer, as Mr. Root has this evening
done, to the "Doctrine" historically,
to the glosses attempted on it, miscon-
ceptions which prevail concerning it,
and the limitations which have devel-
oped in its operation. With these prop-
35



THE MONROE DOCTRINE
ositions I have no concern. I confine
my contribution to the origin of the
" Doctrine/' the conditions which
prevailed at the time it was enunciated,
and the fact that another world has
since come into existence. Further-
more, it is hardly necessary for me,
addressing this particular audience, to
say that I speak neither as an origin-
ator nor an advocate. I merely call at-
tention to an alleged natural Law, pro-
pounded many years ago by an emi-
nent publicist and historian. His state-
ment of it may be correct, and it may
be a law of universal application ; possi-
bly, on the other hand, it is a figment
of Mommsen's imagination, or appli-

36



AND MOMMSEN'S LAW

cable only locally. These aspects of
the case are no affair of mine. I merely
quote the law as enunciated, and call
attention to its possible relations with
the Monroe Doctrine. I draw no in-
ferences, much less advocate or urge
acceptance. I refer to this law exactly
as I would refer to the law of gravity,
were I here discoursing on the de-
velopment of aeronautics. None the


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