W. P. (William Penn) Cresson.

The Holy alliance; the European background of the Monroe doctrine online

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Mrs. Robert C. Cotton

Publications of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Division of International Law


The European Background of the
Monroe Doctrine

, BY

W.' p. CRESSON, Ph. D.

Formerly Secretary of the American Embassy in Petrograd











The Monroe Doctrine, which in a few months will celebrate
its hundredth anniversary, is one of the few foreign policies
advanced by any one of the nations taking part in the World
War which bids fair to survive that great catastrophe. While
the American and British phases of the Monroe Doctrine are
familiar to students of diplomatic history, the materials have
hitherto been lacking for an adequate appreciation of the rela-
tions between President Monroe and John Quincy Adams, on the
one hand, and the Tsar, Alexander, on the other, against whose
Holy Alliance President Monroe's message of 1823 was chiefly

Mr. Cresson has laid students of history, and more especially
of international organization, under a deep and abiding obliga-
tion by his researches in the archives of the Russian Foreign
Office immediately following the Revolution of Pvlarch, 1917.
He was Secretary of the American Embassy at Petrograd at
the time when Professor F. A. Colder was preparing his inval-
uable list of documents in the Imperial archives relating to Amer-
ica, and, knowing Mr. Cresson's interest in the history of Russian-
American relations, the authorities of the Provisional Govern-
ment invited him also to examine the Imperial archives. Mr.
Cresson's work more especially related to the personal dispatches
of the Tsar, Alexander, and the memoranda in his private
diplomatic papers, which had never before been open to stu-

In the midst of these labors, Mr. Cresson put aside the more
leisurely task of writing history for the more arduous task of
observing history in the making. He resigned from the diplo-
matic service, entered the army, served with the American Expe-
ditionary Forces, and ended the war as Chief of the American
Military Mission at Belgian Headquarters in Flanders. Upon
his demobilization he resumed his interrupted task, and he has
recently been able to bring his work to a conclusion by researches
in the archives of the Department of State. While Mr. Cres-
son's work is complementary to the labors of others in the same
field, it covers — as its title implies — negotiations carried on in St.


Petersburg and Washington, which form the European back-
ground of this American doctrine.

The value of the httle work is out of all proportion to its size.
It makes clear the aim and purpose of the Tsar, Alexander, in
forcing the Holy Alliance upon his unwilling confederates, it
shows the relation of the Monroe Doctrine to the Holy Alliance,
and it enables the unprejudiced reader of the Old as well as the
New World the better to understand both.

It is to the credit of our common humanity that at the end of
the greatest of wars attempts have been made to devise some
scheme whereby a recourse to arms might be less likely to occur,
if it could not be wholly avoided. The Thirty Years' War is
responsible for the Nouveaii Cynee of Emeric Cruce, the Law of
War and Peace of Hugo Grotius, not to speak of the Great De-
sign which Sully foisted upon his master, the good King Henry
IV. The wars of Europe culminating in the wars of the Spanish
Succession and ended by the Treaties of Utrecht (1713-14) and
of Rastadt (1714) produced the Project of Perpetual Peace of
the Abbe de Saint-Pierre. The wars of the French Revolution
following these at the space of a century gave birth to the Holy
Alliance. The World War, a hundred years later, has brought
forth a League of Nations, conceived in the same generous spirit.

Will history repeat itself? History alone can tell.

James Brown Scott,

Washington, D. C,
July 14, 1922.


The author desires to express his thanks to the following gen-
tlemen for their aid and criticism: Professor John Bassett Moore
and Doctor Julius Goebel of Columbia University; Professor
F. A. Golder, under whose expert guidance he carried on his re-
searches at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Doctor
James Brown Scott, Secretary of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace; and Mr. Raymond Buell of Princeton Uni-



Introduction 1

Chapter I. — The Reception of the Holy Alliance 37

Chapter II. — The Early Policy of the Holy Alliance: The

American Monarchy 55

Chapter III. — The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 69

Chapter IV. — The United States and the Political Recon-
struction of Europe, 1815-1820 83

Chapter V. — The Era of International Congress 95

Chapter VI, — Europe and the Monroe Doctrine 113

Appendix I. — Territorial Guarantees at the Congress of Aix-la-
Chapelle, 1818 133

Appendix IL — Vv^orld Revolution after the Napoleonic Wars:

Troppau 13j

Bibliography 139

Index 1^3


Within a few months will occur the one hundredth anniversary
of the reading of President Monroe's Seventh Annual Message
to Congress. The three great Continental Powers to which its
warnings were chiefly directed are today prostrate as the result
of the World War. Yet the principles it defined have continued
to furnish the basis of the foreign policy of the United States.
Morever, the eclipse of Russia, Prussia and Austria has but re-
sulted in a renewal of the fundamental problem which confronted
the diplomatists and statesmen of the Republic in 1823 — a prob-
lem which in the words of Monroe regards essentially "the condi-
tion of the civilized world and its bearing on us."

The international questions which the trained diplomacy of
Monroe and Adams was called upon to meet and decide a cen-
tury ago were similar in a remarkable degree to those of the pres-
ent day. Again the measure to be arrived at is : How far the con-
ditions of the international situation justify the United States in
departing from a system of isolation imposed by geographical
conditions and a generally accepted, time-honored policy? How
far may we abandon the restraints of this safeguarding principle,
and at the earnest solicitation of friendly nations bear a part in
agreements intended to maintain the general peace? At such a
moment as the present one, to use once more the language of
Monroe, "a precise knowledge of our relations with foreign
powers as respects our negotiations and transactions with each"
is indeed "particularly necessary."

The trend of American diplomacy towards a return to the
"traditional prejudice" in favor of an American system apart
from the affairs of Europe, has offered one of the chief problems
confronting the statesmen of the Allied Powers since the close of
the War. It is the author's belief that in the light of a renewed
study of the events which led to the declarations of the Monroe
manifesto, the motives underlying recent policy tend to justify
themselves as the continuing result of historical experience. Ex-
amination of the archives of the Department of State and docu-
ments which have but recently become available in the Imperial
Archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs prove the


similarity of earlier negotiations to those of the present day-
Yet the story of the attempts made by the statesmen of Europe to
detach the United States from their traditional policy (notably
the efforts of the Tsar Idealist, Alexander I, to induce the govern-
ment in Washington to accede to the pact of the Holy Alliance)
forms an almost forgotten chapter of American diplomatic his-

A misunderstanding of the policies in opposition to which the
Monroe Doctrine was formulated has frequently arisen from a
failure to apprehend the nature of the strange pact known as the
"Holy Alliance" or to establish its true relation to the series of
treaties known as the "System of 1815." The latter formed
the basis of the diplomatic reconstruction of Europe after the
Napoleonic wars. The "Holy Alliance," or "Holy League,"
was, in its inception, an expression of the highly idealistic personal
policy of a single powerful sovereign, the Tsar Alexander I of
Russia. Of its three signers the Tsar, and the Tsar alone, affixed
his seal without mental reservations concerning the principles It
invoked. The System of 1815 resulted from a long series of
debated agreements, beginning with the politico-military pacts
of Toeplltz, Reichenbach and Chaumont, continued by the two
Treaties of Paris and the Acts of the Congress of Vienna. The
Tsar's "League of Peace" was suddenly imposed upon his allies
at a time when the prestige of his military power was essential
to their cause; when to do otherwise than humor his doctrinaire
theories of International solidarity might have resulted In a seri-
ous breach In the ranks of the Grand Alliance.

In the perspective of history, the Internationalist aspirations
and purposes of the Russian autocrat may be viewed in their true
sense and value. His contemporaries, however, may well be par-
doned for considering his policies as contradictory and Irrecon-
cilable. Metternich and the reactionary statesmen of his school
saw in Alexander a dangerous dreamer, a "crowned Jacobin" at
almost the same time that Canning and Monroe were uniting the
policies of the "Constitutional Powers" to protect the principles
of free government from the Interventions he set on foot In the
interests of monarchical legitimacy ab antiquo. But In order to
understand the Tsar's conception of his own diplomacy, a brief
biographical study of the varied personal Influences and relation-


ships which accompanied the changing phases of his political
beliefs becomes essential.

Alexander was born in St. Petersburg on December 12, 1777.
His celebrated grandmother, the Empress Catherine, undertook
the entire direction of his early education, to the exclusion of his
father, the morose and unpopular Tsarevltch Paul. With his
brother, the Grand Duke Constantlne, his studies were regulated
by an elaborate plan, drawn up by the great Tsarina herself after
a long correspondence with the philosophers Grimm and Diderot
in Paris. It seems to have been the deliberate intention of this
remarkable woman to make the young heir of the Romanovs — If
not a prodigy of learning ^ — at least a well educated man, an
attainment far above the level of the court circles surrounding
him! That this intention was even in a measure carried out
was largely due to her fortunate choice of a tutor for the little
princes in the person of a French Swiss scholar, Frederick Cesar
Laharpe, whom she found was occupying a subordinate position
in the household of a brother of the reigning favorite. Count

Laharpe was at this time thirty years old. He was an avowed
republican, strongly influenced by Voltaire in his youth, and later
an enthusiastic disciple of Rousseau. Strangely enough, none of
these qualities were likely at this time to Injure his prestige in the
eyes of the autocratic Catherine. When, at a later date, the
excesses of the French Revolution had disillusioned the Empress,
her fashionable approval of liberalism (which she shared with
the aristocratic salons of Paris) changed to a violent hatred of
all that recalled the doctrines of Jacobinism. Until 1789, how-
ever, she saw no contradiction in choosing, for the important
position of tutor to the heir of the absolute Tsars, a man of
Laharpe's ultra-liberal convictions.^

From the beginning of their Intimate relationship, the young
master and his pupils appear to have been charmed with each

' Rain, Un Tsar idealogue Alexandre I^, pp. 7 et seq.

' For a vivid picture of the dissolute court which surrounded the youth of Alex-
ander, notably tlie regime of Catherine's ignoble "favorites," see The Diaries and
Correspondence of the Earl of Malmesbury.

^Rain, op. cit., pp. 16-19. Laharpe must not be confused with the critic Jean Fran-
cois de Le Harpe (1739-1803), whose Correspondence ivith the Grand Duke of Riis-
sia, noiv Emperor (the Emperor Paul), was published in five tedious volumes in
1801. This work, generally concerned with the petty jealousies of the French
literary world, was probably addressed to Paul in a spirit of pure snobisme.


Other. Laharpe, filled with youthful enthusiasm for his task,
recognized its importance and the responsibility it entailed. In
order to fulfil his mission to the best advantage, he soon obtained
entire direction of all matters touching the education of the young
Grand Dukes. History and a philosophical interpretation of the
events it records was a favorite method of study for both the
republican teacher and his imperial charges.

Besides Laharpe, several other foreign "governors" and teach-
ers were attached to their household. Kraft taught them experi-
mental physics and "science." Pallas taught them botany and
took them on long excursions near Pavlovsk. Masson taught
them mathematics. But regarding matters essentially Russian,
Catherine wisely insisted that her grandchildren should remain
under the control of their own compatriots. Muraviev taught
them Russian history and "moral philosophy," while their reli-
gious education was placed in the hands of their confessor, Father
Andrew Samborski. Alexander's devotion as a pupil foreshad-
owed the generally "suggestionable" character which he devel-
oped in after life. His teachers not only found him a diligent
student — a great contrast to his brother Constantine — but he
also appears to have become ardently attached to all those who
could satisfy his precocious curiosity.^

In 1791, when Alexander was barely fourteen, the Empress
Catherine decided upon his marriage. Besides the importance
of assuring the succession In direct line, she Impatiently awaited
the moment when it would be possible to give the Grand Duke
a separate court and household, thus increasing his prestige at the
expense of the Tsarevltch, his father. Catherine's choice fell
upon the Princess Louisa Augusta, the third daughter of the
reigning Grand Duke of Baden. The princess and her sister
were subsequently invited to visit the Court of St. Petersburg,
where the docile Alexander promptly fell in love, with a sincerity
which at least did honor to his grandmother's perspicacity. ^

Alexander's marriage, which took place September 25, 1793,
at first scarcely Interrupted Laharpe's philosophic discourses.^

' Bogflanovitch, Alexander I, p. 16.

^The story of this imperial idyl is charmingly told in Elizabeth's own letters.
See Les Lettres de I'Imperatrice Elizabeth, published with an introduction by Grand
Due Nicolas Mikhailowitch.

^Czartoryski, Memoires, vol I, p. 53.


But In 1794, the year of Thermidor, the young teacher's Jaco-
binism began to offend the Tsarina, and his dismissal was suddenly
signified to him "without rank or cross" ^ or any of the distinc-
tions usually accorded a royal tutor who had completed his task.
Probably, through the Intervention of his pupil, he obtained a
postponement of his enforced departure. He used the oppor-
tunity which this unexpected delay afforded him to complete his
work. Impressing upon the receptive mind of Alexander the les-
sons of democracy and liberalism which had already fired the
imagination of the future autocrat. The Grand Duke had now
become a disciple rather than a pupil. Laharpe alone could in-
fluence the curious blending of gentleness and stubborn determi-
nation which, even at this early age, formed the basis of Alexan-
der's character.

The moment of separation arrived May 9, 1795. Alexander's
grief and resentment at the departure of his friend and preceptor
was manifested publicly and without reserve. Czartoryski In his
Memoires records that "he was heard to declare himself with un-
measured harshness respecting his grandmother's actions, using
terms of almost inconceivable abuse." ^ The sincerity and con-
stancy of this ideal friendship was only proved by time. Laharpe
left behind him directions for the guidance of his pupil, which
specified In detail remedies for the faults which his Interrupted
education might develop. In these Instructions he advised Alex-
ander to overcome his natural timidity and to mingle as often as
possible with his future subjects. Only thus, he declared, could
the Grand Duke hope to win their love and devotion. That his
misgivings were not without cause Is shown by the sequel.

Catherine died suddenly In 1796, and was succeeded by the
Tsarevltch, whose chief ambition was to make the heir of the
Romanovs a soldier. In the company of the young garrison
blades who now surrounded him, Alexander lost sight not only of
his earlier Ideals, but also of all that could remind him of the
teachings of Laharpe. His friend Czartoryski recounts the ef-
forts he made at this time to surround the Grand Duke with more
sympathetic and profitable influences. With this unselfish end in

^ Rain, op. cit., p. 42, quoting the proceedings of the Society Imperiale de I'Histoire
Russe, vol. V, remarks on Laharpe's unrepublican indignation at this slight.
^Czartoryski, Memoires, vol. I, p. 111.


view, he asked leave to present to his patron two young men,
Novosiltzov and Count Stroganov. In this fashion the nucleus
of what became known as the "Young Liberal Circle" was intro-
duced to the Tsarevitch during the Emperor Paul's coronation
at Moscow. These new friendships deserve more than passing
notice in considering the development of Alexander's character.

Novosiltzov, somewhat pedantic and overconscious of the
advantages of this new connection, soon "prepared in Russian the
translation of a French work filled with good advice for a young
Prince about to mount the throne." This was read by Alexan-
der with characteristic "attention and satisfaction." Under
these new influences, Czartoryski ^ notes with approval that "the
philosophic and idealistic side of the Tsarevitch's character
quickly recovered its ascendancy." These new friendships
brought him into renewed contact with the political philosophy
of the French Revolution. Stroganov, a pupil of the philosopher
Rom and a disciple of Rousseau, had visited Paris during the
Terror and listened to the dangerous eloquence of the Jacobin
clubs. Novosiltzov, sent to Paris by the elder Count Stroganov
to rescue the aristocratic young liberal from this dangerous at-
mosphere, had himself become infected with the doctrine of
"liberty and equality." He returned to Russia almost as great a
revolutionary as his ward. Thus, in the company of these more
traveled compatriots, Alexander heard reechoed the lessons of
Laharpe — and the voice of the spirit of liberty.

The influence of these friendships was to become the determin-
ing factor of the "liberal phase" which marked Alexander's early
career. The Young Liberal Circle, as they were called, planned
a campaign of propaganda to educate public opinion. Suitable
books were to be translated into Russian, but at first only those
for which oflicial approval could be obtained. It was hoped
that the minds of Alexander's future subjects would thus, by slow
degrees, be prepared for the measures of reform to which he
already looked forward as the glory of his coming reign. "How
happy I could be were you only by my side at this moment," he
writes to his old master. And Laharpe, filled with honest pride
at his own part In the education of so generous a prince, wrote In

' Czartoryski, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 156-157.


reply long letters from his quiet retreat in Switzerland. But the
classical maxims and sage advice of a confirmed doctrinaire of
the republican era were unequal to the task of guiding his disciple
through the fast approaching crisis of his father's reign.

While the Tsarevitch and his companions were busying them-
selves with their philosophical program of internal reform, im-
pending events were to bring him face to face with the stern
realities that beset a ruler. A palace revolution — a sudden,
fierce reversion to the customs of the Byzantine court on which
the early Tsars had modeled their own — ^was suddenly to clear
the way to Alexander's throne and to place him face to face with
problems whose theoretical solution had amused his leisure.
The part which he played in the preparation of the plot which
ended in his father's assassination has been the subject of long
and bitter controversy. Of a guilty foreknowledge of this tragic
event, history has, on the whole, absolved him.^

The impression which Paul's character and the circumstances
of his death left upon Alexander during the brief period of their
relationship as sovereign and subject must be noted in consider-
ing the development of the character of the future author of the
"Holy Alliance." ^ In spite of a striking physical dissimilarity,
there was a curious resemblance between the two autocrats, father
and son.^ In both Tsars we find the same tendency to generous
Impulse marred by an almost morbid egotism; the same restless
zeal for governmental reform accompanied by an equal disre-
gard of the prejudices of those most likely to profit by their acts.
Finally, a wholly false conception of the historical task of a

' Joyneville, in his Life and Times of Alexander I, analyzes Alexander's responsi-
bility for his father's death in the light of the Memoirs of Mme. Svetchine, Bulau's
Narrative, etc. According to the former, the appeal made to Alexander by the
conspirators was merely for aid in "constituting the Emperor a state prisoner,"
(conversation between Count Pahlen and General Svetchine, quoted in Joyneviile,
op. cit., vol. I, p. 118). It must also be remembered that at that time Portugal and
Denmark were both ruled by regents in the name of imbecile sovereigns. Joyneviile
(p. 142) also recounts that Pahlen revealed to Alexander that Paul had ordered
his arrest, together with the Empress Marie and the Grand Duke Constantine.
"The business," according to the British Attache, Ross, "took more than three-
quarters of an hour." Joyneviile believes this to be a direct proof that the murder
of Paul was not decided upon in advance (pp. 147 and 152). See also VValiszewski,
Le fils de la grande Catherine: Paul If.

' Czartoiyski, op. cit., p. 253.

^Joyneviile, quoting Rostopchine, says that Paul, during his first campaign
against the French, desired to form a permanent league for the "suppression of
anarchy and democratic principles," a forerunner of the "Holy Alliance" in its
later phase.


"benevolent despot" and an unwavering belief in the high-minded-
ness of their own motives led them both to perform the most
astounding and contradictory acts and to adopt policies which
were often carried through with ruthless conviction rather than
statesmanlike foresight.

Alexander was but twenty-three years old when he succeeded
to the throne of the Romanovs. Prince Czartoryski was sum-
moned to the capital to assume the role — but not the office — of
Prime Minister, which the Tsar had promised him in their youth-
ful conversations. The new ruler soon found himself surrounded
with the friends upon whom he might most naturally depend for
encouragement and support. The members of the "Young
Liberal Circle," the intimates of his boyhood, returned to St.
Petersburg from the four quarters of Europe, where the desire
of the Emperor Paul to separate the Heir-Apparent from their
liberal influences had dispersed them in semi-official exile. From
England came Novosiltzov, filled with renewed admiration for
the constitution and political life of the British commonwealth.
Stroganov, the aristocratic admirer of the French Revolution,
returned from the interrupted "grand tour" upon which his over-
democratic ideas had embarked him. Perhaps most welcome of
all these unofficial advisers was Alexander's old tutor, Laharpe,
who hastened from Switzerland at the new Tsar's summons.^

International questions, however, rather than policies of inter-
nal reform, so dear to the "Young Liberals," now forced them-
selves on the attention of the new government. Just before the

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