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.
Between the two camps, both in her ideas and in her geographical situation, stood England. Devoted as she was to law and order, bulwark against the excesses of the French Terror and the world dominion that Napoleon sought, she was nevertheless equally strong in her opposition to Divine Right. Her people and her government alike were troubled at the repressive measured by which the Allies put down the Revolution of Naples in 1821 and that of Spain in 1823. Still more were they disturbed at the hint given at the Congress of Verona in 1822 that, when Europe was once quieted, America would engage the attention of Europe's arbiters. George Canning, the English foreign minister, soon discovered that this hint foreshadowed a new congress to be devoted especially to the American problem. Spain was to be restored to her sovereignty, but was to pay in liberal grants of American territory to whatever powers helped her. Canning is regarded as the ablest English foreign minister of the nineteenth century; at least no one better embodied the fundamental aspirations of the English people. He realized that liberal England would be perpetually a minority in a united Europe, as Europe was then organized. He believed that the best security for peace was not a union but a balance of powers. He opposed intervention in the internal affairs of nations and stood for the right of each to choose its own form of government. Particularly he fixed his eyes on America, where he hoped to find weight to help him balance the autocrats of the Old World. He wished to see the new American republics free, and he believed that in freedom of trade England would obtain from them all that she needed. Alarmed at the impending European intervention to restore the rule of Spain or of her monarchical assignees in America, he sought an understanding with the United States. He proposed to Richard Rush, the United States minister in London, that the two countries declare concurrently that the independence of Spanish America, was a fact, that the recognition of the new governments was a matter of time and circumstance, that neither country desired any portion of Spain's former dominions, but that neither would look with indifference upon the transfer of any portion of them to another power.
On October 9, 1823, this proposal reached Washington. The answer would be framed by able and most experienced statesmen. The President, James Monroe, had been almost continuously in public service since 1782. He had been minister to France, Spain, and England, and had been Secretary of State. In his earlier missions he had often shown an unwise impetuosity and an independent judgment which was not always well balanced. He had, however, grown in wisdom. He inspired respect by his sterling qualities of character, and he was an admirable presiding officer. William H. Crawford, his Secretary of the Treasury, John C. Calhoun, his Secretary of War, William Wirt, his Attorney-General, and even John McLean, his Postmaster-General, not then a member of the Cabinet, were all men who were considered as of presidential caliber.
Foremost in ability and influence, however, was John Quincy Adams, the Secretary of State. Brought up from early boyhood in the atmosphere of diplomacy, familiar with nearly every country of Europe, he had nevertheless none of those arts of suavity which are popularly associated with the diplomat. Short, baldheaded, with watery eyes, he on the one hand repelled familiarity, and on the other hand shocked some sensibilities, as for example when he appeared in midsummer Washington without a neckcloth. His early morning swim in the Potomac and his translations of Horace did not conquer a temper which embittered many who had business with him, while the nightly records which he made of his interviews show that he was generally suspicious of his visitors. Yet no American can show so long a roll of diplomatic successes. Preeminently he knew his business. His intense devotion and his native talent had made him a master of the theory and practice of international law and of statecraft. Always he was obviously honest, and his word was relied on. Fundamentally he was kind, and his work was permeated by a generous enthusiasm. Probably no man in America, had so intense a conviction not only of the correctness of American principles and the promise of American greatness but of the immediate strength and greatness of the United States as it stood in 1823.
Fully aware as Adams was of the danger that threatened both America and liberty, he was not in favor of accepting Canning's proposal for the cooperation of England and the United States. He based his opposition upon two fundamental objections. In the first place he was not prepared to say that the United States desired no more Spanish territory. Not that Adams desired or would tolerate conquest. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase he had wished to postpone annexation until the assent of the people of that province could be obtained. But he believed that all the territory necessary for the geographical completeness of the United States had not yet been brought under the flag. He had just obtained Florida from Spain and a claim westward to the Pacific north of the forty-second parallel, but he considered the Southwest—Texas, New Mexico, and California—a natural field of expansion. These areas, then almost barren of white settlers, he expected time to bring into the United States, and he also expected that the people of Cuba would ultimately rejoice to become incorporated in the Union. He wished natural forces to work out their own results, without let or hindrance.
Not only was Adams opposed to Canning's proposed self-denying ordinance, but he was equally averse to becoming a partner with England. Such cooperation might well prove in time to be an "entangling alliance," involving the United States in problems of no immediate concern to its people and certainly in a partnership in which the other member would be dominant. If Canning saw liberal England as a perpetual minority in absolutist Europe, Adams saw republican America as a perpetual inferior to monarchical England. Although England, with Canada, the West Indies, and her commerce, was a great American power, Adams believed that the United States, the oldest independent nation in America, with a government which gave the model to the rest, could not admit her to joint, leadership, for her power was in, not of, America, and her government was monarchical. Already Adams had won a strategic advantage over Canning, for in the previous year, 1822, the United States had recognized the new South American republics.
Great as were the dangers involved in cooperation with England, however, they seemed to many persons of little moment compared with the menace of absolutist armies and navies in the New World or of,