perhaps, a French Cuba and a Russian Mexico. The only effective obstacle to such foreign intervention was the British Navy. Both President Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, who in his retirement was still consulted on all matters of high moment, therefore favored the acceptance of Canning's proposal as a means of detaching England from the rest of Europe. Adams argued, however, that England was already detached; that, for England's purposes, the British Navy would still stand between Europe and America, whatever the attitude of the United States; that compromise or concession was unnecessary; and that the country could as safely take its stand toward the whole outside world as toward continental Europe alone. To reject the offer of a country whose assistance was absolutely necessary to the safety of the United States, and to declare the American case against her as well as against the more menacing forces whose attack she alone could prevent, required a nerve and poise which could come only from ignorant foolhardiness or from absolute knowledge of the facts. The self-assurance of Adams was well founded, and no general on the field of battle ever exhibited higher courage.
Adams won over the Cabinet, and the President decided to incorporate in his annual message to Congress a declaration setting forth the attitude of the United States toward all the world, and in particular denying the right of any European power, England included, to intervene in American affairs. In making such a statement, however, it was necessary to offer compensation in some form. The United States was not prepared to offer Canning's self-denying ordinance barring the way to further American expansion, but something it must offer. This compensating offset Adams found in the separation of the New World from the Old and in abstention from interference in Europe. Such a renunciation involved, however, the sacrifice of generous American sympathies with the republicans across the seas. Monroe, Gallatin, and many other statesmen wished as active a policy in support of the Greeks as of the Spanish Americans. Adams insisted, however, that the United States should create a sphere for its interests and should confine itself to that sphere. His plan for peace provided that European and American interests should not only not clash but should not even meet.
The President's message of December 2, 1823, amounted to a rejection of the Holy Alliance as guardian of the world's peace, of Canning's request for an entente, and of the proposal that the United States enter upon a campaign to republicanize the world. It stated the intention of the Government to refrain from interference in Europe, and its belief that it was "impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent [of America] without endangering our peace and happiness." The message contained a strong defense of the republican system of government and of the right of nations to control their own internal development. It completed the foreign policy of the United States by declaring, in connection with certain recent encroachments of Russia along the northwest coast, that the era of colonization in the Americas was over. The United States was to maintain in the future that boundaries between nations holding land in America actually existed and could be traced—a position which invited arbitration in place of force.
Both Canning and Adams won victories, but neither realized his full hopes. Canning prevented the interference of Europe in Spanish America, broke up the Quadruple Alliance, rendered the Holy Alliance a shadow, and restored a balance of power that meant safety for England for almost a hundred years; but he failed to dictate American policy. Adams on his part detached the United States from European politics without throwing England into the arms of Europe. He took advantage of the divisions of the Old World to establish the priority of the United States in American affairs; but he failed in his later attempt to unite all the Americas in cordial cooperation. Earnest as was his desire and hard as he strove in 1825 when he had become President with Clay as his Secretary of State, Adams found that the differences in point of view between the United States and the other American powers were too great to permit a Pan-American policy. The Panama Congress on which he built his hopes failed, and for fifty years the project lay dormant.
Under the popular name of the Monroe Doctrine, however, Adams's policy has played a much larger part in world affairs than he expected. Without the force of law either in this country or between nations, this doctrine took a firm hold of the American imagination and became a national ideal, while other nations have at least in form taken cognizance of it. The Monroe Doctrine has survived because Adams did not invent its main tenets but found them the dominating principles of American international politics; his work, like that of his contemporary John Marshall, was one of codification. But not all those who have commented on the work of Adams have possessed his analytical mind, and many have confused what was fundamental in his pronouncement with what was temporary and demanded by the emergency of the time.
Always the American people have stood, from the first days of their migration to America, for the right of the people of a territory to determine their own development. First they have insisted that their own right to work out their political destiny be acknowledged and made safe. For this they fought the Revolution. It has followed that they have in foreign affairs tried to keep their hands free from entanglements with other countries and have refrained from interference with foreign politics. This was the burden of Washington's "Farewell Address," and it was a message which Jefferson reiterated in his inaugural. These are the permanent principles which have controlled enlightened American statesmen in their attitude toward the world, from the days of John Winthrop to those of Woodrow Wilson.
It was early found, however, that the affairs of the immediate neighbors of the United States continually and from day to day affected the whole texture of American life and that actually they limited American independence and therefore could not be left out of the policy of the Government. The United States soon began to recognize that there was a region in the affairs of which it must take a more active interest. As early as 1780 Thomas Pownall, an English colonial official, predicted that the United States must take an active part in Cuban affairs. In 1806 Madison, then Secretary of State, had instructed Monroe, Minister to Great Britain, that the Government began to broach the idea that the whole Gulf Stream was within its maritime jurisdiction. The message of Monroe was an assertion that the fate of both the Americas was of immediate concern to the safety of the United States, because the fate of its sister republics intimately affected its own security. This proved to be an enduring definition of policy, because for many years there was a real institutional difference between the American hemisphere and the rest of the world and because oceanic boundaries were the most substantial that the world affords.
Adams, however, would have been the last to claim that his method of securing the fundamental purposes of the United States was itself fundamental. It is particularly important for Americans to make a distinction between the things which they have always wished to obtain and the methods which they have from time to time used. To build a policy today on the alleged isolation of the American continents would be almost as absurd as to try to build a government on the belief in Divine Right. The American continents are no longer separated from the rest of the world by their national institutions, because the spirit of these institutions has permeated much of Europe, Asia, and even Africa. No boundaries, not even oceans, can today prohibit international interference. But while the particular method