Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

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 followed in

1823 is no longer appropriate, the ends which the United States set out to attain have remained the same.

Independence, absolute and complete, including the absence of all entanglements which might draw the

country into other peoples' quarrels; the recognition of a similar independence in all other peoples, which

involves both keeping its own hands off and also strongly disapproving of interference by one nation

with another - these have been the guiding principles of the United States. These principles the

Government has maintained by such means as seemed appropriate to the time. In colonial days the

people of America fought in courts for their charter rights; at the time of the Revolution, by arms for their

independence from England; during the Napoleonic wars, for their independence from the whole system

of Europe. The Monroe Doctrine declared that to maintain American independence from the European

system it was necessary that the European system be excluded from the Americas. In entering the Great

War in the twentieth century the United States has recognized that the system of autocracy against which

Monroe fulminated must disappear from the entire world if, under modern industrial conditions, real

independence is to exist anywhere.

It is the purpose of the following chapters to trace the expansion of American interests in the light of the
Monroe Doctrine and to explain those controversies which accompanied this growth and taxed the

diplomatic resources of American Secretaries of State from the times of Adams and Webster and Seward

to those of Blaine and Hay and Elihu Root. The diplomacy of the Great War is reserved for another

volume in this Series.

 

CHAPTER II. Controversies With Great Britain

 

No two nations have ever had more intimate relationships than the United States and Great Britain.
Speaking the same language and owning a common racial origin in large part, they have traded with each

other and in the same regions, and geographically their territories touch for three thousand miles. During

the nineteenth century the coastwise shipping of the United States was often forced to seek the shelter of

the British West Indies. The fisherfolk of England and America mingled on the Grand Bank of

Newfoundland and on the barren shores of that island and of Labrador, where they dried their fish.

Indians, criminals, and game crossed the Canadian boundary at will, streams flowed across it, and the

 

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