Classic History Books


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

merely the decision of a disputed case but the legislation necessary to regulate an international property
was in itself a great step in the development of world polity. The charlatan who almost brought on war by

maintaining an indefensible case was also the statesman who made perhaps the greatest single advance in

the conservation of the world's resources by international regulation.

 

CHAPTER IV. Blaine And Pan-Americanism

 

During the half century that intervened between John Quincy Adams and James G. Blaine, the Monroe
Doctrine, it was commonly believed, had prevented the expansion of the territories of European powers

in the Americas. It had also relieved the United States both of the necessity of continual preparation for

war and of that constant tension in which the perpetual shifting of the European balance of power held

the nations of that continent. But the Monroe Doctrine was not solely responsible for these results. Had it

not been for the British Navy, the United States would in vain have proclaimed its disapproval of

encroachment. Nor, had Europe continued united, could the United States have withstood European

influence; but Canning's policy had practically destroyed Metternich's dream of unity maintained by

intervention, and in 1848 that whole structure went hopelessly tumbling before a new order. Yet British

policy, too, failed of full realization, for British statesmen always dreamed of an even balance in

continental Europe which Great Britain could incline to her wishes, whereas it usually proved necessary,

in order to preserve a balance at all, for her to join one side or the other. Divided Europe therefore stood

opposite united America, and our inferior strength was enhanced by an advantageous position.

The insecurity of the American position was revealed during the Civil War. When the United States
divided within, the strength of the nation vanished. The hitherto suppressed desires of European nations

at once manifested themselves. Spain, never satisfied that her American empire was really lost, at once

leaped to take advantage of the change. On a trumped up invitation of some of the inhabitants of Santo

Domingo, she invaded the formerly Spanish portion of the island and she began war with Peru in the

hope of acquiring at least some of the Pacific islands belonging to that state.

More formidable were the plans of Napoleon III, for the French, too, remembered the glowing promise
of their earlier American dominions. They had not forgotten that the inhabitants of the Americas as far

north as the southern borders of the United States were of Latin blood, at least so far as they were of

European origin. In Montevideo there was a French colony, and during the forties France had been active

in proffering her advice in South American disputes. When the second French Republic had been

proclaimed in 1848, one of the French ministers in South America saw a golden chance for his country to

assume the leadership of all Latin America, which was at that time suspicious of the designs of the

United States and alarmed by its rapid expansion at the expense of Mexico. With the power of the

American Government neutralized in 1861, and with the British Navy immobilized by the necessity of

French friendship, which the "Balance" made just then of paramount interest to Great Britain, Napoleon

III determined to establish in Mexico an empire under French influence.

It is instructive to notice that General Bernhardi states, in "Germany and the Next War" which has
attracted such wide attention and which has done so much to convince Americans of the bad morals of

autocracy, that Great Britain lost her great chance of world dominance by not taking active advantage of

this situation, as did France and Spain. It is indeed difficult to see what would have been the outcome had

Great Britain also played at that time an aggressive and selfish part. She stayed her hand, but many

 

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