Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

carried by the northern, eastern, and middle states, all the southern states voting for admission. In this condition the question rested until the 14th of February, when came the time for opening and counting the votes of the electoral college, and declaring the election of a President and Vice President. Missouri had chosen presidential electors; not being definitely admitted a state, a question arose as to the propriety of counting her electoral vote. It was finally decided that the votes should be counted, and that the president of the Senate should declare that, if the votes of Missouri were counted, A. B. would have so many, and if the votes of Missouri were not counted, A. B. would have so many: in either case A. B. is elected. The same course was followed in counting the votes for Vice President. Mr. Clay had again resumed his seat in the House, and warmly supported this resolution. An effort was made by Mr. Randolph to declare that Missouri was a state of the Union, but this was not acceded to. On the 26th of February a resolution was offered by Mr. Clay, from a joint committee of the two houses, for the admission of Missouri into the Union, on the condition that the legislature of the state should assent to the proposition that nothing in the constitution of the state should ever be construed to the disadvantage of any citizen of any other state of the United States. This was agreed to in both House and Senate, and the President approving, on August 10, 1821, Missouri was admitted into the Union. The feeling of opposition to the extension of slavery, and the aggressions of the slave power, grew from this time forth, and never abated until the proclamation of emancipation, which went into effect in January, 1863, forever settled the question of slavery in the United States.

CHAPTER V.

THE SECOND ADMINISTRATION-ESTIMATE OF HIS ABILITIES-HIS DEATH IN NEW

YORK.

0

THER acts of the sixteenth Congress were the placing of the army on

a peace footing, reducing the force to seven regiments of infantry and four regiments of artillery, with additional officers for the engineering and ordnance departments. The appropriation for the navy, which had amounted, the previous year, to one million dollars, was reduced one-half. The President was authorized to take proper steps to assume control of the Floridas, which had been ceded to the United States by treaty, and the treaty ratified by the Spanish king, and by the United States government. Several propositions were presented, that were not acceded to; among others, that the sedition law of 1798 be repealed, and restitution made of fines collected through its provisions.

in the early spring of 1820, was held the convention for placing in nomination candidates for President and Vice President for the four years beginning March 4, 1821. James Monroe and Daniel D. Tompkins again received the nomination. The result of the election held in the following November, was flattering to the administration, evincing a degree of approval that had been accorded no incumbent of the office since the time of Washington. Mr. Monroe received two hundred and thirty-one electoral votes, but one vote being cast in opposition. Mr. Tompkins fell fourteen votes short of unanimous re-election. On Monday, the 5th of March, Mr. Mon. roe was a second time inducted into office, in the presence of a large number of his fellow-citizens.

The first session of the seventeenth Congress began December 3, 1821, and closed its labors May 8, 1822. Mr. Clay not being a member of this Congress, Philip P. Barbour, of Virginia, was chosen speaker of the House. A territorial government was established for Florida, and laws passed annulling certain ordinances then in force in the territory. A new apporo

tionment law was passed, establishing the ratio of representation at one representative for each forty thousand inhabitants. The increase of the protective tariff received strong support, but no legislation was had granting further relief to manufacturers. The independence of Mexico was recog. nized, as was that of five provinces in South America.

Early in 1823 President Monroe consulted Mr. Jefferson in relation to the course best to be followed by the government in the present attitude of the allied powers of Europe regarding Spain and her provinces. In reply Mr. Jefferson wrote, under date of June 11th: “The matter which now embroils Europe, the presumption of dictating to an independent nation the form of its government, is so arrogant, so atrocious, that indignation, as well as moral sentiment, enlists all our partialities and prayers in favor of one, and our equal exertions against the other. I do not know, indeed, whether all nations do not owe one another a bold and open declaration of their sympathies with the one party, and their detestation of the conduct of the other. But farther than this we are not bound to go; and, indeed, for the sake of the world, we ought not to increase the jealousies, or draw on ourselves the power, of this formidable confederacy. I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe.” In his opinion all we could do for Spain was to make

our neutrality as partial as would be justifiable without giving cause of war to her adversary.” England looked with longing eyes at Cuba as the richest portion of the West Indies, and evidently wished to add this source of profit to her vast possessions. The United States government was better satisfied to see things remain as they then were. The inhabitants of Cuba desired independence; failing to attain that, the next thing to be desired was annexation to the United States or to Mexico. Not many months passed before new interest attached to this question. It was rumored and believed, in both England and America, that the Holy Alliance now proposed direct interference between Spain and her revolted colonies. The British premier, Mr. Canning, who had heretofore shown no disposition of respect to the United States, earnestly solicited her assistance in preserving the integrity of Spain, and promised full support of England. As Mr. Monroe had before consulted with Mr. Jefferson regarding the question, so he now laid before him the condition of affairs.

In a letter to his former private secretary, William Short, under date August 4, 1820, Mr. Jefferson gave utterance to an opinion which expressed in full the advice he subsequently gave President Monroe. On that occasion he said: “The day is not distant, when we may formally require a meridian of partition through the ocean which separates the two hemispheres, on the hither side of which no European gun shall ever be heard, nor an American on the other; and when during the rage of the eternal wars of Europe, the lion and the lamb, within our regions, shall lie down together

[ocr errors]

in peace.

The principles of society there and here, then, are radically different, and I hope no American patriot will ever lose sight of the essential policy of interdicting in the seas and territories of both Americas, the ferocious and sanguinary contests of Europe.” In his reply to the communication of President Monroe he first asks the question, “Do we wish to acquire to our own confederacy any one or more of the Spanish provinces ?” and then answers that “this can never be attained, even with her [Cuba's) own consent, but by war; and if its independence, which is our second interest (and especially its independence of England), can be secured without it, I have no hesitation in abandoning my first wish to future chances, and accepting its independence, with peace and the friendship of England, rather than its association, at the expense of war and her enmity. I could honestly, therefore, join in the declaration proposed, that we aim not at the acquisition of any of these possessions, that we will not stand in the way

of any amicable arrangement between them and the mother country ; but that we will oppose, with all our means, the forcible interposition of any other power as auxiliary, stipendiary, or under any other form or pretext, and most especially, their transfer to any power by conquest, cession, or acquisition in any other way. I should think it, therefore, advisable, that the Executive should encourage the British government to a continuance in the disposition expressed in the letters, by an assurance of his concurrence with them as far as his authority goes ; and that as it may lead to war, the declaration of which requires an act of Congress, the case shall be laid before them for consideration at their first meeting, and under the reasonable aspect in which it is seen by himself.” Thus the principles that were a few weeks later promulgated by Monroe were directly suggested by Jefferson in this communication.

President Monroe's message, giving utterance to the famous “Monroe doctrine,” was published December 2, 1823. It announced that, “We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere, as dangerous to our peace and safety. With existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with the governments which have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have on great considerations and on just principles acknowledged, we could not view any interposition, for the purpose of oppressing them or controlling in any measure their destiny, by any European power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States.” The principle here enunciated has since remained one of the cardinal doctrines of the government, though the ill-advised action of a subsequent secretary of the state, in the case of the occupation by a British force of certain territory in

Nicaragua, had the effect to, in a measure, annul its force, and establish a precedent in direct opposition to the Monroe doctrine.

In the eighteenth Congress, which convened December 1, 1823, again came up the subject of internal improvements. Mr. Monroe, in a special message submitted to Congress May 4, 1822, had made an intelligent and comprehensive review of the subject, expressing an opinion that it was beyond the powers of Congress. The growth of public opinion in favor of a system of internal improvements, that would develop the vast resources of the country, caused him to change his previous views, and authorize the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates for such canals and roads as would prove of national benefit. Congress appropriated the sum of thirty thousand dollars for this purpose.

As early as 1822, when yet remained three years of Monroe's second term as President, the question relative to his successor occupied the minds of politicians, at Washington and elsewhere. Among the names proposed as candidates were William H. Crawford, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and General Andrew Jackson. Events reduced the number to four. The vote in the electoral college gave Andrew Jackson ninety-nine, John Quincy Adams eighty-four, William H. Crawford forty-one, and Henry Clay thirty-seven. No election resulting, the question was, under the Constitution, removed to the House of Representatives, where it was determined in February, 1825, Adams receiving the vote of thirteen states, General Jackson of seven, and Crawford of four. Retaining the office until the 3d of March, 1825, Monroe witnessed the inauguration of his successor, after which he retired to private life.

His administration was eminently prosperous. In the language of Mr. Adams: “President Monroe strengthened his country for defense, by a system of combined fortifications, military and naval; sustaining her rights, her dignity and honor abroad; soothing her dissensions, and conciliating her acerbities at home; controlling by a firm, though peaceful policy, the hostile spirit of the European alliance against republican Southern America ; extorting, by the mild compulsion of reason, the shores of the Pacific from the stipulated acknowledgment of Spain ; and leading back the imperial autocrat of the north, to his lawful boundaries, from his hastily-asserted dominion over the southern ocean. Thus strengthening and consolidating the federative edifice of his country's union, till he was entitled to say, like Augustus Cæsar of his imperial city, that he had found her built of brick, and left her constructed of marble."

Unlike Jefferson and Madison, his predecessors in the presidential chair, Monroe was not a philosopher or a statesman; he was more a politician. Never so fertile in resource as either, he yet seized upon and amplified ideas that originated in the brains of others, and achieved a popularity in the dominant party that advanced him from post to post of honor until he

[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »