Page images

comport with our policy to do so.

We owe it, therefore, to candour, 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 political system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. Our policy in regard to Europe is not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers.

But in regard to these continents, circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness.”






“ This expansion of our population and accession of new states to our Union have had the happiest effect on all its highest interests.

That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and respectability as a power is admitted by all.

It is manifest that by enlarging the basis of our system, and increasing the number of states, the system itself has been strengthened in both its branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally impracticable.” (')

This announcement has been improved upon by subsequent politicians, and the Monroe doctrine is understood as containing the conception—so dear to the people of the United States—that their peculiar institutions and form of government must ere long overspread the entire continent.

From the first promulgation of the above-mentioned views of President Monroe, the restless energy and unlimited resources of that powerful people

(1) President's Messages, pp. 257—267.

have been directed to the furtherance of the doctrine which goes by his name; and his policy has been illustrated (as is well known) by the determined opposition of the North towards Southern secession; the implacable hostility of the United States to the policy of France with reference to Mexico; and also, more recently, by the purchase (at an enormous price) of the inhospitable region of Alaska from the Russians; and by the overtures which they have lately made for the purchase of the Hudson's Bay territory. In the acquisition of Alaska, however, that determined opponent of the power of Great Britain on the continent of North America, Mr. Seward, saw the advantage of the United States, for he seeks, thereby, and by a kindred policy, to “ crowd” Great Britain out of the Pacific, and eventually to compel the North American colonies to enter the United States federation.

I am well aware that there is a strong anticolonial party in this country, and that it advocates an abandonment of the colonies. This party would meet any colonial question which might seem capable of embroiling the empire with other countries, hy proposing the immediate cession or relinquishment of the territories with reference to which such questions arose.

If this were the general opinion, it would be useless to call the attention of the public to any colonial question in which other powerful and aggressive nations might be interested. It is, however, the opinion of the great majority of the people of Great Britain, that she could not relinquish her colonies with advantage to herself, and that, even if she could, she is bound in honour not to do so, unless with the express assent, or at the express desire of the colonies themselves. I am not about to descant at any length in this place upon the well-known advantages which Great Britain has hitherto derived, and still continues to derive, from her possession of colonies. They form a natural outlet for her surplus population; and emigrants arriving in a well-governed colony are absorbed into the mass of its population, and remain well-disposed towards Great Britain. Until the resources of the colony are thoroughly developed, its population will prefer to purchase from the mother country, rather than from any other country, those manufactured articles which are necessary to their existence. On the manufacture of such articles, and upon ready markets for the same, the internal prosperity of this country mainly depends. At the present time those markets of the world (and they are few) which are open to the free competition of British commerce, are overcrowded with British manufactured goods. Supply is greater than demand, , and our policy must aim at opening up new and unexplored regions to our trade. But at this very period, the United States are seeking to exclude our commerce, and to overshadow with their protective and selfish system those almost boundless territories, which a generous and consistent policy on the part of Great Britain might cover with loyal subjects, well-intentioned towards their mother country. But

further, the key of the East is the key of the world, and should the United States monopolise the eastern trade by the Pacific railroad, or the Isthmus of Panama, our power and influence as a nation must rapidly decrease.

It is absolutely necessary that Great Britain should make and preserve a direct communication with the East through the continent of America, the passages through which continent the United States will otherwise, ere long, close against us. This communication can be made by means of a railroad connecting our possessions on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, and would prove a benefit to ourselves and to the colonies.

But other arguments may be urged (beyond those which merely touch the public purse) against the abandonment of our possessions. Are the people of England content to live with the sole object of manufacturing goods for the rest of the world, at the prices which others choose to offer for them ? to work, and see others reap the profits of their labour and ingenuity? Are British statesmen content to degenerate into mere managers of a vast business; to see other nations contending for power and precedence, and to remain indifferent and passive spectators ?

Are we prepared to recede step by step from the territories which have been handed down to us, content with that easy but ignoble doctrine that our mission is to civilise the world, and then sink into oblivion ?

But even if, consistently with her advantage, England might negociate a cession of her colonies, I must venture to submit that she could not, consistently with her honour, dispose of or sell a portion of her territory, with the population inhabiting the same, and possessing the rights of citizenship jointly with Englishmen, unless by the express desire or consent of such inhabitants. This is a proposition which needs no argument to support it; for, as every man is bound to provide for the maintenance of his own progeny during infancy, so is

nation bound to sustain the life, interests, and nationality of its offshoots until they are able to maintain their positions and individual rights amongst the nations of the world.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »