- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Nov 1908, p. 40-57
- Neville, R.S., Speaker
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- The idea of universal dominion which cursed the world from the fall of Babylon to the fall of Napoleon, with its highest exemplification in the Roman Empire. Now the aggressive Imperialism which aims at the establishment of universal dominion upon the ruins of the national liberties of the civilized world is the kind that has made the word "Imperialism" offensive to all freedom-loving men. Circumstances and inclination which ordained that the English people should oppose a monopoly of power, and how that is so: a historical review. The development of the doctrine known as the "Balance of Power" and its representation during the last generation on the Continent. The problem of nations which do not willingly assent to the doctrine of Balance. Applying the principle to continents or hemispheres, with instance. The business of statesmen to provide for the future; Britain's search for some means of maintaining the Balance of Power in Asia. British diplomacy once again triumphing, with the Pacific world now promising peaceful progress, international stability, and fair play to all. British diplomacy in modern Europe, and in Africa. Ways in which every nation in the Eastern Hemisphere owes its political position and national liberties largely to Great Britain. Still greater advantages to be found in the Western Hemisphere. A new phase of diplomacy when the boundaries of the new American republic had to be defined. England's refusal to desert the Canadians and Loyalists who had stood by her in her hour of trouble. How Great Britain provided for the inevitable expansion of the United States, and made sure that it should be westward and not northward. Canada finding these natural barriers our salvation in the war of 1812-14. More details of British diplomacy as the map of North American was politicized. British diplomacy with regard to Alaska. A disputed boundary as one of the most dangerous of international disputes. How the boundary of Alaska was determined. The dispute about the north boundary of Maine. Remarks about the Monroe Doctrine. Achievements of the British Empire. What Canada owes to Great Britain.
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- 18 Nov 1908
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- BRITISH DIPLOMACY.
An address by MR. R. S. NEVILLE, K.C., of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on November 18th, 1908.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
On the eve of the battle of Arbela, Darius sent envoys to Alexander the Great to sue for peace. Alexander sent back this message: " Tell your Sovereign that the world will not permit two suns nor two Sovereigns." The next day he overthrew Darius and made himself the overlord of the known world. This idea of universal dominion cursed the world from the fall of Babylon to the fall of Napoleon. It had its highest exemplification in the Roman Empire, which turned the world into a vast prison-house, within which resistance meant death, and from which there was no escape, except to the fens and forests, beyond the pale of organized society. But the great Empire fell. Slavery destroyed free labour; a false economical system and oppressive taxation ruined the middle classes; the heart was eaten out of the Empire and it became an empty shell, already useless to mankind, before the so-called barbarians invaded and dismembered it.
But the idea of universal dominion was not dead. It survived in theory in the Holy Roman Empire. It was aimed at by Charlemagne; by Charles V.; by Philip of Spain; by Louis XIV.; and certainly it was threatened by Napoleon Bonaparte. Now the aggressive Imperialism which aims at the establishment of universal dominion upon the ruins of the national liberties of the civilized world is the kind that has made the word " Imperialism " offensive to all freedom-loving men. It is always followed by the loss of individual liberty, and is incompatible with human freedom in any form. Circumstances, as well as inclination, ordained that the English people should oppose a monopoly of power. England was repeatedly invaded and conquered up to the year 1066 and in all cases; except that of the Romans, the conquerors and their kin remained in the country. These experiences taught all that the sea was the most convenient kind of highway for an invader, and that an enemy must be beaten before he landed, not afterwards. Control of the Narrow Seas became the cardinal principle of British policy, and, as occasion demanded, this control had to be extended-first to the Mediterranean, and afterwards to the waters of the world, wherever British possessions, British trade or interests, or British subjects, required protection.
But control of the Narrow Seas could not be maintained by so small a people against a united Europe or Western Europe. Whenever, therefore, any one Power endeavoured to gather into its hands all the resources of Europe or Western Europe, both sympathy for the liberties of others, and a sense of national danger, impelled the English to oppose the would-,be monopolist of power. The struggle was long and often fierce, and throughout it all British diplomacy played its great part. Various combinations were formed from time to time as occasion required, and one by one monopolistic forces were checked or destroyed, while the nations were preserved. There was gradually built up a doctrine known as the "Balance of Power," and, after the fall of Napoleon, it came to be recognized by the great Powers as the international law of Europe. This new principle of balance prohibits any one Power from obtaining political supremacy over a prostrate world, and recognizes the right of every great civilized race or nation to work out its destiny according to its own ideals and genius. On this principle the modern world has been built, and international stability maintained. During the last generation it has been represented on the Continent by the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy on the one side, and the Dual Alliance of France and Russia on the other; while Great Britain has stood outside with one naval arm in the Mediterranean and the other in the North Sea, the arbiter of the European balance, and the umpire of the world.
Yet there are nations which do not willingly assent to the doctrine of Balance; only the world has grown larger than in the old days, and no one Power is in a position to assert universal sway. So certain Powers have sought to apply the principle rather to continents or hemispheres than to the whole world. Thus, since the consolidation of the German Empire, we have seen Germany encouraging Russia to take Asia for her share, and leave the former Power to work her will in Western and Southern Europe. Germany has deliberately adopted the policy of dominating the Latin nations, and this policy, if successful, would lead to the control of all Europe west of Russia, and to that of the Mediterranean Sea. In the end the German Colossus, astride of Europe and the British highway to the East, would be ready to hurl the weight of Western Europe against the British Isles. In Asia, Russia marched eastward, adding new dominions to her empire yearly, till she held most of western, central and northern Asia, and placed the Bear's paws on the very walls of China. Then she commenced to establish her great naval and military bases on the Pacific. Once dominant there, with Japan at her mercy, China would fall. When China was digested, it would be an easy matter for Russia, in possession of the resources of the entire continent north of the Himalayas, to drive the British out of India.
It is the business of statesmen to provide for the future, and Britain looked about for some means of maintaining the Balance of Power in Asia. Japan was the only efficient Power, besides England, which had vital interests at stake. At the time of the Boxer troubles Britain had recognized the efficiency of the Japanese troops, and she knew the mighty force of Japanese patriotism. She, therefore, entered into an alliance with Japan by which she agreed to keep off the European Powers and give Japan an opportunity to fight Russia alone and save herself from prospective destruction if she could. Japan was victorious, and the Russian advance was checked. Immediately England entered into a new agreement with Japan, by which the two Powers jointly guaranteed the integrity of China. Thus the national liberties of the East have been preserved, and Great Britain has paid back to Asia the debt of Western Europe which had been owing since, five hundred years before, Tamerlane saved the West from the great Ottoman Turk. Though Germany raised the cry of the Yellow Peril and denounced Great Britain as a traitor to the white races, yet the other great nations of Europe and America having interests in Asia and the Pacific have one by one followed her diplomatic example and made agreements with Japan. Once more British diplomacy has triumphed, and the Pacific world now promises peaceful progress, international stability, and fair play to all.
As to modern Europe, when it lay bankrupt and bleeding at the feet of Napoleon, Great Britain gave the broken nations aid in soldiers and subsidies, sailors and ships, revived their spirit, and finally succeeded in restoring their national liberties. Before that she had given aid to Frederick the Great, and it is safe to say that no Prussian king would be emperor of a united Germany today had it not been for William Pitt. In more recent times Great Britain has prevented Russia from marching through Sweden and Norway to an open port on the Atlantic. It has been her policy to maintain these nations, and Denmark, Holland, and Belgium, from aggression on the part of Russia and Germany. Since the Franco-Prussian War she has three times, if not four, saved France from another overthrow at the hands of Germany. Portugal is her ancient ally, and owes her small strip of territory on the Atlantic coast to British support. Great Britain is now the supporting friend of all South Europe, while Russia is crippled, and is cooperating with the southern nations to maintain stability on the Mediterranean. She favours a confederation of Balkan States into a powerful nation that will be able to secure peace and safety there. She supports resolutely the new constitutional government in Turkey. She took hold of Egypt less than a generation ago when that country was bankrupt financially, politically and morally, and in a state of anarchy, and has restored peace, order and prosperity there. Mummy-land is being modernized, and is now far the most prosperous country in the Levant. She has saved Persia and Afghanistan from the Russ. India had been the prey of different conquerors from time immemorial till Great Britain gave it order and justice and an opportunity to work out a great destiny if its people have the genius.
With regard to Africa, Great Britain controls the land entrance through Egypt, and by her navy every other gateway into that continent. If any other nation were in her position there would be an effort to create a monopoly .of power, but Great Britain invites all the nations of Christendom having interests there to assist in the up-building of the African peoples. Instead of the two hundred years of war which distressed America, we see these nations under British leadership advancing, arm in arm, developing the resources of Africa, putting down slave-trading and other barbarous practices, and introducing law and order and Christian civilization. The Boer War was necessary to remove a system of government that was an anachronism and a stumbling-block to progress, and today the defeated Boers are loyal subjects, living under happier conditions than they ever knew under their late Republic, and collaborating with the other colonies in the organization of a united British South Africa. From what has been said it will be seen that every nation in the Eastern Hemisphere owes its political position and national liberties largely to Great Britain.
Now we turn to America, and we shall find that the Western Hemisphere has received still greater advantages. Spain acquired title by discovery. By the same right Portugal acquired the East. The Pope confirmed their titles, and divided the non-Christian world between them, giving Africa and the East to Portugal, and the Western Hemisphere to Spain. Then Spain took Portugal captive, and thus acquired title to both the East and the West. England had no need of colonies in those days. When Henry VII came to the throne the population was about 2,500,000, and not more than 5,000,000 at the death of Elizabeth; but as the great extent and vast resources of the New World became known, England realized that if it were allowed to remain the possession of one or more European Powers she would ultimately be crushed like an egg-shell between the hostile continents. In self-defence, therefore, she was obliged to combat monopoly in the Americas. France was, in a less degree, under similar stress, and the three nations came to be the chief competitors for American territory. England was willing to share with the others, but when France and Spain became well established in America, they entered into a secret treaty under which they were to divide the Western Hemisphere between them. One was in possession of the countries on the Gulf of Mexico, the other of the St. Lawrence Valley. France commenced to extend her forts through the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, with the view of surrounding the English Colonies on the Atlantic coast and crushing them or driving them into the sea. Spain, having a secret understanding with France, became suddenly aggressive, and under pretence of enforcing an old treaty that had long been neglected in practice, she seized British ships trading with Spanish countries in America, not only in Spanish waters, but upon the high seas. Many of these were Colonial vessels, and both Home and Colonial merchant traders cried aloud for protection. But England was hushed to sleep by Walpole, until prolonged clamour woke her up and forced the Government to go to war with Spain in 1739.
This war was not very glorious, for the army and navy had been neglected, and England was ill prepared. But the spirit of the people was aroused. They swept Walpole and his un-English policy away, finally put Pitt in the saddle, and in about twenty years finished the fight for Northern America and India, and placed their country at a height of power never attained before. France was not only beaten out of North America, but was humiliated by the terms of the treaty of peace. Resentment entered into the hearts of her people, and the spirit of revenge rose to a national passion. It found its embodiment in Beaumarchais, whom the people of the United States scarcely ever mention, but who did more to help that country achieve independence than any other non-military man. With French and Spanish money he supplied the Americans with 30,000 rifles and over Zoo cannon during the early part of the struggle. He sent them vast stores of tents, provisions and equipment of all kinds, while his French military lieutenants were organizing the Colonial army. Without his aid Colonial resistance would have ,broken down in the first two years of the war, before France openly espoused the Colonial cause. Then Spain followed the lead of France; Holland became a belligerent; the other Powers organized the " Armed Neutrality," and England stood alone against the world. It was a European war, and France had her revenge in the independence of the United States just twenty years after the cession of Canada to Great Britain.
Diplomacy at this point entered a new: phase in America, for the boundaries of the new republic had to be defined. The Americans demanded the cession of Canada, but England refused to desert the Canadians) and Loyalists who had stood by her in her hour of trouble, and refused to make the cession. The Americans then claimed that their northern boundary should shoot off from the St. Lawrence at the point where it is cut by the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude-not far from Cornwall-in a straight line to the south end of Lake Nipissing. This would have given control of the Great Lakes and the richest part of Ontario to the United States, and made a transcontinental British North American dominion impossible. Being vital, it also was refused But the great question was, How much could England hold? The Americans had warned the Mother Country that there could be no lasting peace unless all Canada was ceded. In the face of this threat the question was most urgent, How much could England hold? She had, say, 70,000 French-Canadian subjects, and a few thousand poverty-stricken Loyalists. The population of the new republic was 3,000,000, most of them energetic colonizers sprung from the greatest of colonizing Powers. The odds were enormous, and the continent was empty. Great Britain remembered the fate of France, that had been ruined in America by the lure of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys, and by the attempt to hold them with Canada as a base. She knew that she was much less favourably placed than France had been. The mouth of the Mississippi was in hostile hands. Hundreds of miles of wilderness lay between settled Canada and the Ohio country. The waterways were choked by the rapids of the St. Lawrence and by the falls of Niagara. England was 4,000 miles distant. The Americans lay between, and they had fought for this great interior-it was one of the causes of the war. England might as well have tried to dam Niagara as hold the Americans back from this empty and, to her, inaccessible wilderness. How much can I hold, said she, for my handful of Canadians and Loyalists? She was confronted by the possible and the impossible, and finally decided to take advantage of the Great Lakes and the waterways as natural barriers and try to hold the country on the north. By this arrangement she provided for the inevitable expansion of the United States, and made sure that it should be westward and not northward.
At the same time she did full justice to her handful of Canadians, for she reserved for their future use a hinterland several times larger than the entire United States, which then extended only to the Mississippi. The arrangement satisfied the national needs of the United States, but not their ambition, and we found these natural barriers our salvation in the war of 1812-14. When Napoleon came upon the world's stage and France had taken back from Spain the Louisiana territory, he sought to establish a great Napoleonic empire in America. But Nelson beat him off the Atlantic, and to save Louisiana from the British he sold it to the United States. This doubled their territory and quadrupled their ambition. The boundary had soon to be drawn westward to the Rocky Mountains, but on what basis was it to be fixed? In 1783 neither Government had known where the source of the Mississippi was, and they had guessed at it, only to find later on that they were far astray. This may be fortunate for us, for if it had been as far north as was supposed it is, not unlikely that the line would have been drawn straight west from it. As it was, there was room for compromise and a fair partition. The British north was empty, and British population in its westward march could never keep pace with that of the United States on the south; yet England looked to the future and proposed the 49th parallel. She said to Uncle Sam, " I will divide fair. You take the south; I will keep the north." It was so settled, and again full justice was done to her British subjects, for they had reserved for them a far greater West than that of the United States, which did not then include their great South West, subsequently acquired.
But the Oregon country was left open for future agreement. The United States claimed all west of the Rocky Mountains from the 42nd degree of north latitude to 54 degrees 4o minutes-the southern boundary of Alaska. Into it they sent an expedition and settlers, not because their territory was full or overflowing with inhabitants, but for the political purpose of strengthening their claim by possession, and holding it if necessary by force on the spot. In the '40's the controversy became acute, and it had to be settled. Again Great Britain said, " I will divide fairly by extending Line 49 to the western coast." But this time the United States flatly refused. The spirit of war was aroused, and the country rang with the cry, " 54-40 or fight." But John Bull knew his map. The question was not that of a crooked boundary fence-post or of a barren rock on the Alaskan shore. It was that of a Pacific frontier to a transcontinental dominion. That dominion might then be unformed and empty, but Mr. Bull has foresight and political perspective. No one knows better than John what is worth fighting for, though he has more sense than to exhaust his resources in fighting for trifles. The Pacific frontier was no trifle, and he said: " No; Line 49 is my best proposition." In the end the 49th line was fixed upon as far as the coast, and then the boundary was deflected southward below Vancouver Island, and it is entirely due to firm British statesmanship and diplomacy that Canada has now her splendid Pacific Province and Pacific frontier.
In the same decade the United States made unjust war upon Mexico and robbed her of 850,000 square miles, including California, Texas, and several other states. Mexico had no powerful Mother Country at her back. That is the difference.
Now turn to the far north-west. About 1670, if I remember correctly, the Hudson's Bay Company charter was issued, giving it the trading rights in the country tributary to Hudson's Bay and to the waterways that flow into it. The grant was indefinite, but by no stretch of imagination could it be claimed that it gave title to the Yukon River basin, which was beyond the Rocky Mountains. Along came Mackenzie and traced the river that now bears his name to its mouth in the Arctic Ocean, thus establishing in Great Britain the title to the Mackenzie River basin. Russia was in possession of Alaska. Who, then, owned the Yukon? It used to be the rule that the nation which discovered the mouth of a river in an open continent had a sufficient claim to the whole river valley. On this principle France had been able to claim the Mississippi and St. Lawrence valleys. Then England set up as a counterclaim that the nation that owned the coast owned the hinterland. Under this rule, as possessor of the Atlantic coast, England claimed the interior beyond the Alleghany Mountains. But in the case of Alaska, Russia had title by both rules, for she held both the mouth of the Yukon and the entire coast. By all principles of international flaw Russia, 'therefore, was entitled to the whole Yukon valley or river basin. The range of mountains that divides the Yukon and Mackenzie valleys was the legal, as well as the natural, boundary between British and Russian territory, but in 1825 British diplomacy outmatched Russian, and secured a treaty defining the boundary quite differently. Instead of taking the natural divide between the Mackenzie and Yukon valleys, the line is defined from the south, running northerly from a point on the Pacific coast a short distance, and then turning northwesterly and running across ii degrees of longitude to the 141st meridian, and then north to the Arctic. This gave to Great Britain the upper portion of the Yukon Valley, out of which we have recently taken over $100,000,000 in gold and organized our "Yukon Empire." How did it happen? The Russian diplomatists had one central thought, and that was control of the coast. They wanted it placed out of Great Britain's power to interfere with Russian fishing or trading establishments on the coast or on the adjacent islands. The British diplomatists gratified them with this shell of the Yukon nut in order that Great Britain might get the rich meat of the interior. So the agreement was made, and Russia was conceded a title to a strip along the entire coast to which she had a just claim, while Great Britain was given a title to a large tract of the interior to which her claim was very weak indeed. There was no misunderstanding, however, about the meaning of the treaty. It conceded to Russia control of the coasts, heads of inlets, and all, only giving certain rights of passage to Great Britain. Russian and British maps both showed this intention, and the United States maps followed the others; but when Canada came to have an interest, and particularly after the great gold discoveries in the Yukon, she sought to place a technical construction upon certain words of the treaty and give it a meaning no one else had thought of, because she wanted a port of entry into the Yukon country.
Now British diplomacy had done its work with retard to Alaska in 1825. What remained was merely to find the meaning of the treaty about which there was a question raised by Canada. This was properly the work of a judicial tribunal. When the parties could not agree, arbitration was decided upon. The arbitrators on the British or Canadian side were named and approved by the Canadian Government. The British Government does not claim the credit for the excellent appointments made, nor had it or British diplomacy any responsibility for the result. When the whole evidence was laid before the arbitrators it was found that on the merits the decision must be against Canada on the matter of chief importance, namely, the control of the heads of inlets, and, therefore, of a port of entry into the British Yukon. The decision in some other minor respects was a compromise between the doubtful contentions of the litigants. This is often the case even in the administration of ordinary justice when a court is composed of more than one judge, or where there is a jury. It is always the duty of courts and juries when they can agree on the main issue, to find a solution of their difficulties, if any exist, on matters of little moment. When judges or juries agree about matters of importance it would be a farce if they split on trifles. I only mention these ordinary court practices because you are familiar with them. An international tribunal of arbitration is a judicial body of higher responsibility. It is appointed after diplomacy has exhausted its resources and failed, and from it there is no appeal. It is not merely the court of last resort; it is the last resource of civilization to maintain peace.
A disputed boundary is one of the most dangerous of international disputes. The attempt to arrest a prisoner or perform any one of a hundred common acts may bring the police or local officials or citizens of the two nations into collision. Blood may be shed before the government of either country is aware of it, and when once blood starts to flow it is hard to stop. More than once in the past Canadian and United States troops have confronted each other on our frontiers on account of acts performed on disputed territory, the boundaries being unsettled. In the Alaska case, the main issue having been decided against us on the merits and some of the minor issues solved in the spirit of compromise, there came the final question of the possession of four islands. The United States claimed that the line should run south of them, giving them to Alaska. Canada claimed that it should run north of them, and that they belonged to her. On this issue the arbitrators were at first equally divided, and a deadlock was threatened; but, finally, the United States commissioners offered a compromise, giving the two large islands next to the continent to Canada, and the two small ones farther out to the United States. These were but barren rocks, not worth the powder that would set one gun off, and the title to them was doubtful. It was clearly, therefore, a case in which refusal to accept the proposal of the United States, rather than leave the whole boundary dispute unsettled, would have been an act of criminal folly unparalleled in modern international relations. Yet when Lord Alverstone agreed to this settlement a shout of indignation went up from Canada that echoed throughout the civilized world. Surely our people must have misunderstood. I hope they will yet do justice to Lord Alverstone. History surely will.
Now, my time is so nearly exhausted that I shall only mention the dispute about the north boundary of Maine, which was settled by the Ashburton Treaty in 1842, before I make a few final remarks upon the Monroe Doctrine. I can the more readily pass lightly over the Maine boundary because I discussed it in the Canadian Courier in the issue of September 12th last (1908). To that article I must refer you for particulars, only mentioning here the conclusion which I arrived at there, namely, that the result of all the diplomatic negotiations between Great Britain and the United States, ending with the Ashburton Treaty, respecting the boundary in question, was that Canada got 5,000 square miles of territory to which she had no title. The " huge wedge " mentioned in our school books, which divides the Province of New Brunswick from the Province of Quebec, is not the result of any blunder on the part of Lord Ashburton. That wedge was driven northward by the British when the south was British and Canada was French. In the middle of the eighteenth century the British claimed that their territory extended all the way from Florida to the banks of the St. Lawrence. . The French disputed this extreme claim at the north. Then Great Britain conquered Canada, and the question ceased to be international and became intercolonial or interprovincial. When Great Britain set up her new Government at Quebec after the conquest, she necessarily defined its jurisdiction, and the boundary was then fixed along the northern highlands that separate the valleys of the St. Lawrence and St. John, running westward from Chaleurs Bay. That boundary, then settled, continued till the American Revolution swept all south of it out of the Empire. It was, therefore, British diplomacy, culminating in the Ashburton Treaty, that pushed the boundary southward to the St. John River and gave us the intervening 5,000 square miles referred to.
The Monroe Doctrine is neither American in origin nor in principle, and accords with British policy in other parts of the world. The French Revolution gave an impulse to liberty throughout Europe, and after the fall of Napoleon the crowned heads of Austria, Prussia, France and Russia formed what has been known as the Holy Alliance; for it was an attempt to regulate the government of the world in accordance with the doctrines and practices of the Christian religion as these autocratic sovereigns understood them. As time passed, the chief objects of the Alliance were revealed to be the maintenance of monarchial institutions in their absolutist form, the quelling of all democratic uprisings, and the protection of their own dynastic interests. The revolutions in Naples and Piedmont were put down, and absolute monarchy was restored in Spain with the aid of a French army 100,000 strong. Great Britain was no party to the Alliance, and, though a monarchy, had no sympathy with absolutism. She demurred to the proceedings of the Alliance, and then protested; but when she found that the allies, or some of them, planned to interfere on the side of Spain and re-subjugate the revolted Spanish countries in America, she began to act more resolutely.
Her first step was to lay the whole matter before the United States of America and invite their co-operation. This was the work of George Canning, who had been appointed Foreign Secretary in 1822. He believed that if Great Britain and the United States would come to an agreement and jointly announce their opposition to the project, it would be abandoned without war. Mr. Canning, therefore, began negotiations with Mr. Rush, the American Minister at London. " I am persuaded," said he, "there has seldom in the history of the world occurred an opportunity when so small an effort of two friendly governments might produce so unequivocal a good and prevent such extensive calamities." But Mr. Rush had no authority to enter into an agreement, and all he could do was to report to Washington, and send; over the correspondence that had passed between himself and Mr. Canning, and await instructions. But communication was slow in those days, and the President of the United States was some time consulting with his leading statesmen. So many weeks passed without any reply. In the meantime the continental plan became so far advanced that Canning decided not to wait for American co-operation, and on the responsibility of Great Britain alone he gave notice that she would oppose the expedition with all her force. Trafalgar was still fresh in the mind of Europe, and the whole project was at once abandoned.
Thus was Europe prevented from imposing despotic government upon any American country, or transferring thither its military establishments. Thus were all the nations then existing in the Western Hemisphere preserved from European aggression. This is the Monroe Doctrine practically exemplified, and it was in effective operation while the Washington statesmen were still considering its adoption. When finally they had made up their minds there was nothing practical left for them to do except to make a declaration. They, therefore, formulated a policy of " Hands off America," and President Monroe set it forth in a message to Congress. It was received with enthusiasm, christened after Monroe, and remains today the kernel of the foreign policy of the United States. One of Jefferson's letters to the President fully acknowledges British leadership. He said that while Europe was labouring to be the domicile of despotism, " our endeavours should surely be to make our hemisphere that of freedom . . . . One nation most of all could disturb us in this pursuit. She now offers to lead, aid and accompany us in it. By acceding to her proposition we detach her from the bonds, bring her mighty weight into the scales of free government, and emancipate a continent at a stroke, which might otherwise linger along in doubt and difficulty."
At the time of Monroe's message (1823) the United States had not yet rounded out its territory, nor grown to a position of great power, and without British support no such defiance of Europe could have then been thought of. The objects of the policy were partly common to both nations, but some were purely British. Both were opposed to despotic power and desired none but free nations in America. Both had immense territories in North America, unsettled or sparsely settled, that would be endangered if European military establishments were placed on their borders. But Great Britain had separate interests. She had fallen heir to Spain's South and Central American trade, which she desired to retain and knew that she would lose if these Spanish-American countries fell under the control of European powers; for their trade policy was to exclude foreigners from their possessions. And, further, Great Britain knew that European military encampments on the borders of the United States would compel that country, in self-defence, to maintain a great army of its own, and this would be as dangerous to British possessions, if not more so, as the European armies. Her policy was, therefore, to make it wholly unnecessary for the United States to become a strong military power.
All objects have been completely fulfilled. Every nation is free in both the North and the South; the territories of both Great Britain and the United States have been free from attack by any non-American power; Great Britain still retains the trade, and militarism in this hemisphere was scotched in its infancy. Great Britain has consistently adhered to the Monroe Doctrine, and every British statesman endorses it today. Canning's splendid policy has been justified by results. The co-operation of the two nations has produced, as he foresaw, unequivocal good, and prevented extensive calamities. At first the burden was all on our Mother Country, but as the United States has grown to power, Great Britain has encouraged them to assume more and more of the responsibilities. Yet to this day the United States has never been in a position to enforce the doctrine against Europe, and but for Great Britain we should long ago have seen different nations fighting for South America as they long did for North America.
Now, we have taken scarcely a bird's-eye view of the political world, yet we have surely seen that Great Britain has been, as the British Empire is today, the greatest secular force for good that ever existed in the history of the world. In her diplomacy abroad, as in her system of Government at home, she has opposed tyranny, befriended freedom, and lighted the paths of progress. Under her international leadership, since the fall of Napoleon and the establishment of the doctrine of " Balance of Power," there has been no general war, though such wars were common before, and the world and every human interest have advanced more in 100 years than in any 1,000 years of previous history.
As to Canada, Great Britain conquered it 150 years ago, at great cost of blood and treasure, and has made it a free gift to us, with all its revenues, for all time to come. Gradually she has extended its borders, fenced it about, held it for us, though empty, against all the land-hungry nations of the world, and guarded every vital interest. In 125 years since the Treaty of 1783 we have had 122 years of peace, and today we find ourselves in possession of one of the greatest countries ever possessed by a people, with two wide ocean frontiers, the greatest inland waterways in the world, a transcontinental chain of organized provinces, and no one thing lacking requisite for our national greatness. History shows no parallel. It could not have been accomplished by any but the Mistress of the Sea, and only by her through broad statesmanship, splendid foresight, and skilful diplomacy unsurpassed in any age or in any part of the world.