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And still later, in a letter to Gen. Lafayette, dated Dec. 25, 1798, be says:
“ On the politics of Europe I shall express no opinion, nor make any inquiry who is right or who is wrong. I wish well to all nations and to all men. My politics are plain and simple. I think every nation has a right to establish that form of government under which it conceives it may live most happy, provided it infracts no right or is not dangerous to others; and that no governments ought to interfere with the internal concerns of an. other, except for the security of what is due to themselves.”
Such was the policy of Washington, and such has been the policy of our government ever since its establishment, as might easily be shown by historical references, among which it may not be out of place to note the following language used by Henry Clay, while Secretary of State, in his instructions to Mr. Poinsett, relative to the Panama mission:
Finally, I have it in charge to direct your attention to the subject of the forms of government, and to the cause of free institutions on this continent. The United States never have been, and are not, animated by any spirit of propagandism. They prefer to all other forms of government, and are perfectly contented with their own confederacy. Allowing no foreign interference, either in the formation or the conduct of their government, they are equally scrupulous in refraining from all interference in the original structure or subsequent interior movements of the government of other independent nations. Indifferent they are not, because they cannot be indifferent to the happiness of any nation. But the interest which they are accustomed to cherish in the wisdom or folly which may mark the course of other powers in the adoption and execution of their political system, is rather a sympathy of feeling than a principle of action."
And such, too, was the language of Gen. Jackson, in his fourth annual message to Congress, as will be seen by the following extract from it :
“ In the view I have given of our connection with foreign powers, allusions have been made to their domestic disturbances or foreign wars, to their revolutions or dissensions. It may be proper to observe, that this is done solely in cases where those events affect our political relations with them, or to show their operation on our commerce. Further than this, it is neither our policy nor our right to interfere. Our best wishes on all occasions, our good offices when required, will be afforded to promote the domestic tranquillity and foreign peace of all nations with whom we have any intercourse. Any intervention in their affairs further than this, even by the expression of an official opinion, is contrary to our principles of international policy, and will always be avoided.”
Thus far our government has perseveringly adhered to the advice given by Washington on this subject. Its policy, to use the language of Jefferson, has been : “Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever State or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none;" and it is most devoutly to be hoped that there must be other reasons than those arged by the Free German Association, or any which have yet been suggested from any other source, to make true and patriotic Americans depart from it. “We have seen great principles laid down by Washington, for the administration of this government,” said Henry Clay, in a letter, dated February 21, 1852, written but a few months before his death, “ especially in regard to its foreign policy, drawn in question, his wisdom doubted, and serious efforts made and making to subvert those maxims of policy by the conformity to which this nation has risen to its present unparalleled greatness. We have seen serious attempts to induce the United States to depart from its great principles of peace and neutrality, of avoiding all entangling alliances with foreign powers, and of confining ourselves to the growth, improvement and prosperity, of our new country, and, in place of them, to plunge ourselves, by perilous proceedings and insensible degrees, in the wars of Europe. Under such circumstances, it is right, and proper, and useful, to repair to the great fountain of Washington's patriotism, and, drinking deep at it, to return refreshed and invigorated by the draught."
And who can doubt the wisdom and propriety of the suggestion here made by the great statesman ? A reassertion of his principles, said Theo. Frelinghuysen, about the same time, was never more needed than at this time, and we must still hope that the sober reflection of our people will yield to the wisdom and truth of his counsels." Washington's policy was a wise, enlightened, comprehensive American policy. His object, as has been well remarked by Senator Toombs, was that to which his whole life had been devoted, to protect and to perpetuate the liberty and independence of his country. The special dangers against which he warned his countrymen were “political connection” with European governments, “ implicating ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships and enmities," quitting "our own to stand on foreign ground," "interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe," "entangling our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice," subjecting “the will and policy" of this country “to the will and policy" of other countries. He negatives the reasoning as well as the fact of entangling our country in European politics. His argument answers all the plausible fallacies in favor of a crusade for pulling down despotisms or building up republics ; and asserts clearly and distinctly our duty to act justly and impartially towards all nations, no matter what may be their form of government towards all belligerents, no matter what may be their cause of quarrel. He sought to place his country in a position, where, neither entangled by foreign alliances, nor compromitted with foreign politics or interest, she might, on all occasions and in every emergency, freely adopt that policy which might be best calculated to protect her own rights, maintain her own interests, and promote her own happiness. If it be necessary to
EFFORTS were made by some of the States, soon after the adoption of the Constitution, to cause a distinction to be made between native and naturalized citizens, and to make the latter ineligible to certain offices. Massachusetts led off in a movement of this kind in 1798, which was responded to by the Virginia Legislature, in the passage of the following preamble and resolution, on the 16th of January, 1799. See Henning's Statutes at large, vol. i. (new series), page 194 :
“That the General Assembly nevertheless concurring in opinion with the Legislature of Massachusetts, that every constitutional barrier should be opposed to the introduction of foreign influence into our National Councils :
« Resolved, That the Constitution ought to be so amended that no foreigner who shall not have acquired rights under the Constitution and Laws, at the time of making this amendment, shall thereafter be eligible to the office of Senator and Representative in the Congress of the United States, nor to any office in the Judiciary or Executive Departments."
In New Hampshire, a committee appointed by the Legislature for the purpose, Nov. 24, 1798, reported a petition, praying Congress to alter the Constitution respecting the qualification for members of Congress, and recommending that none but natural-born citizens should be eligible to the Vice Presidency as well as the Presidency; and also to "exclude from a seat in either branch of Congress, any person who shall not have been actually naturalized at the time of making this amendment, and have been a citizen fourteen years at least at the time of his election."
The American policy adopted by the Continental Congress, which was dictated alike by reason and patriotism, in relation to the apointment of persons to represent the government in foreign countries, seems to have been followed after the establishment of the Federal Government, and never departed from except in the case of Albert Gallatin, who was a native of Switzerland, until President Pierce saw proper to outrage the feelings of the country, by appointing a Frenchman as Minister to Spain, a German to the Hague, a Scotchman te Naples, and an Irishman to one of the other European Courts. During the last term of Mr. Madison's administration, he appointed Mr. Gallatin one of the Commissioners to negotiate a peace with Great Britain ; when his appointment was presented to the Senate for confirmation, it met with the opposition of General Smith, of Maryland, W. B. Giles, of Virginia, and Stone, of North Carolina, and
he was rejected by a vote of 18 to 17. He was afterwards appointed by Mr. Madison, Minister to France, and was barely confirmed, in the absence of the above named gentlemen. If any apology can be offered for Mr. Madison, for this innovation on the established policy of the government, it might be found in the fact that Mr. Gallatin came to the United States in 1781, or previous to the adoption of the present Constitution. He had long been in public life, and held high stations; was a man of much experience and had been well schooled in our political institutions. Other instances of hostility to the appointment of any others than native born to offices in the foreign service of the country might be given. Not more than a dozen years since, while Daniel Webster was Secretary of State, some of the editors of Democratic journals could bardly find language strong enough to express their indignation at him for appointing a foreigner to a clerkship in that department. The New York Evening Post, then as now edited by Wm. C. Bryant, published an article on the subject, which was copied into the Washington Globe, from which the following is an extract:
“The appointment of a man named Reynolds, an alien, by Mr. Webster, to a place in the Department of State, has astonished those who knew him in this city. The indecency of this appointment of an alien to a post in the department which has the charge over our foreign relations, will surprise those who have not, like us, ceased to be surprised at anything done by Mr. Webster.”