The United States and Spain in 1822

William Spence Robertson
1915 American Historical Review  
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MIeanwhile, in cabinet councils and in Congress the question was raised whether the executive or Congress ought to lead the way in recognizing the independence of the nascent states. This study, which considers the action taken by the United States in I822 with regard to the recognition of the independence of these states, will accordingly deal with the immediate antecedents of the Monroe Doctrine message. It will be seen that the evidence at hand furnishes some ground for the view that Spain foresaw the promulgation of such a doctrine by the United States and hence warned England as well as other European powers against an American political system in contrast with the European system under the aegis of the Holy Alliance. On January 30, I822, the I-louse of Representatives asked President Monroe for information concerning "the political condition" of the revolted provinces of Spanish America and " the state of war between them and Spain ".-On March 8, 1822, the President responded by a special message, which was accompanied by documents illustrating conditions in Spain as well as in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Buenos Aires, and Mexico. After reviewing the policy which the United States had pursued towards the revolutionists, Monroe declared that five states of Spanish America were " in the full enjoyment of their independence"; that there was "not the most remote prospect of their being deprived of it"; and that these new governments had now " a claim to recognition by other Powers, which ought not to be resisted ". Monroe affirmed that the delay of the United States in deciding to recognize the independence of these states had given " an unequivocal proof " to Spain, as well as to other powers, "of the high respect entertained by the United States" for the rights of the mother-country. He held that the spread of the insurrection over the Spanish dominions in America 1 Annlals of Congress, I7 Cong., i sess., I. 825-828. ( 78I ) 782 W. S. Robertson would reconcile Spain to a separation from her colonies. He declared that the United States desired to act with the powers of Europe in regard to the recognition of Spanish-American independence. Cautiously the President declared that it was not the intention of his government to alter the friendly relations existing between the United States and the warring countries, but "to observe . .. the most perfect neutrality between them ". The upshot of Monroe's miessage was the suggestion that, if Congress concurred in his views, it would see "the propriety of making the necessary appropriations " to carry them into effect.2 On 'March I9, 1822, the Committee on Foreign Relations, which had been considering Monroe's message, reported to the House that the nations of Spanish America were de facto independent. The judgment of the committee in favor of the recognition of their independence from Spain was based upon this alleged fact. An apprehension that the recognition of Spanish-American independence might "injuriously affect our peaceful and friendly relations with the nations of the other hemisphere " was lightly dismissed, while the hope was expressed that European nations might follow the example of the United States. It was maintained that the claims of Spain to sovereignty over the American colonies had been given " the niost respectful attention ". It was declared that recognition by the United States could neither affect Spain's " rights nor impair her means" in the accomplishment of her policy. With unanimity the committee declared that it was " just and expedient to acknowledge the independence of the several nations of Spanish America ". The committee accordingly proposed two resolutions: first, that the House of Representatives concur with the President that the American provinces of Spain which had declared and were enjoying their independence " ought to be recognized by the United States as independent nations"; and, second, that the Committee of Ways and Means should report a bill making an appropriation which would enable the President "to give due effect to such recognition ".3 The committee's report provoked a spirited discussion in the House. After a slight change in the phraseology of the first resolution, both resolutions passed the House on March 28, the first resolution being carried by a vote of I67 to one, while the second resolution was passed unanimously.4 Accordingly a bill was soon framed which made an appropriation for diplomatic missions to the independent nations south of the United States.5 After some hesita-2 American State Papers, Foreign Relations,
doi:10.2307/1835543 fatcat:ibui6vfyevhezd4t3uqevyl5vy