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THE ORIGIN, MEANING AND INTERNATIONAL FORCE
OF THE MONROE DOCTRINE
By CHARLEMAGNE TOWER, LL.D. Former American Ambassador, President of The Historical
Society of Pennsylvania
I BEG leave to present in this article for consideration, a few of the characteristic details of what we know, and what has come during the past century to be known generally in the international and political world, as the Monroe Doctrine. I would point out its origin, its meaning, its development with the extension and growing importance of American national influence throughout the nineteenth century, and the importance of its bearing upon the American national life of our day—as well as its compelling power in every great movement of political weight that has taken place in the course of our dealings with foreign nations since the establishment of the Government of the United States. Its ground principle is laid in the deeply-rooted sentiment of the people of this country, upon which the fabric of personal intellectual and political independence from all the rest of the world is built up; for it has for its object the safeguarding and defence of the essential qualities of American freedom. It began to make itself felt at the moment when American freedom came into existence and separated the people of this continent from those who still lived in the old world. The truth is, that at the end of the eighteenth century a revolution had taken place which had not only the result of taking away from Great Britain her North American colonies, but, what was of equal importance in the subsequent development of political relations between sovereign states,-a revolution had taken place in the minds of men. The feudal traditions of government which had obtained for a thousand years, carrying with them the accepted formulæ of supremacy and control, on the one hand, and the obligation of obedience, with the duty of submission, on the other, were intentionally removed from the plan of life and from the rule of conduct of men in America.
It was so great a departure from the recognized precedent of the time that it seemed a contradiction in Europe. Indeed, when de Tocqueville came to this country, more than half a century after the Declaration of Independence, his chief task was to explain to his own compatriots (what was then inconceivable in France and on the European Continent), the methods and processes of a government in which the people ruled by their own spontaneous initiative and took the leading part themselves in the direction of their own affairs.
It was at this point of distinction between the ideas of government on the part of the monarchies of Europe and those that had sprung up in the midst of the new and independent nationality established upon this side of the ocean, that the peoples of the two continents began to draw apart. It is true that their intercourse was not disturbed; in fact it increased with the increasing importance of the commerce and trade which advanced with the growth of the industries and the opening of the channels of productive development in the United States. Friendly relations could exist, as has been seen many times before in the course of the world, even between peoples whose ethical sentiments, whose religious beliefs, were opposed and whose essential characteristics or racial qualities were unlike.
But the widening distance between the principles of government and political thought on the one continent and the other led at length to the breaking of the ancient connection, and had as a result the strengthening of the radical differences between the aims and aspirations of American and European civilizations. The ideals of liberty and independence in this country produced a sentiment of suspicion and distrust of anything that pertained to the ancient monarchy, an insuperable opposition to the contact or influence of its bearing upon government and life. For it came to be, throughout the United States, a prime element of public sentiment and national faith, that monarchy in any form and democratic principles cannot live together on American ground. Politically, there must be a complete non-intercourse.
"I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following;
“But I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you.”