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nexation of Cuba to our Federal Republic will be indispensable to the continuance and integrity of the Union itself." We were not then prepared for annexation, he continued, "but there are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an apple, severed by the tempest from its native tree, cannot choose but fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union, which, by the same law of nature, cannot cast her off from its bosom." "
President Monroe consulted Jefferson on the subject of Spanish-American affairs and the entanglements with European powers likely to arise therefrom. Jefferson replied, June 11, 1823:
Cuba alone seems at present to hold up a speck of war to us. Its possession by Great Britain would indeed be a great calamity to us. Could we induce her to join us in guaranteeing its independence against all the world, except Spain, it would be nearly as valuable as if it were our own. But should she take it, I would not immediately go to war for it; because the first war on other accounts will give it to us, or the island will give itself to us when able to do so.'
During the summer of 1825 a large French squadron visited the West Indies and hovered for several weeks about the coasts of Cuba. This action on the part of the French government, without explanation, excited the alarm of both England and the United States and drew forth strong protests from Mr. Canning and from Mr. Clay. Canning wrote to Gran
"H. Ex. Doc. No. 121, Thirty-second Cong., First Sess.; also Brit. and For. St. Pap., Vol. XLIV, pp. 114-236.
H. A. Washington, "Writings of Jefferson," Vol. VII, p. 288.
ville, the British minister at Paris, that he could not consent to the occupation of Havana by France, even as a measure of protection against possible attacks from Mexico and Colombia. Again some two months later he wrote:
As to Cuba you cannot too soon nor too amicably, of course, represent to Villèle the impossibility of our allowing France (or France us, I presume) to meddle in the internal affairs of that colony. We sincerely wish it to remain with the mother-country. Next to that I wish it independent, either singly or in connection with Mexico. But what cannot or must not be, is that any great maritime power should get possession of it. The Americans (Yankees, I mean) think of this matter just as I do.o
The expressions of the United States, as to the designs of France, were as emphatic as those of England. Mr. Clay declared "that we could not consent to the occupation of those islands by any other European power than Spain under any contingency whatever."
In this connection Canning wished to bring about the signature, by England, France, and the United States, of "ministerial notes, one between France and the United States, and one between France and Great Britain, or one tripartite note signed by all, disclaiming each for themselves, any intention to occupy Cuba, and protesting against such occupation by either of the others." " The government of the United States held this proposal under advisement, but on France declining, it was dropped.12 In 1826 when an attack
"Official Corresp. of Canning," Vol. I, p. 265.
Ibid., Vol. I, p. 275.
10 Am. St. Pap., For. Rel., Vol. V, p. 855. Also "Wharton's Digest,"
Political Life of Canning." Vol. III. p. 154.
12 Mr. Clay to Mr. King, October 25, Wharton's Digest," Sec. 60.
upon Portugal was feared Canning advised, in case of such an attack, the immediate seizure of Cuba by Great Britain as more effective than half a dozen Peninsular campaigns.1a
The Cuban question was involved in the long debate on the proposal of the executive of the United States to send delegates to the congress of Spanish-American republics assembled at Panama in 1826. This debate occupied the attention of Congress during the winter and spring of 1826, and was engaged in with great earnestness. One of the chief objections to the proposed mission was the fact that the question of Cuba and Porto Rico would come up and that the United States government had already committed itself to the foreign powers on that subject. The report of the Senate committee on foreign relations declared that,
The very situation of Cuba and Porto Rico furnishes the strongest inducement to the United States not to take a place at the contemplated congress, since, by so doing, they must be considered as changing the attitude in which they hitherto have stood as impartial spectators of the passing scenes, and identifying themselves with the new republics."
The Southern members were united in their opposition to the Panama mission, and in fact to any closer alliance with the new republics, for the reason that the latter had adopted the principle of emancipation and any further extension of their influence would jeopardize the institution of slavery in the United States. For the same reason they were opposed to the transfer of Cuba to any other European power. If a change from its connection with Spain were neces
Canning to Earl of Liverpool, October 6, 1826.
sary they favored annexation by the United States, and meantime they were strongly opposed to the government entering into any engagement with foreign powers or in any way committing itself on the Cuban question.25
The declaration of Mr. Clay against the interference of England and France in the affairs of Cuba was consistently adhered to under the administrations of Jackson and Van Buren.
In 1838-39, the British government dispatched special commissioners to Cuba and Porto Rico to report on the condition of the slave trade. The presence of these agents in Cuba gave rise to reports that Great Britain contemplated revolutionizing the island, or at least occupying it for the purpose of suppressing the slave trade. The United States gave Spain to understand that we would not consent to British control in whatever way it might be brought about. Mr. Forsyth wrote to Mr. Vail, our representative at Madrid, July 15, 1840:
You are authorized to assure the Spanish government, that in case of any attempt, from whatever quarter, to wrest from her this portion of her territory, she may securely depend upon the military and naval resources of the United States to aid her in preserving or recovering it."
Again, Mr. Webster in January, 1843, wrote to Mr. Campbell, United States consul at Havana:
The Spanish government has long been in possession of the policy and wishes of this government in regard to Cuba, 18 Benton's • Abridgment," Vol. VIII, pp. 427. 428, and Vol. IX, PP. 90.218.
1 H. Ex. Doc. No. 121, Thirty-second Cong., First Sess.; also "Wharton's Digest," Sec. 69.
which have never changed, and has repeatedly been told that the United States never would permit the occupation of that island by British agents or forces upon any pretext whatever; and that in the event of any attempt to wrest it from her, she might securely rely upon the whole naval and military resources of this country to aid her in preserving or recovering it."
A copy of this letter was also sent to Washington Irving, our representative at Madrid to make such use of as circumstances might require.18
During the first period of our Cuban diplomacy the efforts of this government were directed toward preventing the acquisition of the island, or the establishment of a protectorate over it, by Great Britain or France. With the Mexican war, however, and the growing conviction of "manifest destiny," our foreign policy assumed a much bolder and more aggressive character, and during the next fifteen years all manner of schemes for the southward extension of our territory were suggested and many of them actually undertaken. Cuba became an object of desire, not only in the eyes of the slave-holding population of the South as an acquisition to slave territory, but of a large part of the nation, because of its strategic importance in relation to the inter-oceanic transit routes of Central America, which seemed the only feasible line of communication with our rapidly developing interests in California. Consequently various attempts were made to annex the island to the United States, both by purchase from Spain and forcibly by filibustering expeditions.
17" Wharton's Digest," Sec. 60.
1 Mr. Upshur, who succeeded Mr. Webster as secretary of state, wrote to Mr. Irving to the same effect, October 10, 1843.