The United States and Europe, 1815-1823: A Study in the Background of the Monroe Doctrine

By Edward Howland Tatum Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The American Attitude Toward the Old Régime

WHEN AMERICANS considered the Continent of Europe as a whole, they observed the progress of reaction and restoration with disgust and ridicule. The actions of the Congress of Vienna, with their disregard for national sovereignty and their high-handed rearrangements of the map of Europe, were condemned.1 It was pointed out that Europe had freed herself from one tyrant only to become the slave of a group of despots, and that the congress, it seemed, had but restored tyranny and called it peace.2

In addition to noting the political aspects of the European situation, the press gave considerable space to the problem of "legitimacy" suggested by the restorations which the congress had effected. The whole theory of government based on divine right was attacked. Royal claims to power were denounced in serious articles and ridiculed in sarcastic notes, and no effort was spared to create an impression of the uselessness and the evils of such a system. Niles concluded one long article on the right of kings to rule with the remark that it is "a burlesque on common sense to suppose that so perfect an ideot [sic] as Ferdinand, or so finished a madman as George, can have a 'divine right' to govern millions of rational men!"3 The attempts of the restored rulers to

____________________
1
Niles' Weekly Register, IX, 23, September 9, 1815.
2
Ibid., X, 367, July 27, 1816.
3
Ibid., IX, 432, February 17, 1816.

-29-

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