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 VII
American Statesmen and World Politics

FOREIGN POLICY is determined, in the United States, by the national attitude toward foreign affairs modified by the experience, the knowledge, and the prejudices of the leaders of the country. It is appropriate, therefore, to examine the opinions of those individuals who exercised a direct influence on the formulation of American foreign policy. To some extent, this has been done in previous chapters, but, because the Monroe Doctrine was a personal, executive declaration rather than the result of popular, congressional action, it will round out this study to emphasize certain of its personal features. To a greater or to a lesser degree, these men reflected the popular attitude toward world conditions which has just been analyzed in detail. All were members of the administration or were very close to its councils, and there can be little doubt that the direction of American foreign policy in the fall of 1823 was their work.

Henry Clay revealed his conception of the European situation in 1818 in the debates on South America. Though he did not fear the interference of the Continental Powers, he did realize the key position which England held in world affairs. Her interest, he observed, would ensure the freedom of South America. But the former "war-hawk" was by no means a believer in the friendship of England. He urged the emancipation of South America as a means of opening new channels of trade which would relieve the

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