The President is convinced that the conclusion of such a treaty, instead of putting a stop to these lawless proceedings, would give a new and powerful impetus to them.
It would strike a death-blow to the conservative policy hitherto pursued in this country toward Cuba.
No administration of this Government, however strong in the public confidence in other respects, could stand a day under the odium of having stipulated with the Great Powers of Europe, that, in no future time, under no change of circumstances, by no amicable arrangement with Spain, by no act of lawful war (should that calamity unfortunately occur), by no consent of the inhabitants, should they, like the possessions of Spain on the American continent, succeed in rendering themselves independent; in fine, by no overruling necessity of self-preservation, should the United States ever make the acquisition of Cuba.
After all this, and much more of the same purport, a smile must have irradiated the countenance of even the most impassive European
diplomatist on reading the concluding paragraph of Mr. Everett
's dispatch, viz.:
For these reasons, which the President has thought advisable, considering the importance of the subject, to direct me to unfold at some length, he feels constrained to decline respectfully the invitation of France and England to become parties to the proposed convention.
He is persuaded that these friendly powers will not attribute this refusal to any insensibility on his part to the advantages of the utmost harmony between the great maritime States on a subject of such importance.
As little will Spain draw any unfavorable inference from this refusal; the rather, as the emphatic disclaimer of any designs against Cuba on the part of this Government, contained in the present note, affords all the assurance which the President can constitutionally, or to any useful purpose, give, of a practical concurrence with France and England in the wish not to disturb the possession of that island by Spain.
Soon after the passage of the Nebraska
bill, President Pierce
, through a dispatch from Gov. Marcy
as Secretary of State
directed Messrs. James Buchanan
, John Y. Mason
, and Pierre Soule
, our Embassadors at London
, and Madrid
respectively, to convene in some European
city, there to confer with regard to the best means of getting possession of Cuba
They met accordingly at Ostend
and sat three days; adjourning thence to Aix-la-Chapelle, where they held sweet council together for several days more, and the result of their deliberations was transmitted to our Government in a dispatch known as the “Ostend Manifesto.”
In that dispatch, they say:
We firmly believe that, in the course of human events, the time has arrived when the vital interests of Spain are as seriously involved in the sale, as those of the United States in the purchase, of the island, and that the transaction will prove equally honorable to both nations.
Under these circumstances, we cannot anticipate a failure, unless, possibly, through the malign influence of foreign powers, who possess no right whatever to interfere in the matter.
We proceed to state some of the reasons which have brought us to this conclusion; and, for the sake of clearness, we shall specify them under two distinct heads:
1. The United States ought, if practicable, to purchase Cuba with as little delay as possible.
2. The probability is great that the Government and Cortes of Spain will prove willing to sell it; because this would essentially promote the highest and best interests of the Spanish people.
It must be clear to every reflecting mind that, from the peculiarity of its geographical position, and the considerations attendant on it, Cuba is as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present members, and that it belongs naturally to that great family of States of which the Union is the providential nursery.
From its locality, it commands the mouth of the Mississippi, and the immense and annually increasing trade which must seek this avenue to the ocean.
On the numerous navigable streams, measuring an aggregate course of some thirty thousand miles, which disembogue themselves through this magnificent river