Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – The Monroe Doctrine is delivered in the state of the union address December 3, 1823. In October of 1823, President James Monroe is still wrestling with what he ought to do and seeking the counsel of men like former President’s Thomas Jefferson & James Madison. See if you think anything remotely like this happens among our “statesmen” e.g. Rand Paul today. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: The Monroe Doctrine is delivered in the state of the union address December 3, 1823. In October of 1823, President James Monroe is still wrestling with what he ought to do. See if you think anything remotely like this happens among our “statesmen” today. Straight off here, James Monroe, who was 16 years old when he joined Washington’s army in 1776, has waited his turn and is now President of the United States. He has been preceded by James Madison for two terms before he, and then Thomas Jefferson two terms before him, and George Washington for two terms before him, with one term of John Adams in between. Monroe, doing what statesmen do, has sought the advice and consent, not only of the United States Senate, which he did, but has sought the advice and consent of Jefferson and Madison. He wants to know: Hey, dudes, look, there’s some serious stuff going on here. What in the wide, wide world of sports do I do? So he writes to Jefferson and Jefferson writes him back:
24 October 1823
Dear Sir — The question presented by the letters you have sent me, is the most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. [Mike: That’s heady stuff right there, isn’t it? Are you interested to hear a little bit more of it? I would think you would be. I don’t know if this is a major foreign policy thing that I’m talking about here, but perhaps.] That made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the course which we are to steer through the ocean of time opening on us. And never could we embark on it under circumstances more auspicious. Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. [Mike: There’s that admonishment again to not get involved in other nations’ affairs, no entangling alliances.] Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicil of despotism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere that of freedom. One nation, most of all, could disturb us in this pursuit; she now offers to lead, aid, and accompany us in it. By acceding to her proposition, we detach her from the bands, bring her mighty weight into the scale of free government, and emancipate a continent at one stroke, which might otherwise linger long in doubt and difficulty. Great Britain is the nation which can do us the most harm of any one, or all on earth; and with her on our side we need not fear the whole world. With her then, we should most sedulously cherish a cordial friendship; and nothing would tend more to knit our affections than to be fighting once more, side by side, in the same cause. [Mike: Jefferson actually thinks this alliance with Great Britain is a good idea.] Not that I would purchase even her amity at the price of taking part in her wars.
Mike: At the same time he’s going: Dude, if we make a deal with them that we’re going to get involved, if we become her ally, we are then going to have to fight her wars with her. That is something we don’t want to do. This is coming from the pen of the author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, twice-elected President of the United States, and the author of the statement on religious liberty. He knows a little bit about what he’s talking about. He was also minister to France, minister to England. He’s had a pretty distinguished career, this Jefferson fellow. Maybe you ought to pay a little bit of attention to him.
But the war in which the present proposition might engage us, should that be its consequence, is not her war, but ours. Its object is to introduce and establish the American system, [Mike: This is what was known in the 19th century as the American system.] of keeping out of our land all foreign powers, of never permitting those of Europe to intermeddle with the affairs of our nations. It is to maintain our own principle, not to depart from it. And if, to facilitate this, we can effect a division in the body of the European powers, and draw over to our side its most powerful member, surely we should do it. But I am clearly of Mr. Canning’s opinion, that it will prevent instead of provoking war. With Great Britain withdrawn from their scale and shifted into that of our two continents, all Europe combined would not undertake such a war. For how would they propose to get at either enemy without superior fleets? Nor is the occasion to be slighted which this proposition offers, of declaring our protest against the atrocious violations of the rights of nations, by the interference of any one in the internal affairs of another, so flagitiously begun by Bonaparte, and now continued by the equally lawless Alliance, calling itself Holy.
Mike: Again, Jefferson is restating part of the Declaration. One of the reasons that impelled we Americans to separate from Great Britain is they were meddling in our affairs, and they were meddling in the affairs of others that we didn’t want to be a part of. Jefferson is saying that Napoleon is over there intermeddling in the affairs of other countries and it’s wrong to do that. He is chastening Monroe saying: Dude, we don’t interfere in the affairs of other nations. You know, Tommy, if you could just come with us into 2012, you’d see that we’ve thrown all that out the window. We don’t think you were very smart, Mr. Jefferson.
But we have first to ask ourselves a question. Do we wish to acquire to our own confederacy any one or more of the Spanish provinces? I candidly confess, that I have ever looked on Cuba as the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States. The control which, with Florida Point, this island would give us over the Gulf of Mexico, and the countries and isthmus bordering on it…Yet, as I am sensible that this can never be obtained, even with her own consent, but by war; and its independence, which is our second interest, can be secured without it, I have no hesitation in abandoning my first wish to future chances, and accepting its independence, with peace and the friendship of England…
I could honestly, therefore, join in the declaration proposed, that we aim not at the acquisition of any of those possessions, that we will not stand in the way of any amicable arrangement between them and the mother country; but that we will oppose, with all our means, the forcible interposition of any other power, as auxiliary, stipendiary, or under any other form or pretext, and most especially, their transfer to any power by conquest, cession, or acquisition in any other way. I should think it, therefore, advisable, that the Executive [Mike: By that he means the president.] should encourage the British government to a continuance in the dispositions expressed in these letters, by an assurance of his concurrence with them as far as his authority goes; and that as it may lead to war, the declaration of which requires an act of Congress, [Mike: No, Tom, it doesn’t require an act of Congress, dude. All it requires is for George W. Bush to ask the Congress to give him a permission slip, a hall pass, if you will. All it requires is for President Obama to say: There’s a bunch of Libyans over there. Gotta get Benghazi, gotta get them out. We need to intervene over there in Egypt, too. We’ve got wars to fight over there in Afghanistan. You don’t need this declaration of war. Where’d you get this from, Tommy?] the case shall be laid before them for consideration at their first meeting, and under the reasonable aspect in which it is seen by himself.
Mike: Then he writes a little bit more on the subject. You can clearly see here that even in his retirement and two and a half years from his death, Jefferson is still involved in the affairs of his country. He’s giving advice to Monroe to basically stay the course. He’s basically saying all this stuff sounds tempting, and even though I consider it a very intriguing proposition that we could take Cuba by force if we wanted to, it is not worth incurring the wrath of other nations to do so.
Throughout this dialogue, most of the men involved in the formation of Monroe’s Doctrine — the point of this, just to apply it to today — most of the men are overly cautious. They keep referring back to: We can’t do this because we would be out of line with our constitution. There are those that are saying that we ought to do what Americans do today. There is a sincere supermajority of men that are saying we should do nothing of the sort because we will no longer be in harmony with the constitution, and therefore we have an illegitimate government and that is not worth the cost. It’s an absolutely humbling thing to read, just a humbling epic in history to read and sort through, to think that such brainpower and such thought — for months on end they thought about this stuff — went into these decisions that today we just regard as the way it happened. No, it’s not just the way it happened.
End Mike Church Show Transcript