No. 529.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Fish.

No. 316.]

Sir: I do not suppose it likely that the President will be criticized for recognizing the monarchy of Don Alfonso in Spain after having recognized the republic proclaimed on the downfall of King Amadeo; but as everything is possible, however unjust it may be, on the part of factious political opposition, it may be permitted me to submit some observations on this point.

I assume that the true doctrine in this respect, as repeatedly set forth in your instructions to this legation, cannot be more succinctly or exactly stated than it is in the celebrated message of President Monroe, as follows:

“Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and [Page 1108] manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claim of every power—submitting to injuries from no one.”

Of course, asserting for ourselves the absolute right of self constitution according to the national will, we cannot refuse the same right to others, whatever may be the resulting form. To do so would necessarily provoke retaliation, and involve us in quarrel, if not in hostility, with nearly the whole of Europe.

I have had occasion more than once in these dispatches to refer to the embarrassments and the acts of inconsequence to which other powers have been subjected in their recent dealings with Spain, by seeking to found recognition on some unstable basis of political theory other than the mere question of fact which governs the action of the United States.

A curious illustration of the practical value of bur rule as the true solution of the problem has been brought to public notice by the recent action of the See of Rome in recognizing Don Alfonso.

The Carlists, of course assuming that they are the true representatives of the Catholic Church in Spain, were disturbed at first by the act of Pio IX; but they now reconcile themselves to it by publishing in their official journal, the Cuartel Real, printed at Tolosa, in Guipúzeoa, a papal “constitution” of Gregory XVI, (1831,) which sets forth the rule of the Roman See of always recognizing de facto governments irrespective of questions of legitimacy. This constitution, in order to justify itself, not only refers to “the vicissitudes and changes in the organization and situation of states” in modern times, but cites ancient examples of the application of the rule, as in the recognition of Robert Bruce by John XXII, and various other old cases of the same nature, in which the Papal See was accustomed “to accord the title of king to whoever possessed a kingdom in fact,” without being understood in so doing to prejudge the question of legitimacy.

It seems to me that this document has interest not as authority, of course, but as a fact to illustrate the practical convenience of our rule, considering that the Papal See, during the thousand years and more (namely, since the time of Charlemagne) that it existed as a temporal power with perpetual succession through elective chiefs, has witnessed such innumerable changes, dynastic and political, and has entertained diplomatic relations with so many diverse forms of government in the several states of Europe and America.

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I have, &c.,