A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, Vol. 2 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, Vol. 2

It was anticipated at an early stage that the contest between Spain and the colonies would become highly interesting to the United States. It was natural that our citizens should sympathize in events which affected their neighbors. It seemed probable also that the prosecution of the con flict along our coast and in contiguous countries would occasionally inter rupt our commerce and otherwise affect the persons and property of our citizens. These anticipations have been realized. Such injuries have been received from persons acting under authority of both the parties, and for which redress has in most instances been withheld. Through every stage of the conflict the United States have maintained an impar; tial neutrality, giving aid to neither of the parties in men, money, ships, or munitions of war. They have regarded the contest not in the light of an ordinary insurrection or rebellion, but as a civil war between parties nearly equal, having as to neutral powers equal rights. Our ports have been Open to both, and every article the fruit of our soil or of the indus try of our citizens which either was permitted to take has been equally free to the other. Should the colonies establish their independence, it is proper now to state that this Government neither seeks nor would accept from them any advantage in commerce or otherwise which will not be equally open to all other nations. The colonies will in that event become independent states, free from any obligation to or connection with us which it may not then be their interest to form on the basis of a fair reci procity.

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