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September 11, 1987

Pages 6-7

American Almanac

John Quincy Adams:

How the Giant of American Foreign Policy
Built Our Continental Republic And
Kicked the Russians Out of America
by Patrick Ruckert

John Quincy Adams

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1825-28

July 11 marked the 220th birthday of America's greatest Secretary of State,

John Quincy Adams. His birthday, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of
the Constitutional Convention, makes it appropriate that Americans today be
reminded of the principles of our republic, and how one of its greatest defenders and promoters applied those principles in practice.
The citizen should compare the actions and accomplishments of John
Quincy Adams during his lifetime of public service, to the Lilliputian minds
and treasonous acts of those, like George Shultz, who run our foreign policy
today. When Ronald Reagan compared the ignorant and brutish Contra
drug-runners to the intellectual and moral giants who founded this republic,
one could almost feel the Earth shake and groan as those great men turned
over in their graves.
At a time when the existence of the republic of the United States of America
is threatened by a Russian Empire marching relentlessly toward world

domination, the fight led by John Quincy Adams against this self-same
enemy of civilization more than 150 years ago, is most instructive.
A Son of the American Revolution
John Quincy Adams was a son of the American Revolution. His father, John
Adams, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a leading figure of
the Revolution, a champion of the new Constitution, the first Vice President
and second President of the United States.
As remarkable as was the father, the son accomplished even more. John
Quincy Adams shaped the foundations of American foreign policy, and the
future of the United States as a continental republic. For almost five decades, he played a leading role in the development of the young republic.
It was Adams who was most responsible for extending the United States
beyond the Mississippi River, over the Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific
Ocean. In 1803, he urged Thomas Jefferson to go ahead with the Louisiana
Purchase from France, and he was the only senator from the Northeastern
states who voted for it. Adams was the negotiator, in 1815, who accomplished the return of the area south of the Columbia River in the Oregon
Territory to the United States after the War of 1812. As secretary of state in
1818, he negotiated the purchase of Florida from Spain.
Finally, and most important, during the period of 1817 to 1825, Adams
ensured that most of the Pacific Coast of America would become part of the
United States. Each of these accomplishments was, for Adams, a battle in a
larger wara war between the forces of republicanism in the Americas and
Europe, versus the Holy Alliance powers of Russia, Austria, and Great
Britain. Adams knew that the United States was the bulwark against the
Holy Alliance's attempt to restore the rule of "legitimacy"i.e. the divine
right of the oligarchy to rule over the affairs of this world.
John Quincy Adams was born in 1767. At the age of eight, he read his
father's letters written from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia about
the newly issued Declaration of Independence. In 1774, young John Quincy
joined the local militia in musket drill. A year later, in 1775, he witnessed
the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Adamses were descendants of New England
Puritans, the first of whom settled in Massachusetts in 1640. John Quincy's
mother, Abigail Adams, was one of the most important women of the Revolutionary period. She was probably the best-educated woman in America at
the time.

By the age of ten, John Quincy Adams was irrevocably dedicated to

learning; and especially dedicated to the classics of literature, history,
language, and geometry. Ancient history, Greek heroic poetry and drama,
Shakespeare and Miltonall were his daily fare before the age of twelve.
The Bible was his constant companion. Every day, through his entire life, he
would study it for at least one hour. He believed in the existence of one
God, Creator and Governor of the universe, particularly of mankind. He
believed that man was essentially good, like God, and not depraved.
Abigail Adams wrote to her eleven-year-old son, as he left with his father to
go to France: "Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which
were early instilled into your mind, and remember that you are accountable
to your Maker for all your words and actions." In another letter, his mother
reminded him that he was destined to be a "guardian of his country's laws
and liberties." As he and his father left for their second trip to Europe in
1779, she wrote: "These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It
is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great
characters are formed. . . . Great necessities call out great virtues. When a
mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those
qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life and form the
character of the hero and the statesman."
During John Quincy's first trip to Europe in 1778, he spent the first year in
school. While his father and Benjamin Franklin negotiated for French aid to
the Revolution, John Quincy immersed himself in Greek and Roman history,
geometry, algebra, differential calculus, music, drama and art. By the age of
16, he had also learned Dutch, German, and Spanish. He was one of the first
Americans to translate the writings of Friedrich Schiller, the great German
poet, dramatist, and historian, into English.
At the age of 14, Adams was given his first official diplomatic assignment.
He went to Russia as a translator and aide to Francis Dana, the first U.S.
envoy to the czars. Rounding out his first years in Europe, he acted as
secretary to his father, who was the ambassador to Holland and, later, to
The more he saw of court life, whether in Paris, St. Petersburg, London, or
Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the more ardent a republican he became.
Very important for the future of the United States, and the role Adams was to
play in its history, was his experience in Russia as the aide to Francis Dana,

and later, his five years in St. Petersburg as U.S. ambassador to Russian from
1809-14. There he learned first-hand the mortal danger which the feudal
oligarchical system represented to the young republic of the United States,
and especially that of the Russian Empire.
Third Rome: Make the Pacific A Russian Lake
As this newspaper has repeatedly documented, the 20th-century Russian
empire of Lenin, Stalin, and Gorbachev is nothing but a continuation of a
policy, originating in the late 15th century, of making Moscow a Third and
Final Roman Empire, destined to rule the world forever. During the early
18th century, Russia's imperial designs included efforts to make the North
Pacific Ocean into a Russian lake.
Russian policy at this time was to expand Russian America (as it was called
at the time), which already extended from the Aleutian Islands to the gates of
San Francisco, to complete control over the entire western shore of the
Americas. At the same time, plans were being laid to seize Hawaii. Yet
before Russia could even begin to think of taking control of the Pacific, it
had to reach it. At the time of the promulgation of the Third Rome policy,
the vast expanse of Siberiathousands of miles of wildernessstood
between Moscow and the Pacific Ocean.
To the West, the superior culture and economic-military power represented
by Western Europe acted as a firm barrier against Russian expansion. But
the sparsely settled and backward regions of the eastern two-thirds of the
Eurasian land mass, proved to be a relatively easy conquest for Moscow.
Expansion began in the 1550s, with Ivan the Terrible, the first of the czars to
dedicate himself to the Third Rome doctrine. By the mid-15505, Ivan's
armies had reached the Caspian Sea. By 1628, the Russians had reached the
Lena River in Siberia. In 1637, they established a fort at Yakutsk, and in
1639 they reached the Pacific Ocean in the neighborhood of Okhotsk. By
the middle of the 17th century, Russia controlled all of Siberia.
About 4,500 miles of eastward expansion had been accomplished in 100
years. The attempt to go south was, for the time being, thwarted by a
powerful Manchu Empire in China.
In 1715, Czar Peter the Great, on a visit to Paris, learned about the general
ignorance in Europe of the North Pacific. He decided to send out an expedition from Siberia to learn whether Siberia was connected by land with North

America. He chose the Dane, Vitus Bering, a captain in the Russian Navy,
as his commander. When Peter died in 1725, his widow Catherine I carried
out his program. After many false starts and delays, Bering finally made a
serious voyage in 1741. This voyage discovered the Aleutians and the
Alaska mainland.
Territorial Claims and Adjustments on The Pacific Coast, 1818-67

Oregon Boundary Dispute and Settlement

The British in the Pacific

As the Russians began establishing settlements in the Aleutians midway
through the 18th century, the Spanish and the British also took interest in the
Pacific. By the time of the American Revolution, the Spanish had pushed up
the American coast and founded San Francisco.
In 1776 the British sent James Cook on his Pacific voyage. Cook discovered
the Hawaiian Islands (called the Sandwich Islands at the time) and explored
the American coast as far as Point Barrow, Alaska, even further north than
Bering had gone.

While official Russian policy toward the American West Coast in the late
1700s was one of neglect, fur traders drawn by the enormously rich trapping
areas of Alaska established one settlement after another. Kodiak and Fort
Alexander were established in 1784 and 1787 by Gregory Ivanovich
Shelikov. Shelikov was running a very large fur business, and in 1789
pleaded with Catherine directly to send a large ecclesiastical mission to the
Alaska settlements. He also outlined plans for establishing trading relations
with the entire American and Asiatic sea-coast, and outlined the plan for
moving into the Amur Valley of China, which, based on his plan was
realized with the founding of Vladivostok sixty years later.
Nicholas Petrovich Rezanov (1764-1806), a noble at the St. Petersburg court
was to become the spokesman for the implementation of Shelikov's program. Rezanov convinced Czar Paul in 1799 to found the Russia-America
Company, which was modeled on the British East and West Indies Companies. The company was authorized to make "new discoveries not only
north of 55 but also further to the south and to accept the lands which it
discovered under Russian government." This was a clear statement of intent
to exclude the British and the Americans from the Pacific area. The RussiaAmerica Company was to be the official arm of St. Petersburg in the North
Czar Paul was assassinated in 1801, bringing Alexander I to the throne.
Alexander was more aware of and favorable to the plans of Shelikov.
Alexander took the company under his protection.
In 1790, Shelikov appointed Alexander Andreyevich Barzanov to run the
Kodiak colony. Barzanov became the outstanding man in Russian America.
Soon, an ecclesiastical mission arrived in Kodiak and began converting the
natives to the Russian Orthodox Church. By 1805, Barzanov, now the
official governor in Alaska, had established a Russian colony in Sitka,
almost 1,000 miles south Kodiak.
In 1805 Rezanov visited Barzanov in Alaska. After assessing that the
miserable existence of the small colonies would never realize their plans,
Rezanov determined to transfer the entire colony to the region of the
Columbia River. An exploratory party was sent out, but word came of the
Lewis and Clark expedition, so they by-passed the Columbia and landed at
San Francisco.

Rezanov and Barzanov also conceived of a plan to take the Hawaiian

Islands. Once in San Francisco, Rezanov's ever-expanding plans were
dispatched to St. Petersburg. In one letter, urging settlement of the Columbia River area, he said, "Gradually we can extend further to the south to the
port of San Francisco which is the border of California. If we have only the
means to begin, I can boldly say that we can draw inhabitants to certain
places in Columbia [Oregon] and during ten years grow so strong as to have
in full vision the California coast so that on the slightest disturbance in
Europe fortunate to our political circumstances we can include it in our
Russian possessions."
America Begins Settlements on the Pacific Coast
Britain and the United States were, by this period, not only engaged in heavy
maritime trade in the Pacific, but were inching overland toward the Pacific.
British explorer Alexander Mackenzie had reached the Pacific in 1792.
American President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore the
newly purchased Louisiana Territory. They reached the Pacific in 1806. As
the American and British forces on the Pacific Coast grew, clashes between
them increased, and Russia did everything it could to encourage this
In 1809, John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company in New
York. With encouragement from Jefferson, Astor planned to open up the
Northwest by establishing a line of trading posts up the Missouri River, then
across the mountains and down the Columbia River. With the goal of building a permanent port at the mouth of the Columbiawhich he named
AstoriaAstor foresaw tapping the western fur trade and being able to ship
either to the Orient or to New York or Europe. Most biographers of Astor
neglect to mention that Astor was also up to his ears in the opium trade.
Astor was attempting to create his own Hudson's Bay Company or British
East India Company, and use this as a vehicle for turning the United States'
foreign policy and commercial relations into the same kind of looting empire
his British and Swiss friends ran.
Jefferson's idea in backing Astor was to work with the Russians at Sitka and
Kodiak to try to pin down the British hold on the coast of Canada to the area
between Sitka and the mouth of the Columbia.
At the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, and negotiated by John
Quincy Adams, the following terms were agreed upon for the Pacific North-

west: Astoria, seized by the British during the war, was to be returned to
American control; British traders were not allowed to trap and hunt below
the Columbia River; and the entire Oregon Territory was placed under joint
This agreement was the substance of a new treaty negotiated by Adams in
1818. The 1818 treaty specified that the joint occupation of the Oregon
Territory, north of the Columbia and south of the 55th parallel, was to run
for ten years. This treaty was renewed in 1827 and 1837.
Meanwhile, the Russians, having conceded the Oregon Territory to the
Americans and the British, were more determined than ever to take
California. In 1811, Ivan Kuskov, number-two man to Barzanov, began
building Fort Ross near Bodega Bay, 30 miles north of San Francisco, with
the strategic aim of driving the Spanish out of California entirely.
It was while the Russians were building up their California settlement at Fort
Ross, that they made their move on Hawaii, already a strategic choke-point
in world politics. The islands lie across the main routes between the American Pacific Coast and the main ports on the eastern shores of Asia. In the
days of sailing ships, even those going to American ports after rounding
Cape Horn would stop at Hawaii for supplies and rest, since Spanish authorities in South America were not too hospitable.
Since no manpower or military backup would be forthcoming from St.
Petersburg, Barzanov decided on a plan of gradual infiltration into the
islands. All went well until he sent a German, Dr. George Anton Schaefer,
who had been in Alaska for some time, to Hawaii to negotiate with the
Hawaiian king. Schaefer, after ingratiating himself by his services to the
king, then moved too fast. A gift of land from the king to Schaefer in 1816
was immediately turned into a fort and the Russian flag was raised. This
was too much for the king and his American friends. The Americans
attacked his fort, captured Schaefer and his crew and put them on a leaky
ship. Schaefer barely made it back to Sitka.
This ended the Russian threat to Hawaii. Czar Alexander was, at that time
trying to strengthen the Holy Alliance in Europe and continue to build the
Fort Ross settlement in California. He had no need of a new crisis with both
his Holy Alliance partner Great Britain and with America, over Hawaii.
America, of course, was watching the California and Hawaii thrusts by
Russia. In 1817, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sent an emissary to

Astoria to officially take it back from the British, as agreed upon in the
Treaty of Ghent.
Adams Takes On the Holy Alliance
Adams was still in Russia when Napoleon invaded in 1812, and watched
with fascination as the Russian in-depth capabilities were gradually
unleashed against the French army. In a letter to his father, Adams
expressed his belief that such a country as Russia was too formidable even
for a Napoleon. Forever fixed in his mind from these experiences was the
idea that the Russian system was absolutely incompatible with that of
America. It was also in Russia that Adams first formulated the idea that the
United States should be a continental nation, stretching from the Atlantic to
the Pacific.
In June of 1811, he wrote to his mother:
If that Party [the Federalist Junto of New England] are not
effectually put down in Massachusetts, as completely as they
already are in New York, and Pennsylvania, and all the southern
and western states, the Union is gone. Instead of a nation,
coextensive with the North American continent, destined by
God and nature to be the populous and most powerful people
ever combined under one social compact, we shall have an
endless multitude of little insignificant clans and tribes at
eternal war with one another for a rock, or a fish pond, the sport
and fable of European masters and oppressors.
In 1815 Adams was the chairman of the American delegation that negotiated
an end to the War of 1812. From 1815 to 1817, he was the U.S. ambassador
to Great Britain. He returned to America in 1817 to assume the duties of
secretary of state in the administration of James Monroe. For the next eight
years, the United States was favored with the best, toughest, and most farsighted secretary of state in its history.
In Europe, the Holy Alliance among Britain, Austria, and Russia ruled, with
the sole purpose of crushing republicanism, both in Europe and the Americas. Adams had no illusions about the nature of the Holy Alliance, or about
the fundamental conflict between the oligarchical system it represented, and
the republican system favored by the United States. In his Fourth of July
address of 1821 Adams said:

The interest which it [The Declaration of Independence] has,

survived the occasion upon which it was issued; the interest
which is of every age and every time; the interest which
quickens with the lapse of years, spreads as it grows old, and
brightens as it recedes, is in the principles which it proclaims.
It was the first solemn declaration by a nation of the only legitimate foundation of civil government. It was the corner
stone of a new fabric, destined to cover the surface of the globe.
It demolished at a stroke the lawfulness of all governments
founded upon conquest. It swept away all the rubbish of
accumulated centuries of servitude. It announced in practical
form to the world the transcendent truth of the unalienable
sovereignty of the people.
A Continental Republic
The treaty Adams negotiated with Britain in 1818 fixed the boundary
between the United States and Canada at the 49th parallel from the Lake of
the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. This secured for the United States the
northwestern part of Minnesota and most of North Dakota and Montana.
This treaty also established the joint occupancy of the Oregon Territory,
north of the Columbia River, without conceding to the British their claims of
possession of this area. At the same time, the fight on the Oregon question
that Adams initiated, ensured a direction for American policy that consistently, and finally successfully, pushed the British north of the 49th parallel,
all the way to the Pacific.
While negotiating with the British on the northern boundaries of the nation,
Adams was also negotiating with the Spanish on the southern boundaries.
The result was the Transcontinental Treaty of 1819, which gave Florida to
the United States and fixed a boundary line west of the Mississippi all the
way to the Pacific Ocean. Adams himself called the successful completion
of this treaty his greatest diplomatic accomplishment. Now the United
States had not only secured the entire Atlantic Ocean-Gulf of Mexico area,
but had also received formal acknowledgement by Spain that the Oregon
Territory north of San Francisco belonged to the United States.
The treaties with Britain and Spain completed, Adams began giving
increased attention to the Russian claims to the Pacific Coast of America.
His approach was to play off the Holy Alliance partners against one another.

How America Became a Continental Republic

The Lewis and Clark Northwest expedition of 1803-06: This etching of the
explorers meeting with Indians was published in 1807; the Whitman Mission,
established in the Oregon Territory by Marcus Whitman in the 1830s; a
scene from John C. Fremont's report on his 1843-44 exploration of the
Oregon Trail.

The Gestation of the Monroe Doctrine

During the early 1820s, Adams began escalating his assertive policy of no
European intervention into the Americas. During 1823, this intersected the
developing policy of Great Britain to oppose potential intervention of the
Holy Alliance in Ibero-America. Britain, of course, wanted to recolonize the
new republics of the Americas herself.
British Foreign Minister George Canning was looking for help to oppose
potential French intervention in America, and proposed to the United States
a concert of power against the Russian-led Holy Alliance, of which Britain
herself was no longer a part. In August and September 1823, Canning
proposed in writing that the United States and Britain issue a joint
declaration of policy in regard to the Spanish-American question.
Commenting on the clear difference between the republican system and the
Holy Alliance, Adams wrote on May 27, 1823:
The European Alliance of the Emperors and Kings have
assumed as the foundation of human Society, the Doctrine of
Unalienable allegiance. Our Doctrine is founded upon the
principle of unalienable Right. The European Allies have
therefore viewed the cause of the South Americans as rebellion
against the lawful sovereign. We have considered it as the assertion of natural right. They have invariably shewn their disapprobation of the Revolution, and their wishes for the restoration of the Spanish power. We have as constantly favored the
Standard of Independence and of America.
Earlier, when the Russians attempted in 1821 to enforce an exclusion of all
but Russians from Alaska's shores, Adams backed the Russians down by
dragging the Russian minister into his office. Adams told him that the
United States "would contest the right of Russia to any territorial establishment on this continent, and that we should assume distinctly the principle
that the American continents are no longer subject to any new colonial
The Russian minister, Poletica, responded by claiming that, since Russia
held both shores of the North Pacific Ocean, the east as far south as 51, the
west as far south as 45, Russia would really be entitled to declare the waters
of that ocean to be a closed sea north of a line between those two coastal
points. But, he continued, the czar's government preferred to assert only its

"essential rights." It would not, he said, close it, but just keep everyone 100
miles out.
Adams told Poletica that the United States would not for one moment
acquiesce to this policy. It would never admit the Russian claims or give up
the right of its citizens to freedom of the seas and to trade in the Northwest.
It was after this exchange that the czar backed off from enforcing his edict.
At this point a New England opium trader began agitation to force the
United States government to take more aggressive action on the Oregon
question. This was Capt. William Sturgis (1782-1863), founder of the
shipping and trading firm Bryant and Sturgis. The Sturgis family was part of
the Boston Perkins syndicate and was directly related to the British-Swiss
Baring banking empire.
William Sturgis had explored the Northwest Pacific Coast as early as 1798,
and for more than 30 years played a Jesuitical role in the Oregon dispute. In
1822, Sturgis wrote a series of articles in the Boston Daily Advertiser. In
these articles, he promoted establishing a naval post in Puget Sound to
protect American trading and merchant ships (i.e. his company's opium
trade), and deprecated the idea of ever establishing an American settlement
on the Columbia River. He said it would be wrong to encourage any settlement of American emigrants in the Oregon Territory because the region was
too remote to ever be part of the United States. This, of course, was the
exact opposite of Adams's outlook and policy.
Sturgis unleashed a tremendous publicity campaign for his views. He
repeated and elaborated his plans in another article in October 1822 in the
North American Review.
Sturgis's intervention at this time, while motivated by his opium-trading
interests and the interests of the British bankers to prevent any permanent
American settlement, had a quite different result than he intended. Up to
this time, the Pacific Northwest was not a subject of wide interest in the
country. Adams now used the popular interest in Oregon to further his
policy of knocking both the Russians and the British completely out of the
Adams knew that a serious conflict with Britain over the Northwest coast at
this time would be premature. Yet, all the agitation in Congress and by
Sturgis was forcing him to act.

Then, Sen. James Floyd of Massachusetts sent Adams a letter demanding

forceful American intervention in Oregon. This Floyd, like Sturgis, was part
of the opium syndicate of New England and a former member of the Essex
Junto. Also like Sturgis, he was opposed to American settlements in Oregon
and wanted to give the British everything north of the Columbia.
Adams used Floyd's letter to begin the public airing of his policy. He wrote
back to Floyd, in July 1823, accepting the necessity of an early settlement
with Russia and firmness against British claims to the entire Columbia River
basin, and stated his intention of setting up very soon a government establishment at the mouth of the Columbia.
At the end of his letter, Adams stated again the policy that Monroe would
give to the world in just a few short months:
But what right has Russia to any colonial footing on the
continent of North America? Has she any that we are bound to
recognize? And is it not time for the American Nations to inform the sovereigns of Europe, that the American continents are
no longer open to the settlement of new European colonies?
Adams now began a concerted campaign to play the British off against the
Russians to the advantage of the United States. His goal was to push Russia
north of the 55th parallel, and then deal with the British. He approached the
British first.
He proposed to British Foreign Minister George Canning, that the United
States and Great Britain reach a common understanding, then jointly
propose to Russia a tripartite treaty. Adams told Canning that the United
States had "no territorial claim of their own as high as the fifty-first degree
of latitude." He hinted that if Great Britain did not cooperate with the
United States against the territorial, as well as the maritime pretensions, of
Russia, she might get caught in a Russian-American vice closed at 51, the
southern limit of the Russian claims.
The British replied that their claims encompassed everything between north
58 and the Columbia River on the south. Britain was less concerned with
its northern boundary with Russia, than with obtaining the Columbia as its
southern boundary with the United States. Adams, of course, knew this and
acted accordingly.

Adams then moved to seek Russian collaboration against Britain. He

proposed to Russia a bilateral treaty where no American would henceforth
make settlements north of the 55th parallel, and no Russians would establish
settlements south of that line. If that were agreed to, said Adams, then a
tripartite treaty, pulling in Britain would be possible.
Adams knew that the United States had neither the military capability, nor
the political possibility to attempt to drive the Russians or British out by
force, at least not yet. But, he thought, if he let Russia be sure of a domain
at least as far south as 55, and in the process lessen British concerns about
the pressure from Russia, then Britain would press less heavily south of 51,
or at least 49.
In sum, Adams proposed the following: 1) Make the unsettled areas of the
Northwest Coast free and open to the fishermen and traders of all three
countries; but, 2) draw boundaries beyond which none would make settlements: Russia, none south of 55; Britain none north of 55 nor south of
51; the United States none north of 51.
Fifty-one degrees embraced the entire Columbia basin, and would, in
Adams's view give the United States complete communication between all
the headwaters of the Missouri and the Columbia.
President Monroe was inclined to agree to the British proposal of a joint
declaration, despite the refusal of Canning to agree to the recognition of the
independence of the new South American republics. Two ex-Presidents, Jefferson and Madison, recommended to Monroe the acceptance of the Canning
proposal. The thinking of Monroe, Jefferson and Madison was determined
by the fear that a successful intervention by the Holy Alliance in South
America might mean an attack soon afterward on the United States.
As we shall see, it was Adams who solved this problem.
The Monroe Doctrine Is Proclaimed
Then, on Oct. 16, 1823 a formal note from Baron von Tuyll at the Russian
embassy, delivered to Adams, announced that the czar, in conformance with
the principles of his allies, would not receive any agents whatsoever from
any of the rebel governments in America. It expressed satisfaction that the
United States, in recognizing the independence of those governments, at
least had proclaimed its intention to continue neutral. This was a not-tooveiled threat that, should the United States swerve from neutrality, the czar

of Russia, spokesman for the Holy Alliance, would intervene with France to
support Spain to recover her now lost-colonies.
At a cabinet meeting in November, to discuss both the proposal from
Canning and the threat from Russia, Adams stated:
It affords a very suitable and convenient opportunity for us to
take our stand against the Holy Alliance and at the same time to
decline the overture of Great Britain. It would be more candid,
as well as more dignified, to avow our principles explicitly to
Russia and France, than to come in as a cock-boat in the wake
of the British man-of-war.
Monroe agreed.
On Nov. 20, Adams put forward in exact terms what the world would soon
know as the Monroe Doctrine.
My purpose (he told the cabinet) would be in a moderate and
conciliatory manner, but with a firm and determined spirit, to
declare our dissent from the principles avowed in those communications; to assert those upon which our own Government is
founded, and, while disclaiming all intention of attempting to
propagate them by force, and all interference with the political
affairs of Europe, to declare our expectation and hope that the
European powers will equally abstain from the attempt to
spread their principles in the American hemisphere, or to
subjugate by force any part of these continents to their will.
Having formulated the fundamental ideas to be set before the nations of the
world, that the United States was now to directly challenge the oligarchical
system of Europe, and that of Russia in particular, Adams responded to the
Russian threats. On Nov. 27, he read to the Russian minister his "Observations on the Communications recently received from the Minister of Russia."
At the time, Adams considered this the most important state paper he had
ever written. The government of the United States, stated the document,
recognized the right of nations to establish and modify their own governments according to their own judgments. While espousing the republican
principle, it had not sought by the propagation of its own principles to
disturb the peace or to meddle with the policy of any part of Europe. It had
recognized the established independence of the former Spanish colonies, and

entered into political and commercial relations with them. In the existing
contest between these states and their mother country, the United States
would remain neutral as long as the European powers, apart from Spain, did
The "Observations" closed with a direct challenge to the Russian intention of
intervening in America:
The United States of America, and their Government, could not
see with indifference, the forcible interposition of any European
Power, other than Spain, either to restore the dominion of Spain
over her emancipated Colonies in America, or to establish
Monarchical Governments in those Countries, or to transfer any
of the possessions heretofore or yet subject to Spain in the
American Hemisphere, to any other European power.
Just a few short days elapsed before President Monroe delivered his annual
message to Congress on December 2, 1823, known today as the Monroe
The Russians and the British were shocked by Monroe's announcement.
Both realized that they had been outflanked by Adams; but there was little
they could do, since their mutually conflicting aims in the Americas
prevented joint action against the United States.
Kicking Russia Out of North America
Adams's negotiations with the Russians proceeded smoothly, and an
agreement was signed on April 5, 1824, which was almost exactly what he
had proposed the year before. Russia gave up her pretensions to be the lord
of the North Pacific (at least for the time being). She accepted her boundary
with the United States to be 54 40", and did not insist upon a recognition of
Russian sovereignty north of that parallel. As far as the Russians were
concerned, Adams's non-colonization principle was intact. What this
agreement also did was to squeeze the British out of the North American
Pacific entirely, at least on paper.
About a year later, with Adams now President of the United States, the
Russians and British came to an agreement, which set their respective
boundaries in the region at the lines that define the borders of Alaska today.

But the Russian-British treaty recognized Alaska as a Russian possession,

something that the United States had never done. Between themselves, the
powers were attempting to ignore Adams's non-colonization principle.
With the U.S.-Russian and British-Russian questions settled, there remained
only the boundary between the United States and Britain to be settled.
The British demanded of the United States, that the border separating their
respective territories in the Northwest be the Columbia River, rejecting, not
only Adams's proposed line of 51, but even Adams's compromise line of
49. Now prime minister, Canning knew that if the area currently comprising Washington State was to remain a territory of joint occupancy for
another decade or more, it would then fall to the Americans as settlers
poured in, across the Rocky Mountains via the Oregon Trail, and by sea.
Therefore, Canning pushed for an immediate agreement.
Adams, of course, had a similar evaluation. He proposed that the existing
1818 joint occupancy agreement be extended for another ten years. The
British, unwilling and unable to fight, finally agreed.
Unfortunately for the nation, Adams lost the 1828 presidential election to
Andrew Jackson. Jackson never did a thing for Oregon. This supposed
promoter of western interests, completely ignored the Pacific Northwest.
Not one government-sponsored settlement, nor any other official activity
was undertaken in the Oregon Territory during the Jackson presidency.
The consolidation of the territory for the United States during this period
reverted to the associates of Adams, in the missionary societies and other
private interests. By the mid-1830s, and more so during the next decade,
thousands of pioneers, and a handful of great men, like Marcus Whitman,
established a strong enough presence in the Oregon Territory, that the
immediate establishment of a government there was warranted.
By 1843, American settlers had created large concentrations of Americans in
the Willamette Valley, outnumbering the Hudson's Bay Company establishment on the north bank of the Columbia River, at Fort Vancouver. Shortly
thereafter, Fort Vancouver was abandoned by the British as they moved to
the more secure Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
On Dec. 2, 1845 President Polk, in his annual message to Congress, invoked
the one-year notice provision to terminate the American-British joint occupancy treaty of 1818. Polk used Adams's Non-Colonization Principle of

Monroe's 1823 speech in doing so. It was finally time for the showdown
with the British over the northern boundary question. Adams, of course,
supported the President.
But, fearful of a double war (with Britain and, to the south, with Mexico),
Polk "flinched," as Adams put it. Polk accepted Britain's latest offer: the
line of 49 through to salt waterAdams's fallback option of 25 years
earlier. There is no question that, had Polk not "flinched," the British could
have been forced as far north as 54 40". The treaty making the 49th parallel
the boundary between American and British territory was signed in 1846.
John Quincy Adams had made possible the Oregon Treaty of 1846. As a
young senator from Massachusetts, home of the treasonous Essex Junto, he
had helped Jefferson acquire the Louisiana Territory, thereby holding to the
latitude of the Lake of the Woods (49th parallel) instead of the source of the
Mississippi as the future point of departure westward. As Minister to Russia
he held the area gained on the Northwest Coast by American explorers and
traders. As negotiator at the Treaty of Ghent he returned Astoria to American hands. As Secretary of State he drew the parallel of 49 west to the
Rocky Mountains. Then, with the Transcontinental Treaty with Spain he set
the Spanish boundary at 42 from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, which
was the first treaty acknowledgement of American title on the Pacific Coast.
He created the Monroe Doctrine, which set in motion the process by which
the United States would drive the Russians and British from the Americas.
He put through the Russian Treaty of 1824, narrowing down the Oregon
Question to the United States and Britain. He and his associates held the
line above the Columbia River against Britain through the years when it
would have been given away by traitors.
America Purchases Alaska
Before we conclude, we must wrap up the history of the Russian presence on
the American shores. By 1833 there were fewer than 200 people at Fort
Ross. Americans were pouring into the region, and it was merely a matter of
time before Russia's California dream would come to an end. In 1841 the
Russia-America Company sold the entire settlement to John Sutter, who had
built his own fort just 20 miles away.
Finally, the Russians were out of California; out of Hawaii; and pushed
north to 54 40" in Alaska.

Then, with the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 between Russia on one
side, and Britain and France on the other, the fear that the British would
attempt to take Alaska dominated Russian thinking. In typical oligarchical
fashion, the Russians and British came to an agreement during the war to put
their American possessions "off limits" to hostilities for the duration. With
the end of the war in 1856, selling Alaska became official Russian government policy. In 1861, negotiations for the sale to the United States were
frozen for the duration of the American Civil War. They resumed again in
1864, as the Russians became confident of the Union's victory. The sale was
completed in June 1867.
Russian Third Rome policy for the Pacific then shifted gears. Blocked and
pushed out on the American side, they began to move south on the Asiatic
side. Using a combination of trading operations and outright military conquest, the Russians took the Amur and Ussuri regions from China and
founded the city of Vladivostok (the ruler of the east). Shortly thereafter, an
agreement with Japan gave Russia the island of Sakhalin. With this, Russia's
position on the Asiatic side of the North Pacific was stabilized and consolidated.
An 1859 letter to St. Petersburg from the director of the Russia-America
Company underlines the importance, today, of acting on the foreign policy
principles established by John Quincy Adams. Indicating that the Russians
would not be easily dissuaded from their aspirations in the Pacific, the
director wrote:
Our interests are on the Asiatic coast and we must direct our
energy to that. There we are on our own territory and have for
exploitation the production of a large, rich region. We will take
part in an extraordinary activity, developing from the Pacific
Ocean, our institutions will rival those of other nations and with
the care which our most august Sovereign is giving to the
maritime part of Amur, we must not lose the possibility of
acquiring in this ocean a great significance, worthy of Russia.