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Excerpt of an Interview with the New York Herald on the Advantages of Annexing Santo Domingo

March 30, 1870

"A government as extensive and populous as the United States consumes many things that grow only in the tropics. The population of the country is rapidly increasing, and, as a natural result, the consumption of tropical productions becomes larger in proportion. We talk about the balance of trade being against us in Europe. This is an error. The United States consumes about $75,000,000 worth of sugar in a year. This is almost entirely a drain upon the wealth of the country. It is true bills are drawn on Europe, but chiefly to pay balances against us in the tropics. The balance against us in Brazil alone is over $20,000,000, and proportionately the same is the case in all the tropical countries with which we have commercial transactions. This being the incontrovertible fact, it certainly is a most desirable step to acquire a country where American capital, labor and enterprise could be employed in raising sugar, coffee and other tropical growths for American consumption. . . . This whole question I resolve under four heads. First, the United States requires such a possession as St. Domingo in an agricultural point of view, for the reasons I have already stated. Second, the. laws of Porto Rico and Cuba are inimical to American commerce. There is no reason why American manufactures and provisions, such as we are able to compete in, should not go to those islands. As I say their laws are hostile to the interests of this country— they are a check upon American commerce. I wish most earnestly to see commerce revived, A strong foothold in the West Indies would very soon regulate this. Third, the country has become so immense in its proportions, that it requires outposts. Our vulnerable point is the Gulf. Before it is too late we should plant ourselves there. This will be a guard against aggression from foreign sources and will consolidate the power of resistance by this country. The last reason is, without such a foothold, in event of a struggle the enemies of the United States would rendezvous in the Gulf and the whole power of the nation might be called upon to concentrate against a danger which by timely action could have been averted. . . . how can we tell what moment there might be a demand for action in these very waters? It is the part of prudence to be always prepared for every emergency."

Ulysses S. Grant, Excerpt of an Interview with the New York Herald on the Advantages of Annexing Santo Domingo Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/355328

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