AFTER Castlereagh's death in 1822, the Continental powers proposed to assist Spain to recover her American colonies, which had been in revolt since 1810; Canning, Castlereagh's successor, opposed this plan and obtained the co-operation of the United States president, whose statement of policy was the famous Monroe doctrine (1823). It was announced that the United States would not permit European powers to acquire new interests in the American continent, though existing interests would be respected. This was coupled in American minds with a resolve to keep aloof from European affairs, which they now did for nearly a century. Their attitude was an extreme form of the English one, and genuine objection to the autocratic misrule of Austria and Russia had a good deal to do with it. British policy was largely due to the much freer trade that the new republics would give, in place of the exclusionist policy of the old Spanish government.
The remainder of the Congress group split over a national question. Since the fifteenth century the Ottoman Turks had ruled over most of North Africa and South-Eastern Europe up to Belgrade and the borders of Hungary. They collected taxes from the subject Greeks, Serbs, Roumans, and Bulgars-but allowed them to practice their religion (Greek Orthodox), and treated them with a blend of indifference and savagery. In 1821 a rebellion among Greek seamen and pirates attracted sympathy from Russians, who belonged to the same Church, and from English statesmen who transferred to the modern Greeks the enthusiasm they felt for the great Greeks of the fifth century B.C. Metternich, however, disapproved of rebellion even against an infidel Sultan, and he was profoundly jealous of any extension of Russian influence, such as might follow if Greece were made independent. The break-up of the Turkish Empire had begun fifty years before, and Austria and Russia remained rivals for its possessions till 1914. Austria never favoured the displacement of the Turks by small states of native Christians, since as members of the Greek Church their affinity would always be with Russia. Both powers were looking much too far ahead-the cause of many wars-but Turkey's expulsion from Europe was a desirable thing. It was virtually accomplished in 1918.
Metternich appealed to the Powers to ignore the affair as something outside the pale of civilisation, while the Tsar indignantly withdrew from the Congress group and sent troops and ships to support the Greeks. A British admiral took the responsibility of destroying at Navarino (1827) an Egyptian fleet which was sailing to crush the Greeks. The other Powers soon afterwards recognised the independence of Greece, which began both the disintegration of the Turkish Empire on its western side and the assertion by small nationalities of claims which had been neglected for many centuries.
This was the end for the time being of attempts to regulate European international relations. It was perhaps unfortunate that Metternich's scheme did not survive till it could be used by a less reactionary set of diplomats. Metternich, however, remained the uncrowned Emperor and the keeper of the conscience of the German princes, until in 1848 the ground gave beneath his feet.