« AnkstesnisTęsti »
In other words, Mr. Slidell is to buy territory, and these fraudulent claims are to form part of the consideration. He is authorized to offer the claims and $5,000,000 for New Mexico, and the claims and $25,000,000 for both New Mexico and California. Thus we see the envoy was sent on a land-jobbing mission, armed with claims to the amount of eight millions to bully, and with twenty-five millions of dollars to bribe, the Mexicans to dismember their republic.
Mr. Polk was determined to have Mexican territory, peaceably if he could-forcibly if he must. If he could not buy, he intended to conquer. Hence, the moment the Cabinet learned from Slidell's letter, that he had not been immediately received, although the question of reception was still undecided, the army was ordered to the Rio Grande. A few days after the decision was made known to Slidell, the Mexican administration was changed, and Paredes, the head of the belligerent party assumed the reins of government. On this change becoming known at Washington, Slidell was ordered to present his credentials to the new Cabinet, and demand his recognition; and this very order was avowedly given to facilitate war. "On your return to the United States, energetic measures against Mexico would at once be recommended by the President, and these might fail to obtain the support of Congress, if it could be asserted that the existing Government had not refused to receive our Minister." ""* The demand was accordingly made, and, as was foreseen, refused, and Mr. Slidell came home.
It was, it seems, the intention of Mr. Polk, on this last refusal, to invoke Congress to declare war (take energetic measures") on the ground that Mexico by refusing
* For the Slidell Correspondence, see Senate Documents, 29th Cong., 1 Sess.
to receive his Minister Plenipotentiary, compelled us to seek payment of our claims by the sword. On further reflection, this design was abandoned. A recommendation to commence the work of human butchery for such a cause, "might fail to obtain the support of Congress." It was thought more expedient first to provoke hostilities, and then to call on Congress to raise armies to DEFEND the country. Hence, although Congress was in Session when the President received intelligence of Mr. Slidell's final rejection, he did not "recommend energetic measures against Mexico," as Mr. Buchanan said he would. A course had been taken which left but little to the discretion of the Legislature. Before we proceed to describe that course, it will be necessary to examine the claim on which it was founded, viz., that the Rio Grande was the western boundary of the United States.
WESTERN BOUNDARY OF TEXAS.
WHATEVER may have been the original limits of the region which ancient discoverers and geographers named Texas, the boundaries of the revolted Mexican province of that name, are no more necessarily identical with those limits, than are the boundaries of the State of Louisiana with the limits once assigned to the vast territory bearing the same name. The State of Texas was carved by Mexico out of her domains, and, in union with Coahuila, was entitled to a common legislature, and a representation in the Mexican Congress. In 1833, Texas, as already mentioned, dissolved her union with Coahuila, but laid no claim whatever to any portion of the territory of her late associate. The limits of the State of Texas were well known, and defined on maps. Its boundary commenced at the mouth of the river Nueces, in Corpus Christi bay; and followed that river to its source, thence to the line of New Mexico, near the Gaudaloupe mountains, thence easterly to the southern branch of the Colorado, and along that branch to the main stream, and with that to and along the boundary line of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The country between the Nueces and Rio Grande was embraced in Coahuila and the Northern district of Tamaulipas. A map of Texas, published in 1881, gives the Nueces as its southern limit; and in a description of Texas, published in the same year, by a visitant, it
is said that the province is bounded by "the Nueces, which divides it from Tamaulipas and Coahuila."
In 1833, Benjamin Lundy travelled extensively in Texas and Mexico; and his diary, published since his death, contains entries which show most conclusively what was then considered by the Texans as the southern or southwestern boundary :-" 1833, October 11th. We proceeded this morning over some delightful plains, on a good level road. At half-past nine, we reached and crossed the river Nueces, which is the western limit of what is called Texas. Of course we are now in Coahuila."
February 1, 1833. Laredo is a poor-looking place. It contains about 2200 inhabitants, The people look like mulattoes. They are friendly and clever, but not one of them can speak English. Laredo is the first settlement that I have seen in Tamaulipas." Life of Benjamin Lundy, pp. 57, 95.
In 1836, as we have seen, President Jackson laid before Congress the report of his special agent, Mr. Moffit, who was sent to Texas to acquire information for the Government. The agent reported that "the political limits of Texas proper (that is, the Mexican State of Texas), before the last revolution, were the Nueces river on the West," &c.
In 1837, was published a map of Texas, " compiled by Stephen F. Austin, from surveys by General Teran of the Mexican Army;" and here again we have the Nueces for its western boundary. So late as June 28th, 1845, Mr. Donaldson, American Chargé d'Affaires to Texas, declared, in an official letter, that Corpus Christi "is the most western point now occupied by Texas." The Mexican Government always insisted, that the territory on the Rio Grande, had never belonged to Texas. The Mexican commissioners appointed to treat of peace, were, by instructions, authorised
to acknowledge the independence of Texas; but, to avoid mistake, it was added, " by Texas is understood the territory known by that name after the treaties of 1819, when it formed part of the State of Coahuila and Texas, and not by any means the territory between the Nueces and the Bravo, which the Congress of the pretended Texans claimed to belong to it." On the 18th March, 1846, Gen. Mejia, the commandant at Metamoras, in a proclamation announcing Taylor's invasion, to prove that the Americans intended to seize territory not included in Texas, remarked, “the limits of Texas are certain and recognised; never have they extended beyond the river Nueces.'
It is, therefore, beyond all doubt, that no point of the Mexican State of Texas came in contact. with the Rio Grande. In what manner, then, had the Republic of Texas acquired the immense extent of territory she claimed? As it came neither by purchase, nor by treaty; the title, if any, must have been conferred by the sword. On the 2d March, 1836, the Mexican State of Texas, bounded, as we have seen, by the Nueces, declared its independence. This declaration, while it changed the political relations of Texas, had no effect on its territory. On the 21st April of the same year, the victory of San Jacinto secured the separation of Texas from Mexico; but it was a victory obtained over Mexican troops in the heart of Texas, not a conquest of Mexican territory. It was a victory, however, which emboldened the Texans to claim for the purpose of occupying at pleasure, whatever land they thought might be convenient. We find from the official report of General Jackson's agent, laid before Congress by the President, that almost on the battle-field, "immediately after the battle of San Jacinto," it was the intention of the Texan Government "to have claimed from the Rio Grande, along the river to