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more. This swelled our demand for compensation.
Not receiving it, we marched hundreds of miles to the City of Mexico, and killed some thousands more. This added another and a heavy item to our bill ; and thus we were to proceed, spreading misery and death, till we were fully indemnified for the money, and trouble, and blood, we had expended in filling a sister Republic with wailing, and lamentation, and woe. The idea of thus killing other people, and sacrificing the lives of our own citizens, for the purpose of getting pay for fighting, is original with Mr. Polk; at least, he finds no precedent for such policy in the history of his own country. Our revolutionary fathers rejoiced to lay down their arms the moment the object for which they had been taken was accomplished. Not a voice was heard recommending a continuance of hostilities till Great Britain indemnified us for fighting her the last seven years. In 1815, we again rejoiced in making peace with Great Britain, without asking any
indemnity for killing Englishmen, capturing British vessels, and carrying the war into Canada. It is only poor, feeble, exhausted Mexico, who must bleed on, till she pays us for letting blood.
But we are to continue the work of slaughter, not only till we are paid for our powder and shot, &c., but also till Mexico discharges a debt of a few millions, which she is said to owe certain of our citizens. And thus, at a day when it is deemed inhuman even to imprison an insolvent, Mr. Polk recommends that Mexican bonds shall be steeped in human gore, and that we shall proceed to collect our debts by murdering the debtors. And all this to indemnify our “much-injured citizens." But how will Mr. Polk indemnify the vast multitude of women and children whom his policy has made widows and orphans ? What tariff will be establish for broken hearts and blasted hopes ? What indemnity would he claim from Mexico for all the crimes and blasphemies, for all the horrors of the hospital and the battle-field, for all the desolation and misery in this life, and in that which is to come, engendered by the war ?
In justice to Mr. Polk, we acquit him of the horrible atrocity of wishing to continue the slaughter of the Mexicans for compensation for the cost of killing them, and of the consummate folly of expending a hundred millions of dollars in collecting three or four of alleged debt. Politicians often think it wise to conceal their real motives by assigning false ones. The war was to be continued, not to obtain a reimbursement of its expenses, not to collect a paltry debt, but solely for CONQUEST.
We have already seen that it was the President's determination to annex California to the Union. Let us now listen to a few of the frank avowals of the partisans of the war in Congress.
Mr. Stanton, of Tennessee, declared that, “The annexation of California to the United States, was the great measure of the age.
Mr. BEDINGER, of Virginia—“Was this to be a war of conquest ? He answered, yes ; trusting in Heaven, and on the valor of their arms, this should be a war of conQUEST.”+
Mr. Sevier, of Arkansas, speaking of the territories to be acquired from Mexico, observed, “He supposed no Senator would think that they ought to be less than New Mexico and Upper California. He did not suppose
that a treaty of peace with less than this would ever pass that body.”
Mr. Giles, of Maryland—“I take it for granted, that we shall gain territory, and must gain territory, before we
* Cong. Globe, 10th Dec., 1846, p. 23. † Cong. Globe, 6th Jan., 1847, p. 126. | Cong. Globe, 2d Feb., 1847, p. 306.
shut the gates of the temple of Janus. We must have it. Every consideration of national policy calls upon us to secure it. We must march right out from ocean to ocean. We must fulfil what the American poet has said of us, from one end of this confederacy to the other,
- The broad Pacific chafes our strand,
We hear the wide Atlantic roar.' We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific ocean, and be bounded only by its roaring wave. We must admit no other government to any partition of this great territory. It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race; and, if they fail to perform it, they will not come up to that high position which Providence, in his mighty government has assigned them."
In January, 1847, a resolution was offered in the House of Representatives, declaring that the war “is not waged with a view to conquest;" but the House was too candid to endorse the words of the President, and rejected the resolution. In the same Session, it also rejected, by a vote of 126 to 76, the following amendment proposed to the supply bill, viz.; “Provided farther, that these appropriations are made with no view of sanctioning any prosecution of the existing war with Mexico for the acquisition of territory to form new States to be added to the Union, or for the dismemberment of Mexico."
These disclaimers of all intention of making conquests came from the Whigs, who were unmeasured in their denunciations of Mr. Polk's obvious policy.
In his next message of December, 1847, that gentleman adroitly revenged himself upon his opponents, by reminding Congress, that only sixteen members had voted against the war; and that Congress, including, of course, the Whig members with the exception of the sixteen, “could not
* Cong. Globe, 11th Feb., 1847, p. 387.
have meant, when in May, 1846, they appropriated ten millions of dollars, and authorized the President to employ the military and naval forces of the United States, and to accept the services of FIFTY THOUSAND volunteers to enable him to prosecute the war; and when at their last Session, and after our army had invaded Mexico, they made additional appropriations, and authorized the raising of additional troops for the same purpose-that no indemnity was to be obtained from Mexico at the conclusion of the war.” It was impossible for the Whigs to elude the force of this sarcasm. If the war
was not waged with a view to conquest,” with what view did they vote for an army of fifty thousand men ?
Puerile as is the distinction made by Mr. Polk between conquest and territorial indemnity, it appears from his own showing, that it is a distinction without a difference ; a mere quibble on words. The President, informing Congress what territories he had claimed of Mexico as conditions of peace, remarks, “as the territory to be acquired by the boundary proposed, might be estimated to be of greater value than a fair equivalent for our just demands, our Commissioner was authorized to stipulate for the payment of such additional pecuniary consideration as was deemed reasonable.” Here we see that Mr. Polk meant to take more territory, than he even pretends we are entitled to for indemnification. And how did he mean to acquire it? By conquest ? Oh no, but by a forced sale, negotiated by a Commissioner at the head of a victorious army, ready to enter the city of Mexico; and for this surplus territory he would pay such a price as he deemed reasonable, and, if the Mexicans refused to make the bar, gain on his terms, they refused at the peril of their lives, and the loss of their capital; their blood was to flow, till they accepted, for territory to which we had no just claims, the price we might please to pay:
EXTENT OF TERRITORY REQUIRED FROM MEXICO.
We have already admitted that Mr. Polk's frequent and earnest asseverations of his desire for peace were sincere, because in his mind the term peace included the acquisition of all the territory he wanted. The peace he desired, was not a just, and therefore an honorable one, but a bold, rapacious spoliation. If we use strong terms, it is because they are warranted by strong facts. After we had obtained military occupation of the country on the Rio Grande and all the sea-ports on the Atlantic and Pacific ; after the Mexican armies had been routed in three general engagements ; after the efforts of the Mexicans had failed to protect their capital, and General Scott was ready to enter its gates, peace was again offered Mexico. In the time, place, and terms of this offer, we can see no indication of generosity, no desire for justice, no feeling of honor. Mexico, utterly prostrated, could obviously make no successful resistance, and it was certainly within the power of the United States to take military possession not merely of the capital, but of every city and strong place in the republic. Such, however, was not the desire or the interest of the Administration, or of the country. To hold the entire of Mexico by force of arms, would occasion an expenditure of treasure and an imposition of taxes which would soon hurl Mr. Polk and his partisans from office. Nor would a continuance of the war give us that quit-claim to the coveted territories which was required,