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to enable us to convert them with facility into slaveholding States with a representation in Congress. The object of the war could be most advantageously obtained by a treaty of peace, giving us undisputed possession of New Mexico and California. Hence the desire for peace; and the prostrate condition of Mexico induced the hope that she would be compelled to make the cession we demanded. And what was that cession? Why, all the territory between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, together with the whole of New Mexico, and all California, both Upper and Lower! An inspection of the map of Mexico will show that these demands, exclusive of Texas proper, are estimated at upwards of eight hundred thousand square miles, while the whole area of the Republic is supposed to contain one million six hundred thousand. Thus did Mr. Polk seek for a "just and honorable peace” in the seizure of one half of Mexico !*

Such was the territorial indemnity we attempted to extort from a vanquished and almost unresisting enemy. Napoleon, in the career of conquest, never indulged in wilder rapacity. Mexico, humbled and disabled, offered to cede all Texas proper, beyond the Nueces, and all of New Mexico and California North of the 37th degree of latitude ; an extent of territory equal to nine States of the size of New York! It is true, that in the Mexican projet of a treaty containing this proposed cession, there was a stipulation for compensation for injuries done by the American troops, a mere matter of discussion, but not represented as a sine qua non. The negotiation was broken off not on account of that or other exceptionable proposals, but because Mexico refused to cede the whole of New Mexico and California. Mr. Polk, in his Message to Congress, declared, “the boundary of the Rio Grande, and the cession of the States of New Mexico and Upper California constituted an ULTIMATUM which our Commissioner was under no circumstances to yield.” It may seem strange that Mr. Polk refused to accept the proffered cession. The solution is easy, and will be given in the subsequent chapter.

* These estimates are taken from an official statement of the areas of the different provinces, published by the Mexioan Government, and attached to Disturnell’s map of Mexico.

CHAPTER X XV.

MOTIVE FOR ACQUIRING TERRITORY.—THE WILMOT PROVISO.

The possessions of the United States extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the 49th to the 30th degree of latitude. Independent of the thirty States, comprising the Federal Union, the national territories embraced 1,335,398 square miles—an area equal to about half of all Europe. The American Republic, anterior to the Mexican war, possessed one of the largest regions in the world under one Government, and at the same time one of the most thinly inhabited. It will not, therefore, be pretended, that additional territory was required for the convenience of our population. It is said a port was wanted on the Pacific. The portion of California north of the 37th degree of latitude, which Mexico offered to cede, contains the harbor of St. Francisco, the best and most capacious on the Pacific. Mr. Polk had officially declared, that our title to the whole of Oregon was

"clear and unquestionable ;" yet, with the consent of southern Senators, he surrendered to Great Britain no less than 50 40' of what he insisted was territory belonging to the United States. Why give away northern territory which is ours, and lavish blood and treasure for the conquest of southern territory to which we have no 'title? It was known, that from natural and other causes, slavery would be for ever excluded from the territory yielded to Great Britain, but would find in California and New Mexico a genial soil and climate ; and that these States, when subdivided and annexed, would give to the slaveholding interest a predominating and resistless influence in the Federal Government.

Were other proofs wanting of the real object of the war, it might be found in the avowals of the southern press : 6. We trust,” said the Charleston Patriot, “ that our southern representatives will remember that this is a SOUTHERN WAR." Said the Charleston Courier : “Every battle fought in Mexico, and every dollar spent there, but insures the acquisition of territory which must widen the field of southern enterprize and power for the future. And the final result will be to adjust the whole balance of power in the Confederacy, so as to give us the control over the operations of the Government in all time to come.”

The Federal Union, a Georgia paper in the interest of the administration, remarked, “ The Whigs of the North oppose the war, because its legitimate effect is, as they contend, the extension of southern territory, and of southern slavery. It is true, this is a war in which the South is more immediately interested. Its vast expenditures must be made within her limits. During its continuance, New York, the great emporium of commerce, must be shorn in part of her greatness. Exchange, usually in her favor, must now be reversed, and in favor of New Orleans, where the supplies are furnished for the army. Let the SOUTH now be true to herself, and the days of her vassalage are gone,

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for ever.” Said the Mobile Herald : “The natural tendency of the slaves under our humane policy is to increase. The effect follows that, if we have no outlet for them, no soil to put them on, they will be huddled within the extreme southern limits of the Union." After showing that insubordination, and loss of profit, would result from a too crowded slave population, the editor proceeds, “These evils may be avoided by taking new territory in the direction of Mexico. The profitable existence of slavery is by no means incompatible with a more temperate region, but it is incompatible with a very dense population. We need plenty of soil to render it profitable."

As the war was waged only for territory, Mr. Polk was anxious to secure its object as speedily as possible ; and, thinking it probable that money judiciously distributed in Mexico might hasten the cession of California, recommended to Congress, August 8th, 1846, an appropriation of two millions of dollars, to be placed at his disposal, for the purpose of facilitating a peace. The very proposal utterly destroyed the pretext upon which he first justified the war, that it was one of defence. “ Millions for defence, not a cent for tribute,” was once the proud rallying cry of the Republic. Now he proposed two millions to buy a peace. Had it not been known that the money was to be employed in gaining territory, the very proposition would have excited universal abhorrence and indignation. A bill granting the desired sum was introduced into the Lower House, but to the extreme mortification and alarm of the administration, and the pro-slavery party, was passed with a proviso offered by Mr. Wilmot, exclud., ing slavery from all territory that might be ceded by Mexico. The bill was reported to the Senate on the last day of the Session, and, for want of time, no question was taken

upon it. At the ensuing Session, Mr. Polk asked for three millions for the same purpose, and a law was passed appropriating this sum “ to enable the President to conclude a treaty of peace, limits and boundaries, with the Republic of Mexico, to be used by him in the event that said treaty, when signed by the authorized agents of the two Governments, and duly ratified by Mexico, shall

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