« AnkstesnisTęsti »
must be a beggar, is the very strongest pledge he could possibly give ?"
The frankness and determination of the southern Whigs left to their porthern brethern the alternative of uniting with them in raising General Taylor to the Presidency, or of resigning to their political opponents the favors of official patronage. They adopted the former, and General Taylor received the nomination of the party.
The northern Democrats claimed a candidate selected from among themselves. The claim was allowed by their southern brethren, on condition of a satisfactory pledge against the Wilmot proviso. Four prominent northern Democrats entered the lists, to bid against each other for the votes of the slaveholders. General Cass's bid was accepted, and he was duly nominated, having declared the proviso unconstitutional.
Notwithstanding the hostility of the South to the pro viso, they anticipated the possibility of being compelled to yield to the North, so far as to renew the Missouri compromise, and to consent to the exclusion of slavery north of 36° 30'—and here we find a solution of Mr. Polk's rejection of the cession proposed by Mexico. Great and valuable as was that cession, it was chiefly north of the compromise line, leaving space for scarcely more than two slave States. The territory offered was not far enough south to secure the object of the war, and hostilities were to be continued for conquests, below the Missouri Hne.
In August, 1847, negotiations were opened for peace, and Mr. Trist was appointed by the President to conduct them on the part of the United States. The Mexican Commissioners were instructed to procure a stipulation, by which «The United States shall engage not to permit slavery in that part of the territory which they may ac
quire by treaty.” It is to be presumed that Mr. Trist was well acquainted with the views of the Cabinet at Washington, on this subject. In an official despatch to the Secretary of State, of 4th September, 1847, he thus describes his conference with the Mexican Commissioners, on this point of their instructions :-_“In the course of their remarks on this subject (exclusion of slavery), I was told that, if it were proposed to the people of the United States to part with a portion of their territory, in order that the INQUISITION should be therein established, the proposal could not excite stronger feelings of abhorrence than those awakened in Mexico, by the prospect of the introduction of slavery in any territory parted with by her.
“I concluded by assuring them that the bare mention of the subject in any treaty to which the United States was a party, was an absolute impossibility: that no President of the United States would dare to present any such treaty to the Senate; and that, if it were in their power to offer me the whole territory described in our project, increased ten-fold in value, and in addition to that, covered a foot thick all over with pure gold, upon THE SINGLE CONDITION THAT SLAVERY SHOULD BE EXCLUDED therefrom, I could not entertain the offer for a moment, nor think even of communicating it to Washington."
UNWORTHY EXPEDIENTS FOR FACILITATING CONQUESTS.
GENERAL SANTA ANNA had been one of the ablest and most popular of the Mexican chieftains.
A political revolution had deprived him of power, and driven him into exile—and he had taken refuge in Havana. Shortly before the commencement of hostilities, an officer of the United States navy was despatched to that city. The object of his mission has not been officially disclosed ; but it was asserted in the
generally believed, that it was to confer with the Mexican General. An American squadron, in anticipation of the war, had for some time been stationed off Vera Cruz, and the very day war was declared, “private and confidential”* orders were sent to the commander not to obstruct the return of Santa Anna to Mexico. The distinguished exile, it was well-known, had wrongs to resent; and it was no doubt taken for granted, and perhaps expressly stipulated, that, being indebted to Mr. Polk for the opportunity of wreaking his vengeance, he would foment an insurrection, kindle the flames of civil war, recover his former power, and exercise it in concluding a peace with the United States,
* “ United States Navy Department,
May 13th, 1846. « Commodore. If Santa Anna endeavors to enter the Mexican ports, you will allow him to pass freely.
* GEORGE BANCROFT.” « Commodore DAVID CONNER, Commanding Home Squadron."
by the cession of California. He did return through favor of Mr. Polk's order,* and, as was expected, effected a revolution, and assumed the reins of Government; and, by his wonderful energy and perseverance in behalf of his country, rebuked the artifice of the American President.
To aid in fomenting the civil dissensions which, it was hoped, would result from Santa Anna's sudden appearance in Mexico, General Taylor, was required to distribute a proclamation prepared for him at Washington. In this strange document, the General is made to tell the Mexicans, “ Your Government is in the hands of tyrants and usurpers. They have abolished your State Governments; they have overthrown your Federal Constitution ; they have deprived you of the right of suffrage, destroyed the liberty of the press, despoiled you of your arms, and reduced you to a state of absolute dependence upon the power of a military dictator. We come to obtain indemnity for the past, and security for the future.
We come to overthrow the tyrants who have destroyed your liberties, but we come to make no war upon the people of Mexico, nor upon any form of free Government they may choose for . themselves. It is our wish to see you liberated from despots, to drive back the savage Camanches, to prevent the renewal of their assaults, and to compel them to restore to you from captivity your long-lost wives and children!" Not satisfied with forcing General Taylor to distribute this mendacious proclamation as his own act, he was expressly instructed (9th July, 1846), to pursue a course of deceit and fraud. He was directed by the Secretary of War, “to take occasions to send officers to the head-quarters of the enemy for the military purposes real or ostensible
* Commodore Conner announcing to the Secretary of the Navy the arrival of Santa Anna at Vera Cruz, added: “I have allowed him to enter without molestation."
which are of ordinary occurrence between armies, and in which opportunity may be taken to speak of the war itself as only carried on to obtain justice, and that we had much rather procure that by negotiation, than by fighting.” Here, we may observe, is an awkward admission, that the war is not a defensive but an aggressive one. Again : “A discreet officer who understands Spanish, and who can be employed in the intercourse so usual between armies, can be your confidential agent on such occasions, and can mask his real under his ostensible object of a military interview. You will readily comprehend that in a country so divided into races, classes, and parties as Mexico is, and with so many local divisions among individuals, there must be great room for operating on the minds and feelings of large portions of the inhabitants, and inducing them to wish success to our invasion, which has no desire to injure their country, and which, in overthrowing their oppressors, may benefit themselves. Between the Spaniards, who monopolize the wealth and power of the country, and the mixed Indian race who bear its burdens, there must be jealousy and animosity. The same feelings must exist between the the lower and higher orders of the clergy, the latter of whom have the dignities and revenues, while the former have poverty and labor. In all this field of division, in all these elements of social, political, personal and local discord, there must be openings to reach the interests, passions, or principles, of some of the parties, and thereby conciliate their good will, and make them co-operators with us in bringing about an honorable and a speedy peace. The management of these delicate movements, are confided to your discretion.”
There is no evidence that General Taylor ever engaged in these “ delicate movements.” He bravely fought the