Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

“ But

Mr. Root, of Ohio, one of the “immortal fourteen,” in a speech delivered after the triumph of our arms, and the acquisition of the “indemnity” demanded by Mr. Polk, thus expressed himself on the floor of Congress : --where shall the widow look for indemnity? Where shall the mother, made childless by this war, look for her indemnity? Where shall the orphan children, whose fathers have fallen in battle, or by disease in that distant land, look for their indemnity ? Can any of these new acquisitions, under this treaty, indemnify them? It does seem to me, sir, that in all this bloody business, the men. who have been most active in it, have regarded this war only in relation to the effect it is likely to have on future elections, and they have not once thought how it will be regarded by the Judge of all. And when I think of these things, I thank my God, humbly thank him, that He gave me the nerve and the firmness to stand

up

here in my place, and say no” first, and “no” last, and "no" at all times, on every measure designed for the prosecution of this accursed war. And, sir, I rejoice that, when I approach the last agony of earth, whatever other guilt may press me, none of the victims of this war can meet me and say,

• Let my fate sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow.”

CHAPTER XXX.

OOBT OF THE WAR TO THE UNITED STATES,

One of the professed objects of the war,

after the pretence of repelling invasion had been abandoned, was the indemnification of “our much-injured citizens,” that is, the collection of a few millions of alleged debt. Our fleet and army were employed to collect this debt, and according to Mr. Polk, the costs of collection were to be added to the sum due. We not only gave judgment in our own cause, but taxed our own costs. Those costs, as nearly as can be ascertained, will, when finally settled, exceed ONE HUNDRED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

In civil life, the very attempt to compel a debtor to pay a bill of costs twenty times the amount of the debt claimed, would be deemed scandalous extortion. How far the determination of a powerful government, to extort such a bill from a feeble, exhausted State by slaughter and devastation, is divested of criminality on account of its national character, is a question embarrassing only to those who have persuaded themselves that statesmen and politicians are under the jurisdiction of a peculiar and relaxed morality. The idea that reparation is due to Mexico for a ruthless invasion, the devastation of her cities, the plunder of her provinces, the slaughter of thousands and tens of thousands of her people, has been advanced, only to be denounced as unpatriotic, if not treasonable.

We have levied upon Mexican territory, for the hundred

millions we have spent in attempting to collect a paltry debt, which, after all, we have remitted by the treaty of peace.

Mr. Polk declared his determination to prosecute the war till “full indemnity” had been obtained; but he failed to tell us by what moral arithmetic he ascertained what number of square miles of slave territory will afford a "full indemnity” for the misery, falsehood, and crime engendered by his war.

Many a successful plaintiff has found, to his mortification, that he has impoverished his adversary without enriching himself, and that the fruits of his victory have been pocketed by the agents he employed. A similar discovery may be in reserve for the American people. The question what they have gained by the war, will, in time force itself upon their attention. To this inquiry, no other answer can be returned than GLORY AND TERRITORY,

Before we proceed to investigate the true value of these spoils of victory, let us dwell a moment on their pecuniary costs.

[ocr errors]

$100,000,000

15,000,000

The direct expenditures in waging this war, from

the departure of Taylor from Corpus Christi, to
the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty of
peace, cannot, at the most moderate estimate,

be less than
The money to be paid Mexico, for ceding the re-

quired territories, and thus saving us the cost

of protracted hostilities, is
The cost of the army from the conclusion of the

war, to its disbandment, including its trans

portation home, say
The extra pay for three months to all soldiers

who had been engaged in the war, allowed by

act of Congress, estimated at
Every soldier, or his heir, is entitled to 160 acres

of land, or in lieu thereof, at his option, $100.
Supposing only 75,000 claims to be presented,
and to be paid in land, the value of the

21

2,000,000

8,000,000 7,500,000

land, at the price fixed by Congress would be $15,000,000. But to avoid the semblanee of exaggeration, we will suppose these claims com.

muted at $100 each, making The award under the treaty of 1839, due by Mex.

ico, and assumed by treaty of peace, with

interest, The Government has also assumed. by treaty, the

payment of such unliquidated claims against Mexico as may be found valid, not exceeding $3,250,000, out of $6,455,462 demanded. Should none but valid claims be allowed, the sum to be paid may amount to

2,000,000

500,000

Making the total cost, in money, of new territory,

· $130,000,000

The above estimate, it is believed, is very moderate, and much below the estimates usually made. But let it be recollected, that it is an estimate only of the direct expenditures of the Federal Government, for the acquisition of the coveted territories.

For nearly two years, at least 140,000 men, as soldiers, teamsters, artificers, &c., have been diverted from productive industry, and engaged in occupations, adding nothing to the real wealth of the country, or the comfort, happiness, and morality of its citizens. The time and labor of these men have therefore been literally wasted, and consequently what they would have added to the common stock in time of peace, is to be included in the cost of the war. Many of these individuals have, moreover, been brought to an untimely grave, and probably a still greater number disqualified for future usefulness by vice and disease. The operations of commerce have, moreover, been deranged, and enterprize paralyzed by a monetary pressure, occasioned by a drain of specie from our great cities, to be expended in Mexico—and widespread bankruptcy only prevented, by an unusual and accidental demand for our bread-stuffs in Europe. When all these facts are taken into consideration, and when we recollect that interest is to be paid during many future years, on the money borrowed, and that large drafts are yet to be made on the treasury for pensions and for indemnities for private losses and injuries, it will not be thought extravagant to assume, that the indirect cost of the war will be little, if any less than the sum actually expended for its prosecution.

Dr. Franklin, long since remarked, that nothing was ever acquired by war that might not have been obtained at a less cost by purchase. For the territory of Louisiana, even more extensive and greatly more valuable than that we have wrested from Mexico, we paid $15,000,000. For Texas we offered $5,000,000, and at a previous day we bad offered only $1,000,000 for Texas, with a portion of California.

Mr. Polk would have shrunk from offering fifty millions for the

very land which he has now bought at such a vast amount of blood and treasure. It is impossible to resist the conviction that, by honest negotiation, we might have become the masters of these territories without crime, without human butchery, and at a far less cost in money than the sum we have paid.

The mighty sum we have exchanged for glory and territory, has added not one cent. to the productive capital of the country, nor brought one new comfort or convenience within reach of its population.

For all useful practical purposes, this amount of the nation's capital has been annihilated.

But it is easy to imagine how such a sum might have been expended in modes resulting in a prodigious augmentation of the resources of the nation, and the virtue and enjoyments of

« AnkstesnisTęsti »