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hoped from the farther prosecution of the war than what had been already effected—the military occupation of Mexico. Such an occupation for a single year would cost double or treble the sum we paid the Mexicans. It was obviously wiser and cheaper to pay a moderate sum for a quit-claim to the land we wanted, than to continue an expensive and dangerous litigation. In the prosecution of this litigation, we had already expended 20,000 lives, and more than a hundred millions of dollars. Hence, the means of acquiring peaceable possession of the land we had taken was a matter of political and pecuniary calculation, and the result affords but little proof of magnanimity.
The question, whether this territory is not worth all it has cost us, will be variously answered. By those who regard slavery as the corner-stone of our political liberties, who behold in it a divine institution illustrative of the wisdom and benevolence of the Deity, and an instrument by which those who possess it will be enabled to govern the whole Republic, and mould its policy for their own interest, the acquisition of territory which it was expected would give to slavery an indefinite extension, an assured perpetuity, and an overwhelming political preponderance, would of course be regarded as of priceless value. On the other hand, the addition of this territory, should it be used for the purpose for which it was acquired, cannot but be regarded as a direful curse by all who believe slavery to be hostile alike to the will of God and the happiness of man. We have had, in the preceding pages, most abundant proof that this territory would not have been acquired except with a view to the extension of slavery; and it is therefore just and fair, in estimating its value compared with its cost, to keep in mind for what object that cost was incurred.
The future is hidden from our view, but there is little reason for doubting, that not only Texas, but all New Mexico, will for a long period be doomed to the ignorance, degradation, and misery, which are inseparable from human bondage. Events unexpected and utterly unforeseen, even at the conclusion of the war, have since occurred, which will probably exempt at least a portion of California from the curse of slavery. That portion, however, it is to be feared, will find another and a sore curse in its recently-discovered gold. The mineral wealth in which it is said to abound will be shared by a promiscuous crowd from foreign lands as well as our own citi
The eager search for gold in the mines in which it is buried has ever been found hostile to regular industry, and to habits of virtue and frugality. We have cause to apprehend that the population which will be attracted to this region will not be of a character to strengthen our republican institutions, or in any respect to elevate our national character.
But whatever may be the riches of these mines, and whatever may be the consequences resulting from them, it should be remembered that they formed no part of the motives which prompted the war—no part of the estimated value of the territories we have seized. The true question to be solved in this discussion is, did we pay, in blood, and treasure, and in the moral and political evils resulting from the war, a higher price than the territories were at the time supposed to be worth to us?
We had territory enough, as has already been shown, for unborn generations; and, with the exception of the extension of slavery, no plausible motive could be urged for the acquisition. No president would have dared to negotiate a treaty of cession at the price of one hundred millions, nor would any Senate have had the hardihood to ratify so preposterous a treaty, had it been made. Nor is it conceivable that Mexico would have refused so magnificent and prodigal an offer, had it been made. We have seen that Mr. Polk offered through Slidell $25,000,000 for the very territory for which the country has paid at least five times that amount in money, in addition to blood, misery, and crime.
The Port of Saint Francisco was the only portion of the acquired territory which we needed, as being convenient to our commerce in the Pacific; and that might doubtless have been acquired by friendly negotiation at a moderate price; or a right of deposit secured by treaty, without cost.
He whose wisdom and benevolence are alike infinite, has taught us not to seek that glory which cometh from man, and has assured us, that “ that which is highly esteemed among men, is an abomination in the sight of God.” If we believe the record which God has given of himself, we must be constrained to admit that, of all the objects of human ambition and of human admiration, none can be more abominable in his sight than MILITARY GLORY. Such glory is founded on bravery, skill, and success, in causing the misery and death of our fellow-men. It is wholly independent of the moral character of the cause in which it is acquired. The soldier is by general consent absolved from all responsibility for the cruelty, injustice, and wickedness of his employers. Whether he fights for liberty or slavery—to defend his own country or to plunder another--his glory rests upon his bravery, skill, and success, in subduing and slaughtering his enemies.
Bravery is an animal quality, very common among all nations, and its possession has never been confined to the wise and good. Were honor to be awarded to the bravest, the most atrocious villains would not unfrequently bear the palm. Indeed, few military exploits can, in a scornful recklessness of life, compare with the assassination of Henry the Fourth. What General has, like Ravilliac, coolly and dispassionately welcomed an inevitable, horrible and shameful death. Mere bravery is no more entitled to praise than any other animal quality, and its exercise is often indicative of the vilest passions, and a sottish indifference to a future state. The bravery of the soldier amid the excitement of the battle field, stimulated by fear of shame, and the hope of reward, is pale and lustreless compared with that devotion to duty which triumphs over pain, and danger, and life itself. "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem,” said the Apostle, “not knowing the things that shall befall me there, save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself.”
Military skill, of course, arises from experience and instruction combined with natural talent, and, even when carried to the highest possible perfection, affords no guarantee for the presence of a single virtue. Bravery and military skill, as well as infamy, are associated with the memory of Benedict Arnold. But success is essential to military glory. The warrior is crowned only by the hand of victory. Yet her gifts are often dispensed without regard to the bravery and skill of the recipient, and we have seen her permitting one of the most distinguished of her favorites, after leading half a million of veterans to Russia, secure his personal safety by a sudden flight in the night season, and under cover of a borrowed name ; and we have seen this same favorite, after wielding the most potent sceptre ever grasped by man, wearing out his days in an Island-prison.
The American army, furnished with all the appliances of war which science, and art, and wealth could supply, gained a series of uninterrupted victories over a nation with a small, feeble, and sparse population, but little re. moved from semi-barbarism, without commerce, without arts, without money, and without credit. Now, the his.