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laid before Congress a schedule of grievances amounting in number to FORTY-SIX. Of the original eighteen claims, only one dated as far back as 1831, in the new schedule thirty-two are founded on acts alleged to have been committed prior to 1832. Having given the reader a specifification of each of the original claims, we will not now trespass on his patience by noticing in detail the additional ones which the administration now found it convenient to disinter from the oblivion of past years, and which had been in fact buried by the treaty ratified 5th April, 1832, which proclaimed the friendship existing between the two Republics. It may be well, however, to give a few samples of these claims to show the determined efforts of the American Government to quarrel with Mexico.
“Mexican Company, Baltimore, 1816; amount of claim not stated. This was an association of individuals that furnished General Mina with the means of undertaking his invasion of Mexico, which amount they aver - has never been repaid to them.”
“Mrs. Young, 1817; amount of claim not stated. The claimant is the widow of Col. Guilford Young, who was a partner of Mina, and was killed while fighting in 1817. The claim is understood to be for arrears of
These claims it will be observed, are for insurrectionary services against the Spanish Government, seven or eight years before that Government was succeeded by the Mexican Republic.
“ John B. Marie, 1824; amount of claim not stated. Goods seized upon pretext of having been introduced contrary to a Mexican law. The claimant says he was ignorant of the law.” “T. E. Dudley, and J. C. Wilson, 1824 ; amount
Ex. Auktov 'th Cong., 20 Sess., vol. 3.
claimed not stated. The claimants robbed of a part of their property by the Camanche Indians, on their return from a trading expedition to Mexico."
The proposition to employ the naval force of the Union in making reprisals to enforce such claims was deemed too hazardous to be wise. It would necessarily bring on a war; and a war waged on pretexts so scandalous, might destroy the popularity of the party, and augment the anti-slavery feeling of the North. It was evident the nation was not yet prepared to incur the calamities of war for the sole purpose of hastening the annexation of Texas; and moreover, such a war, to receive the concurrence of the North, must at least be commenced by Mexico. A course was therefore adopted, more sagacious than that urged by the fiery impatience of the President. Committees of the two Houses of Congress, made reports well calculated, by exaggerating the misconduct of Mexico, to exasperate the ill-feeling already existing, but recommending that one more demand should be made for reparation.
On the last day of the Session, an appropriation was made for the salary of a Minister to Mexico, “ whenever in the opinion of the President circumstances will permit a renewal of diplomatic intercourse honorably with that Power.” It was only in the preceding December that the Diplomatic intercourse had been broken off by instructions from the Presieent, on the ground that it could not honorably be continued ; and yet, on the 30th of March, without any circumstance having occurred in the interval to invite a renewal of that intercourse, except the refusal of Congress to go to war, the President nominated a Minister to Mexico ! “And who,” to use the language of J. Q. Adams, was this Minister of peace, to be sent with the last drooping twig of olive to be remonted and revivified
in the genial soil of Mexico ? It was no other than Powhattan Ellis, of Mississippi, famishing for Texas, and just returned in anger and resentment from an abortive and abruptly terminated mission to the same Government. His very name must have tasted like wormwood to the Mexican palate ; and his name seems alone to have been used for the purpose of giving a relish to these last resources of pacific and conciliatory councils. But though appointed, he was not permitted to proceed upon his embassy. He was kept at home, and in his stead was despatched a courier of the Department of State, with a budget of grievances good and bad, new and old, stuffed with wrongs as full as Falstaff's buck basket with foul linen, to be turned over under the nose of the Mexican Secretary of State, with an allowance of ONE WEEK* to examine, search out, and answer concerning them all.”
In politics as in commerce, the supply is regulated by the demand. The Cabinet were in urgent want of claims upon Mexico, and, as it was, possible money might be extorted on these claims, there was, of course, no lack of claimants.
On the 20th July, 1836, the “accumulated wrongs" for which Mr. Forsyth instructed Ellis to demand satisfaction, and, if not received in a limited time, to ask for his passports, amounted, as we have seen, to fifteen in number, but as two had been already settled, in fact only to thirteen. These, by the zeal and industry of Ellis, were increased to eighteen. On the 6th February, 1837, the accumulation was swelled to forty-six, and on the 20th July, 1837, the anniversary of Mr. Forsyth's celebrated despatch to Ellis, the “courier of the department of
Mexico, : ut recce de for
*“The messenger bearing the budget was instructed to remain in the city of Mexico one week.” Rep. of Cong., 1st Sess., 29th Cong., Vol. 4.
State," appeared in the city of Mexico, bending beneath a load of FIFTY-SEVEN wrongs, for which, in the name of the American Government, he demanded “justice and satisfaction.”
Of these complaints, it may readily be imagined, many were in the highest degree most insolent and ridiculous. Let one suffice :-In 1829, Mexico was invaded by a Spanish force, and a printing press in Tampico, said to have been American property, was destroyed by the invaders. Eight years after the occurrence, Mexico is for the first time informed that she is held responsible by the Federal Government, for an act committed by her enemies in time of war. We can judge of the effect of such a claim upon the Mexicans, by supposing a demand of the French king upon the American Government, for payment of injuries received by one of his subjects, from the British troops while in possession of the city of Washington.
The temporary detention of two citizens at Metamoras, and the pretended abduction of two mules and a mare, although so abundantly and satisfactorily explained, again figure among the national grievances for which the “ rier” demanded satisfaction.
That our Government had no desire whatever, to bring their dispute with Mexico to an amicable termination, is perfectly obvious from the extraordinary course it pursued on this occasion. Congress decided not to go to war, but to renew negotiations, and furnished money for the salary of a minister. A minister is appointed personally odious to the Mexicans, but detained at home, while a messenger is sent with a list of fifty-seven grievances, of which not more than eighteen at most had ever before been brought to the notice of the Mexican Government. This messenger was forbidden to remain for more than one week. No
opportunity was afforded to Mexico to make explanations, or even to ascertain what reparation would be satisfactory. She had no minister in the United States. The American Minister, appointed in obedience to the wishes of Congress, was not dispatched; and hence, admitting our claims to have been just, and admitting Mexico to be willing to allow them, the very measures adopted by the Cabinet precluded all adjustment of the points in controversy. Our demands were in truth intended only to irritate, and to furnish stronger pretexts than had yet been found for reprisals and war.
Before this “buck basket,” with its fifty-seven grievances reached Mexico, that Government—which knew of no other than the eighteen causes of complaint against it specified by Mr. Ellis, and on account of which he had terminated his mission—had passed an Act offering to submit to the award of a friendly power, the claims of the United States. *
* Ex. Doc., 25th Cong., 2 Sess. Vol. 8.