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Just twelve months after the declaration of Texan independence, that independence was acknowledged by the United States. A minister representing the Federal Government, was immediately despatched to the insurgents, and one in return was received from them. Mr. Hunt, recently an American citizen, and now “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Texas," appeared among his old friends at Washington, and in August, 1837, proposed, in behalf of the yearling Republic, a treaty of annexation. Mr. Van Buren had, the preceding 4th of March, assumed the reins of Government. • This gentleman had, on various occasions, shown so much anxiety to conciliate the South, as to be stigmatized by his opponents as “ the Northern man with Southern principles.” Mr. Hunt was therefore warranted in believing, that he would have no personal objection to extending the slave region by the addition of Texas. But very sufficient obstacles existed to the proposed treaty. Such a treaty would necessarily involve a war with Mexico, and in such a war the country was not yet prepared to engage. The treaty moreover, could not be ratified, because it was well ascertained, that more than one-third of the Senators would withhold their assent. A fruitless attempt to negotiate such a treaty would be a political blunder which Mr. Van Buren was too sagacious to commit-a blunder which would inevitably destroy the

popularity of the administration, and have a most disastrous influence on the ensuing election. The Texan proposition was therefore politely declined on the ground that annexation at the present time must result in a war with Mexico. This was a reason which could give no offence to the South, especially as there were good grounds for hoping that the dextrous management of our claims would ere long remove the only alleged obstacle to annexation. The pear was not yet quite ripe, and Mr. Van Buren was at the time ignorant of the Mexican offer, which was destined to postpone its maturity.

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Mexico, anxious to preserve peace with the United States, not only proposed to refer the claims of the latter to arbitration, but once more sent a Minister to Washington. This gentleman arrived in October, and, as is said, from a misapprehension that the Mexican proposition had already been communicated to the American Government, did not officially announce it till the 22d December, 1837. The proposition itself was a sore disappointment to the partisans of annexation. It tended to avert, or at least to postpone war. It was a proposition so fair and honorable, so pacific, and so directly appealing to the moral sense of the community, that it could not be rejected, without bringing great odium upon the administration ; and the party of which it was the representative, had but little popularity to spare. Still it was received in sullen silence, and no other notice taken of it at the time,

than a formal acknowledgment of its receipt.* No less than three times after this acknowledgment, did Mr. Forsyth (Secretary of State), press upon the Mexican Minister new claims, and new demands without deigning even a passing allusion to the very important proposal he had received. Four months elapsed, and this Government had yet given no intimation of its willingness to adopt an equitable and pacific mode of obtaining redress for “ the accumulated wrongs" under which it professed to be suf

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* See Ex. Doc. 25th Cong., 2 Sess., Vol. 12.

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fering. In the meantime, the Mexican offer had become public, and petitions had been presented to Congress praying its acceptance ;* and at least forty thousand citizens had laid before that body their remonstrances against annexation. At length on the 21st April, 1838, Mr. Forsyth informed the Mexican Minister, that the President “is too anxious to avoid proceeding to extremities,” not to accept the offer! Negotiations were now commenced at Washington, which resulted, on the 10th of September, 1838, in a convention between the two Governments, by which it was agreed, that all the claims against Mexico should be referred to a board of four Commissioners, two to be appointed by each party. The board to meet in Washington three months after the exchange of ratifications, and to sit not more than eighteen months. The award of the Commissioners to be final, but the cases on which they could not agree were to be decided by an umpire to be named by the King of Prussia. Should the Mexican Government not find it convenient to pay the amount awarded in cash, the payment was to be made in so much government stock as would, at the market price in London, be equal to the award. The Mexican ratification of this Convention not having been exchanged within the time limited, it was renewed with slight modifications in 1840; the most important of which was, that the sum awarded was to be paid, one half in cash, and the other in Treasury notes bearing eight per cent. interest, and receiveable for Mexican duties.

The determination of the Executive to refer the Mexican claims to arbitration, and the delay necessarily caused by such a reference, seemed to excite the slaveholders to increased energy in forwarding their favorite object. Mississippi had already, by its Legislature, demanded the an

* See Ex. Doc. 25th Cong., 2 Sess., Vol. 12.

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nexation of Texas, avowedly for the benefit of the slaveholding interest. The State of Alabama now did the same. The Legislature of Tennessee joined in the demand, but refrained from the indecency of resting it on the extension of human bondage. Three days after the acceptance of the Mexican offer, Mr. Preston, a senator from South Carolina, introduced a resolution, declaring the expediency of annexing Texas to the Union. On the 14th June, 1838, Mr. Thompson of the same State proposed a joint resolution in the Lower House, directing the President to take proper steps for the annexation of Texas, as soon as it can be done consistently with the treaty stipulations of this Government.”

At the South there was little or no difference between the two political parties on the question of annexation. As a specimen of the recklessness and profligacy with which the measure was then urged, we may quote the following language held by a prominent whig journal, “We have heretofore asserted, and we repeat it again, that Texas should be made a component part of our country at all hazards, peaceably if she was willing, and forcibly, if she was reluctant."*

The North, however, was not silent. The whig party were nearly united in their opposition to Texas, and they were in many instances joined by portions of their political opponents. The States of Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut. Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania, all protested, through their Legislatures, against annexation. It is not, therefore, surprising that Mr. Van Buren departed from the policy of General Jackson in referring the claims of Mexico to arbitration instead of the sword.

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* Frankfort (Ky.) Commonwealth, May 2d, 1838.

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