« AnkstesnisTęsti »
adjusted by the first convention, in 1839. The American authorities offered some amendments to the Mexican scheme, which it seems the Mexican government did not accede to, and so the convention never took place."
In brief, then, letting alone the insults offered to our flag and we know not how they can be shaken out of its folds this is the sum of actual and tangible grievances. Mexico owes us about $2,000,000, and does not pay. The President thinks war ought to have been declared long ago.
“ In so long suffering Mexico to violate her most solemn treaty obligations, plunder our citizens of their property, and imprison their persons without affording them any redress, we have failed to perform one of the first and highest duties which every government owes to its citizens. We had ample cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of hostilities. But even then [it is doubtful to what time then refers] we forbore to take redress into our own hands, until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading our soil in hostile array and shedding the blood of our citizens. Such are the grave causes of complaint against Mexico." - Message of 1846, p. 9.
p We do not by any means approve of the whole conduct of Mexico in her dealings with America, but there were many circumstances which palliated that conduct. She did not pay the money, for she had no money to pay with, and no credit to borrow with. In 1845, Mr. Slidell wrote to the American government that her “finances are in a condition utterly desperate. The amount of public debt does not fall much short of $150,000,000,” and interest was paid on but a small part of it. Is it a thing unheard of for one State to delay paying the claims of another — unheard of to wait a long time before such a payment ? The government of Bavaria has a large claim on the government of France -- a very just claim too, as it seems to us — pending at this moment. The King of the French can pay it, but does not. How long did America wait for the payment of her French claims, and her Neapolitan claims ? Nay, how long has the State of Massachusetts waited for the payment of her claims against this
* For official accounts of these matters, see Mr. Polk's message of Dec. 2d, 1845; of December 8, 1846; Mr. C. J. Ingersoll's report on the war with Mexico, June 24, 1846, with Mr. Howard's report, July 7th, 1838, and the minority report of Mr. Cushing, of the same date. - Doc. No. 752. Ho. of Rep., 29th Congress, 1st Session. See the usual commentaries in the speeches of the times.
very American government, which in 1837 ought to have taken her Mexican sister by the throat, and sold all that she had, that payment might be made, and promptly too? The President is not very desirous to pay the claims which American citizens had against France prior to 1800, though the American government itself owes the money to her own citi
Mr. Polk himself, by his veto, forbade the payment, after Congress had appropriated the funds. If Mexico had been able and would not pay, the case would have been quite different.
We have seen now “the grave causes of complaint " “the ample causes of war” — “ the wrongs which we have suffered"-" without a parallel in the history of modern civilized nations.” Let us now come to the smaller matters, the minor grievances. We must go a little into the history
. of the times. In 1845, the formalities were completed for the annexation of Texas to the United States. The causes of annexation are well known, — the South did not wish a non-slaveholding State on the southwestern frontier. The economical, the moral, the political effect of such a State was clearly foreseen. The Institution of Slavery was in danger. It seems to be thought by some, that while Slavery stands, the South will stand, when Slavery falls, the South will fall, and then the North, the Union, Freedom, and the Rights of Man. The method by which annexation was brought about is also pretty well known, - the machinations of the great southern politicians, the tameness, the servility, the stupidity of many of the northern members of Congress. All this is well known, but getting better known. The recent letters of Mr. Houston, Mr. Tyler, and Mr. Spencer, shed some light on the matter. When the political excitement of our day has passed by, and some future historian of Democracy in America studies the subject afresh, and with impartial eyes, he will write in sadness a dark chapter. We know not which he will blame most bitterly, the Democrats or the Whigs; but perhaps the latter, as apparently acting against their convictions and without faith. The effects of that annexation will appear in due time, and may be a little different from what the annexers intended.
Mexico claimed Texas, but offered to recognize her independence and abandon her claim, on condition that Texas would not annex herself to America. There was a nominal war between Texas and Mexico, not a war de facto, but de jure.
The accident follows the substance; when America took Texas it was for better or worse. She took her war along with her — the war de jure, though not at that time de facto. Nexico protested against annexation as an “ act of aggression the most unjust which can be found recorded in the annals of modern history, - despoiling a friendly nation of a considerable portion of her territory," and on the 6th of March, 1845, her minister demanded his passports, and all regular diplomatic intercourse came abruptly and formally to an end.
Now in 1836, General Jackson thought it a delicate matter to recognize the independence of Texas, and said in his message
“ The acknowledgment of a new State as independent is at all times an act of great delicacy and responsibility ; but more especially so when such a State has forcibly separated itself from another, which still claims dominion over it. A premature recognition under these circumstances, if not looked upon as justifiable cause of war, is always liable to be looked upon as proof of an unfriendly spirit to one of the contending parties.” But in all former cases, “ so wisely consistent with our just principles has been the action of our government, that we have under the most critical circumstances, avoided all censure, and encountered no other evil than that produced by a transient estrangement of good will in those against whom we have by force of evidence been compelled to decide.” “The uniform policy and practice of the United States is to avoid all interference in disputes which merely relate to the internal government of other nations, and constantly to recognize the authority of the prevailing party, without reference to our particular interests and views, or to the merits of the original controversy.” He considers the power of recognizing the independence of a new State as "equivalent under some cir. cumstances to a declaration of war. It will always be considered most safe that it should be exercised, when probably leading to war, with the previous understanding of that body by whom war can alone be declared.” — Jackson's Message, Dec. 21st, 1836.
When France acknowledged the independence of the United States in 1778, the English government considered the acknowledgment an unjustifiable aggression. No publicist, we
. think, would doubt, that if France had then annexed the United States to herself, the annexation offered a just ground for the declaration of war on the part of England. But Mexico did not declare war against America, in 1845 ; she made no preparations for war. She only protested, and de NO. I.
clined further diplomatic intercourse. Had Mexico been as powerful as England, the affair of annexation would not have been disposed of so easily. But Mexico was distracted and weak.
Another alleged offence committed on the part of Mexico, is her refusal to receive the American plenipotentiary, Mr. Slidell. Here are the facts in the case, as the President states them: On the 15th of September, 1845, the American consul at the city of Mexico was instructed by his government “ to ascertain from the Mexican government whether they would receive an envoy from the United States intrusted with full power to adjust all the questions in dispute between the two governments.” On the 15th of October, the Mexican government assented. The assent was made known to the American government on the 9th of November, and the next day Mr. Slidell was appointed "envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, with full powers to adjust and definitely settle, all pending differences between the two countries, including those of boundary between Mexico and the State of Texas.'
He reached Vera Cruz on the 29th of November, and Mexico on the 6th of December, 1845. But the government of President Herrera who had seemed desirous of settling the difficulties by peaceful negotiation -- was tottering. General Paredes, a military man, had thrown the country into confusion, and declared against receiving a minister of peace from the United States. The Mexican government was alarmed, and refused to receive Mr. Slidell, on the ground that America had not sent the envoy on " a special mission confined to the question of Texas alone,” but had given him the general powers already mentioned. The 30th of December, Paredes himself came into power, " a military usurper, who was known to be bitterly hostile to the United States.' On the 1st of March, 1846, Mr. Slidell presented his credentials to the new government, desiring to be accredited in the regular manner; on the 12th, the request was finally rejected, and he soon returned home.
the President, " was the extraordinary spectacle presented to the civilized world, of a government in violation of its own express agreement, having twice rejected a minister of peace, invested with full powers to adjust all the existing differences between the two countries, in a manner just and honorable to both. I am not aware that modern history presents a parallel case, in which, in time of peace, one nation has refused even to hear propositions from another for terminating existing difficulties between them.” — p. 19.
* Mr. Polk's first Message, p. 8.
Mr. Polk must be a forgetful politician not to remember that the court of France rejected Mr. Pinckney in 1797, and actually expelled him from their territory. Yet Mr. Pinckney was not altogether like “ one of the most illustrious citizens of Louisiana,” but a man well known for his public services; “A character,” says Mr. Adams, once his rival, “ whose integrity, talents, and services placed him in the rank of the most esteemed and respected in the nation."** The insult then offered to America by the French “ Executive Directory,” in the most public and official manner, is certainly no “parallel” to the conduct of Mexico. To make that insult yet keener, the Directory informed Mr. Monroe - the former minister, who had been recalled, but was still residing at Paris — that they “ will not receive another minister plenipotentiary from the United States until the grievances of which France has complained have been redressed.” “ The Executive Directory know of no minister plenipotentiary from the United States," said they. Yet the burthen of grievances had been created by France. America hail endured most astonishing outrages, as well as insults, † which nothing but a remembrance of her timely aid in '78 and her continued help in the remaining portion of the war of our revolution, enabled the nation to endure.
But what said the Republican party? Did they maintain that the dignity of the nation was insulted ? did they insist that we must go to war to wipe off the stain, because the French did not
pay our just demands, and because a minister had been ignominiously expelled from the French soil ? We are sorry to recall old animosities and will pass over the matter with all possible briefness and delicacy. The conduct of that party is well known; their apology for the conduct of
* Message to 5th Congress — Special Session - May 16th, 1797.
† See the Reports of Messrs. Randolph and Pickering on the French depredations upon American commerce, in American State Papers, Class I. Foreign Relations, Vol. I. p. 424, et seq., p. 748, et seq., and Vol. II. p. 28, et seq., p. 116, et seq., et al. The whole history of these troubles has now become interesting once more. See Vol. II. p. 5 - 244.