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was again commended to the notice of the legislature, and expounded at great length; and the embarrassed state of the public credit, which arose from the deficit, from "the utter and disastrous failure of the United States Bank of Pennsylvania," and from the "repudiation" of their debts by several states, was appealed to as a reason for immediate attention to the subject.
The proceedings of this session were not of much moment. Considerable excitement arose out of the question relative to Oregon, and it was attempted to be used largely for the purpose of making political capital. The president informed Congress, that he was about to enter into negotiations with Great Britain for the purpose of terminating the joint occupation, and fixing tho boundary on mutually satisfactory terms; yet a bill was brought into the Senate, and carried by a majority of one, for taking possession of the whole of the disputed territory, the title of the United States to which it declared was certain, and would not be abandoned. The House, however, refused its concurrence. On the 3d of March, 1843, the session closed; having provided the means of future intercourse between the United States and the government of China,* and having also passed an act to test the practicability of establishing a system of electro-magnetic telegraphs.
In May, Mr. Webster, resigned his
* Mr. Caleb Cushing was appointed, in May, 1S43, commissioner, for the purpose of proceeding to China, and opening negotiations with its government He dii so, and succeeded in arranging and settling with ths emperor of China, a very valuable treaty.
post, "which led to other changes in the cabinet. The elections during the autumn proved generally adverse to the administration, and seemed to presage a return of the tide in favor of the democrats; and when the twenty-eighth Congress assembled, on the 4th of December, although the whigs were in a majority in the Senate, the opposition elected their candidate for speaker by a vote of a hundred and twenty-eight to fifty-nine* Mr. Tyler, in his message, asserted the American claim, in respect to Oregon, to the parallel of 54° 40' north latitude, but stated that no effort would be spared to effect a mutually satisfactory settlement of the question with Great Britain. The position of matters in regard to Texas was discussed at length; the finances were spoken of quite fully; a disquisition on currency in its various ramifications was furnished; and a number of recommendations on subjects of moment were made.
There was not, however, much business of general interest transacted dur ing the session. A number of private and local acts were passed; appropriations were made for carrying on the government, for internal improvements, and the like; laws regulating the management of the territories were enacted, etc.
John Tyler, anxious to distinguish
* The whig members protested against the right to seats of the members elected from New Hampshire, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri, on the ground that they had not been elected in conformity with the act of the last Congress, the majority would not allow the protest to be read, and the members claiming scats took them accordingly.
himself by something of moment to the country, had sought with eagerness to bring about the annexation of Texas; and a treaty to this effect was arranged, in April, 1844, between the secretary of state and the commissioners on the part of the republic of Texas. The Senate, however, rejected this treaty, on the 8th of June, by a vote of thirty-five to sixteen. Mr. Benton, immediately after the rejection of the treaty, introduced into the Senate a bill for the annexation of Texas, provided the consent of Mexico were first obtained; and the president ^sent a message to the House, announcing the refusal of the Senate to ratify his treaty, in a manner which indicated his desire that some measure would be devised there to accomplish his object. But the House did not gratify him in his wish; and Senator Benton took occasion to express a rather general feeling, when he denounced John Tyler's effort in this wise to grasp at a chance of reelection, as "a fraud," "a base, wicked, miserable presidential intrigue," "originating in the most vicious purpose," and "prosecuted for the most knavish conclusions;" whilst the appeal from the decision of the Senate, involved in Tyler's Message, he regarded as an insulting violation of the Constitution, which deserved impeachment.*
* The rise and progress of that strange abomination, Mormonism, deserves fuller consideration than we can here give it Joseph Smith, with his band of one thousand two hundred followers, in 1833, in Missouri; with his thousands in Illinois, in 1840; the murder of Smith and his brother in prison by a mob, in July, 1844; and the expulsion of the liated sect from Illinois, and their emigration beyond the Rocky Mountains; where now (1857) they present a front of armed
The national woig convention met at Baltimore on the 1st of May, and with great enthusiasm nominated Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen for president and vice-president. The democratic convention met at the same place, on the 27 th of May, and after a number of ballotings between the names of Van Buren, Cass, Johnson, Calhoun, took a new man, James ]£. Polk, who received the nomination for the presidency. George M. Dallas was placed on the same ticket for vice-president. The annexation of Texas and the claim to the 54° 40' parallel for the boundary of Oregon, were among the chief issues presented in connection with the approaching contest. Mr. Tyler was nominated by some friends for re-election; but soon after finding his prospects hopeless, he withdrew, and published an address, which concluded by saying: "I appeal from the vituperation of the present day to the pen of impartial history, in the full confidence that neither my motives nor my acts will bear the interpretation which has, for sinister purposes, been placed upon them."
The canvass was animated and exciting to a high degree, and the result was as follows; Mr. Polk and Mr. Dallas received one hundred and seventy electoral votes; Mr. Clay and Mr. Frelinghuysen, one hundred and five ;*
rebellion and resistance suggestive of no light evils in the future; these are points which the reader may look into with advantage. It is a strange thing that a vile imposture like this should prevail in our day.
* The whigs charged, that their defeat was owing to the fact of a large and scandalous amount of illegal voting in various parts of the country by their opponents.
consequently the former were declared duly elected president and vice-president of the United States.
Congress met, for its closing session, on the 2d of December, 1844. The principal topic of the last message of Mr. Tyler was the annexation of Texas, respecting which he said: "a controlling majority of the people, and a large majority of the states, have
1815. . .
declared in favor of immediate annexation. Instructions have thus come up to "both branches of Congress, from their respective constituents, in terms the most emphatic. It is the will of both the people and the states, that Texas shall be annexed to the Union promptly and immediately." The financial statement showed a great improvement, it being estimated that a surplus of $7,000,000 would remain in the treasury at the close of the fiscal year. The message closed with some self-congratulatory words on account of his repeated use of the veto power, and the approbation which he believed the people to have manifested in his behalf.
On the 25th of January, 1845, the House of Representatives, by a vote of a hundred and twenty to ninety-eight, passed a series of resolutions, to the effect that Congress consented to the erection of the territory "ineluded within and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas" into a new state; and to the construction of a republican form of government by a convention, according to the usual plan, as we have seen, for the purpose of being admitted into the Union. The usual cessions of public
property to the general government were made; and it was provided, that other states might be formed out of the territory, as was customary with areas of considerable extent when first admitted into the Confederation. The Senate, some weeks later, adopted the joint resolutions, by a vote of twentyseven to twenty-five; and on the 1st of March, they received the approval of the president.
Texas thus became an integral part of the United States, although necessarily the final arrangements, and the settlement of the difficulty growing out of the complaints and menaces of Mexico, were left for future consideration. All diplomatic attempts thus far to induce Mexico quietly to yield to the necessity of the case had failed, and there was room to expect hostilities on the south-western frontier. How the succeeding administration dealt with this whole matter, we shall see in our next chapter.
Other proceedings of the session we need not dwell upon. Various appropriations were made; an act was passed by which Florida was admitted into the Union; a bill (vetoed by Mr. Tyler) forbidding him to build revenue cutters at his discretion, was passed by more than a two-thirds vote, and thus became a law; and an appropriation bill for certain harbors and rivers, sent to the president just at the close of the session was retained by him, and thus disposed of by what was styled a "pocket-veto." On the 3d of March, the twenty-eighth Congress terminated, and Mr. Tyler also retired from the office, which he had attained by one
of those contingencies on which all human affairs are more or less dependent. His administration must speak
for itself; we have neither time nor space at command to enter into any review of it.
INAUGURATION OF JAMES K. POLK.
Folk's AdministrAtion: Two Teaks.
Inauguration of James K. Polk — Hia cabinet—John Tyler and Texas matters—Annexation completed—The Oregon question — Tb» tw»W, w dispute — Excitement on the subject—The twenty-ninth Congreaa — Mr, Polk'a message
— Debate d uje vregon question — Negotiations with England — Settlement of the question—General Taylor on the Rio Grande — Commencement of hostilities — Declaration of war—New tariff bill, etc — Sub-treasury again established—The"Wilmot proviso" — Other acts of the session—Summary of the acts of the second session of the twenty-ninth Congress—Affairs in Mexico — Plan of the campaign — Taylor at Point Isabel — Battle of Palo Alto—Battle of Reaaca de la Palmn — Mexicans driven across the Rio Grande—Taylor enters Matamoras—Santa Anna and his proceedings—Trials of Taylor's position—His advance on Monterey—Severe contests — Monterey taken — Armistice agreed upon — General Wool's march — Kearney and the " army of the west" — New Mexico taken possession of—Doniphan's advance to Chihuahua—Fremont and his exploits — California taken — Taylor blamed for suspending hostilities — Santa Anna and his army—New programme of attack on Mexico — Scott's measures — Taylor's army greatly weakened — Mexican force much more numerous
— Taylor makes a stand at Buena Vista — The celebrated battle of Buena Vista—Taylor victorious—His return to the United States.
Tiee inauguration of James K. Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, took place on the 4th of March, 1845, and notwithstanding the day was lowering and rainy, a vast concourse assembled, and the ceremonies
1845. ,7- J •
were striking and impressive. The Inaugural address was long and interesting, and gave.expression to the sentiments and views which were expected from the victorious candidate of the democratic party. The annexation of Texas, and the Oregon question, both of them of deep interest to the welfare of the Union, and our relations with Mexico and Great Britain, were Bpoken of quite fully, and in terms which commended the president's plans Vol. III.—54
and purposes to the majority of the nation.
Mr. Polk immediately made choice of his cabinet officers, who were confirmed at once by the Senate. James Buchanan was made secretary of state; Robert J. Walker, secretary of the treasury; William L. Marcy, secretary of war; George Bancroft, secretary of the navy; Cave Johnson, postmastergeneral; and John Y. Mason, attorneygeneral.
Mr. Tyler's anxiety to connect his name with the annexation of Texas, we have mentioned already (p. 423). The matter was hurried forward in the very last days of his administration, and Congress left it to his option wheth
er the annexation should be accomplished by treaty, in the regular manner (which would have given the glory of it to Mr. Polk and the democrats), or should be effected immediately, according to the tenor of the resolutions passed at the close of February (p. 424). John Tyler availed himself at once of the opportunity presented, and on the 3d of March, dispatched a messenger to deliver to Mr. Donelson, charge d'affaires to Texas, the joint resolutions of Congress for the admission of Texas into the Union, instructing him to communicate to the Texian government, that he, the president, had made choice of the alternative of immediate annexation, instead of negotiating by treaty. As might be expected, Mr. Tyler received any thing but praise from the democratic party, for the course he had pursued.
On the part of Texas, a convention was immediately summoned, and on the 4th of July, 1845, it assented to thejoint resolutions, and the country was thus fully incorporated into the Union. The president was requested and authorized to lose no time in establishing a line of frontier posts and occupying any exposed positiu^ aioug tne western border of the new s+^te; and an "army of occupation," under the command of General Zachary Taylor, was despatched for its defence. On the 26th of July, a body of United States troops was landed at Aransas Bay, and on the same day the American flag was first hoisted, by authority, at the south end of St. Joseph's Island, in token that the land was now a part of the great republic of the north.
General Almonte, the Mexican minister at Washington, had demanded his passports on the 6th of March; and at the beginning of the following month, the Mexican government refused to hold any further communication with the United States minister, on the ground that the annexation of Texas was an act of war against Mexico; and it was distinctly announced, that the rights of Mexico would be maintained by force of arms. Matters remained in this unsettled state until the commencement of hostilities in 1846.
Oregon was the next subject of importance before the administration. It will be remembered, that, in 1818, a convention was arranged between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, for the joint occupation of this region, during the next ten years; and that by a second convention, in 1827, this arrangement was indefinitely prolonged, with the provision, that after the 20th of October, 1828, either of the contracting parties might set aside the arrangement, by giving twelve months' notice to the other.
Mr. Polk had been elected with the understanding that he would insist upon the 54° 40' parallel as the boundary of Oregon, (p. 423,) and that uie onited States were to have "the whole or none" of that vast region. Nevertheless, h« felt it his duty to renew the propositions of compromise, which had previ ously been made, by which the fortyninth parallel was to be the northern boundary of the United States territory. Mr. Buchanan, in July, made a proposition to this effect to Mr. Pakenham the British minister; but it was received