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wide spread and sincerely expressed, and the honors heaped upon his memory demonstrated that, whatever difference of political sentiment may exist among us, no one doubted that General Taylor was an honest, patriotic lover of his country, and one who would have discharged the duties of his lofty station with sincere and earnest zeal and unimpeachable integrity.
Millard Fillmore, on the 10th of July, addressed a brief but touching message to both Houses of Congress, formally announcing the afflictive dispensation which had raised him to the presidential chair, and recommending suitable honors to be paid to the distinguished dead. Mr. Fillmore took the required oath the same day; the funeral was celebrated on the 13th; Mr. W. B. King was chosen president pro tempore of the Senate; and the cabinet having resigned, others were immediately appointed in their places, Daniel Webster being secretary of state ;* and thus, without disturbance or difficulty, the new president was as firmly seated as if he had been placed in his high office directly by the popular vote.
On the 6th of August, the president communicated to the House a message respecting the boundary question between Texas and New Mexico. He also sent in a copy of Mr. Webster's reply, on the 5th, to Governor Bell's letter, in which he complained of the
* Thomas Corwin was appointed secretary of the treasury; C. M. Conrad, secretary of war; W. A. Graham, secretary of the navy; Alexander H. H. Stuart, secretary of the interior; N. K. Hall, postmaster-general; and J. J. Crittenden, attorney-generaL
course pursued by Colonel Monroe in New Mexico. The letter of Mr. Webster is clear and to the point, and while it disclaims all interference on the part of the United States in matters out of the province of the executive, it still asserts, in the plainest terms, the determination of the president to sustain the laws and rights of New Mexico as well as Texas, until the matter be se1> tied by action of Congress. A brief paragraph of this letter may not inaptly be here quoted: "In one of his last communications to Congress,—that of the 17th of June last,—the late president repeated the declaration that he had no power to decide the question of boundary, and no desire to interfere with it; and that the authority to settle that question resided elsewhere. The object of the executive government has been, as I believe, and as I am authorized to say it certainly now is, to secure the peace of the country; to maintain, as far as practicable, the state of things as it existed at the date of the treaty; and to uphold and preserve the rights of the respective parties as they were under the solemn guarantee of the treaty, until the highly interesting question of boundary should be finally settled by competent authority. This treaty, which is now a supreme law of the land, declares, as before stated, that the inhabitants shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion. It will, of course, bo the president's duty to see that this law is sustained, and the protection which it guarantees made effectual—and this is
1850. the plain and open path of executive duty, in which he proposes to tread."
During the month of August, the various measures of compromise contained in the "omnibus bill" were carried, separately, through Congress, and received in September the approbation of President Fillmore* Early in August, the boundary between Texas and New Mexico was finally settled upon, Texas to receive $10,000,000 in consideration of relinquishment of her claims against the United States. On the 13th, the bill to admit California as a state passed the Senate by a vote of thirtyfour to eighteen; on the 15th, a bill was passed to establish a territorial government for New Mexico; and on the 18th of September, a fugitive slave bill, and a bill for the suppression of the slave trade in the District of Columbia, also passed the Senate by large majorities. By the constitution of California, slavery was prohibited in that state; in New Mexico and Utah, the question was left open for future decision. Messrs. W. M. Gwinn and J. C. Fremont, Senators elect from California, immediately thereafter appeared and took their seats in the great council of the nation.
In this wise, so far as legislation was concerned, the bitter strife over the Wilmot proviso came to a pause; and it was hoped, by all true lovers of their country, that discord would now end in
* Mr. Benton points out the lad that the southern Senators considered the test question to be upon the admission of California as a state into the Union. He also gives the protest which ten members signed and wished to have entered on the Journal, together with his remarks upon it, its final rejection, etc.
respect to that interminable, unceasing source of contention—the slavery question. But we are sorry to say, that the strife did not cease then; and, so far as men could penetrate the veil of the future, was not likely to cease for many long years to come. "The complex, cumbersome, expensive, annoying, and inef fective bill," as Senator Benton designates the fugitive slave law of 1850, gave satisfaction to neither party. The north was irritated and vexed with the mode pursued in the recover}'- of fugi tive slaves, and with the odiousness of the whole matter, as it was now presented before their eyes; the south, on the other hand, was chagrined and exasperated to find that the difficulty of getting back their slaves was rather increased than otherwise by this new act and that disturbances were sure to fol low, and the law sure to become odious, and, consequently, next to impossible to be executed* In fact, without claiming any special sagacity, we may assert, that, on this subject, our country was as yet, hardly within reach of the be ginning of the end.
The other acts of the session were not of material moment to be placed on record here; various appropriations
* Early in 1851, no little excitement was created by the rescue at Boston of a fugitive slave, arrested in atr cordance with the law recently passed. A mob of persons, mainly colored, rushed into the room where the alleged fugitive was in custody of the officers, and carried him off. Soon after which it was understood he had reached Canada. Intelligence of this affair was telegraphed to Washington, and the president, on the ISth of February, issued a proclamation, announcing his determination to enforce the laws promptly and thoroughly. Ho also the next day sent a message to the Senate on the same subject, in which the whole matter was fully discussed.
were made; the vessels offered by Mr. Henry Grinnell, of New York, to be sent in search, of Sir John Franklin, were accepted and attached to the navy; the rank and file of the army were increased; etc. It was not till the 30th of September, 1850, after a session of over three hundred days, that Congress adjourned. We may note, that this was the longest session of the national legislature which had been held since the organization of the government.
The results of the seventh census, taken this year, were substantially as follows. Total white population, 19,557,271; free colored, 429,710; slaves, 3,204,093. The population of the free states was, 13,434,559. The free population of the slave states was, 6,412,151; showing a decrease of 778,568 since 1840; whilst the free states had in the same period increased 3,779,933, i.e., rather more than half the ertire population of the slave states. The grand total of the population of the United States, in 1850, was 23,191,074. In the new apportionment of Representatives, the free states gained one, making their number a hundred and forty-three; and the slave states lost one, reducing their number to ninety.
The position of the beautiful Island of Cuba, and its contiguity to the United States, have naturally caused it to be looked upon with no ordinary interest by our countrymen; and partly from good motives, and partly from the restlessness and cupidity of a large number of Americans, manifold plans and schemes have been talked of, and atVOL.UI.—61
tempted to be carried out, so as to incorporate Cuba into the possessions of the United States. Spain, on her part, ever jealous of her powerful neighbor, has exercised great rigor in endeavoring to maintain her authority intact, and to prevent the "filibustering" schemes and plots of those who have been ready, in past years, to do all in their power to wrest this fertile island from Spain. Some notice of the piratical expeditions against Cuba, in 1850 and 1851, seems to be necessary in this part of our narrative. We shall give the facts as succinctly as possible.
An impression having got abroad that the Cubans themselves were ready for revolt, efforts began to be made, in 1849, to get materials for an expedition thither, from the ports of the United States. General Taylor, at that time president, issued a proclamation, on the 11th of August, in the following terms: "There is reason to believe, that an armed expedition is about to be fitted out in the United States with an intention to invade the Island of Cuba, or some of the provinces of Mexico. The best information which the executive has been able to obtain, points to the Island of Cuba as the object of this expedition. It is the duty of this government to observe the faith of treaties, and to prevent any aggression by our citizens upon the territories of friendly nations. I have, therefore, thought it necessary and proper to issue this proclamation, to warn all citizens of the United States, who shall connect themselves with an enterprise so grossly in violation of our laws and our treaty obligations, that they will thereby subject themselves to the heavy penalties denounced against them by our acts of Congress; and will forfeit their claim to the protection of their country. No such persons must expect the interference of this government, in any form, in their behalf, no matter to what extremities they may be reduced in consequence of their conduct. An enterprise to invade the territories of a friendly nation, set on foot and prosecuted within the limits of the United States, is, in the highest degree, criminal, as tending to endanger the peace and compromit the honor of this nation; and, therefore, I exhort all good citizens, as they regard our national reputation, as they respect their own laws and the laws of nations, as they value the blessings of peace and the welfare of their country, to discountenance and prevent, by all lawful means, any such enterprise; and I call upon every officer of this government, civil or military, to use all efforts in his power to arrest, for trial or punishment, every such offender against the laws providing for the performance of our sacred obligations to friendly powers."
FILIBUSTERISM AND CUBA.
Preparations, however, for the expedition went on, and a military organization was effected at New Orleans, under a Cuban leader, named Narcisso Lopez. About the middle of
May, the filibusters set out, under the guise of emigrants, in vessels bound for Chagres. Lopez and his company, about six hundred in number, landed at Cardenas on the 18th of May, where he issued a bombastic proclamation, but met with no encouragement. On the contrary, the people rose against
the invaders, and Lopez, after a bloody skirmish, burning the governor's house, seizing some bags of specie, re-embarked in the steamer, Creole. His men insisted on being carried to Key West, where, just as they arrived, the Spanish war steamer Pizarro, overtook them. The Spanish commander demanded the restoration of the stolen money, and the persons of the invaders, but did not obtain either from the American authorities; on his return he took from the Island of Contoy, on the coast of Yucatan, (which was Lopez's place of rendezvous) a hundred men, and carried them to Cuba. The naval force which had been dispatched by the president, unfortunately arrived too late to prevent Lopez's invasion; and the Spanish governor-general was strongly minded to put them all to death as pirates.
Lopez immediately began to plot afresh, and found many to encourage him in his schemes against Cuba. General Quitman and others were indicted at New Orleans, in July, by the grand jury, as concerned in setting on foot an unlawful expedition, and the general was arrested, on the 3d of February, 1851, on this charge; he was not, however, convicted, although by many, believed to be guilty. At a later date, in April, J. O. Sullivan, Captain Rogers of the Cleopatra, and others, were arrested at New York, and the vessel which they had procured was seized by the authorities. On the 25th of April . President Fillmore issued his proclamation, in which he expressed the conviction, that the expedition against Cuba was instigated "chiefly by foreigners, who dare to make our Cn. VII.]
Bhores the scene of their guilty and hostile preparations against a friendlypower, and who seek by falsehood and misrepresentation to seduce our citizens, especially the young and inconsiderate, into their wicked schemes." And he goes on to say, that, "whereas such expeditions can only be regarded as adventures for plunder and robbery, and must meet the condemnation of the civilized world, while they are derogatory to the character of our country, in violation of the laws of nations, and expressly prohibited by our own;" he exhorts all good citizens, and all honest men, to discountenance and frown upon every effort of the kind, as a blot upon our good name, and as certain to result in loss and disgrace.
The restless Cuban leader, favored by circumstances, escaped the watchfulness of the government, and on the 3d of August, sailed from New Orleans in the steamer Pampero. His present company numbered more than four hundred men. On the 11th, he arrived off the coast of Cuba, in sight of Havana, and turning westwardly, he advanced a few miles beyond Bahia Honda, where the steamer ran aground on a coral reef. Lopez debarked on the Islaud of Playtas with all his troops, and advanced inland with three hundred men. Colonel Crittenden, his chief officer, was left with the remainder, and, preparing to join Lopez, was attacked by a large force and routed. With difficulty, he escaped to the coast, and putting out to sea in boats, he and his party of some fifty men, were taken on the 15th, carried into Havana, condemned to die, and on the 16th, were
shot. Lopez having advanced inland about ten miles, was attacked at Las Posas by eight hundred Spanish troops under General Enna. A sanguinary contest ensued, in which numbers of the enemy were killed, with severe loss on his own side. Lopez retreated towards the mountains, followed by the Spaniards in force; and ere long his men were made prisoners, he was hunted by bloodhounds, and, carried to Havana a prisoner, was garroted as a malefactor, on the 26th of August. The Spanish authorities did not proceed to extremities with the other prisoners; about a hundred were sent to Spain; and in 1852, on the intercession of our government, they were released and allowed to return to the United States.*
During the month of November, large public meetings were held in various parts of the country to give expression to the attachment of the people to the Union, and also to throw the weight of all conservative citizens in favor of the measures of compromise adopted by Congress. Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, Nashville, and other cities and towns, witnessed the efforts of patriotic lovers of their country to induce the people to hold fast by the Union at all hazards; and letters from Clay, Webster, Cass, Poinsett, and others, were published in favor of the same great end. On the other hand, in various parts of the south, the spirit of disunion was rife; and such men as
* During Mr. Polk's administration, an offer was made to purchase the Island of Cuba from Spain, for $100,000,000; but that government refused to entertain any proposition on the subject
UNION MEETINGS HELD.