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MR. OLAY AGAINST ANNEXATION.

163

After glancing at the recent his- / tion, if it did not remove all foreign difficultory of Texas, Mr. Clay continues :

ties. On the assumption of that assent, the

question would be confined to the domestic “Mexico has not abandoned, but perse considerations which belong to it, embracveres in, the assertion of her rights by ac- | ing the terms and conditions upon which tual force of arms, which, if suspended, are annexation is proposed. I do not think intended to be renewed. Under these cir Texas ought to be received into the Union, cumstances, if the Government of the Uni as an integral part of it, in decided opposited States were to acquire Texas, it would tion to the wishes of a considerable and reacquire along with it all the encumbrances spectable portion of the confederacy. I think which Texas is under, and, among them, it far more wise and important to compose the actual or suspended war between Mexi | and harmonize the present confederacy, as co and Texas. Of that consequence, there it now exists, than to introduce a new elecannot be a doubt. Annexation and war ment of discord and distraction into it. In with Mexico are identical. Now, for one, my humble opinion, it should be the conI certainly am not willing to involve this | stant and earnest endeavor of American country in a foreign war for the object of | statesmen to eradicate prejudices, to cultiacquiring Texas. I know there are those vate and foster concord, and to produce who regard such a war with indifference, | general contentment among all parts of our and as a trifling affair, on account of the confederacy! And true wisdom, it seems weakness of Mexico, and her inability to , to me, points to the duty of rendering its inflict serious injury on this country. But present members happy, prosperous, and I do not look upon it thus lightly. I regard satisfied with each other, rather than to atall wars as great calamities, to be avoided, tempt to introduce alien members, against if possible, and honorable peace as the the common consent, and with the certainty wisest and truest policy of this country, of deep dissatisfaction. Mr. Jefferson exWhat the United States most need are pressed the opinion, and others believed, union, peace, and patience. Nor do I think that it never was in the contemplation of that the weakness of a power should form a | the framers of the Constitution to add formotive, in any case, for inducing us to en- | eign territory to the confederacy, out of ..gage in, or to depreciate, the evils of war. which new States were to be formed. The

Honor, and good faith, and justice, are acquisitions of Louisiana and Florida may equally due from this country toward the be defended upon the peculiar ground of weak as toward the strong. And, if an act the relation in which they stood to the of injustice were to be perpetrated toward States of the Union. After they were adany power, it would be more compatible mitted, we might well pause a while, people with the dignity of the nation, and, in my our vast wastes, develop our resources, prejudgment, less dishonorable, to inflict it | pare the means of defending what we posupon a powerful, instead of a weak, foreign sess, and augment our strength, power, and nation."

greatness. If, hereafter, further territory Mr. Van Buren, in his very long

should be wanted for an increased popula

tion, we need entertain no apprehension letter, had studiously avoided all but that it will be acquired, by ineans, it is allusion to what, in the cant of a

to be hoped, fair, honorable, and constitu

tional. It is useless to disguise that there later day, would have been termed

are those who espouse, and those who opthe “sectional” aspect of the ques pose, the annexation of Texas upon the tion; that is, the earnest and invin

ground of the influence which it would

exert on the balance of political power becible repugnance of a large portion tween two great sections of the Union. I of our people to the annexation pro

conceive that no motive for the acquisition

of foreign territory could be more unfortuposed, because of its necessary tend

nate, or pregnant with more fatal conseency to extend and strengthen quences, than that of obtaining it for the Slavery. Mr. Clay confronted this

purpose of strengthening one part against

another part of the common confederacy. view of the case cautiously, yet Such a principle, put into practical operamanfully, saying :

tion, would menace the existence, if it did

not certainly sow the seeds of a dissolution “I have hitherto considered the question of the Union." upon the supposition that the annexation is attempted without the assent of Mexico.

He closed his letter—which is not If she yields her consent, that would materially affect the foreign aspect of the ques- quite a third so long as Mr. Van

ming up of his convictions:

the fate of Van Buren sealed. On “I consider the Annexation of Texas, at the first ballot, he received 146 votes this time, without the consent of Mexico, as

to 116 for all others; but he fell, on a measure compromising the National character, involving us certainly in war with the second, to 127, and settled gradualMexico, probably with other foreign Pow ly to 104 on the eighth, when he was ers, dangerous to the integrity of the Union, inexpedient in the present financial condi

withdrawn—Gen. Cass, who began tion of the country, and not called for by with 83, having run up to 114. On any general expression of public opinion.” the next ballot, JAMES K. Polk, of

The Whig National Convention Tennessee, who had received no vote met at Baltimore, May 1-every dis- at all till the eighth ballot, and then trict in the United States fully rep- but 44, was nominated, receiving 233 resented. HENRY CLAY was at once out of 266 votes. This was on the nominated for President by acclama third day of the Convention, when tion, and Theodore Frelinghuysen Silas Wright, of New York, was imfor Vice-President on the third bal-mediately nominated for Vice-Presilot. The number in attendance was dent. He peremptorily declined, estimated by tens of thousands, and and George M. Dallas, of Pennsylthe enthusiasm was immense. The vania, was selected in his stead. Mr. multitude separated in undoubting Polk had been an early, and was a confidence that Mr. Clay would be zealous, champion of Annexation, as our next President.

always of every proposition or pro

ject calculated to aggrandize the The Democratic National Conven-Slave Power. The Convention, in tion met in the same city on the 27th its platform. of that month. A majority of its

"Resolved, That our title to the whole’ terdelegates had been elected expressly ritory of Oregon is clear and unquestionato nominate Mr. Van Buren, and

ble; that no portion of the same ought to

be ceded to England or any other power; were under explicit instructions to

and that the rëoccupation of Oregon, and support him. But it was already the rëannexation of Texas, at the earliest settled among the master-spirits of

practicable period, are great American

measures, which the Convention recomthe party that his nomination should mends to the cordial support of the Demobe defeated. To this end, before the cracy of the Union.” Convention had been fully organiz Col. Thomas H. Benton, in a ed, Gen. R. M. Saunders, of North speech in the Senate, May 6, had set Carolina, moved the adoption of the forth the objections to Messrs. Tyler rules and regulations of the Democra- and Calhoun's Treaty of Annexatic National Conventions of May, tion, on the ground of its assuming, 1832, and May, 1835, for the govern- on the one hand, to cede, and on the ment of this body; his object being other, to accept and maintain, the the enactment of that rule which re- entire territory claimed by Texas, inquired a vote of two-thirds of the cluding all that portion of New delegates to nominate a candidate. Mexico lying east of the Rio Grande, After a heated discussion, the two- in these forcible terms: thirds rule was adopted, on the second “These former provinces of the Mexican

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COL. BENTON ON THE BOUNDARY OF TEXAS.

165

Vice-royalty, now departments of the Mexi- , this rëannexation by the application of some can Republic, lying on both sides of the Rio odious and terrible epithet. Demosthenes Grande from its head to its mouth, we now | advised the people of Athens not to take, propose to incorporate, so far as they lie on but to retake, a certain city; and in that re the left bank of the river, into our Union, lay the virtue which saved the act from the by virtue of a treaty of rëannexation with character of spoliation and robbery. Will Texas. Let us pause and look at our new it be equally potent with us? and will the and important proposed acquisitions in this re prefixed to the annexation legitimate the quarter. First: There is the department, seizure of two thousand miles of a neighformerly the province, of New Mexico, bor's dominion, with whom we have trealying on both sides of the river from its ties of peace, and friendship, and comhead-spring to near the Pass del Norte merce? Will it legitimate this seizure, that is to say, half way down the river. made by virtue of a treaty with Texas, when This department is studded with towns and no Texan force-witness the disastrous exvillages—is populated, well cultivated, and peditions to Mier and to Santa Fé-have covered with flocks and herds. On its left been seen near it without being killed or bank (for I only speak of the part which taken, to the last man? we propose to rëannex) is, first, the frontier “I wash my hands of all attempts to disvillage Taos, 3,000 souls, and where the member the Mexican Republic by seizing custom-house is kept at which the Missouri | her dominions in New Mexico, Chihuahua, caravans enter their goods. Then comes Coahuila, and Tamaulipas. The treaty, in Santa Fé, the capital, 4,000 souls; then all that relates to the boundary of the Rio Albuquerque, 6,000 souls; then some scores Grande, is an act of unparalleled outrage of other towns and villages—all more or on Mexico. It is the seizure of two thouless populated and surrounded by flocks and sand miles of her territory, without a word of fields. Then come the departments of Chi- | explanation with her, and by virtue of a huahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas, without treaty with Texas, to which she is no party. settlements on the left bank of the river, Our Secretary of State, in his letter to t but occupying the right bank, and com United States Chargé in Mexico several manding the left. All this being parts of days after the treaty was signed, and after four Mexican departments, now under Mexi the Mexican Minister had withdrawn from can Governors and Governments—is perma- | our seat of Government, shows full well nently rëannexed to this Union, if this that he was conscious of the enormity of treaty is ratified, and is actually rëannexed this outrage; knew it was war; and proffrom the moment of the signature of the fered volunteer apologies to avert the consetreaty, according to the President's last quences which he knew he had provoked. Message, to remain so until the acquisition “I therefore propose, as an additional is rejected by rejecting the treaty! The resolution, applicable to the Rio del Norte one-half of the department of New Mexico, | boundary alone--the one which I will read with its capital, becomes a territory of the and send to the Secretary's table, and on United States; an angle of Chihuahua, at which, at the proper time, I shall ask the the Pass del Norte, famous for its wine, vote of the Senate. This is the resolution : also becomes ours; a part of the depart Resolved, That the incorporation of the ment of Coahuila, not populated on the left left bank of the Rio Del Norte into the bank, which we take, but commanded from American Union, by virtue of a treaty with the right bank by Mexican authorities; the Texas, comprehending, as the said incorposame of Tamaulipas, the ancient Nuevo San-ration would do, a part of the Mexican detander (New St. Andrew), and which coverspartments of New Mexico, Chihuahua, Cöaboth sides of the river from its mouth for huila, and Tamaulipas, would be an act of some hundred miles up, and all the left bank direct aggression on Mexico; for all the conof which is in the power and possession of sequences of which the United States would Mexico. These, in addition to old Texas ; / stand responsible." these parts of four States these towns and villages—these people and territory--these

The opposition of the Northern flocks and herds—this slice of the Republic of Mexico, two thousand miles long and

Democrats to the Annexation prosome hundred broad-all this our President ject, though crippled by the action has cut off from its mother empire, and pre

of their National Convention, was sents to us, and declares it ours till the Senate rejects it! He calls it Texas! and not entirely suppressed. Especially in the cutting off he calls rëannexation! Hum New York, where attachment to the boldt calls it New Mexico, Chihuahua, Cöa- 1 huila, and Nuevo Santander—now Tamau

person and the fortunes of Mr. Van lipas; and the civilized world may qualify | Buren had been peculiarly strong,

Democratic repugnance to this mea- the Annexation question. The masure was still manifested. Messrs. terial portion of that letter concluded George P. Barker, William C. Bry- as follows: ant, John W. Edmonds, David Dud

"I do not think it right to announce in · ley Field, Theodore Sedgwick, and advance what will be the course of a future others, united in a letter-stigmatiz

Administration in respect to a question with

a foreign power. I have, however, no hesied by annexationists as a “secret cir

tation in saying that, far from having any cular”—urging their fellow-Demo personal objection to the Annexation of crats, while supporting Polk and

Texas, I should be glad to see it-without

dishonor, without war, with the common Dallas, to repudiate the Texas reso consent of the Union, and upon just and lution, and to unite in supporting,

fair terms.

"I do not think that the subject of Slavefor Congress, Democratic candidates

ry ought to affect the question, one way or hostile to Annexation. Silas Wright, the other. Whether Texas be independent,

or incorporated in the United States, I do who had prominently opposed the

not believe it will prolong or shorten the Tyler treaty in the United States duration of that institution. It is destined Senate, and had refused to run for

to become extinct, at some distant day, in

my opinion, by the operation.of the inevitaVice-President with Polk, was made

ble laws of population. It would be unthe Democratic candidate for Govern wise to refuse a permanent acquisition,

which will exist as long as the globe reor of New York, which State could

mains, on account of a temporary institunot otherwise have been carried for tion. Polk. In a canvassing speech at

“In the contingency of my election, to

which you have adverted, if the affair of Skaneateles, Mr. Wright referred to

acquiring Texas should become a subject of his opposition as unabated, and de consideration, I should be governed by the clared that he could never consent

state of facts, and the state of public opinion

existing at the time I might be called upon to Annexation on any terms which | to act. Above all, I should be governed by would give Slavery an advantage the paramount duty of preserving the Union

entire, and in harmony, regarding it, as I over Freedom. This sentiment was

do, as the great guaranty of every political reiterated, and emphasized in a great and public blessing, under Providence, Democratic convention held at Her. | which, as a free people, we are permitted

to enjoy." kimer in the autumn of that year.

The canvass of 1844 was opened. This letter was at once seized upon with signal animation, earnestness, by Mr. Clay's adversaries, whether and confidence on the part of the Democrats or Abolitionists, as evincWhigs, who felt that they should not, ing a complete change of base on and believed that they could not, be his part. It placed the Northern beaten on the issue made up for them advocates of his election on the deby their adversaries. So late as the fensive for the remainder of the can4th of July, their prospect of carry- vass, and weakened their previous ing New York and Pennsylvania, hold on the moral convictions of the and thus overwhelmingly electing more considerate and conscientious their candidates, was very flattering. voters of the Free States. These On the 16th of August, however, were generally hostile to Annexation The North Alabamian published a precisely or mainly because of its letter from Mr. Clay to two Alabama bearings upon Slavery; and the friends, who had urged him to make declaration of their candidate that a further statement of his views on such considerations “ought not to

DEFEAT OF MR. CLAY.

167

affect the question, one way or the tensely anti-Slavery votes thrown other," was most embarrassing. The away on Birney would have given “ Liberty party," so called, pushed the State to Mr. Clay, and elected this view of the matter beyond all him. The vote of Michigan was, in justice and reason, insisting that like manner, given to Polk by the Mr. Clay's antagonism to Annexa- diversion of anti-Slavery suffrages to tion, not being founded in anti- Birney; but New York alone would Slavery conviction, was of no ac- have secured Mr. Clay's election, count whatever, and that his election giving him 141 electoral votes to should, on that ground, be opposed. 134 for his opponent. As it was, Mr. James G. Birney, their candidate Mr. Clay received the electoral for President, went still further, and, votes of Massachusetts, Rhode Islin a letter published on the eve of and, Connecticut, Vermont, New the election, proclaimed that Mr. Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Clay's election would be more likely Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tento promote Annexation than Mr. nessee-105 in all, being those of · Polk's, because of Mr. C.'s superior eleven States; while Mr. Polk was ability and influence! It was in vain supported by Maine, New Hampthat Mr. Clay attempted to retrieve shire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virhis error-if error it was-by a final ginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alaletter to The National Intelligencer, bama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indireässerting his unchanged and in-ana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and vincible objections to any such An- Arkansas-fifteen States, casting 170 nexation as was then proposed or electoral votes. The popular votes practicable. The State of New throughout the country, as returned, York was carried against him by were, for Clay, 1,288,533; for Polk, the lean plurality of 5,106 in nearly 1,327,325; for Birney, 62,263. So 500,000 votes—the totals being, the triumph of Annexation had been Clay, 232,482, Polk, 237,588, Bir secured by the indirect aid of the ney, 15,812 ;-one-third of the in- more intense partisans of Abolition.

3 This letter bears date “Ashland, September | diate Annexation of Texas to the United States. 23, 1844,” and says:.

I think it would be dishonorable, might involve

us in war, would be dangerous to the integrity · "In announcing my determination to permit and harmony of the Union; and, if all these obno other letters to be drawn from me on public jections were removed, could not be effected affairs, I think it right to avail myself of the upon just and admissible conditions. present occasion to correct the erroneous inter- ' “It was not my intention, in either of the pretation of one or two of those which I had two letters which I addressed to Alabama, to previously written. In April last, I addressed express any contrary opinion. Representations to you from Raleigh a letter in respect to the had been made to me that I was considered as proposed treaty annexing Texas to the United | inflexibly opposed to the Annexation of Texas States, and I have since addressed two letters | under any circumstances; and that my position to Alabama upon the same subject. Most un- | was so extreme that I would not waive it, even warranted allegations have been made that if there was a general consent to the measure those letters are inconsistent with each other, by all the States of ne Union. I replied, in my and, to make it out, particular phrases or ex first letter to Alabama, that, personally, I had pressions have been torn from their context, no objection to Annexation. I thought that my and a meaning attributed to me which I never meaning was sufficiently obvious, that I had no entertained.

personal, individual, or private motives for op"I wish now distinctly to say, that there is posing, as I have none for espousing, the meanot a feeling, a sentiment, or an opinion, ex- | sure--my judgment being altogether influenced pressed in my Raleigh letter to which I do not by general and political considerations, which adhere. I am decidedly opposed to the imme- | have ever been the guide of my public conduct.”

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