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Speech in Congress. The Mexican War.
evasion, no equivocation. And if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours where the first blood of the war was shed—that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort Brown—then I am with him for his justification. In that case, I shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. I have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this; I expect to give some votes, in connection with the war, which, without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety, in my own judgment, but which will be free from the doubt if he does so. But if he can not or will not do this, if, on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit it,-then I shall be fully convinced, of what I more than suspect already, that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to heaven against him; that he ordered General Taylor into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, purposely to bring on a war; that originally having some strong motive— what I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning—to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory—that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy— he plunged into it, and has swept on and on, till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where. How like the half insane mumbling of a fever dream is the whole war part of the late message At one time telling us that Mexico has nothing whatever that we can get but territory; at another, showing us how we can support the war by levying contributions on Mexico. At one time urging the national honor, the security of the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even the good of Mexico herself, as among
Speech in Congress. The Mexican War.
the objects of the war; at another, telling us that, “to reject indemnity by refusing to accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all our just demands, and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without a purpose or definite object.” So, then, the national honor, security of the future, and everything but territorial indemnity, may be considered the no purposes and indefinite objects of the war ! But having it now settled that territorial indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation here, all that he was content to take a few months ago, and the whole province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on the war—to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again, the President is resolved, under all circumstances, to have full territorial indemnity for the expenses of the war; but he forgets to tell us how we are to get the eaccess after those expenses shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican territory. So, again, he insists that the separate national existence of Mexico shall be maintained; but he does not tell us how this can be done after we shall have taken all her territory. Lest the question I here suggest be considered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying to show they are not. “The war has gone on some twenty months; for the expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the President now claims about one-half of the Mexican territory, and that by far the better half, so far as concerns our ability to make any thing out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited ; so that we could establish land offices in it, and raise some money in that way. But the other half is already inhabited, as I understand it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country; and all its lands, or all that are valuable, already appropriated as private property. How, then, are we to make any thing out of these lands with this incumbrance on them, or how remove the incumbrance 2 I suppose no one will say that we shall kill the people, or drive them out,
Speech in Congress. The Mexican War. President's Position Unsatisfactory
or make slaves of them, or even confiscate their property 7 How, then, can we make much out of this part of the terri. tory : If the prosecution of the war has, in expenses, already equalled the better half of the country, how long its future prosecution will be in equalling the less valuable half is not a speculative but a practical question, pressing closely upon us; and yet it is a question which the President seems never to have thought of. “As to the mode of terminating the war and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemy's country; and, after apparently talking himself tired on this point, the President drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us, that ‘with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to obtain a satisfactory peace.” Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, and, trusting in our protection, to set up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace, telling us that ‘this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace.” But soon he falls into doubt of this too, and then drops back on to the already half abandoned ground of ‘more vigorous prosecution.” All this shows that the President is in no wise satisfied with his own positions. First, he takes up one, and, in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off. His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no such position on which it can Hettle down and be at ease. “Again, it is a singular omission in this message, that it
Speech in Congress. Internal Improvements.
nowhere intimates when the President expects the war to terminate. At its beginning, General Scott was, by this same President driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could not be conquered in less than three or four months. But now at the end of about twenty months, during which time our arms have given us the most splendid successes—every department, and every part, land and water, officers and privates, regulars and volunteers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things which it had ever before been thought that men could not do ; after all this, this same President gives us a long message without showing us that as to the end, he has himself even an imaginary conception. As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably-perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show that there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity.
SPEECH ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS.
(In Committee of the Whole House, June 20, 1848.)
Mr. Lincoln said:
“MR. CHAIRMAN:—I wish at all times in no way to practice any fraud upon the House or the Committee, and I also desire to do nothing which may be very disagreeable to any of the members. I therefore state, in advance, that my object in taking the floor is to make a speech on the general subject of internal improvements; and if I am out of order in doing so, I give the Chair an opportunity of so deciding, and I will take my seat.”
The Chair.—“I will not undertake to anticipate what the gentleman may say on the subject of internal improvements. He will, therefore, proceed in his remarks, and if any question of order shall be made, the Chair will then decide it "
Speech in Congress. Internal Improvements.
Mr. Lincoln.—“At an early day of this session the President sent to us what may properly be termed an internal improvement veto message. The late Democratic Convention which sat at Baltimore, and which nominated General Cass for the Presidency, adopted a set of resolutions, now called the Democratic platform, among which is one in these words: “‘That the Constitution does not confer upon the General Government the power to commence and carry on a general system of internal improvements.” “General Cass, in his letter accepting the nomination, holds this language: “‘I have carefully read the resolutions of the Democratic National Convention, laying down the platform of our political faith, and I adhere to them as firmly as I approve them cordially.” “These things, taken together, show that the question of internal improvements is now more distinctly made—has become more intense, than at any former period. It can no longer be avoided. The veto message and the Baltimore resolution I understand to be, in substance, the same thing; the latter being the more general statement, of which the former is the amplification—the bill of particulars. While I know there are many Democrats, on this floor and elsewhere, who disapprove that message, I understand that all who shall vote for General Cass will thereafter be considered as having approved it, as having indorsed all its doctrines. I suppose all, or nearly all, the Democrats will vote for him. Many of them will do so, not because they like his position on this question, but because they prefer him, being wrong in this, to another, whom they consider further wrong on other questions. In this way the internal improvement Democrats are to be, by a sort of forced consent, carried over, and arrayed against themselves on this measure of policy. General Cass, once elected, will not trouble himself to make a