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THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE—THE WAR.
As often as the President comes before It is his fate also, in order to render the nation with a new manifesto in regard his attempts at justification any way to the unhappy war, in which, by his own plausible, that he must take care to make deliberate, unauthorized and criminal act, all his subsequent conduct and acts as he has involved the country, no choice is consistent as possible, in error and crimileft us, as the faithful conductors of a nality, with his original offences. Beginjournal of American politics, but to follow ning wrong, which he is resolved never him to this well-trodden field--to set up to acknowledge, he must continue to go there, again and again, in the face of the wrong, sinking deeper and deeper at every American people and of the world, the step, until he becomes involved in difficullofty standard of historic truth, of inter ties from which he is obliged to confess national law, of real justice and honor, i he sees no certain way of escape. Preand of true national renown and glory, cisely as, on the one hand, the path of the against the wretched perversions, the false just shines brighter and brighter to the glosses and miserable plausibilities in which perfect day, so, on the other, does that this high functionary of the government path in which the President has chosen to habitually indulges, whenever he comes walk, darken, at every remove, into thicker before the country to justify himself for and more palpable gloom. On this point, the great Measure of Blood and Conquest his recent Annual Message to Congress, by which he has undertaken to signalize when rightly understood, exhibits the his administration. If truth, as affecting most melancholy proof. Of course, it is the highest question of national concern, passably ingenious, adroit and plausible. have not lost all value, it must be defended But it is not difficult to unravel and expose even against the mistakes or perversions its plausibilities. And it is a bold docuof a President of the United States. Nay, ment, because no other tone would suit, at this duty becomes doubly important and all, the condition of desperate hazard to imperative in such a case, on account of which he has been brought in the legitithe authority which attaches to his lofty mate progress of the game he undertook to position. And he must not be allowed to play. The most timid are known to beuse his eminent station to indoctrinate the come brave, when all retreat from danger people of this country in any false princi- is found to be cut off. In this instance, ples, whether of the law of nations or the however, the bold tone of the Message is not law of national justice and honor. He sufficient to hide altogether that terrible must not be allowed to seduce the Ameri- conflict of secret emotions which, we doubt can people from the allegiance which they not, has been going on all the while in owe to a higher law than any which the the heart and conscience of its author. kings or rulers of this earth can impose or The President undertook to make a little teach—the law of right and of duty—the war. He has found it a great and terrible law which has its sanction in the con
He ordered an army to invade the sciences of men, and its seat in the bosom Mexican State of Tamaulipas, then in the of God.
undisputed and undisturbed occupation of Of course, we are not weak enough to its Mexican inhabitants ; and he did this expect anything less than that the Presi- with the expectation and belief, that a milident should continue, at every opportunity, tary demonstration of this sort, perhaps to put forth all his own energies, and all with a single collision of arms, just sufficient the energies he can buy or borrow for the to manifest our undoubted superiority in purpose, in defence of his original crime in war, would be enough to bring Mexico to plunging this country into an unnecessary such compliance and concessions, as would
enable him to illustrate his political rule by world. And so our victorious arms were the acquisition of some portion of the coveted carried up to the gates of the proud capital lands of that unhappy country. In this he of the Mexican empire. And then there was disappointed. Mr. Slidell, his envoy was a magnanimous pause, to receive the to that republic, writing from its capital, in submission of the enemy. He was humthe first month of his visit there, and mis- bled, but he was not subdued. He would taking in like manner the character of that yield much, but he would not yield all. people, strongly recommended to the Presi- The President had imposed on himself the dent the virtue of hostile demonstrations,” necessity of making his demands large, that as necessary to quicken them to the proper they might seem to bear some proper prolabors of negotiation. To his surprise, no portion to the magnitude of the war. He doubt, Mr. Polk found that Mexicans would had begun a little war, upon a despised fight when their homes and country were enemy, who was to be terrified into submisinvaded. Still he believed they would be sion, by the appearance in arms of a overawed by "hostile demonstrations" on large and overpowering force." It had a more formidable scale. As soon as it was grown into a great war, that tasked the vast known at Washington that a collision of resources and the full energies of the nation arms had taken place, with disastrous to carry it on. The very policy, indeed, results to a small body of our gallant which proposed to strike terror into the dragoons, he recommended to Congress heart of the enemy by a formidable show of “the immediate appearance in arms of a force, created the necessity of making the large and overpowering force, as the most war in fact a formidable one, from the certain and efficient means of bringing the moment it was found that the mere existing collision with Mexico to a speedy demonstration was a failure. And the and successful termination.” He prosecution of such a formidable war creapromptly authorized to call fifty thousand ted, in its turn, a sort of necessity of bringvotunteers into the field, and to employ the ing out results of corresponding magnitude, whole army and navy of the United States far beyond anything having reference in the war.
merely to the original matters of difference Thus the country was precipitated into between the two countries. When our victhe war so recklessly provoked and begun torious army stood before the gates of the by the Executive. Battles were fought and enemy's capital, in the heart of his dominvictories won in unbroken succession, but ions, there was no longer a question about peace was not obtained. And at the end of the original grounds of quarrel. They every ensuing engagement, successful in were yielded by Mexico. She agreed to all things, except in bringing submission give up her pretensions to Texas, which had and peace, the President promised himself been annexed to the United States, and that the next battle and victory, and the which she had heretofore insisted on renext, and the next, would certainly issue in garding as her own revolted province, in the wished-for triumph. They brought spite of its declared independence, and its nothing but disappointment. More men political union with this country. And she were called for ; blood was poured out like agreed, also, to give us ample indemnity in water; more battles and more glorious vic- territory, more than enough to cover the tories were achieved ; half a dozen States claims of our citizens upon her justice, and Territories were overrun; still we had which thus far she had failed to pay. not "conquered a peace." With every These were the main original points of difnew success, which was only a new disap- ference, and formed the only original subpointment, the cry was raised—“ The war jects of complaint or demand we had to must be more vigorously prosecuted.” It make against Mexico. They were now was prosecuted just so vigorously as to ena yielded -as they would have been yielded ble our gallant soldiers always to win des- by negotiation, without any war at all, if perate båttles, against fearful odds, by the only a little forbearance and a little wisdom most incredible efforts, and the most awful had been exercised in regard to them. The sacrifice of life. Our army performed pro- whole country is aware of this, and can digies of valor, challenging, by their gallant never be convinced to the contrary. And deeds, the amazement and admiration of the hence it was, that after having prosecuted
such a formidable, costly and desolating terms he has prescribed for her dismemberwar, up to the walls of the Mexican capital, ment, and as there is not the slightest for no necessary causes of dispute whatever chance that Mexico will ever consent to anybetween Mexico and us, the President thing of the sort, a state of embarrassment found or deemed it necessary to turn his has arisen, which might well fill the Execuback upon the false pretences he had con tive with distress and alarm. How he prostantly set up and insisted on, as inducing poses to deal with the case, since he is forced and justifying hostilities, and to make such to meet it in some way, we shall see in the demands for the dismemberment of the progress of this article. Suffice it here to Mexican empire as, if yielded on her pårt, say, that he meets the case with a proposimight gratify the pride and supposed rapa- tion as daring, reckless, and profligate, as city of his countrymen, and win for the war any
that ever characterized the proceedings an unjustifiable and dishonest popular ap- of the most celebrated among the professed proval. This, of course, put peace out of conquerers and spoilers of ancient or modthe question. Negotiations were broken ern times; and so we shall demonstrate off, because Mexico would not consent to the fact to be, before we have done with the the dismemberment proposed to her. An subject. unnecessary war had led to the making of Our readers must be made aware, if they an iniquitous and exorbitant demand, to are not so already, of the significant and which Mexico would not submit. The con- important fact, now officially disclosed, that flict was resumed. More battles were the war assumed an entirely new phase fought; the best blood of the country from the termination of the negotiations Howed again like water ; the capital of the between Mr. Trist and the Mexican Comenemy was entered, sword in hand, and missioners. From that period, IT BECAME Mexico is conquered !
EXPLICITLY AND WITHOUT DISGUISE, A WAR Yes, Mexico is conquered, but she is not FOR THE CONQUEST AND DISMEMBERMENT OF yet subdued, and we have not yet Mexico. The general object had been quered a peace.” Mexico is no nearer sub- plain enough to all shrewd observers from mission, now that her capital is in our hands, the beginning ; but it had been made as than the United States were, when, in the far as possible a covert object, and had been Revolution, the enemy had possession of constantly, not to say impudently, disNew-York and Philadelphia. She is no avowed. Up to that time, other objects of nearer submission than Russia was, when the war had been insisted on, and not Napoleon was in Moscow. And it is at this without some show of reason, since war bad very point, that the difficulties and embar- been undertaken. There were the claims rassments of the President on account of of our citizens, which must be secured in this war, are become most formidable and some satisfactory form. And, then, Mexico inextricable. At the end of campaigns as must be made to relinquish her pretensions completely successful, so far as military op- to Texas, since that country was annexed erations are concerned, as any that Alexan- to the United States. There was, finally, der or Napoleon ever prosecuted, he finds an unsettled question of boundary between himself in a state of most distressing per- Mexico and the State of Texas, which plexity. He can neither go forward nor Mexico must be made to consent to negoretreat, with any prospect of satisfaction. tiate about and settle, before we could The last field of glory in this war, was make a definitive peace with her. These reaped when the city of Mexico was taken. were the subjects of difference between the Henceforth, there can be no grand fighting, two countries at the breaking out of the no glorious victories. What remains is a war, and the only subjects of difference. war of details, a defensive war against gue Of course they formed, so far as had been rillas, and assassins, and the vomilo. A avowed at any time, the objects, and the few minor cities and places may yet be as only objects, of the war on our part. sailed and taken; but there can be no grand Now we desire to ask, and to ask forward movement. As a war of move very emphatically, what remained of these ment and of conquest, it is over. And as objects of the war, after the conferences the President holds retreat to be impossible, between the American and Mexican Comso long as Mexico refuses to consent to the missioners before the walls of the Mexican
VOL. I. NO. I. NEW SERIES.
capital ? Looking steadily at these as the the present frontier of New Mexico on the only subjects of difference between the two east-south-east side; then follow the present nations, and the only legitimate and avowed
boundary of New Mexico on the east, north
and west, until this last touches the 37th objects of the war on our part, what was Mr. Trist, as the Commissioner of the publics from the point in which it touches the
degree; which will serve as a limit for both ReUnited States, authorized, or rather what said frontier of West of New Mexico to the Pashould he have been authorized of right, to cific Ocean. The Government of Mexico prodemand of the Mexican Government, in re mises not to found any new towns or establish gard to them? His legitimate demands colonies in the tract of land which remains bewould have been
tween the river Nueces and the Bravo del
Norte." 1. Ample indemnity for the claims of American citizens on Mexico. 2. The The line here proposed as a boundary cession, or renunciation, of all claims or begins with yielding to the United States pretensions on the part of Mexico, to the the State of Texas, just as it had stood as proper territory of the State of Texas. a State or Department of Mexico. It was 3. An adjustment, on terms of reciprocal the same State of Texas, having its southfairness, of the boundary between the State eastern boundary defined as here described, of Texas and Mexico.
which had revolted from Mexico, and Now these demands were virtually inclu achieved its independence on the plains of ded in the plan of a Treaty furnished to San Jacinto. The line here stated does Mr. Trist at Washington, and presented by not, it is true, include any part of Chuihim to the Mexican Commissioners. It is la, or of the State of Tamaulipas, neither not necessary that we should state at this of which ever revolted from Mexico, or moment, what other and further demands ever manifested any desire to separate were included in the same document. from the Mexican empire. But we repeat How, then, did Mexico treat these de that this line yielded to the United States mands ? What answer did she return the proper State and territory of Texas. through her Commissioners? Did she re And let it be remembered that we are fuse ail concessions on all or any of these here referring to this matter, only as it subjects ?
affects the general question of Annexation, The Mexican Commissioners presented a and the subject of difficulty and dispute Counter-Project for a Treaty, which is between the countries on account of Anreferred to in the President's Message, as nexation. It was this subject of Annexaoffering terms of a Treaty “wholly inad
wholly inad- tion—as distinct from any mere question missible.” We deeply regret to be obliged of boundary—at which Mexico originally to say, that this highest official dignitary of took offence. It was on this account that the land speaks of this Counter-Project in the Mexican minister in this country, Ala manner which is neither warranted by monte, demanded his passports and withcommon candor, nor by the clear facts of drew from the country. It was on this the case.
account that Mexico refused to have any One thing at least is not denied in the further diplomatic intercourse with Mr. President's statement of objections to the Shannon, then our minister near the govterms of this Counter-Project ; and that is, ernment of that republic. And it was on that it includes a clear cession or renuncia- this account, and because Mr. Slidell had tion of all claims or pretensions of the not come as a special commissioner charged Mexican government, to the proper territory with the particular duty of proposing of Texas. This is done in the fourth terms of accommodation in reference to article of the project, which is as follows:- Annexation, that that functionary was not
" The dividing line between the two Repub- received by the Mexican government. It lics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, was this Annexation of Texas that Mexico three leagues from land, opposite to the south- said originally she should regard as a deern mouth of the Bay of Corpus Christi, run claration of war against her, though she ning in a straight line from within the said Bay acted no further on this declaration than to the mouth of the river Nueces; thence prongh the middle of said river in all its course
to break up all diplomatic relations with * source ; from the source of the river Nue- us, and to hold herself aloof as the offended shall be traced a straight line until it meets party, who was to be conciliated by a
proper advance on our part. Her rejec The next object of the war, on our part, tion of our minister, and which was one after it had once been commenced, was to subject of complaint by our government, obtain satisfaction, or indemnity, for the though not perhaps set down distinctly as claims of our citizens on Mexico, on account one cause of war, is referrible mainly to of injuries and indignities to their persons this subject of Annexation.
and property. These claims were not the Now what we mean to say is, that in cause of the war; it was not undertaken their Counter-Project of a treaty, the Mexi- for the redress of these injuries ; but the can Commissioners expressly yielded the war once begun, it was not to be expected whole matter of difference or dispute in that peace would be made, until these deregard to the general subject of the An- mands should be satisfactorily adjusted. nexation of Texas to the United States. Now we assert, in the face of the bald Annexation was no longer a subject of and bold statement to the contrary in the complaint, and was no longer to stand in President's Message, that the Mexican the way of peace and amity between the Commissioners, in their counter-project, did two countries. And thus we say, one of offer an ample indemnity for these claims. the original subjects of dispute, and no It is not true, as the President affirms, that doubt the main cause leading to a collision this plan “contained no provision for the of arms, was removed. If there had been payment by Mexico of the just claims of no Annexation there would have been no our citizens.” There was no offer of paywar; there would have been no interrup- ment in money, nor was any such payment tion of diplomatic and friendly relations; in money expected, or desired, by the Adthere would have been no rejection of our ministration. But there was indemnity, minister, and no marching of troops to the and just that kind of indemnity after which Rio Grande. “The existing war,” said the government has been looking from the the Mexican commissioners in their letter beginning, namely, indemnity in territo Mr. Trist, accompanying their counter- tory. project, “ has been undertaken solely on The whole statement in which the Mesaccount of the territory of the State of sage indulges on this point, is the most exTexas, respecting which the North Ameri- traordinary, perhaps, that was ever uttered can republic presents as its title the Act by a high public functionary, in the face of of the said State by which it was annexed an intelligent country. We know of nothto the North American confederation, after ing to compare with it, except, indeed, having proclaimed its independence of some other statements of the like character Mexico.” And they add, after stating in the same document, and in the Presithat Mexico consents “to the pretensions dent's previous Messages on the same genof the government of Washington to the eral subject. It would be charitable to territory of Texas,” that “the cause of believe, if we could, that the President falls the war has disappeared, and the war it- into these shocking errors of fact, from the self ought to cease, since there is no war agency and imposition of some unprincipled rant for its continuance.” And undoubt- persons about him, and is to be excused on edly they were right to this extent, that the ground of utter inattention, or else of so far as this question of Annexation was absolute want of capacity. If this habit of a cause for the war, that cause did disap- gross perversion, or of careless statement, is pear from the moment Mexico had declared to be indulged in, and tolerated, and if he herself ready to yield the point, and the is really to be held accountable for what United States were no longer at liberty to appears under his hand, it will soon come prosecute the war on account of that to be understood, that a Message of the question, or for any reason merely incident President of the United States to Congress, to it. This object of the war, then, if an is no more to be relied on for its relation object of the war at all, no longer remained of facts, than the most worthless newspaafter the conferences between the commis- per sheet in the land. sioners of the two countries, in September; The Message informs Congress and the and when the war was rencwed, it was re country, that “the terms of a treaty pronewed for no object relating to the annex- posed by the Mexican Commissioners, were ation of Texas to the United States. wholly inadmissible,” among other reasons,