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Our object in this article will be to present to the American people—at least as widely as our humble labors may reach— the great Practical Issue, as it now stands, in regard to the further prosecution of the Mexican War. We laid the foundation for this, in our article in the last number of the Review, on " the President's Message, and the War," and to which we would inrite our readers to recur. We think we cannot be mistaken in supposing that a crisis has come in our Mexican relations, which, of necessity, must force political men and political parties into an open and undisguised attitude on the one side or the other of the great issue which has now arisen in those relations.
According to our conception of the clear facts of the case, tht President now offers to Congress and the country the project of a war to be prosecuted and maintained, from this time forward, for the following specific object—namely: To Compel Mexico To Submit To Our Appropriating I'krmanextly To Ourselves, Without Any
JUST CAUSE, AND WITHOUT AN EQUIVALENT, (iF THERE COULD BE AN EQUIVALENT FOR A FORCED DISMEMBERMENT,) CERTAIN LAROE DISTRICTS OF COUNTRY BELONGING TO THAT NATION, ALREADY CONQUERED BY OUR ARMS, AND HELD UNDER MILITARY OCCUPATION, AND WHICH ARE ACCURATELY DEFINED AND DESCRIBED FOR OUR BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENTERPRISE TO WHICH WE ARE INVITED. It must be understood that the territory which he now proposes to take or secure, is more extensive than that which he demanded, as his ultimatum, in the conferences of Mr. Trist with the Mexican Commissioners in September last. In those conferences, the President informs us in his late Annual Message, "the boundary of the Rio Grande, and the cession to the United States of New Mexico and Upper California, constituted an ultimatum which our Commissioner was, under no circumstances, to yield." The demand now embraces both the Californias. "Early after the commencement of the war," says the Message, "New Mexico and the Californias were taken possession of by our forces." "These provinces are now in our undisputed possession, and have been for many months." "I am satisfied that they should never be surrendered to Mexico." The present ultimatum of the President, then, embraces Lower as well as Upper California. And the whole territory, taken together, comprising parts of three Mexican States, the province of New Mexico and the two Californias, has an area of nearly 700,000 square miles. The whole area of the Mexican empire, since she has lost Texas, is, we believe, less than 1,500,000 square miles; so that the President proposes to take for the United States a little less than one half of the dominions remaining to that empire.
We desire to be understood as taking the ground distinctly, that from the period of the conferences with the Mexican Commissioners, we have, in effect, so far as Congress, or the country, is called on to become a party to it, a New War. It wants the formalities of a new war to make it such in legal contemplation, and nothing else. To every moral intent, so far as Congress or the country is concerned, it is a new war—the monstrous birth of that to which it has succeeded. The war which was carried on up to the period referred to, though the real designs of its author were undoubtedly veiled from the public eye, had certain professed objects in view, upon which all appeals to the country for its sanction and support were constantly based. Mexico had injured our citizens, and had not made reparation, as she was bound to do. "In vindicating our national honor," says the President, "we seek to obtain redress for the wrongs she has done us, and indemnity for our just demands against her." It was supposed, of course, that our national honor would be sufficiently vindicated, our wrongs redressed, and the whole end of the war obtained, when we had beaten her forces, with immense odds against us, in every field and fight through two campaigns, had brought her, by the extremity to which she was reduced, to give tip her pretensions and complaints on account of the annexation of Texas to the United States, to propose a just and proper boundary between our State of Texas and her dominions, and to tender to our acceptance ample indemnity
for our claims. All this she did in the conferences with Mr. Trist. We take the President at his word, in what he has so often said, with the most solemn asseverations, up to that period, that the war was not waged for conquest, but for the redress of injunes, and for indemnity for our claim And when concessions were offered by Mexico which fully met those objects of the war, the war of course ceased to be prosecuted for those objects. The goal was reached, and the enterprise could not be pushed an inch further in that direction. It is true, the submission of Mexico was not accepted ; not because of any defect or deficiency in the concessions and indemnity offered, nor, as we have shown in our former article on this subject, because of any inadmissible claims on her part by which they were accompanied; but because, and only because, her submission did not go far enough to satisfy the secret purpose of the President in the war. But as a national war, the country had nothing to do with any secret purpose of the President in prosecuting it. So far as the nation was concerned, it was a war for such objects only as had been avowed, and were understood by the nation. The submission of Mexico fully met and covered these objects, or would have done so if it had been accepted. And when that submission was rejected because it stopped short of that extreme humiliation and sacrifice to which it had been the private purpose of the President to reduce that unhappy country, and when the war, after the conferences, was resumed, and prosecuted for the single purpose of bringing down Mexico to the point of that extreme humiliation ana sacrifice, we say it was, in effect, a new war; a war to which neither Congress nor the country had as yet committed themselves, and a war to which it remains l« be seen whether they will ever commit themselves.
We must recur to what took place st the conferences in September, refemn| the reader for further particulars ana proofs, to our former article on this subject. Our army had fought its way "P 1° the gates of the capital of Mexico. Hei» a parley was sounded; there was a pan* in the war; and Commissioners of ?<$& came together to tender and receive ten* of accommodation. The first thing to b* lone was to hear the demands of the conjucring party. The Project of a Treaty i as presented. After consideration, a 'ouster-Project of a Treaty was offered on he part of Mexico. Then came the Ultitalum of the President; and upon this, the inferences were broken off—the Mexican ?ommiteioncrs Gnding this ultimatum inadmissible. It is important that we under■land perfectly the substance and effect of Jus transaction. The first demands of the ttaqueror, according to the habit of diplomacy—generally, we think, a very bad labit—-embraced more than was to be insisted on. The Project presented by Mr. frist, proposed a line of boundary between the two countries, giving to the United States, besides Texas proper, 1st, the country between the Nueces and the Rio Grande; 2d, the whole of New Mexico; Id, the whole of the two Californias. It isked also for certain privileges of transportation and transit across the Isthmus of Tehnantepec. And, in consideration of these demands, if conceded, it proposed three things on the part of the United States: 1st, to renounce all claims for the tipenscs of the war; 2d, to assume and pay the claims of our own citizens on Mexico; 3d, to pay to Mexico such additional pecuniary compensation for the now territory acquired, as it might be worth, over and above the amount of the claims. The >umj>ffered by Mr. Trist is stated to have been " from fifteen to twenty millions of dollars"—the demands of the Commissioner having been first lowered to the ultimatum of the President. This ultimatum excluded from his demands Lower California, and the right of way across the llamas of Tehuantepec. In these conferences, then, the final and ultimate denund of the President was that Mexico, besides giving up Texas proper, should cede to the United States, 1st, the country on the left bank of the lower Rio Grande; 2d, New Mexico; and 3d, Upper California. And for this he would make the stipulations and payments just mentioned.
Nov, before this ultimatum was announced, the Mexican Commissioners had P«&ented their Counter-Project of a Treaty; and it is important that we underWwd precisely how far Mexico was will"ig. and offered, to go, in making conces
sions to the demands of the President. Their plan of a Treaty proposed a boundary which yielded Texas proper to .the United States; stipulated to maintain the desert country between the Nueces and the Rio Grande in its uninhabited state, as a national frontier, equally secure and beneficial to both countries; and ceded to the United States one-half of Upper California, including the port and bay of San Francisco. Upon this extension of our limits by the grant of Mexico—for the new territory acquired in California alone would have an area equal to that of four States like New York—it was required that the United States should assume and pay the claims of our citizens on Mexico, and should pay such further sum of money to Mexico, as the value of our acquisitions should render just. The country on the left bank of the lower Rio Grande and the territory of New Mexico, with the whole of Lower and a part of Upper California, the Commissioners refused to yield. The preservation of thencountry on the Rio Grande, and of New Mexico, with their loyal inhabitants, and the possessions and property belonging to them, to the Mexican nation, and under its jurisdiction, they declared to be a condition s/ne quA non of peace. "Mexico," it was declared, " would not sell her citizens as a herd of catle!" "Mexico would not put a price on the attachment of a citizen to the land that gave him birth!" Of course, the preservation of these countries to Mexico, was inconsistent with the ultimatum of the President. The conferences, therefore, were broken off, and the war was resumed.
It is essential, here, that we do not commit the error of supposing that the negotiations for peace failed on any other ground than that just stated. Nothing else had any influence or tendency towards this result. The President would not permit his Commissioner to make terras of peace with Mexico, because she would not yield so far at least to his demands, as to give Texas a boundary on the Rio Grande, and cede New Mexico to the United States, in addition to the cession of half of Upper California, which she offered to make. This was the sole cause why the conferences were broken off, and the war renewed. We have not forgotten, that two or three inadmissible propositions of minor importance were inserted in the CounterProject of the Mexican Commissioners; but we assert positively that they had no influence whatever in arresting the negotiations for peace. We appeal to the record in the case. We cannot be mistaken. In the last instructions given by the Mexican Government to the Commissioners of that power, dated the day before the CounterProject was presented to Mr. Trist, it was solemnly declared: "In New Mexico, and the few leagues which intervene between the right bank of the Nueces and the left bank of the Bravo, lies the question of peace or war." Mexico presented no other ultimatum—no other condition sine qua non of peace, but this. She presented some claims—she offered some propositions—for the consideration and acceptance of the American Commissioner; but they were not to be insisted on. In reference to these, the Mexican Commissioners, after stating the point on which the conferences were broken off, expressly declare: "The other points touched upon in the Project appeared to us easily settled: such at least was the opinion we formed during the conferences." It is absurd to suppose that Mexico would have allowed the war to go on, some thousands more of her citizens to be sacrificed, her whole army to be cut up and dissipated, and her proud capital to be taken, merely on the claim which she set up to impose import duties over again on foreign goods which had once paid such duties to the "conqueror," or on that other claim of damages done to her citizens by the necessary progress of our arms in the war. The matter on which the parties separated —and the whole matter—was the ultimatum of the President, demanding the dismemberment of Mexico far beyond what the Government of that country would consent to.
There are one or two other points in this connection, about which it is essential we should not fall into error. One of them is this: that the United States had no claim of right—except only what might arise from conquest in war—to any part or portion of the territory which the President thus resolved to force from the unwilling hands of its proprietor and sovereign. And this remark is as true of the
country which he demanded, lying on the left bank of the Bravo, as it is of New Mexico, on both sides of that river, or of California. We are bold to say, that no man who has given himself the trouble to understand the facts, and who has any just perception of the difference between meum and tuum, and between right and wrong, can doubt the truth of this position. We know the contrary has been asserted in high places—even by the President of the United States, over and over again, in the most solemn form—as well as by partisans and politicians of hitrh and low degree, all over the land. Nevertheless, the truth is as we have stated it— resting on the plainest facts, open and read of all men, and which cannot be argued off from imperishable records. The question of title does not rest on argument. There is nothing in the case to argue about. Unless a man may give himself a valid title to his neighbor's property, by making a deed of it to himself, neither Texas nor the United States had the slightest claim of title, antecedent to this war, to the country on the left bank of the Rio Grande. The reader who has done us the honor to look into our previous articles in this Journal, in relation to the Mexican war, will not expect, or need, that we should say more on this matter, in this place.
Another point to be noticed here, and firmly fixed in our minds, is this: that the terms of peace offered by Mexico in the conferences with Mr. Trist, having reference to the original subjects of difference or quarrel between the two countries, did not leave an inch of just ground, so far as those subjects of dispute were concerned, for the United States to stand on in renewing and further prosecuting the war. The points of dispute were, 1st. The annexation of Texas to the United States, giving high offence to Mexico, and causing her to put herself in a threatening and war-like attitude. 2d. The question of a boundary between Texas and the Mexican dominions, which Congress, by the Act of Annexation, expressly reserved to be settled by negotiation. 3d. The pecuniary claims of our citizens, which the President has constantly insisted on as the cause for prosecuting the war on our part. Now the terms of peace offered by Mexico, embraced each of these points. In regard to the measure of annexation—so wounding to the pride of the Mexican nation, the source of her irritation and anger, and the primal cause, the causa causans, of the war —she proposed a line of demarkation between the two countries, which would have cut her off forever from the proper territory of Texas, with its boundary on the Nueces, and thus removed completely this matter as a subject of difference or dispute between the two powers. The course proposed to be taken was particularly judicious, inasmuch as it would have left the United States at liberty to look always to the Congressional Act of Annexation, with the assent of the Republic of Texas, as the true ground of our title; while, at the same time, Mexico might console her wounded pride with the belief, if she chose, that, at last, we were only quieted in our possession of that country by the generous cession which she consented to make. In regard to the question of boundary—which we must look at, all the while, as totally distinct from that of annexation—Mexico made an offer which, in its substance and effect, cannot fail to be regarded, by all just minds, as fairly meeting this question with a view to its proper adjustment. She did not propose to cede the country between the Nueces and the Bravo, but she offered to make the desert the actual boundary. What she msisted on was, that she would not abandon her citizens, having their property and rightful residence on the left bank of the latter river, in the State of Tamaulipas; and that a desert a hundred and twenty miles wide, was a safer and better frontier for both countries, than a narrow stream (ike the Rio Grande. It is perfectly manifest that she cared nothing for the unimportant territory on the right bank of the Nueces, and between that river and the desert, where Texas had some small settlements. A line of demarkation in the middle of the desert would, no doubt, lave been perfectly acceptable to her. The offer she tendered made such a line in effect the boundary. Finally, in regard 1" the pecuniary claims of our citizens, Mexico offered the most ample indemnity,
Sr tendering the cession of one half of pper California, including the best bay »d harbor she had on the Pacific.
In reference, then, to the original subjects of dispute or quarrel between the two countries, we repeat that the terms of peace offered by Mexico in September last, did not leave at) inch of just ground for the United States to stand on in renewing and prosecuting the war. These terms were tendered, as we have every reason to say, in perfect good faith, and with an anxious desire to close the war and restore the relations of peace. No one can read the last letter of Instructions from the Minister, Pacheco, to the Mexican Commissioners, or that of the Commissioners to Mr. Trist, accompanying their Counter-Project of a Treaty, without being struck with the marked change of tone, so strikingly different from that which has always, heretofore, characterized the diplomatic correspondence of the Mexican authorities. There is an earnestness, a directness, a manifest sincerity, a nobleness of sentiment, and even a pathos, in the communications we refer to, which, especially if we take into the account the unhappy and distressing circumstances under which they were written, wc venture to say, cannot be read by any just-minded person, enemy though he be, without exciting within him a strong feeling of sympathy, and a sentiment of disgust towards that cold-blooded, calculating policy of the President, which could spurn the submission Mexico offered to make, and turning haughtily away, deliberately proceed with his measures of blood and devastation to complete her degradation, and reduce her to the last stage of wretchedness and despair.
Let it, then, be distinctly observed, that when the war was renewed, after the conferences in September, Mexico had tendered her submission to every just demand which the United States had to make upon her, in reference to every original ground of difference between the two countries; and from that time, this nation cannot justly consider the war as prosecuted for any of those objects which, before that period, were regarded as lending a sufficient sanction to its operations. As a national war, as a war waged for national objects, it had already met its complete accomplishment, only that the President refused to make peace on the terms of submission to which the enemy had been brought. Wc say, with