Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

out a doubt, that as between us and Mexico, the sense of national justice and honor would have been satisfied, when Mexico had submitted to our annexation of Texas, had offered us the desert this side the Rio Grande as a frontier, and had tendered us ample indemnity for our pecuniary claims ; and that the further demands on which the President insisted were altogether his own, in which he has never yet received, as we trust he never will receive, the countenance of Congress or the nation. The war having been begun, Congress made, and hitherto has continued to make, the necessary appropriations for carrying it on. It did not prescribe and limit its operations or its objects; but everything was done under the repeated and solemn pledges made by the President, that peace should be made as soon as terms could be obtained to satisfy the honor and justice of the country—pledges constantly accompanied with the most explicit disclaimers of any purpose to turn the war into one of conquest and dismemberment. We say, with perfect confidence in the indisputable truth of what we assert, that neither Congress nor the country entered into this war with any purpose of conquest and dismemberment. Conquest has not been the object, nor one of the objects, which Congress—the only war-making power in this country—has had in view. It never has been its purpose to demand, as a condition sine qua non of peace, that Mexico should cede to the United States the Californias, or New Mexico, or even the belt of country on the left bank of the Rio Grande, or any other territories whatever, properly belonging to her, unless it might be, at her own option, such moderate portion, convenient both to her and to us, as might suffice for indemnity for her indebtedness to our citizens. Congress has been a party to the war only to obtain a peace on just terms, having special reference to the particular matters in dispute between the two powers. It was no party to a war for the conquest and dismemberment of Mexico, such as the war became, expressly and exclusively, after the conferences in September, and which has made it, as we insist, virtually a new war, of which the President is the sole author, and thus far the sole prosecutor. The President was the sole author

of the war in the beginning; but Conj^ became a party to it by a formal reco nit ion of it, and by furnishing the necessai supplies to carry it on. Still, howevet/ there was a virtual limitation and restrio-i tion, in the employment of the meaia placed in the hands of the Executive bv Congress for the war, in regard to tbit objects for which it should be prosecute! And the President had no more right to undertake, after these objects had bees attained, or were within his reach, to employ the means in his hands, and prosecute the war against Mexico, for other objects, not within the well understood design* of Congress, than he had to turn the arms of the United States entirely in som« new direction, and find or make some new enemy to conquer, in some other quarter of the world. He knew that Congress had never authorized a war of conquest and dismemberment to be carried on against Mexico; and when he contrived and undertook to carry on such a war. he set himself above his office, and above the Constitution, and trampled every moral and every political obligation belong ing to his station, wantonly beneath his feet. The President, it seems, at the very time when he was giving Congress and th*1 country to understand, by his repeated disclaimers, that he had no purpose of con quest in the conduct of the war, was all the while nourishing this design; and he gave his Commissioner, Mr. Trist, positive instructions not to make peace with Mexico, unless she would consent to dismemberment, exactly on his own terms. His ultimatum embraced territory, having an aggregate area of more than 025,000 square miles. For this territory he was willing to pay twenty millions of dollars. besides the amount of the indebtedness of Mexico to our citizens, which, by an exaggerated estimate, might be five millions By his own computation, then, one fifth part of the territory he demanded as his ultimatum, or 125,000 square miles, was enough for indemnity—and much more than this was offered to him by Mexico for the sake of peace—and the residue, 500,000 square miles of Mexican territory, more than equal to ten Slates of the size of New-York or Pennsylvania, was demanded to be delivered up to the United States, on a forced sale, without any the remotest ercnce to indemnity, or to anything else it had ever been set up or suggested as ause or pretence for the war. And it s upon this precise demand of dismem-ment, and because it was not submitted by Mexico, that the war was resumed. But there is a wide difference to be ;en notice of here, between the terms of ice offered to Mexico by the President the conferences in September, and the jects he proposes now to accomplish by e war, as explained in his late annual sssage, since those terms were rejected. ie contumacy of Mexico on that occasion ectuaDy closed the door to the grace d clemency of the President. He has 'w greatly advanced his demands, which, truth, partake very little of the modi rain which characterized his ultimatum at e conferences. Then, with a boundary i the Rio Grande, and the territory of ew Mexico, he was content to take only pper California. Now, he must have ciwer California also. Then, if Mexico id agreed with her adversary while she as in the way with him, he was content ■ bear his own expenses of the war, and ay her besides twenty millions of dollars •r the territory he demanded, as the value f the cession, over and above indemnity. low, he will have more territory still, and e will take possession avowedly as ConLeror, and there is no longer any talk or retence of purchase and payment. On the lb of September, 125,000 square miles of •rritory might have been enough to take i the name of indemnity for the claims f (fur citizens, if only Mexico had consented :< sell as at the same time 500,000 qoare miles more, for twenty millions of ollars. But things have changed since hat day; and now the President demands omething less than 700,000 square miles >f territory, wholly in the name of indemlity. In September, the United States ""cmld have paid their own expenses of he war; now, Mexico must pay them by ndemnity in territory. See with what a ost sense of truth, innocence and injury, ind with what firmness of purpose and sonacious dignity, this change in the policy utd demands of the President is announced! —we quote from the late Message :—

M Since th? liberal proposition of the United ft»te» was authorised to be made in April last,

large expenditures have been incurred, and the precious blood of many of our patriotic citizens has been shed in the prosecution of the war. This consideration, and the obstinate perseverance of Mexico in protracting the war, must influence the terms of peace which it may be deemed proper hereafter to accept. Our arms having been everywhere victorious, having subjected to our military occupation a large portion of the enemy's country, including las capital, and negotiations for peace having failed, the important questions arise—in what manner the war ought to be prosecuted? and what should be our future policy? I cannot doubt that we should secure and render available, the ConQuests which we have already made; and that, with this view, we should hold and occupy by our naval and military forces, all the ports, towns, cities and provinces now in our occupation, or which may hereafter fall into our possession." * * * * "Had the government of Mexico acceded to the equitable and liberal terms proposed, that mode of adjustment would have been preferred. Mexico having declined to do this, and failed to offer any other terms which could be accepted by the United States, the national Imnor, no less than the public interests, requires that the war should be prosecuted with increased energy and power, until a just and satisfactory peace can be obtained. In the mean time, as Mexico refuses all indemnity!! we should adopt measures to indemnify ourselves, by appropriating permanently a portion of her territory. Early after the commencement of the war, New Mexico and the California* were taken possession of by our forces. * * * * These provinces arc now in our undisputed occupation, and have been so for many months. * * * * I am satisfied that tiuy should never be surrendered to Mexico. Should Congress concur with me in this opinion, and that they should be retained by the United States as indemnity! I can perceive no good reason why the civil jurisdiction and laws of the United States should not at once be extended over them. To wait for a treaty of peace, suzh as we are trilling to make, by which our relations tomirds them would not be chenged, cannot be good policy. * * * * Should Congress, therefore, determine to hold these provinces permanently, and that they shall hereafter be considered as constituent parts of our own country, the early establishment of territorial governments over them, will be important. * * * * And / recommend that such territorial governments be established:"

So much of the Message of the President as we have just quoted, may bo read as setting forth the avowed and ostensible object of the war, since the conferences in September. We shall see, by and by, that even this avowed object, monstrous and atrocious as it is, is by no means comprehensive enough to embrace the whole designs of the President. At least he entertains certain. speculative purposes, which, if they should ever be realized, would make the design he has deigned to disclose appear tame indeed. But first let us endeavor to settle exactly in our minds the avowed object for which the war is now to be prosecuted, since the failure of the negotiations in September, and the terms upon which alone peace is to be made with Mexico—provided the President shall find himself sustained by Congress, as well in the object avowed by him as in the mode of conducting operations and the means of carrying them on.

The plain proposition presented by the President to Congress is this: That we now proceed at once to appropriate permanently to the United States, in full property and sovereignty, and never to be surrendered, the province of New Mexico and both the Californias, holding, besides, the country on the left bank of the Rio Grande, comprising parts of the three Mexican "States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Chihuahua, for our State of Texas. This is the proposal. New Mexico and the Californias are the countries he refers to, as "the Conquests which we have already made," and which we are now to "secure and render available." By a rule of the Law of Nations, perfectly well settled, the title which a conqueror acquires in war to real property, or territory, amounts to no more than a mere temporary right of possession, until confirmed by a treaty of peace. The title may be confirmed in either of two ways in a treaty: by an actual cession to the conqueror, or by the silencs of the treaty in regard to the property or territory, the conqueror at the time holding the possession. This last is the rule of uti possidetis, and gives as valid and complete a title as actual cession. In one of these two modes every title to real or fixed property, begun in conquest, must be confirmed. Until such confirmation, the right is a mere usufruct; the conqueror cannot sell and give an absolute title; for, if it should happen, after all, in the chances of war, that peace should come—as come it must, some time or other—without bringing to the conr

queror confirmation of his title, the i of the original proprietor and sove which is called his right or benefit of; liminy, becomes paramount, and the chaser loses his title. When, thereft* the President proposes to Congress i the United States should proceed at < to appropriate to themselves, pennanemh the provinces already conquered in wi in full property and sovereignty, and i establish provincial or territorial goven ments over them, he means to, and a does, in fact, lay down this fundament; position, as the unalterable basis on whk our national policy in regard to this w< shall rest, now and forever hereafter That peace shall never be made whi Mexico until she shall consent to give nj all claim or pretension to these conquer* countries. He proposes that we sha enter now, by anticipation, into that fd and complete proprietorship and sovereijt ty, which we can only have in reality, L the law of nations, under a treaty of peaci "To wait for a treaty of peace," he sav "such as we are willing to make, by rAil our relations towards them [these ten tories] would not be changed, cannot 1 good policy." He proposes an ultimartnl a condition sine qua non of peace, not res ing in the mere will of the President, \ of the treaty-making power—the Preside and Senate—which possibly, some dav \ other, might be yielded, but resting in il solemn action of the whole govemme* and in the recorded will of the nation, w placed beyond the possibility of reci He proposes to hazard everything, ai dare everything, for this object of the in In his desperation, on account of the mai of perplexity into which this war of 1 own seeking and making has brought I country, he proposes to plunge headloi into the profound deep of measures, li bottom of which, or the end of wliia neither his own nor any mortal eye m discover. The first conqueror of Men chose to cut off all possibility of retr< for his companions in arms, by destroyi the ships which had brought them to shores. The second conqueror of Mexk more than three centuries in advance the other in point of time—how much advance of the other in point of civilu tion and Christian principle let history» swer—proposes to imitate this exwnf adopt a measure which shall cut off country from the possibility of retreat n this war, till Mexico shall submit to nemberment to the extent of only a e less than one half of her empire. *n the war would end, after such a isure should once be adopted, it is within any man's wisdom to tell; it aid end only, we believe, with the utter inction of her national existence—or of s. Of all the races of men on this be, not one has exhibited such obsti■v of resistance, when they have had to it for country and nationality; not one i shown a will so utterly incapable of nz broken and subdued, by whatever amity and oppression however long conned, and brought under the yoke or * of a conqueror, as this same Gothonnish race with which we are dealing Mexico. That the President does not re to hope for any ready submission of •rico to his present ultimatum, though siring to put it out of the power of this antry to retreat from this position, is it«» apparent from other parts of the r«*a«re. How he contemplates dealing «h the case in such an event, is not left tbout some intelligent indication, which ows to our own mind, clearly enough, •> desperate infatuation and madness of llv in which he is indulging. "the proposition of the President to xijress speaks, as we have said, of ew Mexico and the California^ as "the >s<jcestb which we have already made;" >d he asks Congress to proceed at once render these conquests secure and ailable to the country, by measures hieh shall make it impossible for us ever < surrender them, except in the way in hkh we have acquired them—namely, > conquests, to some superior power. A this complexion, then, in the face of all le solemn disclaimers of the President, w this war come at last. It turns out i be a war of conquest. It was called a «r for the vindication of our honor, and te redress of grievances. Mexico had ■fcd to pav some three or five millions of oftars which she owed our citizens, and •e war has been prosecuted to compel er to make payment. Under two allegaons. both grossly and notoriously false in tet: first, that Mexico could never pay this ebt in money, and, therefore, must give us

territory; and next, that she had refused to give us any indemnity whatever for the debt; the President now declares that we must regard certain vast territories of that power, already overrun by our arms, as Conquests, and proceed to render them secure and available as such. The territories have been already conquered, and subdued by our arms, and are now held in our military occupation, and the object of the war henceforward must be, to secure these conquests, and render them permanent and available. At the conferences in September, an effort was made to turn this conquest into an apparent purchase. It failed, and now the transaction is acknowledged as a conquest. It was a conquest all the while, but it was intended to soften its features, by forcing Mexico to yield it in the way of a sale and for a consideration in money. The trick failed, and nothing was left but to call it by its right name.

It is true, the President still manifests his inveterate disposition to put a disguise on the transaction. In the same paper, and almost in the same breath, in which he refers to the territories taken and occupied by our forces as "conquests," and calls upon Congress to secure and make them permanent as such, he ventures to quote his own language in a former Message, declaring that *' the war has not been waged with a view to conquest," but " with a view to obtain an honorable peace, and thereby secure ample indemnity for the expenses of the war, as well as to our much injured citizens who hold large pecuniary demands against Mexico." And to this he now adds: "Such, in my judgment, continues to be the true policy, indeed, the only policy which will probably secure a permanent peace." The juggle of indemnity is still kept up. The war has been waged for indemnity, and not for conquest; and in order to give the case some faint plausibility, "he continues to intimate—in the face of demonstrable facts —that the war has been prosecuted to obtain indemnity "for the expenses of the war," as well as for the claims of our citizens. He would- have the country believe that the expenses of the war have constituted one of his demands against Mexico; that instead of claiming only a debt of three or five millions, he had claimed this, and a hundred millions more as due from Mexico on account of the cost of the war. But not one word of this is true. He made no demand through Mr. Trist for these expenses. Mr. Trist expressly renounced any such claim or pretension in the Project of -a Treaty he presented. The President was ready to stipulate for the payment of our citizens by our own government, and for the payment to Mexico of twenty millions more, if Mexico would sanction and confirm our conquest of New Mexico and Upper California, by a cession and a treaty of peace, and the country should pay its own expenses of the war. It is not true, then, that the war was waged to obtain indemnity for these expenses, and the President's own Project of a treaty tendered to Mexico, is proof positive to the contrary. There stands the luminous record of that transaction— the conferences in September—and there it will stand forever, to confound all attempts that have been made, or shall be made, to mistify and darken the true nature of this business. The only indemnity for which the war could be said, with any semblance of truth, to have been waged, was indemnity for a debt of three or five millions of dollars. No other indemnity was asked or sought for by the President; and even this indemnity was tendered by Mexico, and was rejected by the President —affording a clear demonstration that it was not indemnity at all, in any shape, not even indemnity for our just claims, which constituted the real object of the war from the beginning. The real object was the acquisition of territory. Hence, the expeditions so promptly set on foot, after the war broke out, to Santa Fe and to California, with orders which clqarly indicated, from the very first, the settled purpose of the President, not merely that those provinces should be conquered and held by military occupation, as a means of inducing Mexico to come to just terms of accommodation with us, but that, being conquered, "they should never be surrendered to Mexico." This was the design from the beginning, often boldly denied, all along attempted, /iwkwardly enough, to be disguised, and finally admitted and avowed. Up to the time of the conferences in September, the President flattered himself that Mexico, in )>»»■ extremity and

distress, or somebody or other in Mem« by a liberal appliance of the money of tin nation, would be brought to act as a part to a compact, by which the acquisition o territory he had resolved to make, in>tt* of standing before the country and li world as a naked conquest, should put • the semblance of a free bargain of salt.- J> purchase. In this he was disappoints because the government of that couatr would not consent "to sell Mexican ciu zens as a herd of cattle," or " put a pric on the attachment of men to the land tin

fave them birth." And this has brougV im to his confession and his final resoh tion. He now recommends to Congress t consider and adopt New Mexico and but the Californias, as Conquests, »kk should never be surrendered, but fvril; with secured and rendered permanent b complete and unequivocal acts of propr> torship and sovereignty. Since Meik refused to give us " indemnity," by tt!ii» us a portion of these countries for tweat millions of dollars, we must now " adop measures to indemnify ourselves" by permanent appropriation of the whole t our own use, without money and wilhoi price! In other words, and in more trull ful language, he proposes that Congre: shall adopt the war, as it presents itself t the country since his rejection of the ova tures of peace by Mexico, and her ©ffa of ample indemnity for our pecuniai claims, with the unalterable resolution hold New Mexico and both the Califorafc —besides the country on the left bank the lower Rio Grande—as conquered te ritory, and "constituent parts of ot own country," in defiance of Mexico, ar without any compensation to her therein but in the abused name of indemnity, ai never to make peace with her until a consents to this humiliation and disown berment.

Here, then, is the great Practical Isa before Congress and the country. V regard it as a new issue, on which Co gress must be deemed free to act, notwit standing its committal to the support the war previous to the presenting of tl issue. We have said that the war, fro the period of its renewal after the confe ences in September, was in effect a ne war: Not because there was not all ti while a wicked purpose of conquest w

« AnteriorContinuar »