« AnteriorContinuar »
CALHOUN'S SPEECH AGAINST THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO.
(senate Of The UNITED STATES, JAN. 4, 1848.)
The Whig Party hold at present a betposition than they have ever held; and the following reasons :— rhey occupy, as a party, a ground pertly defensible by the usual arguments morality, such as are common to all ions and ages:
ftiey argue, also, from the Constitution If. and from the Declaration of Equality I Liberty:
["hey are in the van of progress, while opposite party are falling back upon barbarous and exploded notions of iquity:
They defend our own rights and liberi. b defending those of a neighbor: Hiey endeavor to legislate for the future »ell as for the present, and foresee dan» which threaten the existence of our '■ institutions:
rhey have predicted successfully the sequences of the policy pursued by the xsite party; their predictions being > fairly recorded.
Hie first of these enumerated advantaof the Whig Party, in its present posii, need not be dwelt upon in this article. :y have opposed the whole policy of the ministration, from the annexation of the r down to the present time. The Whigs
opposed the annexation of Texas because of the difficulties it was to bring with it. When those difficulties were reahzed, they opposed the policy which aggravated them; and always upon moral and constitutional grounds. First, on the common instinct and prejudice against inhumanities and wrongs of every description; and second, because it is their settled conviction that free institutions cannot be maintained by any but a just and equitable policy. They believe, with certain politicians, that "success is the test of merit," and that this nation will have success in proportion to its deserts. The success of our armies in Mexico has proved that our "merit" in military and other matters is greatly superior to that of the Mexicans; but justice, and not military prowess only, is the safeguard of the nation. Posterity, reading on the one page the history of our wars, will exclaim, "Providence is always on the side of courage and discipline ; it favors the strongest battalion:" and on the other, reading of the decline of liberty and the increase of private and public corruption, it will add, "Providence is also on the side of order and equity; it favors the strong constitution, and deserts the uncertain and the corrupt." The Americans are a warlike people, and know how to join action with obedience. Where the aim and purpose of a discipline is clear to every man, they organize themselves and pursue the common purpose with the greatest energy: be their aim political or military, organization is their forte, and success follows them. But, on the other hand, separate the American from his laws, his religion, and his Constitution, and who more harsh and inexorable; his native energy, converted into a destroying power, directed against humanity, makes him the most irresistible of pirates and the most unscrupulous of oppressors. He is the only man that dares, in defiance of all the world, proclaim doctrines peculiarly harsh and aggressive, and with his native insolence mock Heaven itself, claim evil for his good, and instinct for his god. Constitutions of the most severe and conservative character are therefore necessary to the American, not only in military but in civil and religious matters; his freedom is conditional, and requires heavy barriers and severe laws; as the force of the impetuous tide that moves in his veins, so must be the laws that restrain it: conscious of this, he is a lover of law, an organizer, and takes a pride in obeying laws of his own enactment.
Fearful of nothing but the excess of his own passions, ho is a respecter of sincere opinion, and the consent of great minds; he listens to antiquity, and venerates the voice of age and of wisdom. His favorite characters are those Statesmen, who have risen by the force of a real, God-given energy, to be the repositories, or the sources, of true opinion. He never inquires about their birth, or their office, but only of their ability and native grandeur of character; he does not worship them, he only respects them for what they can do and say: and they, on their part, when they speak, address, not the passions nor the ignorance, but the courage, the knowledge, and reason of their hearers. When they rise to speak, they consider in their minds that they are addressing free citizens, who know and can judge their sentiments, however heroic, and never appeal to the meanness, the conceit or the avarice of a rabble which they despise.
Nor, in another particular, are we, the
American people, inferior to any naaa that has ever existed, in referring the pra ciples of our laws and social rights 1*< their validity back to the common c>c science and common reason of humamti to that law which the Creator has plan'.c in the hearts of all men. It is in this on. inal law that we have based our free insL tutions. We refer back for the grourK of the Constitution—or rather for thte rights about which it is erected as convenient barrier—to the sovereignty Reason, or as we are accustomed to nan it, the sovereignty of the People. We, ti whole people, minority and majority, sa tain the government. It protects us al legislates for us all, and represents us s. Our only differences are on questions opinion, as to what men shall be eho~c and what measures be pursued—who a best represent the whole, and what are i! best modes of benefitting the whoi Hence, under the Constitution, and expa ed by it, parties arise, sustaining oppoi men and measures,—each party esteem: its own measures the best for the good both: the choice is thrown, by our fund mental laws, upon the vote of a majori
Such at least is the ideal system of a government; but the organization of ti system, from various causes, some inl rent in our common nature, and some ac dental and temporary, is imperfect, this very moment, a party in power hi formed within themselves another piti which is rapidly corrupting the whole 1* in which it formed: this inner party, ho opposed, not to certain measures of it opposites, but to the spirit of the fun mental laws, their men and measure; alike inimical to the fundamental law, p by the Declaration of Rights and the <? stitution of the Union, under which parties arc supposed to exist.
The intentions and principles of party within a party—of this rotten < —are sufficiently well known, and k been sufficiently explained by the jouB of the Whig Party. That party, ss have already said, occupies a superior p tion, as the defender not only of the C stitution, but of the principles of po'g liberty, and of all law and organiia whatsoever.
If ever the consent of great minds si l| be permitted to sway us in a uue^tio rarely moral nature, such as that of the ht or wrong of the measures proposed
the Administration, then was there rer any period when it should have more Cp than at the present moment. The inions and arguments of Clay, Gallatin, ibster, Calhoun, and others,—men of i first mark,—.always valuable, is now the utmost importance to the cause right and of good policy; for this ion is now about resolving whether adhere to the original grounds of the istitution, or whether to commence a new ►:h in its history, by subverting those unds and reducing it to a mere tempor and politic formula, to be changed, sted and distorted at pleasure, to serve avarice or the ambition of a dominant ty. The people of the Union arc about resolve whether they will admit into ir fundamental law the fatal precedent conquest, by which all the nations of iquity were corrupted, ruined, and squished; a doctrine which includes 1 sanctions every form and degree of potism, and which is of so evil a nature, <*■ only renders the peace of the world 'rally insecure, but insinuates itself i every part of life, produces a corrupt
tumultuous society, and is in turn tfaced by a dishonest and vicious life in jx-oplc themselves.
i is yet to be seen whether the public lion of this nation is so far fallen as no [er to be called the voice of God; for toow well that then only is the voice •tc people the voice of God, when it bres and enforces the laws of God; •s the executioner declares them, or b" villain who destroys another villain, s the vicious who are strong become foments of vengeance on the vicious 1 are weak; but as declaring their fence to those broad and universal ciplesof humanity and equity, which, if thing human is divine, arc the divincst aman things.
it separate times and with unlike argute, our most eminent citizens have ari -ijjainst the scheme of conquest supW by the party in power. The argute of Mr. Calhoun are directed against poUry of the design. He predicts i its adoption the ruin of our present itutions. He advocates the withdrawf our troops and the occupation of a
defensive line upon a boundary to be determined by ourselves. He protests against the idea of extending the Union to include the wretched and barbarous Mexicans. He affirms that they are incapable of liberty, and cannot be organized like educated and disciplined white men. He contends farther against extending the power of the Executive, and predicts that the Union will not endure if the system of conquest is carried out. Mr. Calhoun docs not indeed attempt to show, that a nation which violates first principles cannot endure, or be endured, 01, that it follows of necessity that if a .people disregards the rights and liberties of another people, it spurns down the sole barrier it has against internal oppression and anarchy; but looking at the question rather in a scientific and historical light, he predicts a disarrangement of the system of the Union, either by the introduction of uncongenial powers, should new States be erected in Mexico, or by the overbalance of the Executive power in the nation as it now stands, by the additions of conquered military dependencies and the patronage and power of a great army. To understand him better, let us for a moment contemplate our position.
Hurried on by a false enthusiasm, and the instigation of the contrivers of the war, who have turned every accident to their own advantage, to delude and excite the ignorant, and to astonish and dishearten the good, we have reached a point from which it is equally difficult to advance, or to recede. Our forces occupy the forts and cities of Mexico. We have broken both the military and the civil arm of our neighbor, and annihilated the little that remained to her of a regular government. The poor and half savage inhabitants, a corrupt, feeble people, weak in intellect and weak in courage, cannot organize themselves for any effectual resistance.
The question now arises, what shall'be done with Mexico? and to this, in answer, three distinct plans arc offered.
The first is, to persevere in conquering and subduing, until the whole people are in our hands, and at our mercy; to reduce them to the condition of vassals, and then offer them the liberty of forming States to be finally taken into the Union.
The second proposition is, to fix upon a new boundary, to be determined by ourselves; to withdraw the troops from Mexico and to occupy that line, until such time as a peace can be established.
The third is, to retire behind the old boundary, giving up northern California and all the territory offered to be ceded- to us by the Mexican commissioners, maintaining only such military posts as may defend us against marauders and guerilleros.
Mr. Calhoun does not allude to this third proposition. It is entertained by those only who reason against the acquisition of new territory upon abstract principles, who do not believe in the ability of the Union to maintain itself over a territory much larger than that which it holds at present. And yet it is hard to perceive any reason why an hundred States such as Ohio, or Massachusetts, should not hold together as well as thirteen, or twentyfive. The solidity of the Union depends upon the unanimity of the States which compose it; and that unanimity is maintained by likeness of character. Likeness of character will make all alike and harmonious; and were the whole continent occupied by the original race of the old Colonies, it could not but be one vast Union. We dare not, therefore, oppose the extension of the territory of this nation by every just means, for it is our desire to see it grow in numbers and in power to the utmost that the bounds of nature will allow. The nation may as lawfully desire to extend its limits as the citizen his private bounds ; nor can an)' objection be urged against the one, not valid against the other. The nations of the world are a community of nations. They have their properties, as individuals have theirs. The boundaries of these properties may be extended by all lawful means; and if one nation is able to occupy more than another, none need complain. What is theirs, is theirs. Nor was it ever doubted that one nation could purchase territory of another. Purchase implies property—all the conditions of "yours and mine "—just as in private bargains. If one nation attempts to wrest land from another, resistance is a matter of course, and justified in all histories. A nation is treated by all historians, but especially by the sacred chroniclers, as if it were an individual, with but one head and one heart, doing right, or doing wrong, misled by passion,
or subject to good advice and abiding by a just conduct. Israel, Egypt, Rome, Tyre, England, France—these names have u individual character, as of moral beb| capable of right and wrong. The nati are land-owners—possessors of the s of the globe, each with its boundaries rights; and whichever of them dares for get its character as a moral agent, becom« the enemy of the rest. The Law of Xa tions is the equity used in the fraternity < nations; it differs not from the fundamei tal equity of society. Its first principk are, liberty and equality; all the natki that enter into its League are free natk>& holding, as such, equal rights before U law, and entitled to an equal representatk in a court of International Law, were sw a court to be established. This law ar« from the contemplation of rights betw* individuals, in free States. Despotic States neither originated, nor do tbt abide by it. Witness the division of P land, and the ravages committed by Alg rine and Turkish despots: it was impce ble for these States to originate Intern tional Law, right and wrong with the being determined by the event, or ratLc not inquired about. In this knowledge right and wrong, of mine and thine, or other words, of the conditions of liber and equality, the basis of common and i ternational law, the fathers wished to for the Constitution, and not in the vag idea that the Union would last so lon^ the territory of the States was kept wit in certain limits.
Even now, then, it is a consolation know, that while a vestige of a govc-i ment remains in Mexico, a peace may concluded, such as shall not violate t laws of nations, or the principles of equ ity and liberty. We have not yet the seal of the nation to any violat of the fundamental law of the nat;> the grounds of the Constitution are i yet destroyed by any deliberate act the whole people; and if an unhap necessity shall compel us to occupy i territory originally offered us by Mexi through her commissioners, we have * left the miserable pretext of indemr and purchase, to save the honor of ■ principles.
Our credit is not wholly lost. We h; inflicted a dreadful wound upon oar w<