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Nor had the President any impulse or notive of patriotism, or of liberal and nlightened statesmanship, to offer as an xcuse for this fatal proceeding. He had irmed a plan of illustrating his reign of 3ur years, and perhaps securing thereby the uccession to himself, by adding vast reions of Mexican territory, and considerble numbers of Mexican population to the "nited States—a secret, selfish and wicked ilan, which he dared not disclose to the American people; since he well knew Iow sternly the faces of all considerate ad disinterested persons would be set lirainst it, and how surely a project of hat sort, if known in time, would be repudiated, scouted, disclaimed and discarded by the whole sober sense of the 'ountry. His design was to cluteh and *-cure the object, if he could, before the ■ountry should be made aware of his purpose; or at least to push matters so far that retreat would be impossible, without personal discredit, when at least he would be sure of the support of his party, and thereby of the acquiescence of large porlions of the community, who have never my time to think for themselves, and kUow others to think for them—especially in matters of high public concern. He knew verv well—it required only a very tale observation, and some low calculation, bottomed on the worst aspects of human nature, to know—that the imaginations of men in a country of speculation aid enterprise like this, are easily caught -ui3 dazzled with what may seem to be a ?rand movement—something, anything, done or achieved out of the ordinary course '<" things. If he could fasten his hand on New Mexico and California so as to be able to hold them up to the wondering ;aze of the American people as a prize already secured, and only awaiting their acquiescence and consent, he calculated with entire certainty on the issue.
Texas had been annexed—itself a proceeding in utter contempt of constitutional limitations and forms; and there was a question of unsettled boundary, which it wss the duty of the President to have fired by negotiations. That question was, whether the Nueces was the utmost limit <& Texas in that direction; or whether Niv other and what line should be taken beyond it. Mexico had withdrawn herself from all relations with us from the time
when we proposed, by an official act, to take Texas to our embrace, while she and Mexico were in a state of war. We had offered to throw our shield over Texas, and we told Mexico that when that was done, if she fought anybody, any furtffer, for the possession of that country, she must fight us. In this state of things Mr. Polk came into power.
Before Annexation was consummated, and while, therefore, Texas was still as foreign to us as Cuba or Canada—while it still remained for Congress to determine and pass upon the final question of her admission to our Union—she being still an independent Republic—the President undertook the defence of that country against a threatened invasion of her old enemy. This was done, he said, because the authorities of that country had invited and appealed to him for support and defence! It was, then, what Texas demanded, and not what the Constitution prescribed or allowed, that governed the decision of the President in that matter. This was his first unauthorized movement towards a war with Mexico. An army was marched to Texas and took post on the Nueces, ready, according to positive instructions from the President, to defend that country and repel all invaders. And thus, if Texas had been invaded by Mexico, as was threatened, the President, in that way and at that time, without the slightest authority from Congress or the Constitution, would have involved us in a war with Mexico. We believe, with the objects he had in view, he would have seen a collision of arms, at that time, with gratification, not as likely to lead to a protracted conflict, but as the probable means of bringing Mexico, weak and timid as he believed her to be, more easily to the point of that heavy sacrifice of territory to which he had resolved to reduce her, than perhaps could be done by naked negotiation, and the mere appliance of money.
This plan failed, because Mexico insisted on putting herself strictly on the defensive against her new enemy, and would not, therefore, venture on an invasion of Texas. The President then set on foot a diplomatic intrigue—it deserves no better name— to effect his grand design of acquiring Mexican territory. He would secure his object by negotiation and voluntary ces| sion, obtained through the weakness or treachery of some false and corrupted Mexican chieftain, or he would make the failure of the intrigue the occasion and excuse for a military demonstration, and, if need be, for war. He sent a Minister Plenipotentiary to "reside" near that government, as if nothing had happened to interrupt the harmony of the two powers. It was not the object of that mission to find and fix the proper line of boundary between Mexico and Texas, which was simply the duty of the President after Annexation had been consummated, so far as any question of territory was concerned between the two countries. The object was, by threats of war, and judicious pecuniary appliances, to bring Mexico, or some chief or another in Mexico, to consent to sell to the United States large portions of her territory. The Plenipotentiary, it is understood, carried with him proposals for the purchase, 1st, of the country up to the Rio Grande—that very country to which it has been so much insisted our title was clear and unquestionable; 2d, the remainder of New Mexico beyond the Itio Grande; and, 3d, a part or all, or nearly all, of Upper California. The amount of our claims upon Mexico—four or five millions of dollars— was to be offered for the first parcel; five millions more for the second; and twenty or twenty-five millions more, according to quantity, for California. The Mexican government refused to receive Mr. Slidell, as a minister resident, until the ground for a restoration of friendly relations had been prepared by some proper understanding in regard to the offensive measure of Annexation. Baffled in this attempt, the President did not hesitate about his course. In anticipation, indeed, of this event, he issued orders to the army to take possession, on the ground of indisputable ownership and right, of a part of the very territory which he had been endeavoring to secure by negotiation and purchase.
Thus was this shameful war brought on. It began on the Rio Grande; but with so much certainty had the President calculated on this issue, that our naval forces on the coast of Mexico in the Pacific, under the direction of Com. Sloat, were ready, with instructions of a date long previous, on the first notice of hostilities, to make a demonstration on California, and secure the possession of the principal
towns and forte in that quarter. Who could have believed—who among that band of noble spirits who assisted in framing this goodly form of Government, and in putting it into operation, could have believed, that the time would arrive so soon when a President of the United States, a man, too, of no particular force, and having no hold on the popular feeling or confidence, would dare to entertain and devise a project for the dismemberment of a neighboring power, and actually begin a war for this object, into the support of which he should finally wheedle or force the nation, and to carry on that war to the point, or prospect, of ultimate and complete success! Yet all this has been done in the time of the tenth President of the United States, and when the Constitution was not yet sixty years old.
It would be unreasonable to expect tbtu a President who had deliberately set to* Constitution aside in order to make a war, would give that instrument much heed o« consideration in conducting his military operations.
It was important, in order to carry ta war of conquest as promptly as possible towards the heart of the enemy's country, and at the same time to make the wai popular at home, if it could be made w to take advantage of the national and in stinctive bravery and enterprise of om people, and to accept the services of sucl as might be disposed to engage in ihi work of carrying the conquering standard of the country into a foreign land. Itwa not difficult to find persons enough whi were willing and anxious to bear commB sions in such a service. But it so happens that none but soldiers regularly enlisted ii the army of the United States, and undu the command of officers, of all grades, ap pointed and commissioned by the Unite States, can, by the Constitution, be en ployed in a war, the operations of whic are to be carried on beyond the limits c the Republic. Militia—and all troops at militia, whose company and field offieei are appointed and commissioned by Stat authority—cannot, by the Constitution, b employed in war, except "to repel in vasions." Yet the President called fa large bodies of volunteers, which, as the are organized and officered, are only m'' tia, and procured the sanction of Congrc* to his demand, with the design of scndii) aem, and he did send them, into a foreign tad, in a war of invasion and conquest.
It was a natural consequence of a sucessful war of conquest thus begun and rosecuted, that the President should claim iraself to be the conqueror of the counries brought under the power of our arms, nd should proceed, in his own name and j his own authority, to establish civil oremments over all territories where the abmission of the inhabitants should be reived, and to institute, in all places nder his military occupation, a regular vstem for the imposition of taxes and the ollection of a revenue for the exclusive nd independent use of the military chest, "he President makes a war of invasion and ooquest, employs militia to carry it on, ets up civil governments in conquered ilaces without the aid of Congress, and, nally, undertakes to support his army, in art at least, by a regular Executive sysem of taxation and revenue. So much or Mr. Polk's observance of the solemn iromise which he made to the nation in lis inaugural address, and to which he had u»t theu bound himself by a solemn oath. 'The Constitution," said he, "will be the tart by which 1 shall be directed. It nil be my first care to administer the gov■mment in the true spirit of that instrument, and to assume no power not expressly granted, or clearly implied in its •*rms."
II. The next rule which we have quoted ind laid down as proper and necessary for the government of the President in his ufficial conduct, has been no better kept than that we have just been considering. This rule has reference to the conduct of ibe President in the matter of our relations with foreign powers. It requires that he shall govern himself in these relations, by the law of justice and of strict right, and that he shall leave all other nations to manage their own internal affairs in their own way. It enjoins upon him the policy »nd the duty of non-interference, and strict neutrality.
In this connection we can only refer to the line of conduct adopted by him towards England in regard to the Oregon question, without pretending to enter into an exposition of that conduct. It was wholly wanting in moderation, truth and dignity, and but for the timely interposition of the Senate, and the adoption of
better councils in that body, he would have inevitably brought the two nations into the conflict and strife of arms. Happily we escaped, in that instance, the consequences which his course and conduct were preparing for us. Unhappily, however, we have not been so fortunate in respect to the line of policy pursued by him towards Mexico.
In following the President, now or at any time, through his tortuous course towards the Mexican nation; whenever, in fine, we undertake to look at the various and contradictory reasons offered by him, at sundry times, to justify his proceedings and his war, we shall need, in order to avoid being misled, to keep this main fact constantly in mind, namely, that his design of dismembering Mexico lay at the bottom of the whole affair. When he sent Mr. Slidell to Mexico, not to soothe that power for the loss of Texas, and to fix the boundary between the two countries on just and* liberal terms, but to prosecute a dishonest demand for territory, Herrera was at the head of affairs, and every way disposed to make a just and reasonable accommodation with us. Paredes soon after displaced Herrera. This chief did not at all suit the views of the President. What he wanted was a chief who might be approachable, for a consideration, with propositions distasteful and dishonorable to Mexico, and he turned to Santa Anna as the man for his purposes. Santa Anna was then in Cuba, having been expelled from the government and driven into exile by his countrymen. There are abundant grounds for believing that he was invited to return to Mexico by the President, to overthrow Paredes and resume his sway in that distracted country. On the same day on which the President sent his war message to Congress, which was not till he had brought the armies of the two countries into collision, he dispatched an order to Com. Conner, in the Gulf, to admit Santa Anna to pass freely into Mexico, should he present himself for that object. This was in May. In June he was passed in, according to order, and shortly after succeeded in effecting the proposed revolution.
Now the pretence and apology for this intrigue and interference with the internal affairs of Mexico, were, that Paredes was suspected of favoring a monarchical party in that country. In two different proclamations, emanating directly from the Government at Washington, and addressed to the Mexican people, it was avowed and declared that a principal object of the war from the beginning had been to put down the monarchists, and secure the triumph of the republican party and system in that country.
That the fatal movement of our troops to the Rio Grande, by which the war was precipitated, and the further prosecution of military operations on the line of that river, had a principal reference to the bringing about of a revolution in the government of Mexico, we suppose admits of no doubt. Hear what is said in one of the proclamations referred to:
"Reasons of high policy and of continental American interest precipitated events, in spite of the circumspection (!) of the cabinet at Washington When it was indulging the most
flattering hopes of accomplishing its aim by frank explanations and reasonings (!) addressed to the judgment and prudence of the virtuous and patriotic government of Gen. D. J. Herrera (!), the misfortune least looked for dispelled this pleasant hope, [that is to say, Paredes assumed the government,] and at the same time blocked up every avenue which could lead to an honorable settlement between the two nations. The new government discarded the national interests, as well as those of Continental America, and elected in preference foreign influences the most opposed to these interests and the most fatal to the future of Mexican liberty and of the Republican System, which the United States hold it a duly to preserve and protect. Duty, honor, and dignity itself imposed upon us the necessity of not losing a season of which the monarchical party was taking the most violent advantage, for not a moment was to be lost; and we acted with the promptness and decision necessary in a case so urgent," &c.
The object which the President had in view—the overthrow of Paredes, and the substitution of Santa Anna in his place— is doubtless truly enough stated in this manifesto; but the true motive and the ultimate design are not here disclosed. It was altogether foreign to his duty, and a gross violation of every sound principle, for him to interpose, and that too with the army of the United States, to change the government or administration of affairs in Mexico, upon any ground or pretext of serving the cause of "Mexican liberty and of the Republican System," even if that had been the true and honest motive in
the case. But we must refuse to grre the President credit for sincerity in ascribing to himself such a motive. It was no; Mexican liberty that he was after—it -n^ Mexican territory. There was no feeBne or consideration for Mexico in the matt*: —except such as vultures have for lamb>, It was a naked design of dismembering thai country, through the treachery and betray al of a government, or chief, to be set nr and established for that purpose, by whr'n he was governed. It was a naked feelini; d rapacity which dictated his whole polky He wanted her territory, and he was re solved to have it. Paredes stood in bis way and he set on foot a plan to revolutionize tin government. He believed, undoubtedly that Santa Anna would be found pmckat able, and he procured his return to tin country. He began in the stupid belie that when he and Santa Anna togethe had effected a revolution in the govern ment, there would be nothing left to h done but divide the spoils of their victor between them—he to take the land, ani Santa Anna the money. He acted unde a delusion, as men of small cunning an very apt to do. All that he accomplish^ was to give back to Mexico her ablest chw and general; to impose on himself tb necessity of making the war one c naked and undisguised conquest, and I track his way deep in blood over ever rood of ground trodden in his path toward the attainment of his grand object—th dismemberment of a country, for whns "liberty and Republican System" he ha professed such tender concern.
III. But we pass to other topics. Afl we desire it should be understood that * do not profess to do more in this artic! than to indicate and present, in the m« general way, the several subjects of politic debate, connected with the conduct at policy of Mr. Polk and his adroinistr tion, and arranged with some regard order and convenience, which, as we su] pose, are likely principally to occupy »i employ the thoughts and the polem strife of parties and political men, in tl approaching presidential canvass. Tbi are subjects to which it is probable o own humble labors may be a good de devoted in the stirring period just now hand.
What, then, shall we say of Preside Polk and his policy and proceedings, wh< e come to consider the question—always vital one in a republic—whether the Tremment, under his lead, has made, as was bound to do, the practice of a rigid -onomy in the public expenditures, a irdinal point in its policy, and whether ha* strenuously aimed to avoid creating public debt? There are some plain icts which must be written down in this xinection. Aa an example of what the tovemment is doing, it is found that its ipenditures, during the present fiscal ear, ending on the first of July next, will ot be less, probably, than sixty-five millMis of dollars. This is one fact. Another > this: that the public debt at the end of ae present fiscal year, supposing the war a have ended by that time, and including wenty-five millions of dollars to pay for fexican territory—a purchase which gives i* no domain, but fastens a perpetual urse upon us—will amount, according to be best calculation we have been able to nake, only in ascertained and ascertainable items, to the formidable sum of &.?.800.000. If peace shall be made on he basis of the treaty lately ratified by ■he Senate, which is yet a very doubtful Kue, still the expenditures will go on outrunning the revenues of the government; Hid when the fourth of March, 1849, Ifcall come round, bringing the present torn of Mr. Polk to a period, the public lebt of the country will not be less than >ne hundred and ten millions, if it shall be If* than one hundred and twenty millions of dollars. At the close of the preying Administration, the amount of the public debt was just about ten millions "f dollars, after deducting the balance left in the Treasury. The amount of debt, therefore, created in the time of this Administration, and which it will leave as a legacy to the country, if circumstances the most favorable shall attend it from this time to its close, will certainly not be less than one hundred millions of dollars— it may be a hundred and twenty millions. All this, however, is exclusive of the millions expended, or promised and due, or which will become due, in the shape of bounties in public lands, and other millions with which the Treasury will be burthened for long years to come, in the shape of pensions, and to pay for claims and losses, and all the odds and ends which are sure to follow on after such enterprises as the Adminis
tration has been carrying forward. It will take some millions more to replace the stores and munitions which had been gathered in years of peace and laid up for the defence of the country, and which have been expended and destroyed in the career of rapacity and bucaneering ambition, by which the President has illustrated his brief term of official domination.
Sixty-five millions of dollars, then, of current expenditure has been as little as could suffice Mr. Polk for carrying on the operations of the government for a single year. At the end of his four years he will have expended in cash, received into the Treasury from ordinary sources of revenue, and including the balance which he found there when he came in, about one hundred and twenty-three millions, and he will have created and saddled upon the country besides a debt of at least one hundred millions more. Mr. Adams's administration cost the country, exclusive of payments on account of the public debt, an average yearly sum of about twelve millions six hundred thousand, or about fifty millions five hundred thousand for four years. This contrasts rather strongly with sixty millions, exclusive of payments on account of public debt, expended in a single year of Mr. Polk's administration. But there was no war in Mr. Adams's time. There was, however, a war—a war with Great Britain, which taxed and tasked the energies of the country to the utmost— during Mr. Madison's administration; and the comparison of expenditure in this case is as little to the advantage of Mr. Polk. The sum of the expenses for the Eight years of Mr. Madison's administration was
ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FOUR MILLIONS SIX
Hundred TnocsAND Dollars, or an average of eighteen millions a year; while the sum of the expenses for the Four years of Mr. Polk's administration, exclusive of payments on account of debt, will be more than Two Hundred Millions; though this will include twenty-five millions to pay mainly for vast barren wastes of desert and mountain in Mexico, or rather for jurisdiction to the Imperial Government at Washington, over such a country, and over the sparse and wretched population that vegetates upon it.
It will be for the country to say whether any sufficient apology can be found for these vast expenditures and this public