« PreviousContinue »
2d. In her coming at all.
The first charge rests on suspicion only, and is peremptorily denied, and the denial is not controverted by proofs. I dismiss it altogether.
The second is true, to the extent that the President advised the people of California, that, having been left without any civil government, under the military supervision of the Executive, without any authority of law whatever, their adoption of a Constitution, subject to the approval of Congress, would be regarded favorably by the President. Only a year ago, it was complained that the exercise of the military power to maintain law and order in California, was a fearful innovation. But now the wind has changed, and blows even stronger from the opposite quarter.
May this Republic never have a President commit a more serious or more dangerous usurpation of power than the act of the present eminent chief magistrate, in endeavoring to induce legislative authority to relieve him from the exercise of military power, by establishing civil institutions regulated by law in distant provinces! Rome would have been standing this day, if she had had only such generals and such consuls.
But the objection, whether true in part, or even in the whole, is immaterial. The question is, not what moved California to impress any particular feature on her constitution, nor even what induced her to adopt a constitution at all; but it is whether, since she has adopted a constitution, she shall be admitted into the Union.
I have now reviewed all the objections raised against the admission of California. It is seen that they have no foundation in the law of nature and of nations. Nor are they founded in the Constitution, for the Constitution prescribes no form or manner of proceeding in the admission of new states, but leaves the whole to the discretion of Congress. "Congress may admit new states." The objections are all merely formal and technical. They rest on precedents which have not always, nor even generally, been observed. But it is said that we ought now to establish a safe precedent for the future.
I answer, 1st: It is too late to seize this occasion for that purpose. The irregularities complained of being unavoidable, the caution should have been exercised when, 1st, Texas was annexed;
2d, when we waged war against Mexico; or, 3d, when we ratified the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
I answer, 2d: We may establish precedents at pleasure. Our successors will exercise their pleasure about following them, just as we have done in such cases.
I answer, 3d: States, nations, and empires, are apt to be peculiarly capricious, not only as to the time, but even as to the manner, of their being born, and as to their subsequent political changes. They are not accustomed to conform to precedents. California sprang from the head of the nation, not only complete in propor tions and full armed, but ripe for affiliation with its members.
I proceed now to state my reasons for the opinion that CALIFORNIA OUGHT TO BE ADMITTED. The population of the United States consists of natives of Caucasian origin, and exotics of the same derivation. The native mass rapidly assimilates to itself and absorbs the exotic, and thus these constitute one homogeneous people. The African race, bond and free, and the aborigines, savage and civilized, being incapable of such assimilation and absorption, remain distinct; and, owing to their peculiar condition, they constitute inferior masses, and may be regarded as accidental if not disturbing political forces. The ruling homogeneous family planted at first on the Atlantic shore, and following an obvious law, is seen continually and rapidly spreading itself westward year by year, subduing the wilderness and the prairie, and thus extending this great political community, which, as fast as it advances, breaks into distinct states for municipal purposes only, while the whole constitutes one entire contiguous and compact nation.
Well established calculations in political arithmetic, enable us to say that the aggregate population of the nation
That 100 years hence, that is, in the year 1950, it will be equal nearly to one-fourth of the present aggregate population of the globe, and double the population of Europe at the time of
the discovery of America. But the advance of population on the Pacific will far exceed what has heretofore occurred on the Atlantic coast, while emigration even here is outstripping the calculations on which the estimates are based. There are silver and gold in the mountains and ravines of California. The granite of New England and New York is barren.
Allowing due consideration to the increasing density of our population, we are safe in assuming, that long before this mass shall have attained the maximum of numbers indicated, the entire width of our possessions from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean will be covered by it, and be brought into social maturity and complete political organization.
The question now arises, Shall this one great people, having a common origin, a common language, a common religion, common sentiments, interests, sympathies, and hopes, remain one political state, one nation, one republic, or shall it be broken into two conflicting and probably hostile nations or republics? There cannot ultimately be more than two; for the habit of association is already formed, as the interests of mutual intercourse are being formed. It is already ascertained where the centre of political power must rest. It must rest in the agricultural interests and masses, who will occupy the interior of the continent. These masses, if they cannot all command access to both oceans, will not be obstructed in their approaches to that one, which shall offer the greatest facilities to their commerce.
Shall the American people, then, be divided? Before deciding on this question, let us consider our position, our power, and capabilities.
The world contains no seat of empire so magnificent as this; which, while it embraces all the varying climates of the temperate zone, and is traversed by wide expanding lakes and longbranching rivers, offers supplies on the Atlantic shores to the over-crowded nations of Europe, while on the Pacific coast it intercepts the commerce of the Indies. The nation thus situated, and enjoying forest, mineral, and agricultural resources unequaled, if endowed also with moral energies adequate to the achievement of great enterprises, and favored with a government adapted to their character and condition, must command the empire of the seas, which alone is real empire.
We think that we may claim to have inherited physical and
intellectual vigor, courage, invention, and enterprise; and the systems of education prevailing among us open to all the stores of human science and art.
The old world and the past were allotted by Providence to the pupilage of mankind, under the hard discipline of arbitrary power, quelling the violence of human passions. The new world and the future seem to have been appointed for the maturity of mankind, with the development of self-government operating in obedience to reason and judgment.
We have thoroughly tried our novel system of Democratic Federal Government, with its complex, yet harmonious and effective combination of distinct local elective agencies, for the conduct of domestic affairs, and its common central elective agencies, for the regulation of internal interests and of intercourse with foreign nations; and we know that it is a system equally cohesive in its parts, and capable of all desirable expansion; and that it is a system, moreover, perfectly adapted to secure domestic tranquillity, while it brings into activity all the elements of national aggrandizement. The Atlantic states, through their commercial, social, and political affinities and sympathies, are steadily renovating the governments and the social constitutions of Europe and of Africa. The Pacific states must necessarily perform the same sublime and beneficent functions in Asia. If, then, the American people shall remain an undivided nation, the ripening civilization of the West, after a separation growing wider and wider for four thousand years, will, in its circuit of the world, meet again and mingle with the declining civilization of the East on our own free soil, and a new and more perfect civilization will arise to bless the earth, under the sway of our own cherished and beneficent democratic institutions.
We may then reasonably hope for greatness, felicity, and renown, excelling any hitherto attained by any nation, if, standing firmly on the continent, we loose not our grasp on the shore of either ocean. Whether a destiny so magnificent would be only partially defeated, or whether it would be altogether lost, by a relaxation of that grasp, surpasses our wisdom to determine, and happily it is not important to be determined. It is enough, if we agree that expectations so grand, yet so reasonable and so just, ought not to be in any degree disappointed. And now it seems
to me that the perpetual unity of the empire hangs on the decision of this day and of this hour.
California is already a state-a complete and fully appointed state. She never again can be less than that. She can never again be a province or a colony; nor can she be made to shrink and shrivel into the proportions of a federal dependent territory. California, then, henceforth and forever, must be, what she is now, a state.
The question whether she shall be one of the United States of America has depended on her and on us. Her election has been made. Our consent alone remains suspended; and that consent must be pronounced now or never. I say now or never. Nothing prevents it now, but want of agreement among ourselves. Our harmony cannot increase while this question remains open. We shall never agree to admit California, unless we agree now. will California abide delay. I do not say that she contemplates independence; but, if she does not, it is because she does not anticipate rejection. Do you say that she can have no motive? Consider, then, her attitude, if rejected. She needs a constitution, a legislature, and magistrates; she needs titles to that golden domain of yours within her borders; good titles, too; and you must give them on your own terms, or she must take them without your leave. She needs a mint, a custom-house, wharves, hospitals, and institutions of learning; she needs fortifications, and roads, and railroads; she needs the protection of an army and a navy; either your stars and stripes must wave over her ports and her fleets, or she must raise aloft a standard for herself; she needs, at least, to know whether you are friends or enemies; and, finally, she needs, what no American community can live without, sovereignty and independence either a just and equal share of yours, or sovereignty and independence of her own.
Will you say that California could not aggrandize herself by separation? Would it, then, be a mean ambition to set up within fifty years, on the Pacific coast, monuments like those which we think two hundred years have been well spent in establishing on the Atlantic coast?
Will you say that California has no ability to become independent? She has the same moral ability for enterprise that inheres in us, and that ability implies command of all physical means. She has advantages of position. She is practically fur