Page images

been abundantly manifested heretofore, and needs no display of protestations now. We are in a frame of things disjoint; and in the confusion resulting from a severance of parties and new conjunctions of statesmen, each of us is obliged to rely on the guidance of his own judgment and conscience.

I submit, sir, that the conditions are unreasonable, injurious, and oppressive, in regard to CALIFORNIA. So far, as they are found in the bill before us, they are, first, the establishment of a territorial government in New Mexico, silent concerning slavery; second, the establishment of a like government in Utah; third, a compromise of a border dispute between New Mexico and Texas. The garment of compromise, thus quilted of various fabrics with artistic skill, is ingeniously pieced out with collateral conditions in a report and two other bills concerning slavery in the District of Columbia, the recapture of fugitive slaves, and other national interests or pretensions of slavery.

It is not pretended that California needs aid from these conditions, nor that they can give it. California is taxed for superfluous power to draw the dependent measures into port, which otherwise would founder and be lost. This forced connection therefore hinders, and tends to defeat, the admission of California.

Why is California subjected to this embarrassment? Does she come without right? She has a treaty. Is that treaty denied or questioned ? No, it is unanimously affirmed. Can California abide delay? No; her anomalous condition not merely appeals to our justice, but touches the very virtue of compassion within us. Why, then, should California be kept waiting, while we make a circuit throughout the entire orbit of slavery? California neither brought the states into confederation, nor constructed the Constitution. She neither planted slavery in the slave states, nor uprooted it in the free states. She is not found by the side of Texas invading New Mexico, nor allied with New Mexico in resisting Texas. She is guiltless equally of buying and of selling, of holding and emancipating, of reclaiming and of harboring slaves anywhere. She has neither vote nor speech here, nor elsewhere, where this angry strife can be composed. She has severed at a blow, and forever, the loose political connection—the only connection she ever had—with Utah and New Mexico. The slave states indeed insist on a right to colonize new territories with a caste. But all agree that the community in any such territory

may establish a constitution prohibiting caste. California, colonized, has done this already, and her maturity is not well questioned, although it has been as rapid and bewildering as the passage of a midsummer night's dream. There is, therefore, neither community nor connection, nor even congruity between the admission of California and the conditions demanded. It is binding Eros to Anteros-confiding youth to querulous and wrangling age—the struggling hind to ravening hounds.

We were told long ago that California would save time by yielding to this most unjust combination. We have seen the error of that hope. We are making the overland journey of seven thousaná miles between the pillars of Hercules, when we might have crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, on a smooth sea, in six hours.

We were told that a minority in another part of the legislature could prevent the admission of California, and even bring the Government to a dead stand. But the Government must work in its own democratic and constitutional way, or must cease to work at all. No one or more of the states can assume the responsibility of arresting its operation by faction. “ Optimis auspiciis ea geri quce pro reipublicæ salute gerentur, quo contra rempublicam ferrentur contra auspicia ferri.

I submit, now, that the conditions demanded are equally unreasonable, injurious, and oppressive, in regard to the other parties affected by the combination, viz: Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

Each of these parties ought to be regarded as asking only a just award; and Congress is to be deemed ready to make a just one, and no other. Such an award can be made only by bestowing a distinct and separate consideration on each claim. The same principle of dialetic philosophy which forbids multifariousness of issues and confusion of parties in the administration of justice, condemns incongruous combinations in legislation.

The bill before us seems adapted to enable senators to speak on one side, and to vote on the other; to comply with instructions, and to evade them; to vote for the line of 36° 30', and to vote against it; to support the Wilmot proviso, and yet to defeat its application to the only territories open to its introduction. I solicit—if stronger language were courteous, I might demand—from the majority here a subdivision of the bill, to enable me to vote effectually for what I approve, without voting equally for what

[ocr errors]

my own judgment, concurring with instructions, condemns; and thus to place myself, where I should invite all others to place themselves, under exact and full responsibility to the states and to the people.

While I leave the interests of Texas in the care of her honorable and excellent senators, I must be allowed to think that their consent to this bill betrays a want of confidence in her claims or in the justice of Congress. A just claim ought not to need an unjust combination. Those who assume that Texas has a valid title to all of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, as high as the 42d parallel, will necessarily regard that state as surrendering, for a pecuniary equivalent, an extensive region, effectually secured to slavery, to the equivocations of this compromise. Those, on the contrary, who regard the pretensions of Texas in New Mexico as groundless, will as certainly protest against the surrender of 77,000 square miles of soil, pregnant with liberty, to the hazards of this adjustment. Both of these parties, I think, must agree that the United States ought not to pay Texas the equivalent unless her title is good; and that if her title is good, then the United States have no constitutional power to buy her territory. If they may buy a part of Texas for purposes not defined in the Constitution, they may buy the whole. If they may buy the territory of a slave state to make it free, they may equally buy the soil of a free state to sterilize it with slavery. If it be replied that the title is in dispute, then the transaction changes character; the equivalent is paid for peace : and Texas is not yet lifted up so high, nor are the United States brought down so low, as to obtain my consent to so humiliating a traffic.

I have heretofore said that I could vote to pay the debt of Texas, on the ground that the repudiation of it by the United States, in the agreement of annexation, was fraudulent. But Texas seems to prefer that we should buy domain and dominion from her rather than

pay her debts. She must be content, therefore, to satisfy us concerning the cardinal points in the bargain, viz:

First. The reasonableness of the amount to be paid.
Secondly. The value of the equivalent we are to receive.
Thirdly. The title of the vendor.
Fourthly. The use to which the territory is to be applied.

First. How much are we to pay? The sum is set down in and the blank is pertinaciously kept open. “The hart Achilles

keeps thicket here." A philosopher replied to a man who asked leave to see what he carried under his cloak, “I carry it there that you may not see it."

Well, we are obliged to assume that Texas is to be paid more than her claim is worth, because she will not trust to a distinct and independent negotiation. The payment is a condition of the admission of California; and thus we see California the desire of the nation and the envy of the world—reduced by the senate of the United States to the humiliation of chaffering and cheving with money-changers and stock-brokers, continually baiting her offers with richer rewards, to obtain her admission into the Union.

The extent and value of the acquisition are equally unsatisfactory. When the question is on the sum to be paid, Texas owns nearly all New Mexico; but when it comes on the domain to be obtained, it turns out that we are to cede to Texas a part of that province to save the rest; and to pay her ten or fifteen millions to induce her acceptance of the cession. Surely, if we concede to Texas the admiration her representatives require, they must admit that she knows how to coin our admiration into available gold.

The title. It is beyond dispute that the territory which Texas offers was,

from time immemorial, an integral part of New Mexico, and that not an acre of it ever was in the possession of Texas. It is equally clear that the United States found it in the possession of Mexico, and conquered and bought it, and that they hold it by treaty solemnly executed. It is as certain that Texas never conquered it, never bought it, and has no treaty concession to show for it.

But, Texas insists that she has an equitable title. She asserted, I think in 1836, by a law in her statute book, that her boundary should be the 42d parallel ; that is, she declared her purpose to conquer so much of New Mexico. But she never executed, nor even attempted to execute, that purpose. She came into the United States without having executed it. Her statute, therefore, was mere brutum fulmen. The United States, in the articles of annexation, refused to commit themselves to the claim of Texas. Subsequently the United States waged war against Mexico, not for the claim of Texas, but for other causes. The war was waged to obtain satisfaction of commercial debts, and indemnities for the expenses of the war. Being thus engaged in war, the United States accepted New Mexico and California in satisfaction of the

[ocr errors]

commercial debts and the expenses of the contest, after paying fifteen millions of dollars for their excess in value. Thus the United States, free from obligation to Texas, acquired the territory of New Mexico, making the conquest and paying the whole consideration alone. The claim of Texas is as groundless in equity as by the strict rules of law. The claim of Texas is just as good to the whole of California as to New Mexico.

Nor is the proposition more satisfactory in regard to the purposes to which the territory is to be applied. I am satisfied that the soil of New Mexico is free soil now, by operation of unrepealed Mexican laws. I know that it would be less surely free if this bill were passed. The bill would raise a cloud upon the question. I prefer rather to leave New Mexico as it is.

New Mexico has no representative here. Every phase of this compromise exhibits a dismemberment of her territory; and yet she is to receive no equivalent. Texas already has a vast domain of surpassing fertility. New Mexico is less expansive and comparatively sterile. This bill, nevertheless, literally applies the Scripture, “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

This perversion of right proceeds upon the ground that either New Mexico has no certain title, or that she has no political government to defend it.

Sir, New Mexico was a distinct colony of Spain. New Mexico was a state in the republic of Mexico, and afterwards was a political territory in that republic. She was never less than that. We found her in that condition and character. She retains that character now. Only her allegiance is transferred to the United States, while some of the powers of government, suspended by conquest, remain in abeyance. She is a republic according to the definition of Cicero: “ Res publica, res populi ; populus autem, non omnis hominum cætus, quoquo modo congregatus, sed cætus multitudinis, juris consensu, et utilitatis communione sociatus.

New Mexico has domain, population, resources, and qualified dominion—arts, customs, laws, and religion. She holds these physical and moral elements of a state subordinate to the United States, but nevertheless distinctly and apart from all other communities. New Mexico, moreover, has framed her institutions on the principle of the common origin of man and the common

« PreviousContinue »