« PreviousContinue »
claim to a “revolted province,” for the relinquishment of which a representative or agent of the United States was sent, as I have just said, to offer millions of gold, while the western division of the army of the United States was actually marched to the confines of Texas, and confidentially made subject to the Texan government, and a portion of the
a United States Navy was sent to cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, with orders to show themselves occasionally before Vera Cruz.
What was this but a covert declaration of war, made by the executive branch of the government on a weak and resistless power, and that, too, in the presence of and during the session of Congress, which a majority of that body winked at ? What was it but such a war as the Texas schemers knew the Northern States would not embark inan unjust, unrighteous, unprovoked, and ungodly war with Mexico to rob her of her revolted province, and, as Mr. Calhoun says, for the extension and perpetuation of slavery?
Now, whatever may be my feelings on the subject of slavery, I make bold, as a Southern man, to declare that in my judgment these are very insufficient causes for a national robbery or for war with a friendly power making no effort and entertaining no design to interfere with that or any other of our concerns.
It was a South Carolina movement, first, to create dissension, heart-burnings, and division between the North and the South, and, if war should be the result, then to drive . the North from its support, and, in the accomplishment of their heart's most earnest desire—one that is daily avowed by their most prominent public men, to wit, the dissolution of the Union--throw the odium and responsibility from their own shoulders upon the North for refusing to participate in a war for any such purpose. There are thousands and
millions at the North who believe this institution guaranteed by the Constitution to the South, and will adhere to the South on this question; but there are none, I believe, who desire its extension and perpetuation--they rather dcplore its existence; but the North might as soon expect the South to back her in a war for its extermination as for the South to ask the North to go to war to extend and perpetuate it; and this no man knew better than the Secretary of State, the negotiator of the treaty.
Look, too, to the bold, open, and treasonable proceedings of the friends and followers of the negotiator in South Carolina during the last summer and fall, and you find nothing but Disunion, Disunion! Texas, Texas! Disunion without Texas, and Texas and Disunion!
To ascertain their views fully, it were as well to look to the declarations of one of Mr. Calhoun's friends from South Carolina, made about the time of the Texas treaty, in the House of Representatives. I mean Mr. Rhett, who declared he would scorn himself if he were capable of singing hosannas to this Union; while another of his faithful followers, even to the abandonment of all his former cherished principles (I mean Mr. M Duffie), entered into a calculation in the Senate Chamber upon the value of the Union, and undertook to show the advantages of three separate confederacies formed out of the United States, declaring upon his soul that, for a quarter of a century, he had not known this government but for its most iniquitous oppressions; and, when charged by Mr. Benton to his face with treasonable designs in the Texas movement, blanched and quailed, and could not utter a word in his defense; even this Mr. M.Duffie, who, in his message to the South Carolina Legislature in 1836, when speaking of the application of Texas for admission into the Union, said: “In my opinion, Congress ought
not even to entertain such a proposition in the present state of the controversy. If we admit Texas into our Union while Mexico is still waging war against that province with a view to re-establish her supremacy over it, we shall, by the very act itself, make ourselves a party to the war; nor can we take this step without incurring this heavy responsibility until Mexico herself shall recognize the independence of her revolted province.” And now, disunion being at the bottom, this gentleman is the first to step forth, in the absence of that recognition on the part of Mexico, and while our Executive is complaining in his annual messages of the savage and inhuman war carried on by that power against Texas, which he thinks we ought to put a stop to, he steps forward and proposes to take it, nolens volens, by the simple adoption of a joint resolution, as if it were a matter of no more moment than the payment of a messenger's wages. It serves well to show the degeneracy of the times and of our people. A few years back, and such a proposition would have aroused the indignation of all men of all parties; and he who would have presented it would have been regarded as little short of a madman, and the party that would have entertained it would have been overwhelmed with popular resentment. Well might Mr. Gallatin have expressed his surprise that such a mode of acquiring Texas could have entered into the imagination of man.
But again, at a more recent period, you find this able and most skillful and accomplished negotiator and diplomatist, who has done nothing but blunder and stumble on like a blind horse over plowed ground ever since he has been in the department, whose sensibilities have been so much shocked at the bare presentation of abolition petitions from members of this confederacy as to propose at one time to the whole Southern delegation in Congress to retire from
the halls of Congress, and thus by violence dismember the government, you find him throwing wide the whole question of domestic slavery, and not only authorizing but inviting the interference and co-operation of the French government in the treaty or other new-fangled mode of annexation, for the purpose of perpetuating the blessings and advantages of slavery. Now, if it be conceded by our government that France may rightfully interfere, I pray to know upon what principle of civil or international law the same right can be denied to Great Britain, whose pretended designs upon this question were made the first pretext for immediate, instantaneous annexation, or slavery was to be abolished and Southern interests destroyed? And why is this interference on the part of France with our peculiar fireside domestic rights courted and entreated, but that it may lead to an interference on the part of Great Britain for its destruction; and which may lead, by their natural sympathies and affinities, to a co-operation between the Abolitionists of the North and that government that would tend to unite more closely the sympathies and interests of the South, lead to a division of the empire, and annexation with Texas? This I believe to be the design, and this, I fear, will be the result, if this Texas humbug is not speedily and decisively settled by the good sense of our countrymen. Upon no other view of the subject can the weakness and puerility - I should say madness - of his diplomatic correspondence be accounted for.
But apart from all this, apart from Mexican rights, the national honor, the integrity of the Union, what are the advantages that we are to derive from the annexation of Texas? We already see that our negotiator and his confederates have placed us in a position toward Mexico that we can not escape a war without dishonor to the executive branch of the government, and we can not get into one without disgrace to the nation. But let that terminate as it may, wbat, I ask, are the advantages to be derived from such annexation, even with the assent of Mexico ? Is not our territory already sufficiently capacious to contain our population ? Are our millions of unsold public lands, which must sooner or later inure to the benefit of the states, to whom it belongs, to be surrendered or rendered valueless in order to satisfy the demands of speculators in Texas lands or Texas scrip, or to favor the views of political tradesmen ? Are we to depreciate the land of the old states (in Virginia, for example) and depopulate our state to people Texas? Are we to despoil it of the most active, industrious, and useful portion of its population, by holding out an invitation and inducement to the energetic and enterprising young men of the state to seek adventures and fortunes in a new country? Are we to plunder our treasury to pay the debts of Texas—at a time, too, when the credit of our states is dishonored? Are we so harmonious in our councils now as to make occasion for new difficulties and new strife? Is our legislation so satisfactory to all parts of the present Union that we should desire to extend its influence, diversify still more the interests to be cared for, and introduce among us an additional number of disaffected disorganizers and repudiationists? Are we to open still wider the door to fraud and corruption, not by the introduetion of individual foreigners, but of a foreign nation? When it has become an interesting and a prominent question whether we shall restrict or prohibit entirely all future naturalization, is it expedient to naturalize two hundred thousand at a batch-seven tenths of whom, no doubt, bave the same leveling and destructive propensities common to too many of our own people? Have we not, as a nation, deteriorated