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the twenty-second of December, he introduced a series of resolutions* which, had they been adopted, would have given the President an opportunity to furnish the grounds of his allegations, and set himself right before the nation. These resolutions are remarkable for their definite statement of the points actually at issue between the administration and the whig party; but they found no advocates among Mr. Polk's friends. Laid over under the rule, they were not called up again by Mr. Lincoln himself, but they formed the thesis if a speech delivered by him on the following twelfth of January, iv which he fully expressed his views on the whole subject.
The opposition in this Congress were placed in a very difficult and perplexing position. They hated the war; they be
*WHEREAS, The President of the United States, in his message of May 11, 1816, has declared that “the Mexican Government not only refused to receive him (the envoy of the United States,] or listen to his propositions, but, after a long continued series of menaces, has at last invaded our territory, and shed the blood of our fellow citizens on our own soil:"
And again, in his message of December 8, 1846, that “We had ample cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of hostilities; but even then we forbore to take redress into our own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our citizens:"
And yet again, in his message of December 7, 1817, that "The Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he (our minister of peace] was authorized to propose, and finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two countries in war, by invading the territory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil :" and,
WHEREAS, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was or was pot at that time our own soil:" therefore,
Resolveil by the House of Representatives, That the President of the United States be respectfully requested to inform this house1st. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed,
in his messages declared, was or was not within the territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution.
2d. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary Government of Mexico.
lieved it to have been unnecessarily begun by the act of the United States, and not by the act of Mexico; they were accused of being treacherous to the cause and honor of the country because they opposed the war in which the country was engaged; they felt obliged to vote supplies to the army because it would have been inhuman to do otherwise, yet this act was seized upon by the President to show that his position touching the war was sustained by them; they felt compelled to condemn the commander-in-chief of the armies, sitting in the White House, and to vote thanks to the generals who had successfully executed his orders in the field. Men picked their way through these difficulties according to the wisdom given to them. The opposition usually voted together, though there was more or less of division on minor points and matters of policy.
3d. Whether that spot is or is not within a settlement of people, which settlement has existed ever since long before the Texas revolution, and until its inhabitants fled before the approach of the United
4th. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any and all other settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the south and west, and by wide uninhabited regions on the north and east.
5th. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of them, or any of them, have ever submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas or of the United States, by consent or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at elections, or paying tax, or serving on juries, or having process served upon them, or in any other way,
6th. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee from the approach of the United States army, leaving unprotected their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed, as in the messages stated; and whether the first blood, so shed, was or was not shed within the inclosure of one of the people who had thus fled from it.
7th. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his messages declared, were or were not, at that time, armed officers and soldiers, sent into that settlement by the military order of the President, through the Secretary of War.
Sth. Whether the military force of the United States was or was not so sent into that settlement after General Taylor had more than once intimated to the War Department that, in his opinion, no such movement was uecessary to the defense or protection of Texas.
Mr. Hudson of Massachusetts introduced a resolution which covered essentially the question of abandoning the war-of restoring everything to the old status. Mr. Lincoln voted to lay this resolution on the table, and, when it came up for adoption, voted against it. The writer finds no record of the reasons for these votes. Whatever they may have been, they seemed good to him; and he took pains a few days afterward to show that they could not have grown out of any friendship to the war. Indeed, on the very day which saw these votes recorded, he had an opportunity to vote that the war “was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States,” in company with nearly all the whig members of the House, southern no less than northern. The same men voted thanks to General Taylor for his brilliant achievements in the war.
The speech of Mr. Lincoln on the twelfth of January, in committee of the whole House, was thoroughly characteristic of the author. Simple, direct, exact in its comprehension of the points at issue, without a superfluous word or sentence, as closely logical as if it were the work of a professor of dialectics, it was the equal if not the superior of any speech delivered during the session.
Mr. Lincoln spoke as follows: “Mr. CHAIRMAX: Some, if not all, of the gentlemen on the other side of the House, who have addressed the committee within the last two days, have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago, declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally cominenced by the President. I admit that such a vote should not be given in mere party wantonness, and that the one given is justly censurable, if it have no other or better foundation. I am one of those who joined in that vote; and did so under my best impression of the truth of the
How I got this impression, and how it may possibly be removed, I will now try to show. When the war began, it was niy opinion that all those who, because of knowing too lillle, or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the President (in the beginning of it), should, nevertheless, as good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war should be ended. Some leading Democrats, including ex-President Van Buren, have taken
this same view, as I understand them; and I adhered to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it, were it not that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so.
Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every silent vote given for supplies into an indorsement of the justice and wisdom of his conduct; besides that singularly candid paragraph in his late message, in which he tells us that Congress, with great unanimity (only two in the Senate and fourteen in the House dissenting) had declared that by the act of the Republic of Mexico a state of war exists between that Government and the United States,' when the same journals that informed him of this, also informed him that, when that declaration stood disconnected from the question of supplies, sixtyseven in the House, and not fourteen, merely, voted against it; besides this open attempt to prove by telling the truth, what he could not prove by telling the whole truth, demanding of all who will not submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak out; besides all this, one of my colleagues [Mr. Richardson), at a very early day in the session, brought in a set of resolutions, expressly indorsing the original justice of the war on the part of the President. Upon these resolutions, when they shall be put on their passage, I shall be compelled to vote; so that I can not be silent if I would. Seeing this, I went about preparing myself to give the vote understandingly, when it should come. I carefully examined the President's messages, to ascertain what he himself had said and proved upon the point. The result of this examination was to make the impression, that, taking for true all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification; and that the President would have gone further with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter that the truth would not permit him. Under the impression thus made I gave the vote before mentioned. I propose now to give, concisely, the process of the examination I made, and how I reached the conclusion I did.
“ The President, in his first message of May, 1816, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico; and he repeats that declaration, almost in the same language, in each successive annual message-thus showing that he esteems that point a highly essential one. In the importance of that point I entirely agree with the President. To my judgment, it is the rery point upon which he should be justified or condemned. In his message of December, 1816, it seems to have occurred to him, as is certainly true, that title, ownership to soil, or anything else, is not a simple fact, but is a conclusion following one or more simple facts; and that it was incumbent upon him to present the facts from which he concluded the soil was ours on which the first blood of the war was shed.
“ Accordingly, a little below the middle of page twelve, in the message last referred to, he enters upon that task; forming an issue and introducing testimony, extending the whole to a little below the middle of page fourteen. Now, I propose to try to show that the whole of this-issue and evidence-is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception. The issue, as he presents it, is in these words: “But there are those who, conceding all this to be true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed the Texan line, and invaded the territory of Mexico.' Now, this issue is made up of two affirmatives and no negative. The main deception of it is, that it assumes as true that one river or the other is necessarily the boundary, and cheats the superficial thinker entirely out of the idea that possibly the boundary is somewhere between the two, and not actually at either. A further deception is, that it will let in evidence which a true issue would exclude. A true issue, made by the President, would be about as follows; •I say the soil was ours on which the first blood was shed; there are those who say it was not.'
“I now proceed to examine the President's evidence, as applicable to such an issue. When that evidence is analyzed, it is all included in the following propositions:
“1. That the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased it of France in 1803.
“2. That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande as her western boundary.
“3. That by various acts, she had claimed it on paper.
“4. That Santa Anna, in his treaty with Texas, recognized the Rio Grande as her boundary.
“5. That Texas before, and the United States after, annexation, had exerciseil jurisdiction beyond the Nueces, between the two rivers.
“6. That our Congress understood the boundary of Texas to extend beyond the Nueces.
"Now for each of these in its turn:
“Ilis first item is, that the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased, it of France in 1803; and, seeming to expect this to be disputed, he argues cver the amount of nearly a page to prove it true; at the end of which, he lets us know that, by the treaty of 1819, we sold to Spain the whole country, from the Rio Grande eastward to the Sabine. Now, admitting for the present, that the Rio Grande was the boundary of Louisiana, what, under heaven, had that to do with the present boundary between us and Mexico? How, Mr. Chairman, the line that once divided your land from mine can still be the boundary between us after I have sold my land to you, is, to me, beyond all comprehension. And how any man, with an honest