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I next consider the President's statement, that Santa Anna, in his treaty with Texas, recognized the Rio Grande as the western boundary of Texas. Besides the position so often taken, that Santa Anna, while a prisoner-of-war-a captivecould not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem conclusive; besides this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so called by the President, with Santa Anna. If any man would like to be amused by a sight at that little thing, which the President calls by that big name, we can have it by turning to Niles' Register, volume 50, page 336. And if any one should suppose that Niles' Register is a curious repository of so mighty a document as a solemn treaty between nations, I can only say that I learned to a tolerable degree of certainty, by inquiry at the State Department, that the President himself never saw it anywhere else.
By-the-way, I believe I should not err if I were to declare, that during the first ten years of the existence of that document, it was never by anybody called a treaty; that it was never so called till the President, in his extremity, attempted, by so calling it, to wring something from it in justification of himself in connection with the Mexican wars.
It has none of the distinguishing features of a treaty. It does not call itself a treaty. Santa Anna does not therein assume to bind Mexico; he assumes only to act as the President, commander-in-chief of the Mexican army and navy, and stipulates that the then present hostilities should cease, and that he would not himself, take up arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against Texas, during the existence of the war of Independence. He did not recognize the independence of Texas; he did not assume to put an end to the war, but clearly indicated his expectation of its continuance ; he did not say one word about boundary, and most probably never thought of it. It is stipulated therein that the Mexican forces should evacuate the territory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande; and in another article it is stipulated, that to prevent collision between the armies, the Texan should not approach nearer than within five leagues of what is not said-but clearly, from the object stated, it is of the Rio Grande. Now, if this is a treaty recognizing the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas, it contains a singular feature of stipulating that Texas shall not go within five leagues of her own boundary.
Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the United States afterward, exercising jurisdiction beyond the Nueces, and between the two rivers. This actual exercise of jurisdiction is the very class or quality of evidence we want. It is excellent, so far as it goes; but does it go far enough? He tells us it went beyond the Nueces, but he does not tell us it went to the Rio Grande. He tells us jurisdiction was exercised between the two rivers, but he does not tell us it was exercised over all the territory between them. Some simpleminded people think it possible to cross one river and go beyond it, without going all the way to the next; that jurisdiction may be exercised between two rivers without covering all the country between them. I know a man, not very unlike myself, who exercises jurisdiction over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mississippi, and yet so far is this from being all there is between those rivers, that it is just one hundred and fifty-two feet long by fifty wide, and no part of it much within a hundred miles of either. He has a neighbor between him and the Mississippi—that is, just across the street, in that direction-whom, I am sure, he could neither persuade nor force to give up his habitation; but which, nevertheless, he could certainly annex, if it were to be done by merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or even setting down and writing a deed for it.
But next, the President tells us, the Congress of the United States understood the State of Texas they admitted into the Union, to extend beyond the Nueces. Well, I suppose they did-I certainly so understood it but how far beyond? That Congress did not understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande is quite certain by the fact of their joint resolutions for admission, expressly leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. And, it may be added, that Texas herself is proved to have had the same understanding of it that our Congress had, by the fact of the exact conformity of her new constitution to those resolutions.
I am now through the whole of the President's evidence; and it is a singular fact, that if any one should declare the President sent the army into a settlement of Mexican people, who had never submitted, by consent or force, to the authority of Texas or the United States, and that there, and thereby, the first blood of the war was shed, there is not one word in all
the President has said which would either admit or deny the declaration. In this strange omission chiefly consists the deception of the President's evidence; an omission which, it does seem to me, could scarcely have occurred but by design. My way of living leads me to be about the courts of justice; and there I have sometimes seen a good lawyer, struggling for his client's neck, in a desperate case, employ every artifice to work around, befog, and cover up with many words, some position pressed upon him by the prosecution, which he dared not admit, and yet could not deny. Party bias may help to make it appear so; but, with all the allowance I can make for such a bias, it still does appear to me that just such, and from just such necessity, is the President's struggles in this case.
Sometime after my colleague [Mr. Richardson] introduced the resolutions I have mentioned, I introduced a preamble, resolution, and interrogatories, intended to draw the President out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden ground. To show their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of the true rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It is, that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and that whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one from that of the other, was the true boundary between them. If, as is probably true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the boundary, but the uninhabited country between the two was. The extent of our territory in the region depended, not upon any treaty-fixed boundary (for no treaty had attended it), but on revolution. Any people, anywhere, being inclined, and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right-a right which, we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with or near about them, who may oppose their movements. Such
minority was precisely the case of the Tories in our own Revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones. As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in 1803, and sold it to Spain in 1819, according to the President's statement. After this, all Mexico, including Texas, revolutionized against Spain; and still later, Texas revolutionized against Mexico. In my view, just so far as she carried her revolution, by obtaining the actual, willing or unwilling, submission of the people, so far the country was hers, and no farther.
Now, sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very best evidence as to whether Texas had actually carried her revolution to the place where the hostilities of the present war commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories I proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts, and not with argument. Let him remember he sits where Washington sat; and, so remembering, let him answer as Washington. As a nation should not, and the Almighty will not, be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion, no equivocation. And if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours where the first blood of the war was shed-that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort Brown-then am I with him for his justification. In that case I shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. I have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this; I expect to give some votes, in connection with the war, which, without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety, in my own judgment, which will be free from the doubt if he does so. But if he cannot or will not do this-if, on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit it-then I should be fully convinced of what I more than suspect already, that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him; that he ordered Gen. Taylor into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, purposely to bring on a war; that originally having some strong motive-what, I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning-to involve the
two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, this attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood-that serpent's eye that charms to destroy--he plunged into it, and has swept on and on, till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself, he knows not where. How like the half insane mumbling of a fever dream, is the whole war part of the late message! At one time telling us that Mexico has nothing whatever that we can get but territory; at another, showing us how we can support the war by levying contributions on Mexico. At one time urging the national honor, the security of the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even the good of Mexico herself, as among the objects of the two; at another, telling us that, "To reject indemnity by refusing to accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all our just demands and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without a purpose or definite object.'
So, then, the national honor, security of the future, and everything but territorial indemnity, may be considered the no purposes and indefinite objects of the war, but, having it now settled that territorial indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize by legislation here, all that he was content to take a few months ago, and the whole province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on the war--to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again, the President is resolved, under all circumstances, to have full territorial indemnity for the expenses of the war, but he forgets to tell us how we are to get the excess, after those expenses shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican territory. So, again, he insists that the separate national existence of Mexico shall be maintained; but he does not tell us how this can be done after we shall have taken all her territory. Lest the questions I here suggest, be considered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying to show they are not.
The war has gone on some twenty months; for the expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the President now claims about one half of the Mexican territory, and that by far the better half, so far as concerns our ability to make anything out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited; so that we could establish land offices in it, ard raise