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· The President's Message
count of Annexation. This struck at the ment upon it, with some hope of a good reoriginal source of all the difficulty between sult." Such is the Mexican official account. the two powers, and made an end of it, so Mr. Trist, it is evident, did not belieye it far as Mexico could alone effect that ob- possible the President would dare to make ject. Mexico also offered ample indemnity the renewal and continuance of the war for the claims of our citizens, in the model turn on his adherence to the absurd and preferred and insisted on by us—that is to baseless pretension he had set up, of a right say, by a cession of territory ; and thus and title in the United States to a “bounput an end, so far as she alone could do it, dary to the Rio Grande.” Mr. Trist had to all complaints which we had to prefer manifestly been impressed with the pregagainst her for neglect of those claims, and nant and severe tone of the following decwhatever other conduct in relation to them laration, in the note addressed to him by we had thought exceptionable. There re- the Mexican Commissioners :mained, therefore, only one original subject of dispute between the two powers, and that • To the other territories, si. e. besides the was the undefined boundary between our proper territory of Texas, mentioned in the State of Texas and the dominions of Mex- / fourth article of your Excellency's draught, ico. It must be admitted that the Presi
| (including, of course, the country between the dent went into the war claiming the right
Nueces and the Bravo, no right has heretofore
been asserted by the Republic of North Amerito the whole country between the Nueces
ca, nor do we believe it possible for it to assert and the Rio del Norte ; though it is per- | any. Consequently, it could not acquire them, fectly certain that this was not such a except by the right of conquest, or by the title claim on our part, that any Congress of which will result from the cession or sale which the United States, which alone has the
Mexico might now make. But as we are perpower of declaring war, would ever have
suaded that the Republic of Washington will undertaken to enforce it by the sword. |
not only absolutely repel, but will hold in abhor
ord. | rence, the first of these titles, and as, on the Mexico refused to cede to us this territory, | other hand, it would be a new thing, and conat the conferences near Chapultepec, and trary to every idea of justice, to make war on a this question of boundary remained, there people, for no other reason than because it refore, in statu quo, when the war was re fused to sell territory which its neighbor sought sumed.
to buy, we hope, from the justice of the governThe important inquiry now arises, wheth
ment and people of North America, that the
ample modifications which we have to propose, er the war thus resumed had for part of
to the cessions of territory (except that of the its object, the enforcement of the Presi- |
State of Texas) contemplated by the said Artident's demand, clearly embraced in his cle Four, will not be a motive to persist in a project of a treaty, for the cession of the war which the worthy General of the North whole country between the Nueces and the American troops has justly styled unnatural." Rio del Norte ? We suppose there can- | not be a doubt of it. The fact is suffi- ! But, however the Commissioner of the ciently indicated in this brief and charac- | United States might have been impressed teristic announcement in the Message: , and moved by an appeal so replete with “The boundary of the Rio Grande, and the the force of simple truth and natural cession to the United States of New Mexi- l justice, he was bound by an Executive ullico and Upper California, constituted an malum, which embraced other points, that ultimatuin, which our Commissioner was, Mexico could no more yield than she under no circumstances, to yield.” The could this demand of a boundary to the history of the conferences shows that the Rio Grande. The President must have Commissioner, though with evident misgiv. New Mexico and Upper California, as well ings, acted up to the letter of his instruc- | as the whole territory between the Nueces tions on this point. He would not yield / and the Bravo. Mexico could not yield to “the boundary to the Rio Grande," but any of these demands, to the extent to " he offered that if there remained no other / which the President's ultimatum carried point of difference for the conclusion of them ; and nothing remained, therefore, but peace, than that relative to the territory to renew and prosecute the war. She did which is comprised between the Bravo and offer, be it observed, to give up the most the Nueces, he would consult his govern- | valuable portion of Upper California ; and she offered, also, so far to relinquish her of arms, to sell her territory to us, is to possessory right, or right of occupation, to exercise over her and her territory the the wide uninhabited frontier of the coun- rights of conquest. Payment in such a try between the two rivers, as to stipulate case is no equivalent. It is not a bargain, that it should be preserved as an uninhab though we pay our money for the lands, ited and desert space forever, expressly where the cession is compulsory. If effor a safe and peaceable frontier between fected, it is nothing less than a robbery, the two countries. And this enables us to with the insult added of throwing our purse see exactly upon what precise pretensions in the face of our victim, by way of charity, and demands of the President it was, in or for the sake of appearances. The object regard to territory, that the war was re- is to dismember the Mexican empire, and newed, after the concessions made at the appropriate her territories to our own use, conferences near Chapultepec; and we de- by virtue of our military superiority. The sire to set down these pretensions and de-President wants these territories because he mands very precisely, and to call the at- thinks it will gratify a spirit of rapacity tention of the country to them in a very which he imagines dwells in the hearts of particular manner, that the people may our people, and will glorify his administraclearly understand what it really was, the tion before the masses, who, he believes, war was resumed for. The war, then, was will make no account whatever of the resumed and prosecuted, after the confer-money price of the robbery. He believes ences near Chapultepec, for the following they would like it still better if he had reobjects:
solved to keep the territory already conFirst, to compel Mexico, who was willing quered, and the money too. And we do and ready to relinquish her right of occupa- not entertain a doubt that he would have tion in the wide uninhabited space between preferred this policy from the first, if he the Nueces and the Rio Grande, so as to | had thought it as practicable as the other; make that desert space in effect the boun- | he would have let appearances take care of dary between the two countries, to go fur- | themselves. ther and cede to us in absolute sovereignty The truth is, that the offer of money to and jurisdiction, the whole of that territory Mexico for her conquered provinces, was up to the Rio Grande ;
not to pay for the land, but to buy a peace Second, to compel Mexico, who was of her after the conquest. He thought willing to yield us one half, and the most this would be better than perpetual war, valuable portion of Upper California, to go and the support of large standing armies, further, and sell to us the other half also ; ' to maintain the conquests. It was not
And, third, to compel Mexico to sell to justice, but policy, that dictated the offer. us her province of New Mexico.
It was better, he thought, to pay Mexico Of these three objects, the first is the twenty millions for her craven consent to only one, it will be observed, which, in any her own dismemberment and degradation, shape whatever, found a place among those than undertake to maintain his conquests original subjects of demand, to which by arms, at the cost of another hundred alone the war from its inception, appa- millions. Brennus, the Gallic conqueror, rently or professedly, had any relation. finding his affairs in desperate condition, The other two objects became objects of but game to the last, demanded to receive the war for the first time, so far as any of Rome a thousand pounds of gold for distinct avowal or disclosure is concerned, retiring from his conquests, for thus he when it was renewed after the conferences would go home an acknowledged conquernear Chapultepec. But the truth is that or, though giving up the provinces he had the whole three objects just specified, overrun. Our modern American Brennus stand in fact, when properly understood, understands the glory of conquest differon the same footing. The demand which ently ; he is willing to pay Mexico a thouthe President makes of a boundary on the sand pounds of gold to stop her resistance, Rio Grande, is just as much in the spirit allow him to keep the provinces he has overof conquest as the rest. These last, as we run, and so come home a conqueror. Brennow see, stand out open and undisguised. nus proudly threw his sword into the scale To compel our unwilling enemy, by force at the last moment, as his ultimate argument with the Roman : Mr. Polk, too, gallantly purpose of compelling Mexico to consent, threw in his sword, but at last he offers to for a consideration in money, to the dismemwithdraw it, and weigh down the scales | berment of her empire, by ceding to the with money, as his ultimate argument with United States three distinct parcels of her the Mexican. But Mexico, though in the territory, to neither of which had we the extremity of distress, refuses to take money slightest claim of right, either on the ground as the price of her honor-she refuses to of indemnity, or on the ground of title. The allow the President to salve her sore hu- pretence of furtherindemnity, rather hinted miliation in that mode. And this puts at or disingenuously insinuated, than actualhim in a dilemna : he must retire from this ly set up, in the Message, we have already chosen field of his glory without the ill- disposed of. We must say a few words gotten fruits of his successful military on the matter of title. exploits, or he must prosecute his war No boldness nor ingenuity has ever from this time forward, for the naked pur- enabled the President to assert any right pose of subjugation and dismemberment. or title to the Californias. The demand, The latter alternative, as we shall see, is therefore, as an ultimatum, of the remainthe one he has chosen, and recommends ing half of Upper California, after Mexico in his Message to Congress and the had offered to yield up the first half by country.
way of indemnity and for the sake of peace, Recurring to the particulars embraced was a naked demand of dismemberment in the policy of conquest and dismember-to that extent, though for a consideration ment, now disclosed and avowed by the in money, to be agreed to by Mexico, under President, and confining our attention still the penalty of an immediate resumption for a while to the state of things as they and prosecution of the war against her.* existed at the breaking up of the confer- The demand made for the cession of ences near Chapultepec, let us observe New Mexico, was of the same character how naked and undisguised the object is, and rested on the same foundation. It is in each particular. We have shown the true, the President has the amazing cooloffer made of half the vast province of ness to venture on a suggestion in his Upper California, not only giving the Message, that there was a question of United States the most ample indemnity boundary to be adjusted between the proyfor all the claims of our citizens on Mexico, ince of New Mexico and the State of Texas, but very far exceeding in value to us the on the ground that “the territorial limits amount of those claims. We have shown, of the State of Texas, as defined by her also, that beyond these claims, the Presi- laws before her admission into our Union, dent, in his negotiations with Mexico, did embrace all that portion of New Mexico not set up any other or further demands lying east of the Rio Grande.” Everyfor indemnity. After deducting the amount body knows that Texas might as well have of these claims, he offered to pay Mexico extended her limits, by a statutory declaraas much money as the territories he wanted tion—a ridiculous brutem fulmen-over were deemed worth. It is merely absurd, the whole of Old Mexico, as over a part of or it is much worse than that, for him now the province of New Mexico ; and such an to talk about the expenses of the war, as if act would have given her just as much he expected to make Mexico pay them. / right and title in that case, as it did in the He has known from the beginning, that we | other. But besides this, it is perfectly could make no claim on her for the cost of notorious that the President, utterly disrethe war, and that this was an account which garding any claim of the State of Texas the people of his own country must pay, upon New Mexico, on account of this without recourse or redress anywhere. statutory declaration, seeing she had never And on these terms he offered to make occupied a foot of the soil of that territory, peace with Mexico_provided only she ordered the country to be conquered for would cede to us as much territory as he | the United States, which was done accorddesired to get, for an equivalent in money. When the war was resumed, then, under
: The Mexican Commissioners say "
. the walls of the Mexican capital, we aver
| “to a part of Upper California." If so, it was in the and maintain, that it was for the sole face of the President's ultimatum.
ingly after a fashion, when he caused a | And, then, see what a benefit it would be civil government to be set up there under to Mexico to give this province up to us ; his authority. The demand, therefore, as for we could protect it, and her, against the an ultimatum, of the whole of New Mexico, Indians, and make them give up their capon both sides of the Rio Grande, was a tives! Finally, in ceding these provinces to naked demand for the further dismember- us, there would only be a moderate populament of Mexico, though for a consideration tion of Mexican citizens (probably only in money, to be assented to by that power, about 175,000] who would be transferred, under the penalty of an immediate resump- / like cattle, without their consent and against tion and prosecution of the war against their will, from Mexico to the United States. her.
“These,” adds the President, “ were the Let, now, any man, possessing any just leading consideralions which induced me sensibility to the honor and proper fame of to authorize the terms of peace which were the country, turn to the President's Mes proposed to Mexico. They were rejected ; sage, and read there, without a blush of and negotiations being at an end, hostilities shame if he can, the reasons which that were renewed.” These were the “ leading high officer has grouped together to justify considerations” which induced the Presithe nefarious demand which he caused to dent to instruct his Commissioner, that be made upon Mexico for the dismember- unless Mexico, besides giving up to us half of ment of that country, by the forced cession the vast province of Upper California for of Upper California and New Mexico to the our full indemnity, which she offered to do, United States. We will give the substance would consent to a further dismemberment and real meaning of these reasons, leaving by ceding to us the rest of that province, it to the reader to verify our brief exposi and the whole of New Mexico, for a sum tion by recurring to the President's own of money, the war should go on. Even if language.
the Rio Grande had been yielded as a The President believes, then, that as boundary for Texas, and every other Mexico must be dismembered, it is for her demand of the President, still, for the convenience and interest, as well as our own,“ leading considerations” we have recited, that these two provinces should be lopped the war was to go on unless Mexico would off rather than any other. They lie a great give up also the whole of New Mexico and way off from her capital, and if she does not | Upper California ! lose them now, it is manifest the time will But besides these two provinces, there come when she will have to give them up. was that other considerable tract of country, This is especially true of Upper California, embracing parts of three Mexican States, and if we don't take it now, some other and having altogether an area of about foreign power may, by-and-by. Or it may 45,000 square miles—nearly equal to become independent of Mexico, by a revo- | New-York-lying between the Nueces and lutionary movement, and then be annexed the Bravo, which was also demanded as to some other country; and if annexed to an ultimatum. And to this, as to the rest, any country but our own, we should have except where there was an inconsiderable to fight that country for it. These terri- settlement on and near the Nueces, the tories are contiguous to our territories, and United States had not the slightest claim if we had them we would bring them on, of right, for herself or for Texas, unless by and make something out of them. Upper conquest. Yet this is the country in California is bounded right upon our Ore- reference to which the President repeats gon possessions, and we could stock it with in the present Message, the stale and a good population, and, with the use of its miserable fiction, so often exposed before, harbors, make great commercial profits out that Mexico “ involved the two countries of it, in which the commercial world might in war by invading the territory of the participate. New Mexico is naturally con- State of Texas, striking the first blow, and nected with our Western settlements, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our after all is not worth much to Mexico. own soil ;” that “ Mexico commenced the Besides, our State of Texas once threw its war, and we were compelled, in self-defence, paper arms around the neck of this darling to repel the invader!" In the name of province, and embraced it with affection. Truth, and by the authority of its unerring Records, we pronounce every word of all repudiated the main ground of the claim this statement utterly without foundation set up by Texas—her Legislative Act of in fact. The country where our army was 1836, declaring the Rio Grande to be her found when the first blood was shed, was boundary in its whole extent; for this not American soil. It was in the peacea- would give her a large part of New Mexico, ble possession and actual occupancy of and he has, by the most unequivocal acts, Mexico, and under her undisputed juris- treated this part of her claim with contempt. diction, as it had always been since she was Though it be true, tberefore, that the a nation, and as Spain had possessed and President asserted a claim for a boundary governed it before her. If the United on the Rio Grande, when this war was beStates once preferred a claim, as against gun, yet it was only a claim, and had not Spain, to the Rio del Norte as the a shadow of truth and justice to support boundary of French Louisiana, the pre- it. The boundary between the State of tension was yielded by solemn treaty with Texas and the Republic of Mexico was unthat power in 1819. Thus the Sabine was defined, and so considered and left by settled as the boundary of our possessions Congress in the Act of Annexation. It in that direction, and the Republic of was no further undefined and in dispute, Mexico became the undisputed mistress of however, than as Texas had laid the founthe country from that river westward.dation of a claim to some territory on and Texas with Coahuila was a State of the adjacent to the right bank of the Nueces, Mexican Confederation, and the indisputa- | by having established and exercised actual ble limit of Texas in the south-west was jurisdiction over some small settlements the Nueces. Texas revolted and established along there. But because this left the her independence; and when she annexed President at liberty to plant one foot on herself to the United States, the Nueces the Nueces, it did not authorize him to was still her boundary, except that she had plant the other on the Bravo, and so claim so far encroached on the neighboring loyal the whole country embraced in his colosState of Tamaulipas, as to have a small sal stride. Considering the hold which settlement on the right bank of that river, Texas has acquired on the Mexican side of over which she exercised jurisdiction, the Nueces, and looking at the peculiar Thus far the just claim of Texas may go, topography of the country, the true bounand no farther. Beyond Corpus Christi, dary separating the two countries, would or San Patricio, in that direction, she had be the broad desert between the two rivers, neither possession nor jurisdiction. Thence the line of which might properly run began a desert, a hundred and twenty through its centre. We have not a doubt miles wide, and reaching to within a few that Mexico would have consented to this, miles of the Rio Grande, where was a long if it had been proposed or suggested. In established Mexican population, under un- | effect, indeed, this is what she herself prodisputed Mexican jurisdiction. Here it was posed. She offered to have the uninhabthe first blood was shed in this war. The ited desert preserved forever as a boundaclaim which Texas asserted to the whole of ry, and barrier, to secure each country this country between the rivers Nueces and from the other. del Norte, and that which the President She knew very well that peace eould has set up after her example, rest on a never be maintained, if the Anglo-Saxon title which is no better than a base and im was to be planted on one side of a narrow pudent forgery. It is a naked paper lille stream like the Rio del Norte, from which in the shape of legislative enaciments, made he could look into the windows of the by the parli selling up the claim, and Mexican on the opposite side; and she having not a shadow of righl to stand upon. refused to make that river the boundary. A man could as well make himself a deed Besides, though the real value of the of his neighbor's farm, and establish a right | country was not great, yet there were under it in a court of justice. The most Mexican citizens who had their home on distinguished men of the President's own the left bank of that river, and she nobly party have derided and denounced this declared that “it was not for the Mexican claim of title : Benton, Wright, Woodbury, government to weigh the price of the athave done so. The President himself has tachment of the citizen to the soil on which