Benson John Lossing.

Harper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) online

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Mr. Fillmore s early education was limit- him his board for his services in his office,

ed, and at the age of fourteen years he In 1821 he went on foot to Buffalo, where



he arrived, an entire stranger, with the passage of various acts which were

$4 in his pocket. There he continued parts of compromises proposed in the

to study law, paying his expenses by OMNIBUS BILL (q. v.) of Mr. Clay in the

teaching school and assisting in the post- summer of 1850. It was during his

office. In 1823, although he had not com- administration that difficulties with Cuba

pleted the requisite period of study to be occurred, diplomatic communications with

admitted to the bar, he was admitted, Japan were opened, measures were adopted

and began practice at Aurora, Cayuga looking towards the construction of a rail-

co., where his father then resided. In way from the Mississippi to the Pacific

a few years he stood in the rank of the Ocean, and other measures of great public

foremost lawyers in the State. He was interest occurred. Mr. Fillmore retired

admitted to practice in the highest courts from office March 4, 1853, leaving the coun-

of the State in 1829; and the next year try in a state of peace within and without,

he moved to Buffalo, where he practised and every department of industry flour-

until 1847, when he was chosen comptroll- ishing. In 1852 he was a candidate of

er of the State. Then he retired from, the the Whig convention for President of

profession. His political life began in the United States, but did not get the

1828, when he was elected to the legis- nomination. During the spring and sum-

lature by the ANTI-MASONIC PARTY mer of 1854 he made an extensive tour

(q. v.). He served three successive through the Southern and Western

terms, retiring in the spring of 1831. States; and, in the spring of 1855, after

Mr. Fillmore was particularly active in an excursion in New England, he sailed

procuring the passage of a law abolishing for Europe, where he remained until

imprisonment for debt. It was mostly June, 1856. While at Rome he received

drafted by himself, and passed in 1831. the news of his nomination for the Presi-

In 1832 he was elected to Congress as dency by the NATIVE AMERICAN PARTY

an opponent of Jackson s administration, (q. v.). He accepted it, but Maryland

He was re-elected as a Whig in 1836, and alone gave him its electoral vote. The

retained his seat, by successive re-elec- remainder of his life was spent in Buffalo,

tions, until 1842, when he declined a. re- where he indulged his taste for histori-

nomination. His career in Congress was cal studies, and where he died, March 8,

marked by ability, integrity, and indus- 1874.

try. He acted in Congress with Mr. Texas Boundary Controversy. On Aug.

Adams in favor of receiving petitions for 6, 1850, President Fihmore transmitted

the abolition of slavery. He was opposed the following special message to the

to the annexation of Texas, and in favor Congress concerning the ciaims of Texas

of the abolition of the interstate slave- to territory in dispute:
trade. In September, 1844, Mr. Fillmore

was nominated by the Whigs for gov- WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 1850.
ernor of the State of New York, but was To the Senate and House of Representa-
defeated by Silas Wright, the Democratic tives, I "herewith transmit to the two
candidate. Elected comptroller of his Houses of Congress a letter from his ex-
State in 1847, Mr. Fillmore filled that re- cellency the governor of Texas, dated on
sponsible office with rare ability and fidel- June 14 last, addressed to the late Presi-
ity. In June, 1848, he was nominated dent of the United States, which, not
by the Whig National Convention for the having been answered by him, came into
office of Vice-President of the United my hands on his death ; and I also trans-
States, and was elected, with General Tay- mit a copy of the answer which I have felt
lor for President. He resigned the office it to be my duty to cause to be made to
of comptroller in February following; and that communication.

on the death of the President (July, Congress will perceive that the govern-

1850), Mr. Fillmore was inducted into or of Texas officially states that by au-

that high office. thority of the legislature of that State

During his administration the slavery he despatched a special commissioner with

question was vehemently discussed, and full power and instructions to extend the

was finally set at rest, it was hoped, by civil jurisdiction of the State over the



unorganized counties of El Paso, Worth,
Presidio, and Santa F, situated on its
northwestern limits.

He proceeds to say that the commissioner
had reported to him in an official form
that the military officers employed in the
service of the United States stationed at
Santa Fe interposed adversely with the
inhabitants to the fulfilment of his ob
ject in favor of the establishment of a
separate State government east of the
Rio Grande, and within the rightful limits
of the State of Texas. These four coun
ties, which Texas thus proposes to estab
lish and organize as being within her
own jurisdiction, extend over the whole
of the territory east of the Rio Grande,
which has heretofore been regarded as an
essential and integral part of the depart
ment of New Mexico, and actually govern
ed and possessed by her people until con
quered and severed from the republic of
Mexico by the American arms.

The legislature of Texas has been called
together by her governor for the pur
pose, as is understood, of maintaining her
claim to the territory east of the Rio
Grande, and of establishing over it her
own jurisdiction and her own laws by

These proceedings of Texas may well
arrest the attention of all branches of
the government of the United States, and
T rejoice that they occur while the Con
gress is yet in session. It is, I fear, far
from being impossible that, in consequence
of these proceedings of Texas, a crisis
may be brought on which shall summon
the two Houses of Congress, and still
more emphatically the executive govern
ment, to an immediate readiness for the
performance of their respective duties.

By the Constitution of the United States
the President is constituted commander-
in-chief of the army and navy, and of
the militia of the several States when
called into the actual service of the United
States. The Constitution declares also
that he shall take care that the laws be
faithfully executed, and that he shall,
from time to time, give to the Congress
information of the state of the Union.

Congress has power by the Constitution
to provide for calling forth the militia
to execute the laws of the Union, and suit
able and appropriate acts of Congress have

been passed as well for providing for call
ing forth the militia as for placing other
suitable and efficient means in the hands
of the President to enable him to dis
charge the constitutional functions of his

The second section of the act of Feb.
28, 1795, declares that whenever the laws
of the United States shall be opposed or
their execution obstructed in any State
by combinations too powerful to be sup
pressed by the ordinary course of judicial
proceedings or the power vested in mar
shals, the President may call forth the
militia, *as far as may be necessary, to
suppress such combinations and to cause
the laws to be duly executed.

By the act of March 3, 1807, it is pro
vided that in all cases of obstruction to
the laws, either of the United States or
any individual State or Territory, where
it is lawful for the President to call
forth the militia for the purpose of caus
ing the laws to be duly executed, it shall
be lawful for him to employ for the same
purposes such part of the land or naval
force of the United States as shall be
judged necessary.

These several enactments are now in
full force, so that if the laws of the
United States are opposed or obstructed
in any State or Territory by combinations
too powerful to be suppressed by the ju
dicial or civil authorities it becomes a case
in which it is the duty of the President
either to call out the militia or to em
ploy the military and naval force of the
United States, or to do both if in his
judgment the exigency of the occasion
shall so require, for the purpose of sup
pressing such combinations. The constitu
tional duty of the President is plain and
peremptory, and the authority vested in
him by law for its performance clear and

Texas is a State, authorized to main
tain her own laws so far as they are not
repugnant to the Constitution, laws, and
treaties of the United States ; to sup
press insurrections against her authority,
and to punish those who may commit
treason against the State according to
the forms provided by her constitution
and her own laws.

But all this power is local and confined
entirely within the limits of Texas her-



self. She can possibly confer no authority
which can be lawfully exercised beyond
her own boundaries.

All this is plain, and hardly needs ar
gument or elucidation. If Texas militia,
therefore, march into any one of the
other States or into any Territory of the
United States, there to execute or enforce
any law of Texas, they become at that
moment trespassers; they are no longer
under the protection of any lawful au
thority; and are to be regarded merely
as intruders; and if within such State
or Territory they obstruct any law of the
United States, either by power of arms or
mere power of numbers, constituting such
a combination as is too powerful to be
suppressed by the civil authority, the
President of the United States has no
option left to him, but is bound to obey
the solemn injunction of the Constitution
and exercise the high powers vested in
him by that instrument and by the acts
of Congress.

Or if any civil posse, armed or unarm
ed, enter into any Territory of the United
States, under the protection of the laws
thereof, with intent to seize individuals,
to be carried elsewhere for trial for al
leged offences, and this posse be too pow
erful to be resisted by the local civil au
thorities, such seizure or attempt to seize
is to be prevented or resisted by the au
thority of the United States.

The grave and important question now
arises whether there be in the Territory
of New Mexico any existing law of the
United States opposition to which or the
obstruction of which would constitute
a case calling for the interposition of the
authority vested in the President.

The Constitution of the United States
declares that:

" This Constitution, and the laws of
the United States which shall be made in
pursuance thereof, and all treaties made,
or which shall be made, under the au
thority of the United States, shall be the
supreme law of the land."

If, therefore. New Mexico be a Terri
tory of the United States, and if any
treaty stipulation be in force therein, such
treaty stipulation is the supreme law of
the land, and is to be maintained and up
held accordingly.

Jn the letter to the governor of Texas

my reasons are given for believing that
New Mexico is now a Territory of the
United States, with the same extent and
the same boundaries which belonged to it
while in the actual possession of the re
public of Mexico, and before the late war.
In the early part of that war both Cali
fornia and New Mexico were conquered by
the arms of the United States, and were
in the military possession of the United
States at the date of the treaty of peace.

By that treaty the title by conquest was
confirmed and these territories, provinces,
or departments separated from Mexico
forever ; and by the same treaty certain
important rights and securities were
solemnly guaranteed to the inhabitants
residing therein.

By the fifth article of the treaty it is
declared that

" The boundary-line between the two
republics shall commence in the Gulf
of Mexico 3 leagues from land, opposite
the mouth of the Rio Grande, otherwise
called Rio Bravo del Norte, or opposite the
mouth of its deepest branch if it should
have more than one branch emptying di
rectly into the sea; from thence up tho
middle of that river, following the deepest
channel where it has more than one, to
the point where it strikes the southern
boundary of New Mexico, thence west-
wardly along the whole southern boun
dary of New Mexico (which runs north of
the town called Paso) to its western ter
mination; thence northward along the
western line of New Mexico until it inter
sects the first branch of the River Gila
(or, if it should not intersect any branch
of that river, then to the point on the
said line nearest to such branch, and
thence in a direct line to the same) , thence
down the middle of the said branch and
of the said river until it empties into the
Rio Colorado ; thence across the Rio
Colorado ; following the division line be
tween Upper and Lower California, to the
Pacific Ocean."

The eighth article of the treaty is in
the following terms:

" Mexicans now established in territories
previously belonging to Mexico, and which
remain for the future within the limit*
of the United States as defined by tho
present treaty, shall be free to continue
where they now reside or to remove at any



time to the Mexican republic, retaining
the property which they possess in the
said territories, or disposing thereof and
removing the proceeds wherever they
please, without their being subjected on
this account to any contribution, tax, or
charge whatever.

" Those who shall prefer to remain in
the said territories may either retain the
title and rights of Mexican citizens or
acquire those of citizens of the United
States; but they shall be under the
obligation to make their election within
one year from the date of the exchange of
ratifications of this treaty; and those who
shall remain in the said territories after
the expiration of that year without having
declared their intention to retain the char
acter of Mexicans shall be considered to
have elected to become citizens of the
United States.

" In the said territories property of every
kind now belonging to Mexicans not estab
lished there shall be inviolably respected.
The present owners, the heirs of these, and
all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire
said property by contract shall enjoy with
respect to it guarantees equally ample as
if the same belonged to citizens of the
United States."

The ninth article of the treaty is in
these words:

" The Mexicans who, in the territories
aforesaid, shall not preserve the character
of citizens of the Mexican republic, con
formably with what is stipulated in the
preceding article, shall be incorporated
into the Union of the United States and
be admitted at the proper time (to be
judged of by the Congress of the United
States) to the enjoyment of all the rights
of citizens of the United States accord
ing to the principles of the Constitution,
and in the mean time shall be maintained
and protected in the free enjoyment of
their liberty and property, and secured in
the free exercise of their religion without

It is plain, therefore, on the fa<>e of
these treaty stipulations that all Mexicans
established in territories north or east of
the line of demarcation already mention
ed come within the protection of the ninth
article, and that the treaty, being a part
of the supreme law of the land, does ex
tend over all such Mexicans, and assures

to them perfect security in the free enjoy
ment of their liberty and property, as
well as in the free exercise of their relig
ion ; and this supreme law of the land, be
ing thus in actual force over this terri
tory, is to be maintained until it shall
bo displaced or superseded by other legal
provisions; and if it be obstructed or re
sisted by combinations too powerful to be
suppressed by the civil authority, the
ciise is one which comes within the pro
visions of law, and which obliges the Pres
ident to enforce those provisions. Neither
the Constitution nor the laws nor my duty
nor my oath of office leave me any alter
native or any choice in my mode of action.

The executive government of the United
States has no power or authority to deter
mine what was the true line of boundary
between Mexico and the United States be
fore the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, nor
has it any such power now, since the
question has become a question between
the State of Texas and the United States.
So far as this boundary is doubtful,
that doubt can only be removed by some
act of Congress, to which the assent of the
Stale of Texas may be necessary, or by
some appropriate mode of legal adjudica
tion ; but in the mean time, if disturb
ances or collisions arise or should be
threatened, it is absolutely incumbent on
the executive government, however pain
ful the duty, to take care that the laws
be faithfully maintained; and he can re
gard only the actual state of things as it
existed at the date of the treaty, and is
bound to protect all inhabitants who were
then established and who now remain
north and east of the line of demarca
tion in the full enjoyment of their liberty
and property, according to the provisions
of the ninth article of the treaty. In oth
er words, all must be now regarded as New
Mexico which was possessed and occupied
as New Mexico by citizens of Mexico at
the date of the treaty until a definite line
of boundary shall be established by com
petent authority.

This assertion of duty to protect the
people of New Mexico from threatened vio
lence, or from seizure to be carried into
Texas for trial for alleged offences against
Texan laws, does not at all include any
claim of power on the part of the execu
tive to establish any civil or military gov-



ernment within that Territory. That
power belongs exclusively to the legisla
tive department, and Congress is the sole
judge of the time and manner of creating
or authorizing any such government.

The duty of the executive extends only
to the execution of laws and the main
tenance of treaties already in force, and the
protection of all the people of the United
States in the enjoyment of the rights
which those treaties and laws guarantee.
It is exceedingly desirable that no occa
sion should arise for the exercise of the
powers thus vested in the President by the
Constitution and the laws. With what
ever mildness those powers might be ex
ecuted, or however clear the case of neces
sity, yet consequences might, nevertheless,
follow of which no human sagacity can
foresee either the evils or the end.

Having thus laid before Congress the
communication of his excellency the gov
ernor of Texas and the answer thereto,
and having made such observations as I
have thought the occasion called for re
specting constitutional obligations which
may arise in the further progress of things
and may devolve on me to be performed, I
hope I shall not be regarded as stepping
aside from the line of my duty, notwith
standing that I am aware that the subject
is now before both Houses, if I express
my deep and earnest conviction of the im
portance of an immediate decision or ar
rangement or settlement of the question of
boundary between Texas and the Territory
of New Mexico. All considerations of
justice, general expediency, and domestic
tranquillity call for this. It seems to be
in its character and by position the first,
or one of the first, of the questions grow
ing out of the acquisition of California and
New Mexico, and now requiring decision.
No government can be established for
New Mexico, either State or Territorial,
until it shall be first ascertained what
New Mexico is, and what are her limits
and boundaries. These cannot be fixed
or known till the line of division be
tween her and Texas shall be ascertained
and established; and numerous and
weighty reasons conspire, in my judgment,
to show that this divisional line should
be established by Congress with the as
sent of the government of Texas. In the
first place, this seems by far the most


prompt mode of proceeding by which
the end can be accomplished. If judicial
proceedings were resorted to, such pro
ceedings would necessarily be slow, and
years would pass by, in all probability,
before the controversy could be ended.
So great a delay in this case is to be
avoided if possible. Such delay would be
every way inconvenient, and might be the
occasion of disturbances and collisions.
For the same reason I would, with the
utmost deference to the wisdom of Con
gress, express a doubt of the expediency
of the appointment of commissioners, and
of an examination, estimate, and an award
of indemnity to be made by them. This
would be but a species of arbitration,
which might last as long as a suit at law.

So far as I am able to comprehend the
case, the general facts are now all known,
and Congress is as capable of deciding
on it justly and properly now as it prob
ably would be after the report of the com
missioners. If the claim of title on the
part of Texas appears to Congress to be
well founded in whole or in part, it is
in the competency of Congress to offer
her an indemnity for the surrender of that
claim. In a case like this, surrounded as
it is by many cogent considerations, all
calling for amicable adjustment and im
mediate settlement, the government of the
United States would be justified, in my
opinion, in allowing an indemnity to
Texas, not unreasonable or extravagant,
but fair, liberal, and awarded in a just
spirit of accommodation.

I think no event would be hailed with
more gratification by the people of the
United States than the amicable adjust
ment of questions of difficulty which have
now for a long time agitated the country
and occupied, to the exclusion of other sub
jects, the time and attention of Congress.

Having thus freely communicated the
results of my own reflections on the most
advisable mode of adjusting the boundary
question, I shall nevertheless cheerfully
acquiesce in any other mode which the wis
dom of Congress may devise. And in con
clusion I repeat my conviction that every
consideration of the public interest mani
fests the necessity of a provision by Con
gress for the settlement of this boundary
question before the present session be
brought to a close. The settlement of


other questions connected with the same
subject within the same period is greatly
to be desired, but the adjustment of this
appears to me to be in the highest degree
important. In the train of such an ad
justment we may well hope that there
will follow a return of harmony and good
will, an increased attachment to the Union,
and the general satisfaction of the coun

Filson, JOHN, pioneer; born in Chester
county, Pa., in 1747; purchased a one-
third interest in the site of Cincinnati,
which he called Losantiville. While ex
ploring the country in the neighborhood of
Losantiville he disappeared and it is sup
posed w r as killed by hostile Indians, about
1788. He was the author of The Dis
covery, Settlement, and Present State of
Kentucky; A Topographical Description
of the Western Territory of North Ameri
ca; Diary of a Journey from Philadelphia
to Vincennes, Ind., in IT 85, etc.

Finances, UNITED STATES. Financial
topics were uppermost in interest during
the years immediately succeeding 1890.
The demand for the free and unlimited
coinage of silver increased in the South
ern and Western portions of the country.
Between 1891 and 1892 the expenditures
increased.-and the receipts decreased. Part
of the silver was coined, and the rest ac
cumulated in the treasury vaults. The
silver question, and, with it, the whole
financial problem, was suddenly brought
prominently to the front in 1898. On
June 26 of that year the British govern
ment closed the Indian mints to the free
coinage of silver. As -this important sil
ver market was thus barretl, the effect
was to accelerate the fall in the price ot
that metal. At this date the value of
the silver dollar was about 60 cents, and
it fell below that point. The ratio of
gold to silver, which in 1873 was 15+,
was in 1886 20, and in 1893 25 y 2 . The
amount of gold in the country was greatly
decreased during the same period". The
gold - reserve in the treasuYy, which had
been above the $100,000,000 limit, fell in
August, 1893,- to $96,000,000; stood Sept.
30 at $93,000,000, and Jan. 13, 1894, had

Online LibraryBenson John LossingHarper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) → online text (page 57 of 76)