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acquisitions of Louisiana and Florida may be defended upon the
peculiar ground of the relation in which they stood to the States of
the Union. After they were admitted, we might well pause awhile,
people our vast wastes, develop our resources, prepare the means of
defending what we possess, and augment our strength, power, and great-
ness. If hereafter further territory should be wanted for an increased
population, we need entertain no apprehensions but that it will be
acquired by means, it is to be hoped, fair, honorable, and constitutional.
It is useless to disguise that there are those who espouse and those
who oppose the annexation of Texas upon the ground of the influence
which it would exert, in the balance of political power, between two
great sections of the Union. I conceive that no motive for the acqui-
sition of foreign territory would be more unfortunate, or pregnant with
more fatal consequences, than that of obtaining it for the purpose of
strengthening one part against another part of the common Confederacy.
Such a principle, put into practical operation, would menace the exist-
ence, if it did not certainly sow the seeds of a dissolution of the Union.
It would be to proclaim to the world an insatiable and unquenchable

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648 Annexation of Texas [1844

thirst for foreign conquest or acquisition of territory. For if to-day
Texas be acquired to strengthen one part of the Confederacy, to-morrow
Canada may be required to add strength to another. And, after that
might have been obtained, still other and further acquisitions would
become necessary to equalize and adjust the balance of political power.
Finally, in the progress of this spirit of universal dominion, the part
of the Confederacy which is now weakest, would find itself still weaker
from the impossibility of securing new theatres for those peculiar insti-
tutions which it is charged with being desirous to extend.

But would Texas, ultimately, really add strength to that which is now
considered the weakest part of the Confederacy? If my information
be correct, it would not. According to that, the territory of Texas is
susceptible of a division into five States of convenient size and form.
Of these, two only would be adapted to those peculiar institutions to
which I have referred, and the other three, lying west and north of San
Antonio, being only adapted to farming and grazing purposes, from the
nature of their soil, climate, and productions, would not admit of those
institutions. In the end, therefore, there would be two slave and three
free States probably added to the Union. If this view of the soil and
geography of Texas be correct, it might serve to diminish the zeal both
of those who oppose and those who are urging annexation. . . .

If any European nation entertains any ambitious designs upon Texas,
such as that of colonizing her, or in any way subjugating her, I should
regard it as the imperative duty of the Government of the United States
to oppose to such designs the most firm and determined resistance, to
the extent, if necessary, of appealing to arms to prevent the accomplish-
ment of any such designs. The Executive of the United States ought
to be informed as to the aims and views of foreign Powers with regard
to Texas, and I presume that, if there be any of the exceptionable
character which I have indicated, the Executive will disclose to the
co-ordinate departments of the Government, if not to the public, the
evidence of them. From what I have seen and heard, I believe that
Great Britain has recently formally and solemnly disavowed any such
aims or purposes — has declared that she is desirous only of the inde-
pendence of Texas, and that she has no intention to interfere in her
domestic institutions. If she has made such disavowal and declaration,
I presume they are in the possession of the Executive. . . .

... In conclusion ... I consider the annexation of Texas, at this
time, without the assent of Mexico, as a measure compromising the

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No. x88] Calhoun's Reasons 649

national character, involving us certainly in war with Mexico, probably
with other foreign Powers, dangerous to the integrity of the Union,
inexpedient in the present financial condition of the country, and not
called for by any general expression of public opinion.

DcUly NationcU Intelligencer (Washington), April 27, 1844.

188. Reasons for Annexation (1844)


As an ardent pro-slavery man, Calhoun was an active promoter of the annexation
of Texas. This letter was addressed to Richard Pakenham, English minister to the
United Slates. — For Calhoun, see No. i6i above. — Bibliography as in No. i86

Department of State, Washington, April 18M, 1844.

THE undersigned. Secretary of State of the United States, has laid
before the President the note of the Right Honorable Mr. Paken-
ham, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Her Britannic
Majesty, addressed to this department on the 26th of February last,
together with the accompanying copy of a despatch of Her Majesty's
Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Pakenham. In
reply, the undersigned is directed by the President to inform the Right
Honorable Mr. Pakenham, that, while he regards with pleasure the dis-
avowal of Lord Aberdeen of any intention on the part of Her Majesty's
Government " to resort to any measures, either openly or secretly, which
can tend to disturb the internal tranquillity of the slaveholding States,
and thereby affect the tranquillity of this Union," he at the same time
regards with deep concern the avowal, for the first time made to this
Government, " that Great Britain desires and is constantly exerting her-
self to procure the general abolition of slavery throughout the world."

So long as Great Britain confined her policy to the abolition of slavery
in her own possessions and colonies, no other country had a right to
complain. It belonged to her exclusively to determine, according to
her own views of policy, whether it should be done or not. But when
she goes beyond, and avows it as her settled policy, and the object of her
constant exertions, to abolish it throughout the world, she makes it the
duty of all other countries, whose safety or prosperity may be endan-
gered by her policy, to adopt such measures as they may deem necessary
for their protection.

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650 Annexation of Texas [1844

It is with still deeper concern the President regards the avowal of
Lord Aberdeen of the desire of Great Britain to see slavery abolished
in Texas, and, as he infers, is endeavoring, through her diplomacy, to
accomplish it, by making the abolition of slavery one of the conditions
on which Mexico should acknowledge her independence. It has con-
firmed his previous impressions as to the policy of Great Britain in refer-
ence to Texas, and made it his duty to examine with much care and
solicitude what would be its effects on the prosperity and safety of the
United States, should she succeed in her endeavors. The investigation
has resulted in the settled conviction that it would be difficult for Texas,
in her actual condition, to resist what she desires, without supposing the
influence and exertions of Great Britain would be extended beyond the
limits assigned by Lord Aberdeen ; and this, if Texas could not resist
the consummation of the object of her desire, would endanger both the
safety and prosperity of the Union. Under this conviction, it is felt to
be the imperious duty of the Federal Government, the common repre-
sentative and protector of the States of the Union, to adopt, in self-
defence, the most effectual measures to defeat it.

This is not the proper occasion to state at large the grounds of this
conviction. It is sufficient to say, that the consummation of the avowed
object of her wishes in reference to Texas would be followed by hostile
feelings and relations between that country and the United States, which
could not fail to place her under the influence and control of Great
Britain. This, from the geographical position of Texas, would expose
the weakest and most vulnerable portion of our frontier to inroads,
and place in the power of Great Britain the most efficient means of
effecting in the neighboring States of this Union what she avows to be
her desire to do in all countries where slavery exists. To hazard conse-
quences which would be so dangerous to the prosperity and safety of
this Union, wiihout resorting to the most effective measures to prevent
them, would be, on the part of the Federal Government, an abandon-
ment of the most solemn obligation imposed by the guarantee which the
States, in adopting the Constitution, entered into to protect each other
against whatever might endanger their safety, whether from without or
within. Acting in obedience to this obligation, on which our federal
system of Government rests, the President directs me to inform you
that a treaty has been concluded between the United States and Texas,
for the annexation of the latter to the former as a part of its territory,
which will be submitted without delay to the Senate, for its approval

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Ko. 188] Calhoun's Reasons 651

This step has been taken as the most effectual, if not the only means of
guarding against the threatened danger, and securing their permanent
peace and welfare.

It is well known that Texas has long desired to be annexed to this
Union ; that her people, at the time of the adoption of her Constitution,
expressed, by an almost unanimous vote, her desire to that effect : and
that she has never ceased to desire it, as the most certain means of pro-
moting her safety and prosperity. The United States have heretofore
declined to meet her wishes ; ^ ^t the time has now arrived when they
can no longer refuse, consistentl/with^heir own security and peace, and
the sacred obligation imposed by their constitutional compact for mutual
"defence and protection. ;tv -

They are equally without responsibility for that state of things, already
adverted to as the immediate cause of imposing on them, in self-defence,
the obligation of adopting the measure they have. They remained pas-
sive so long as the policy on the part of Great Britain, which has led
to its adoption, had no immediate bearing on their peace and safety.
While they conceded to Great Britain the right of adopting whatever
policy she might deem best, in reference to the African race, within her
own possessions, they on their part claim the same right for themselves.
The policy she has adopted in reference to the portion of that race in
her dominions may be humane and wise ; but it does not follow, if it
prove so with her, that it would be so in reference to the United States
and other countries, whose situation differs from hers. But> whether it
would be or not, it belongs to each to judge and determine for itself.
With us it is a question to be decided, not by the Federal Government,
but by each member of this Union, for itself, according to its own views
of its domestic policy, and without any right on the part of the Federal
Government to interfere in any manner whatever. Its rights and duties
are limited to protecting, under the guarantees of the Constitution, each
member of this Union, in whatever policy it may adopt in reference to
the portion within its respective limits. A large number of the States
has decided, that it is neither wise nor humane to change the relation
which has existed, from their first settlement, between the two races ;
while others, where the African is less numerous, have adopted the
opposite policy.

It belongs not to the Government to question whether the former
have decided wisely or not ; and if it did, the undersigned would not
regard this as the proper occasion to discuss the subject. He does not,

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652 Annexation of Texas [1845

however, deem it irrelevant to state that, if the experience of more than
half a century is to decide, it would be neither humane nor wise in
them to change their policy. . . .

. . . Experience has proved that the existing relation, in which the one
[race] is subjected to the other, in the slaveholding States, is consistent
with the peace and safety of both, with great improvement to the infe-
rior ; while the same experience proves that the relation which it is the
desire and object of Great Britain to substitute in its stead in this and all
other countries, under the plausible name of the abolition of slavery,
would (if it did not destroy the inferior by conflicts, to which it would
lead) reduce it to the extremes of vice and wretchedness. In this view
of the subject it may be asserted, that what is called slavery is in reality
a political institution, essential to the peace, safety, and prosperity
of those States of the Union in which it exists. Without, then, contro-
verting the wisdom and humanity of the policy of Great Britain, so far
as her own possessions are concerned, it may be safely affirmed, without
reference to the means by which it would be affected, that, could she
succeed in accomplishing, in the United States, what she avows to be
her desire and the object of her constant exertions to effect throughout
the world, so far from being wise or humane, she would involve in the
greatest calamity the whole country, and especially the race which it is
the avowed object of her exertions to benefit.
John C. Calhoun, IVorks ([edited by Richard K. Crall^, New York, 1855),

V, 333-339 /'W'^'^'-

189. How Annexation was Secured (1845)


Benton was senator from Missouri for thirty years, and, next to Gay, the most
prominent of the western statesmen during that period. He was a Democrat and a
Jackson man, conservative in financial matters, vigorous in securing liberal land laws,
and interested in the development of the great West. He became a stern opponent
of Calhoun and his extreme states' rights doctrines; and, believing that the Missouri
Compromise should be kept inviolate, he denounced the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. — For
Benton, see Theodore Roosevelt, 7\ H. Benton, — Bibliography as in No. 186 above.

I COME now to the direct proofs of the Senator's authorship of the
war ; and begin with the year 1836, and with the month of May of
that year, and with the 27th day of that month, and with the first rumors
of the victory of San Jacinto. The Congress of the United States was

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No. 189] How Secured 653

then in session : the Senator from South Carolina was then a member
of this body ; and, without even waiting for the official confirmation of
that great event, he proposed at once the immediate recognition of the
independence of Texas, and her immediate admission into this Union. . . .

• • • he was for plunging us into instant war with Mexico. I say,
instant war ; for Mexico and Texas were then in open war ; and to in-
corporate Texas, was to incorporate the war at the same time. All this
the Senator was then for, immediately after his own gratuitous cession
of Texas, and long before the invention of the London abolition plot
came so opportunely to his aid. . . .

The Congress of 1836 would not admit Texas. The Senator from
South Carolina became patient : the Texas question went to sleep ; and
for seven good years it made no disturbance. It then woke up, and with
a suddenness and violence proportioned to its long repose. Mr. Tyler
was then President : the Senator from South Carolina was potent under
his administration, and soon became his Secretary of State. ... I come
at once to the letter of the 17th of January, from theTexian Minister to
Mr. Upshur, the American Secretary of State ; and the answer to that
letter by Mr. Calhoun, of April nth of the same year. They are both
vital in this case ; and the first is in these words :

" Sir : It is known to you that an armistice has been proclaimed between Mexico
and Texas; that that armistice has been obtained through the intervention of several
great Powers mutually friendly; and that negotiations are now pending, having for
their object a settlement of the difficulties heretofore existing between the two coun-
tries. A proposition likewise having been submitted by the President of the United
States, through you, for the annexation of Texas to this country, therefore (without
indicating the nature of the reply which the President of Texas may direct to be made
to this proposition) I beg leave to suggest that it may be apprehended, should a treaty
of annexation be concluded, Mexico may think proper to at once terminate the armis-
tice, break off all negotiations for peace, and again threaten or commence hostilities
against Texas; and that some of the other (jovernments who have been instrumental
in obtaining their cession, if they do not throw their influence into the Mexican scale,
may altogether withdraw their good offices of mediation, thus losing to Texas their
friendship, and exposing her to the unrestrained menaces of Mexico. In view, then,
of these things, I desire to submit, through you, to his excellency the President of the
United States this inquiry : Should the President of Texas accede to the proposition
of annexation, would the President of the United States, after the signing of the treaty,
and before it shall be ratified and receive the final action of the other branches of both
Governments, in case Texas should desire it, or with her consent, order such number
of the military and naval forces of the United States to such necessary points or places
upon the territory or borders of Texas or the Gulf of Mexico as shall be sufficient to
protect her against foreign aggression? ..."...

... at last, and after long delay, the Secretary wrote, and signed the
pledge which Murphy had given, and in all the amplitude of his original

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654 Annexation of Texas [1845

promise. That letter was dated on the nth day of April, 1844, and
was in these words :

" Gentlemen : The letter addressed by Mr. Van Zandt to the late Secretary of
State, Mr. Upshur, to which you have called my attention, dated Washington, 17th
January, 1844, has been laid before the President of the United States.

" In reply to it, I am directed by the President to say that the Secretary of the
Navy has been instructed to order a strong naval force to concentrate in the Gulf of
Mexico, to meet any emergency; and that similar orders have been issued by the
Secretary of War, to move the disposable military forces on our southwestern frontier,
for the same purpose. Should the exigency arise to which you refer in your note to
Mr. Upshur, 1 am further directed by the President to say, that during the pendency
of the treaty of annexation, he would deem it his duty to use all the means placed
within his power by the Constitution to protect Texas from all foreign invasion. I
have the honor to be, &c." . . .

The pledge of the nth of April being signed, the treaty was signed,
and being communicated to the Senate it was rejected: and the great
reason for the rejection was that the ratification of the treaty would have
been WAR with Mexico ! an act which the President and Senate to-
gether, no more than President Tyler and his Secretary of State together,
had the power to make. . . .

I now come to the last act in this tragedy of errors — the alternative
resolutions adopted by Congress in the last days of the session of 1844-
*45, and in the last moments of Mr. Tyler's Administration. A resolve,
single and absolute, for the admission of Texas as a State of this Union,
had been made by the House of Representatives ; it came to this body ;
and an alternative resolution was added, subject to the choice of the
President, auth9iizing negotiations for the admission, and appropriating
1 1 00,000 to defray the expenses of these negotiations. ... It was con-
sidered by everybody, that the choice between these resolutions belonged
to the new President, who had been elected with a special view to the ad-
mission of Texas, and who was already in the city, awaiting the morning
of the 4th of March to enter upon the execution of his duties, and upon
whose Administration all the evils of a mistake in the choice of these
resolutions were to fall. We all expected the question to be left oi>en
to the new President ; and so strong was that expectation, and so strong
the feeling against the decency or propriety of interference on the part
of the expiring Administration, to snatch this choice out of the hands of
Mr. Polk, that, on a mere suggestion of the possibility of such a proceed-
ing, in a debate on this floor, a Senator standing in the relation personally,
and politically, and locally to feel for the honor of the then Secretary of
State, declared they would not have the audacity to do it. . . . They did

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No. 189]

How Secured


have the audacity 1 They did do it, or rather, HE did it, for it is incon-
testable that Mr. Tyler was nothing, in anything that related to the Texas
question, from the time of the arrival of his Secretary of State. ... On
Sunday, the second day of March, — that day which preceded the last
day of his authority — and on that day, sacred to peace — the council
sat that acted on the resolutions ; — and in the darkness of a night howl-
ing with the storm, and battling with the elements, as if Heaven warred
upon the audacious act, (for well do I remember it,) the fatal messenger
was sent off which carried the selected resolution to Texas. The exit
of the Secretary from office, and the start of the messenger from Wash-
ington, were coetaneous — twin acts — which come together, and will be
remembered together. The act was then done : Texas was admitted :
all the consequences of admission were incurred . . .

Congressional G/ode, 29 Cong., 2 sess. (Hlair and Rives, Washington, 1847),
494-497 passim, February 25 and 27, 1847.

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[The names of the authors of extracts are in boldface. The tMet of the piecei are In
Small Capitals. The titles of the books cited are in itaiics. An index to the aet
will be found at the end of Volume IV.J

ABERDEEN, LORD, on slavery in Texas,

Adams. Hrt. Abigail, The National
Capitol, 331-333; Letters, 333.

Adams, Henry, Life of GaUaiin, la.

Adams, John, Works, 10. 11, 163, 176, 983.
301; negotiations with Holland, i6a;
Presentation op the First Ameri-
can Minister to George Third. 17%-
Z76 ; president of the Senate, 258 ; ORIGIN
OP Parties, 282-383; Election op
1796, 300-301 ; Anti-Federalist comment
on, 337.

Adams, John Qtiincj, Memoirs, 10, 499, 483 ;
Discussion op Peace, 426-429; The
Spanish Treaty op 1819. 481-483;
L'Amistad case, 626, 629; Depence OP
Free Speech, 633-636.

Adams, Samoel, What is Popular
Government? 93-96; Observa-hons
ON the Treaty op Peace, 161-163.

Adams, Dr. William, British envoy, 426-429.

Agriculturists and protective tariff, 434-436.

Alamo, the. 638.

Alaskan waters, 487-489.

Aleutian Islands. 488.

Alexander First. Czar, The Russian
Ukase on Alaskan Waters. 487-489.

Algiers, demand for subsidies, 351-355.

AUbright, Jacob. Burr's Muster at


Allied Sovereigns, The Holy Alliance,

Amendments to Constitution, ptroposed, 234.
America, conditions of^ in 1784, 22-27.

American Anti-Slavery Society, <o8.
American Historical Association. Report on

History in Schools, x.
American Historical Retriew, 58, sii, S76,

336. 351.
American Afmseum, 37, 239.
American Philosophical Sodety, T^amtac-

tions, 471.
American State Papers, xa
American State Papers, Fbre^ R e latiom,

171. 31a. 3H. 326. 355. 400, 403. 501.
Americans, characteristics of. 77.
Ames, Fisher. Depence op the Jat

Treaty, 315-3x9; Speech on Jay 'Dreafy^

Ames, Hathaniel, Political Comments,

33^339; L>iary,y3^
Amistad case, 626-629.
Andover (Mass.), life at, 509-5x2.
Annals of Congress, 8. 9. 264, tej%, 376, 960,

420, 436, 44a
Annapolis Convention, X85-187.
Annexations, objections, 373-376, 642-^5.
Annual Register, 30a.

Anonjrmons, A Conpession op Eng-
land's Error, 302.
Anti-Federalists, policy of, 289-292, 097.
Anti-slavery, meeting, 602-608; protest

against annexation of Texas, ^42-^5. —

See also Slavery.
Apprentices, 25-26.
Armstrong, Major John, The Newbvrg

Addresses, 122-125.
Army, of Connecticut, 47; dIsosoteaA in

continental, 121. — See also War.


Online LibraryAlbert Bushnell HartAmerican history told by contemporaries .. → online text (page 66 of 68)