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ry, south or west, north or east, to the States of this Union, as
they are constituted and held together under the Constitution.
I do not want the colonists of England on the north ; and as
little do I want the population of Mexico on the south. I resist
and reject all, and all with equal resolution. Therefore I say,
that, if the question were put to me to-day, whether I would
take peace under the present state of the country, distressed as it
is, during the existence of a war odious as this is, under circum
stances so afflictive as now exist to humanity, and so disturb
ing to the business of those whom I represent, I say still, if it
were put to me whether I would have peace, with new States, I
would say, No! no! And that because, Sir, in my judgment,
there is no necessity of being driven into that dilemma. Other
gentlemen think differently. I hold no man s conscience ; but I
mean to make a clean breast of it myself; and I protest that I
see no reason, I believe there is none, why we cannot obtain as
safe a peace, as honorable and as prompt a peace, without terri
tory as with it. The two things are separable. There is no



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 281

necessary connection between them. Mexico does not wish us to
take her territory, while she receives our money. Far from it.
She yields her assent, if she yields it at all, reluctantly, and we
all know it. It is the result of force, and there is no man here
who does not know that. And let me say, Sir, that, if this Trist
paper shall finally be rejected in Mexico, it is most likely to be
because those who under our protection hold the power there
cannot, persuade the Mexican Congress or people to agree to this
cession of territory. The thing most likely to break up what
we now expect to take place is the repugnance of the Mexican
people to part with their territory. They would prefer to keep
their territory, and that we should keep our money ; as I prefer
we should keep our money, and they their territory. We shall
see. I pretend to no powers of prediction. I do not know
what may happen. The times are full of strange events. But
I think it certain that, if the treaty which has gone to Mexico
shall fail to be ratified, it will be because of the aversion of the
Mexican Congress, or the Mexican people, to cede the territory,
or any part of it, belonging to their republic.

I have said that I would rather have no peace for the present,
than have a peace which brings territory for new States ; and
the reason is, that we shall get peace as soon without territory
as with it, more safe, more durable, and vastly more honorable
to us, the great republic of the world.

But we hear gentlemen say, We must have some territory, the
people demand it. I deny it; at least, I see no proof of it what
ever. I do not doubt that there are individuals of an enterprising
character, disposed to emigrate, who know nothing about New
Mexico but that it is far off, and nothing about California but
that it is still farther off, who are tired of the dull pursuits of
agriculture and of civil life ; that there are hundreds and thou
sands of such persons to whom whatsoever is new and distant
is attractive. They feel the spirit of borderers, and the spirit of
a borderer, I take it, is to be tolerably contented with his condi
tion where he is, until somebody goes to regions beyond him;
and then he is all eagerness to take up his traps and go still far
ther than he who has thus got in advance of him. With such
men the desire to emigrate is an irresistible passion. At least so
thought that sagacious observer of human nature, M. de Talley
rand, when he travelled in this country in 1794.
24*



282 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR,

But I say I do not find anywhere any considerable and re
spectable body of persons who want more territory, and such
territory. Twenty-four of us last year in this house voted
against the prosecution of the war for territory, because we did
not want it, both Southern and Northern men. I believe the
Southern gentlemen who concurred in that vote found them
selves, even when they had gone against what might be sup
posed to be local feelings and partialities, sustained on the gen
eral policy of not seeking territory, and by the acquisition of ter
ritory bringing into our politics certain embarrassing and em
broiling questions and considerations. I do not learn that they
suffered from the advocacy of such a sentiment. I believe they
were supported in it; and I believe that through the greater
part of the South, and even of the Southwest, there is no preva
lent opinion in favor of acquiring territory, and such territory,
and of the augmentation of our population by such an acces
sion. And such, I need not say, is, if not the undivided, the
preponderating sentiment of all the North.

But it is said we must take territory for the sake of peace.
We must take territory. It is the will of the President. If we
do not now take what he offers, we may fare worse. Mr. Polk
will take no less, that he is fixed upon. He is immovable. He
has put down his foot ! Well, Sir, he put it down
upon " fifty-four forty," but it did n t stay. I speak of the Pres
ident, as of all Presidents, without disrespect. I know of no rea
son why his opinion and his will, his purpose, declared to be final,
should control us, any more than our purpose, from equally con
scientious motives, and under as high responsibilities, should
control him. We think he is firm, and will not be moved. I
should be sorry, Sir, very sorry, indeed, that we should entertain
more respect for the firmness of the individual at the head of the
government than we entertain for our own firmness. He stands
out against us. Do we fear to stand out against him ? For one,
I do not. It appears to me to be a slavish doctrine. For one, I
am willing to meet the issue, and go to the people all over this
broad land. Shall we take peace without new States, or refuse
peace without new States ? I \vill stand upon that, and trust
the people. And I do that because I think it right, and because
I have no distrust of the people. I am not unwilling to put it
to their sovereign decision and arbitration. I hold this to be a



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 283

question vital, permanent, elementary, in the future prosperity of
the country and the maintenance of the Constitution ; and I am
willing to trust that question to the people. I prefer that it
should go to them, because, if what I take to be a great consti
tutional principle, or what is essential to its maintenance, is to
be broken down, let it be the act of the people themselves ; it
shall never be my act, I, therefore, do not distrust the people.
I am willing to take their sentiment, from the Gulf to the Brit
ish Provinces, and from the ocean to the Missouri : Will you
continue the war for territory, to be purchased, after all, at an
enormous price, a price a thousand times the value of all its
purchases, or take peace, contenting yourselves with the honor
we have reaped by the military achievements of the army ?
Will you take peace without territory, and preserve the integ
rity of the Constitution of the country ? I am entirely willing
to stand upon that question. I will therefore take the issue :
Peace, with no new States, keeping our ov:n money ourselves, or
war till neiv States shall be acquired, and vast sums paid.
That is the true issue. I am willing to leave that before the
people and to the people, because it is a question for themselves.
If they support me and think with me, very well. If otherwise,
if they will have territory and add new States to the Union, let
them do so ; and let them be the artificers of their own fortune,
for good or for evil.

But, Sir, we tremble before executive power. The truth can
not be concealed. We tremble before executive power! Mr.
Polk will take no less than this. If we do not take this, the
king s anger may kindle, and he will give us what is worse.

But now, Sir, who and what is Mr. Polk ? I speak of him
with no manner of disrespect. I mean, thereby, only to ask who
and what is the President of the United States for the current
moment. He is in the last year of his administration. For
mally, officially, it can only be drawn out till the fourth of March,
while really and substantially we know that two short months
will, or may, produce events that will render the duration of that
official term of very little importance. We are on the eve of a
Presidential election. That machinery which is employed to col
lect public opinion or party opinion will be put in operation two
months hence. We shall see its result. It may be that the
present incumbent of the Presidential office will be again pre-



284 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

sented to his party friends and admirers for their suffrages for the
next Presidential term. I do not say how probable or improb
able this is. Perhaps it is not entirely probable. Suppose this
not to be the result, what then ? Why, then Mr. Polk becomes
as absolutely insignificant as any respectable man among the
public men of the United States. Honored in private life, val
ued for his private character, respectable, never eminent, in
public life, he will, from the moment a new star arises, have just
as little influence as you or I ; and, so far as I am concerned,
that certainly is little enough.

Sir, political partisans, and aspirants, and office-seekers are
not sunflowers. They do not

" turn to their god when he sets
The same look which they turned when he rose."

No, Sir, if the respectable gentleman now at the head of the
government be nominated, there will be those who will com
mend his consistency, who will be bound to maintain it, for the
interest of his party friends will require it. It will be done. If
otherwise, who is there in the whole length and breadth of the
land that will care for the consistency of the present incumbent
of the office ? There will then be new objects. " Manifest des
tiny " will have pointed out some other man. Sir, the eulogies
are now written, the commendations are already elaborated. I
do not say every thing fulsome, but every thing panegyrical, has
already been written out, with blanks for names, to be filled
when the convention shall adjourn. When " manifest destiny "
shall be unrolled, all these strong panegyrics, wherever they may
light, made beforehand, laid up in pigeon-holes, studied, framed,
emblazoned, and embossed, will all come out ; and then there
will be found to be somebody in the United States whose mer
its have been strangely overlooked, marked out by Providence, a
kind of miracle, while all will wonder that nobody ever thought
of him before, as a fit, and the only fit, man to be at the head of
this great republic !

I shrink not, therefore, from any thing that I feel to be my
duty, from any apprehension of the importance and imposing
dignity, and the power of will, ascribed to the present incumbent
of office. But I wish we possessed that power of will. I wish
we had that firmness. Yes, Sir, I wish we had adherence. I



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 285

wish we could gather something from the spirit of our brave
forces, who have met the enemy under circumstances most ad
verse and have stood the shock. I wish we could imitate Zach-
ary Taylor in his bivouac on the field of Buena Vista. He said
he "would remain for the night; he would feel the enemy in
the morning, and try his position." I wish, before we surrender,
we could make up our minds to "feel the enemy, and try his
position," and I think we should find him, as Taylor did, under
the early sun, on his way to San Luis Potosi. That is my
judgment.

But, Sir, I come to the all-absorbing question, more particu
larly, of the creation of new States.

Some years before I entered public life, Louisiana had been
obtained under the treaty with France. Shortly after, Florida
was obtained under the treaty with Spain. These two coun
tries were situated on our frontier, and commanded the outlets
of the great rivers which flow into the Gulf. As I have had
occasion to say, in the first of these instances, the President of
the United States * supposed that an amendment of the Con
stitution was required. He acted upon that supposition. Mr.
Madison was Secretary of State, and, upon the suggestion of the
President, proposed that the proper amendment to the Constitu
tion should be submitted, to bring Louisiana into the Union.
Mr. Madison drew it, and submitted it to Mr. Adams, as I have
understood. Mr. Madison did not go upon any general idea
that new States might be admitted ; he did not proceed to a
general amendment of the Constitution in that respect. The
amendment which he proposed and submitted to Mr. Adams
was a simple declaration, by a new article, that "the Province
of Louisiana is hereby declared to be part and parcel of the
United States." But public opinion, seeing the great impor
tance of the acquisition, took a turn favorable to the affirmation
of the power. The act was acquiesced in, and Louisiana be
came a part of the Union, without any amendment of the Con
stitution.

On the example of Louisiana, Florida was admitted.

Now, Sir, I consider those transactions as passed, settled,
legalized. There they stand as matters of political history.

* Mr. Jefferson.



286 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

They are facts against which it would be idle at this day to
contend.

My first agency in matters of this kind was upon the proposi
tion for admitting Texas into this Union. That I thought it
my duty to oppose, upon the general ground of opposing all
formation of new States out of foreign territory, and, I may
add, and I ought to add in justice, of States in which slaves
were to be represented in the Congress of the United States. I
was opposed to this on the ground of its inequality. It hap
pened to me, Sir, to be called upon to address a political meet
ing in New York, in 1837, soon after the recognition of Texan
independence. I state now, Sir, what I have often stated be
fore, that no man, from the first, has been a more sincere well-
wisher to the government and the people of Texas than myself.
I looked upon the achievement of their independence in the
battle of San Jacinto as an extraordinary, almost a marvellous,
incident in the affairs of mankind. I was amons: the first dis-

O

posed to acknowledge her independence. But from the first,
down to this moment, I have opposed, as far as I was able, the
annexation of new States to this Union. I stated my reasons
on the occasion now referred to, in language which I have now
before me, and which I beg to present to the Senate.

Mr. Webster here read the passage from his speech at Niblo s Saloon,
New York, which will be found in the first volume of this work, pages
335 to 337, beginning, " But it cannot be disguised, gentlemen, that a
desire, or an intention, is already manifested to annex Texas to the Unit
ed States."

Well, Sir, for a few years I held a position in the executive
administration of the government. I left the Department of
State in 1843, in the month of May. Within a month after,
another (an intelligent gentleman, for whom I cherished a high
respect, and who came to a sad and untimely end) had taken
my place, I had occasion to know, not officially, but from cir
cumstances, that the annexation of Texas was taken up by Mr.
Tyler s administration as an administration measure. It was
pushed, pressed, insisted on ; and I believe the honorable gen
tleman to whom I have referred* had something like a passion
for the accomplishment of this purpose. And I am afraid that

* Mr. Upshur.



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 287

the President of the United States* at that time suffered his
ardent feelings not a little to control his more prudent judg
ment. At any rate, I saw, in 1843, that annexation had be
come a purpose of the administration. I was not in Con
gress nor in public life. But, seeing this state of things, I
thought it my duty to admonish the country, so far as 1 could,
of the existence of that purpose. There are gentlemen at the
North, many of them, there are gentlemen now in the Capitol,
who know, that in the summer of 1843, being fully persuaded
that this purpose was embraced with zeal and determination by
the executive department of the government of the United States,
I thought it my duty, and asked them to concur with me in
the attempt, to make that purpose known to the country. I
conferred with gentlemen of distinction and influence. I pro
posed means for exciting public attention to the question of an
nexation, before it should have become a party question ; for I
had learned that, when any topic becomes a party question, it is
in vain to argue upon it.

But the optimists, and the quietists, and those who said, All
things are well, and let all things alone, discouraged, discoun
tenanced, and repressed any such effort. The North, they said,
could take care of itself; the country could take care of itself,
and would not sustain Mr. Tyler in his project of annexation.
When the time should come, they said, the power of the North
would be felt, and would be found sufficient to resist and pre
vent the consummation of the measure. And I could now refer
to paragraphs and articles in the most respectable and leading
journals of the North, in which it was attempted to produce the
impression that there was no danger ; there could be no addi
tion of new States, and men need not alarm themselves about
that.

I was not in Congress, Sir, when the preliminary resolutions,
providing for the annexation of Texas, passed. I only know that,
up to a very short period before the passage of those resolutions,
the impression in that part of the country of which I have spo
ken was, that no such measure could be adopted. But I have
found in the course of thirty years experience, that whatever
measures the executive government may embrace and push are

* Mr. Tyler.



288 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

quite likely to succeed in the end. There is always a giving
way somewhere. The executive government acts with "uni
formity, with steadiness, with entire unity of purpose. And
sooner or later, often enough, and, according to my construc
tion of our history, quite too often, it effects its purposes. In
this way it becomes the predominating power of the govern
ment.

Well, Sir, just before the commencement of the present ad
ministration, the resolutions for the annexation of Texas were
passed in Congress. Texas complied with the provisions of
those resolutions, and was here, or the case was here, on the
22d day of December, 1845, for her final admission into the
Union, as one of the States. I took occasion then to say,
that I hoped I had shown all proper regard for Texas ; that I
had been certainly opposed to annexation ; that, if I should go
over the whole matter again, I should have nothing new to
add ; that I had acted, all along, under the unanimous decla
ration of all parties, and of the legislature of Massachusetts ;
that I thought there must be some limit to the extent of our
territories, and that I wished this country should exhibit to the
world the example of a powerful republic, without greediness
and hunger of empire. And I added, that while I held, with
as much faithfulness as any citizen of the country, to all the
original arrangements and compromises of the Constitution un
der which we live, I never could, and I never should, bring my
self to be in favor of the admission of any States into the Union
as slave-holding States ; and I might have added, any States at
all, to be formed out of territories not now belonging to us.

Now, as I have said, in all this I acted under the resolutions
of the State of Massachusetts, certainly concurrent with my
own judgment, so often repeated, and reaffirmed by the unani
mous consent of all men of all parties, that I could not well go
through the series, pointing out, not only the impolicy, but the
unconstitutionality, of such annexation. If a State proposes to
come into the Union, and to come in as a slave State, then there
is an augmentation of the inequality in the representation of
the people; an inequality already existing, with which I do not
quarrel, and which I never will attempt to alter, but shall pre
serve as long as I have a vote to give, or any voice in this gov
ernment, because it is a part of the original compact. Let it



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 289

stand. But then there is another consideration of vastly more
general importance even than that ; more general, because it
affects all the States, free and slave-holding; and it is, that, if
States formed out of territories thus thinly populated come into
the Union, they necessarily and inevitably break up the relation
existing between the two branches of the government, and de
stroy its balance. They break up the intended relation between
the Senate and the House of Representatives. If you bring in
new States, any State that comes in must have two Senators.
She may come in with fifty or sixty thousand people, or more.
You may have, from a particular State, more Senators than you
have Representatives. Can any thing occur to disfigure and
derange the form of government under which we live more sig
nally than that? Here would be a Senate bearing no propor
tion to the people, out of all relation to them, by the addition
of new States ; from some of them only one Representative, per
haps, and two Senators, whereas the larger States may have
ten, fifteen, or even thirty Representatives, and but two Senators.
The Senate, augmented by these new Senators coming from
States where there are few people, becomes an odious oligarchy.
It holds power without any adequate constituency. Sir, it is
but "borough-mongering" upon a large scale. Now, I do not
depend upon theory ; I ask the Senate and the country to look
at facts, to see where we were when we made our departure
three years ago, and where we now are ; and I leave it to the
imagination to conjecture where we shall be.

"We admitted Texas ; one State for the present ; but, Sir, if
you refer to the resolutions providing for the annexation of Tex
as, you find a provision that it shall be in the power of Congress
hereafter to make four new States out of Texan territory. Pres
ent and prospectively, five new States, with ten Senators, may
come into the Union out of Texas. Three years ago we did this ;
we now propose to make two States. Undoubtedly, if we take,
as the President recommends, New Mexico and California, there
must then be four new Senators. We shall then have provided,
in these territories out of the United States along our southern
borders, for the creation of States enough to send fourteen Sena
tors into this chamber. Now, what will be the relation between
these Senators and the people they represent, or the States from
which they come ? I do not understand that there is any very

VOL. v. 25



290 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

accurate census of Texas. It is generally supposed to contain
one hundred and fifty thousand persons. I doubt whether it
contains above one hundred thousand.

MR. MANGUM. It contains one hundred and forty-nine thousand.

My honorable friend on my left says, a hundred and forty-nine
thousand. I put it down, then, one hundred and fifty thousand.
Well, Sir, Texas is not destined, probably, to be a country of
dense population. We will suppose it to have at the present
time a population of near one hundred and fifty thousand. New
Mexico may have sixty or seventy thousand inhabitants ; say
seventy thousand. In California, there are not supposed to be
above twenty-five thousand men ; but undoubtedly, if this terri
tory should become ours, persons from Oregon, and from our
Western States, will find their way to San Francisco, where
there is some good land, and we may suppose they will shortly
amount to sixty or seventy thousand. We will put them down
at seventy thousand. Then the whole territory in this estimate,
which is as high as any man puts it, will contain two hun
dred and ninety thousand persons, and they will send us, when
ever we ask for them, fourteen Senators ; a population less than
that of the State of Vermont, and not the eighth part of that
of New York. Fourteen Senators, and not as many people as
Vermont ! and no more people than New Hampshire ! and not
so many people as the good State of New Jersey !

But then, Sir, Texas claims to the line of the Rio Grande,
and if it be her true line, why then of course she absorbs a con
siderable part, nay, the greater part, of the population of what is
now called New Mexico. I do not argue the question of the



Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 28 of 53)