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true southern or western line of Texas; I only say, that it is
apparent to every body who will look at the map, and learn any
thing of the matter, that New Mexico cannot be divided by this
river, the Rio Grande, which is a shallow, fordable, insignificant
stream, creeping along through a narrow valley, at the base of
enormous mountains. New Mexico must remain together; it
must be a State with its seventy thousand people, and so it will
be ; and so will California.

But then, Sir, suppose Texas to remain a unit, and but one
State for the present; still we shall have three States, Texas,
New Mexico, and California. We shall have six Senators, then,



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 291

for less than three hundred thousand people. We shall have as
many Senators for three hundred thousand people in that region
as we have for New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, with four or
five millions of people ; and that is what we call an equal repre
sentation ! Is not this enormous ? Have gentlemen considered
this ? Have they looked at it ? Are they willing to look it in
the face, and then say they embrace it ? I trust, Sir, the people
will look at it and consider it. And now let me add, that this
disproportion can never be diminished; it must remain for ever.
How are you going to diminish it ? Why, here is Texas, with
a hundred and forty-nine thousand people, with one State.
Suppose that population should flow into Texas, where will it
go? Not to any dense point, but to be spread over all that
region, in places remote from the Gulf, in places remote from
what is now the capital of Texas ; and therefore, as soon as
there are in other portions of Texas people enough within our
common construction of the Constitution and our practice in
respect to the admission of States, my honorable friend from
Texas* will have a new State, and I have no doubt he has
chalked it out already.

As to New Mexico, its population is not likely to increase.
It is a settled country ; the people living along in the bot
tom of the valley on the sides of a little stream, a garter of
land only on one side and the other, filled by coarse landhold
ers and miserable peons. It can sustain, not only under this
cultivation, but under any cultivation that our American race
would ever submit to, no more people than are there now.
There will, then, be two Senators for sixty thousand inhabitants
in New Mexico to the end of our lives and to the end of the
lives of our children.

And how is it with California ? We propose to take Cali
fornia, from the forty-second degree of north latitude down to
the thirty-second. We propose to take ten degrees along the
coast of the Pacific. Scattered along the coast for that great
distance are settlements and villages and ports ; and in the real-
all is wilderness and barrenness, and Indian country. But if, just
about San Francisco, and perhaps Monterey, emigrants enough
should settle to make up one State, then the people five hun-

* Mr. Rusk.



292 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

clred miles off would have another State. And so this dispro
portion of the Senate to the people will go on, and must go on,
and we cannot prevent it.

I say, Sir, that, according to my conscientious conviction, we
are now fixing on the Constitution of the United States, and its
frame of government, a monstrosity, a disfiguration, an enor
mity ! Sir, I hardly dare trust myself. I don t know but I
may be under some delusion. It may be the weakness of my
eyes that forms this monstrous apparition. But, if I may trust
myself, if I can persuade myself that I am in my right mind,
then it does appear to me that we in this Senate have been and
are acting, and are likely to be acting hereafter, and immediate
ly, a part which will form the most remarkable epoch in the his
tory of our country. I hold it to be enormous, flagrant, an out
rage upon all the principles of popular republican government,
and on the elementary provisions of the Constitution under
which we live, and which we have sworn to support.

But then, Sir, what relieves the case from this enormity?
What is our reliance? Why, it is that we stipulate that these
new States shall only be brought in at a suitable time. And
pray, what is to constitute the suitableness of time ? Who is
to judge of it ? I tell you, Sir, that suitable time will come
when the preponderance of party power here makes it necessary
to bring in new States. Be assured it will be a suitable time
when votes are wanted in this Senate. We have had some lit
tle experience of that. Texas came in at a " suitable time," a
very suitable time ! Texas was finally admitted in December,
1845. My friend near me here, for whom I have a great regard,
and whose acquaintance I have cultivated with pleasure,* took
his seat in March, 1846, with his colleague. In July, 1846, these
two Texan votes turned the balance in the Senate, and over
threw the tariff of 1842, in my judgment the best system of rev
enue ever established in this country. Gentlemen on the oppo
site side think otherwise. They think it fortunate. They think
that was a suitable time, and they mean to take care that other
times shall be equally suitable. I understand it perfectly well.
That is the difference of opinion between me and these hon
orable gentlemen. To their policy, their objects, and their

* Mr. Rusk.



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 293

purposes the time was suitable, and the aid was efficient and
decisive.

Sir, in 1850 perhaps a similar question may be agitated here.
It is not likely to be before that time, but agitated it will be
then, unless a change in the administration of the government
shall take place. According to my apprehension, looking at
general results as flowing from our established system of com
merce and revenue, in two years from this time we shall prob
ably be engaged in a new revision of our system : in the work
of establishing, if we can, a tariff of specific duties; of pro
tecting, if we can, our domestic industry and the manufactures
of the country ; in the work of preventing, if we can, the over
whelming flood of foreign importations. Suppose that to be
part of the future : that would be exactly the " suitable time," if
necessary, for two Senators from New Mexico to make their
appearance here !

But, again, we hear another halcyon, soothing tone, which
quiets none of my alarms, assuages none of my apprehensions,
commends me to my nightly rest with no more resignation. And
that is, the plea that we may trust the popular branch of the
legislature, we may look to the House of Representatives, to the
Northern and Middle States and even the sound men of the
South, and trust them to take care that States be not admit
ted sooner than they should be, or for party purposes. I am
compelled, by experience, to distrust all such reliances. If we
cannot rely on ourselves, when we have the clear constitutional
authority competent to carry us through, and the motives in
tensely powerful, I beg to know how we can rely on others ?
Have we more reliance on the patriotism, the firmness, of oth
ers, than on our own ?

Besides, experience shows us that things of this sort may be
sprung upon Congress and the people. It was so in the case
of Texas. It was so in the Twenty-eighth Congress. The mem
bers of that Congress were not chosen to decide the question
of annexation or no annexation. They came in on other
grounds, political and party, and were supported for reasons not
connected with that question. What then ? The administra
tion sprung upon them the question of annexation. It obtained
a snap judgment upon it, and carried the measure of annexa-
25*



294 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

tion. That is indubitable, as I could show by many instances,
of which I shall state only one.

Four gentlemen from the State of Connecticut were elected
before the question arose, belonging to the dominant party.
They had not been here long before they were committed to
annexation ; and when it was known in Connecticut that an
nexation was in contemplation, remonstrances, private, pub
lic, and legislative, were uttered, in tones that any one could
hear who could hear thunder. Did they move them ? Not at
all. Every one of them voted for annexation ! The election
came on, and they were turned out, to a man. But what did
those care who had had the benefit of their votes ? Such agen
cies, if it be not more proper to call them such instrumentalities,
retain respect no longer than they continue to be useful.

Sir, we take New Mexico and California ; who is weak enough
to suppose that there is an end? Don t we hear it avowed
every day, that it would be proper also to take Sonora, Tamau-
lipas, and other provinces of Northern Mexico ? Who thinks
that the hunger for dominion will stop here of itself ? It is said,
to be sure, that our present acquisitions will prove so lean and
unsatisfactory, that we shall seek no further. In my judgment,
we may as well say of a rapacious animal, that, if he has made
one unproductive hunt, he will not try for a better foray.

But further. There are some things one can argue against
with temper, and submit to, if overruled, without mortification.
There are other things that seem to affect one s consciousness
of being a sensible man, and to imply a disposition to impose
upon his common sense. And of this class of topics, or preten
ces, I have never heard of any thing, and I cannot conceive of
any thing, more ridiculous in itself, more absurd, and more af-
frontive to all sober judgment, than the cry that we are getting
indemnity by the acquisition of New Mexico and California.
I hold they are not worth a dollar ; and we pay for them vast
sums of money! We have expended, as every body knows,
large treasures in the prosecution of the war; and now what
is to constitute this indemnity ? What do gentlemen mean by
it? Let us see a little how this stands. We get a country;
we get, in the first instance, a cession, or an acknowledgment
of boundary, (I care not which way you state it,) of the country
between the Nueces and the Rio Grande. W T hat this country is



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 295

appears from a publication made by a gentleman in the other
house.* He speaks of the country in the following manner :

" The country from the Nueces to the valley of the Rio Grande is
poor, sterile, sandy, and barren, with not a single tree of any size or
value on our whole route. The only tree which we saw was the mus-
quit-tree, and very few of these. The musquit is a small tree, resem
bling an old and decayed peach-tree. The whole country may be
truly called a perfect waste, uninhabited and uninhabitable. There is
not a drop of running water between the two rivers, except in the two
small streams of San Salvador and Santa Gertrudis, and these only con
tain water in the rainy season. Neither of them had running water
when we passed them. The chaparral commences within forty or
fifty miles of the Rio Grande. This is poor, rocky, and sandy ; cov
ered with prickly pear, thistles, and almost every sticking thing, consti
tuting a thick and perfectly impenetrable undergrowth. For any useful
or agricultural purpose, the country is not worth a sous.

" So far as we were able to form any opinion of this desert upon the
other routes which had been travelled, its character, everywhere between
the two rivers, is pretty much the same. We learned that the route
pursued by General Taylor, south of ours, was through a country simi
lar to that through which we passed ; as also was that travelled by Gen
eral Wool from San Antonio to Presidio on the Rio Grande. From
what we both saw and heard, the whole command came to the conclu
sion which I have already expressed, that it was worth nothing. I
have no hesitation in saying, that I would not hazard the life of one val
uable and useful man for every foot of land between San Patrick) and
the valley of the Rio Grande. The country is not now, and can never
be, of the slightest value"

Major Gaincs has been there lately. He is a competent ob
server. He is contradicted by nobody. And so far as that
country is concerned, I take it for granted that it is not worth
a dollar.

Now of New Mexico, what of that? Forty-nine fiftieths, at
least, of the whole of New Mexico, are a barren waste, a desert
plain of mountain, with no wood, no timber. Little fagots
for lighting a fire are carried thirty or forty miles on mules.
There is no fall of rain there as in temperate climates. It is
Asiatic in scenery altogether : enormously high mountains, run
ning up some of them ten thousand feet, with narrow valleys

* Major Gaines-



296 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

at their bases, through which streams sometimes trickle along.
A strip, a garter, winds along, through which runs the Rio
Grande, from far away up in the Rocky Mountains to latitude
33, a distance of three or four hundred miles. There these
sixty thousand persons reside. In the mountains on the right
and left are streams which, obeying the natural tendency as trib
utaries, should flow into the Rio Grande, and which, in certain
seasons, when rains are abundant, do, some of them, actually
reach the Rio Grande ; while the greater part always, and all for
the greater part of the year, never reach an outlet to the sea, but
are absorbed in the sands and desert plains of the country.
There is no cultivation there. There is cultivation where there
is artificial watering or irrigation, and nowhere else. Men can
live only in the narrow valley, and in the gorges of the moun
tains which rise round it, and not along the course of the streams
which lose themselves in the sands.

Now there is no public domain in New Mexico, not a foot of
land, to the soil of which we shall obtain title. Not an acre be
comes ours when the country becomes ours. More than that,
the country is as full of people, such as they are, as it is likely
to be. There is not the least thing in it to invite settlement
from the fertile valley of the Mississippi. And I undertake to
say, there would not be two hundred families of persons who
would emigrate from the United States to New Mexico, for ag
ricultural purposes, in fifty years. They could not live there.
Suppose they were to cultivate the lands ; they could only make
them productive in a slight degree by irrigation or artificial wa
tering. The people there produce little, and live on little. That
is not the characteristic, I take it, of the people of the Eastern
or of the Middle States, or of the Valley of the Mississippi.
They produce a good deal, and they consume a good deal.

Again, Sir, New Mexico is not like Texas. I have hoped,
and I still hope, that Texas will be filled up from among our
selves, not with Spaniards, not with peons; that its inhabitants
will not be Mexican landlords, with troops of slaves, predial or
otherwise.

Mr. Rusk here rose, and said that he disliked to interrupt the Senator,
and therefore he had said nothing while he was describing the country
between the Nueces and the Rio Grande ; but he wished now to say, that,
when that country comes to be known, it will be found to be as valuable



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 297

as any part of Texas. The valley of the Rio Grande is valuable from
its source to its mouth. But he did not look upon that as indemnity ;
he claimed that as the right of Texas. So far as the Mexican popula
tion is concerned, there is a good deal of it in Texas ; and it comprises
many respectable persons, wealthy, intelligent, and distinguished. A
good many are now moving in from New Mexico, and settling in Texas.

I take what I say from Major Gaines. But I am glad to hear
that any part of New Mexico is fit for the foot of civilized man.
And I am glad, moreover, that there are some persons in New
Mexico who are not so blindly attached to their miserable con
dition as not to make an effort to come out of their country,
and get into a better.

Sir, I would, if I had time, call the attention of the Senate to
an instructive speech made in the other house by Mr. Smith of
Connecticut. He seems to have examined all the authorities,
to have conversed with all the travellers, to have corresponded
with all our agents. His speech contains communications from
all of them ; and I commend it to every man in the United
States who wishes to know what we are about to acquire by
the annexation of New Mexico.

New Mexico is secluded, isolated, a place by itself, in the
midst and at the foot of vast mountains, five hundred miles
from the settled part of Texas, and as far from anywhere else !
It does not belong anywhere ! It has no belongings about it !
At this moment it is absolutely more retired and shut out from
communication with the civilized world than Hawaii or any
of the other islands of the Pacific sea. In seclusion and re
moteness, New Mexico may press hard on the character and
condition of Typee. And its people are infinitely less elevated,
in morals and condition, than the people of the Sandwich Isl
ands. We had much better have Senators from Oahu. They
are far less intelligent than the better class of our Indian neigh
bors. Commend me to the Cherokees, to the Choctaws ; if
you please, speak of the Pawnees, of the Snakes, the Flatfeet,
of any thing but the Digging Indians, and I will be satisfied
not to take the people of New Mexico. Have they any no
tion of our institutions, or of any free institutions ? Have they
any notion of popular government? Not the slightest! Not
the slightest on earth ! When the question is asked, What will
be their constitution ? it is farcical to talk of such people making



298 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

a constitution for themselves. They do not know the meaning
of the term, they do not know its import. They know nothing
at all about it ; and I can tell you, Sir, that when they are made
a Territory, and are to be made a State, such a constitution as
the executive power of this government may think fit to send
them will be sent, and will be adopted. The constitution of
OUT fellow-citizens of New Mexico will be framed in the city of
Washington.

Now what says in regard to all Mexico Colonel Hardin, that
most lamented and distinguished officer, honorably known as a
member of the other house, and who has fallen gallantly fighting
in the service of his country ? Here is his description :

" The whole country is miserably watered. Large districts have no
water at all. The streams are small, and at great distances apart. One
day we marched on the road from Monclova to Parras thirty-five miles
without water, a pretty severe day s marching for infantry.

" Grass is very scarce, and indeed there is none at all in many re
gions for miles square. Its place its supplied with prickly pear and
thorny bushes. There is not one acre in two hundred, more probably
not one in five hundred, of all the land we have seen in Mexico, which
can ever be cultivated ; the greater portion of it is the most desolate re
gion I could ever have imagined. The pure granite hills of New Eng
land are a paradise to it, for they are without the thorny briers and ven
omous reptiles which infest the barbed barrenness of Mexico. The
good land and cultivated spots in Mexico are but dots on the map.
Were it not that it takes so very little to support a Mexican, and that the
land which is cultivated yields its produce with little labor, it would be
surprising how its sparse population is sustained. All the towns we
have visited, with perhaps the exception of Parras, are depopulating, as
is also the whole country.

"The people are on a par with their land. One in two hundred or
five hundred is rich, and lives like a nabob ; the rest are peons, or ser
vants sold for debt, who work for their masters, and are as subservient
as the slaves of the South, and look like Indians, and, indeed, are not
more capable of self-government. One man, Jacobus Sanchez, owns
three fourths of all the land our column has passed over in Mexico.
We are told we have seen the best part of Northern Mexico ; if so, the
whole of it is not worth much.

" I came to Mexico in favor of getting or taking enough of it to pay
the expenses of the w r ar. I now doubt whether all Northern Mexico is
worth the expenses of our column of three thousand men. The ex-



OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 299

penses of the war must be enormous ; we have paid enormous prices
for every thing, much beyond the usual prices of the country."

There it is. That s all North Mexico ; and New Mexico is
not the better part of it.

Sir, there is a recent traveller, not unfriendly to the United
States, if we may judge from his work, for he speaks well of
us everywhere ; an Englishman, named Ruxton. He gives an
account of the morals and the manners of the population of
New Mexico. And, Mr. President and Senators, I shall take
leave to introduce you to these soon to be your respected fellow-
citizens of New Mexico :

" It is remarkable that, although existing from the earliest times of
the colonization of New Mexico, a period of two centuries, in a state of
continual hostility with the numerous savage tribes of Indians who sur
round their territory, and in constant insecurity of life and property from
their attacks, being also far removed from the enervating influences of
large cities, and, in their isolated situation, entirely dependent upon
their own resources, the inhabitants are totally destitute of those qualities
which, for the above reasons, we might naturally have expected to dis
tinguish them, and are as deficient in energy of character and physical
courage as they are in all the moral and intellectual qualities. In their
social state but one degree removed from the veriest savages, they
might take a lesson even from these in morality and the conventional de
cencies of life. Imposing no restraint on their passions, a shameless and
universal concubinage exists, and a total disregard of morality, to which it
would be impossible to find a parallel in any country calling itself civil
ized. A want of honorable principle, and consummate duplicity and
treachery, characterize all their dealings. Liars by nature, they are
treacherous and faithless to their friends, cowardly and cringing to their
enemies ; cruel, as all cowards are, they unite savage ferocity with their
want of animal courage ; as an example of which, their recent massacre
of Governor Bent, and other Americans, may be given, one of a hun
dred instances."

These, Sir, are soon to be our beloved countrymen !

Mr. President, for a good many years I have struggled in op
position to every thing which I thought tended to strengthen
the arm of executive power. I think it is growing more and
more formidable every day. And I think that by yielding to it
in this, as in other instances, we give it a strength which it will
be difficult hereafter to resist. I think that it is nothing less



300 OBJECTS OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

than the fear of executive power which induces us to acquiesce
in the acquisition of territory ; fear, fear, and nothing else.

In the little part which I have acted in public life, it has been
my purpose to maintain the people of the United States, what
the Constitution designed to make them, one people, one in in
terest, one in character, and one in political feeling. If we de
part from that, we break it all up. What sympathy can there
be between the people of Mexico and California and the inhabit
ants of the Valley of the Mississippi and the Eastern States in
the choice of a President? Do they know the same man?
Do they concur in any general constitutional principles ? Not
at all.

Arbitrary governments may have territories and distant pos
sessions, because arbitrary governments may rule them by dif
ferent laws and different systems. Russia may rule in the
Ukraine and the provinces of the Caucasus and Kamtschatka
by different codes, ordinances, or ukases. We can do no such
thing. They must be of us, part of us, or else strangers.

I think I see that in progress which will disfigure and deform
the Constitution. While these territories remain territories,
they will be a trouble and an annoyance ; they will draw after
them vast expenses ; they will probably require as many troops
as we have maintained during the last twenty years to defend
them against the Indian tribes. We must maintain an army at
that immense distance. When they shall become States, they
will be still more likely to give us trouble.

I think I see a course adopted which is likely to turn the
Constitution of the land into a deformed monster, into a curse
rather than a blessing ; in fact, a frame of an unequal govern
ment, not founded on popular representation, not founded on



Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 29 of 53)