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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 22 of 154)
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ed with military courtesy, according to the
usage of all civilized nations, and with none so
much as with the Spaniards. Complimentary
visits, dinners, and fandangos, balls — not can-
non balls — would have been the salutation.
The causes of the war are long anterior ; and
I begin with the beginning, and show the Sena-
tor from South Carolina an actor from the first.
In doing this, I am acting in defence of the
country, for the President represents the coun-
try. The Senator from South Carolina charges
the war upon the President : the whole oppo-
sition follow him : the bill under dioussion is
forgotten ; crimination of the President is now
the object ; and in that crimination, the coun-
try is injured by being made to appear the
aggressor in the war. This is my justification
for defending the President, and showing the
truth that the Senator, in his manner of
acquiring Texas, is the true cause of the war.

The cession of Texas to Spain in 1819, is the
beginning point in the chain of causes which
have led to this war ; for unless the country
had been ceded away, there could have been no
quarrel with any power in getting it back.
For a long time the negotiator of that treaty
of cession (Mr. J. Q. Adams) bore all the blame
of the loss of Texas ; and his motives for giv-
ing it away were set down to hostility to the
South and West, and a desire to clip the wings
of the slaveholding States. At last the truth
of history has vindicated itself, and has shown
who was the true author of that mischief to
the South and West. Mr. Adams has made a
public declaration, which no one controverts,
that that cession was made in conformity to
the decision of Mr. Monroe's cabinet, a majority
of which was slaveholding, and among them
the present Senator from South Carolina, and
now the only survivor of that majority. He
does not contradict the statement of Mr.
Adams : he, therefore, stands admitted the co-
author of that mischief to the South and West
with the cession of Texas involved, and to
escape from which it became necessary, in the
opinion of the Senator from South Carolina, to
get back Texas at the expense of war with
Mexico. This conduct of the Senator in giving



Febkuahy, 1847.]

The Three Million Bill.

[29th Cohg:

away Texas when we had her, and then making
war to get her back, is an enigma which he
has never yet condescended to explain, and
which, until explained, leaves him in a state of
self-contradiction, which, whether it impairs
his own confidence in himself or not, must have
the effect of destroying the confidence of others
in him, and wholly disqualifies him for the
ofiSoe of champion of the slaveholding States.
It was the heaviest blow they had ever received,
and put an end, in conjunction with the Mis-
souri compromise, and the permanent location
of the Indians west of the Mississippi, to their
future growth or extension as slave States be-
yond the Mississippi. The compromise, which
was then in full progress, and established at the
next session of Congress, out off the slave
States from aU territory north and west of Mis-
souri, and south of thirty-six and a half degrees
of north latitude : the treaty of 1819 ceded
nearly all south of that degree, comprehending
not only all Texas, but a large part of the valley
of the Mississippi on the Red Eiver and the
Arkansas, to a foreign power, and brought a
non-slaveholdiug empire to the confines of
Louisiana and Arkansas : the permanent appro-
priation of the rest of the territory for the
abode of civilized Indians, swept the little
slaveholding territory west of Arkansas and
lying between the compromise .line and the
cession line ; and left the slave States without
one inch of ground for their future growth.
Nothing was left. Even the then Territory of
Arkansas was encroached upon. A breadth of
forty miles wide, and three hundred long, was
cut off from her, and given to the Cherokees ;
and there was not as much slave territory left
west of the Mississippi as a dove could have
rested the sole of her foot upon. It was not
merely a curtailment, but a total extinction of
slaveholding territory ; and done at a time
when the Missouri controversy was raging, and
every effort made by northern abolitionists to
stop the growth of slave States. The Senator
from South Carolina, in his support of the
cession of Texas, and ceding a part of the,
valley of the Mississippi, was then the most
efficient ally of the restrictionists at that time,
and deprives him of the right of setting up as
the champion of the slave States now. I
denounced the sacrifice of Texas then, believ-
ing Mr. Adams to have been the author of it :
I denounce it now, knowing the Senator from
South Carolina to be its author : and for this —
his flagrant recreancy to the slave interest in
their hour of utmost peril — I hold him dis-
qualified for the office of champion of the four-
teen slave States, and shall certainly require
him to keep out of Missouri, and to confine him-
self to his own bailiwick, when he comes to
discuss his string of resolutions.

I come no* to the direct proofs of the Sen-
ator'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 then in session : the Senator from South
Carolina was then a member of this body ; and,
without even waiting for the official confirma-
tion of that great event, he proposed at once
the immediate recognition of the independence
of Texas, and her immediate admission into
this Union. He put the two propositions to-
gether — recognition and admission : and al-
lowed us no further time for the double vote
than the few days which were to intervene
before the official intelligence of the victory
should arrive. Here are some extracts from
his speech on that occasion, and which verify
what I say, and show that he was then ready
to plunge the country into the Texan war with
Mexico, without the slightest regard to its trea-
ties, its commerce, its duties, or its character :

" Mr. Calhoun was of opinion that it would add
more strength to the cause of Texas to wait for a
few days until they received official confirmation
of the victory and capture of Santa Anna, in order
to obtain a more unanimous vote in favor of the
recognition of Texas, » * * » He had made up
his mind not only to recognize the independence of
Texas, but for her admission into this Union; and
if the Texans managed their affairs prudently, they
would soon be called upon to decide that question.
There were powerful reasons why Texas should be
a part of this Union. The southern States, owning
a slave population, were deeply interested in
preventing that country from having the power
to annoy them; and the navigating and manu-
facturing interests of the north and east were
equally interested in making it a part of this Union.
He thought they would soon be called on to decide
these questions ; and when they did act on it, he
was for acting on both together — for recognizing
the independence of Texas, and for admitting her
into the Union. * * * * If events should go on as
they had done, he could not but hope that before
the close of the present session of Congress, they
would not only acknowledge the independence of
Texas, but admit her into the Union. He hoped
there would be no unnecessary delay — for in such
cases delays were dangerous — but that they would
act with unanimity, and act promptly."

Here, then, is the proof of the fact that, ten
years ago, and without a word of explanation
with Mexico, or any request from Texas— with-
out the least notice to the American people, or
time for deliberation among ourselves, or any
regard to existing commerce — he was for plung-
ing ns into instant war with Mexico. I say,
instant war ; for Mexico and Texas were then
in open war ; and to incorporate 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. Prompt-
ness and unanimity were then his watchwords.
Immediate action — action before Congress ad-
journed — was his demand. No delay. Delays
were dangerous. We must vote, and votcj
unanimously and promptly. I well remember
the Senator's look and attitude on that occa-



2d Sess.]

The, Three Million Bill.

[Febrcakv, 1847.

sion — the fixedness of his look, and the magis-
teriaUty of his attitude. It was such as he often
favors us with, especially when he is in a crisis,
and brings forward something which ought to
be instantly and unanimously rejected — as when
he brought in his string of abstractions on
Thursday last. So it was in 1836 — ^prompt and
unanimous action, and a look to put down oppo-
sition. But the Senate were not looked down
in 1836. They promptly and unanimously re-
fused the Senator's motion ; and the crisis and
the danger — good-natured souls ! — immediately
postponed themselves until wanted for another

The peace of the country was then saved ;
but it was a respite only ; and the speech of
the Senator from South Carolina, brief as it
was, becomes momentous, as foreshadowing
every thing that has subsequently taken place
in relation to the admission of Texas. In this
brief speech we have the shadows of all future
movements, coming in procession — in advance
of the events. In the significant intimation,

qualified with the if " the Texans prudently

managed their affairs, they (the Senate) might
soon be called upon to decide the question of ad-
mission." In that pregnant and qualified inti-
mation, there was a visible doubt that the Texans
might not be prudent enough to manage their
own affairs, and might require help ; and also a
visible feeling of that paternal guardianship
which afterward assumed the management of
their affairs for them. In the admonitions to
unanimity, there was that denunciation of any
difference of opinion, which afterwards dis-
played itself in the ferocious hunting down of all
who opposed the Texas treaty. In the refer-
ence to southern slavery, and annoyance to slave
property from Texas, we have the germ of the
" self-defence " letter, and the first glimpse of
the abolition plot of John Andrews, Ashbel
Smith, Lord Aberdeen — I beg pardon of Lord
Aberdeen for naming him in such a connection
— and the World's Convention, with which
Mexico, Texas, and the United States were
mystified and bamboozled in April, 1844. And,
in the interests of the manufacturing and navi-
gating states of the north and east, as connected
with Texas admission, we have the text of all
the communications to the agent, Murphy, and
of all the letters and speeches to which the
Texas question, seven years afterwards, gave
rise. We have all these subsequent events here
shadowed forth. And now, the wonder is, why
all these things were not foreseen a little while
before, when Texas was being ceded to a non-
slave-holding empire ! and why, after being so
imminent and deadly in May, 1836, all these
dangers suddenly went to sleep, and never
waked up again until 1844 ! These are won-
ders ; but let us not anticipate questions, and
let us proceed with the narrative.

The Congress of 1836 would not admit
Texas. The Senator from South Carolina be-
came patient : the Texas question went to
sleep ; and for seven good years it made no

disturbance. It then woke up, and with a sud-
denness 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 Secre-
tary of State. All the springs of intrigue and
diplomacy were immediately set in motion to
resuscitate the Texas question, and to reinvest
it with all the dangers and alarms which it had
worn in 1836. Passing over all the dangers
of annoyance from Texas as possibly non-slave-
holding, ybr«s«i5?i by the Senator in 1836, and
not foreseen by him in 1819, with all the need
of guardianship then foreshadowed, and all the
arguments then suggested: all these imme-
diately developed themselves, and intriguing
agents traversed earth and sea, from Washing-
ton to Texas, and from London to Mexico : —
passing over all this, as belonging to a class of
evidence, not now to be used, I come at once
to the letter of the I'Tth of January, from the
Texan Minister to Mr. Upshur, the American
Secretary of State; and the answer to that
letter by Mr. Oalhotjn, of April 11th 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 inter-
vention 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 countries. A proposition
likewise having been submitted by the President
of the United States, through you, for the annex-
ation of Texas to this country, therefore (without
Indicating the nature of the reply which the Pres-
ident of Texas may direct to be made to this prop-
osition) I beg leave to suggest that it may be ap-
prehended, should a treaty of annexation be con-
cluded, Mexico may think proper to at once ter-
minate the armistice, break off all negotiations for
peace, and again threaten or commence hostilities
against Texas ; and that some of the other Govern-
ments 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 unre-
strained 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 shall 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 ?

" This communication, as well as the reply which
you may make, will be considered by me entirely
confidential, not to be embraced in my regular
official correspondence to my Government, but en-
closed direct to the President of Texas for his in-



Febeuaet, 1847.]

The Three Million BUI.

[29th Coho.

" With assurances of my great regard, I have the
honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient

This letter reveals the true state of the Texan
question in January, 1844, and the conduct of
all parties in relation to it. It presents Texas
and Mexico, weary of the war, reposing under
an armistice, and treating for peace ; Great
Britain and France acting the noble part of
mediators, and endeavoring to make peace:
our own Government secretly intriguing for
annexation, acting the wicked part of mischief-
makers, and trying to renew the war ; and the
issue of its machinations to he unsuccessful
unless the United States should be involved in
the renewed hostilities. That was the ques-
tion; and the letter openly puts it to the
American Secretary of State. The answer to
that question, in my opinion, should have been,
that the President of the United States did not
know of the armistice and the peace negotia-
tions at the time that he proposed to Texas to do
an act which would be a perfidious violation of
those sacred engagements, and bring upon her-
self the scourge of renewed invasion and the stig-
ma of perfidy — that he would not have made
such a proposal for the whole round world, if he
had known of the armistice and the peace nego-
tiations — that he wished success to the peace-
makers, both for the sake of Mexico and Texas,
and because Texas could then come into the
Union without the least interruption to our
friendly, commercial, and social relations with
our sister republic of Mexico ; and that, as to
secretly lending the army and navy of the
United States to Texas to fight Mexico while
we were at peace with her, it would be a crime
against God, and man, and our own constitu-
tion, for which heads might be brought to the
block, if Presidents and their Secretaries, hke
constitutional Kings and Ministers, should be
held capitally responsible for capital crimes.
This, in my opinion, should have heen the
answer. But the first part of it — that of the
scienter upon the point of the armistice and the
peace negotiations — could not be given in point
of fact ; for the Department of State was full
of communications giving that information —
one of them from the agent, (Murphy,) in these
words :

" The powers to be given to General Henderson
arp to be of the fullest and most complete character,
so that no impediment shall be found requiring fur-
ther or other powers, or further or other instructions.
But, inasmuch as the Commissioners of Texas now
in Mexico, in treaty or negotiatitin touching an
armistice, are supposed not to have concluded
their labors, and it is clear to the President of
Texas that so soon as this negotiation in relation to
annexation is known to the Government of Mexico,
all negotiation on that and all other questions be-
tween Texas and Mexico will cease, and that the
President of Mexico will Instantly commence active
hostilities against Texas, which Texas is wholly un-
prepared, by sea or land, to resist, it is understood
that the Government of the United States, having

invited Texas to this negotiation, will at once, and
before any negotiation is set on foot, place a suf-
ficient naval force in the Gulf to protect the coast
of Texas, and hold a sufiScient force of cavalry, or
other description of mounted troops, on the sooith-
western border of the United States, in readiness
to protect, or aid in the protection of Texas pend-
ing the proposed negotiation for annexation. I
trust my Government will at once see the propriety
of this course of policy ; for I found it impossible
to induce this Government to enter heartily into
the measure of annexation without an assurance
that my Government would not fail to guard Texas
against all the evils that are likely to assail Texas
in consequence of her meeting and complying with
the wishes of the United States."

Denial of the knowledge of the existence of
the armistice, and the opening of negotiations,
was, therefore, impossible. Mr. Upshur, to
whom the letter of the 17th of January was
addressed, gave it no answer at all. During
the forty days that his life was spared, he
answered not ; and I mention this particular in
justice to the memory of a gentleman who is
no more. Mr. Nelson, the Attorney-General,
his temporary successor in the Department of
State, did not answer it to the Texan Minister
in Washington, but he did to Mr. Murphy in
Texas, in reply to his communication to the
same effect with the letter. Mr. Nelson's
letter is dated the 11th of March, and is in
these words :

" Of the anxiety of the President to provide for
the annexation of the territory of Texas to that of
the United States, you have been heretofore ap-
prised; and of his readiness, by negotiatioDj
promptly to effectuate this desire, you are weU'
aware. He regards the measure as one of vital im-
portance to both parties, and as recommended by
the highest considerations of a sound public policy.

" Entertaining these views, the President is grat-
ified to perceive, in the course you have pursued
in your intercourse with the authorities of Texas,
the evidences of a cordial co-operation in this cher-
ished object of his policy : but instructs me to say,
that whilst approving the general tone and tenor
of that intercourse, he regrets to perceive, in the
pledges given by you in your communication to the
Hon. Anson Jones of the 14th February, that you
have suffered your zeal to carry you beyond the
line of your instructions, and to commit the Pres-
ident to measures for which he has no constitutional
authority to stipulate.

" The employment of the army or navy against a
foreign power, with which the United States are at
peace, is not within the competency of the Pres-
ident ; and whilst he is not indisposed, as a measure
of prudent precaution, and as preliminary to the
proposed negotiation, to concentrate in the Gulf
of Mexico, and on the southern borders of the
United States, a naval and military force to be di-
rected to the defence of the inhabitants and Terri-
tory of Texas ata proper time, he cannot permit
the authorities of that Government, or yourself, to
labor under the misapprehension that he has power
to employ them at the period indicated by your

"Of these impressions, Mr. Van Zandt, the
charg6 d'affaires pf the Texan Government, has



2d Sess.]

Tfie Three Million Sill.

[Februaky, 1847.

been, and General Henderson, who is daily expected
here, will be fully advertised. In the mean time,
the President desires that you will at once counter-
mand your instructions to Lieutenant Davis, as far
as they are in conflict with these views.

" In any emergency that may occur, care will be
taken that the commanders of the naval and mili-
tary forces of the United States shall be properly
instructed. Your request that they may be placed
under your control cannot be gratified."

This is very constitutional and proper lan-
guage : and if it had not been reversed, there
would have been no vrar with Mexico. But it
was reversed. Soon after it was written, the
present Senator from South Carolina took the
chair of the Department of State. Mr. Pinck-
ney Henderson, whom Mr. Murphy mentions
as coming on with full pqwers, on the faith of
the pledge he had given, arrived also, and found
that pledge entirely cancelled by Mr. Tyler's
answer through Mr. Nelson ; and he utterly
refused to treat. The new Secretary was in a
strait ; for time was short, and Texas must be
had ; and Messrs. Henderson and Van Zandt
would not even begin to treat without a renewal
of the pledge given by Mr. Murphy. That had
been cancelled in writing, and the cancellation
had gone to Texas, and had been made on high
constitutional ground. The new Secretary was
profuse of verbal assurances, and even per-
mitted the Ministers to take down his words in
writing, and read them over to him, as was
shown by the Senator from Texas, (General
HousTOif,) when he spoke on this subject on
Thursday last. But verbal assurances, or me-
moranda of conversations, would not do. The
instructions under which the ministers acted
required the pledge to be in writing, and prop-
erly signed. The then President, present Sen-
ator from Texas, who had been a lawyer in
Tennessee before he went to Texas, seemed to
look upon it as a case under the statute of
frauds and perjuries — a sixth case added to the
five enumerated in that statute — in which the
promise is not valid, unless reduced to writing,
and signed by the person to be charged there-
with, or by some other person duly authorized
by him to sign for him. The firmness of the
Texan Ministers, under the instructions of Presi-
dent Houston, prevailed ; and 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 promise. That letter
was dated on the 11th 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 Wash-
ington, ITth 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 in-
structed to order a strong naval force to concen-
trate 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
ibices on our south-western frontier, for the same

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 22 of 154)