Page images

well understood and justly appreciated.

It is to the fears of the honest which I prefer to address myself. And in the outset I might triumphantly refer to the history of this country, as a refutation of the stale charge, that an extension of our boundaries will produce, ultimately, a dissolution of the Union. The old “Thirteen” were at first inclined to retain dominion over those vast tracts which extended far to the westward. But they were finally controlled by a spirit of liberality. Out of the territory which originally belonged to them, have been carved several mighty States. Contiguous territory has been purchased from foreign powers. A vast and valuable section of country has been taken from a conquered power,

inhabited by thousands of another race. And still the cohesive

power of this mighty republic holds it together. The constitution and laws cover, like a protecting shield, all within our borders. Even upon the newly acquired soil of California, where have congregated the adventurous from many lands, the supremacy of law and order prevails, and the American, true to the allegiance and duty which he owes to these States, is prepared, at all hazards, to add another to the splendid galaxy which constitutes this confederacy.

While the public heart beats thus warmly from the centre throughout the borders of our land, what well-grounded fears can be entertained for the stability of the Union? It is not the extent of a country which produces weakness, as long as patriotism and virtue control the masses. And when they be

come thoroughly corrupt, it matters not how limited may be their sphere of action, they will soon be deprived of that liberty which they do not deserve to retain. We are often referred by those who have a fondness for historical facts, whether they are particularly applicable or not to the subject which they have under consideration, to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

The fate of that empire can have no parallel here. Its power and influence were confined within “The Seven Hills.” The wealth which they plundered from the conquered was carried thither to corrupt her citizens. The provinces were treated as a conquered country; their citizens were robbed and maltreated. And when the Romans, enervated by their ill-gotten wealth, came in contact with the fierce and hardy men of the north, they were overthrown. What parallel is there between such a career and our own brilliant destiny? Our cities are very far from possessing the power of corrupting the country, even admitting that their inhabitants are not as patriotic as where they breathe the pure air of heaven. Suppose all the gold of California were poured into our large cities, what effect would that have upon this vast confederacy? Even if it was confined within those cities the country would be just as safe. But it is, on the contrary, circulated and diffused throughout the land.

Again, Rome was shaken by internal dissensions. A successful general would take advantage of a temporary popularity to encroach upon their rights. A brilliant orator would excite them to

their own undoing. What could be accomplished by the most successful general, or the most accomplished orator in this enlightened land? The very fact of our boundaries being so widely extended is a shield against all such dangers. One portion of the confederacy may be agitated, and aroused to such a pitch of frenzy as almost to result in revolution, as was the case with the small State of Rhode Island, while other and more distant parts of the Union maintain a coolness calculated to produce the best results.

In the very extension of our boundaries is the surest protection against convulsions within, and hostile legions from without. This country, for years to come, will be the great point of attraction to foreigners. Each year witnesses the arrival of thousands. If, as some suppose, danger may be apprehended from this vast influx of foreigners, how much the danger is lessened by mingling them with our own citizens, and diffusing them over our widely extended domain.

There is something so just and equitable in the constitution and laws of the United States, that no one can have cause for dissatisfaction. The foreigner who voluntarily comes to our shores, and the Mexican, who, without his consent, is “annexed” to this country, at once feel the influences which surround them so unusual, and the privileges conferred so grateful to their feelings, that they are at once and for ever bound to their new home by the strongest ties of gratitude and love. And that man who was born an American, would be doubly

dyed a traitor, who could raise his voice in other than words of affection for his native land.

Let the boundaries of the Union, then, be extended; let contiguous territory be incorporated with our own; let all the keys to our rivers and harbors be secured ; let the model republic increase in greatness until its political, moral, and physical power, shall be felt and acknowledged throughout the civilized world.


American Consul at Mexico directed to open negotiations.— The Mexicans

agree to receive a commissioner.-Mr. Slidell appointed Minister Plenipotentiary.- The Mexicans refuse to receive him in that character. Causes of rupture which had long existed.— The Mexicans raise troops. -Herrera forced to resign in favor of General Paredes.-Orders issued to the Mexican commanders upon the frontiers to attack the Americans.Course pursued by the opposition members of Congress.-Assault upon the foreign policy of Mr. Polk.

The annexation of Texas having been solemnly agreed upon by treaty, the indignation of the Mexican authorities was completely aroused. On the 12th of July, 1845, orders were issued from the office of war and marine, for the troops to be in readiness to march towards any point which required protection, against what was regarded just aggressions.* There could be no pretence for taking this step, as General Taylor had not at that time taken up his position at Corpus Christi. Although Mexico had abruptly terminated all diplomatic intercourse between the two countries, and had hurled defiance at the American Executive, Mr. Polk was unwilling to take up the glove thus rudely cast at his feet. In September, 1845, the consul of the United States at the city of Mexico,

* " See orders of Garcia Conde, Office of War and Marine, Mexico, July 12th, 1845."

« PreviousContinue »