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Independence of Texas.—She applies for admission into the Union.--Acquisi
tion of territory by Mr. Jefferson.— Transfer of Texas to Spain by the Treaty of 1819.-Efforts of President Adams to have the title reconveyed.
– Territory acquired while Mr. Webster was Secretary of State.-Efforts of England and France to prevent annexation.—Passage of the annexation resolutions.-Extension of our boundary.
I COME now to an examination of those events which resulted in the annexation of Texas to the United States. It is not true that the Government of this country ever sought to acquire that territory by conquest. On the contrary, all proper exertions were used in 1836, by the Administration then in power, to restrain the ardor of our people, who seemed determined to fly to the rescue of their brethren whose blood was watering the soil of Texas. The neutrality of our Government was preserved. This was not only the case, but to prevent any unjust accusations against its good faith, the application which Texas made, in a short time after the battle of San Jacinto, for annexation to this country, was rejected. At a general election in September, 1836, the citizens of Texas declared with great unanimity in favor of a union with the United States; and in November following the independence of that republic, authorized the ap
pointment of a minister to accomplish that result. But all their propositions were rejected by the administration of President Jackson. And it was not until a sufficient number of years had elapsed, during which time the Texans had exhibited far more ability to maintain their independence, than the Mexicans themselves, that the question of the annexation of Texas was seriously agitated in the United States. It is a remarkable fact, that the territory which we had upon several occasions offered to purchase from Mexico, she lost by her treacherous and unjustifiable conduct towards the citizens of Texas.
It was not left to the administration of Mr. Polk to originate the doctrine that our boundaries should be extended. Mr. Jefferson, by the treaty of 1803 with France, immeasurably advanced the interests of his country. This was unfortunately, to a considerable extent, impaired by the cession to Spain under the treaty of 1819; and no doubt, seeing the error committed by the cabinet of which he was a member, Mr. Adams, during the term of his presidency, made early and sincere endeavors to restore the boundaries of the United States to the Rio Del Norte. To accomplish this object, the constant exertions of his administration were employed. On the 26th of March, 1825, Mr. Clay, then Secretary of State, addressed a letter to Mr. Poinsett, our Minister at Mexico, in which he stated that the line of the Sabine approached too near our western mart, and suggested the Rio Del Norte in
lieu of it.* Similar instructions were reiterated to Mr. Poinsett, March 15th, 1827.4
The policy which dictated the extension of our boundaries, was adopted by the administrations of Presidents Jackson, * Van Buren and Tyler
* “Sone difficulties may possibly hereafter arise between the two countries, from the line thus agreed upon, against which it would be advisable now to guard, if practicable; and as the Government of Mexico may be supposed not to have any disinclination to the fixation of a new line, which would prevent those difficulties, the President wishes you to sound it on that subject, and to avail yourself of a favorable disposition, if you should find it, to effect that object. The line of the Sabine approaches our great western mart nearer than could be wished. Perhaps the Mexican Government may not be unwilling to establish that of the Rio Brazos de Dios, or the Rio Colorado, or the Snow Mountains, or the Rio Del Norte, in lieu of it."
+ “ That of the Sabine brings Mexico nearer our great western commercial capital than is desirable ; and although we now are, and for a long time may remain perfectly satisfied with the justice and moderation of our neighbors, still it would be better for both parties, that neither should feel.. that he is in any condition of exposure on the remote contingency of an alteration in existing friendly sentiments."
“ Impressed with these views, the President has thought the present might be an auspicious period for urging a negotiation, at Mexico, to settle the boundary between the territories of the two republics. The success of the negotiation will probably be promoted by throwing into it other motives than those which strictly belong to the subject itself. If we could obtain such a boundary as we desire, the Government of the United States might be disposed to pay a reasonable pecuniary consideration. The boundary which we prefer, is that which, beginning at the mouth of the Rio Del Norte, on the sea, shall ascend that river to the mouth of the Rio Puerco, thence ascending this river to its source, and from its source, by a line due north, to strike the Arkansas ; thence, following the course of the southern bank of the Arkansas to its source, in latitude forty-two degrees north, and thence, by that parallel of latitude, to the South Sea.”
“ There should also be a provision made for the delivery of the country to the United States simultaneously, or as nearly so as practicable, with the payment of the consideration,”
* “Sir, it is the wish of the President that you should, without delay, open a negotiation with the Mexican Government, for the purchase of so much of the province of Texas as is hereinafter described, or for such
Mr. Webster, in settling the northeastern boundary question, managed to acquire about one mile in width along the northern boundary of Vermont and New-York, including Rouse's Point, thus acceding to the doctrine that territory may be acquired without danger to our institutions. Indeed, the policy which prompts the acquisition of contiguous territory, has so long governed the most illustrious of our public men, and has so often received the sanction of the American people, that it may now be regarded as settled for ever.
It was unfortunate that at a time when so important a question as the annexation of Texas was agitated, that Mr. Tyler occupied the presidential chair. He had, for reasons which it is not necessary to enumerate here, lost his influence with the whig and democratic parties. So far as the annexation of Texas was concerned, instead of receiving additional weight from his sanction, it had the effect of placing obstacles in the way of its consummation.
There was besides other embarrassments of a grave character, which surrounded the subject. The rapid strides which the United States had been making to national greatness, was viewed with jealousy by Great Britain. The acquisition of so large a portion of territory as was included within the boundaries of Texas, was regarded with evident marks of dissatisfaction; and all the powers possessed
part thereof as they can be induced to cede to us, if the same be conformable to either of the localities with which you are hereinafter furnished.”— Dispatch of the Secretary of State to our Minister in Mexico, August 25th, 1829.
by the most accomplished corps of diplomatists of modern times were employed to arrest the movement. France, too, was not idle. The two great maritime powers of the old world had taken the field against us. Mr. Packenham, for several years the British minister at Mexico, was accredited to the United States. Mr. Bankhead, once the minister of England to this country, was sent to Mexico. Captain Elliott, the British, and M. Saligny, the French minister in Texas, employed all their powers to prevent the union. Vessels of war were put in requisition, and protests and protocols were freely employed, but still without effect. France and England were not only violently opposed to the annexation of Texas from national considerations, but the English and Americans who were determined to prevent the acquisition of additional slavery territory, were taking active and energetic measures to frustrate the designs of the annexationists. The American delegation to the World's Convention had suggested to the abolitionists of England, that the time to act had arrived; an interview had taken place between Lord Aberdeen and a deputation of that convention. Combinations were formed by associations of men, who are often more successful in accomplishing their objects than governments themselves. But the public heart in the United States and Texas throbbed for a union of the two, and decided steps were taken to accomplish that result.
A proposition was made on the 17th of January, 1844, to Mr. Upshur, the American Secretary of