Page images
PDF
EPUB

This was the fact with Mexico, and Texas was the only State that had sufficient character to oppose successfully the infamous usurpation of Santa Anna. The protests of Texas were treated by the usurper as acts of rebellion, and her representative was arrested, imprisoned, and was suffered to lie in a loathsome dungeon without a hearing. The constitutions of the States were destroyed ; States were declared to be mere departments ; they were deprived of all legislative authority; their officers were arrested, and the governors were made subject only to the central government, thereby becoming the willing instruments of tyranny. These acts of oppression were followed by a decree requiring the States as well as individuals to surrender up all the arms they had in their possession. Not satisfied with these outrages, agents were sent by the tyrant to instigate the Indians, whose numbers were large, to exterminate with the scalping-knife and tomahawk a people who were hated because they were feared.

Submission to such outrages, executed in the name of freedom, can excite no sentiment but that of indignation in the breast of every friend of liberty; while, on the other hand, we should not withhold our admiration for that small band of pioneers who had the courage to defend their rights against a nation that counted its millions of subjects. Becoming persuaded that their lot would be one of hardship and oppression as connected with the general government, the Texans declared their independence on the 2d of March, 1835. The

usurper marched his hireling troops to the soil of that brave people, conscious of superior strength, certain of victory, and impatient for the bloody work which should remove all subjects unwilling to be slaves. The successes of his army were crowned with INFAMY,* and the battle of his own controlling with defeat.

On the 21st of April, a large portion of his army, under his

* We need only mention the base betrayal of Zacatecas, and the cold blooded and treacherous massacre of Colonel Fanning, and his force of four hundred men.

own command, met the Texans, under General Houston, on the plains of San Jacinto. An engagement took place, and half of his troops were slain, and the other half were taken prisoners of war, including the tyrant himself. Apparently humbled, the dictator sued for terms of peace, and after some hesitation on the part of the Texans, a treaty was made and executed.* Rights were defined, and boundaries stated. The independence of Texas was to be acknowledged by Mexico, and the parties to the instrument on the part of Mexico pledged themselves faithfully to use their influence in procuring a ratification of its stipulations by their own government.

From this moment Texas was free and independent. She was left by Mexico in undisturbed repose, though the treaty of Santa Anna was basely disregarded by the Mexicans who executed it, and was denounced and disavowed by their government. In 1837, the independence of Texas was acknowledged by the United States, and in quick succession by the great powers of Europe.

Here was one of the results of the folly, weakness, neglect, and wickedness of Mexico. She lost some of her best citizens, and a large portion of her richest soil. It was a result that all good men must rejoice in, for, whether we consider most the gain to Texas, to the United States, or to the cause of freedom, we cannot but regard the independence of this' State, and subsequent annexation, as events of justice to Mexico, and one of instruction to the age.

Here was a sovereign power in a country that was ceded by our government to Spain in 1820, in violation of our treaty stipulations with France in 1803, and much against the views of many of our people.† Texas became her own sovereign master, and was free to choose her own destiny.

* See Appendix G.

† We insert, with much confidence, in our Appendix some extracts from a letter of the Hon. R. J. Walker, addressed, in 1844, to the people of Kentucky, “relative to the re-annexation of Texas,” &c. This letter embraces a large amount of information, and is written with great ability. See Appendix H.

Actuated by no unworthy motives of ambition, her defenders became devoted to her true interests, and proved faithful as citizens and rulers. They had no objects in government but security in their rights and interests, and it soon became a seri. ous question how these might best be preserved and advanced. Having the elements of prosperity within her limits, her population increased, the riches of her soil were made manifest, and soon the young Republic became the subject of notice and favor of foreign and rival nations. Annexation to the United States was proposed, as being preferable to national sovereignty with national weakness — a measure of adding a lesser power to receive a greater. It was a measure of duty and interest to them, and one of national concern and importance to the Union.

In regard to the importance of Texas to the United States, much has been said by distinguished citizens of all parties. It is not a recent question, and not until lately has it been made a party question. Indeed, its importance has been so fully acknowledged by statesmen entitled to our confidence and respect, irrespective of party, that any enlargement here upon the subject might be deemed by some an act of supererogation. It is now one of the States of the Union ; and while we cannot speak from personal observation of the value or beauty of its territory, we may be permitted to quote the language of the Hon. W. S. Archer, of Virginia, chairman of the committee of foreign relations in the House of Representatives in 1822. At that time he delivered a speech on the subject of appointing a minister to Mexico, from which we make the following extract. He pronounced the territory one of the richest and most favored portions of the habitable earth. I say this deliberately, for if I were called upon to select any portion of the earth's surface which was fitted by nature to become the garden spot of the globe, I should without hesitation point to the province of Texas.” This was not an expression of party sen

* See Appendix H.

timent, as no party lines, at the period of its utterance, had been drawn in reference to its possession. · All desired it, but it was in a position to be acquired only by purchase of a foreign nation.

That Mexico should, in the chagrin and folly of her course, endeavor to force the allegiance of Texas, was a circumstance to be anticipated. Where injustice makes up the policy of a nation, desperation ever finds an apologist in pride, and patriotism a virtue in necessity. Her pretensions of right to govern Texas, when she had proved herself utterly incapable of protecting the ordinary interests even of a single city of her dominion, are absolutely too ridiculous to merit serious refutation. If Texas were not entitled to independence after the events of her reyolution, then no people can ever hope to be fully justified in opposing tyranny, or in any attempts to establish justice and equality among men.

And yet, while we would not impute to Mexico utter ignorance of her own demerits, we cannot but think that she has been encouraged in her downward course in consequence of opinions expressed by public men of the United States. If she would not hesitate knowingly to persist in wrong, we may well suppose that she would eagerly seize all flattering or promising influences that seemed to favor her desperate and ill-featured

cause.

A distinguished citizen of Kentucky,* in a letter written in 1844, says,

6 I consider the annexation of Texas at this time, without the assent of Mexico, compromising the national character, and involving us certainly in a war with Mexico, and probably with other foreign powers." +

Mr. Clay was a candidate for the presidency, and more than

* Hon. Henry Clay.

† And yet, in 1847, in a speech delivered at Lexington, he asks, “Who would now think of perpetrating the folly of casting Texas out of the confederacy, and throwing her back upon her independence, or into the arms of Mexico? Who would seek to divorce her from this Union ?” And why not? If annexation were an act of injustice to Mexico, it could not be “folly” to repair the wrong.

any other man, perhaps, the chief of a powerful party. A single word from his lips or pen would afford such a nation as that of Mexico encouragement in the greatest folly, in the most hopeless cause. We would not speak lightly of a man who has filled with honor so many pages of his country's history ; but while we admit his merits, and the correctness of some of his views on questions of public importance, we cannot but regret that want of consistency which charity would attribute to his party prepossessions rather than to his judgment.

Mr. Clay has not been alone in the expression of views tending to encourage Mexico. Some of our State governments adopted resolutions ; public men and editors expressed opinions for party purposes, defending the cause of Mexico against their own country. It has been asserted that. Santa Anna prepared a document made up of speeches and editorials put forth in this country concerning the war, for circulation among his soldiers and people.* It is easy to see how the doubts of a powerful enemy would have more influence in Mexico, than any knowl. edge of strength, where weakness prevailed, or of any confidence of success, in the absence of means and system.

It is a plain, open case. The facts are before us. Speculation is unnecessary. A knowledge of common justice and national law gives us no alternative but to read the evidence, and see the legitimate conclusion.

In a speech delivered in the U. S. Senate, March, 1848, by Mr. Webster, we find the following paragraph, in the emphatic language of that distinguished senator :" I state now, sir, what I have often stated before

that no man, from the first, has been a more sincere well wisher to the government and people of Texas than myself. I looked upon the achievement of their independence in the battle of San Jacinto as an extraordinary, almost marvellous, incident in the

* See speech of Colonel Burnet, delivered at Philadelphia ; of Colonel Doniphan, at St. Louis; and the statements of Wynkoop, and Morgan, and of other officers, published in the journals.

« PreviousContinue »