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affairs of mankind. I was among the first disposed to acknowledge her independence.”
In 1842, Mr. Webster, then secretary of state, in a despatch to the minister of the United States at Mexico, said,
- From the time of the battle of San Jacinto, in April, 1836, to the present moment, Texas has exhibited the same external signs of national independence as Mexico herself, and with quite as much stability of government. Practically free and independent; acknowledged as a political sovereignty by the principal powers of the world ; no hostile foot finding rest within her territory for six or seven years; and Mexico herself refraining for all that period from any further attempt to reëstablish her own authority over the territory."
In a speech delivered by the Hon. R. Johnson, of Maryland, in the U. S. Senate, on the 10th and 11th January, 1848, he says, Sir, annexation of itself would not have been war; Mexico had no right to make it a cause of war.
Texas' independence had been too long established and undisturbed to have her absolute right of sovereignty called in question.”
Texas became independent of Mexico in the same manner that our States became independent of Great Britain ; and if her title among nations was not good, then there is no reason why ours should be. This being admitted, the event of annexation was not a matter within the control of Mexico, much less could it be cause for war. That it was no cause of war in the opinion of Mexico herself, may be inferred from the fact, that she offered to acknowledge the independence of Texas, pro, vided she would reject all propositions of annexation to the United States ; or, in other words, if she would not add to the power of a country already too great to be balanced in the scales of European politicians.*
The short sentence of Mr. Clay, in 1844, was just enough to be dangerous to Mexico, and troublesome to foreign poli
* See the able speech of the Hon. J. A. Dix, delivered in the U. S. Senate, Jan. 1848.
tieians. It justified war on her part, and expectation of aid from foreign governments. It led to destruction without any responsible guaranty of aid or 'safety. It was a text for a Guizot or a Palmerston. Its apocryphal character was not suspected. It was proved, however, by experiment. Mexico was compelled to act without the poor benefit of her own cowardice, and to find, in the end, nothing but contempt and derision where she was persuaded to look for aid and sympathy.
Texas was annexed by act of Congress on the part of the United States, and by Congress and by a convention of the people on the part of Texas.* The authority under which the act of Congress was passed on the part of the United States, is in the Constitution. The language is simple, and cannot be misunderstood. It is this : “ New States may be admitted by Congress into this Union ; but no new State shall be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.”
That the act of annexation was in conformity to the Constitution of the United States, is obvious from the facts in the
The fact that Texas was an independent nation makes no element of the question whatever, inasmuch as she was divested of national prerogatives, before she was admitted as a State of the Union.
There is another alleged cause of the war, in the act of the war department of the United States, ordering General Taylor to the Rio Grande.
This was a prudential measure, on the part of our govern. ment, to prevent hostilities by being prepared for them, and properly makes a portion of our next chapter. It is simply a historical question as to the first act of hostility between the two nations in the commencement of a war, but in no sense can it be regarded as the cause. If it were the cause of the war, to what cause are we to attribute the assembling of two armies
* See Appendix I.
in hostile proximity, and both stationed at a great distance from their respective governments ? So far from being the cause, or even a cause of the war, it is not to be classed with the measure of annexation as one of the results of the causes which we have enumerated. It was purely a preventive measure on the part of our government, and only as such intended and authorized
COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE ACTS OF THE TWO
ASSUMED POSITION AND NATIONAL RELATIONS OF MEXICO.
Although the loss of Texas was a consequence of the bad faith of Mexico, still Mexico was induced to assume that annexation was sufficient cause of war. What combination of influences led that nation to take such a position is still a matter of some uncertainty. It is true, desperation is frequently indicative of weakness, and boldness or rashness is made to represent power. But acts of rashness may be generally traced to ulterior motives, to some contingent redemption or aid that may be possible, or probable, though not certain. A bold position in a nation which is wrong may cost nothing, and a compromise between right and extravagant claim may sometimes render it a source of gain. That Mexico was really ignorant of her own character, we cannot believe. That she was not fully aware of her own weakness, all must admit. That the embarrassments and confusion of her own affairs led her rulers to suppose that nothing could happen to add new misery to her condition, is more than probable. She supposed her chance for charity among nations about equal to that of justice. She was honored with marks of sympathy, but she was deceived by supposing they would be redeemed by acts of aid.
In what proportion, therefore, the various influences made up
her inducements to action, it is difficult to determine. Perhaps it is unnecessary. It is probable, however, that her very existence required action, and in her pride and weakness she was led to indulge in a vague belief that her manifestations of nationality would be taken for strength and patriotism, and thus enlist foreign intervention. At that time, the relations between the United States and Great Britain were unsettled. The Oregon question was the great source of excitement. Negotiation was of doubtful issue, and war was predicted. Foreign powers had acknowledged the independence of Texas, and her favor was courted both by England and France. If we had war with England, Mexico could follow with some degree of safety in her wake of destruction. Her weakness might be covered by England's strength, and English subjects had solid interests to urge them to such a union. France desired to help Mexico, that she might be able at some future day-to help herself, and she opposed the dissolution of the sovereignty of Texas because it would add too much to the power of the United States.
Thus were nations at work as elements in determining the affairs of Mexico, as involved with those of Texas. Mexico was one of five independent powers, and she was willing to be the fifth in order of influence, and be subject to the contingent relations of the other four ; and to take her chance as to the result. She was made blind to her own resources by expectations as baseless as they proved to be fatal. But, before we compare the acts of the United States and Mexico, let us glance at the
RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND TEXAS.
That the government of the United States has been actuated by considerations of strict justice and liberality to Mexico, and of integrity to its own great interests, will appear
from the simple facts embraced in official documents. We shall endeavor so' to classify them as to give the reader a just and connected view of the evidence which they contain.
The acts of governments, as well as those of individuals, are determined by motives. We can conceive of no other mode of action, however manifested or combined. In judging, therefore, either of collective or of individual action by a few leading facts, we must, in justice, remember the influences of the thousand little things which indeed make up the atmosphere of the motive world, and oftentimes characterize it, though they cannot be enumerated. We can hope to do but little in representing the motives of either government by selecting a few declarations, though we may aid the reader by our outlines in giving direction to further investigation.
The United States and Texas must be regarded as two sovereign nations engaged in a negotiation mutually important, and really in no way threatening the peace or involving the interest of any other nation. The special interest of Mexico in Texas was forfeited nine years before, and that forfeiture was recognized, and the consequent independence acknowledged, by the leading powers of Europe. Notwithstanding this, Mexico assumed the hostile attitude in regard to both in the contingency that they agreed. The contingency of agreement took place, and we commence our documentary account of events which preceded it, and which are necessary to a proper understanding of what followed.
It must be borne in mind that Mexico takes a forced position. Any other nation, according to the laws of nations, had the same right as Mexico to protest against annexation, and to threaten war. While the United States proposed to take nothing from Mexico that belonged to her, their government was bound to be faithful in all its engagements with Texas.
In literally dissolving her nationality, Texas claimed from the United States that protection which was necessary in view of successful negotiation, provided she was invaded by Mexico. While she was preparing to assume a subordinate position, in a national point of view, as one of the States of this Union, she was discontinuing those means of defence which would be no longer required. In reply to her government on this point, the United States gave