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It is the language of truth and sincerity, however much it may be doubted by partisans, which we find in the message of President Polk to Congress, December, 1845.
“ This accession to our territory has been a bloodless achievement. No arm of force has been raised to produce the result. The sword has had no part in the victory. We have not sought to extend our territorial possessions by conquest, or our republican institutions over a reluctant people.
It was a deliberate homage of each people to the great principle of our federative Union.
“ If we consider the extent of territory involved in the annexation, its prospective influence on America, the means by which it has been accomplished, springing purely from the choice of the people themselves to share the blessings of our Union, the history of the world may be challenged to furnish a parallel.”
The president had acted openly and independently in this negotiation, and he had every reason to congratulate the country on the result. We shall more justly appreciate his sentiments if we refer to his letter of instructions, in which the manner of negotiation is advised, in a despatch from
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Donelson. “ The president entirely concurs in opinion with you, that the United States should avoid even the least appearance of interference with the free action of the people of Texas on the question of annexation. This is necessary to give its full effect to one of the grandest moral spectacles which has ever been presented to mankind, and to convince the world that we would not, if we could, influence their decision except by fair argument. We desire that our conduct shall be in perfect contrast to that pursued by the British chargé d'affaires to Texas in reference to the question.”
PROMPT ACTION NECESSARY.
Great efforts were made by the representatives of France and England to prevent annexation, and even Mexico herself was induced to assent to propositions of peace, provided Texas would remain independent.*
Preliminary propositions were formally made and sent from Mexico, in May, by Baron Alleye De Cyprey, and Charles Bankhead, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of his majesty the king of the French, and minister plenipotentiary of her Britannic majesty, sanctioned by the Mexican government. They were presented by Mr. Elliott, her Britannic majesty's chargé d'affaires in Texas. These were duly submitted by President Jones to the Congress of Texas, with all due respect to the motives of those who framed them. The proposed treaty was unanimously rejected by the Congress of Texas on the same day that the resolutions of annexation were unanimously accepted.
These efforts will enable us to understand an anxiety manifested on the part of our government to have the business promptly closed. It must be gratifying to all lovers of their country that the promptitude of our government was not marked by any departure from the fundamental principles of sound diplomacy, justice, and humanity. It is well remarked, and, doubtless, with a just sense of pride, by the president in his message of December, 1845, that,
“ In contemplating the grandeur of this event, it is not to be forgotten that the result was achieved in despite of the diplomatic interference of European monarchies. Even France, the country which had been our ancient ally; the country which has a common interest with us in maintaining the freedom of the seas; the country which, by the cession of Louisiana, first opened to us access to the Gulf of Mexico; the country with which we have been every year drawing more and more
* See Appendix J.
closely the bonds of successful commerce, most unexpectedly, and to our unfeigned regret, took part in an effort to prevent annexation, and to impose on Texas, as a condition of the recognition of her independence by Mexico, that she would never join herself to the United States. We may rejoice that the tranquil and pervading influence of the American principle of self-government was sufficient to defeat the purposes of British and French interference, and that the almost unanimous voice of the people of Texas has given to that interference a peaceful and effective rebuke. From this example, European governments may learn how vain diplomatic arts and intrigues must ever prove, upon this continent, against that system of self-government which seems natural to our soil, and which will ever resist foreign interference.”
POSITIONS OF THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND
MEXICO AFTER ANNEXATION.
The resolution authorizing the annexation of Texas was passed by the Congress of the United States, on the 28th of February, 1845, and was approved by the president on the 1st of March."
On the 6th day of March following, the Mexican minister at Washington, General Almonte, in the name of his government, addressed to the state department a PROTEST, in the most solemn manner, against the law whereby the province of Texas, an integrant portion of the Mexican territory, is agreed and admitted into the American Union ; that the said law can in no wise invalidate the rights on which Mexico relies to recover the above-mentioned province of Texas, of which she now sees herself unjustly despoiled ; and that she will maintain and uphold those rights at all times, by every means which may be in her power.”
He" will say in conclusion, to the honorable secretary of state of the United States, in order that he may be pleased to com
* See Appendix I.
municate it to the president of these States, that in consequence of this law, against which he has just protested, his mission near this government has ceased from this day. Wherefore, the undersigned prays the honorable secretary of state to be pleased to deliver him his passports, as he has made arrangements to leave this city, [Washington, without delay, for New York."
This was the first position of Mexico after annexation. It was one of complaint and protest.
The secretary of state, on the 10th day of March, 1845, advised General Almonte, that he had submitted his protest made in the name of his government, to the president, and he was instructed, in answer, to say, “ that the admission of Texas as one of the States of this Union, having received the sanction, both of the legislative and executive departments of the government, is now irrevocably decided, so far as the United States are concerned. Nothing but the refusal of Texas to ratify the terms and conditions on which her admission depends, can defeat this object. It is, therefore, too late, at present, to re-open a discussion which has already been exhausted, and again to prove that Texas has long since achieved her independence of Mexico, and now stands before the world, both de jure and de facto, as a sovereign and independent State amid the family of nations. Sustaining this character, and having manifested a strong desire to become one of the members of our confederacy, neither Mexico nor any other nation will have just cause of complaint against the United States for admitting her into this Union.”
This was the position of the United States. It was one of justification and defence.
Having before us the two nations in their respective positions of complaint and defence, we propose to review their spirit of conciliation and of hostility, as manifested by their acts prior to the commencement of the war. We will first turn our attention to
THE DISPOSITIONS OF MEXICO, AS MANIFESTED TOWARDS THE
Although it is not our design, in this connection, to notice events prior to March, 1845, it may be proper, perhaps, to advert to the assumed position of Mexico, in regard to annexation, in 1843 and 1844.
Under date of August 23, 1843, the Mexican minister of foreign relations, in the name of his government, addressed to our minister in Mexico, the following language :-*
“ The Mexican government will consider equivalent to a declaration of war against the Mexican Republic, the passage of an act for the incorporation of Texas with the territory of the United States, the certainty of the fact being sufficient for the proclamation of war, leaving to the civilized world to determine with regard to the justice of the cause of the Mexican nation in a struggle which it has been so far from provoking.”
On the 12th of June, 1844, just two months after the signature by Mr. Calhoun of the treaty for the annexation of Texas, Santa Anna, then the president of Mexico, announced to the government of the United States, “that Mexico was resolved again to undertake vigorously the campaign against Texas, for which she held in readiness a large army,” and further expressed the determination of Mexico upon the point, as follows :
66 That in no manner will she consent to dismember territory; rather will she carry the war to any extreme which may be necessary to sustain her rights; and that as nations do not die, the right of reconquering that territory shall remain to our children and our grandchildren ; that this was the opinion of the government and of the Mexicans.”
* See the able speech of Hon. Mr. Downs, delivered in the U. S. Senate, January, 1848, from which we have copied some details to 1844.