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persed by the United States officers. Any such violation of our laws is deeply to be regretted, but the Government will not be compromitted. Governor Marcy will issue a proclamation to-morrow calling on our citizens to preserve their neutrality. The feeling throughout our frontiers is very strong, but it will be confined, in general, to expressions of sympathy. Dr. Rolph is at Buffalo. With best love to Mother, I am, ever yours,
J. A. Dix. I feared any letter from us just now might miscarry or excite suspicion.
(Vol. I, page 222.)
MR. GALLATIN'S PROJECT OF A TREATY WITII MEXICO.
New York, March 3, 1848. DEAR SIR,—The issue on the subject of peace with Mexico is altogether changed by the contingent project negotiated by Mr. Trist, and submitted by the President to the Senate. I know that I differed in opinion with you and several respected friends as to the propriety of sustaining the Executive in the prosecution of the war. But now I think that we agree on the importance of making the project the foundation of a speedy termination of the war, and of a solid and permanent peace.
It seems to me that one of the great obstacles to be surmounted is the question of slavery, and that, if practicable, without committing either party, the discussion of that subject should be postponed and left open for subsequent consideration. I will acknowledge that I have a great aversion to conquest, and especially to the annexation of New Mexico to our Union.
In the next place, without regard to right, and only in reference to a solid and permanent peace, I have the strongest conviction that the desert should be made the boundary between Texas and Mexico, and that if the lower part of the Rio Norte be adhered to, it will necessarily produce collisions and the renewal of a war of conquest.
I have ventured to commit to paper my views on both points, and submit them to your consideration. My suggestions on the first point may appear fanciful and prove impracticable, and I hope that some better mode, having the same object in view, may be devised. On the subject of the boundary beyond the Nueces I have no hesitation, and am fully satisfied of its paramount importance.
But I pray that, whatever you may think of the enclosed paper, and whatever use (if any) you may make of it, my name may be altogether kept out of view. I send it confidentially only to the six members of the Senate with whom I am acquainted.
Be pleased to accept the assurance of my distinguished consideration and personal regard. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALBERT GALLATIN. The Hon. JOHN A. Dix,
U. S. Scnator, Washington.
The project of a treaty, communicated by the President to the Senate, comes in a questionable shape; prepared, on the part of the United States, by one whose powers had been revoked ; on that of Mexico under duress, and by persons whose authority is doubtful and perhaps transient. Yet a speedy termination of this lamentable war is so desirable, and so generally wanted by the great body of the nation, that no effort should be omitted to make this overture the foundation of a just, honorable, real, and lasting peace. Every month of the war during its continuance is a sacrifice of hundreds of valuable lives, and costs the nation about four millions of dollars.
The line designated by the project as the northern boundary of Mexico is generally, and with only one important exception, founded on rational principles, so far at least as relates to Mexico itself.
The independence of California is a fact accomplished, which not the joint efforts of the United States and of Mexico could recall.
The majority of its white inhabitants already consists of European emigrants not of Spanish descent and of citizens of the United States; and it must necessarily, in a short time, be almost exclusively occupied by emigrants from this last quarter. The same observation applies with still greater force to the districts situated north of the proposed boundary which are not yet inhabited by either the Mexicans or the Americans. Neither those provinces, nor even New Mexico, are of any real utility to the Mexican Republic. They are either deserts or distant outposts and colonies, which add nothing to her strength, and which she may yield without impairing her nationality. But the Mexican inhabitants of both California and New Mexico have rights which ought to be respected; and they should not be considered as cattle, that may be transferred without their consent.
It may also be that the people of the United States are not prepared for the absolute and unconditional annexation of those provinces which is contemplated by the project.
They may object to the admission as a State, and to the introduction in the national councils of the representatives of sixty or seventy thousand Mexicans and cultivating Indians, who are the sole inhabitants of New Mexico. It is also well known that differences of opinion, entitled to the most serious consideration, do exist; and that there are several difficult and important questions to be settled respecting the conditions on which new territory should be acquired by and annexed to the United States.
The paramount importance of the termination of the war is such that it is most highly desirable that some mode might be devised of postponing for the present a decision, or even a discussion, of those intricate and delicate questions; provided it can be done without in any way committing either of the parties concerned. Sensible of its intrinsic difficulties and my own incompetence, I hardly dare emit an opinion on that subject. The following suggestions are submitted with unfeigned diffidence, and principally for the purpose of illustrating the object I have in view.
Instead of an absolute and direct cession to the United States of the whole territory north of the intended boundary, let the Mexican Republic recognize, by the treaty, the unconditional independence of the States of Texas, New Mexico, and California, with limits defined by the treaty; and cede to the United States only the residue of the territory north of the boundary not included within the limits of those three States. This residue will consist almost exclusively of the country drained by the great Colorado of the West, and its tributaries, which contains about 250,000 square miles, and still remains unoccupied by any inhabitants of European descent.
The annexation of Texas is an accomplished fact, and cannot in any way be affected by any treaty. The recognition of its independence would be a mere matter of form, and the same thing as its cession to the United States contemplated by every plan of treaty which has been proposed.
According to the arrangement suggested there would be no conquest, and the objections in that respect would be altogether removed. But everybody knows that the great obstacle to any acquisition of territory, however legitimate, is to be found in the conflicting views respecting slavery. And, without discussing the question itself, the effect in that respect of the arrangement must be fairly stated.
The States of California and New Mexico, being declared unconditionally independent, will, each of them respectively, admit or forbid slavery, as they may think proper. Whichever way they decide, the question of annexation and of its terms will remain open ; and those which relate to slavery may be then discussed, as free of any previous commitment as at this time. The discussion may, therefore, be postponed for the present, without inconvenience or disadvantage to either of the parties.
The people of the two States respectively on the one part, and the United States on the other, will be at full liberty to remain independent sovereignties, or to be but one nation, as may suit their mutual convenience. This is conformable with natural justice; and, provided the provisions of the Constitution of the United States be adhered to, these will afford a sufficient guarantee, on the subject of slavery and on any other, that the ultimate decision will be proper, and that a bare majority will not dictate terms to the other party. For no territory can be acquired otherwise than by a fair treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate ; and no new State can be erected, or admitted in the Union, in any other manner than by Congress, and, therefore, with the co-operation and approbation of the House of Representatives.
But the treaty must be real and solid. Negotiated, on the part of Mexico, under duress, without the assent of the Congress of Queretaro, and, as it seems, by men not vested with sufficient legitimate powers, it must afford a well-founded expectation that it shall be ratified freely by a Government truly representing the Mexican nation. And its terms must also be such as shall afford security for its permanence and solidity. They must for that purpose provide, as far as practicable, against collisions, and against any other incidents which might produce or afford pretences for a renewal of hostilities.
In this respect there is but one part of the proposed northern boundary of the Republic of Mexico which is truly objectionable, and of any real and immediate importance; but its importance is such as to require the most serious consideration. It is obvious that I allude to the condition which makes the Rio del Norte, from its mouth to the southern boundary of New Mexico, the boundary between the two countries. Setting altogether aside the question of right, and considering only the expediency of the measure, I have no hesitation in saying that probably the ratification by Mexico of the proposed treaty, and most certainly the solidity and permanence of peace, depend on the rejection of that line.
No one can deny, as an abstract proposition, that no more natural and eligible boundary can be devised than the desert of one hundred and twenty miles in breadth which separates the river Nueces from the Rio del Norte. None could be contrived more calculated to produce collisions than a narrow river, fordable in many places, and to which there is a common right of navigation. Nothing can be more provoking, or a greater nuisance to the weaker party, than a commanding and threatening position from which its towns on the opposite side may be bombarded. It cannot be denied that this boundary leaves Mexico without a defensive frontier, exposed at all times to be invaded, and its interior provinces to be occupied by a powerful neighbor. Nothing, finally, can be more dangerous than to place, under such circumstances, in immediate contact the Texans and the Mexicans, with such feelings as have been generated by their relative position and long warfare. Alluding only to one of the many sources of collision, I said, on another occasion :
“Where there was nothing but a fordable river to cross slaves would perpetually escape from Texas. And where would be the remedy? Are the United States prepared to impose on