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existing rights upon this continent. The nations of Europe have no right to call upon us for a disclaimer of the one, or for a pledge to protect the other. It is true, British newspapers are in the habit of calumniating the people of the United States as a set of marauders upon the territorial rights of our neighbors. It is also true that, for party purposes, some portion of the press of this country is in the habit of attributing such sentiments to some of our public men; but it is not true, so far as I know, that any one man in either house of Congress does entertain, or has ever entertained or avowed, a sentiment that justifies such an imputation. I am unwilling, therefore, to countenance the vile slander by voting for a resolution which by imputation contains so base an insinuation. Perhaps I may as well speak plainly. I feel that there may be a lurking insinuation in these two clauses, having a little bearing toward an individual of about my proportions. It is the vocation of some partisan presses and personal organs to denounce and stigmatize a certain class of politicians, by attributing to them unworthy and disreputable purposes, under the cognomen of “Young America.” It is their amiable custom, I believe, when they come to individualize, to point to me as the one most worthy to bear the appellation. I have never either assumed or disclaimed it. I have never before alluded to it, and should not on the present occasion, had it not been introduced into the discussions of the Senate in such a manner as to leave the impression that I evaded it if I failed to notice it. I am aware that the senator who the other day directed so large a portion of his speech against the supposed doctrines of "YOUNG AMERICA” had no reference to myself in that part of his speech, and that the only allusion he made to me was kind and complimentary. So far as I am concerned, and those who harmonize with me in sentiment and action, the votes to which I have referred, and the reasons I have given in support of them, constitute the only profession of faith I deem it necessary to make on this subject. I am willing to compare votes and acts, principles and professions, with any senator who chooses to assail me. I yield to none in strict observance of the laws of nations and treaty stipulations. I may not have been willing blindly or recklessly to pledge the faith of the republic for all time on points where, in the nature of things, it was not reasonable to suppose that the
pledge could be preserved. I may have deemed it wise and prudent to hold the control of our own nation, and leave our successors free, according to their own sense of duty under the circumstances which may then exist.
CUBA. Now, sir, a few words with regard to the island of Cuba. If any man desires my opinions upon that question, he can learn them very easily. They have been proclaimed frequently for the last nine years, and still remain unchanged. I have often said, and now repeat that, so long as the island of Cuba is content to remain loyal to the crown of Spain, be it so.
I have no desire, no wish to disturb that relation. I have always said, and now repeat that, whenever the people of the island of Cuba shall show themselves worthy of freedom by asserting and maintaining their independence and establishing republican institutions, my heart, my sympathies, my prayers are with them for the accomplishment of the object. I have often said, and now repeat that, when that independence shall have been established, if it shall be necessary to their interest or safety to apply as Texas did for annexation, I shall be ready to do by them as we did by Texas, and receive them into the Union. I have said, and now repeat that, whenever Spain shall come to the conclusion that she can not much longer maintain her dominion over the island, and that it is better for her to transfer it to us upon fair and reasonable terms, I am one of those who would be ready to accept the transfer. I have said,
and now repeat that, whenever Spain shall refuse to make such transfer to us, and shall make it to England or any other European power, I would be among those who would be in favor of taking possession of the island, and resisting such transfer at all hazards.
Thus far I have often gone; thus far I now go. These are my individual opinions; not of much consequence, I admit, but any one who desires to know them is welcome to them. But it is one thing for me to entertain these individual sentiments, and it is another and very different thing to pledge forever and unalterably the policy of this government in a particular channel, in defiance of any change in the circumstances that may hereafter take place. I do not deem it necessary to affirm by a resolution, in the name of the republic, every opinion that I may entertain and be willing to act upon as the representative of a local constituency. I am not, therefore, prepared to say that it is wise policy to make any declaration upon the subject of the island of Cuba. Circumstances not within our control, and originating in causes beyond our reach, may precipitate a state of things that would change our action and reverse our whole line of policy. Cuba, in the existing position of affairs, does not present a practical issue. All that we may say or do is merely speculative, and dependent upon contingencies that may never happen.
TERRITORIAL EXPANSION.- FOREIGN AGGRESSIONS. THE Senate reassembled on the 4th of March. Mr. Clayton submitted resolutions calling for certain information respecting negotiations with Costa Rica, Honduras, etc. On the 8th and 9th of March he addressed the Senate on the general subject of Central American affairs, and criticised with severity the remarks made by Senators Mason, Cass, and Douglas during the debate in February. On the 10th of March Mr. Douglas replied in an argument of rare ability and searching power. He reviewed the entire history of the negotiations respecting Central American affairs during the Taylor administration. A few extracts from the closing portion of his speech will furnish most clearly his views upon the great question of extending the territorial limits of the United States. His views upon that point are stated with great precision and force. He said:
“But, sir, I do not wish to detain the Senate upon this point, or to prolong the discussion. I have a word or two to say in reply to the remarks of the senator from Delaware upon so much of my speech as related to the pledge in the Clayton and Bulwer treaty never to annex any portion of that country. I objected to that clause in the treaty upon the ground that I was unwilling to enter into a treaty stipulation with any European power in respect to this continent, that we would not do, in the future, whatever our duty, interest, honor, and safety might require in the course of events. The senator infers that I desire to annex Central America because I was unwilling to give a pledge that we never would do it. He reminded me that there
was a clause in the treaty with Mexico containing the stipulation that, in certain contingencies, we would never annex any portion of that country. Sir, it was unnecessary that he should remind me of that provision. He has not forgotten how hard I struggled to get that clause out of the treaty, where it was retained in opposition to my vote. Had the senator given me his aid then to defeat that provision in the Mexican treaty, I would be better satisfied now with his excuse for having inserted a still stronger pledge in his treaty. But, having advocated that pledge then, he should not attempt to avoid the responsibility of his own act by citing it as a precedent. I was unwilling to bind ourselves by treaty for all time to come never to annex any more territory. I am content for the present with the territory we have. I do not wish to annex any portion of Mexico now. I did not wish to annex any part of Central America then, nor do I at this time.
“But I can not close my eyes to the history of this country for the last half century.
Fifty years ago the question was being debated in this Senate whether it was wise or not to acquire any territory on the west bank of the Mississippi, and it was then contended that we could never, with safety, extend beyond that river. It was at that time seriously considered whether the Alleghany Mountains should not be the barrier beyond which we should never pass. At a subsequent date, after we had acquired Louisiana and Florida, more liberal views began to prevail, and it was thought that perhaps we might venture to establish one tier of states west of the Mississippi ; but, in order to prevent the sad calamity of an undue expansion of our territory, the policy was adopted of establishing an Indian Territory, with titles in perpetuity, all along the western borders of those states, so that no more new states could possibly be created in that direction. That barrier could not arrest the onward progress of our people. They burst through it, and passed the Rocky Mountains, and were only arrested by the waters of the Pacific. Who, then, is prepared to say that in the progress of events, having met with the barrier of the ocean in our western course, we may not be compelled to turn to the north and to the south for an outlet ?”
“You may make as many treaties as you please to fetter the limbs of this giant republic, and she will burst them all from her, and her course will be onward to a limit which I will not venture to prescribe. Why the necessity of pledging your faith that you will never annex any more of Mexico ? Do you not know that you will be compelled to do it; that you can not help it; that your treaty will not prevent it, and that the only effect it will have will be to enable European powers to accuse us of bad faith when the act is done, and associate American faith and Punic faith as synonymous terms ? What is the use of your guarantee that you will never erect any fortifications in Central America; never annex, occupy, or colonize any portion of that country? How do you know that you can avoid doing it? If you make the canal, I ask you if American citizens will not settle along its line; whether they will not build up towns at each terminus; whether they will not spread over that country, and convert it into an American state; whether American principles and American institutions will not be firmly planted there? And I ask you how many years you think will pass away before you will find the same necessity to extend your laws over your own kindred that you found in the case of Texas? How long will it be before that day arrives? It may not occur in the senator's day, nor mine. But, so certain as this republic exists, so certain as we remain a united people, so certain as the laws of progress which have raised us from a mere handful to a mighty nation shall continue to govern our action, just so certain are these events to be worked out, and you will be compelled to extend your protection in that direction.
“Sir, I am not desirous of hastening the day. I am not impatient of the
time when it shall be realized. I do not wish to give any additional impulse to our progress. We are going fast enough. But I wish our policy, our laws, our institutions, should keep up with the advance in science, in the mechanic arts, in agriculture, and in every thing that tends to make us a great and powerful nation. Let us look the future in the face, and let us prepare to meet that which can not be avoided. Hence I was unwilling to adopt that clause in the treaty guaranteeing that neither party would ever annex, colonize, or occupy any portion of Central America. I was opposed to it for another reason. It was not reciprocal. Great Britain had possession of the island of Jamaica. Jamaica was the nearest armed and fortified point to the terminus of the canal. Jamaica at present commands the entrance of the canal; and all that Great Britain desired was, inasmuch as she had possession of the only place commanding the canal, to procure a stipulation that no other power would ever erect a fortification nearer its terminus. That stipulation is equivalent to an agreement that England may fortify, but that we never shall. Sir, when you look at the whole history of that question, you will see that England, with her far-seeing, sagacious policy, has attempted to circumscribe, and restrict, and restrain the free action of this govern
When was it that Great Britain seized the possession of the terminus of this canal? Just six days after the signing of the treaty which secured to us California! The moment England saw that, by the pending negotiations with Mexico, California was to be acquired, she collected her fleets and made preparations for the seizure of the port of San Juan, in order that she might be gate-keeper on the public highway to our new possessions on the Pacific. Within six days from the time we signed the treaty, England seized by force and violence the very point now in controversy. Is not this fact indicative of her motives? Is it not clear that her object was to obstruct our passage to our new possessions? Hence I do not sympathize with that feeling which the senator expressed yesterday, that it was a pity to have a difference with a nation so FRIENDLY TO US AS ENGLAND. Sir, I do not see the evidence of her friendship. It is not in the nature of things that she can be our friend. It is impossible she can love us. I do not blame her for not loving us. Sir, we have wounded her vanity and humbled her pride. She can never forgive
But for us, she would be the first power on the face of the earth. But for us, she would have the prospect of maintaining that proud position which she held for so long a period. We are in her way. She is jealous of us, and jealousy forbids the idea of friendship. England does not love us; she can not love us; and we do not love her either. We have some things in the past to remember that are not agreeable. She has more in the present to humiliate her that she can not forgive.
“I do not wish to administer to the feeling of jealousy and rivalry that exists between us and England. I wish to soften and allay it as much as possible; but why close our eyes to the fact that friendship is impossible while jealousy exists? Hence England seizes every island in the sea and rock upon our coast where she can plant a gun to intimidate us or to annoy our commerce. Her policy has been to seize every military and naval station the world over. Why does she pay such enormous sums to keep her post at Gibraltar, except to hold it in terrorem' over the commerce of the Mediterranean? Why her enormous expense to maintain a garrison at the Cape of Good Hope, except to command the great passage on the way to the Indies? Why is she at the expense to keep her position on the little barren islands Bermuda and the miserable Bahamas, and all the other islands along our coast, except as sentinels upon our actions? Does England hold Bermuda because of any profit it is to her? Has she any other motive for retaining it except jealousy which stimulates hostility to us? Is it not the case with all her possessions along our coast? Why, then, talk about the
friendly bearing of England toward us when she is extending that policy every day ? New treaties of friendship, seizure of islands, and erection of new colonies in violation of her treaties, seem to be the order of the day. In view of this state of things, I am in favor of meeting England as we meet a rival; meet her boldly, treat her justly and fairly, but make no humiliating concession even for the sake of peace. She has as much reason to make concessions to us as we have to make them to her. I would not willingly disturb the peace of the world, but, sir, the Bay Island colony must be discontinued. It violates the treaty.”
At a subsequent part of the debate he quoted the letter of Mr. Everett (secretary of state under Mr. Fillmore) declining, on the part of the United States government, the agreement proposed by England and France, that neither nation should ever annex or take possession of Cuba. Mr. Everett, in declining that proposition, said:
“ But, whatever may be thought of these last suggestions, it would seem impossible for any one who reflects upon the events glanced at in this note to mistake the law of American growth and progress, or think it can be ultimately arrested by a convention like that proposed. In the judgment of the President, it would be as easy to throw a dam from Cape Florida to Cuba, in the hope of stopping the flow of the Gulf Stream, as to attempt, by a compact like this, to fix the fortunes of Cuba, now and for hereafter, or, as is expressed in the French text of the convention, pour le present comme pour l'avenir'—that is, for all coming time.”
Mr. Douglas, in commenting upon this, said:
“There the senator is told that such a stipulation (to annex no more territory) might be applicable to European politics, but would be unsuited and unfitted to American affairs; that he has mistaken entirely the system of policy which should be applied to our own country; that he has predicated his action upon those old antiquated notions which belong to the stationary and retrograde movements of the Old World, and find no sympathy in the youthful, uprising aspirations of the American heart. I endorse fully the sentiment. I insist that there is a difference, a wide difference, between the system of policy which should be pursued in America and that which would be applicable to Europe. Europe is antiquated, decrepit, tottering on the verge of dissolution. When you visit her, the objects which enlist your highest admiration are the relics of past greatness; the broken columns erected to departed power. It is one vast grave-yard, where you find here a tomb indicating the burial of the arts; there a monument marking the spot where liberty expired; another to the memory of a great man whose place has never been filled. The choicest products of her classic soil consist in relics, which remain as sad memorials of departed glory and fallen greatness! They bring up the memories of the dead, but inspire no hope for the living! Here every thing is fresh, blooming, expanding, and advancing. We wish a wise, practical policy adapted to our condition and position. Sir, the statesman who would shape the policy of America by European models, has failed to perceive the antagonism which exists in the relative position, history, institutions in every thing pertaining to the Old and the New World."
THE FRIENDSHIP OF ENGLAND. In reply to a remark, in the same debate, by Mr. Butler, he said: