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provisions I have pointed out. I allude to the article in which it is provided that “The government of the United States and Great Britain, having not only desired to accomplish a particular object, BUT ALso To Establish A GENERA. PRINCIPLE, THEY HEREBY AGREE To ExTEND THEIR PROTECTION, by TREATY STIPULATIONs, To ANY OTHER PRACTIGABLE communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America, and especially to the interoceanic communications, should the same prove to be practicable, whether by canal or railway, which are now proposed to be established by the way of TEHUANTEPEC OR PANAMA.” The “particular object” which the parties had in view being thus accomplished—the Hise treaty defeated, the exclusive privilege to the United States surrendered and abandoned, and the European partnership established—yet they were not satisfied. They were not content to “accomplish a particular object,” but desired to “ESTABLISH A GENERAL PRINCIPLE s” That which, by the terms of the treaty, was particular and local to the five states of Cen. tral America, is, in this article, extended to Mexico on the north, and to New Granada on the south, and declared to be a general principle by which any and all other practicable routes of communication across the isthmus between North and South America are to be governed and protected by the allied powers. New and additional treaty stipulations are to be entered into for this purpose, and the net-work which had been prepared and spread over all Central America is to be extended far enough into Mexico and New Granada to cover all the lines of communication, whether by railway or canal, and especially to include Tehuantepec and Panama. When it is remembered that the treaty in terms establishes an alliance between the United States and Great Britain, and engages to invite all other powers, with which either is on terms of friendly intercourse, to become parties to its provisions, it will be seen that this article seeks to make the principles of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty the law of nations in respect to American affairs. The general principle is established; the right of European powers to intervene in the affairs of American states is recognized; the propriety of the exercise of that right is acknowledged; and the extent to which the allied powers shall carry their protection, and the limits within which they shall confine their operations, are subject to treaty stipulations in the future. When the American continent shall have passed under the protectorate of the allied powers, and her future made dependent upon treaty stipulations for carrying into effect the object of the alliance, Europe will no longer have cause for serious apprehensions at the rapid growth, expansion, and development of our federal Union. She will then console herself that limits have been set and barriers erected beyond which the territories of this republic can never extend, nor its principles prevail. In confirmation of this view, she will find additional cause for congratulation when she looks into the treaty of peace with Mexico, and there sees the sacred honor of this republic irrevocably pledged that we will never, in all coming time, annex any more Mexican territory in the mode in which Texas was acquired. The fifth article contains the following extraordinary provision: “The boundary-line established by this article shall be religiously respected by each of the two republics, and no change shall ever be made therein except by the express and free consent of both nations, lawfully given by the general government of each, in conformity with its own Constitution.” One would naturally suppose that, for all the ordinary purposes of a treaty of peace, the first clause of the paragraph would have been entirely sufficient. It declares that “the boundary-line established by this article shall be religiously respected by each of the two republics.” . Why depart from the usual course of proceeding in such cases, and add, that “no change shall ever be
made therein, except by the express and free consent of both nations, LAwfulLY given by the GENERAL government of each, in conformity with its own CoNSTITUTION.” What is the meaning of this peculiar phraseology? The history of Texas furnishes the key by which the hidden meaning can be unlocked. The Sabine was once the boundary between the republics of the United States and Mexico. By the revolt of Texas and the establishment of her independence, and the acknowledgment thereof by the great powers of the world, and her annexation to the United States, the boundary between the two republics was “changed” from the Sabine to the Rio Grande without “the express and free consent of both nations, lawfully given by the general government of each, in conformity with its own Constitution.” Mexico regarded that change a just cause of war, and accordingly invaded Texas with a view to the recovery of the lost territory. A protracted war ensued, in which thousands of lives were lost, and millions of money expended, when peace is concluded upon the express condition that the treaty should contain an open and frank avowal that the United States has been wrong in the causes of the war, by the pledge of her honor never to repeat the act which led to hostilities. Wherever you turn your eye, whether to your own record, to the statutebooks, to the history of this country or of Mexico, or to the diplomatic his– tory of the world, this humiliating and degrading acknowledgment stares you in the face, as a monument of your own creation, to the dishonor of our common country. Well do I remember the determined and protracted efforts of the minority to expunge this odious clause from the treaty before its ratification, and how, on the 4th of March, 1848, we were voted down by forty-two to eleven. The stain which that clause fastened upon the history of our country was not the only objection I urged to its retention in the treaty. It violated a great principle of public policy in relation to this continent. It pledges the faith of this republic that our successors shall not do that which duty to the interests and honor of the country, in the progress of events, may compel them to do. I do not meditate or look with favor upon any aggression upon Mexico. I do not desire, at this time, to annex any portion of her territory to this Union; nor am I prepared to say that the time will ever come, in my day, when I would be willing to sanction such a proposition. But who can say that, amid the general wreck and demoralization in Mexico, a state of things may not arise in which a just regard for our own rights and safety, and for the sake of humanity and civilization, may render it imperative for us to do that which was done in the case of Texas, and thereby change the boundary between the two republics, without the free consent of the general government of Mexico, lawfully given in conformity with her Constitution? Recent events in Sonora, Chihuahua, and Tamaulipas do not establish the wisdom and propriety of that line of policy which ties our hands in advance, and deprives the government of the right, in the future, of doing whatever duty and honor may require, when the necessity for action may arrive. Mr. President, one of the resolutions under consideration makes a declaration in relation to the island of Cuba, which requires a passing notice. It is in the following words: “That, while the United States disclaim any designs upon the island of Cuba, inconsistent with the laws of nations and with their duties to Spain, they consider it due to the vast importance of the subject to make known, in this solemn manner, that they should view all efforts on the part of any other power to procure possession, whether peaceably or forcibly, of that island, which, as a naval or military position, must, under circumstances easy to be foreseen, become dangerous to their southern coast, to the Gulf of Mexico, and to the mouth of the Mississippi, as unfriendly acts, directed against them, to be resisted by all the means in their power.”
That we would resist any attempt to transfer the island of Cuba to any European power, either with or without the consent of Spain, there is, I trust, no question in the mind of any American, and the fact is as well known to Europe as it is to our own country. That the United States do not meditate any designs upon the island inconsistent with the laws of nations, and with their duties to Spain, has been demonstrated to the world in a manner that forbids the necessity for a disclaimer of unworthy and perfidious purposes on our part. . The resolutions convey, beneath this disclaimer, the implication that our character is subject to suspicion upon that point. Shall we let the presumption go abroad that a disclaimer of an act of dishonesty, and perfidy, and infamy has become necessary upon our part? Sir, is there any thing in the history of our relations with foreign nations, or in respect to Cuba, that should subject our country to such injurious imputations? When has our government failed to perform its whole duty as a neutral power in respect to Cuba? The only complaint has been, that in its great anxiety to preserve in good faith its neutral relations, it has permitted treaty stipulations with Spain, providing for the protection of our citizens, to be wantonly and flagrantly violated. No suspicion that this government has been wanting in energy and fidelity in the enforcement of our laws has been entertained in any quarter. It was the excessive energy and severity with which the duty was performed that has provoked the disapprobation of some portion of the American people. Sir, what right has Great Britain to call upon the United States, as she did in a late application, to enter into a negotiation to guarantee Cuba to Spain? Such a step might have been necessary on the part of England in order to satisfy Spain that she has abandoned the policy which for centuries has marked her colonial history with plunder and rapine. Why does not England first restore to Spain the island of Jamaica, by the seizure and posssesion of which she is enabled to overlook Cuba, while it gives her the command of the entrance of the proposed Nicaragua canal? Why does she not restore to old Spain Gibraltar, which, from proximity and geographical position, naturally belongs to her, and is essential to her safety? Why does she not restore the colonial possessions which she has stretched all over the world, commanding every important military and naval station, both upon land and water? Why does she not restore them to their original owners, from whom she obtained them by fraud and violence? Why does she not do these things before she calls upon us to enter into stipulations that we will not rob Spain of the island of Cuba? The whole system of European colonization rests upon seizure, violence, and fraud. European powers hold nearly all their colonies by the one or the other of these tenures. They can show no other evidence, no other mumiment of title. What is there in the history of the United States that requires us to make any such disclaimer? We have never acquired one inch of territory, except by honest purchase and full payment of the consideration. We have never seized any Spanish or other European colony. We have never invaded the rights of other nations. We do not hold in our hand the results of rapine, violence, war, and fraud for centuries, and then prate about honesty, and propose to honest people to enter into guarantees that they will not rob their neighbors. * * * * I confess I have not formed a very high appreciation of the value of these disclaimers of all intention of committing crimes against our neighbors. I do not think I should deem my house any more secure in the night in consequence of the thief having pledged his honor not to steal my property. If I am surrounded by honest men, there is no necessity for the “friendly assurance;” and if by rogues, it would not relieve my apprehensions or afford much security to my rights. I am unwilling, therefore, to make any disclaimer as to our purposes upon Cuba, or to give any pledge in respect to 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.
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.
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