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them on 54° 40' as our fighting line, regardless of consequences, war or no war. But, while they declined to assume this position in a time of peace, they unanimously avowed their determination to stand by the country the moment war was declared. But, since the gentleman from Massachusetts has dragged the Oregon question into this debate, I wish to call his attention to one of his wise sayings on that subject, and see if he is not willing to apply it to Texas as well as Oregon, to Mexico as well as Great Britain. He recalled to the mind of the House that passage of history in which the great Frederick took military possession of Silesia, and immediately proposed to settle the question of title and boundaries by negotiation. During the Oregon debate he avowed himself in favor of Frederick's plan for the settlement of that question, “Take possession first, and negotiate afterward.” I desire to know why the gentleman is not willing to apply this principle to the country on the Rio del Norte as well as Oregon? According to his own showing, that is precisely what President Polk has done. He has taken possession, and proposed to negotiate. In this respect the President has adopted the advice of the gentleman from Massachusetts, and followed the example of the great Frederick. The only difference in the two cases is that the President was maintaining a legal possession, which Congress had previously taken by the extension of our laws. For this he is also abused. He is condemned alike for using the sword and the olive branch. His enemies object to his efforts for amicable adjustment as well as to the movements of the army. All is wrong in their eyes. Their country is always wrong, and its enemies right. It has ever been so. It was so in the last war with Great Britain. Then it was unbecoming a moral and religious people to rejoice at the success of American
We were wrong, in their estimation, in the French Indemnity case, in the Florida war, in all the Indian wars, and now in the Mexican war. I despair of ever seeing my country again in the right, if they are to be the oracles.
On the 23d of February, 1848, President Pierce communicated to the Senate the treaty of peace with Mexico, negotiated at Guadalupe Hidalgo by N. P. Trist, calling attention to certain provisions in it which were highly objectionable. The debate on this treaty continued until March 10, when, it having been amended, the vote was taken, “Will the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty in the form of this resolution ?" and the vote stood:
Yeas-Ashley, Atherton, Bagby, Bell, Bradbury, Bright, Butler, Calhoun, Cameron, Cass, Clarke, Crittenden, Davis of Massachusetts, Davis of Mississippi, Dayton, Dickinson, Dix, Downs, Felch, Foote, Greene, Hale, Hannegan, Hunter, Johnson of Maryland, Johnson of Louisiana, Johnson of Georgia, Mangum, Mason, Miller, Moor, Niles, Rusk, Sevier, Sturgeon, Turney, Underwood, Yulee-38.
Nays-Allen of Ohio, Atchison of Missouri, Badger of North Carolina, Baldwin of Connecticut, Benton of Missouri, Berrien of Georgia, Breese of Illinois, Corwin of Ohio, Douglas of Illinois, Lewis of Alabama, Spruance of Delaware, Upham of Vermont, Webster of Massachusetts, Westcott of Florida—14. Two thirds having voted in the affirmative, the treaty was ratified.
The objections to the treaty on the part of Mr. Douglas are stated in the extracts from his speeches in the various part of this volume.
POLICY WITH FOREIGN NATIONS. SINCE the advent of Mr. Douglas upon the floors of Congress, he has always taken an active and decided part in the discussions upon the proper policy to be adopted and maintained by the United States with respect to foreign governments, and also respecting foreign possessions and foreign domination upon the American continent. While he has always been a strenuous defender of the Monroe doctrine, and a zealous advocate of its rigid maintenance on all occasions by the United States, he has never given his approval to any of the resolutions or propositions which, from time to time, have been introduced into Congress, with a view of having a declaration of what this government would or would not do under certain circumstances. · His theory is that the declaration by Mr. Monroe was a formal notice to the world that thenceforth there was to be no new establishment of power or acquisition of territory on this continent by any European nation. By that declaration he is willing to stand. It is broad, explicit, and covers the whole subject. As to all other questions, he is for leaving the United States unfettered by declarations, pledges, or treaty stipulations. He is opposed to any agreement between the United States and any European power by which the United States will be bound to do or not to do certain things respecting the future of any part of this continent. He is for leaving the government perfectly free to act when the occasion arises, just as the circumstances and interests of the country shall at the time require.
When Mr. Douglas entered Congress the Oregon boundary question was causing considerable agitation. He had discussed the subject often at home in Illinois, It was no new subject for him. He at once entered largely into it. As the whole controversy has long since been finally disposed of by treaty, it is unnecessary to quote in a work of this kind his speeches on the question. They were many and able, and displayed a research for which those who were strangers to him
were reluctant to give him credit. He was for 54° 40', and was the last man to yield in the memorable congressional struggle that ensued some years later. He had declared in his first speech his matured and deliberate opinion that the American title was clear and indisputable, and that he never would, now or hereafter, yield up an inch of Oregon to Great Britain or any other government. He was a warm supporter of the proposition of giving the notice required by existing treaty for the termination of the joint occupation of the disputed territory. He advocated the immediate organization of a territorial government for Oregon, and its protection by an ample military force. If these events, if this just enforcement of American rights were to lead to a war with Great Britain, he urged the strong necessity for putting the country in a state of defense. He reviewed, with strong and emphatic denunciations, the incessant progress made by Great Britain in extending and maintaining dominion on this continent. He described her power at the north and on the lakes ; her possessions and dépôts in the Atlantic, and also on the Pacific; pointed out her intrigues to obtain Texas on the southwestall these things he presented with great force and power.
On the 3d of June, 1844, he made a speech in the House contrasting the principles, and the opinions upon all pending national questions, of Messrs. Clay and Polk. This speech was made in reply to one delivered by Colonel Hardin, of Illinois; it was such an able exposition of Democratic principles that it was the campaign speech of the session, was printed in immense numbers, and was sent all over the Union.
THE OREGON BOUNDARY. The following extracts from speeches delivered by him on the Oregon question of that day will serve to illustrate his general views :
“It therefore becomes us to put this nation in a state of defense; and, when we are told that this will lead to war, all I have to say is this, violate no treaty stipulations, nor any principle of the law of nations; preserve the honor and integrity of the country, but, at the same time, assert our right to the last inch, and then, if war comes, let it come. We may regret the necessity which produced it, but when it does come, I would administer to our citizens Hannibal's oath of eternal enmity, and not terminate the war until the question was settled forever. I would blot out the lines on the map which now mark our national boundaries on this continent, and make the area of liberty as broad as the continent itself.: I would not suffer petty rival
republics to grow up here, engendering jealousy of each other, and interfering with each other's domestic affairs, and continually endangering their peace. I do not wish to go beyond the great ocean-beyond those boundaries which the God of nature has marked out, I would limit myself only by that boundary which is so clearly defined by nature."
Again : “Our federal system is admirably adapted to the whole continent; and, while I would not violate the laws of nations, nor treaty stipulations, nor in any manner tarnish the national honor, I would exert all legal and honorable means to drive Great Britain and the last vestiges of royal authority from the continent of North America, and extend the limits of the republic from ocean to ocean. I would make this an ocean-bound republic, and have no more disputes about boundaries, or “red lines' upon the maps.
The Baltimore Convention, which in June, 1844, nominated Mr. Polk for the presidency, had passed the following resolution:
“ Resolved, That our title to the whole of the territory of Oregon is clear and unquestionable; that no portion of the same should be ceded to England or any other power; and that the reoccupation of Oregon, and the reannexation of Texas at the earliest practicable period, are great American measures, which this convention recommends to the ardent support of the Democracy of the Union.”
It subsequently became a subject of grave discussion and of warm controversy whether that part of this resolution relating to Oregon was or was not a part of the Democratic platform to which the party was committed. In the discussion upon that point, Mr. Douglas, while conceding to President Polk all possible patriotism, and admitting that the President could not have been aware, on his accession to the presidency, that the United States had at one time offered to compromise on 49°, contended, nevertheless, that all Democrats were bound by the resolution of the Baltimore Convention.
The history of the Oregon boundary question is one of the most interesting in the annals of our government. The limits of this work will not permit it to be given in full here, but its progress and final settlement may be understood from the
following brief sketch :
The proposition to give the notice of the termination of the joint occupancy of the disputed territory was renewed during the first Congress of which Mr. Douglas was a member, and failed. In the twenty-ninth Congress it was again urged. This was the first Congress following Mr. Polk's inauguration. In his inaugural address the President had used these memorable words:
“Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain, by all constitutional means, the right of the United States to that portion of our territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our title to the country of the Oregon is clear and unquestionable,' and already are our people preparing to perfect that title by occupying it with their wives and children.”
By the 3d article of the treaty of October, 1818, it had been agreed that the country in dispute should be open and free for ten years to the citizens of both countries, without prejudice to the claims of either country. Several subsequent efforts were made to settle the matter by negotiation, but without success. In 1827 a convention was made, by which it was agreed to continue in force the existing stipulation for a joint occupancy, with a proviso that after October, 1828, either of the contracting parties, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, might annul and abrogate this last treaty, which should, from and after the expiration of the twelve months' notice, be abrogated and annulled. The United States had, in all the negotiations, offered to fix the boundary upon the parallel of 49° north latitude, but the offer had been rejected. Great Britain offered the boundary of 49° to its intersection with the northeastern branch of the Columbia River, and then with the channel of said river to the ocean. This had been rejected, for obvious reasons, by the United States. In 1843 the negotiations had been renewed; and in August, 1844, pending the presidential contest in which Mr. Polk was a candidate, Great Britain, through her minister at Washington, made an offer having for its main feature the line of 49o. This was rejected by Mr. Tyler. Upon Mr. Polk's entering the of fice of President, he found that the United States, from 1818 up to a very recent period, had offered to accept the parallel of 49°, the difference between the two governments being upon questions involving the joint right of navigation of the Columbia River, free ports upon Vancouver's Island, and other points of detail. Mr. Polk again offered as a compromise the line of 49°, omitting what had been tendered by his predecessorsthe free navigation of the Columbia River south of that line. He was, he said, unwilling to concede to Great Britain the free navigation of any river in the United States. The British minister rejected the offer, and Mr. Polk then asserted the Amer.