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Relations of Mexico and the United States-Peremptory Instruc
tions to the American Minister-Withdrawal of GorostizaConferences between President Jackson and Santa AnnaArrival of Santa Anna at Vera Cruz—Message of the Governor of South Carolina-General Hamilton's Report to the SenateAcknowledgment of Texan Independence by the United States -- Application of Texas to be annexed to the Federal Union Diplomatic Correspondence-Renewal of diplomatic Relations between the United States and Mexico - Message of President Houston-Opposition of the Northern and Middle States to Texan Annexation-Mr. Preston's Resolution-Withdrawal of the Proposition to annex Texas to the Union.
On the 20th of July, 1836, eleven days after the official communication to the government of the United States, of the decree suspending the Presidential authority of Santa Anna the American minister to Mexico, Mr. Ellis, had been directed by President Jackson to present fourteen specific, and sundry indefinite, claims for indemnity to the Mexican Government, running as far back as 1817.
“ If, contrary to the President's hope,” said the instructions to Mr. Ellis, “ no satisfactory answer shall be given to this just and reasonable demand, within three weeks, you will inform the Mexican Government that, unless redress is afforded without unnecessary delay, your further residence in Mexico will be useless. If this state of things continues longer, you will give formal notice to the Mexican Government that, unless a satisfactory answer shall be given within a fortnight, you are instructed to ask for your passports ; and, at the end of that time, if you do not receive such answer, it is the President's direction that you demand your
passports and return to the United States, bringing with you the archives of the legation."
On the 26th of September, the list of claims was presented to the Mexican Government; on the 3rd of October, the Mexican Secretary of State informed Mr. Ellis that time was required to examine various documents touching the cases, some of which were of old dates ; adding, that the result would be communicated with all possible despatch. On the 20th of the same month, Mr. Ellis intimated that, unless redress were afforded without unnecessary delay, his longer residence in Mexico would be useless. On the 4th of November, he gave the final notice of a fortnight; and, on the 10th, advised Mr. Forsyth of the state of the negotiation. On the 15th of November, the Mexican acting Secretary of State (Monasterio) replied defensively to the cases as prepared. To this reply Mr. Ellis framed a rejoinder; and concluded, in obedience to his instructions, by demanding his passports. On the 7th of December, the diplomatic relations of the United States in Mexico were brought to an abrupt close.
Gorostiza, the Mexican Minister at Washington, had continued to reiterate complaints of breach of neutrality with regard to Texas, until, without awaiting the order of his government, he demanded his passports on his own responsibility, on the 15th of October, 1836. In the annual Message to Congress, on the 6th of December, 1836, President Jackson thus alludes to the relations between Mexico and the United States :
The known desire of the Texans to become a part of our system, although its gratification depends upon the re
concilement of various conflicting interests, necessarily a work of time, and uncertain in itself, is calculated to expose our conduct to misconstruction in the eyes of the world. You will perceive by the accompanying documents that the extraordinary mission from Mexico has been terminated, on the sole grounds that the obligations of this government to itself and Mexico, under treaty stipulations, have compelled me to trust a discretionary authority to a high officer of our army, to advance into territory claimed as part of Texas, if necessary to protect our own, or the neighbouring, frontier from Indian depredation. In the opinion of the Mexican functionary who has just left us, the honour of his country will be wounded by American soldiers entering, with the most amicable avowed purposes, upon ground from which the followers of his government have been expelled, and over which there is at present no certainty of a serious effort on its part being made to re-establish dominion. The departure of this minister was the more singular as he was apprised that the sufficiency of the causes assigned for the advance of our troops by the commanding general had been seriously doubted by me, and that there was every reason to suppose that the troops of the United States—their commander having had time to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the information upon which they had been marched to Nacogdoches-would be either there, in perfect accordance with the principles admitted to be just in his conference with the Secretary of State, by the Mexican minister himself, or were already withdrawn, in consequence of impressive warnings their commanding officer had received from the Department of War. It is hoped and believed that his government will take a more dispassionate and just view of this subject, and not be disposed to construe a measure of justifiable precaution, made necessary by its known inability, in execution of the stipulations of our treaty, to act upon the frontier, into an encroachment upon its rights, or a stain upon its honour.
“ In the mean time the ancient complaints of injustice, made by our citizens, are disregarded, and new causes of dissatisfaction have arisen, some of them of a character requiring prompt remonstrance and ample immediate redress. I trust, however, by tempering firmness with courtesy, and acting with forbearance upon every incident that has occurred, or that may happen, to do and obtain justice, and thus avoid the necessity of again bringing this subject to the view of Congress.
In a subsequent part of the Message, the President stated, that
“ At the date of the latest intelligence from Nacogdoches," the troops of the United States were at that station, but that the officer who had succeeded General Gaines had “ recently been advised that, from the facts known at the seat of government, there would seem to be no adequate cause for any longer maintaining that position, and he was accordingly instructed, in case the troops were not already withdrawn, under the discretionary powers before possessed by him, to give the requisite orders for that purpose on the receipt of the instructions, unless he should then have in his possession such information as should satisfy him that the maintenance of the post was essential to the protection of the frontier, and to the due execution of treaty stipulations as explained to him."
* The following are the words of the treaty on which President Jackson justified the advance of General Gaines to Nacogdoches : “ It is likewise agreed that the two contracting parties shall, by all the means in their power, maintain peace and harmony among the several Indian nations who inhabit the lands adjacent to the lines and rivers which form the boundaries of the two countries; and the better to obtain this object, both parties bind themselves expressly to restrain, by force, all hostilities and incursions on the part of the Indian nations living in their respective boundaries; so that the United States of America will not suffer their Indians to attack the citizens of the United Mexican States, nor the Mexican States the Indians residing within their territories to commit hostilities against the citizens of the United States of America, nor against the Indians residing within the limits of those States, in any manner whatever."
When General Santa Anna arrived at Washington he held secret conferences with the executive. It was surmised by opposition politicians that these oral discussions (not formal or official communications)
Resulted in an understanding, or a well-grounded expectation reciprocally entertained, to the effect that Santa Anna, on regaining his power, should cede Texas to the United States, for which the United States should assume the claims of her citizens against Mexico, and pay a sum agreed upon, or that should be thereafter settled.”
A European would probably ask, why seek to purchase a territory that was already freely offered by its de facto possessors? The answer is to be found in the constitution of the United States, which had given no authority to the Federal Government to annex a foreign power to the Union, or the Union to a foreign power. For acquisition by purchase, General Jackson was enabled to cite the precedent supplied by Mr. Jefferson in the case of Louisiana.
Santa Anna left Washington on the 26th of December, and was furnished by President Jackson with a ship of war to convey him to Vera Cruz. The Senate of the United States, on the 14th of January, 1837, passed a resolution, calling for “any communications received, or correspondence had, between the executive of the United States and General Santa Anna, or by any other person claiuning to act on behalf of Mexico,” respecting Texas. The answer to this resolution, which was accompanied
Letter from a Member of Congress to a Gentleman of Weathersfield, Vermont, dated Washington, December, 1837. Published in the National Intelligencer.