« AnteriorContinuar »
enemies back, and drove them back, as I have already shown, to the Rio Grande, and so obliterated the boundaries of so much of Tamaulipas as ever projected on this side of that river. By revolution as to part and by conquest if you please of the balance, the whole republic from the Sabine to the Rio Grande became free and independent.
That republic by her constitution claimed up to the Rio Grande--she laid off counties up to the Rio Grande. The county of San Patricio, in which Corpus Christi is situated, extends from the Nueces to the Rio Grande, and up the latter river more than one hundred miles. That county votes, I understand, about one hundred and forty or one hundred and eighty votes, and within that county resides one of the present members of the American Congress. In this very disputed territory! How came he to be recognized as a member, if the United States did not extend to the Rio Grande? We may well imagine how your Congress would be startled by the claim of a Mexican, to a seat in the American Congress. His credentials are presented, his residence in the county of San Patricio, in the very territory now in dispute, is avowed, and yet the whole house hails him as a true and lawful member of that illustrious body. Is this no recognition of boundary to that river, by the Congress of the United States? However this may be, I will give another directly and unequivocally on the point; previously to the march of our army to the Rio Grande, Congress had declared that disputed territory a collection district, by establishing a custom house at Corpus Christi, west of the Nueces, and appointed a proper officer to discharge the duties of the station. Here is direct, positive and undeniable evidence that Congress, our Congress, recognized Texas as a State, west of the Nueces. But how far west of the Nueces ? Certainly far enough to take in the town of Corpus Christi, But no farther? Yes as far west as our population extended in the county of San Patricio. How far was that? The answer of to day, will not be the answer of to morrow, for settlers are widening out and settling north and west, in that county, every day, and is it possible, that we have no more fixed and certain boundary
arms than this!
And yet so runs the argument of my competitoron, Texas, settled, populated Texas, now goes far west of the Nueces-her counties have gone clear to the Rio Grande river, her land officers have gone there, her judicial districts have gone there, and her judges take jurisdiction over persons and property there; up to that boundary, the President was bound by law, by his oath, by the constitution to extend the protection of your armies.
Gov. Brown said, that the point on which his competitor bad lately dwelt with the greatest emphasis, was, that “the war was brought on by James K. Polk, in ordering the army to be marched to the Rio Grande," " that whether that river were the proper boundary or not, it was left, in the resolution of annexation, an open boundary, and Congress alone, and not the President, could say where the boundary was."
To all this Gov. Brown replied, that his competitor had maintained this long enough, others had maintained it long enough, and that it was now high time to stop it. “1 maintain," said Governor Brown, " that this western boundary was not left open at all-not open for a moment—that it was closed up forever-closed as to Texas, closed as to the United States, closed as to the whole world, but only liable to be opened at some future time, if any foreign government should choose to open it.” He repeated,"closed now against the whole world, but only liable to be opened and settled if Mexico should desire it.” He then read the resolution of annexation, thus: “ Congress doth consent that the territory properly included within and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas, may be erected into a new State," &c.; "said State to be formed subject to the adjustment of this Government of all questions of boundary that may arise with other Governments.” These are the words—" that may arise"--may hereafter of course. But of course if no such question should ever arise, Texas stands in the Union, fully in the Union, a part of the United States, to be defended from invasion like all other States, no further action of Congress being at all necessary in relation to her boundary. With what boundary was Tennessee admitted into the Union ? With that mentioned in her
Texas was admitted, with the boundary mentioned in her constitution ; but if or provided any question of boundary should be raised by any other Government, then and not till then, could the boundary be opened for further settlement. Now had any Government, up to this time, attempted or desired to open the question of the western boundary of Texas ? None whatever. We thought Mexico might wish to open it, and sent a minister there for the purpose; but she drove him away, saying she had no question of boundary to open-she was aiming, to reconquer Texas, not to the Nueces, but the whole of Texas, even to the Sabine. Well, we sent him again; he was driven off, and again the cry was, “ the whole of Texas or none.”
Now with this plain statement of facts, who can contend that the boundary of Texas was left open for the future action of Congress ? Look to the absurdity and cruelty of such an argument. The President sends our army to the Sabine. There Gen. Taylor takes his position, and he and his brave army look over to the west. They see the Mexican army pass over the Rio Grande and invade Texas. Can't we fight them now? “ No," says my competitor's argument,“ the western boundary is open and unsettled.”
But look! they cross the Nueces ! Can't we fight them now? "No," says my competitor's argument, “the western boundary is open." But look! they have crossed the Colerado! the towns are all on fire! The Texan people are fleeing before them! Can't we fight them now? “No, not yet,” says my competitor's argument, “ the western boundary is open !" But look! yonder are the Mexican lancers, striking down and piercing through the poor decriped old men, unable to flee from them, and yonder the licentious Mexican is laying his rude hands on the shrieking female-we almost hear their screams under the outrage-0! can we not fight them now? “No, no," says my competitor's argument, “not yet, not yet; the western boundary is open!" Good God! have reason and justice and humanity fled the earth, that such doctrines are maintained among an enlightened people ?
Such must be the consequences at least of my competitor's arguments on this point.
* * *
who advised the march of our army to the Rio Grande? GENERAL TAYLOR HIMSELF ! In his letter of the 4th October, 1845, he says: "For these reasons, our position thus far has, I think been the best possible. But now that the entire force will soon be concentrated, it may well be questioned whether the views of Government will be best carried out by our remaining at this point. It is with great deference that I make any suggestion on topics that may become matter of delicate negotiation, but if our Government, in settling the question of boundary makes the line of the Rio Grande an ultimatum, I cannot doubt that the settlement will be greatly facilitated and hastened by our taking possession at once of one or two suitable points on or quite near that river. Our strength and state of preparation should be displayed in a manner not to be mistaken. However salutary may be the effect produced upon the border people by our presence here (Corpus Christi,) we are too far from the frontier to impress the government of Mexico with our readiness to vindicate by force of arms, if necessary, our title to the Rio Grande.
Our advance to the Rio Grande will itself produce a powerful effect, and it may be that the common navigation of the river will not be disputed."
Here you see (said Gov. Brown) he advised the march as well calculated not to provoke war, but to preserve peace. He advised it as necessary and proper to vindicate our title to that river and to secure its joint navigation. He advised as an able General and a wise statesman. The President followed it, and now the strange spectacle is presented, that Taylor, who gave the advice, is to be exalted to the Presidency, whilst the President, who followed it, is to be pulled down with dishonor from it. It is no answer to say that Taylor only advised it in the event that the Government, in settling the boundary, should make the Rio Grande an ultimatum; for I have shown that the Government had so settled and negotiated the boundary-in other words, that Congress had so settled it. Settled it by receiving a member residing in the disputed territory--settled it by having been notified for more than a year that the American army had been located in the disputed territory. Such information had been reported to Congress, and day to day for months together, without complaint and without objection. If then the Government, and not the President, had the settlement of that question, the government had settled it, repeatedly and conclusively settled it.
In the face of these recorded and undeniable facts, my competitor still insists that the march to the Rio Grande was the cause of the war, and cites Mr. Calhoun as his authority. Mr. Calhoun did say so in one of his speeches, but I have shown my competitor several times that he was corrected the very next morning by the publication of Marks' letter. Marks was not authorized by Gen. Arista to communicate any thing to Gen. Taylor. He was acting on his own individual opinions and resposibility.
So much for Mr. Calhoun's authority.
What are the opinions of Mr. Benton, my competitor's favorite witness as to boundary, as to the march of the army to that river ? “In saying this, I do not consider the march to the Rio Grande, to have been the cause of the war, any more than I consider the British march on Concord and Lexington, to have been the cause of American revolution, or the crossing of the Rubecon by Cæsar to have been the cause of the civil war in Rome. The march to the Rio Grande, brought on the collision of arms, but so far from being the cause of the war, it was itself the effect of these causes.” This authority of his favorite witness, throws my competitor back on the position, that after all, the annexation of Texas was the true cause of this Mexican war. In assuming this position, his competitor differred with all his whig friends from Tennessee, and with Messrs. Ewing, Gentry, Crozier, and Milton Brown in particular. Gov. B. read from the speech of the latter gentleman, declaring “ that he took issue with any one who assumed that position.” How his competitor would settle that issue, so boldly tendered by Mr. M. Brown, when he reached the Western District, he did not pretend to know; but he was willing to take it, that annexation was the cause of the war, and would now demand of his competitor why he and his party friends of this State had annexed her ? When John Tyler first proposed it, they rejected it—they voted down his treaty and said