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[it] is obligatory upon both the United States and Mexico." Torrens's note of February 15 of the preceding year is cited as indicating the willingness of Mexico to accede to that treaty. But Clay continued: "Some difficulties may possibly hereafter arise between the two countries from the line thus agreed upon, against which it would be desirable now to guard, if practicable; and as the government of Mexico may be supposed not to have any disinclination to the fixation of a new line which would prevent those difficulties, the President wishes you to sound it on that subject; and to avail yourself of a favorable disposition, if you should find it, to effect that object. The line of the Sabine approaches our great western mart nearer than could be wished. Perhaps the Mexican government may not be unwilling to establish that of the Rio Brassos de Dios, or the Rio Colorado, or the Snow Mountains, or the Rio del Norte in lieu of it. By the agreed line, portions of both the Red River and branches of the Arkansas are thrown on the Mexican side, and the navigation of both of these rivers, as well as that of the Sabine, is made common to the respective inhabitants of the two countries. When the countries adjacent to those waters shall become thickly inhabited, collisions and misunderstandings may arise from the community thus established, in the use of their navigation, which it would be well now to prevent." As an additional motive to induce Mexico to consent to such an alteration Clay suggested that it would place the capital of Mexico nearer the
center of the Mexican territories, and, further, that the troublesome Comanche Indians would be left to the United StatesThese arguments, if ever presented, were probably about as convincing as it would be for a large land owner to say to a neighboring small farmer, "Your house is not in the middle of your fields. Give me forty acres next to my line and you will not have to go so far to work. Besides, this field contains an ugly patch of thistles which my superior industry and intelligence will enable me to cope with more successfully than you can." Clay showed that he was not prepared to insist on a change of the line or to urge the matter unduly by saying, in concluding his instructions with reference to the boundary: "But if you should find that the Mexican government is unwilling to alter the agreed line in the manner proposed and that it insists upon the execution of the third and fourth articles of the treaty before mentioned, you are authorized to agree to the recognition and establishment of the line as described in the third article, and to the demarcation of it forthwith, as is stipulated in the fourth."16
16 Clay to Poinsett, March 26, 1825, MS., Department of State, Instructions, X, 225. Extracts are printed in House Executive Documents, 25 congress, I session, number 42, page 5; and in British and Foreign State Papers, XXVI, 829. For brief discussions of Poinsett's instructions concerning Texas, see Rives, United States and Mexico, 1821-1848, I, 166; Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 61; Garrison, Texas, 170; Bancroft, North Mexican States and Texas, II, 88; McMaster, History of the People of the United States, V, 460; Von Holst, Constitutional and Political History of the United
Before Poinsett had opportunity to open negotiations respecting the boundary, in fact only two days after his formal reception by the President of Mexico, that official received an interesting sidelight on Poinsett's personal views with reference to the most desirable location of the boundary line. On June 3, 1825, a man named Azcarate who had been an official close to Iturbide wrote a letter to President Victoria saying that when Poinsett arrived at the coast of Mexico in 1822 he was received by General Santa Anna as an official envoy, and when he reached the capital he was supposed by all to have this character and was. so presented to the emperor. After the presentation Poinsett had told the writer that he desired an interview to speak of an interesting matter. At the time. appointed the writer met him, expecting the communication to be official. With a map before him Poinsett pointed out the line of 1819 but said he thought it was not a desirable one, and then traced a line which showed that he desired to absorb all Texas, New Mexico, and Upper California, and parts of Lower California, Sonora, Coahuila, and Nueva Leon. Repressing his anger Azcarate replied that by virtue of the treaty of Iguala [Cordoba?] the Mexican government would always respect the Onis treaty and would never cede a handbreadth of territory. An appointment was made to continue the interview the next day.
States, 1828-1846, 553; Falconer, Discovery of the Mississippi, 48; Kennedy, Texas, I, 370; Adams, "Texas Speech" in House of Representatives, 1838, 106.
In the meantime Azcarate saw Iturbide, explained the matter, and received authority to use his judgment in finding definitely the character of the proposals that Poinsett had to make. Before entering on the discussion at the second meeting Azcarate presented his credentials and asked for Poinsett's. The latter thereupon declared that he came in no public character but merely as a traveler, and was only expressing his own personal opinion. Although it was evident that the discussion could be only an academic one, nevertheless the interview was continued and Azcarate was able, he said, to perceive five purposes which Poinsett had in mind: namely, to get possession of rich mineral lands; to gain ports on both seas for controlling the commerce between them; to get control of the fur trade with the Indians; to get control of the fisheries in the Californias; and to monopolize the coasting trade on both seas. Azcarate concluded his observations by saying that in his conception the establishment of limits was to be the apple of discord between the United States and Mexico. His desire for the happiness of the fatherland was his motive, he told Victoria, for making this communication. He said it was possible that slight errors might have crept into this account of the interview, but it was substantially true and could be verified from a report in the office of foreign relations which he delivered to Iturbide at the time without preserving a copy.17
17 Azcarate to Victoria, 3 de junio de 1825, MS., Relaciones Exteriores. Azcarate was appointed minister to England in 1822 by the imperial government, but did not go. See Boca
On July 12, 1825, about six weeks after Poinsett's reception, occurred his first conference with Alaman, the Mexican minister for foreign relations, concerning the boundary. In it he had "suggested that, although the government of the United States held itself bound to carry into effect the treaty of limits concluded with the king of Spain the 22d of February, 1819, still it would appear more becoming the independent character of this government to lay aside that treaty altogether, and to endeavor to establish a boundary which would be more easily defined, and which might be mutually more advantageous. The secretary expressed himself much gratified by such a suggestion, and proposed that the two governments should forthwith appoint commissioners to make a reconnoissance of the country bordering on the line formerly settled with Spain, so as to obtain such information in regard to that portion of our respective territories as would enable us to act understandingly on the subject." Poinsett objected that such a commission would delay the negotiation at least two years since it would take nearly a year to arrange for the commission and another year to do its work and make a report. Alaman replied that his government would be very unwilling negra, Memorias, I, 76. Poinsett tells of his presentation to Iturbide on November 3, 1822, but of course says nothing of this conversation with Azcarate. In his description of the emperor Poinsett shows his antipathy to monarchy in general and to the imperial system of Iturbide in particular. Poinsett, Notes on Mexico, 67-69.