Page images

may close there, as it has so often done in other countries, with anarchy ending in despotism, such is the natural swing of the pendulum. The feeling of all Mexicans towards us until the revolution in Texas, was one of unmixed admiration; and it is our high position amongst the nations, and makes our mission all the more responsible, that every people, struggling to be free, regard us with the same feelings- we are indeed the "looking-glass in which they dress themselves." As a philanthropist, I have deeply deplored the effects of the annexation of Texas upon the feelings of the people of all classes in Mexico, towards this country, as diminishing their devotion to republican institutions; this should not be so, but it will be. Ours is regarded as the great exemplar Republic in Mexico, as everywhere else, and the act which they regard as such an outrage, must have the prejudicial effect which I have indicated — still more will that effect be to be deprecated, if it should throw Mexico into the arms of any great European power.

[ocr errors]

The northern departments of Mexico contain all the mines, and more of the wealth of the country than any others; and they all hang very loosely to the confederacy; they receive no benefit from the central government, which in truth they only know in its exactions. All the money collected from them is expended in the city and elsewhere, and they have not even the satisfaction of knowing that it is beneficially or even honestly used. The security which would be given to property, as well as its great enhancement in value, would be powerful inducements with all the owners of large estates which are now comparatively valueless. The only obstacle that I know to such a consummation, infinitely desirable in my judgment, to the people of those departments, less so to us, would be in the influence of the priesthood. They are well aware that such a measure might very soon be fatal, not only to their own supremacy, but to that of the Catholic religion also, but they would. have on the other hand a powerful motive in the security which it would give them to their large church property no motive but interest would have any influence with the people of Mexico, for they certainly do not like us. Their feelings towards us may be summed up in two words, jealousy and admiration, they are not going to declare war against us, I have never doubted for a moment about that. Public opinion in Mexico, to all practical purposes, means the opinion of the army, and the very last thing in the world which the army desires, is such nor do I believe that one Mexican in a thousand does, however they may vaunt and bluster as a frightened school-boy whistles as he

a war,


passes a graveyard in the night. I have just as little idea that they will negotiate now, or until matters are adjusted between England and this country. . . . nothing would be more convenient to Mexico than that we should have no minister there to trouble the government with complaints.

Waddy Thompson, Recollections of Mexico (New York, etc., 1846), 235-241 passim.

[blocks in formation]

For Lowell, see No. 15 below. — Bibliography as in No. 11 below.

THEN a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast


Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,

And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime

Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe,
When the travail of the Ages wrings earth's systems to and fro;
At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start,

Nation wildly looks at nation, standing with mute lips apart,

And glad Truth's yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future's heart.

For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth's electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity's vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame ;
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by for ever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 't is Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.

We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great,
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din,

List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,

"They enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin."

Slavery, the earthborn Cyclops, fellest of the giant brood,

Sons of brutish Force and Darkness, who have drenched the earth with blood,

Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our purer day,

Gropes in yet unblasted regions for his miserable prey;

Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless children play?

'Tis as easy to be heroes as to sit the idle slaves

Of a legendary virtue carved upon our fathers' graves ;

Worshippers of light ancestral make the present light a crime;

Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time?

Turn those tracks toward Past or Future, that make Plymouth rock sublime?

They were men of present valor, stalwart old iconoclasts,
Unconvinced by axe or gibbet that all virtue was the Past's;

But we make their truth our falsehood, thinking that hath made us free,
Hoarding it in mouldy parchments, while our tender spirits flee
The rude grasp of that great Impulse which drove them across the sea.

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth; They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth; Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be, Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea, Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.

[James Russell Lowell], Poems, Second Series (Cambridge, etc., 1848), 53–62 passim.

10. Reasons for War (1846)


Polk as president confirmed the annexation of Texas; the war with Mexico which followed might have been averted but for the intention to conquer and annex New Mexico and California. The reasons for war given in this message to Congress do not cover the real grounds. - Bibliography: H. H. Bancroft, History of the Pacific States, VIII, 344-345; Channing and Hart, Guide, § 194.


HE existing state of the relations between the United States and Mexico renders it proper that I should bring the subject to the consideration of Congress. In my message at the commencement of your present session the state of these relations, the causes which led to the suspension of diplomatic intercourse between the two countries in March, 1845, and the long-continued and unredressed wrongs and injuries committed by the Mexican Government on citizens of the United States in their persons and property were briefly set forth. . . .

Mr. Slidell arrived at Vera Cruz on the 30th of November [1845], and was courteously received by the authorities of that city. But the Government of General Herrera was then tottering to its fall. The revolutionary party had seized upon the Texas question to effect or hasten its overthrow. Its determination to restore friendly relations with the United States, and to receive our minister to negotiate for the settlement of this question, was violently assailed, and was made the great theme of denunciation against it. The Government of General Herrera, there is good reason to believe, was sincerely desirous to receive our minister; but it yielded to the storm raised by its enemies, and on the 21st of December refused to accredit Mr. Slidell upon the most frivolous pretexts. These are so fully and ably exposed in the note of Mr. Slidell of the 24th of December last to the Mexican minister of foreign relations, herewith transmitted, that I deem it unnecessary to enter into further detail on this portion of the subject.

Five days after the date of Mr. Slidell's note General Herrera yielded the Government to General Paredes without a struggle, and on the 30th of December resigned the Presidency. This revolution was accomplished solely by the army, the people having taken little part in the contest; and thus the supreme power in Mexico passed into the hands of a military leader. . . .

Under these circumstances, Mr. Slidell, in obedience to my direction, addressed a note to the Mexican minister of foreign relations, under

date of the 1st of March last, asking to be received by that Government in the diplomatic character to which he had been appointed. This minister in his reply, under date of the 12th of March, reiterated the arguments of his predecessor, and in terms that may be considered as giving just grounds of offense to the Government and people of the United States denied the application of Mr. Slidell. Nothing therefore remained for our envoy but to demand his passports and return to his own country.

Thus the Government of Mexico, though solemnly pledged by official acts in October last to receive and accredit an American envoy, violated their plighted faith and refused the offer of a peaceful adjustment of our difficulties. Not only was the offer rejected, but the indignity of its rejection was enhanced by the manifest breach of faith in refusing to admit the envoy who came because they had bound themselves to receive him. Nor can it be said that the offer was fruitless from the want of opportunity of discussing it; our envoy was present on their own soil. Nor can it be ascribed to a want of sufficient powers; our envoy had full powers to adjust every question of difference. Nor was there room for complaint that our propositions for settlement were unreasonable; permission was not even given our envoy to make any proposition whatever. Nor can it be objected that we, on our part, would not listen to any reasonable terms of their suggestion; the Mexican Government refused all negotiation, and have made no proposition of any kind.

In my message at the commencement of the present session I informed you that upon the earnest appeal both of the Congress and convention of Texas I had ordered an efficient military force to take a position "between the Nueces and the Del Norte." This had become necessary to meet a threatened invasion of Texas by the Mexican forces, for which extensive military preparations had been made. The invasion was threatened solely because Texas had determined, in accordance with a solemn resolution of the Congress of the United States, to annex herself to our Union, and under these circumstances it was plainly our duty to extend our protection over her citizens and soil.

This force was concentrated at Corpus Christi, and remained there until after I had received such information from Mexico as rendered it probable, if not certain, that the Mexican Government would refuse to receive our envoy.

Meantime Texas, by the final action of our Congress, had become an integral part of our Union. The Congress of Texas, by its act of Decem

« PreviousContinue »