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ber 19, 1836, had declared the Rio del Norte to be the boundary of that Republic. Its jurisdiction had been extended and exercised beyond the Nueces. The country between that river and the Del Norte had been represented in the Congress and in the convention of Texas, had thus taken part in the act of annexation itself, and is now included within one of our Congressional districts. Our own Congress had, moreover, with great unanimity, by the act approved December 31, 1845, recognized the country beyond the Nueces as a part of our territory by including it within our own revenue system, and a revenue officer to reside within that district has been appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. It became, therefore, of urgent necessity to provide for the defense of that portion of our country. Accordingly, on the 13th of January last instructions were issued to the general in command of these troops to occupy the left bank of the Del Norte. This river, which is the southwestern boundary of the State of Texas, is an exposed frontier. . . .
The movement of the troops to the Del Norte was made by the commanding general under positive instructions to abstain from all aggressive acts toward Mexico or Mexican citizens and to regard the relations between that Republic and the United States as peaceful unless she should declare war or commit acts of hostility indicative of a state of He was specially directed to protect private property and respect personal rights.
The Army moved from Corpus Christi on the 11th of March, and on the 28th of that month arrived on the left bank of the Del Norte opposite to Matamoras, where it encamped on a commanding position, which has since been strengthened by the erection of fieldworks. A depot has also been established at Point Isabel, near the Brazos Santiago, 30 miles in rear of the encampment. The selection of his position was necessarily confided to the judgment of the general in command.
The Mexican forces at Matamoras assumed a belligerent attitude, and on the 12th of April General Ampudia, then in command, notified General Taylor to break up his camp within twenty-four hours and to retire beyond the Nueces River, and in the event of his failure to comply with these demands announced that arms, and arms alone, must decide the question. But no open act of hostility was committed until the 24th of April. On that day General Arista, who had succeeded to the command of the Mexican forces, communicated to General Taylor that "he considered hostilities commenced and should prosecute them." A party of
dragoons of 63 men and officers were on the same day dispatched from the American camp up the Rio del Norte, on its left bank, to ascertain whether the Mexican troops had crossed or were preparing to cross the river, "became engaged with a large body of these troops, and after a short affair, in which some 16 were killed and wounded, appear to have been surrounded and compelled to surrender."
The grievous wrongs perpetrated by Mexico upon our citizens throughout a long period of years remain unredressed, and solemn treaties pledging her public faith for this redress have been disregarded. A government either unable or unwilling to enforce the execution of such treaties fails to perform one of its plainest duties.
Our commerce with Mexico has been almost annihilated. It was formerly highly beneficial to both nations, but our merchants have been deterred from prosecuting it by the system of outrage and extortion which the Mexican authorities have pursued against them, whilst their appeals through their own Government for indemnity have been made in vain. Our forbearance has gone to such an extreme as to be mistaken in its character. Had we acted with vigor in repelling the insults and redressing the injuries inflicted by Mexico at the commencement, we should doubtless have escaped all the difficulties in which we are now involved.
Instead of this, however, we have been exerting our best efforts to propitiate her good will. Upon the pretext that Texas, a nation as independent as herself, thought proper to unite its destinies with our own, she has affected to believe that we have severed her rightful territory, and in official proclamations and manifestoes has repeatedly threatened to make war upon us for the purpose of reconquering Texas. In the meantime we have tried every effort at reconciliation. The cup of forbearance had been exhausted even before the recent information from the frontier of the Del Norte. But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war. As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.
James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presi dents (Washington, 1897), IV, 437–442 passim.
In Monterey there are a number of English and Americans (English) or "Ingles" all are called who speak the English language) who have married Californians, become united to the Catholic church, and acquired considerable property. Having more industry, frugality, and enterprise than the natives, they soon get nearly all the trade into their hands. . . . The people are naturally suspicious of foreigners, and they would not be allowed to remain, were it not that they become good Catholics, and by marrying natives, and bringing up their children as Catholics and Spaniards, and not teaching them the English language, they quiet suspicion, and even become popular and leading men. The chief alcaldis in Monterey and Santa Barbara were both Yankees by birth. . . .
California was first discovered in 1536, by Cortes, and was subsequently visited by numerous other adventurers. . . . No sooner was the importance of the country known, than the Jesuits obtained leave to establish themselves in it, to christianize and enlighten the Indians. They established missions in various parts of the country toward the close of the seventeenth century, and collected the natives about them, baptizing them into the church, and teaching them the arts of civilized life. To protect the Jesuits in their missions, and at the same time to support the power of the crown over the civilized Indians, two forts were erected and garrisoned, one at San Diego, and the other at Monterey. These were called Presidios, and divided the command of the whole country between them. Presidios have since been established at Santa Barbara and San Francisco; thus dividing the country into four large districts, each with its presidio, and governed by the commandant. The soldiers, for the most part, married civilized Indians; and thus, in the vicinity of each presidio, sprung up, gradually, small towns. . . . On the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish dominions, the missions passed into the hands of the Franciscans, though without any essential change in their management. Ever since the independence of Mexico, the missions have been going down; until, at last, a law was passed, stripping them of all their possessions, and confining the priests to their spiritual duties; and at the same time declaring all the Indians free and independent Rancheros. The change in the condition of the Indians was, as may be supposed, only nominal: they are virtually slaves, as much as they ever were. But in the missions, the change was complete. The priests have now no power, except in their religious character, and the great possessions of the missions are given over to be preyed upon by the harpies of the civil power, who are sent there in the capacity of
administradores, to settle up the concerns; and who usually end, in a few years, by making themselves fortunes, and leaving their stewardships worse than they found them. . . . The change had been made but a few years before our arrival upon the coast, yet, in that short time, the trade was much diminished, credit impaired, and the venerable missions going rapidly to decay.
The government of the country is an arbitrary democracy; having no common law, and no judiciary. Their only laws are made and unmade at the caprice of the legislature, and are as variable as the legislature itself. They pass through the form of sending representatives to the congress at Mexico, but as it takes several months to go and return, and there is very little communication between the capital and this distant province, a member usually stays there, as permanent member, knowing very well that there will be revolutions at home before he can write and receive an answer; and if another member should be sent, he has only to challenge him, and decide the contested election in that way.
Revolutions are matters of constant occurrence in California. They are got up by men who are at the foot of the ladder and in desperate circumstances, just as a new political party is started by such men in our own country. The only object, of course, is the loaves and fishes; and instead of caucusing, paragraphing, libelling, feasting, promising, and lying, as with us, they take muskets and bayonets, and seizing upon the presidio and custom-house, divide the spoils, and declare a new dynasty. As for justice, they know no law but will and fear.
[Richard Henry Dana], Two Years before the Mast (New York, 1840), 87-212 passim.
8. Condition of Mexico (1842)
BY LATE MINISTER WADDY THOMPSON (1846)
Thompson was a southerner who became minister to Mexico in 1842. His sober estimate of that nation shows the conditions under which she entered upon a war with the United States. - Bibliography: H. H. Bancroft, History of the Pacific States, VIII, 249-251; War Department Library, Index of Publications relating to Mexico, 28.
7HENEVER the foreigners in California make the movement of separation, it must succeed. The department of Sonora, not half the distance from Mexico, has been in a state of revolt for the last four years, and the government has been unable to suppress it. . . .
A leading member of the Mexican cabinet once said to me that he believed that the tendency of things was towards the annexation of Texas to the United States, and that he greatly preferred that result either to the separate independence of Texas or any connection or dependence of Texas upon England; that if Texas was an independent power, other departments of Mexico would unite with it either voluntarily or by conquest, and if there was any connection between Texas and England, that English manufactures and merchandise would be smuggled into Mexico through Texas to the utter ruin of the Mexican manufactures and revenue. In one of my last interviews with Santa Anna I mentioned this conversation. He said with great vehemence, that he “would war for ever for the reconquest of Texas, and that if he died in his senses his last words should be an exhortation to his countrymen never to abandon the effort to reconquer the country ;" and added, “You, Sir, know very well that to sign a treaty for the alienation of Texas would be the same thing as signing the death-warrant of Mexico,” and went on to say that “by the same process we would take one after the other of the Mexican provinces until we had them all." I could not, in sincerity, say that I thought otherwise; but I do not know that the annexation of Texas will hasten that event. That our language and laws are destined to pervade this continent, I regard as more certain than any other event which is in the future. Our race has never yet put its foot upon a soil which it has not only not kept but has advanced. I mean not our English ancestors only, but that great Teuton race from which we have both descended.
There seems to be a wonderful adaptation of the English people to the purpose of colonization. The English colony of convicts at New South Wales is a more prosperous community than any colony of any other country. That the Indian race of Mexico must recede before us, is quite as certain as that that is the destiny of our own Indians, who in a military point of view, if in no other, are superior to them. I do not know what feelings towards us in Mexico may have been produced by recent events, but whatever they may be, they will not last long; and I believe that the time is not at all distant, when all the northern departments of Mexico, within a hundred miles of the city, will gladly take refuge under our more stable institutions from the constant succession of civil wars to which that country seems to be destined. The feeling is becoming a pretty general one amongst the enlightened and patriotic, that they are not prepared for free institutions, and are incapable themselves of maintaining them. There is very great danger that the drama