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JOHN TYLER AND ANNEXATION.
the United States Bank by Gen. | that of Slavery-on which not even the harshest judgment could pronounce him a waverer, or infirm of purpose. Born, reared, and living, in one of the most aristocratic counties of tidewater Virginia-that of Charles City, removing subsequently to that of Williamsburg-by no act, no vote, no speech, had he forfeited the confidence or incurred the distrust of the Slave Power; and his fidelity to its behests and presumed interests, was about to be conspicuously manifested.
Jackson, and supported Mr. Clay's resolution censuring that removal. He was fully sustained in so doing, at the time, by the public opinion and the Legislature of Virginia; but, two or three years thereafter, the thorough-going supporters of Gen. Jackson, having elected a decided majority to the Legislature, proceeded to "instruct" him to vote for expunging from the journal of the Senate that resolution; whereupon, refusing to comply, he resigned his seat, and returned to private life. In the desultory and tumultuous Presidential canvass that soon followed, he was supported by the Whigs, or anti-Jackson men, of the Slave States for Vice-President, and received the electoral votes of Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. In 1838, he was elected as a Whig to the Legislature of Virginia, and as such made a delegate to the Whig National Convention, which met at Harrisburg, Pa., in December, 1839. He there, along with his Virginia colleagues, zealously supported Mr. Clay for President, and was affected to tears when the choice of a major
He soon contrived to quarrel immedicably with Mr. Clay, and with the great majority of those whose votes had elected him, by vetoing, first, a National Bank bill, passed by both Houses, while all the leading provisions were suggested by his Secretary of the Treasury; and then, Congress having passed another Bank bill, based entirely on his own suggestions, and conforming in all points to his requirements, he vetoed that also. Hereupon, all the members of his Cabinet—which was that originally selected by Gen. Harrison
peremptorily resigned their places, Mr. Webster alone excepted, who re
nated Gen. Harrison as the Whig candidate. The next day, he was, with little opposition, nominated for Vice-President-the friends of Gen. Harrison urging this nomination as a peace-offering to the friends of Mr. Clay. Every elector who voted for Gen. Harrison voted for him also.
ity of the Convention finally desig-tained the position of Secretary of State until May, 1843, when he also resigned, and was succeeded by Abel P. Upshur, of Virginia, a gentleman of considerable ability and spotless private character, but a doctrinaire of the extreme State Rights, ProSlavery school, under whom the project of annexing Texas to this country was more openly and actively pushed than it had hitherto been. Mr. Upshur was killed by the bursting of a gun, on the 28th of Febru ary, 1844, and was succeeded by John C. Calhoun, who prosecuted
If Mr. Tyler's past political course might, by a severe critic, have been judged unstable, and indicative rather of pervading personal aspirations than of profound political convictions, there was one grave topic
the scheme still more openly and vigorously, and under whose auspices a Treaty of Annexation was concluded April 12, 1844, but which was resolutely opposed in the Senate, and rejected, receiving but fifteen votes.
It is not probable that the masterspirits of the Annexation intrigue were either disappointed or displeased by this signal defeat of their first public movement. It is very certain that they were not disconcerted. For the Presidential Election of 1844 was now in immediate prospect; and they had two darling objects to achieve by the Annexation project: first, the defeat of Mr. Van Buren in the Democratic National Convention; next, the defeat of Mr. Clay before the people.
The defeat of Mr. Van Buren's nomination was first in order, and a matter of very considerable difficulty. He had been the candidate of the party at the preceding election, and beaten, as his supporters contended, " without a why or wherefore," by a popular frenzy incited by disgusting, though artful, appeals to ignorance, sensuality, and every vulgar prejudice and misconception. The disorganization of the Whigs, following Gen. Harrison's death and Tyler's defection, had brought their antagonists into power in at least two-thirds of the States, and they were quite as confident as the Whigs of their ability to triumph in the approaching Presidential election.
"The sober second thought" of the people had been specially appealed to by Mr. Van Buren for the vindication of his conduct of public affairs, and that appeal had been favorably responded to by his party. There
was no room for reasonable doubt that a great majority of his fellowDemocrats earnestly desired and expected his nomination and election. To prevent the former was the more immediate object of the preternatural activity suddenly given to the Texas intrigue, which, never abandoned, had for several years apparently remained in a state of suspended animation. Mr. Thomas W. Gilmer, of Va., formerly a State Rights Whig member of Congress, now an ardent disciple of Calhoun and a partisan of John Tyler, by whom he was made Secretary of the Navy a few days before he was killed (February 28, 1844, on board the U. S. war steamer Princeton, by the bursting of the big gun already noticed), was the man selected to bring the subject freshly before the public. In a letter dated Washington, January 10, 1843, and published soon after in The Madisonian, Mr. Tyler's organ, he says:
"DEAR SIR:-You ask if I have expressed the opinion that Texas would be annexed to the United States. I answer, yes: and this opinion has not been adopted without reflec tion, nor without a careful observation of causes, which I believe are rapidly bringing about this result. I do not know how far
these causes have made the same impression on others; but I am persuaded that the time is not distant when they will be felt in all their force. The excitement, which you apprehend, may arise; but it will be temporary, and, in the end, salutary. *** I am, as you know, a strict constructionist of the do not admit the force of mere precedent to powers of our Federal Government; and I establish authority under written constitu tions. The power conferred by the Consti
tution over our foreign relations, and the repeated acquisitions of territory under it, seem to me to leave this question open as
one of expediency.
"But you anticipate objections with regard to the subject of Slavery. This is, indeed, a subject of extreme delicacy, but it have the most salutary influence. Some is one on which the annexation of Texas will have thought that the proposition would
THE SLAVE POWER COVETS TEXAS.
endanger our Union. I am of a different opinion. I believe it will bring about a better understanding of our relative rights and obligations. *** Having acquired Louisiana and Florida, we have an interest and a frontier on the Gulf of Mexico, and along our interior to the Pacific, which will not permit us to close our eyes or fold our arms with indifference to the events which a few years may disclose in that quarter. We have already had one question of boundary with Texas; other questions must soon arise, under our revenue laws, and on other points of necessary intercourse, which it will be difficult to adjust. The institutions of Texas, and her relations with other governments, are yet in that condition which inclines her people (who are our countrymen) to unite their destiny with ours. This must be done soon, or not at all. There are numerous tribes of Indians along both frontiers, which can easily become the cause or the instrument of border wars. Our own population is pressing onward to the Pacific. No power can restrain it. The pioneer from our Atlantic seaboard will soon kindle his fires, and erect his cabin, beyond the Rocky Mountains, and on the Gulf of California. If Mahomed comes not to the mountain, the mountain will go to Mahomed. Every year adds new difficulties to our progress, as natural and as inevitable as the current of the Mississippi. These difficulties will soon, like mountains interposed
'Make enemies of nations,
"It may not be improper here to remark that, during the last session of Congress, when a Senator from Mississippi proposed the acknowledgment of Texan independence, it was found, with a few exceptions, the members of that body were ready to take ground upon it as upon the subject of Slavery itself.
"With all these facts before us, we do not hesitate in believing that these feelings influenced the New England Senators; but one voting in favor of the measure; and, indeed, Mr. Webster has been bold enough, in a public speech recently delivered in New York to many thousands of citizens, to declare that the reasons which influenced his opposition was his abhorrence of Slavery in the South, and that it might, in the event of its recognition, become a slaveholding State. He also spoke of the effort making in favor of Abolition; and that, being predicated upon and aided by the powerful influence of pub-religious feeling, it would become irresistible and overwhelming.
guished an individual as Mr. Webster, so "This language coming from so distinfamiliar with the feelings of the North, and entertaining so high a respect for public sentiment in New England, speaks so plainly the voice of the North as not to be mis
Following immediately on the lication of this letter, the Legislatures of Alabama, of Mississippi, and probably of other Southwestern States, were induced to take ground in favor of Annexation; with what views, and for what purpose, the following extract from the report adopted by that of Mississippi will sufficiently indi
are familiarly acquainted with its practical effects, to be of highly beneficial influence to the country within whose limits it is permitted to exist.
"The Committee feel authorized to say that this system is cherished by our constituents as the very palladium of their prosperity and happiness; and, whatever ignorant fanatics may elsewhere conjecture, the Committee are fully assured, upon the most diligent observation and reflection on the subject, that the South does not possess within her limits a blessing with which the affections of her people are so closely entwined and so completely enfibered, and whose value is more highly appreciated, than that which we are now considering.
"But we hasten to suggest the importance of the Annexation of Texas to this Republic upon grounds somewhat local in their complexion, but of an import infinitely grave and interesting to the people who inhabit the Southern portion of this confederacy, where it is known that a species of Domestic Slavery is tolerated and protected by law, whose existence is prohibited by the legal regulations of other States of this confederacy; which system of Slavery is held by all, who
"We sincerely hope there is enough good sense and genuine love of country among our fellow-countrymen of the Northern States to secure us final justice on this subject; yet we cannot consider it safe or expedient for the people of the South to entirely disregard the efforts of the fanatics, and the efforts of such men as Webster, and others who countenance such dangerous doctrines.
"The Northern States have no interests of their own which require any special safeguards for their defense, save only their domestic manufactures; and God knows they have already received protection from Government on a most liberal scale; under
which encouragement they have improved and flourished beyond example. The South has very peculiar interests to preserve, interests already violently assailed and boldly threatened.
"Your Committee are fully persuaded that this protection to her best interests will be afforded by the Annexation of Texas; an equipoise of influence in the halls of Congress will be secured, which will furnish us a permanent guarantee of protection."
Mr. Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, of the same political school with Gilmer, in a speech in the House, January 26, 1842, said:
"True, if Iowa be added on the one side, Florida will be added on the other. But there the equation must stop. Let one more Northern State be admitted, and the equilibrium is gone-gone forever. The balance of interests is gone-the safeguard of American property-of the American Constitution of the American Union, vanished into thin air. This must be the inevitable result, unless, by a treaty with Mexico, the South can add more weight to her end of the lever. Let the South stop at the Sabine, while the North may spread unchecked beyond the Rocky Mountains, and the Southern scale must kick the beam."
The letter of Mr. Gilmer, when printed, was, by Mr. Aaron V. Brown, a Democratic member of Congress from Tennessee, inclosed in a letter to Gen. Jackson, asking the General's opinion thereon. That request promptly elicited the following
"HERMITAGE, February 13, 1843. "MY DEAR SIR:-Yours of the 23d ultimo has been received, and with it The Madisonian, containing Gov. Gilmer's letter on the subject of the annexation of Texas to the United States.
"You are not mistaken in supposing that I have formed an opinion on this interesting subject. It occupied much of my time during my Presidency, and, I am sure, has lost none of its importance by what has since transpired.
"Soon after my election in 1829, it was made known to me by Mr. Erwin, formerly our minister to the Court of Madrid, that, whilst at that Court, he had laid the foundation of a treaty with Spain for the cession
of the Floridas and the settlement of the boundary of Louisiana, fixing the western limit of the latter at the Rio Grande, agreeably to the understanding of France; that he had written home to our Government for powers to complete and sign this negotiation; but that, instead of receiving such authority, the negotiation was taken out of his hands and transferred to Washington, and a new treaty was there concluded by which the Sabine, and not the Rio Grande, was recognized and established as the boundary of Louisiana.
"Finding that these statements were true, and that our Government did really give up that important territory, when it was at its option to retain it, I was filled with astonishment. The right of the territory was obtained from France; Spain stood ready to acknowledge it to the Rio Grande; and yet the authority asked by our Minister to insert the true boundary was not only withheld, but, in lieu of it, a limit was adopted which stripped us of the whole of the vast country lying between the two rivers.
"On such a subject, I thought, with the ancient Romans, that it was right never to cede any land or boundary of the republic, but always to add to it by honorable treaty, thus extending the area of freedom; and it was in accordance with this feeling that I gave our Minister to Mexico instructions to enter upon a negotiation for the retrocession of Texas to the United States.
"This negotiation failed; and I shall ever regret it as a misfortune both to Mexico and the United States. Mr. Gilmer's letter presents many of the considerations which, in my judgment, rendered the step necessary to the peace and harmony of the two countries; strongly impelled me to the course I pursued, but the point in it, at that time, which most was the injustice done to us by the surrender of the territory, when it was obvious that it
could have been retained, without increasing
the consideration afterward given for the Floridas. I could not but feel that the surrender of so vast and important a territory was attributable to an erroneous estimate of the tendency of our institutions, in which there was mingled somewhat of jealousy as to the rising greatness of the South and West.
"But I forbear to dwell on this part of the history of this question. It is past, and cannot now be undone. We can now only look at it as one of annexation, if Texas presents it to us; and, if she does, I do not hesitate to say that the welfare and happiness of our Union require that it should be accepted.
"If, in a military point of view alone, the question be examined, it will be found to be most important to the United States to be in possession of the territory.
PROTEST FROM CONGRESS AGAINST ANNEXATION.
tutions, and is essential to the United States, particularly as lessening the probabilities of future collision with foreign powers, and giving them greater efficiency in spreading the blessings of peace.
"Great Britain has already made treaties with Texas; and we know that far-seeing nation never omits a circumstance, in her cxtensive intercourse with the world, which can be turned to account in increasing her military resources. May she not enter into an alliance with Texas? and, reserving, as she doubtless will, the North-Western Boundary question as the cause of war with us whenever she chooses to declare it, let us suppose that, as an ally with Texas, we are to fight her! Preparatory to such a movement, she sends her 20,000 or 30,000 men to Texas; organizes them on the Sabine, where supplies and arms can be concentrated be
"I return you my thanks for your kind letter on this subject, and subscribe myself, with great sincerity, your friend and obedient servant, ANDREW JACKSON.
"Hon. A. V. BROWN."
fore we have even notice of her intentions;
makes a lodgment on the Mississippi; excites the negroes to insurrection; the lower country falls, and with it New Orleans; and a servile war rages through the whole South
"In the mean time, she is also moving an army along the western frontier from Canada, which, in cooperation with the army from Texas, spreads ruin and havoc from
the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
"Who can estimate the national loss we
may sustain, before such a movement could
be repelled with such forces as we could
organize on short notice?
"Remember that Texas borders upon us, on our west to 42° of north latitude, and is our southern boundary to the Pacific. Remember also, that, if annexed to the United States, our Western boundary would be the Rio Grande, which is of itself a fortification,
on account of its extensive, barren, and uninhabitable plains. With such a barrier on our west, we are invincible. The whole European world could not, in combination against us, make an impression on our Union. Our population on the Pacific would rapidly increase, and soon be strong enough for the protection of our eastern whalers, and, in the worst event, could always be sustained by timely aids from the intermediate country.
"From the Rio Grande, overland, a large army could not march, or be supplied, unless from the Gulf by water, which, by vigilance, could always be intercepted; and to march an army near the Gulf, they could be harassed by militia, and detained until an organ
ized force could be raised to meet them.
“But I am in danger of running into unnecessary details, which my debility will not enable me to close. The question is full of interest also as it affects our domestic relations, and as it may bear upon those of Mexico to us. I will not undertake to follow it out to its consequences in those respects; though I must say that, in all aspects, the annexation of Texas to the United States promises to enlarge the circle of free insti
This letter was secretly circulated, but carefully withheld from the press for a full year, and finally appeared in The Richmond Enquirer, with its date altered from 1843 to 1844, as if it had been written in immediate support of the Tyler-Calhoun nego
Col. Benton, in his "Thirty Years' View," directly charges that the letter was drawn from Gen. Jackson expressly to be used to defeat Mr. Van Buren's nomination, and secure, if possible, that of Mr. Calhoun instead; and it doubtless exerted a strong influence adverse to the former, although Gen. Jackson was among his most unflinching supporters to the last.
Mr. John Quincy Adams had united with Mr. William Slade, Joshua R. Giddings, and ten other anti-Slavery Whig members of the XXVIIth Congress (March 3, 1843), in a stirring address to the people of the Free States, warning them against the Annexation intrigue, as by no means abandoned, but still energetically, though secretly, prosecuted. In that address, they recited such of the foregoing facts as were then known to them, saying:
"We, the undersigned, in closing our duties to our constituents and our country as members of the Twenty-Seventh Congress, feel bound to call your attention, very briefly, to the project, long entertained by a portion of the people of these United States, still pertinaciously adhered to, and intended soon to be