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so generally and resolutely opposed. | conspicuous of our envoys, had sternly opposed the admission of Missouri as a Slave State.'
The Spanish-American Republics had already decreed general emancipation; and fears were naturally expressed that they would extend this policy to Cuba, should they, as was then contemplated, combine to invade and conquer that island. Mr. Clay had already written as Secretary of State to Mr. Alexander H. Everett, our Minister at Madrid, instructing him to urge upon Spain the expediency of acknowledging the independence of her lost colonies. He said:
That Congress proved, practically, a failure, whether through European intrigue, or Spanish-American jealousy and indolence, is not apparent. Our envoys were duly appointed; but the strenuous opposition in our Senate' had so protracted the discussion that it was found too late for Mr. Sergeant to reach Panama at the time appointed for the meeting of the Congress; and Mr. Anderson, then Minister to Colombia, when at Carthagena on his way to Panama, was attacked by a malignant fever, whereof he died.
But, long ere this, the jealousy of the slaveholders had been aroused, and their malign influence upon the course of our Government made manifest. Among the means employed to render the Panama Congress odious at the South, was the fact that John Sergeant, the more
6 John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, and Richard C. Anderson, of Kentucky.
"In the course of the debate, Mr. John Randolph, of Virginia, said:
"Cuba possesses an immense negro population. In case those States [Mexico and Colombia] should invade Cuba at all, it is unquestionable that this invasion will be made with this principle, the genius of universal emancipation, -this sweeping anathema against the white population in front,-and then, Sir, what is the situation of the Southern States?"
Mr. John M. Berrien, of Georgia, said:
"The question to be determined is this: with a due regard to the safety of the Southern States, can you suffer these islands (Cuba and Porto Rico) to pass into the hands of buccaneers drunk with their new-born liberty? If our interest and our safety shall require us to say to these new republics, 'Cuba and Porto Rico must remain as they are,' we are free to say it, and, by the blessing of God, and the strength of our arms, to enforce the declaration; and let me say to gentlemen, these high considerations do require it. The vital interests of the South demand it."
Mr. John Floyd, of Virginia, said [in the House] "So far as I can see, in all its bearings, it [the Panama Congress] looks to the conquest of Cuba
"It is not for the new Republics that the pediency of concluding the war. If the war President wishes to urge upon Spain the exshould continue between Spain and the new Republics, and those islands [Cuba and Porto Rico] should become the object and theater of it, their fortunes have such a connection with the people of the United States, that they could not be indifferent spectators; and the possible contingencies of a protracted war might bring upon the Government
and Porto Rico; or, at all events, of tearing them from the crown of Spain. The interests, if not safety, of our own country, would rather require us to interpose to prevent such an event; and I would rather take up arms to prevent than to accelerate such an occurrence."
Mr. Josiah S. Johnston, of Louisiana, a friend of the Administration, parried these attacks as follows:
"We know that Colombia and Mexico have long contemplated the independence of the island [Cuba]. The final decision is now to be made, and the combination of forces and the plan of attack to be formed. What, then, at such a crisis, becomes the duty of the Government? Send your ministers instantly to the diplomatic assembly, where the measure is maturing. Advise with them-remonstrate-menace, if necessary against a step so dangerous to us, and perhaps fatal to them."
8 June 22, 1826.
9 "And then, to cap the climax,
John Sergeant, too, must go—
-'Federal Song' in The Richmond Enquirer.
VAN BUREN AND TAYLOR ON CUBA.
of the United States duties and obligations, the performance of which, however painful it should be, they might not be at liberty to decline."
In the same spirit, his instructions to Messrs. Anderson and Sergeant" contained the following passage:
"It is required by the frank and friendly
relations which we most earnestly desire ever to cherish with the new Republics, that you should, without reserve, explicitly state that
the United States have too much at stake in the fortunes of Cuba, to allow them to see with indifference a war of invasion prosecuted in a desolating manner, or to see employed, in the purposes of such a war, one race of the inhabitants combating against another, upon principles and with motives that must inevitably lead, if not to the extermination of one party or the other, to the most shocking excesses. The humanity of the United States in respect to the weaker, and which, in such a terrible struggle, would probably be the suffering, portion, and the duty to defend themselves against the contagion of such near and dangerous examples, would constrain them, even at the hazard of losing the friendship of Mexico and Colombia, to employ all the means necessary to their security."
and, while refusing, so early as 1825, to guarantee the possession of that island to Spain, and informally giving notice that we would never consent to its transfer to any more formidable power, seemed entirely sattention by Spain as her most precious isfied with, and anxious for, its reand valued dependency-The Queen of the Antilles.'
But, at length, having reännexed Texas, the Slave Power fixed covetous eyes on this fertile, prolific island. In 1848, our Minister, under instructions from President Polk, made an offer of $100,000,000 for it, which was peremptorily, conclusively rejected.
Directly thereafter, the
South became agitated by 'fillibustering' plots for the invasion and conquest of that island, wherein real or pretended Cubans by nativity were prominent as leaders. dent Taylor was hardly warm in the Several years later, Mr. Van Bu- White House before he was made ren, writing as Gen. Jackson's pre-aware that these schemes were on mier to Mr. C. P. Van Ness, our the point of realization, and compelthen Minister at Madrid, urges upon led to issue his proclamation" against Spain, through him, the acknowledg- them in these words: ment of South American independence, on this among other grounds:
"Considerations connected with a certain class of our population make it the interest of the Southern section of the Union that no attempt should be made in that island [Cuba] to throw off the yoke of Spanish dependence; the first effect of which would be the sudden emancipation of a numerous slave population, whose result could not but be very sensibly felt upon the adjacent
shores of the United States."
Thus, so long as any revolution in Cuba, or displacement of the Spanish authority there, seemed likely to affect the stability or perpetuity of Slavery, our Government steadily, officiously opposed such revolution;
11 May 8, 1826.
"There is reason to believe that an armed expedition is about to be fitted out in the United States with an intention to invade
the island of Cuba, or some of the provinces of Mexico. The best information which the Executive has been able to obtain points to the island of Cuba as the object of this expedition. It is the duty of this Government to observe the faith of treaties, and to prevent any aggression by our citizens upon the territories of friendly nations. I have, therefore, thought it necessary and proper to issue this Proclamation, to warn all citizens of the United States, who shall connect
themselves with any enterprise so grossly in violation of our laws and our treaty obligations, that they will thereby subject themselves to the heavy penalties denounced will forfeit their claim to the protection of against them by our acts of Congress, and their country. No such persons must ex
12 August 11, 1849.
pect the interference of this Government, in any form, on their behalf, no matter to what extremities they may be reduced in consequence of their conduct. An enterprise to invade the territories of a friendly nation, set on foot and prosecuted within the limits of the United States, is, in the highest degree, criminal, as tending to endanger the peace, and compromit the honor, of this nation; and, therefore, I exhort all good citizens, as they regard our national reputation, as they respect their own laws and the Law of Nations, as they value the blessings of peace and the welfare of their country, to discountenance and prevent, by all lawful means, any such enterprise; and I call upon every officer of this Government, civil or military, to use all efforts in his power to arrest, for trial and punishment, every such offender against the laws providing for the performance of our sacred obligations to foreign powers."
This emphatic warning probably embarrassed and delayed the execution of the plot, but did not defeat it. Early in August, 1851-or soon after Gen. Taylor's death-an expedition under Lopez, a Cuban adventurer, sailed in a steamer from New Orleans-always the hotbed of the projects of the Slavery propagandists. About five hundred men embarked in this desperate enterprise, by which a landing was effected on the island of Cuba. All its expectations, however, of a rising in its behalf, or of any manifestation of sympathy on the part of the Cubans, were utterly disappointed. The invaders were easily defeated and made prisoners, when their leader was promptly garroted at Havana," and a few of his comrades shot; but the greater number were sentenced to penal servitude in a distant Spanish possession,
13 August 16th.
14 The body of the Convention proposed to us, on the part of Great Britain and France, was in the following words:
"The high contracting parties hereby severally and collectively disclaim, both now and for hereafter, all intention to obtain possession of the island of Cuba; and they respectively
whence they were ultimately liberated by pardon.
The discipline proved effective. There was much talk of further expeditions against Cuba from one or another Southern city. A secret cabal, known as the "Order of the Lone Star," recruited adventurers and tried to raise funds through all the seaboard cities of the Union, and it was understood that Gen. John A. Quitman, of Mississippi, one of the ablest and strongest of Mr. Calhoun's disciples, had consented to lead the next expedition against Cuba; but none ever sailed. The "Order of the Lone Star" proved useful to Gen. Pierce in swelling his vote for President in 1852, and soon after subsided into nothingness.
As our Government had long expressed satisfaction with the possession of Cuba by Spain, while proclaiming hostility to its transfer to any other power, Great Britain and France determined to put our sincerity to the test; and, accordingly, in 1852, proposed to unite with us in a treaty mutually guaranteeing that island to Spain.". But Mr. Edward Everett, as Secretary of State to Mr. Fillmore, rejected the overture in an exceedingly smart dispatch.
The formal proposition for a joint agreement of perpetual renunciation, on the part of Great Britain, France, and the United States, respectively, of any covetous designs on Cuba,
MR. EVERETT TO FRANCE AND ENGLAND.
was presented, on the 23d of April, to Mr. Webster, then our Secretary of State, and by him courteously acknowledged, six days later, in a note which, though not without demur, expressed the acquiescence of our Government in the general views expressed by France and England with reference to Cuba, and gave assurances that, "The President will take M. de Sartiges' communication into consideration, and give it his best reflections."
of Texas; as to which, Mr. Everettoverdoing his part, as is natural in a Federalist turned fillibuster-volunteers the wholly gratuitous assertion that "there never was an extension of territory more naturally or justifiably made." Ignoring the fact that Great Britain has still possessions in this hemisphere nearly, if not quite, equal in extent to those of our own country, and that her important island of Jamaica is quite as near to Cuba as is any portion of our Southern coast, Mr. Everett says:
Mr. Webster being dead" and Mr. Everett duly installed as his successor, the latter answered a note of M. de Sartiges, recalling Mr. Webster's attention to this subject, under date of July 8th. In this answer, our Government peremptorily declines, for various and elaborately stated reasons, any such convention or compact as that proposed to it by France and England. While still disclaiming, pro forma, any desire or intention on our part of acquiring ing Cuba, this document affords the strongest evidence of a contrary disposition. It assumes that the Senate would inevitably refuse its assent to the treaty proposed, and adds: "its certain rejection by that body would leave the question of Cuba in a more unsettled position than it is now." It doubts the constitutional power "to impose a permanent disability on the American Government for all coming time." It parades, with significant emphasis, the repeated and important acquisitions of territory by our Government, through the purchase of Louisiana in 1803, and of Florida in 1819, as also through the annexation
15 Oct. 24th, 1852.
"The President does not covet the acquisition of Cuba for the United States; at the same time, he considers the acquisition of Cuba as mainly an American question. The proposed convention proceeds on a United States have no other or greater different principle. It assumes that the interest in the question than France or England; whereas, it is necessary only to
cast one's eye on the map to see how remote are the relations of Europe, and how intimate those of the United States, with this island."
If three strong men were traversa desert in company with a fourth rich, but weak, companion, and two of them should propose to the other a mutual stipulation not to rob or otherwise abuse their weak brother, it could hardly fail to astonish them to hear their proposition declined, as contemplating an "entangling alliance"-a perplexing and troublesome undertaking, whereof no one could fully calculate the scope and ultimate consequences. Yet Mr. Everett sees fit to say that
"There is another strong objection to est traditions of the Federal Government is the proposed agreement. Among the oldan aversion to political alliances with European powers. In his memorable Farewell Address, President Washington says: 'The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our com
10 December 1, 1852.
mercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. President Jefferson, in his Inaugural Address in 1801, warned the country against 'entangling al
liances.' This expression, now become proverbial, was unquestionably used by Mr. Jefferson in reference to the alliance with France of 1778-an alliance, at the time, of incalculable benefit to the United States; but which, in less than twenty years, came near involving us in the wars of the French Revolution, and laid the foundation of heavy claims upon Congress, not extinguished to the present day. It is a significant coincidence, that the particular provision of the alliance which occasioned these evils was that under which France called upon us to aid her in defending her West Indian possessions against England. Nothing less than the unbounded influence of Washington rescued the Union from the perils of that crisis, and preserved our neutrality."
Mr. Everett proceeds:
"But the President has a graver objection to entering into the proposed convention. He has no wish to disguise the feeling that the compact, although equal in its terms, would be very unequal in substance. France and England, by entering into it, would disable themselves from obtaining possession of an island remote from their seats of government, belonging to another European pow er, whose natural right to possess it must always be as good as their own-a distant island in another hemisphere, and one which, by no ordinary or peaceful course of things, could ever belong to either of them. *** The United States, on the other hand, would, by the proposed convention, disable themselves from making an acquisition which might take place without any disturbance of existing foreign relations, and in the natural order of things. The island of Cuba lies at our doors. It commands the approach to the Gulf of Mexico, which washes the shores of five of our States. It bars the
entrance of that great river which drains half the North American continent, and with its tributaries forms the largest system of in
ternal water communication in the world. It keeps watch at the doorway of our intercourse with California by the Isthmus route. If an island like Cuba, belonging to the Spanish crown, guarded the entrance of the Thames and the Seine, and the United States should propose a convention like this to France and England, those powers would assuredly feel that the disability assumed by
ourselves was far less serious than that which we asked them to assume."
Mr. Everett, having thus, in effect, apprised the civilized world that the acquisition of Cuba is essential to our independence, and that we shall proceed in our own time to appropriate it, turns to give our slaveholders a meaning hint that they must not be too eager in the pursuit, or they will overreach themselves. He says:
"The opinions of American statesmen, at different times, and under varying circumstances, have differed as to the desirableness of the acquisition of Cuba by the United States. Territorially and commercially, it would, in our hands, be an extremely valuable possession. Under certain contingencies, it might be almost essential to our safety. Still, for domestic reasons, on which, in a communication of this kind, it might not be proper to dwell, the President thinks that the incorporation of the island into the Union at the present time, although effected with the consent of Spain, would be a hazardous measure; and he would consider its acquisition by force, except in a just war deprecated take place), as a disgrace to the with Spain (should an event so greatly to be civilization of the age."
In another place, he gives them another intimation of the solicitude with which our Government watches and wards against any subversion of Slavery in Cuba; saying:
"Even now, the President cannot doubt that both France and England would prefer any change in the condition of Cuba to that which is most to be apprehended, viz.: an internal convulsion which should renew the horrors and the fate of San Domingo
But Cuba, it seems, is not merely a slaveholding, but a slave-trading dependency, which affords still another reason why Spain should lose and we gain it. Says Mr. Everett:
"I will intimate a final objection to the proposed convention. M. de Turgot and Lord Malmesbury put forward, as the reason for entering into such a compact, the attacks which have lately been made on the island of Cuba by lawless bands of adventurers from the United States, with the avowed design of taking possession of that