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To abandon the city of Mexico would, I fear, put an end to all these prospects and hopes. That city is the political, as well as the financial, centre of the Republic. It is there governments have been instituted and deposed, armies levied, revenue systems devised and carried into execution. So long as we hold it, and control the adjoining districts, I believe nothing but imprudence or mismanagement can raise up a formidable opposition to us. If we abandon it, all the resources of the country, which it commands, will again be at the control of its rulers, to be employed against us in the renewal of active hostilities. Before it was captured, energetic movements seemed to me our true policy. Now that it is in our undisputed possession, our leading object should be to introduce better commercial and financial systems, and let them work out, under our protection, their legitimate results.
Great qualities are necessary in him who is charged with the execution of these delicate and responsible functions. He should have prudence, self-control, a knowledge of civil affairs, of the country, of the people and their character, and, if possible, their language. Established institutions, existing usages, sometimes prejudices even, must be respected. Some of the most disastrous reverses which have befallen armies of occupation have had their origin in violations of the prevailing customs and feelings of the people. To avoid this fatal error, everything depends on the discretion and wisdom of the directing authority.
It may be, that all reasonable expectations will be disappointed; that the hostility of Mexico will prove unappeasable ; that she will prefer the political disorganization which now exists to an amicable arrangement with us. If so, cir
, cumstances must dictate the course to be pursued when this conviction shall be forced on us. But, sir, let us not adopt such a conclusion hastily. Let us rely on the influence of more rational motives to give us peace.
And now, sir, I submit whether this course had not better be pursued for a while, if I am right in supposing the temporary occupation of Mexico, under discreet officers, may lead to a stable peace, rather than to withdraw our forces, and leave the adjustment of difficulties to the uncertain chance of a restoration of a responsible government, to be terminated at last, perhaps, by the renewed arbitrament of arms.
I have thus stated with frankness the views I entertain in respect to the future conduct of the war. Notwithstanding the anxious consideration I have given to the subject, they may be erroneous. It is a question of great difficulty, on which differences of opinion may well exist, and on which a mistaken course of policy may lead to the most unpleasant consequences. Whatever faith I may entertain in the soundness of the opinions I have advanced, I certainly should have more, if they were not totally at variance with those of gentlemen possessing, from longer experience, much higher claims than myself to public confidence. But I have not on this account thought proper to withhold them, knowing, as we do, that, from the very contrariety and conflict of thought and conviction, valuable deductions may sometimes be drawn.
Mr. President, I feel that I have already trespassed too long on the indulgence of the Senate ; but I am unwilling to close without asking its attention for a very few moments to some considerations connected with our future growth and progress, and with the influence we must, in spite of ourselves, exert over the destinies of Mexico. They are no new opinions: they have been expressed years ago, both in public and private.
Sir, no one who has paid a moderate degree of attention to the laws and elements of our increase, can doubt that our population is destined to spread itself across the American continent, filling up, with more or less completeness, according to attractions of soil and climate, the space that intervenes between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This event. ual, and, perhaps, in the order of time, this not very distant
extension of our settlements over a tract of country, with a diameter, as we go westward, greatly disproportioned to its length, becomes a subject of the highest interest to us. On the whole extent of our northern flank, from New Brunswick to the point where the northern boundary of Oregon touches the Pacific, we are in contact with British colonists, having, for the most part, the same common origin with ourselves, but controlled and moulded by political influences from the eastern hernisphere, if not adverse, certainly not decidedly friendly to us. The strongest tie which can be relied on to bind us to mutual offices of friendship and good neighborhood, is that of commerce; and this, as we know, is apt to run into rivalry, and sometimes becomes a fruitful source of alienation.
From our northern boundary, we turn to our southern. What races are to border on us here, what is to be their social and political character, and what their means of annoyance ? Are our two frontiers, only seven parallels of latitute apart when we pass Texas, to be flanked by settlements having no common bond of union with ours ? Our whole southern line is conterminous, throughout its whole extent, with the territories of Mexico, a large portion of which is nearly unpopulated. The geographical area of Mexico is about 1,500,000 square miles, and her population about 7,000,000 souls. The whole northern and central portion, taking the twenty-sixth parallel of latitude as the dividing line, containing more than 1,000,000 square miles, has about 650,000 inhabitants, — about two inhabitants to three square miles. "The southern portion, with less than 500,000 square miles, has a population of nearly six and a half millions of souls, or thirteen inhabitants to one square mile. The aboriginal races, which occupy and overrun a portion of California and New Mexico, must there, as everywhere else, give way before the advancing wave of civilization, either to be overwhelmed by it, or to be driven upon perpetually contracting areas, where, from a diminution of their accustomed
sources of subsistence, they must ultimately become extinct by force of an invincible law. We see the operation of this law in every portion of this continent. We have no power to control it, if we would. It is the behest of Providence that idleness, and ignorance, and barbarism, shall give place to industry, and knowledge, and civilization. The European and mixed races which possess Mexico are not likely, either from moral or physical energy, to become formidable rivals or enemies. The bold and courageous enterprise which overran and conquered Mexico, appears not to have descended to the present possessors of the soil. Either from the influ
. ence of climate or the admixture of races, - the fusion of castes, to use the technical phrase, — the conquerors have, in turn, become the conquered. The ancient Castilian energy
, is, in a great degree, subdued ; and it has given place, with many other noble traits of the Spanish character, to a peculiarity which seems to have marked the race in that country, under whatever combinations it is found,
-a proneness to civil discord, and a suicidal waste of its own strength.
With such a territory and such a people on our southern border, what is to be the inevitable course of empire ? It needs no powers of prophecy to foretell. Sir, I desire to speak plainly: why should we not, when we are discussing the operation of moral and physical laws, which are beyond our control ? As our population moves westward on our own territory, portions will cross our southern boundary. Settlements will be formed within the unoccupied and sparsely peopled territory of Mexico. Uncongenial habits and tastes, differences of political opinion and principle, and numberless other elements of diversity, will lead to a separation of these newly-formed societies from the inefficient goyernment of Mexico. They will not endure to be held in subjection to a system which neither yields them protection nor offers them any incentive to their proper development and growth. They will form independent states on the basis of constitutions identical in all their leading features with our own ; and they will naturally seek to unite their fortunes to ours. The fate of California is already sealed: it can never be reunited to Mexico. The operation of the great causes to which I have alluded must, at no distant day, detach the whole of northern Mexico from the southern portion of that republic. It is for the very reason that she is incapable of defending her possessions against the elements of disorder within and the progress of better influences from without, that I desire to see the inevitable political change, which is to be wrought in the condition of her northern departments, brought about without any improper interference on our part. I do not speak of our military movements. I refer to the time when our difficulties with her shall be healed, and when she shall be left to the operation of pacific influences, silent, but more powerful than the arm of force. For the reason that she is defenceless, if for no other, I should be opposed to all schemes of conquest. Acquisition by force is the vice of arbitrary governments.
I desire never to see it the reproach of ours. For the sake of the national honor, as well as the permanency of our political institutions, I desire not to see it. The extension of free.
, government on this continent can only be arrested, if arrested at all, by substituting war for the arts of peace. Leave it to
. itself, and nothing can prevent the progress of our population across the continent. Mr. Jefferson, with his prophetic
, forecast, foretold this result forty years ago. He prophesied the peaceful progress of our people to the Pacific. He foresaw them forming new settlements, and, when strong enough to maintain themselves, organizing independent societies, and governing themselves by constitutions and laws analogous to
It is true, he believed the area of freedom might be enlarged, advantageously to ourselves and others, without extending to the same broad limits the area of our jurisdiction. It was the progress and the triumph of great principles of political right to which his philosophical mind instinctively turned as to the legitimate aim and boundary