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of State] on the subject of the annexation of Texas. The growling of the British Lion should only stimulate to immediate action. To falter in our course from apprehension of her hostility, would disgrace us in the eyes of all Europe. The act accomplished, England will complain. perhaps threaten, and her newspapers will be lavish in their abuse; but that will be all; for with all her power, she can but feel, that a war with us would be more prejudicial to her interest, than with any other nation. She will not risk the consequences. I am aware that she is exerting herself to induce France to make common cause with her on the subject of Texas, and that Mr. Guizot is much inclined to do so; but it will not succeed. It would shock the French nation, which detests all alliances with England; and the King is too wise, and too prudent to place himself in a position which would go far towards destroying his dynasty.
In fact, although neither Señor Garro nor Mr.. King was aware of it, the French government had already politely declined to make common cause with Great Britain. Lord Cowley, the British ambassador, early in December, 1844, reported that he had asked the direct question whether France would "act in concert with us in any negotiation with the Mexican Govt. for the purpose of obtaining from them the acknowledgment of" Texan independence. "Any negotiation" probably seemed to Guizot a dangerously vague phrase, and he therefore explained just how far France would go.s
Undoubtedly [he said to Cowley] we will both use our best efforts for that purpose, and will even refuse to recognize the annexation of Texas to the United States; but, as a Question of Peace or War, I am not prepared to say that its junction with the American States is of sufficient importance to us to justify our having recourse to arms in order to prevent it.
Aberdeen however was very unwilling to abandon his project of a joint guarantee by Great Britain and France, which he still hoped would result in preserving the existence of Texas as an independent nation. But to attain that end it was evidently essential to gain the assent of Mexico; and Aberdeen thought it necessary to use plain language in warning the Mexican authorities of the dangerous consequences of the course they seemed bent on pursuing. To the British minister in Mexico he wrote:
You will also again clearly explain to the Mexican Govt. that they must not count upon the assistance of Gt. Britain, whose friendly advice they have constantly neglected in enabling them to resist any attack which may at any time, now or hereafter, be made upon Mexico by the U. States, since they will have wilfully exposed themselves to such attacks by omitting to make a friend and dependent of Texas while it was yet time.
Cowley to Aberdeen, December 2, 1844.
Adams, pp. 190-191.
Ibid., p. 192.
To Tomás Murphy, the Mexican minister in London, similar language was used, but the door of hope was held open. In a conversation at the Foreign Office, Aberdeen denounced the folly of an attempt to reconquer Texas.10
What had Mexico to hope from such an undertaking? Not only would she never recover that territory, but in the course of the war with the United States in which she would be involved she would probably lose other provinces and especially the Californias. These and no others would be the results, truly disastrous for Mexico, if she persisted in so imprudent a policy. How different would the conditions be if she would listen to the voice of reason and decide once for all to recognize the independence of Texas! . . . In that event, as he had told me several times, it might be possible, with the co-operation of France, to enter into arrangements for guaranteeing at the proper time the independence of Texas and the territory of Mexico. The recognition of the independence of that country is therefore the only course which reason, prudence and sane policy commend to Mexico,-following the example of other countries in the like circumstances. It was well for England that she recognized the independence of her former colonies when she saw it was hopeless to reconquer them; and it was well for Spain that she did the same in respect to hers. "Now", continued Lord Aberdeen, "if Mexico persists in her desperate projects, it may not be impossible that England and France will resolve to oppose both annexation to the United States and reconquest by Mexico. . . . I have spoken of the Californias. You may be aware that offers of that country have been made to England by the Mexican inhabitants themselves; as also proposals for establishing colonies there under our protection. Acting in this matter in the honorable spirit in which I hope we always act, we have closed our ears to these proposals and offers." But must we let our fair dealing serve only to enable some one else to take possession of that territory? The attack of Commodore Jones in time of peace shows you what you must expect from the preposterous war (la insensata guerra) with the United States in which you wish to engage."
Aberdeen's rather vague suggestions naturally did not suffice for the Mexican minister and he asked what guarantees might be counted on. Aberdeen replied that England alone would not engage in war with the United States, though he would not say so to them.12
I asked His Lordship what was the disposition of France. He replied that when M. Guizot was here" he talked with him at length about the business, and although in general he agreed to co-operate with England on the question of guarantees, it must be confessed he would not go to the length of binding himself to make war.
"Murphy to Minister of Relations, January 1, 1845. MSS. Sec. Rel. Ext. "The reference is to a request for a protectorate made through Forbes, the British vice-consul at Monterey, by the inhabitants of California some months before.
'Murphy to Minister of Relations, January 1, 1845. MSS. Sec. Rel. Ext.
Guizot accompanied Louis Philippe on a state visit to Queen Victoria in the latter part of September, 1844.
Thus matters stood during the winter, but late in March, 1845, after the news of the passage of the annexation resolutions by Congress had reached Europe, accompanied by the inaugural address of the new President, the Mexican minister in Paris had an interview with the king which he reported in the following dramatic form to his government :14
Eh bien, M. Garro, is your new administration going to recognize the independence of Texas so as to stop annexation to the United States? It cannot be prevented in any other way."
"I don't know of anything, Sir, up to the present time, which leads me to suppose that the present Government is any more disposed than the former one to abandon the defence of our just rights over that territory."
"Why, what hope have you of reconquering it? The Americans will never allow it, and a war with them would lead to consequences infinitely serious and disastrous for Mexico, for she would run the risk of losing a great part of her present possessions."
After some further talk of the advantages to Mexico of recognizing Texas, which, Garro said, would be illusory unless France and England guaranteed the stipulations of any treaty that might be made, the king spoke of the difficulty of conquering Texas without a navy capable of dealing with the American navy, and of the foolish obstinacy Spain had displayed in refusing to recognize the independence of her former colonies. The king continued:
"To describe the kind of obstinacy which prevents seeing what is evident, we have a word in French which is very easy to translate into Spanish, infatuation. This infatuation prevents you from recognizing what everybody else sees; that is, that you have lost Texas irrevocably. If I urge you to recognize her independence, it is because I believe that advantages will result to Mexico, in whose happiness I take great interest. If a barrier is once established between Mexico and the United States, they will have no excuse for mixing in your affairs, and they will let you live in peace."
Sir, I beg your Majesty to let me ask one question, and allow me to send your answer to my Government, so that they may know what they can in any event rely on. If Mexico should decide to recognize the independence of Texas, would your Majesty's Government and that of Great Britain guarantee formally the perpetuity of the boundaries of the new State?"
"No, no. Any such formal guarantee might give rise to an intervention, and I don't like interventions; because I know what they cost in blood and treasure. Without this formal guarantee, the arrangements you may make would afford you the necessary security."
14 Garro to the Minister of Relations, March 25, 1845. MSS. Sec. Rel. Ext. The italics appear in the original.
Sir, I beg your Majesty to believe that my question was only for the purpose of informing my Government what it could hope for in the hypothesis which I have no grounds for foreseeing-"
The King walked away, repeating that he was very sincerely interested in the happiness of the Republic.
Before closing this despatch I must tell your Excellency that before the King came up to speak to me he had been talking for some time with the English Ambassador who, when His Majesty left him, came up to me and asked me what I thought about Texan affairs. I told him frankly my opinion and my astonishment at the recognition,-under Lord Palmerston's Whig Administration (the Ambassador Lord Cowley is of the Tory party) which wished to abolish negro slavery,—of a State that had established slavery where it did not exist before. Lord Cowley, pretending not to understand my observation, said: "But really now, how does the Mexican Government expect to conquer Texas?" (Your Excellency will note that this was almost exactly the same question with which the King began his conversation.) "By employing all her resources," I replied, "to accomplish it." "Yes, but with these resources you have not been able to do much so far, and I am afraid that, in view of all the circumstances, you will not be more fortunate in future."
I confess that I could not find any entirely satisfactory answer to this simple remark.
A few days after this interview, all idea of giving Mexico any guarantees against the possible encroachments of the United States, was definitely abandoned, as the French government firmly refused to join in the project. Lord Aberdeen, however, was not yet willing to give up his hopes of continuing Texas as an independent state. He therefore proposed that Great Britain and France should unite in trying once more to secure an acknowledgment of Texan independence from Mexico, but upon the distinct understanding that there should be no responsibility on the part of either of the European powers. Both governments on several occasions had been told positively that Mexico would not recognize Texas without a guarantee of her good behavior, but Aberdeen doubtless thought it worth while, under the hopeless circumstances of Mexico, to make one more attempt.15
H. M's Govt. [he wrote] would not propose to enter into any guarantee whatever with respect to either of the States, whether to secure to Mexico the inviolability of Her frontier against Texas, or to secure to Texas its frontier against the United States or Mexico. In fact H. M's Govt. would not be disposed to place themselves in any respect in a position which might give to Mexico or to Texas the power of hereafter calling upon Great Britain, as a matter of right, for her protection and succour against encroachment on the part of any other Powers, nor even of leading the Mexican Govt. to hope that such succour might be afforded. . . . They would merely wish to exert all 15 Aberdeen to Cowley, April 15, 1845. Adams, pp. 204-205.
the weight of their moral influence, added to that of France, in order to secure the present pacification and future stability both of Mexico and Texas.
Guizot of course agreed to this proposal, which was exactly in line with what his government desired and had offered; and on the first day of May instructions were sent to Bankhead directing him to urge upon the Mexican government the importance of haste in seizing this last chance of safety.18
By the same packet that carried Aberdeen's instructions, the Mexican minister in London wrote to notify his government of the change in the attitude of Peel's administration, which he thought was not surprising, as they had always declared they would not act alone and France had undoubtedly refused to co-operate in the plan of an absolute guarantee.17
These letters were crossed on the Atlantic by "most secret" circular instructions from the Mexican government to its diplomatic agents in England, France, and Spain, advising them of the proposi tions just submitted by Texas to the effect that she would agree not to annex herself to the United States if Mexico would recognize her independence.18 The President of Mexico, the circular stated,
is disposed to enter into a treaty with Texas suitable to the honor and dignity of Mexico, thus avoiding all the evils and complications of a war, while he hopes to be able to succeed in preventing the annexation of that Department to the United States, and in the meantime has succeeded in delaying it for the present. . . . Your Excellency will endeavor to ascertain the spirit of the Government to which you are accredited and ascertain the terms upon which a treaty might be made with England, France and Spain . . . which will assure to Mexico the inviolability of the territory she now possesses.
Spain, of course, was hopelessly incapable of entering into any engagement of the kind suggested. 19
This unhappy nation [Gorostiza, formerly minister in the United States, and now Mexican minister in Madrid, had written some weeks earlier], torn for so many years past by civil war, is at present in too precarious a position, too weak and without resources . . . to note and weigh the serious events which are taking place on the Continent of America. Thus it is that although the question of the annexation of Texas to the United States has attracted the attention of Her Majesty's Government on account of its importance and on account of the am
16 Aberdeen to Bankhead, May 1, 1845. Adams, p. 205.
17 Murphy to Minister of Relations, May 1, 1845. MSS. Sec. Rel. Ext.
18 Cuevas to Garro, muy reservado, April 29, 1845. Ibid.
19 Gorostiza to Minister of Relations, February 20, 1845. Ibid.