« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
organizing armies, issuing proclamations, and avowing the intention to make war on The United States, either by an open declaration, or by invading Texas. Both the Congress and Convention of the people of Texas invited this Government to send an army into that territory, to protect and defend them against the menaced attack. The moment the terms of annexation offered by The United States were accepted by Texas, the latter became so far a part of our own country as to make it our duty to afford such protection and defence. I therefore deemed it proper, as a precautionary measure, to order a strong squadron to the coast of Mexico, and to concentrate an efficient military force on the western frontier of Texas. Our army was ordered to take position in the country between the Nueces and the Del Norte, and to repel any invasion of the Texan territory which might be attempted by the Mexican forces. Our squadron in the Gulf was ordered to co-operate with the army. But though our army and navy were placed in a position to defend our own and the rights of Texas, they were ordered to commit no act of hostility against Mexico, unless she declared war, or was herself the aggressor by striking the first blow. The result has been, that Mexico has made no aggressive movement, and our military and naval commanders have executed their orders with such discretion that the peace of the 2 Republics has not been disturbed.
Texas had declared her independence, and maintained it by her arms for more than 9 years. She has had an organized Government in successful operation during that period. Her separate existence as an independent State had been recognized by The United States and the principal Powers of Europe. Treaties of Commerce and Navigation had been concluded with her by different nations, and it had become manifest to the whole world that any further attempt on the part of Mexico to conquer her or overthrow her Government would be vain. Even Mexico herself had become satisfied of this fact; and whilst the question of annexation was pending before the people of Texas during the past summer, the Government of Mexico, by a formal act, agreed to recognize the independence of Texas on condition that she would not annex herself to any other Power. The agreement to acknowledge the independence of Texas, whether with or without this condition, is conclusive against Mexico. The independence of Texas is a fact conceded by Mexico herself, and she had no right or authority to prescribe restrictions as to the form of government which Texas might afterwards choose to assume.
But though Mexico cannot complain of The United States on account of the annexation of Texas, it is to be regretted that serious causes of misunderstanding between the 2 countries continue to exist, growing out of unredressed injuries inflicted by the Mexican autho
rities and people on the persons and property of citizens of The United States through a long series of years. Mexico has admitted these injuries, but has neglected and refused to repair them. Such was the character of the wrongs, and such the insults repeatedly offered to American citizens and the American flag by Mexico, in palpable violation of the laws of nations and the Treaty between the 2 countries of the 5th of April, 1831, that they have been repeatedly brought to the notice of Congress by my predecessors. As early as the 8th of February, 1837, the President of The United States declared in a message to Congress that "the length of time since some of the injuries have been committed, the repeated and unavailing applications for redress, the wanton character of some of the outrages upon the persons and property of our citizens, upon the officers and flag of The United States, independent of recent insults to this Government and people by the late Extraordinary Mexican Minister, would justify in the eyes of all nations immediate war." He did not, however, recommend an immediate resort to this extreme measure, which, he declared, should not be used by just and generous nations, confiding in their strength for injuries committed, if it can be honourably avoided;" but, in a spirit of forbearance, proposed that another demand be made on Mexico for that redress which had been so long and unjustly withheld. In these views, committees of the 2 Houses of Congress, in reports made to their respective bodies concurred. Since these proceedings more than 8 years have elapsed, during which, in addition to the wrongs then complained of, others of an aggravated character have been committed on the persons and properties of our citizens. A special agent was sent to Mexico in the summer of 1838, with full authority to make another and final demand for redress. The demand was made; the Mexican Government promised to repair the wrongs of which we complained; and after much delay, a Treaty of Indemnity with that view was concluded between the 2 Powers on the 11th of April, 1839, and was duly ratified by both Governments. By this Treaty, a joint commission was created to adjudicate and decide on the claims of American citizens on the Government of Mexico. The commission was organized at Washington on the 25th day of August, 1840. Their time was limited to 18 months; at the expiration of which, they had adjudicated and decided claims amounting to 2,026,139 dollars in favour of citizens of The United States against the Mexican Government, leaving a large amount of claims undecided. Of the latter, the American Commissioners had decided in favour of our citizens' claims amounting to 928,687 dollars, which were left unacted on by the umpire authorized by the Treaty. Still further, claims, amounting to between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 of dollars, were sub
mitted to the Board too late to be considered, and were left undisposed of. The sum of 2,026,139 dollars, decided by the Board, was a liquidated and ascertained debt due by Mexico to the claimants, and there was no justifiable reason for delaying its payment according to the terms of the Treaty. It was not, however, paid. Mexico applied for further indulgence; and, in that spirit of liberality and forbearance which has ever marked the policy of The United States towards that Republic, the request was granted; and on the 30th of January, 1843, a new Treaty was concluded. By this Treaty it was provided, that the interest due on the awards in favour of claimants under the Convention of the 11th of April, 1839, should be paid on the 30th of April, 1843; and that "the principal of the said awards, and the interest arising thereon, shall be paid in 5 years, in equal instalments every 3 months; the said term of 5 years to commence on the 30th day of April, 1843, as aforesaid." The interest due on the 30th day of April, 1843, and the 3 first of the 20 instalments have been paid. Seventeen of these instalments remain unpaid, 7 of which are now due.
The claims which were left undecided by the joint commission, amounting to more than 3,000,000 of dollars, together with other claims for spoliations on the property of our citizens, were subsequently presented to the Mexican Government for payment, and were so far recognized that a Treaty, provided for their examination and settlement by a joint commission, was concluded and signed at Mexico on the 20th day of November, 1843. This Treaty was ratified by The United States, with certain amendments, to which no just exception could have been taken; but it has not yet received the ratification of the Mexican Government. In the mean time, our citizens who suffered great losses, and some of whom have been reduced from affluence to bankruptcy, are without remedy, unless their rights be enforced by their Government. Such a continued and unprovoked series of wrongs could never have been tolerated by The United States, had they been committed by one of the principal nations of Europe. Mexico was, however, a neighbouring sister Republic, which, following our example, had achieved her independence, and for whose success and prosperity all our sympathies were early enlisted. The United States were the first to recognize her independence, and to receive her into the family of nations, and have ever been desirous of cultivating with her a good understanding. We have, therefore, borne the repeated wrongs she has committed, with great patience, in the hope that a returning sense of justice would ultimately guide her councils, and that we might, if possible, honorably avoid any hostile collision with her.
Without the previous authority of Congress, the Executive pos
sessed no power to adopt or enforce adequate remedies for the injuries we had suffered, or to do more than to be prepared to repel the threatened aggression on the part of Mexico. After our army and navy had remained on the frontier and coasts of Mexico for many weeks, without any hostile movement on her part, though her menaces were continued, I deemed it important to put an end, if possible, to this state of things. With this view, I caused steps to be taken, in the month of September last, to ascertain distinctly, and in an authentic form, what the designs of the Mexican Government were; whether it was their intention to declare war, or invade Texas, or whether they were disposed to adjust and settle in an amicable manner, the pending differences between the 2 countries. On the 9th of November an official answer was received, that the Mexican Government consented to renew the diplomatic relations which had been suspended in March last; and for that purpose were willing to accredit a Minister from The United States. With a sincere desire to preserve peace, and restore relations of good understanding between the 2 Republics, I waived all ceremony as to the manner of renewing diplomatic intercourse between them; and, assuming the initiative, on the 10th of November a distinguished citizen of Louisiana was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico, clothed with Fall Powers to adjust, and definitively settle, all pending differences between the 2 countries, including those of boundary between Mexico and the State of Texas. The Minister appointed has set out on his mission, and is probably by this time near the Mexican capital. He has been instructed to bring the negotiation with which he is charged to a conclusion at the earliest practicable period; which, it is expected, will be in time to enable me to communicate the result to Congress during the present session. Until that result is known, I forbear to recommend to Congress such ulterior measures of redress for the Wrongs and injuries we have so long borne, as it would have been proper to make had no such negotiation been instituted.
Congress appropriated, at the last session, the sum of 275,000 dollars for the payment of the April and July instalments of the Mexican indemnities for the year 1844: 66 Provided it shall be ascer
tained to the satisfaction of the American Government that said instalments have been paid by the Mexican Government to the agent appointed by The United States to receive the same, in such manner as to discharge all claim on the Mexican Government, and said agent to be delinquent in remitting the money to The United States."
The unsettled state of our relations with Mexico has involved this subject in much mystery. The first information, in an authentic form, from the agent of The United States, appointed under the Administration of my predecessor, was received at the State Department on
the 9th of November last. This is contained in a letter, dated the 17th of October, addressed by him to one of our citizens then in Mexico, with a view of having it communicated to that department. From this it appears that the agent, on the 20th of September, 1844, gave a receipt to the Treasury of Mexico for the amount of the April and July instalments of the indemnity. In the same communication, however, he asserts that he had not received a single dollar in cash; but that he holds such securities as warranted him at the time in giving the receipt, and entertains no doubt but that he will eventually obtain the money. As these instalments appear never to have been actually paid by the Government of Mexico to the agent, and as that Government has not therefore been released so as to discharge the claim, I do not feel myself warranted in directing payment to be made to the claimants out of the Treasury, without further legislation. Their case is, undoubtedly, one of much hardship; and it remains for Congress to decide whether any, and what, relief ought to be granted to them. Our Minister to Mexico has been instructed to ascertain the facts of the case from the Mexican Government, in an authentic and official form, and report the result with as little delay as possible.
My attention was early directed to the negotiation which, on the 4th of March last, I found pending at Washington between The United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the Oregon territory. Three several attempts had been previously made to settle the questions in dispute between the 2 countries, by negotiation, upon the principle of compromise; but each had proved unsuccessful.
These negotiations took place at London, in the years 1818, 1824, and 1826; the 2 first under the administration of Mr. Monroe, and the last under that of Mr. Adams. The negotiation of 1818 having failed to accomplish its object, resulted in the Convention of the 20th of October of that year. By the IIIrd Article of that Convention, it was "agreed, that any country that may be claimed by either party on the north-west coast of America, westward of the Stony Mountains, shall, together with its harbours, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of 10 years from the date of the signature of the present Convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the 2 Powers; it being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim which either of the 2 High Contracting Parties may have to any part of the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other Power or State to any part of the said country; the only object of the High Contracting Parties in that respect being to prevent disputes and differences among themselves."