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Fully impressed as I am with the conviction that the “whole of Oregon” is rightfully an American possession, and that at no distant period it will be 80,* I am also equally of opinion that compromise was the sole line of policy which they would have been justified in adopting. And, though steadfast in my faith on this point, I yet rejoice that Christian precept, good feeling, and good sense prevailed, and prevented the evils which for a period seemed to threaten the two countries. The vindication of the President is done by an able, faithful, and friendly hand.
ABSTRACT FROM THE
SPEECH OF HONOURABLE WILLIAM H. HAYWOOD,
OF NORTH CAROLINA,
On the Oregon Question, delivered in the Senate of
the United States, 4th and 5th March, 1846.
The joint resolution for giving the notice to terminate the convention between the United States
* These opinions I have held from first to last, and have expressed them in high places, both in America and in England.
and Great Britain, relative to the Oregon Territory, being under consideration
Mr. Haywood addressed the Senate as follows:
Mr. President: The subject before the Senate is an important one. It will take me some time to explain my sentiments; but I throw myself upon the patience of the Senate, with a pledge that my heart shall be opened sincerely, at this the council board of our common country.
The President of the United States, who is authorized by the Constitution to make, but not to unmake treaties, has a negotiation on foot which was commenced or opened before his term of office began. The object of it has been to fix a line of division, by compromise, between the United States and Great Britain, and thereby to adjust the conflicting claims of the two Governments to the territory lying west of the Stony Mountains, commonly called Oregon. I assume for the present—hereafter I will demonstrate—that in the view of our President, as well as the British Minister, the negotiation is still a pending one. The assumption is warranted by every incident of the subject in this country and in Great Britain ;
and it is confirmed beyond all fair doubt by the silence of the President upon that point, when, if the negotiation had terminated, executive silence would be unpardonable; the more especially as his jurisdiction over the subject will cease the moment negotiation ends. The negotiation once closed, concluded, put an end to, by the executive, all the remaining questions about Oregon will become forthwith subjects of legislation by Congress exclusively.
First, we all know that the President-whose assent is indispensable—will not agree to an arbitration. I do not stop to defend or to accuse him for this; it belongs to some other occasion. If, in the providence of God, this Oregon controversy should terminate in a conflict, the responsibility of having rejected arbitration will be a fearful one, and he will have to meet it. But the responsibility has been taken by him. The Senate, therefore, must now proceed upon it as a fact, a “ fixed fact,” that arbitration is out of the question. We cannot help it if we would, and I owe it to candour to say, that I would not if I could.
Well, then, we have seen in his Message that
Great Britain made an offer of compromise, which was rejected by the American Government, in August, 1844, and the President has informed Congress plainly and distinctly that this British proposition to us cannot be entertained by him, but that it is “wholly inadmissible.” So far there is no difficulty. Everything is plain and directly to the point, as it ought to be.
Next, we are informed by the Message that the President himself made an offer to Great Britain by which the territory of Oregon between the parallels of 42o and 54° 40' was proposed to be divided by a compromise on the line of 490, and that the British Minister rejected it without submitting any other proposition, &c. This offer of our President was made on 12th of July, 1845—refused on the 29th of the same month. But on 30th of August, 1845, the President withdrew his rejected proposition, and re-asserted, by his letter to the British Minister, our claim and title to the whole of Oregon-which letter has not been answered!
The President does not say that the negotiation has been abandoned, nor that it will be concluded by him without waiting to receive another offer.
No such thing. He does not inform Congress that he will or will not renew, or that he will or will not entertain, his own offer, which he adopted as that of the nation, for a compromise. I repeat, that it was, under the circumstances, impossible for him to do that, provided he considered compromise still admissible. But he does say that he has receded, notwithstanding his opinion as to title, to the line of 49o as a compromise, and his reasons for it are given—reasons quite as conclusive in favor of accepting the offer now as they were for making it last year! And as I understand the President's position, he stands this day upon that line of 49. as a compromise, if compromise is to be had. Once for all, let me explain, that when I have spoken, or shall hereafter speak, of the
compromise line of 49°,” I do by no means intend to be understood literally. But I mean that line in substance—not “every inch.” I mean the same compromise substantially which this Government has frequently offered, without regard to slight variations; which may be left for settlement by “equivalents." I do not measure my own other people's patriotism by the “inch.” I shall