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TWENTY-NINTH CONGRESS.-SECOND SESSION.
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
to wait upon the President of the United States, Monday, December 7, 1846.
and inform him that a quorum of the two
Houses was assembled, and that Congress was In conformity with the constitution, the Second Session of the Twenty-ninth Congress
now ready to receive any communication he commenced this day.
might be pleased to make, and that Mr. HopThe Senate was called to order at twelve
KINS and Mr. WINTHROP were appointed said o'clock, by its presiding officer, the Vice Presi
committee on the part of the House. dent of the United States.
Report of Committee JOSEPH Oilley, from New Hampshire, took his seat, and forty-three Senators answered to
Mr. BREESE, on behalf of the committee on their names.
the part of the Senate, appointed to wait upon
the President of the United States, reported Resolutions.
that the committee had performed the duty On motion of Mr. BREESE, it was
assigned to them, and that the President had Resolved. That a committee be appointed, jointly stated in reply that he would send a communiwith such committee as may be appointed by the cation to both Houses of Congress on to-morHouse of Representatives, to wait on the Pressident | row at twelve o'clock. of the United States, and inform him that quorums | On motion, the Senate adjourned. of the two Houses have assembled, and that Congress are ready to receive any communication he may be pleased to make.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. The VICE PRESIDENT appointed Messrs.
MONDAY, December 7. BREESE, CRITTENDEN, and FAIRFIELD, a com At twelve o'clock the Hon. John W. Davis, mittee on the part of the Senate in accordance of Indiana, Speaker of the House of Representawith the foregoing resolution.
tives, took the chair, and called the House to On motion of Mr. CAMERON, it was
order. Resolved, That each Senator be supplied, during The roll of the members was called over by the present session, with newspapers as heretofore, | B. B. FRENOH, Esq., Clerk of the House, when not exceeding the cost of three daily papers. | 186 members answered to their names.
A message was received from the Senate by Messages from the House.
the hands of A. DICKINS, Esq., Secretary, inA message was received from the House of forming the House that a quorum of the Senate Representatives by its Clerk, BENJAMIN B. had assembled, and that that body was ready FRENCH, Esq., informing the Senate that the to proceed to business. House of Representatives had assembled, and Mr. PAYNE, of Alabama, announced that his was ready to proceed to business.
colleague, Mr. James L. COTTRELL, elected to Also, a message informing the Senate that fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation the House of Representatives had passed a res- of WILLIAM L. YANCEY, and FRANKLIN W. olution that a committee be appointed, on the BOWDEN, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the part of the House, to join such committee as death of Felix G. MoCONNELL, were present. might be appointed on the part of the Senate, Mr. Julius ROCKWELL, of Massachusetts, an
(29TH CONG. nounced that his colleague, Mr. ARTEMAS HALE,
IN SENATE. elected to represent the 9th district of that
TUESDAY, December 8.
The following Senators appeared in their his colleague, Mr. THOMAS P. RIPLEY, elected seats to-day : to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of
diby the death of From Connecticut-Hon. JOHN M. NILES. RICHARD P. HERRICK, was present.
" New Jersey-Hon. W. L. DAYTON. Mr PHELPs, of Missouri, announced that his!
" Mississippi-Hon. J. W. CHALMERS. colleague, Mr. WILLIAM MODANIEL, elected to
President's Message. fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. STERLING PRICE, was present.
The Journal having been readThese several members elect were respec
The following Message from the President tively qualified, and took their seats.
of the United States was received by the hands
of J. KNOX WALKER, Esq., his Private SecreLetter from the Secretary of the Treasury, tary: A
Robert J. Walker, Esq.: Estimate of appro- Felloro-Citizens of the Senate
In resuming your labors in the service of the TREASURY DEPARTMENT, November 19, 1846.
people, it is a subject of congratulation that there SIR: Agreeably to the joint resolution of Con
has been no period in our past history, when all gress of the 7th January, 1846, I have the honor
the elements of national prosperity have been so to transmit, for the information of the House of
fully developed. Since your last session no afflictRepresentatives, printed estimates of the appro
ing dispensation has visited our country; general
good health has prevailed; abundance has crownpriations proposed to be made for the fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1848, amounting to $41,
ed the toil of the husbandman; and labor in all its 717,355 48, viz:
branches is receiving an ample reward, while eduCivil list, Foreign intercourse,
cation, science, and the arts, are rapidly enlarging and miscellaneous,... $4,477,813 49
the means of social happiness. The progress of Army proper, ....
our country in her career of greatness, not only in Volunteers, .. 17,932,331 00
the vast extension of our territorial limits and the Fortifications, ordnance, &c., 1,720,571 00 Indian department, .....
rapid increase of our population, but in resources
1,231,614 00 Pensions,
and wealth, and in the happy condition of our Naval Establishment, .... 9,004,727 74
people, is without example in the history of na
tions. To the estimates are added statements showing As the wisdom, strength, and beneficence of our I. The appropriations for the service of the
free institutions are unfolded, every day adds fresh fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1848, made
motives to contentment, and fresb incentives to by former acts of Congress, of a permanent character, amounting to
. 3,340,144 72
Our devout and sincere acknowledgments are Civil list, foreign intercourse,
due to the gracious Giver of all good, for the and miscellaneous,... $1,046,800 00
numberless blessings which our beloved country Arming and equipping militia, 200,000 00
enjoys. Civilization of Indians,
10,000 00 Pensions, ....
It is a source of high satisfaction to know that . . . . 675,00 00 Interest Interest, &c., public debt, ... 1,408,344 72
the relations of the United States with all other
nations, with a single exception, are of the most II. The existing appropriations which will
amicable character. Sincerely attached to the be required to be expended in the fiscal
policy of peace, early adopted and steadily puryear ending 30th June, 1848, amounting to 724,284 31
sued by this Government, I have anxiously deConsisting of the following items, viz:
sired to cultivate and cherish friendship and comCivil list, foreign intercourse,
merce with every foreign power. The spirit and and miscellaneous, ... $519,786 31 Army proper, . .
habits of the American people are favorable to the . . . 50,000 00
. Harbors and rivers,
maintenance of such international harmony. In Pensions,
adhering to this wise policy, a preliminary and Indian department,
paramount duty obviously consists in the protec$45,781,784 51 tion of our national interests from encroachment
or sacrifice, and our national honor from reproach. III. There is also added to the estimates a statement of These must be maintained at any hazard. They the several appropriations which will probably be admit of no compromise or neglect, and must be carried to the surplus fund, amounting to $121,609 31.
scrupulously and constantly guarded. In their Accompanying the estimates are sundry state- I vigilant vindication, collision and conflict with forments furnished by the Treasury and War Depart- eign powers may sometimes become unavoidable. ments, containing the references to the acts of such has been our scrupulous adherence to the Congress, &c., on which the estimates for the ser- dictates of instice in all our foreign intercou vice of those departments are founded.
that, though steadily and rapidly advancing in I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
prosperity and power, we have given no just cause R. J. WALKER,
of complaint to any nation, and have enjoyed the Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. John W. DAVIS,
blessings of peace for more than thirty years.
From a policy so sacred to humanity, and so saluSpeaker of the House of Representatives.
tary in its effects upon our political system, we The letter was laid upon the table.
should never be induced voluntarily to depart
[DECEMBER, 1846. The existing war with Mexico was neither de- | made repeated reclamations on bebalf of its citisired nor provoked by the United States. On the zens, but these were answered by the perpetration contrary, all honorable means were resorted to to of new outrages. Promises of redress made by avert it. After years of endurance of aggravated Mexico in the most solemn forms, were postponed and unredressed wrongs on our part, Mexico, in or evaded. The files and records of the Departviolation of solemn treaty stipulations, and of every ment of State contain conclusive proofs of nuprinciple of justice recognized by civilized nations, merous lawless acts perpetrated upon the property commenced hostilities; and thus, by her own act, and persons of our citizens by Mexico, and of wanforced the war upon us. Long before the advance ton insults to our national flag. The interposition of our army to the left bank of the Rio Grande, we of our Government to obtain redress was again and bad ample cause of war against Mexico; and bad again invoked, under circumstances which no nathe United States resorted to this extremity, we | tion ought to disregard. might have appealed to the whole civilized world! It was hoped that these outrages would cease, for the justice of our cause.
and that Mexico would be restrained by the laws I deem it to be my duty to present to you, on which regulate the conduct of civilized nations in the present occasion, a condensed review of the their intercourse with each other, after the treaty injuries we had sustained, of the causes which led of amity, commerce, and navigation, of the 5th of to the war, and of its progress since its commence April, 1831, was concluded between the two rement. This is rendered the more necessary be- publics; but this hope soon proved to be vain. cause of the misapprehensions which have, to some The course of seizure and confiscation of the propextent, prevailed as to its origin and true character. erty of our citizens, the violation of their persons, The war has been represented as unjust and unne- and the insults to our flag, pursued by Mexico cessary, and as one of aggression on our part upon previous to that time, were scarcely suspended a weak and injured enemy. Such erroneous views, for even a brief period, although the treaty so though entertained by but few, have been widely clearly defines the rights and duties of the respecand extensively circulated, not only at home, but tive parties, that it is impossible to misunderstand have been spread throughout Mexico and the whole or mistake them. In less than seven years after world. A more effectual means could not have the conclusion of that treaty, our grievances had been devised to encourage the enemy and protract become so intolerable, that in the opinion of Presithe war than to advocate and adhere to their cause, dent Jackson, they should no longer be endured. and thus give them “aid and comfort."
In his message to Congress in February, 1837, he It is a source of national pride and exultation, I presented them to the consideration of that body, that the great body of our people have thrown no and declared that “the length of time since some such obstacles in the way of the Government in of the injuries have been committed, the repeated prosecuting the war successfully, but have shown and unavailing applications for redress, the wanthemselves to be eminently patriotic, and ready to ton character of some of the ontrages upon the vindicate their country's honor and interest at any property and persons of our citizens, upon the sacrifice. The alacrity and promptness with which officers and flag of the United States, independent our volunteer forces rushed to the field on their of recent insults to this Government and people country's call, prove not only their patriotism, but by the late extraordinary Mexican Minister, would their deep conviction that our cause is just. I justify in the eyes of all nations immediate war.”
The wrongs which we have suffered from Mexi. In a spirit of kindness and forbearance, howco almost ever since she became an independent ever, he recommended reprisals as a milder mode power, and the patient endurance with which we of redress. He declared that war should not be have borne them, are without a parallel in the his. used as a remedy “by just and generous natory of modern civilized nations. There is reason tions, confiding in their strength, for injuries comto believe that if these wrongs had been resented mitted, if it can be honorably avoided," and and resisted in the first instance, the present war added, “it has occurred to me that, considering might have been avoided. One outrage, however, the present embarrassed condition of that country, permitted to pass with impunity, almost neces- we should act with both wisdom and moderation, sarily encouraged the perpetration of another, by giving to Mexico one more opportunity to until at last Mexico seemed to attribute to weakness atone for the past, before we take redress into and indecision on our part a forbearance which was our own hands. To avoid all misconception on the offspring of magnanimity, and of a sincere de- the part of Mexico, as well as to protect our own sire to preserve friendly relations with a sister re- national character from reproach, this opportunity public.
should be given with the avowed design and full Scarcely had Mexico achieved her independ-preparation to take immediate satisfaction, if it ence, which the United States were the first among should not be obtained on a repetition of the dethe nations to acknowledge, when she commenced mand for it. To this end I recommend that an the system of insult and spoliation, which she has act be passed authorizing reprisals, and the use ever since pursued. Our citizens engaged in of the naval force of the United States, by the lawful commerce, were imprisoned, their vessels Executive, against Mexico, to enforce them in seized, and our flag insulted in her ports. If the event of a refusal by the Mexican Governmoney was wanted, the lawless seizure and con ment to come to an amicable adjustment of the fiscation of our merchant vessels and their cargoes matters in controversy between us, upon another was a ready resource; and if, to accomplish their demand thereof, made from on board one of our purposes, it became necessary to imprison the vessels of war on the coast of Mexico." owners, captains, and crews, it was done. Rulers Committees of both Houses of Congress, to superseded rulers in Mexico in rapid succession, which this message of the President was referred, but still there was no change in this system of dep fully sustained his views of the character of the redation. The Government of the United States wrongs which we had suffered from Mexico, and
[29TH Cong. recommended that another demand for redress for redress, and “many of them aggravated cases should be made before authorizing war or repri- of personal wrongs, have been now for years besals. The Committee on Foreign Relations of the fore the Mexican Government, and some of the Senate, in their report, say: " After such a de- causes of national complaint, and those of the mand, should prompt justice be refused by the most offensive character, admitted of immediate, Mexican Government, we may appeal to all na simple, and satisfactory replies, it is only within tions not only for the equity and moderation a few days past that any specific communication with which we shall have acted towards a sister in answer to our last demand, made five months republic, but for the necessity which will then ago, has been received from the Mexican Miniscompel us to seek redress for our wrongs, either | ter;" and that “for not one of our public comby actual war or by reprisals. The subject will plaints has satisfaction been given or offered ; that then be presented before Congress, at the com- but one of the cases of personal wrong has been mencement of the next session, in a clear and dis- favorably considered, and that but four cases of tinct form; and the committee cannot doubt but both descriptions, out of all those formally prethat such measures will be immediately adopted as sented, and earnestly pressed, have as yet been may be necessary to vindicate the honor of the decided upon by the Mexican Government." country, and insure ample reparation to our injured President Van Buren, believing that it would be citizens."
vain to make any further attempt to obtain redress The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House by the ordinary means within the power of the of Representatives made a similar recommenda Executive, communicated this opinion to Contion. In their report, they say that they “fully gress, in the message referred to, in which he concur with the President that ample cause exists said: “On a careful and deliberate examination of for taking redress into our own hands, and be the contents, [of the correspondence with the lieve that we should be justified in the opinion of Mexican Government,) and considering the spirit other nations for taking such a step. But they manifested by the Mexican Government, it has beare willing to try the experiment of another de come my painful duty to return the subject as it mand, made in the most solemn form, upon the now stands to Congress, to whom it belongs, to justice of the Mexican Government, before any decide upon the time, the mode, and the measure further proceedings are adopted."
of redress." Had the United States at that time No difference of opinion upon the subject is be adopted compulsory measures, and taken redress lieved to have existed in Congress at that time ; | into their own hands, all our difficulties with the executive and legislative departments con- Mexico would probably have been long since adcurred; and yet such has been our forbearance justed, and the existing war have been averted. and desire to preserve peace with Mexico, that the Magnanimity and moderation on our part only wrongs of which we then complained, and which had the effect to complicate these difficulties, and gave rise to these solemn proceedings, not only render an amicable settlement of them the more remain unredressed to this day, but additional embarrassing. That such measures of redress, causes of complaint, of an aggravated character, under similar provocations, committed by any of have ever since been accumulating.
the powerful nations of Europe, would have been Shortly after these proceedings, a special mes- promptly resorted to by the United States, cannot senger was despatched to Mexico, to make a final be doubted. The national honor, and the preserdemand for redress; and on the twentieth July, vation of the national character throughout the 1857, the demand was made. The reply of the world, as well as our own self-respect and the proMexican Government bears date on the twenty tection due to our own citizens, would have renninth of the same month, and contains assurances dered such a resort indispensable. The history of the "anxious wish" of the Mexican Government of no civilized nation in modern times has pre“not to delay the moment of that final and equita- sented within so brief a period so many wanton ble adjustment which is to terminate the existing attacks upon the honor of its flag, and upon the difficulties between the two Governments ; " that property and persons of its citizens, as had at “nothing should be left undone which may contrib- that time been borne by the United States from ute to the most speedy and equitable determina- the Mexican authorities and people. But Mexico tion of the subjects which have so seriously en was a sister republic, on the North American congaged the attention of the American Government;" tinent, occupying a territory contiguous to our that the “Mexican Government would adopt, as the own, and was in a feeble and distracted condition, only guides for its conduct, the plainest principles and these considerations, it is presumed, induced of public right, the sacred obligations imposed by Congress to forbear still longer. international law, and the religious faith of trea- Instead of taking redress into our own hands, a ties ; ” and that “whatever reason and justice new negotiation was entered upon, with fair prommay dictate respecting each case will be done." ises on the part of Mexico, but with the real purThe assurance was further given, that the decision pose, as the event has proved, of indefinitely postof the Mexican Government upon each cause of poning the reparation which we demanded, and complaint, for which redress had been demanded, which was so justly due. This negotiation, after should be communicated to the Government of more than a year's delay, resulted in the conventhe United States by the Mexican Minister of tion of the eleventh of April, 1839, “ for the adWashington.
justment of claims of citizens of the United States These solemn assurances, in answer to our de- of America upon the Government of the Mexican mand for redress, were disregarded. By making republic.” The joint board of commissioners them, however, Mexico obtained further delay. created by this convention to examine and decide President Van Buren, in his annual message to upon these claims, was not organized until the Congress of the fifth of December, 1837, states, month of August, 1840, and under the terms of that " although the larger number” of our demands the convention they were to terminate their duties
[DECEMBER, 1846. within eighteen months from that time. Four of by failing and refusing to make the payment. The the eighteen months were consumed in preliminary two instalments due in April and July, 1844, under discussions on frivolous and dilatory points raised the peculiar circumstances connected with them, by the Mexican commissioners; and it was not have been assumed by the United States and disuntil the month of December, 1840, that they com- charged to the claimants, but they are still due by menced the examination of the claims of our citi- Mexico. But this is not all of which we have just zens upon Mexico. Fourteen months only remain cause of complaint. To provide a remedy for the ed to examine and decide upon these numerous claimants whose cases were not decided by the and complicated cases. In the month of February, joint commission under the convention of April 1842, the term of the commission expired, leaving the eleventh, 1839, it was expressly stipulated by many claims undisposed of for want of time. The the sixth article of the convention of the thirtieth claims which were allowed by the board, and of January, 1843, that “a new convention shall by the umpire authorized by the convention be entered into for the settlement of all claims of to decide in case of disagreement between the the Government and citizens of the United States Mexican and American commissioners, amounted against the republic of Mexico which were not to two million twenty-six thousand one hundred finally decided by the late commission, which met and thirty-nine dollars and sixty-eight cents. in the city of Washington, and of all claims of the There were pending before the umpire when the Government and citizens of Mexico against the commission expired, additional claims, which had United States." been examined and awarded by the American In conformity with this stipulation, a third concommissioners, and had not been allowed by the vention was concluded and signed at the city of Mexican commissioners, amounting to nine hun Mexico on the twentieth of November, 1843, by dred and twenty-eight thousand six hundred and the plenipotentiaries of the two Governments, by twenty-seven dollars and eighty-eight cents, upon which provision was made for ascertaining and which he did not decide, alleging that his authority paying these claims. In January, 1844, this conhad ceased with the termination of the joint com- vention was ratified by the Senate of the United mission. Besides these claims, there were others States, with two amendments, which were maniof American citizens amounting to three million festly reasonable in their character. Upon a referthree hundred and thirty-six thousand eight hun-ence of the amendments proposed to the Governdred and thirty-seven dollars and five cents, which ment of Mexico, the same evasions, difficulties, had been submitted to the board, and upon which and delays were interposed which have so long they had not time to decide before their final ad- marked the policy of that Government towards journment.
the United States. It has not even yet decided The sum of two million twenty-six thousand whether it would or would not accede to them, one hundred and thirty-nine dollars and sixty-eight although the subject has been repeatedly pressed cents, which had been awarded to the claimants, upon its consideration, was a liquidated and ascertained debt due by Mexico has thus violated a second time the Mexico, about which there could be no dispute, faith of treaties, by failing or refusing to carry into and which she was bound to pay according to the effect the sixth article of the convention of January, terms of the convention. Soon after the final 1843. awards for this amount had been made, the Mexi- Such is the history of the wrongs which we can Government asked for a postponement of the have suffered and patiently endured from Mexico time of making payment, alleging that it would be through a loug series of years. So far from affordinconvenient to make the payment at the time ing reasonable satisfaction for the injuries and instipulated. In the spirit of forbearing kindness sults we have borne, a great aggravation of them towards a sister republic, which Mexico has so consists in the fact, that while the United States, long abused, the United States promptly complied anxious to preserve a good understanding with with her request. A second convention was ac- Mexico, have been constantly, but vainly, em. cordingly concluded between the two Governments | ployed in seeking redress for past wrongs, new on the thirtieth of January, 1843, which upon its outrages were constantly occurring, which have face declares that, “this new arrangement is en continued to increase our causes of complaint, and tered into for the accommodation of Mexico." to swell the amount of our demands. While the By the terms of this convention, all the interest citizens of the United States were conducting a due on the awards which had been made in favor lawful commerce with Mexico under the guarantee of the claimants under the convention of the of a treaty of "amity, commerce, and navigation," eleventh of April, 1839, was to be paid to them on many of them have suffered all the injuries which the thirtieth of April, 1843, and “the principal of would have resulted from open war. This treaty, the said awards, and the interest accruing thereon," instead of affording protection to our citizens, has was stipulated to “be paid in five years, in equal been the means of inviting them into the ports of instalments every three months." Notwithstand- | Mexico, that they might be, as they have been in ing this new convention was entered into at the re- numerous instances, plundered of their property, quest of Mexico, and for the purpose of relieving and deprived of their personal liberty if they dared her from embarrassment, the claimants have only insist on their rights. Had the unlawful seizures received the interest due on the thirtieth of April, of American property, and the violation of the per1843, and three of the twenty instalments. Al sonal liberty of our citizens, to say nothing of the though the payment of the sum thus liquidated, insults to our flag which have occurred in the and confessedly due by Mexico to our citizens as ports of Mexico, taken place on the high seas, indemnity for acknowledged acts of outrage and they would themselves long since have constituted wrong, was secured by treaty, the obligations of a state of actual war between the two countries. which are ever held sacred by all just nations, In so long suffering Mexico to violate her most yet Mexico has violated this solemn engagement solemn treaty obligations, plunder our citizens of