« ZurückWeiter »
The following Resolution, reported by the Committee of Foreign Relations, being under consideration, viz:
Resolved, That it is not expedient, at this time, for the United States to send any Ministers to the Congress of American Nations, assembled at Panama"
MR. VAN BUREN, of New York, addressed the Senate, in sub: stance, as follows:
It is with great reluctance, Mr. President, that I rise to address you. The cause of that reluctance shall be stated with frankness, but without asperity. I entertain no feelings but those of perfect liberality towards gentlemen with whom it is my misfortune to differ. Claiming for myself an entire freedom of opinion, I yield it cheerfully to them. With their motives I do not interfere. That they are pure no one will question. But, against the course pursued by the advocates of the mission, I do object. It is my right to do so; a right which I shall exercise freely, but respectfully.
The subject before us presents a question entirely new. It is one, too, of intense interest, involving considerations which, when once fully understood, cannot fail to excite the deep solicitude of our constituents, and ought to fill us with proportionate anxiety. It has grieved me to hear it announced, on different occasions, and in various forms, that gentlemen had so definitively made up their minds as to render discussion unavailing. I venture to affirm, that a similar course has never been pursued in a deli. berative assembly, Cases have occurred where the sinister de. signs of a factious minority have been defeated by a refusal to reply to speeches made after a subject had been fully discussed, and with the sole view of embarrassing the operations of Government; but to commence the consideration of a great national measure with the declaration, on the part of its advocates, that it ought to be settled by a silent vote, is an occurrence, in the annals of legislation, which, as it now stands without precedent, will remain, I trust, forever, without imitation.
It is not for me to advise those with whom I differ in opinion : nor am I disposed to arrogate a privilege to which I have no claim. I will, however, with permission, and in all kindness, in
O reconsider the propriety of a course which cansuaded, receive the sanction of their deliberate judgwet each determine for himself whether it will read well
istory of this measure, that its progress through this House been marked by a circumstance of so extraordinary a character. Entertaining an entire confidence in the motives of gentlemen, I will still encourage the hope, that they will diffuse the light which has brought conviction to their minds; and, as far as practicable, divest themselves of all predetermination. This hope alone induces me to trespass, for a moment, on the time of the Senate.
Nothing can contribute more to a just decision of the question before us, than a correct understanding of what that question is. I will endeavor to state it.
A Congress of deputies from several of the Spanish American States, is to be held at the Isthmus of Panama. The objects, powers, and duties of the Congress, are set forth in certain treaties, formed by those of whom the Congress will be composed.
The United States were not parties to these Treaties, but, subsequently to their formation, it was thought advisable, by some of the States, to invite us to join them. Foreseeing the difficulties which might prevent an acceptance of their invitation, and unwilling to impose the necessity of a refusal, these States, with a commendable delicacy, made an informal application to our Government to know if it would be agreeable to it, that such an invitation should be given. On receiving this intimation, the President had before him the choice of one of several courses. If he believed thi the attendance of an authorized Agent of the United States at Panama, with suitable instructions, would be beneficial, it was competent for him to have sept a private agent, at the public expense, with proper credentials. If he had thought it more advisable, because more respecfuil, he might h 'e directed our Ministers at Colombia and Mexico, or either of them, to repair to the proposed seat of the Congress, instructed to express the interest we take in the success and prosperity of the States there assembled, to explain to them the principles of our policy; and the reasons which dissuaded our Governinent from uniting in the Congress, and to communicat whatever else, in the opinion of the Executive, the interests of the United States required. Or he might have expressed his desire, that the invitation to the United States, to be represented in the proposed Congress, should be given, and, as far as his constitutional power extended, determined to accept it. He bas chosen the latter; and if the Senate approve, and Congress make the necessary appropriation, his decision will of course su. persede any other steps which might have been taken. But, if the Sepate do not approve, or Congress refuse the appropriation, either of the other measures may still be adopted. Their execution is
within the constitutional competency of the Executive, and the contingent fund will supply the means. It will be seen, therefore, that the question is not whether measures shall be taken to avail ourselves of all attainable advantages from the assembly of the Spanish American States, but whether they shall be of the character, and in the form proposed. That form is, to send a representation, on the part of the United States, to the Congress of Panama, according to the invitation given to our Government, and its conditional acceptance. I cannot give my advice and consent to this measure; and, in assigoing the reasons for my dissent, I hope to be excused for omitting to notice some of the topics so largely dwelt on, in former debates, on the subject of Spanish American Affairs : such as the geographical description and great extent of these States, the character of their inhabitants, moral, physical, and intellectual, the injustice of their first enslavement, the odious tyranny practised up them for a succession of ages, and the cruelties inflicted by their unnatural mother during the war of independence. Subjects which, although they may at times, have produced some of the finest effusions of genuine patriotism, have also nut unfrequently been the theme of wild and enthusiastic, not to say frothy and unprofitable declamation. We have had enough of such essays.
I will not say that they have become stale, because I would not so speak of any honest efforts in the cause of public liberty. For the present, at least, they would be misdirected. The condition of things is changed. Affairs have advanced. The colonies, whose distressed condition has occasioned these strong appeals to our sympathies, are now of right, and in fact, free and sovereign States. Their independence has been deliberately recognized by us and other Powers, in the face of the world ; and; though not yet acknowledged by Spain, (18 likely soon. Mailje,) is held by as good a tenure, and stands, I hope, upon as firm a basis, as our own. They have severed the tie which bound them to the mother country; and, unlike ourselves, have achieved their liberation by their own, unaided, efforts. As they have thus won an honorable station among independent States, it becomes our imperative duty to treat with them as such. In our intercourse with them, as with all, it should be our first and highest concern to guard, with anxious solicitude, the peace and happiness of our own country; and, in the fulfilment of this duty, to reject every measure, however dazzling. which can have a tendency to put these great interests at hazard. Whether the measure, now proposed, will endanger those interests, or whether there is not reasonable ground to apprehend it, is the question. To this will my observations be directed, alike regardless of all extraneous excitement, and indifferent to the unm.erited suspicion of being lukewarm in the cause of South American liberty,