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we entered into a solemn agreement with France that the inhabitants of the ceded territory "should be incorporated into the Union of the United States, as soon as possible, according to the principles of the federal constitution,” and should, in the meantime, be protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and religion.
In what manner have we redeemed our faith, thus plighted to France? Texas was ours; but it is ours no longer. In violation of the treaty of Louisiana, we ceded Texas to Spain by the Florida treaty of 1819. We thus dismembered the valley of the Mississippi, and extended the boundary of a foreign nation along our most weak and defenceless frontier.
And, in the first place, therefore, Texas ought to be annexed to the Union, because the possession of this territory is necessary to our defence, peace and security. The treaty of 1819, with Spain, abandoned our natural limits. It yielded up the boundary of a great river—the Del Norteof a desert, and of a chain of mountains, for a mere arbitrary line. Whoever casts his eyes upon the map will be convinced of this truth. This treaty gave a foreign nation territory upon the banks of two of our noblest rivers—the Arkansas and the Red River-both tributaries of the Mississippi, and thus laid the foundation of perpetual disputes concerning their navigation. These disputes have already commenced between us and Texas. Such river questions have ever been a source of perpetual contest between conterminous nations. The republic of Texas now approaches the immediate vicinity of New Orleans, and thus our weakest frontier is exposed. All will admit that General Jackson is a high authority on military questions. In his letter to Mr. Brown, of the 12th February, 1843, he renders it clear, that, should Texas form an alliance with Great Britain, in case of war, our weak south-western frontier would be left open, and exposed to the invasion of this powerful and hostile nation, and that the means would thus be placed under its control of exciting a servile insurrection within our borders. On the other hand, if Texas were annexed to the United States, “our western boundary (says the General) would be the Rio del Norte, which is of itself a fortification, on account of its extensive barren and uninhabitable plains. With such a barrier on our west we are invincible. The whole European world could not, in combination against us, make an impression on our Union.”
In the second place, Texas ought to be annexed to the
United States, because this would greatly increase our internal commerce, extend the market for our domestic manufactures, and bind the Union together by still stronger bonds; but, on the other hand, should you reject Texas, she will necessarily form a commercial alliance with our great rival, England, who would thus secure to herself the finest cotton growing region of the earth at our expense, and to the lasting injury and prejudice of all our great interests.
It has been estimated that our internal commerce, or home trade, is already fifteen times as great as our commerce with foreign nations. The acquisition of Texas would, in a very few years, vastly increase this domestic trade. The manufactures of the North would here find an ever growing market; whilst our commercial marine and our steam-vessels would obtain profitable employment in transporting the cotton, the sugar and other agricultural productions of Texas, not only throughout the Union, but over the world. Ours will be a glorious system of free trade, and the only one which the jealousy and the interest of foreign nations will ever permit us to enjoy. Should Texas be annexed, and our Union preserved, there are human beings now in existence who will live to see one hundred millions of freemen within its limits, enjoying all the benefits of free trade and unrestricted commerce with each other. Henry the Great of France, more than two hundred years ago, conceived the magnificent idea-it was called his grand design-of dividing Europe into fifteen confederated states, for the purpose of preserving peace and promoting free commerce among its different nations. He died in the execution of this grand design, which was alone sufficient to entitle him to the name of Great. It is only thus that we can fulfil our high destinies, and run the race of greatness for which we are ordained. The time has passed away when serious fears can be entertained from an extension of our Union, although I admit that the Del Norte seems to be the boundary prescribed by nature between the Anglo-Saxon and the Mexican races. Within this limit, the more we extend our system of confederated States, the greater will be the strength and security of the Union; because the more dependent will the several parts upon whole, and the whole upon the several parts. If there were no other bond to preserve our Union, what State would forego the advantages of this vast free trade with all her sis. ters, and place herself in lonely isolation? This system of confederated republics, under which the federal government
has charge of the interests common to the whole, whilst local governments watch over the concerns of the respective States, is capable of almost indefinite extension with increasing strength. This strength can never be impaired but by the attempts of the federal government to pass beyond its legitimate limits, and interfere with interests belonging peculiarly to the States.
But suppose that we reject Texas, what will be the consequences ? And here I invoke the patient attention of the Senate. From the necessity of the case, she must cast herself into the arms of England. Both her interest and her safety render this inevitable. I do not believe that Texas would ever consent to become a colony of England, or that England desires to colonize Texas. England could not make her a colony without certain war with this country, unless we should abandon the principle announced by Mr. Monroe in 1823, and which was enthusiastically hailed by the American people, that European nations shall no longer be permitted to plant colonies on our continent. No, sir, Texas will never become a colony of England, but she will form a commercial alliance with England; and to this we could not object under any principle of the law of nations. Such an alliance, in its consequences, would be equally injurious to our peace and prosperity.
Permit me for a few moments to present this branch of the subject in its different aspects. The cotton manufacture is necessary not merely to the prosperity, but almost to the very existence, of England. Destroy it, and you ruin her prosperity. She well knows that she is necessarily dependent upon the nation which holds in its hands the raw material of this manufacture. Such is our position towards her at the present moment. To relieve herself from this dependence, she has endeavoured to promote the cultivation of cotton every where throughout the world. Brazil, Egypt, and the East Indies have all, in turns, been the theatre of her operations; but she has yet succeeded nowhere to any great extent. She has encountered difficulties in the soil or in the climate of these different countries which she has not been able to overcome. Texas is now presented to her, with a soil and a climate better adapted for the cultivation of cotton than any other region on the face of the earth. England would not be true to herself if she did not eagerly desire to form a commercial alliance with Texas.
Now, sir, annex Texas to the United States, and we shall
have within the limits of our broad confederacy all the favoured cotton growing regions of the earth. England will then for ever remain dependent upon us for the raw material of her greatest manufacture; and an army of one hundred thousand men would not be so great a security for preserving the peace between the two nations as this dependence.
It is the very condition of England's existence as a powerful and prosperous nation that she shall find consumers for her manufactures. The continent of Europe is now, in a great degree, closed against them, and she is traversing sea and land, and exerting all her power, to open markets for them throughout the other quarters of the globe. A very long period of time must elapse even, if ever, before Texas can become a manufacturing nation. A commercial treaty will, then, be concluded between the two nations founded on their mutual interests, the basis of which will be free trade, so far as this may be possible. England will receive the cotton, sugar and other productions of Texas, whilst Texas, in return, will admit the manufactures of England. And I ask what could be more ruinous to all our interests than such a free trade convention between these two powers ?
British manufactures will be admitted into Texas either entirely free or at a very low rate of duty; and a system of smuggling will be organized along our extended frontier which no vigilance can prevent, and which will greatly reduce our revenue and injure our domestic manufactures.
In arriving at the conclusion to support this treaty, I had to encounter but one serious obstacle, and this was the question of Slavery. Whilst I ever have maintained, and ever shall maintain, in their full force and vigour, the constitutional rights of the southern States over their slave property, I yet feel a strong repugnance, by any act of mine, to extend the present limits of the Union over a new slave-holding territory. After mature reflection, however, I overcame these scruples, and now believe that the acquisition of Texas will be the means of limiting, not enlarging, the dominion of slavery. In the government of the world, Providence generally produces great changes by gradual means. There is nothing rash in the counsels of the Almighty. May not, then, the acquisition of Texas, be the means of gradually drawing the slaves far to the south, to a climate more congenial to their nature; and may they not finally pass off into
Mexico, and there mingle with a race where no prejudice exists against their color ? The Mexican nation is composed of Spaniards, Indians and Negroes, blended together in every variety, who would receive our slaves on terms of perfect social equality. To this condition they never can be admitted in the United States.
That the acquisition of Texas would ere long convert Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and probably others of the more northern slave States into free States, I entertain not a doubt. In fact, public opinion was gradually accomplishing this happy result, when the process was arrested by the mad interference of the abolitionists.
A measure, having directly in view the gradual abolition of slavery, came within one vote, if my memory serves me, of passing the House of Delegates of Virginia shortly before the abolition excitement commenced. There was then in that State a powerful, influential and growing party in favour of gradual Emancipation, and they were animated to exertion by the brightest hopes of success ; but the interference of fanatics from abroad has so effectually turned back the tide of public opinion, that no individual would now venture to offer such a proposition in the Virginia legislature. The efforts of the abolitionists, whether so intended or not, have long postponed the day of emancipation.
But should Texas be annexed to the Union, causes will be brought into operation which must inevitably remove slavery from what may be called the farming States. From the very best information, it is no longer profitable to raise wheat, rye and corn by slave labour. Where these articles are the only staples of agriculture, in the pointed and expressive language of Mr. Randolph, “if the slave don't run away from his master, the master must run away from the slave." The slave will naturally be removed from such a country, where his labour is scarcely adequate to his own support, to a region where he can not only maintain himself, but yield large profits to his master. Texas will open such an outlet; and Slavery itself may thus finally pass the Del Norte, and be lost in Mexico. One thing is certain. The present number of slaves cannot be increased by the annexation of Texas.
I have never apprehended the preponderance of the slave States in the counsels of the nation. Such a fear has always appeared to me to be visionary. But even those who entertain such apprehensions need not be alarmed by the acqui