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I regard the question of annexation as belonging exclusively to the United States and Texas. They are independent powers, competent to contract; and foreign nations have no right to interfere with them, or to take exceptions to their reinion. Foreign powers do not seem to appreciate the true character of our government. Our Union is a confederation of independent States, whose policy is peace with each other and all the world. To enlarge its limits, is to extend the dominion of peace over additional territories and increasing millions. The world has nothing to fear from military ambition in our government. While the chief magistrate and the popular branch of Congress are elected for short terms by the suffrages of those millions who must, in their own persons, bear all the burdens and miseries of war, our government cannot be otherwise than pacific. Foreign powers should, therefore, look on the annexation of Texas to the United States, not as the conquest of a nation seeking to extend her dominions by arms and violence, but as the peaceful acquisition of a territory once her own, by adding another member to our confederation, with the consent of that member—thereby diminishing the chances of war, and opening to them new and ever-increasing markets for their products. To Texas the reunion is important, because the strong protecting arm of our government would be extended over her, | and the vast resources of her fertile soil and genial climate would be speedily developed; while the safety of New Orleans, and of our southwestern frontier, against hostile aggression, as well as the interest of the whole Union, would be o by it. In the earlier stages of our national existence, the opinion prevailed with some, that our system of confederated states could not operate successfully over an extended territory, and serious objections have, at different times, been made to the enlargement of our boundaries. These objections were earnestly urged when we acquired Louisiana. Experience has shown that they were not well founded. The title of numerous Indian tribes to vast tracts of country has been extinguished. New States have been admitted into the Union; new Territories have been created, and our jurisdiction and laws extended over them. As our population has expanded, the Union has been cemented and strengthened; as our
boundaries have been enlarged, and our agricultural popula
tion has been spread over a large surface, our federative sys
tem has acquired additional strength and security. It may
well be doubted whether it would not be in greater danger of overthrow, if our present population were confined to the comparatively narrow limits of the original thirteen States, than it is, now that they are sparsely settled over an expanded territory. It is confidently believed that our system may be safely extended to the utmost bounds of our territorial limits; and that, as it shall be extended, the bonds of our Union, so far from being weakened, will become stronger. None can fail to see the danger to our safety and future peace, if Texas remains an independent State, or becomes an ally or dependency of some foreign nation more powerful than herself. Is there one among our citizens who would not prefer perpetual peace with Texas, to occasional wars, which so often occur between bordering independent nations? Is there one who would not prefer free intercourse with her, to high duties on all our products and manufactures which enter her ports or cross her frontiers? Is there one who would not prefer an unrestricted communication with her citizens, to the frontier obstructions which must occur if she remains out of the Union ? Whatever is good or evil in the local institutions of Texas, will remain her own, whether annexed to the United States or not. None of the present States will be responsible for them, any more than they are for the local institutions of each other. They have confederated together for certain specified objects. N Upon the same principle that they would refuse to form a perpetual union with Texas, because of her local Institutions, our forefathers would have been prevented from forming our present Union. Perceiving no valid objection to the measure, and many reasons for its adoption, vitally affecting the peace, the safety, and the prosperity of both countries, I shall, on the broad principle which formed the basis, and produced the adoption of our constitution, and not in any narrow spirit of sectional policy, endeavor, by all constitutional, honorable, and appropriate means, to consummate the express will of the people and government of the United States, by the reănnexation of Texas to our Union, at the earliest practicable period. Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain, by all constitutional means, the right of the United | States to that portion of our territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our title to the country of the Oregon is “clear and unquestionable;” and already are our people preparing to perfect that title, by occupying it with their wives and children. But eighty years ago, our population was confined on the west by the ridge of the Alleghanies. Within that period—within the life-time, I might say, of some of my hearers—our people, increasing to many millions, have filled the eastern valley of the Mississippi; adventurously ascended the Missouri to its head springs; and are already engaged in establishing the blessings of self-government in valleys, of which the rivers flow to the Pacific. The world beholds the peaceful triumphs of the industry of our emigrants. To us belongs the duty of protecting them adequately, wherever they may be upon our soil. The jurisdiction of our laws, and the benefits of our republican institutions, should be extended over them in the distant regions which they have selected for their homes. The increasing facilities of intercourse will easily bring the States, of which the formation in that part of our territory cannot long be delayed, within the sphere of our federative Union. In the
meantime, every obligation imposed by treaty or conventional stipulations, should be sacredly respected. In the management of our foreign relations, it will be my aim to observe a careful respect for the rights of other nations, while our own will be the subject of constant watchfulness. Equal and exact justice should characterize all our intercourse with foreign countries. All alliances having a tendency to jeopard the welfare and honor of our country, or sacrifice any one of the national interests, will be studiously avoided; and yet no opportunity will be lost to cultivate a favorable understanding with foreign governments, by which our navigation and commerce may be extended, and the ample products of our fertile soil, as well as the manufactures of our skilful artisans, find a ready market and remunerating prices in foreign countries. In taking “care that the laws be faithfully executed,” a strict performance of duty will be exacted from all public officers. From those officers, especially, who are charged with the collection and disbursement of the public revenue, will prompt and rigid accountability be required. Any culpable failure or delay on their part to account for the moneys entrusted to them, at the times and in the manner required by law, will, in every instance, terminate the official connection of such defaulting officer with the government. Although, in our country, the chief magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party, and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action, he should not be the president of a part only, but of the whole people of the United States. While he executes the law with an impartial hand, shrinks from no proper responsibility, and faithfully carries out in the executive department of the government the principles and policy of those who have chosen him, he should not be unmindful that our fellow-citizens who have differed with him in opinion are entitled to the full and free exercise of their opinions and judgments, and that the rights of all are entitled to respect and regard.
Confidently relying upon the aid and assistance of the coördinate branches of the government, in conducting our public affairs, I enter upon the discharge of the high duties which have been assigned me by the people, again humbly supplicating that Divine Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour, to continue his generous benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prosperous and happy people.
Having concluded his address, the oath of office was administered to the president by Chief Justice Taney, after which the former left the capitol in his carriage, and proceeded rapidly, by an indirect route, in order to avoid further fatigue, to the president's house, where, during the after part of the day, he received the congratulations of his fellow-citizens. In the evening, the president and his lady attended the two inauguration balls given in the city. Thus ended a ceremony which had, doubtless, caused him many a moment of unrest, and to which thousands had looked forward with beating hearts and with deep anxiety.
In such a manner does the American republic change her sovereigns—no pomp or ostentatious parade—no military escort for protection—no heralds or pursuivants to make proclamation—no crowns or insignia emblematic of royalty—no holy ampulla to pour upon the consecrated head—but a plain and simple ceremony in unison with her free institutions, and with the genius and character of her people !