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"This attempt to present the minority before the country in the unpopular light of a peace party was wholly without foundation; it was not justified by their acts, neither would it be. Gentlemen seemed to think that power and patriotism were identical; and because they had all of the one, they must, of course, monopolize the other. But if it was glory to maintain the national rights and vindicate the national flag, that was a glory shared equally by both sides of the House.
"He was for a bold and decisive, not for a lingering war. It should be sharp and short. This was the way to secure an economy both of money and of human life. He hoped a high national spirit would be found to prevail, and that the war would be prosecuted till the rights and honor of the country were fully vindicated.
"The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Dromgoole) has alluded to the objects of the war, and the spirit in which he would wage the contest. While he would pursue the Mexicans in a spirit of vengeance, his patriotism revels in the prospect of large indemnities of land and money. National honor is also to be measured by leagues, and all our wrongs, real or imaginary, will be healed by the addition of fresh provinces and enlarged dominion. Mr. Hunt would pursue the contest in a different spirit. He wished to see it prosecuted with decisive force and efficiency till we could secure an honorable peace; but when the time shall arrive to dictate the terms of peace to Mexico, he hoped to witness a display of justice and generous magnanimity. If we could conquer our own rapacity, and restrain the lust of territorial acquisition, we should achieve a moral victory more glorious than the trophies of war. In imposing the conditions of amity, he hoped we migly■ exhibit a spirit of moderation and forbearance becoming a great republic conscious of its power. By our rectitude and generosity in the hour of victory, we might yet do something to restore the drooping honor of the country. When that hour should come, we must not disguise it from ourselves that appearances were against us. While we are strong and powerful, Mexico is feeble and distracted; and we are already in possession of a vast territory which was recently wrested from her by our own people. But a war is upon us; and while it continues, it must be prosecuted with vigor, and men of all parties must co-operate, by united counsels and common
efforts, to bring the struggle to a speedy and honorable termination."
He has opposed the acquisition of Mexican territory under all circumstances, whether as territory conquered, or purchased, or obtained under the guise of indemnity for expenses of the war; and he has insisted upon the incumbent duty of Congress to declare what were the purposes and objects for which the war was waged. He resisted the idea that such declarations would be inconsistent with the honor of the country, and her high position before the world.
"There were many examples," he said, "both in ancient and in modern times, which were applicable to the existing state of our affairs. Without multiplying citations, ho would call the attention of gentlemen to one of the leading events in modern history. He referred to the contest of England and her allies against the conquering ambition of France, and which resulted in the overthrow of the dominion of Napoleon. After the close of tho memorable campaign of 1813, in which, at the great battle of Leipsic, the French army was utterly routed, and its leader driven with his shattered forces within the limits of the French territory, England and her allies, being then completely victorious, could dictate their own terms to the vanquished warrior. Yet, in a speech from the throne, made in London in November of the same year, it was declared that England entertained no disposition to exact sacrifices from France which were inconsistent with her national honor and all her just pretensions, and that no such requirements should present an obstacle to a general peace in Europe.
"The British Parliament responded to the speech; and, after the French forces were driven into France, and before the allies entered on the French soil, they put forth a manifesto expressive of their desire that France should remain powerful and happy, and especially disavowing all purpose of conquering any portion of territory legitimately pertaining to that kingdom. If to the pride of England and of all Europe in arms, when invading a country they had subdued, it did not appear to be against their honor to make such a declaration, could it be inconsistent with the honor of tho United States, and the dignified positiou they occupied before the nations of the world, for them, in liku manner, after all their trinmphs, to declare that they waged tho war, not to dismember Mexico, but to obtain their just dues, establish their true boundary, and secure their national rights against future aggression? Such a declaration would carry with it a mighty moral influence: it would unite our people in the war ; it would quiet the fears of those who were now inclined to suspect and to fear the results of the contest."
Carrying out these views, he offered a declaratory resolution "that the war with Mexico shall be prosecuted, not with a view to conquest or to dismember the territory of Mexico, as recognized by us ante bellum, but to establish a just line of boundary, and to secure an honorable adjustment of all pending diffcrenoes." He contended that "we already possessed as much territory as we ought to desire; enough for every rational and enlightened purpose; enough for ourselves and the generations which are to come after us; enough to gratify even the extravagance of national pride and ambition."
And, when giving his vote in favor of the Wilmot Proviso, he said:
"Slavery having been extended over the Louisiana and Florida purchase, and, finally, over Texas, the free states have pronounced, i Thus far and no farther !, We insist that this common government of ours shall not be employed to spread slavery over territory now free; that human bondage shall not be carried into other lands under our national flag; and that our armies shall not go forth under the colors of freedom as the propagandists of slavery. That, sir, is the lofty attitude and the inalienable purpose of the North. In this there is no abolitionism to justify the incessant denunciations that have been heard. Gentlemen seem to deceive themselves by neglecting a distinction too obvious to be overlooked. We aim, not to abolish, but to preserve. Where slavery exists, we leave it untouched; where freedom prevails, we demand that you shall not abolish it. While gentlemen denounce the abolition of slavery as treasonable and criminal, I hope they will indulge us if wc protest against the abolition of freedom in California, New Mexico, and Chihuahua.
"Mr. Hunt here expressed his surprise at the remarkable language of the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. C. J. Ingersoll). I am speaking of the opposition to slavery and its extension which exists in the Northern states. He said it was i a more sentiment held by men, without reason and without argument; nothing but a sentiment, and not a very wholesome sentiment either.' It is difficult to characterize an expression like this, coming from the representative of a free state, without transcending the limits of parliamentary order. 'A sentiment!' Yes, sir, 'a sentiment!' It is a sentiment which the Almighty has implanted deeply in the human heart, and no earthly power can eradicate it. It may be insulted, and overborne, and trampled in the earth, but, thank God, it can never be extinguished. The fires of martyrdom have been kindled often to subdue it, but in vain; it has seemed to expire on many a battle field, but only to revive with new energy and beauty. It is the spirit of liberty, which is inherent in the soul of man. It is the sentiment which has inspired the friends of freedom in every age. Why, sir, it was ' a sentiment' which impelled the Pilgrims to encounter the perils of the ocean, and the privations of a life in the wilderness, to establish freedom of conscience, and secure civil liberty for themselves and their posterity. Th« American Revolution was the offspring of a sentiment; the right of man to self-government is a sentiment. Let the gentloman sneer; it is a sentiment as eternal as the throne of Divine Justice from which it emanates. It may never warm the heart of that gentleman; he may speak of it in tones of levity and ridicule; but, fortunately, a general truth is not weakened by individual exceptions."
At an early day in the present session, Mr. Hunt gave notice of his intention to introduce the following joint resolution, which, on the 7th of January, was introduced accordingly by him, and was passed unanimously (excepting only one negativo voice):
"Joint Resolution expressive of the thanks of Congress to Major-general Winfield Scott and the troops under his command, for their distinguished gallantry and good conduct in the campaign of 1847.
"Resolved unanimously by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress be, and they are hereby presented to Winfield Scott, major general commanding in chief the army in Mexico, and, through him, to the officers and men of the regular and volunteer corps under him, for their uniform gallantry and good conduct, conspicuously displayed at the siege and capture of the city of Vera Cruz and castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, March 29, 1847, and in the successive battles of Cerro Gordo, April 18th, Contreras, San Antonio, and Churubusco, August 19th and 20th, and for the victories achieved in front of the city of Mexico, September 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th, and the capture of the metropolis, September 14th, 1847, in 'which the Mexican troops, greatly superior in numbers, and with every advantage of position, were, in every conflict, signally defeated by the American arms.
"Resolved, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby requested to causo to be struck a gold medal, with devices emblematical of the series of brilliant victories achieved by the army, and presented to Major-general Winfield Scott, as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his valor, skill, and judicious conduct in the memorable campaign of 1847.
"Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause the foregoing resolutions to be communicated to Major-general Scott in such terms as he may deem best calculated to give effect to the objects thereof."
The several propositions introduced into Congress for the relief of the Irish people under their recent terrible visitation, have, been made matter of some controversy. The first movement was made by Mr. Hunt. On the 10th of February, 1847, in pursuance of notice previously given, he introduced, by leave of the House, the following bill, which was read twice by its title, and referred to the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union:
"A Bill for the Relief of Ireland.
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United Stales of America, in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized and directed to expend the sum of five hundred thousand dollars in the purchase of articles of subsistence for the people of Ireland, now suffering from famine, and in paying the eost of transporting such articles to proper agents in Ireland, for gratuitous distribution; and that said sum be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated."