صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

will break up the balance of our system, violate the compromises of the Constitution, and endanger the permanence of our Union; and, above all, because I am uncompromisingly oppos. ed to the extension of domestic slavery, or to the addition of an. other inch of slaveholding territory to this nation."

That policy, however, once consummated, every vestige of opposition ceased, and he has accorded to Texas and her interests as willing an ear and as liberal a hand as if she had been one of the original sisterhood. His rule of conduct toward her is well embodied in the sentiment given by him at Faneuil Hall on the 4th of July, 1815 :

“Our Country: bounded by the St. John's and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the meas. urements more or less, still our country to be cherished in all our hearts, to be defended by all our hands."

This toast was given at a dinner at Faneuil IIall, which immediately followed the city oration of the 4th of July, wherein some ultraisms and extravagances had been advocated upon the subject of the military and naval defenses of the country.

Mr. Winthrop was among the foremost of those members of both branches of Congress who, in the Oregon controversy, boldly stood forth to stem the current of that popular feeling which seemed to have set in irresistibly toward war with England. (See title, STEPHEN A. Douglas. His efforts at three successive sessions can not fail to be remembered and appre. ciated by all sincere friends of peace. He was conscious of the reproaches to which, unfortunately, every public man in our country is subjected who dares to take the side of peace; and, in one of his speeches, he thus regards them:

“I am perfectly aware, Mr. Speaker, that, express the views which I entertain when I may, I shall not escape reproach and imputation from some quarters of the House. I know that there are those by whom the slightest syllable of dissent from the extreme views which the administration would seem recently to have adopted, will be eagerly seized upon as evidence of a want of what they call patriotism and American spirit. I spurn all such imputations in advance. Ispurn the notion that patriotism can only be manifested by plunging the nation into war, or that the love of one's own country can only be meas. ured by one's hatred to any other country. Sir, the American spirit that is wanted at the present-moment, wanted for our highest honor, wanted for our dearest interests, is that which dares to confront the mad impulses of a superficial popular sentiment, and to appeal to the sober second thoughts of moral and intelligent men. Every schoolboy can declaim about honor and war, the British lion and the American eagle; and it is a vice of our nature, that the calmest of us have heartstrings which may vibrate for a moment even to such vulgar touches. But (thanks to the institutions of education and religion which our fathers founded) the great mass of the American people have also an intelligence and a moral sense which will sooner or later respond to appeals of a higher and nobler sort, if we will only have the firmness to make them."

The principle upon which the whole of his action was based was this, that the American title to Oregon was the best then in existence, but that the whole character of that title was too confused and complicated to justify any arbitrary and exclusive assertions of right, and that a compromise of the question was in every way consistent with reason, interest, and honor.' Entertaining these views, he introduced, on the 19th of December, 1845, the following resolutions :

"1. Resolved, that the differences between the United States and Great Britain on the subject of the Oregon Territory are still a subject for negotiation and compromise, and that satisfactory evidence has not yet been afforded that no compromise which the United States ought to accept can be effected.

"2. Resolved, That it would be a dishonor to the age in which we live, and in the highest degree discreditable to both the nations concerned, if they shall suffer themselves to be drawn into a war upon a question of no immediate or practical interest to either of them.

"3. Resolved, That if no other mode for the amicable adjustment of this question remains, it is due to the principles of civilization and Christianity that a resort to arbitration should be had, and that this government can not relieve itself from all responsibility which may follow the failure to settle the controversy while this result is still untried.

"4. Resolved, That arbitration does not necessarily involve a reference to crowned heads; and that, if a jealousy of such a


reference is entertained in any quarter, a commission of able: and dispassionate citizens, either from the two countries concerned or from the world at large, offers itself as an obvious and unobjectionable alternative."

These resolutions contained the earliest distinct proposition of arbitration by civil commissioners instead of crowned heads. They received complimentary notices from many sources, domestic and foreign. Thiers alluded to them in the Chamber of Deputies, and Louis Philippe was said, in the papers of the time, to have spoken of them in terms of commendation.

That Mr. Winthrop did not escape the suspicions and imputations which he himself anticipated in the extract we have quoted, those conversant with the public concerns of that day are aware. For example, in debate in the House,

“ Nr. VI:Ciernand alluded to the proposition of arbitration (in the form of a resolution heretofore offered by Mr. Winthrop), and spoke of its similarity to that subsequently offered by the British minister as a remarkable coincidence.

"Mr. Winthrop here rose and inquired whether the honorable member from Illinois (.Wr. M'Clernand] intended to impute to him any collusion or understanding with the British minister

“ Mr. M'Clernand said he did not. What he said was, that the coincidence in the views of the gentleman with those of the British minister was remarkable.

" Mr. Winthrop. “Then, as the gentleman disclaims any offeinsive imputation, I desire to take this opportunity to set myself right, as this is the same remark that was made by the gentle. man from Pennsylvania (Mr. C. J. Ingersoll], in his speech at the close of the Oregon debate. I desire to say, in the pres. ence of my God, and in the presence of my country as represented by the representatives of the people here, that neither at the time I moved the resolution looking to arbitration, on the 19th of December, nor upon the day—the 31 of January 2011 which I made the speech advocating it, had I the slightest knowledgethe slightest knowledge—the slightest foundation for a belief, that a proposition of arbitration, in any form or un. der any circumstances, had been, or was about to be, offered by the British minister to the government of the United States. If any gentleman desires any further explanation, I am here ready to give it!

“Mr. M'Clernand. “I did not base my observations on any imputation of coalition or combination between the gentleman and the British minister on the question of Oregon. I spoke of the fact that the gentleman had submitted a series of resolutions, in which the proposition subsequently made by Mr. Pakenham was embodied, as a remarkable fact of coincidence. Far be it from me to impeach the patriotism of any man, unless I have satisfactory ground for the accusation. But I will say that, while the gentleman is so free to criticize the conduct of those who differ with him in political opinion, he should be careful so to comport himself as not to lay himself open to retaliation.'"

We have referred to the character of the hostility manifested toward Mr. Winthrop in his district in consequence of his vote on the Mexican War Bill. Condemning the policy, and denouncing the objects of that war, he still voted for the act, approved the 13th of May, 1846, recognizing its existence. The principal charges against him were these :

“1. That, in voting for the Mexican War Bill, he voted for a preamble which contained a false declaration as to the origin of the war, and for which, as an honest man, he had no right to vote. :“ 2. That, in voting for the War Bill at all, he was false to the sentiments and principles of the people of Massachusetts, who condemn the war because of its alleged origin, and the alleged purpose of its origin, viz., that it was commenced for the purpose of adding slave territory to the Union.

“ 3. That, in thus voting for the War Bill, he identified himself with the war, its origin, causes, and effects.”

As we shall have occasion, in many parts of our history, to refer to the declaratory act of war, we avail ourselves of this opportunity to give an outline of the proceedings connected with its passage. We copy from the Congressional Globe the following record of the 11th of May:

“A message, in writing, was received from the President of the United States, by the hands of J. K. Walker, Esq., his private secretary.*

This message called upon Congress to recognize the state of hostilities which, it asserted, then existed by the act of Mexico, and to authorize the President to raise volunteers, &c.

*. The message, by unanimous consent, was read.

“Mr. Haralson said the correspondence was very voluminous; a large portion of it was from our minister recently at Mexico, and to read it would, perhaps, be delaying the action of the House longer than gentlemen desired. The general facts of the correspondence had been detailed in the President's message. He had referred not only to the correspondence with the minister at Mexico, but also to the correspondence between General Taylor and the department; and as the reading would take a considerable time, he (Mr. H.) moved that the message and documents be laid on the table.

" Mr. C. J. Ingersoll was understood to say he was not sure but that we knew a good deal of the correspondence between Mr. Slidell and the Mexican government, inasmuch as it had been published by that government. He did not know whethor this was that correspondence or not.

"Mr. Haralson moved that the message and documents be laid on the table and printed, and he demanded the previous question.

* Mr. G. Davis suggested that at least the correspondence between General Taylor and the department should be read.

- Mr. Haralson. “I have made my motion.'

“ A conversation followed on a point of order between Mr. Schenck, Mr. G. Davis, and the speaker.

** Mr. Schenck called for the reading of the documents, which led to a point of order, and an appeal by Mr. Schenck from the decision made by the chair, which decision the House sustained.

• Mr. Delano asked the yeas and nays on the motion to lay on the table and print.

- Mr. Ashmun called for the reading of the papers.

“ The speaker decided that, until the motion to lay on the table (which was a privileged motion) was withdrawn, the gentleman could not make a motion for the reading of the papers.

"Mr. Rathbun submitted that the previous question had been demanded.

- The speaker said yes; but, in addition to that, the motion to lay on the table was not debatable.

** A conversation followed on a point of order between the speaker and Mr. Winthrop.

« السابقةمتابعة »