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duct. On the whole, though there was considerable evidence of actual illegality in the vote of Plaquemines,1 it was by no means sufficient to prove that Louisiana was carried for Polk by fraud.
1 See New Orleans Bee, November 33, 25, 1844.
ANNEXATION OF TEXAS BY JOINT RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS
IT was evident that the Texas question had not been settled by the failure of the treaty. The agitation both in the North and in the South that accompanied the progress of the measure was ominous. In March, 1843, when the news began to spread that there was a prospect of the revival of the question, thirteen members of Congress, headed by John Quincy Adams, signed an appeal to the people of the free states protesting against the annexation of Texas, and declaring that it would be identical with dissolution of the Union.1 But when the opposition to the treaty in the Senate began to be noised abroad, the cry that rose from South Carolina was vehement and full of wrath. Even before the treaty was rejected mass - meetings at Ashley and Beaufort declared in favor of giving up the Union rather than Texas, and called for a convention of the slave states to consider the question of annexing Texas to the Union, or, if the United
• Niles' Register, LXIV., 173-175.
States would not accept it, to the southern states.1 The cry was echoed from various parts of South Carolina, but was confined mainly to that state. Ritchie of the Enquirer objected strongly to the meeting of such a convention at Richmond; and the citizens of Nashville protested against its being held there.2 The popular movement was therefore deferred till the time should ripen further, and the subject was left to the action of the government.
The president took the initiative promptly and in very decided fashion. On Monday, June 10, he transmitted to the House the treaty rejected on Saturday, June 8, with a message and papers including not only those which had been made public by the Senate, but others which it still held secret. These he sent because he considered them necessary for any understanding of the question; and he felt that his duty required him to lay the whole subject before the House. He argued that the question was in no way sectional or local; that to negotiate in advance for Mexico's consent would have been offensive to that nation, as well as an admission that the recognition of the independence of Texas was "fraudulent, delusive, or void"; that the question of boundary between the United States and Mexico could properly arise only after annexation, and had purposely been left open; and that objections to expansion were futile, and prompt action was necessary. In conclusion he expressed himself as follows: "So much have I considered it proper for me to say; and it becomes me only to add that while I have regarded the annexation to be accomplished by treaty as the most suitable form in which it could be effected, should Congress deem it proper to resort to any other expedient compatible with the Constitution and likely to accomplish the object I stand prepared to yield my most prompt and active cooperation.
1 Niles' Register, LXVI., 229; Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 616-619. 3 Niles' Register, LXVI., 346, 391.
"The great question is not as to the manner in which it shall be done, but whether it shall be ac^ complished or not." l
This final statement of Tyler's submitted the plan in such a way as to give it the best chance before Congress. It was really an appeal to the Democrats: after the deliverance of that party in convention on the subject, its members in the House, who had the majority, could not be expected to question the desirability of annexation; nothing except some scruple as to the method could interfere with it there. As to the Senate, it was sufficiently evident that the Democrats must be relied on to furnish the main support for the measure. But the Whigs, though in a majority, were not pledged to oppose it; and, unless the senators of that party showed themselves more stanch than its candidate for the presidency, surely enough of them could be 1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 323-337.
forced into line, as Henderson had been,1 by the will of their constituents to insure its success. The wrongs of Van Buren would soon be forgotten, and recalcitrant Democrats like Benton would find it difficult to hold out against the great body of their political associates. So Tyler must have thought; and, though by a very narrow margin, it ultimately so proved.
On May 23, before the treaty was rejected, McDuffie of South Carolina introduced into the Senate a joint resolution providing for annexation on the terms agreed upon in the negotiations, and this resolution remained in its place on the calendar. After the formal rejection of the treaty and the reception of Tyler's special message, Benton was ready at once with a bill which he introduced, June 10, to authorize the president to negotiate for annexation and the adjustment of boundaries both with Texas and with Mexico.2 This authority he claimed was necessary, because annexation contemplated the admission of a new state into the Union, for which Congress alone had the necessary power. On June 11 Benton's bill was read a second time, and McDuffie's resolution came up in regular order, and was laid on the table by a vote of 27 to 19.3 This was, at any rate, less discouraging than the vote by which the treaty was rejected. Two days later Benton's bill was tabled by a vote of 25 to 20, and on June 17
1 See p. i2o, above.
• Cong. Globe, 28 Cong., 1 Sess., 699-703. • Ibid., 707.