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and subagencies beyond the Rocky Mountains, to provide for the military protection of the Oregon Trail, and to establish an overland mail to the Pacific.1
Congress, though fiercely agitated by conflicting interests and ideas, was with the president. There were some radical westerners, indeed, for whom he could never go far enough. Once, when it was intimated in the Senate, by Haywood of North Carolina, that Polk, despite the tone of his message, might still favor compromise on the forty-ninth parallel, Hannegan of Indiana was roused to a furious diatribe in which he charged the southerners with indifference to Oregon, now that they had Texas, and declared that if Polk were correctly represented by Haywood, then "James K. Polk has spoken words of falsehood, and with the tongue of a serpent."' While the majority were not so violent as Hannegan, they were hardly less determined than the president himself. Bills and resolutions in answer to the message soon began to appear in both houses, the main interest being centred on the resolution to provide for the notice terminating the convention of 1827. The resolution, which became the basis of action on the subject, was introduced in the House January 5, 1846. After an extended debate it was finally passed, April 23, by a vote of 42 to 10 in the Senate, and of 142 to 46 in the House. In its original form it provided simply that the president give the notice to Great Britain forthwith; but before its passage it was so amended as to authorize him to give the notice at his discretion. He signed the resolution promptly, and on May 21 the notice was given.1
1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 387, 392-398.
3 Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., 460; Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 662-667; cf. Polk, MS. Diary, March 5, 6, 7, 8, 1 Niles' Register, LXX., 394.
In the mean time negotiations had been resumed. The British government expressed its disapproval of Pakenham's hasty rejection of the offer of the line of 490, and in the latter part of October an effort to obtain its renewal was initiated.2 President Polk declined to renew the offer; but it was intimated, through a despatch dated February 26, 1846, from Buchanan to McLane, the United States minister in London, that such a proposition would be considered if it came from the other side.3 On June 6, 1846, it came in the shape of a draught of a treaty; and on June 10 the president, contrary to custom, submitted it to the Senate for advice before it was signed. The Senate advised its acceptance, by a vote of 37 to 12, and later ratified it by 41 to 14.
The Oregon treaty of 1846, which was mutually ratified by the two governments concerned July 17, provided that the dividing-line of United States and British territory in Oregon should be the fortyninth parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the middle of the channel which separates Vancouver Island from the mainland, and thence should run southerly along the middle of that channel and Fuca's Strait to the Pacific.1 The water boundary, as thus defined, was not finally determined till 1873, after an arbitration by the emperor of Germany in the year preceding.2
* Polk, MS. Diary, October 31, 22, 23, 1845.
'Ibid., February 24 and 25, 1846; Curtis, Buchanan, I., 558.
Thus, happily, the question was settled without a war. It is a sad mistake to suppose that the policy of the administration was intended for effect. While the president did so far disregard the platform on which he was elected as to renew the offer of the line of 490 made by his predecessors in office, his subsequent uncompromising attitude for months after the offer had been rejected and withdrawn, and his prolonged resistance to the pleadings of Buchanan, who wished to intimate to England that a proposition to renew negotiations on the same basis would not be disagreeable, make it impossible to believe that he was anxious to adjust the dispute with Great Britain simply in order to prepare for a war with Mexico.3 Polk was almost too aggressive to be wary, and the country was undoubtedly wrought up and ready for a fight. Great Britain, however, facing an angry nation with which she had tried conclusions twice before when it was much weaker, and having to deal with a delicate and complicated situation from the stand-point of world politics, was pacific and conciliatory far beyond her wont. It is much to her credit that the ultimate decision was not recorded in blood.
1 U. S. Treaties and Conventions, 438. 'Moore, International Arbitrations, I., 393-235. •Polk, MS. Diary, October 28 and November 29, 1845; cf. entry for May 13, 1846; cf. Von Hoist, United States, III., 196 n.
FISCAL REORGANIZATION AND TARIFF
ONE of the mischievous results of the quarrel between the Whigs and Tyler was that the system by which the public money was collected, kept, and disbursed lost its legislative foundation, and rested for several years upon the relatively insecure basis of executive judgment and will. Moreover, the mischief came perilously near extending to the whole system of revenue and taxation, on which rested the very life of the government. There have, indeed, been few periods in which American political institutions have been so severely tested as during the administration of Tyler, and none in which they have better stood the strain. Considering the high degree of probability with which the action of Tyler could have been forecast by the Whigs, their policy in refusing any concession to his scruples or his judgment when so much was at stake seems almost reckless.1
The Whigs themselves created their own diffi1 See chap, iv., above.