« السابقةمتابعة »
This despatch was received at Washington January 12, 1846.1 The information therein contained made it "probable, if not certain," that the Mexican government would refuse to receive Slidell.2 Under the circumstances the prospect seemed to be either for war or for a continuance of the quasi-war conditions that had existed for almost a year. The president did not hesitate to take a step which would force the hand of Mexico; so in obedience to Taylor's suggestion, made October 4, he ordered, on January 13, 1846, an advance of the United States troops to the Rio Grande. The advance was made in March, the army leaving Corpus Christi on the 8th and reaching Point Isabel on the 24th.
After a delay of a week, which was probably due to the wish to send Slidell's commission with the letter—his appointment was confirmed by the Senate January 20, the day on which the letter was written 3—Buchanan wrote in reply to the despatch of December 17 that the question of indemnity for imaginary injuries to Mexico, through the annexation of Texas, could not be separated from that of the claims of the United States citizens on Mexico. He characterized the objections of the Mexican authorities to Slidell's credentials as quibbling, with the purpose of obtaining this separation. He stated that orders to advance to the Rio Grande had been given the army in Texas, and remarked that the president would be thus prepared to act with vigor and promptitude the moment Congress gave him the authority.
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, p. 53; Polk, MS. Diary, January 13, 1846.
2 Cf. Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 440.
3 Senate Exec. Journal, VII., 36.
On December 27 Slidell reported again.1 On the 20th he had written Pefia y Pefia, seeking to show that the correspondence leading to the mission did not warrant the assertion that the United States had agreed to treat concerning Texas alone; and a letter of the same date from the Mexican government at last brought the news that he would not be received. The reason stated for the refusal was that he came as a general plenipotentiary. The government, however, would be pleased to treat with him when his credentials were so changed as "to authorize him to deal only with the questions which had disturbed the harmony of the two republics, and which would result in war unless they were satisfactorily settled"—a definition apparently meant to exclude the claims on Mexico. Slidell wrote Buchanan that he had signified to the Mexican authorities his intention to retire soon to Jalapa and there await final instructions from his government; for he wished the Mexican government to understand how serious its persistence in the course it had adopted might be, and he wished to avoid the appearance of interfering in the domestic struggle.
Slidell's letter of December 17, 1845, together with one written on the 29th, makes it evident that the Mexican government felt itself to be acting under compulsion in its refusal to receive the envoy. General Paredes, with five to eight thousand of the best of the Mexican troops under his command, had been ordered several months before to march to the Rio Grande, but he disobeyed or evaded his instructions, with a view rather of using his men against Hen.era. It had been planned that the revolution should culminate in a rising that was to be contemporaneous with the appearance of the minister from the United States; but he had come earlier than was expected, and the revolutionists were not ready. The government asked the British minister to explain to Slidell that it was driven by necessity in refusing to receive him, and that if it could put down Paredes it would take the necessary steps to renew diplomatic relations with the United States. Slidell thought that if Paredes succeeded he would do the same. The opinion was expressed that the British minister was exercising his influence to prevent war, but also against the restoration of harmony.
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 6o, pp. 32-49.
The overthrow of Herrera, and the establishment of a provisional government by Paredes, was reported in a despatch dated January 14, 1846.1 Slidell had applied for an escort to Jalapa, which had not been furnished him, and he thought the real reason was that the new government wished to leave the way open for communication with him, and probably also to see, before allowing him to leave, the message of President Polk, which had just reached the city of Mexico. The idea was being industriously disseminated that war with Great Britain must be the result of the position taken by the president on the Oregon question, and Slidell would not be surprised to hear soon that his escort was ready. A postscript dated the 15th adds that the escort, as Slidell has been officially notified, is at his disposal, and that he will leave for Jalapa on the 17th.
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, pp. 49-53. In the copy of this letter, transmitted to Congress, several important passages were omitted for which the original in the archives of the department of state must be consulted.
The next communication from Slidell is dated Jalapa, February 6.1 He thought the policy of the Mexican government as to his reception would be controlled by the aspect of the Oregon question. Should there be a continued prospect of war with Great Britain, there would be faint hope of any change of attitude on the part of Mexico. The financial embarrassment of the Paredes administration was described; and Slidell said that he had taken care before leaving the city of Mexico to convey to the Mexican government, through a person in confidential relations with Paredes, a hint that relief might be obtained if Mexico would consent to a satisfactory adjustment of the boundary question.1
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, pp. 50
In accordance with his instructions, Slidell, March 1, 1846, asked for a final decision as to whether he would be received.2 The demand was to be presented by the United States consul in the city of Mexico, who, if he found the Mexican minister of foreign affairs disposed to talk over the situation, was to inform him that Slidell would apply for his passports unless he had a definite and favorable answer by the 15th.3 On that day the answer came, but it was a peremptory refusal.4 It intimated that the threatening display of force by the United States on the Mexican frontier sufficiently justified in itself the repulse of conciliatory propositions: but the reasons by which the conduct of the Mexican government was determined were, in substance, that the rights of Mexico had been violated by the annexation of Texas; that she had treated the act as a casus belli from the first; and that the United States government, having consented to negotiate on the Texas question alone, was now introducing other subjects. Slidell was in doubt as to whether the refusal to receive him was due to the fear that consent to negotiate might weaken the Paredes government, as it had weakened
1 For this statement, see the original U. S. MS., Archives, State Dept. Its omission from the letter as printed is indicated on p. 57 of the document referred to.
2 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess , VII., No. 60, p. 63. 'Ibid., p. 62. *Ibid., pp. 67-72.