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thousand dollars.1 Still no step was taken by the Mexicans towards negotiation until they were beaten in the engagements at Contreras, August 19 and 20, and Churubusco, August 20, 1847. Then Scott himself proposed an armistice, which was accepted August 24. Commissioners were appointed to meet Trist, and the effort to conclude a treaty began. Whether it could have been accomplished at that stage of the "conquering" on the basis of his instructions is uncertain; but Trist's wavering attitude undoubtedly served to make the possibility much less. The Mexican commissioners still refused to come to terms, and submitted counter-propositions which were in conflict with those instructions, but which Trist referred to the authorities at Washington." As soon as unofficial news of what Trist had done was received there, President Polk, without waiting to hear from him directly, ordered his recall.3 In the mean time the armistice had beea. terminated and the advance of the United States troops renewed. The victories of Molino del Rey, September 8, and Chapultepec, September 13, opened the way to the city of Mexico, which was occupied on September 14.'' Santa Anna abdicated, and on November 22 the new government announced to Trist that it had appointed commissioners to negotiate. Trist had already received the letter recalling him; but, in spite of this fact, he listened to the suggestion of the Mexicans that they were not officially notified of his recall and were anxious to negotiate on the terms of his original instructions.
1 Ripley, War with Mexico, II., 153-155; Polk, MS. Diary, December 28, 1847.
1 Senate Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 53, p. 345.
3 Buchanan to Trist, October 6, 1847, ibid., pp. 91-93; Polk, MS. Diary, October 5, 1847.
* See official reports of these operations, in Senate Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., I., No. 1, pp. 354-471.
The negotiations terminated with the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, signed February 2, 1848. The boundary agreed upon was to follow the Rio Grande from its mouth to the line of New Mexico; that line westward and northward to the first branch of the Gila it should cross; that branch and the Gila to the Colorado; and the line between Upper and Lower California thence to the Pacific.1 For the territory thus ceded by Mexico the United States was to satisfy the claims of its citizens on the Mexican government, and to pay in addition thereto fifteen million dollars. In spite of the fact that Trist's authority had been withdrawn before the final negotiations, President Polk submitted the treaty to the Senate, and after some opposition and suspense it was ratified, March 10, 1848, by a vote of 38 to 14.
The opposition came at least partly from those who desired the whole of Mexico.2 Among them were included Buchanan and Walker, of the cabinet, together with a number of Democratic senators, and they were backed by a strong and growing public sentiment. Buchanan's attitude, in fact, changed in apparent accord with this variation in popular feeling. At the opening of the war he insisted that the president should disavow any purpose of acquiring California or New Mexico, and should assert that the United States desired no more than the Rio Grande boundary.1 Polk refused to make such a statement, saying that, while the war was not undertaken for the sake of conquest, it was his intention to insist on a territorial indemnity which should cover, besides the claims, the expenses also of the war. This view he consistently maintained-, but with the progress of the war and the growth of the popular impulse to absorb Mexico entirely, Buchanan shifted his ground till he became apparently one of the most advanced among the radical expansionists.
1 U. S. Treaties and Conventions, 683. * Polk, MS. Diary, February 39, 1848.
Polk himself, in his annual message of December 7, 1847, when the city of Mexico was in the possession of Scott's troops, declared that if peace could not be obtained otherwise it might be necessary for the United States government to take "the full measure of indemnity" into its own hands, but insisted that he had never contemplated "a permanent conquest of the Republic of Mexico," nor the extinction of its independent nationality. Buchanan would have preferred to say that if the military occupation of Mexico and the encouragement
• Polk. MS. Diary, May 13, 1846.
and protection of the friends of peace did not bring the Mexicans to terms, then the United States "must fulfill that destiny which Providence may have in store for both countries." This was understood to be a declaration in favor of taking all of Mexico, and, with the understanding that the expression would be thus interpreted, all the cabinet except Attorney-General Clifford favored it. The president, however, insisted rigidly on his own views; and, in spite of the evident popularity of the "all of Mexico" policy, he determined the matter by accepting the treaty negotiated by the discredited commissioner Trist. * Polk had'' conquered a peace'' and settled the claims; therewith he was content.
1 Bourne, "The United States and Mexico, 1847—1848," in Am. Hist. Review, V., 491-503, and in his Essays in Historical Criticism, 337-343.
THE WILMOT PROVISO
NE thing that served to weaken greatly the
impulse of southwestward expansion and to prevent the absorption of the whole of Mexico as a result of the war was the “growing realization that territorial expansion and the extension of slavery were so inextricably involved with each other that every accession of territory would precipitate a slavery crisis.”” This created a determined and outspoken opposition to any further acquisition in the southwest. An issue was thus made up which soon became the basis of a new political organization; national party lines began to waver; diverse elements gradually coalesced and unified into two great sectional groups,” standing apart and facing each other with resolute purpose, the one to prevent the national government from promoting by any act either of commission or omission the in
*Bourne, in Am. Hist. Review, V., 5oz. * Cf. Calhoun's speech at Charleston, March 9, 1847, in his Works, IV., 382–396.