violation the Constitution of our country, adopted expressly “to secure the blessings of liberty,” and not the perpetuation of Slavery — and to prevent the speedy and violent dissolution of the Union--we invite you to unite, without distinction of party, in an immediate exposition of your views on this subject, in such manner as you may deem best calculated to answer the end proposed.
On the 27th of March, 1844, Mr. Wm. H. Hammet
, Representative in Congress from Mississippi
, and an unpledged delegate elect to the approaching Democratic National Convention, addressed, from his seat in the House
, a letter of inquiry to Mr. Van Buren
, asking an expression of his “opinions as to the constitutionality and expediency of immediately annexing Texas
to the United States
, so soon as the consent of Texas
may be had to such Annexation.”
The writer commended himself to Mr. Van Buren
as “one of your warmest supporters in 1836 and 1840, and an unpledged delegate to the Baltimore Convention;” and, though courteous in its terms, the letter gave him very clearly to understand that his answer would govern the course of the querist in the Convention
aforesaid, and be very likely to influence the result of its deliberations.
Mr. Van Buren
replied in a very long and elaborate letter, dated Lindenwald, April 20th, whereof the drift and purport were very clearly hostile to the contemplated Annexation.
lie fully admitted that Annexation was per se
desirable; encouraging hopes that he might consent to it, as a measure of imperative self-defense, rather than permit Texas
to become a British dependency, or the colony of any European
power; and intimating that Mexico
might too long persist “in refusing to acknowledge the independence of Texas
, and in destructive but fruitless efforts to reconquer that State,” so as to produce a general conviction of the necessity of Annexation to the permanent welfare, if not absolute safety, of all concerned.
He, nevertheless, decidedly negatived any presumption that he could, under existing circumstances, or under any in immediate prospect, give his support to the scheme, even though assured that his re-election to the Presidency depended thereon.
His view of the main question directly presented, is fairly and forcibly set forth in the following passage of his letter:
The question, then, recurs, if, as sensible men, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the immediate Annexation of Texas would, in all human probability, draw after it a war with Mexico, can it be expedient to attempt it?
Of the consequences of such a war, the character it might be made to assume, the entanglements with other nations which the position of at belligerent almost unavoidably draws after it, and the undoubted injuries which might be inflicted on each, notwithstanding the great disparity of their respective forces, I will not say a word.
God forbid that an American citizen should ever count the cost of any appeal to what is appropriately denominated the last resort of nations, whenever that resort becomes necessary, either for the safety, or to vindicate the honor, of his country.
There is, I trust, not one so base as not to regard himself, and all lie has, to be forever, and at all times, subject to such a requisition.
But would a war with Mexico, brought on under such circumstances, be a contest of that character?
Could we hope to stand perfectly justified in the eyes of mankind for entering into it; more especially if its commencement is to be preceded by the appropriation to our own uses of the territory, the sovereignty of which is in dispute between two nations, one of which we are to join in the struggle?
This, Sir, is a matter of the very gravest import--one in respect to which no American statesman or citizen can possibly be indifferent.
We have a character among the nations of the earth to maintain.
All our public functionaries, as well those who advocate this measure as those who oppose it, however much they may differ as to its effects, will, I am sure, be equally solicitous for the performance of this first of duties.
It has hitherto been our pride and our