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[162] boast that, whilst the lust of power, with fraud and violence in its train, has led other and differently constituted Governments to aggression and conquest, our movements in these respects have always been regulated by reason and justice. A disposition to detract from our pretensions in this respect will, in the nature of things, be always prevalent elsewhere, and has, at this very moment, and from special causes, assumed, in some quarters, the most rabid character. Should not every one, then, who sincerely loves his country — who venerates its time-honored and glorious institutions — who dwells with pride and delight on associations connected with our rise, progress, and present condition — on the steady step with which we have advanced to our present eminence, in despite of the hostility, and in contempt of the bitter revilings, of the enemies of freedom in all parts of the globe — consider, and that deeply, whether we would not, by the immediate Annexation of Texas, place a weapon in the hands of those who now look upon us and our institutions with distrustful and envious eyes, that would do us more real, lasting injury as a nation, than the acquisition of such a territory, valuable as it undoubtedly is, could possibly repair?

It is said, and truly said. that this war between Texas and Mexico has already been of too long duration. We are, and must continue to be, annoyed by its prosecution, and have undoubtedly, as has been remarked, an interest in seeing it terminated. But can we appeal to any principle in the law of Nations, to which we practice a scrupulous adherence, that would, under present circumstances, justify us in interfering for its suppression in a manner that would unavoidably make us a party to its further prosecution? Can this position be made sufficiently clear to justify us in committing the peace and honor of the country to its support?

In regard to the performance by us of that duty, so difficult for any Government to perform — the observance of an honest neutrality between nations at war — we can now look through our whole career, since our first admission into the family of nations, not only without a blush, but with feelings of honest pride and satisfaction. The way was opened by President Washington himself, under circumstances of the most difficult character, and at no less a hazard than that of exposing ourselves to plausible, yet unjust, imputations of infidelity to treaty stipulations. The path he trod with such unfaltering steps, and which led to such beneficial results, has hitherto been pursued with unvarying fidelity by every one of his successors, of whom it becomes me to speak.

The Whigs were unanimous and enthusiastic in their determination that no other than Mr. Clay should be their candidate, and that no other than he should be elected. He had spent the Winter of 1843-4, mainly in New Orleans — then a bot-bed of the Texas intrigue — but had left it unshaken in his opposition to the plot — not to Annexation itself, at a suitable time, and under satisfactory conditions; but to its accomplishment while the boundaries of Texas remained undetermined and disputed, her independence unacknowledged by Mexico, and her war with that country unconcluded.

Mr. Clay set forth his view of the matter in a letter to The National Intelligencer, dated “Raleigh, N. C., April 17, 1844” --three days earlier than the date of Mr. Van Buren's letter. Premising that he had believed and maintained that Texas was included in the Louisiana purchase, and had, therefore, opposed the treaty of 1819, with Spain, by which Florida was acquired, and the Sabine recognized as our western boundary, he says:

My opinions of the inexpediency of the treaty of 1819 did not prevail. The country and Congress were satisfied with it; appropriations were made to carry it into effect; the line of the Sabine was recognized by us as our boundary, in negotiations both with Spain and Mexico, after Mexico became independent; and measures have been in actual progress to mark the line, from the Sabine to the Red river, and thence to the Pacific ocean. We have thus fairly alienated our title to Texas, by solemn National compacts, to the fulfillment of which we stand bound by good faith and National honor. It is, therefore, perfectly idle and ridiculous, if not dishonorable, to talk of resuming our title to Texas, as if we had never parted with it. We can no more do that than Spain can resume Florida, France Louisiana, or Great Britain the thirteen colonies now comprising a part of the United States.

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