After glancing at the recent history of Texas
, Mr. Clay
Mexico has not abandoned, but perseveres in, the assertion of her rights by actual force of arms, which, if suspended, are intended to be renewed.
Under these circumstances, if the Government of the United States were to acquire Texas, it would acquire along with it all the encumbrances which Texas is under, and, among them, the actual or suspended war between Mexico and Texas.
Of that consequence, there cannot be a doubt.
Annexation and war with Mexico are identical.
Now, for one, I certainly am not willing to involve this country in a foreign war for the object of acquiring Texas.
I know there are those who regard such a war with indifference, and as a trifling affaire, on account of the weakness of Mexico, and her inability to inflict serious injury on this country.
But I do not look upon it thus lightly.
I regard all wars as great calamities, to be avoided, if possible, and honorable peace as the wisest and truest policy of this country.
What the United States most need are union, peace, and patience.
Nor do I think that the weakness of a power should form a motive, in any case, for inducing us to engage in, or to depreciate, the evils of war. Honor, and good faith, and justice, are equally due from this country toward the weak as toward the strong.
And, if an act of injustice were to be perpetrated toward any power, it would be more compatible with the dignity of the nation, and, in my judgment, less dishonorable, to inflict it upon a powerful, instead of a weak, foreign nation.
Mr. Van Buren
, in his very long letter, had studiously avoided all allusion to what, in the cant of a later day, would have been termed the “sectional” aspect of the question; that is, the earnest and invincible repugnance of a large portion of our people to the annexation proposed, because of its necessary tendency to extend and strengthen Slavery.
confronted this view of the case cautiously, yet manfully, saying:
I have hitherto considered the question upon the supposition that the annexation is attempted without the assent of Mexico.
If she yields her consent, that would materially affect the foreign aspect of the question, if it did not remove all foreign difficulties.
On the assumption of that assent, the question would be confined to the domestic considerations which belong to it, embracing the terms and conditions upon which annexation is proposed.
I do not think Texas ought to be received into the Union, as an integral part of it, in decided opposition to the wishes of a considerable and respectable portion of the confederacy.
I think it far more wise and important to compose and harmonize the present confederacy, as it now exists, than to introduce a new element of discord and distraction into it. In my humble opinion, it should be the constant and earnest endeavor of American statesmen to eradicate prejudices, to cultivate and foster concord, and to produce general contentment among all parts of our confederacy.
And true wisdom, it seems to me, points to the duty of rendering its present members happy, prosperous, and satisfied with each other, rather than to attempt to introduce alien members, against the common consent, and with the certainty of deep dissatisfaction.
Mr. Jefferson expressed the opinion, and others believed, that it never was in the contemplation of the framers of the Constitution to add foreign territory to the confederacy, out of which new States were to be formed.
The acquisitions of Louisiana and Florida may be defended upon the peculiar ground of the relation in which they stood to the States of the Union.
After they were admitted, we might well pause a while, people our vast wastes, develop our resources, prepare the means of defending what we possess, and augment our strength, power, and greatness.
If, hereafter, further territory should be wanted for an increased population, we need entertain no apprehension but that it will be acquired, by means, it is to be hoped, fair, honorable, and constitutional.
It is useless to disguise that there are those who espouse, and those who oppose, the annexation of Texas upon the ground of the influence which it would exert on the balance of political power between two great sections of the Union.
I conceive that no motive for the acquisition of foreign territory could be more unfortunate, or pregnant with more fatal consequences, than that of obtaining it for the purpose of strengthening one part against another part of the common confederacy.
Such a principle, put into practical operation, would menace the existence, if it did not certainly sow the seeds of a dissolution of the Union.
He closed his letter — which is not quite a third so long as Mr. Van