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[268] so generally and resolutely opposed. That Congress proved, practically, a failure, whether through European intrigue, or Spanish-American jealousy and indolence, is not apparent. Our envoys1 were duly appointed; but the strenuous opposition in our Senate2 had so protracted the discussion that it was found too late for Mr. Sergeant to reach Panama at the time appointed for the meeting of the Congress;3 and Mr. Anderson, then Minister to Colombia, when at Carthagena on his way to Panama, was attacked by a malignant fever, whereof he died.

But, long ere this, the jealousy of the slaveholders had been aroused, and their malign influence upon the course of our Government made manifest. Among the means employed to render the Panama Congress odious at the South, was the fact that John Sergeant, the more conspicuous of our envoys, had sternly opposed the admission of Missouri as a Slave State.4

The Spanish-American Republics had already decreed general emancipation; and fears were naturally expressed that they would extend this policy to Cuba, should they, as was then contemplated, combine to invade and conquer that island. Mr. Clay had already5 written as Secretary of State to Mr. Alexander H. Everett, our Minister at Madrid, instructing him to urge upon Spain the expediency of acknowledging the independence of her lost colonies. He said:

It is not for the new Republics that the President wishes to urge upon Spain the expediency of concluding the war. If the war should continue between Spain and the new Republics, and those islands [Cuba and Porto Rico] should become the object and theater of it, their fortunes have such a connection with the people of the United States, that they could not be indifferent spectators; and the possible contingencies of a protracted war might bring upon the Government

1 John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, and Richard C. Anderson, of Kentucky.

2 In the course of the debate, Mr. John Randolph, of Virginia, said:

Cuba possesses an immense negro population. In case those States [Mexico and Colombia] should invade Cuba at all, it is unquestionable that this invasion will be made with this principle,--the genius of universal emancipation,--this sweeping anathema against the white population in front,--and then, Sir, what is the situation of the Southern States?

Mr. John M. Berrien, of Georgia, said:

The question to be determined is this: with a due regard to the safety of the Southern States, can you suffer these islands (Cuba and Porto Rico) to pass into the hands of buccaneers drunk with their new-born liberty? If our interest and our safety shall require us to say to these new republics, “Cuba and Porto Rico must remain as they are,” we are free to say it, and, by the blessing of God, and the strength of our arms, to enforce the declaration; and let me say to gentlemen, these high considerations do require it. The vital interests of the South demand it.

Mr. John Floyd, of Virginia, said [in the House]

So far as I can see, in all its bearings, it [the Panama Congress] looks to the conquest of Cuba and Porto Rico; or, at all events, of tearing them from the crown of Spain. The interests, if not safety, of our own country, would rather require us to interpose to prevent such an event; and I would rather take up arms to prevent than to accelerate such an occurrence.

Mr. Josiah S. Johnston, of Louisiana, a friend of the Administration, parried these attacks as follows:

We know that Colombia and Mexico have long contemplated the independence of the island [Cuba]. The final decision is now to be made, and the combination of forces and the plan of attack to be formed. What, then, at such a crisis, becomes the duty of the Government? Send your ministers instantly to the diplomatic assembly, where the measure is maturing. Advise with them — remonstrate--menace, if necessary — against a step so dangerous to us, and perhaps fatal to them.

3 June 22, 1826.


And then, to cap the climax,
John Sergeant, too, must go--
A chief who wants the darkies free--
John Adams' son, my Jo!

--“Federal song” in The Richmond Enquirer.

5 April 27, 1825.

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