previous next
[107] Taylor, Jan. 13, 1846, to move the army to the left bank of the Rio Grande; and two months later that officer marched from Corpus Christi, with Mexicans armed and unarmed fleeing before him, to the river, and turned his guns on the public square of the Mexican town of Matamoras, which lay on its western side. At the same time the fleet blockaded the mouth of the river. These acts were war, and aggressive war, on the part of the United States.1 A collision between small bodies of the two forces occurred April 25.2

The President, on receiving Taylor's report of the skirmish (for that was all it was), communicated his version of the affair to Congress, May 11, falsely alleging that ‘Mexico has invaded our territory, and shed American blood upon the American soil,’ and that ‘war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself.’ The supporters of the Administration in the House rejected Winthrop's motion to have the official correspondence read; amended a bill which had been promptly reported by adding a preamble which repeated the President's statement that ‘by the act of the Republic of Mexico a state of war exists between that government and the United States;’ and shutting off debate at every stage, passed it, with its provision for fifty thousand men and an appropriation of fifty thousand dollars for ‘the prosecution of the war to a speedy and successful termination.’ Only sixteen votes were given against the measure in both Houses: two in the Senate,—John Davis of Massachusetts, and Thomas Clayton of Delaware,—and fourteen in the House, with the name of John Quincy Adams standing at their head.3 Thee Massachusetts members present, except two, voted with the minority. the mass of Whig members, except only the sixteen, thus voted for a bill supplying the means for a war which they believed to have been unjustly and unconstitutionally begun, and containing a declaration as to its origin which they pronounced

1 General Grant, who served in the war, regarded it as ‘one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker power.’ (Personal Memoirs, p. 53.) He says that it was ‘a political war,’ and that our troops ‘were sent to provoke a fight.’

2 There is a conflict of evidence as to which side made the first attack, but the question is not important. See William Jay's ‘Review,’ pp. 140,141.

3 Mr. Calhoun pleaded for deliberation; denied the truth of the statement in the bill as to the origin of the war; distinguished between hostilities which had begun and war which could alone he authorized and declared by Congress; and refused to vote on the bill. (See his speeches, Jan. 4, March 16, 17, 1848.) Berrien of Georgia, and Evans of Maine, senators, also refused to vote on it. Giddings's ‘History of the Rebellion,’ pp. 253, 265.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Zachary Taylor (2)
Robert C. Winthrop (1)
William Jay (1)
Moses Grant (1)
J. R. Giddings (1)
Evans (1)
John Davis (1)
Thomas Clayton (1)
W. B. Calhoun (1)
Berrien (1)
John Quincy Adams (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1848 AD (1)
January 13th, 1846 AD (1)
May 11th (1)
April 25th (1)
March 4th (1)
January (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: