previous next
[108] historically false.1 The apology which they generally made for submitting to the humiliation forced on them by the Democratic partisans of the Administration was that the means provided by the bill were necessary for the succor of our troops; but this plea had no justification in the circumstances, and with most who urged it was only a pretext. For immediate relief the troops authorized by the bill could not be made available, on account of the time required for their transportation to the seat of war. General Taylor did not ask for or need them for defence and succor, and he even undertook offensive operations without further reinforcement, notifying the Administration that he had called on neighboring States for support2 They could only serve the purpose proclaimed in the bill,—of prosecuting the war of invasion against Mexico to a successful termination. But whatever might be the real or imagined necessity for the supplies, the bill, with the full support of the Administration. was sure to pass by Democratic votes only, and the Whig members might have saved their honor without compromising their patriotism. Their weak submission in an hour which called for courage and faith—the courage of convictions and faith in the people—was due wholly, or almost wholly, to party considerations.3 They applied, or rather misapplied, as warnings to themselves, the fate of the Federalists, who withheld their support from the government in the war of 1812; and they exaggerated the strength of the war spirit among the people. They had in immediate view the national election of 1848, and were prudent in taking positions likely to affect the election of the next President.4

The action of the Whig members in voting for the war bill, while not formally condemned by the party, was not in conformity

1 They voted in a body, Jan. 3, 1848, that ‘the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States.’

2 Luther Severance's speech in the House, May 28.1846.

3 Their party interests, according to Von Holst, were ‘for all a weighty, and for many a determining, consideration.’ Vol. III. p. 251.

4 Von Holst, vol. III. pp. 250-255, is emphatic in condemning the Whig opponents of the war who voted for the bill with its preamble, maintaining that they should at least have abstained from voting, and ‘not allowed the country to suffer from the guilt of its rulers,’ and that Congress by passion the bill made the President's mendacious statement of the origin of the war its own. He says: ‘If the entire opposition in both Houses of Congress had had the moral courage to act like Calhoun, the 11th and 12th of May, 1846, would not be counted among the darkest and most significant days in the constitutional history of the United States. The sixteen who voted against the bill deserve, from an ethical standpoint, still, greater recognition than the Carolinian, who thenceforth pursues his way in even greater isolation than before.’

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (2)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Von Holst (2)
Zachary Taylor (1)
Luther Severance (1)
W. B. Calhoun (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.
January 3rd, 1848 AD (1)
1848 AD (1)
May 12th, 1846 AD (1)
May 11th, 1846 AD (1)
1812 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: