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[112] a sister republic, command more respect than the indecision and pusillanimity of the Whigs.

Mr. Webster was not in the Senate an antagonist of the war itself. At home when the war bill passed (May 12), he was in his seat two days afterwards; but he did not seize the opportunity to denounce the invasion. He avowed (June 24) his readiness to vote all necessary supplies, without reference to the origin of the war. He kept out of the heats of the contest, more intent on his briefs than on the vital questions pending; apparently gave his sanction to his son's service as a volunteer with a captain's commission; and confined his criticism of Polk and his Cabinet chiefly to incidents and details.1 He seemed only in earnest when he was supporting the ‘no territory’ expedient.

Mr. Winthrop did not in any defence or explanation define explicitly the reasons for the vote (May 11) which severed him from his colleagues. His speeches, like those of most of the Whig leaders, do not disclose a definite policy of support or opposition.2 He voted for some war bills providing men and money, and against others of like tenor. He avowed his readiness to vote for ‘reasonable supplies,’ not merely for the withdrawal of our troops, but for the prosecution of the war vigorously and successfully on Mexican territory, with the view of achieving an honorable peace. He insisted that in voting such supplies lie was relying on the pledges of President Polk that he was not carrying on the war for the purposes of aggression and conquest, though from the beginning the acquisition of Mexican territory was well known to be the principal object of the Administration.3 He rejected as a model of conduct the example of the English statesmen who refused support to the British ministry in our Revolution, for the reason that a hostile vote of Congress does not, as in England, effect a change in the Administration.4 He condemned the Administration for

1 Speeches, May 14 June 24.1846; March 1, 1847; March 17, 23, 1848. Webster's ‘Life,’ by G. T. Curtis, vol. II. pp. 291, 301, 302, 315.

2 ‘Addresses and Speeches,’ vol. i. pp. 526, 527, 529, 565, 568, 574, 580, 596.

3 The design to acquire California had been openly avowed from the beginning of the war, and had even been disclosed before it began. Von Hoist, vol. III. pp. 109, 253, 267, 268.

4 ‘Addresses and Speeches,’ vol. i. pp. 565, 566. He quoted, as stating the principle of his course. a letter of John Jay, Nov. 1, 1814; and this drew a paper in reply from William Jay, printed in the New York Tribune, Feb. 1, 1847. J. Q. Adams, as well as Sumner, did not admit the pertinency of the distinction made by Winthrop. Delano of Ohio, in a reply to Winthrop, Feb. 2.1847, maintained that the difference between the English and American systems did not at all affect the right and duty of Congress to withhold supplies from the Executive in the prosecution of an unjust war. J. R. Giddings's ‘Life,’ by G. W. Julian, pp. 202-204, where Sumner's letters to Giddings, Jan. 15 and 16, 1847, are printed.

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