factories, give remunerative wages to tens of thousands of laborers not already on the island, cheapen the cost of living, and (he even went so far as to say) open the way—and the only way he found it easy to see—for the extinguishment of our national debt, then amounting to nearly two billion five hundred million dollars: all this was to be accomplished by a territory only twenty thousand square miles in extent, and having a population imperfectly civilized, and numbering only one hundred and twenty thousand!
He avowed his conviction that the moment the project was entirely abandoned, European
nations would negotiate for a free port in the Bay of Samana
, and that then would be seen ‘the folly of our rejecting so great a prize,’—a prediction of the fulfilment of which no signs have appeared during the succeeding period.
He proposed, as one mode for making the acquisition, the joint action of the two houses of Congress by a resolution of annexation, as in the case of the acquisition of Texas
This mode would, of course, overcome the obstruction of a two-thirds vote of the Senate required in the exercise of the treaty-making power; but it was an extraordinary proposition to be made by a Republican President
Its only precedent was the one named,—that made by Tyler
, after the Texas
treaty had been rejected by the Senate, for the annexation of that territory, being the resort of the propagandists of slavery for the purpose of extending and perpetuating their institution.
The friends of liberty had fought it to the end as revolutionary, unconstitutional, and wicked; and their resistance was almost the beginning of the political movement against slavery, out of which the Republican party was born.1
This idea of recurring to an act which had been repudiated as a precedent in the change of American opinion on the extension of slavery came from General Butler
, who at the last session, when the approval of the treaty by the Senate seemed improbable, tried on nine different days2
without success to introduce a joint resolution for the acquisition of San Domingo
Such a measure from such a quarter was no occasion of surprise, as its author was in full accord with the pro-slavery