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"23, and '25, so far as they relate to the institution and character of the Congress, are alike. By these Treaties, a permanent League and Confederation, in peace and war, is established atnong the parties: containing guarantees of the Territories of the respective States, and stipulating for contributions in ships, men, and money, for the common defence. lo a word, they provide for the union and application of their joint means, for the purpose of promoting the general good of the Confederate States, reserving to each its sovereignty in whatever relates to its internal concerns, and certain portions of its foreign relations. The second, third, and fourth articles of the Treaty between Colombia and Chile, are in the following words:
“Art. 1. The Republic of Colombia and the State of Chile are "united, bound, and confederated, in peace and war, to maintain “ with their influences and forces, by sea and land, as far as cir"cumstances permit, their independence of the Spanish nation, " and of any other foreign demination whatever; and to secure, after “that is recognized, their mutual prosperity, the greatest harmony "and good understanding, as well between their people, subjects, “and citizens, as with other Powers with which they may enter 66 into relations.
"ART. 2. The Republic of Colombia, and the State of Chile, " therefore, voluntarily promise and contract a League of close 6 alliance and constant friendship, for the common defenre, for the
security of their independence and liberty, for their reciprocal "and general good, obliging themselves to succor each other, "and repel, in common, every attack or invasion which may, in any manner, threaten their political existence.
"Art. 3. In order to contribute to the objects pointed out in "the foregoing articles, the Republic of Colombia binds itself to " assist, with the disposable sea and land forces, of which the num“ber, or its equivalent, shall be fixed at a meeting of Pleni"potentiaries.
“ART. 4. The State of Chile shall also contribute with the disposable sea and land forces, of which the number, or its equivalent, shall likewise be fixed at said meeting.”
The other Treaties contain stipulations of similar import. For the Confederation thus formed, a National Council is provided, composed of two deputies from each of the Confederate States: they are to meet at Panama; but if ever, from the accidents of war, or for any other reason, that should be deemed an improper place, a majority of the States may remove it to some other spot in Spanish America. Its objects and powers are thus stated in all the Treaties : “A General Congress shall be assembled, composed “of Plenipotentiaries from the American States, for the purpose
“of establishing on a more solid basis, the intimate relations which “should exist between them all, individually and collectively: and " that it may serve as a Council in great events, as a point of union “in common danger, as a faithful interpreter of public Treaties, “in cases of misunderstanding, and as an arbitrator and conciliator " of disputes and differences."
Now, for th» purpose of simplifying the question, permit me to ask, can the two specific objects and duties of the Congress, viz: the interpretation of treaties, and the umpirage of all disputes and differences between the confederate States, be effected upon the limited construction now for the first time given to its powers ; a construction resorted to, and enforced with much ingenuity, by the gentleman from Rhode Island, when the Jangerous steps we are about to take are fully presented to his view. Upon further reflection, that gentle.nan cannot fail to detect the fallacy of the reasoning, by which he has been induced to adopt a construetion against the express letter of the treaties. He asks—where are the powers by which the Congress is to enforce its decisions ; none are given; hence he infers, that they are only authorized to advise, but not to direct. Permit me to ask the worthy gentleman to define the character of our Congress under the Articles of Confederation. Was that a mere diplomatic council-an advising power-a convention of Diplomatists met to negotiate, but not to decide ? It was a legislative body, acting to the extent of the powers conferred. If the gentleman will compare the treaties by which the Congress of Panama is established, with our Articles of Confederation,
he will perceive a striking similarity between them. Our “Congress was declared to be the last resort or appeal for all "disputes or differences now subsisting, or that may hereafter “ arise, between two or more States, concerning boundary, juris
diction, or any other cause whatever.” Was any direct power conferred to enforce its decisions ? Not at all. That Congress was left, as the Congress of Spanish American States is left, to the obligations resting on each of the confederate States, to abide by the decisons of a tribunal of their own creation, and to the known consequences of contumacy. Our Congress, it is true, had the express power to decide on peace or war. But was it clothed with the means of sustaining their decision ? Was it not wholly dependent on the voluntary contributions of the States ? The gentleman also refers to the stipulation contained in the treaties, securing “the exercise of the national sovereignty of each of the “ contracting parties, as well as to what regards their laws, and 6 to the establishment and form of their respective Governments,' &c. &c. By adverting to the Articles of our Confederation, he will again find a stipulation " that each State should retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, juris
diction, and right,” which was not expressly delegated to the United States. But if he be correct in supposing that this Congress will be a mere diplomatic meetiog, for the purpose of negotiating treaties in the usual form, and without power to bind any State except by ils own consent, whence the necessity of this reservation ? Does he not perceive that the very fact of inserting the exception, on which he so confidently relies, overthrows the argument he attempts to sustain by it? It can require no argument, or elucidation, to establish the permanent character of the Congress; it has no limitation as to time in the treaties. It is to be the Congress of the Confederation, and of course to last as long as the Confederation endures. Such is the necessary result, and that such is the design of its founders, appears from the provision authorizing the removal of the seat of Government, by the vote of a majority, if ever the casualties of war, or any other cause, may render it advisable to do so. There is no express stipulation as to the manner of acting by the Congress. Our Government required information upon this point, and afterwards, as I have already stated, consented to act without it. But that its decisions are to be governed by a majority, results from the propriety of that course, from the equality of representation, from the provision that such shall be the case, in relation to the place of meeting, and the absence of any other provision in regard to the other concerns of the Congress. This view of the subject is confirmed by the letter from the Government Council of Peru, to the Government of Buenos Ayres, of the 2d of May last, urging a union in the arrangements of the Congress, in which, after stating that if the world had to elect a Capital, " the Isthmus of Panama would be pointed “out for that august destiny, placed as it is in the centre of the
globe, looking on the one side to Asia, and on the other to Afri, ca and Europe : that the Isthmus had been offered for that
purpose by the Republic of Colombia ; that it was at an equal dis“tance from both extremities, and, on that account, might serve as
a provisional place for the first Assembly of the Confederates." It is added, that, “in the first conference between the Plenipoten“ tiaries, the residence of the assembly, and its powers, may be "settled in a solemn manner, by the majority, after which every “thing will be arranged to our satisfaction."
We have been invited to unite in a Congress thus constituted. The Executive asks our consent to his acceptance of that invitation. What are the limits contained in the invitation, and the restriction prescribed in the proposed acceptance? They consist in this, and in this only: that the United States shall not be called upon to do any act, during the continuance of the present war between Spain and the other States, which will conflict with our neutral obligations. If there be any other restriction or limitation, I call upon
gentlemen to point it out. I affirm that there is none. I do not ask gentlemen for the suggestions or opinions of those either within or without doors. I appeal to the documents by which we are to judge now, and by which we shall be judged hereafter. If no other is pointed out, I shall assume that none exists. We are then invited to become a member of the proposed Congress, and of this confederacy of American States. If the views of the Executive arë not such as the documents import, why, in the communications made to us, are we not specially advised upon this point ? But we are not without evidence of the most explicit character. We have ealled upon the Executive for information. Among other things sent us, are extracts from the correspondence between Mr. Clay and Mr. Poinsett, our Minister at Mexico. When the declarations of one of our Ministers, bearing distinctly upon a question before the Senate, made directly and officially to a foreign Govern. ment, is sent to us by the Executive, without explanation or disavowal, I know not how we are to avoid the conclusion, that the Minister has spoken a language authorized by his Government. More especially must that be the case when the declaration of the Minister, instead of being disavowed by his Governo.ent, is substantially in accordance with the declarations of its official organ, the Secretary of State. If this assumption be correct, much light, as to the views of our Government, may be derived froin the correspondence before referred to, between Mr. Poinsett and Mr. Clay. In the letter of the former to the latter, of the 28th September, 1825, we find the following sentiments : " I first objected to " the exception in favor of the American Nations, formerly Spanish “possessions, on the ground that no distinctions ought to be made 4 between any of the members of the Great American Family. " That Great Britain having consented to such a provision, ought " not to influence the American States, because the Republics of " America were united by one and the same interest, and that it " was the interest of the European Powers to cause such distinca " tions to be made, as would divide it into small confederacies, as and, if possible, to prevent us from uniting, so as to present one “ front against the attempts of Europe, upon our Republican Insti" tutions." And afterwards still more explicitly, as follows: " "I "then recapitulated the course of policy pursued towards the Span“ish colonies, by our Government, which had so largely contri" buted to secure their independence, and declared what further
we were willing to do to defend their rights and liberties, but that " this could only be expected from us, and could only be accom
plished by a strict union of all the American Republics, on terms “ of perfect equality and reciprocity; and repeated that it was " the obvious policy of Europe to divide us into small confedera. "cies, with separate and distinct interests; and as manifestly ours “ to form a single great confederacy, which might oppose one united “ front to the attacks of our enemies."
So far from disapproving the sentiments thus avowed by Mr. Poinsett, in his letter of the 28th September, Mr. Clay in his despatch to Mr. Poinsett, of the 9th November, holds the following language : “ Again the United Mexican Gvernment has invited " that of the United States to be represented at the Cengress of “Panama, and the President has determined to accept the invita“ tion. Such an invitation has been given to no European Govern
ment, and ought not to have been given to this, if it is not to be 66 considered as one of the American Nations.” It is, therefore, fair to conclude, that the language of Mr. Poinsett to the Mexican Government was authorized by his own; and if this be conceded, the views of the Executive must be such as I have contended. With these views, ought we to join a Congress thus constituted ? I contend we ought not if we could, and that the power to do so is not conferred by the Constitution. I will not detain the Senate by the discussion of either of those points. The first is too plaia to require elucidation-and in noticing the second, (the constitutional objection,) I only repeat an objection, first made on this floor by my friend from Virginia, (Mr. RANDOLPH.) The distinct and impressive view he has taken of it, and the knowledge that the point has been fully considered, and will be thoroughly discussed, by at least two other gentlemen, (Messrs. BENTON and BERRIEN,) induces me to desist from doing so myself.
Such, in my judgment, is a correct view of the first great question arising on the subject of the Panama Mission. I will now ask the attention of the Senate to the next branch of the subject, viz: THE BUSINESS TO BE TRANSACTED at the Congress, and particularly that portion of it in which we have been invited to participate. Unless I greatly deceive myself, the difficulties will be found to multiply as we proceed in the discussion of the matters proposed to be acted upon, so far as the United States are concerned. There are those which in the view of the Spanish American States, as well as of our own Government, are of primary importance; and others of a secondary character, which, athough they would not have furnished adequate inducement for the invitation or acceptance, are still deemned worthy of consideration if our ministers attend. Of the former, stipulations on our part to make common cause with the Spanish American States, in the event of any European Power assisting Spain to re establish her dominion in Spanish America, and resistance to European Colonization on this continent, stand in the front ground. But for these, the United States would never have been invited to send a representative to the Congress of Panama. But for these, the presence of our deputies would cause embarrassment, instead of affording facilities to the confederate States. Never in the course of the little experience which it has been my good or ill fortune to have had in public affairs, have