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CANDID POLICY OF GENERAL JACKSON.
nantly refused. Some time after, the commandant was displaced on representation of our government, but he was speedily restored to a higher office on the same coast.
In the mean time, Texas, which, since the battle of San Jacinto, had not been molested by Mexico, pressed upon the American government its recognition as an independent nation; but President Jackson, although wounded by the conduct of the Mexican government, with that strong sense of justice and honour for/ which he was distinguished, in his special message to Congress of December 21st, 1836, advised that the United States should delay to recognise its nationality until the independence of Texas was indisputably established, that the policy of his country might be above all suspicion.
“ The title of Texas to the territory she claims is identified with her independence; she asks us to acknowledge that title to the territory, with an avowed design to treat immediately of its transfer to the United States. It becomes us to beware of a too early movement, as it might subject us, however unjustly, to the imputation of seeking to establish the claim of our neighbours to a territory, with a view to its subsequent acquisition by ourselves.
« Prudence, therefore, seems to dictate that we should still stand aloof, and maintain our present attitude, if not until Mexico itself, or one of the great foreign powers, shall recognise the independence of the new government, at least until the lapse of time, or the course of events shall have proved, beyond cavil or dispute, the ability of the people of that country to maintain their separate sovereignty, and to uphold the government constituted by them.
• Neither of the contending parties can justly complain of this course. By pursuing it, we are but carrying out the long-established policy of our government-a policy which has secured to us respect and influence abroad, and inspired confidence at home.”
Some time before this, to prevent any hasty action in the case of Texas, the President had sent a confidential agent to ascertain the civil, political, and military condition of the country.
On the acknowledgment of the independence of Texas, some time after, by the United States, the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs protested against the matter in the most solemn manner, and in a way calculated to do violence to the feelings of the government and people of the United States. In the interim, the representations of our Chargé d'Affaires in Mexico, in relation to the grave complaints which the United States made against the government of that country, had been entirely disregarded. Wherefore, the President, in carrying out his candid policy to ask for nothing which was not clearly right, and to submit to nothing that was wrong,” finding he could effect nothing with the Mexican government, called the attention of Congress to the difficulty in a special message of February 6th, 1837, from which we make the following extracts :
“The length of time since some of the injuries have been committed, the repeated and unavailing applications for redress, the wanton character of some of the outrages upon the
and property of our citizens, upon the officers and flag of the United States, independent of recent insults to this government and people, by the late Extraordinary Mexican Minister, would justify, in the eyes of all nations, immediate war. “ That remedy, however, should not be used by just and
generous nations, confiding in their strength for injuries committed, if it can be honourably avoided ; and it has occurred to me that, considering the present embarrassed condition of that country, we should act with both wisdom and moderation, by giving to Mexico one more opportunity of atoning for the past, before we take redress into our own hands. To avoid all misconception on the part of Mexico, as well as to protect our national character from reproach, this opportunity should be given with the avowed design
and full preparation to take immediate satisfaction, if it should not be obtained on a repetition of the demand for it. To this end, I recommend that an act be passed authorizing reprisals, and the use of the naval force of the United States, by the Executive, / against Mexico, to force them, in the event of a refusal by the Mexican government, to come to an amicable adjustment of the matters in controversy between us, upon another demand thereof made from on board of one of our vessels of war on the coast of Mexico.”
The President was entirely sustained by both houses of Con, gress in his views of the flagrant outrages committed by Mexico, as well as in the plan of redress; but it was recommended that she should have another opportunity to atone for her past misconduct. In this, strict adherence was had to the 34th article of the treaty with Mexico, which provided that—« If any of the articles contained in the present treaty shall be violated or infracted in any manner whatever, it is stipulated that neither of the contracting parties will order or authorize any acts of reprisal, nor declare war against the other, on complaint of injuries or damages, until the said party considering itself offended shall first have presented to the other a statement of such injuries or damages, verified by competent proofs, and demanded justice and satisfaction, and the same shall have been either refused or unreasonably delayed.”
In the House of Representatives, the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs contained the following paragraph :
“ The committee fully concur with the President that ample cause exists for taking redress into our own hands, and believe that we should be justified, in the opinion of other nations, for taking such a step. But they are willing to try the experiment ! of another demand, made in the most solemn form, upon the justice of the Mexican government, before any further proceedings are adopted.”
The report of the similar committee in the Senate contained the following:
“ After such a demand, should prompt justice be refused by the Mexican government, we may appeal to all nations not only for the equity and moderation with which we shall have acted towards a sister republic, but for the necessity which will then compel us to seek redress for our wrongs, either by actual war or by reprisals. The subject will then be presented before Congress, at the commencement of the next session, in a clear and distinct form; and the committee cannot doubt but that such measures will be immediately adopted as may be necessary to vindicate the honour of our country, and insure ample reparation to our injured citizens.”
Pursuant to these recommendations, the President despatched a special messenger to Mexico to demand satisfaction and redress, who made the demand accordingly on the 20th of July,
1837. The government of Mexico replied on the 29th, and gave assurances that “nothing should be left undone which may contribute to the most speedy and equitable determination of the subjects which have so seriously engaged the attention of the American government.” It further promised to “adopt, as the only guides of its conduct, the plainest principles of public right, the sacred obligations imposed by international law, and the religious faith of treaties; and that whatever justice and reason may dictate respecting each case will be done."
How well Mexico adhered to the above pledges, will appear from the following extract from the annual message of President Van Buren, of December 5th, 1837:
Although the large number, and many of them aggravated cases of personal wrongs, have been now for years before the Mexican government, and some of the causes of national complaint, and those of the most offensive character, admitted of immediate, simple, and satisfactory replies, it is only within a few
RENEWAL OF NEGOTIATIONS.
days past that any specific communication in answer to your last demand, made five months ago, has been received from the Mexican Minister. By the report of the Secretary of State, herewith presented, and the accompanying documents, it will be seen that for not one of our public complaints has satisfaction been given or offered; that but one of the cases of personal wrong has been favourably considered, and that but four cases of both descriptions, out of all those formally presented and earnestly pressed, have as yet been decided upon by the Mexican government.
In accordance with the clearly-understood wishes of the legislature, another and formal demand for satisfaction has been made upon the Mexican government, with what success the documents now communicated will show. On a careful and deliberative examination of the contents, and considering the spirit manifested by the Mexican government, it has become my painful duty to return the subject, as it now stands, to Congress, to whom it belongs to decide upon the time, the mode, and the measures of redress.”
Instead, now, of war or reprisals, Congress generously forbore to redress her wrongs in the case of a sister republic; and negotiations were renewed between the countries. After a year's delay, the convention of April 11th, 1839, was agreed upon “for / the adjustment of claims of citizens of the United States of America upon the government of the Mexican republic.” The joint board of commissioners to examine and decide upon these claims met in August 1840, and the four first months were spent in frivolous points raised by the Mexican commissioners. The examination of claims, in consequence, did not commence till December 1840, though the time of session of the convention was limited to but eighteen months. When the time expired, in 1842, the claims allowed amounted to two million twenty-six thousand one hundred and thirty-nine dollars and sixty-eight cents. Before the umpire between the commissioners of the two countries, and/