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A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Polk by Compiled by James D. Richardson

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WASHINGTON, _May 28, 1846_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

I transmit a copy of a note, under date the 26th instant, from the envoy
extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Her Britannic Majesty to
the Secretary of State, communicating a dispatch, under date of the 4th
instant, received by him from Her Majesty's principal secretary of state
for foreign affairs.

From these it will be seen that the claims of the two Governments upon
each other for a return of duties which had been levied in violation of
the commercial convention of 1815 have been finally and satisfactorily
adjusted. In making this communication I deem it proper to express my
satisfaction at the prompt manner in which the British Government has
acceded to the suggestion of the Secretary of State for the speedy
termination of this affair.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 1, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I propose, for the reason stated in the accompanying communication of
the Secretary of War, that the confirmation of Brevet Second Lieutenant
L.B. Wood by the Senate on the 5th of February, as a second lieutenant
in the Fifth Regiment of Infantry, be canceled; and I nominate the
officers named in the same communication for regular promotion in the
Army.

JAMES K. POLK.

WAR DEPARTMENT, _May 15, 1846_.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: On the 12th of December last a list of promotions and appointments
of officers of the Army was submitted to the Senate for confirmation, in
which list Brevet Second Lieutenant L.B. Wood, of the Eighth Infantry,
was nominated to the grade of second lieutenant in the Fifth Regiment of
Infantry, _vice_ Second Lieutenant Deas, promoted. He was entitled to
this vacancy by _seniority_, but in a letter dated November 30, 1845,
and received at the Adjutant-General's Office December 30, 1845
(eighteen days _after_ the list referred to above had been sent to the
Senate), he says: "I respectfully beg leave to be permitted to decline
promotion in any other regiment, and to fill the first vacancy which may
happen in the Eighth." This request was acceded to, and accordingly, on
the first subsequent list submitted to the Senate, dated January 8,
1846, Brevet Second Lieutenant Charles S. Hamilton, of the Second
Infantry (the next below Lieutenant Wood), was nominated to fill the
vacancy in the _Fifth_ Regiment and Lieutenant Wood to a vacancy which
has occurred meanwhile (December 31) in the _Eighth_.

The foregoing circumstances were explained in a note to the nomination
list of January 8, but it is probable the explanation escaped
observation in the Senate, as on the 5th of February Lieutenant Wood was
confirmed in the Fifth Infantry, agreeably to the first nomination,
while no action appears to have been taken on his nomination or that of
Lieutenant Hamilton on the subsequent list of January 8, 1846.

As no commissions have yet been issued to these officers, and as
Lieutenant Wood has renewed his application to be continued in the
Eighth Infantry, I respectfully suggest that the Senate be requested to
cancel their confirmation, on the 5th of February, of his promotion as a
second lieutenant in the Fifth Regiment of Infantry; and I have the
honor to propose the renomination of the lieutenants whose names are
annexed for regular promotion, to wit:

_Fifth Regiment of Infantry._

Brevet Second Lieutenant Charles S. Hamilton, of the Second Regiment
of Infantry, to be second lieutenant, November 17, 1846, _vice_ Deas,
promoted.

_Eighth Regiment of Infantry._

Brevet Second Lieutenant Lafayette B. Wood to be second lieutenant,
December 31, 1846, _vice_ Maclay, promoted.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W.L. MARCY.

WASHINGTON, _June 5, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 22d ultimo, calling for
information upon the subject of the treaties which were concluded
between the late Republic of Texas and England and France, respectively,
I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the documents by
which it was accompanied.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 6, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolutions of the Senate of the 10th, 11th, and 22d of
April last, I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State,
accompanied with the correspondence between the Government of the United
States and that of Great Britain in the years 1840, 1841, 1842, and 1843
respecting the right or practice of visiting or searching merchant
vessels in time of peace, and also the protest addressed by the minister
of the United States at Paris in the year 1842 against the concurrence
of France in the quintuple treaty, together with all correspondence
relating thereto.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 6, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for its consideration, a
convention signed on the 2d day of May, 1846, by the minister of the
United States at Berlin with the plenipotentiary of Hesse-Cassel, for
the mutual abolition of the _droit d'aubaine_ and duties on emigration
between that German State and the United States; and I communicate with
the convention an explanatory dispatch of the minister of the United
States dated on the same day of the present year and numbered 284.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 8, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, transmitting
the correspondence called for by the resolution of the Senate of the 5th
instant with General Edmund P. Gaines and General Winfield Scott, of the
Army of the United States.

The report of the Secretary of War and the accompanying correspondence
with General Gaines contain all the information in my possession in
relation to calls for "volunteers or militia into the service of the
United States" "by any officer of the Army" without legal "authority
therefor," and of the "measures which have been adopted" "in relation
to such officer or troops so called into service."

In addition to the information contained in the report of the Secretary
of War and the accompanying correspondence with "Major-General Scott, of
the United States Army, upon the subject of his taking the command of
the army of occupation on the frontier of Texas," I state that on the
same day on which I approved and signed the act of the 13th of May,
1846, entitled "An act providing for the prosecution of the existing war
between the United States and the Republic of Mexico," I communicated to
General Scott, through the Secretary of War, and also in a personal
interview with that officer, my desire that he should take command of
the Army on the Rio Grande and of the volunteer forces which I informed
him it was my intention forthwith to call out to march to that frontier
to be employed in the prosecution of the war against Mexico. The tender
of the command to General Scott was voluntary on my part, and was made
without any request or intimation on the subject from him. It was made
in consideration of his rank as Commander in Chief of the Army. My
communications with General Scott assigning him the command were verbal,
first through the Secretary of War and afterwards in person. No written
order was deemed to be necessary. General Scott assented to assume the
command, and on the following day I had another interview with him and
the Secretary of War, in relation to the number and apportionment among
the several States of the volunteer forces to be called out for
immediate service, the forces which were to be organized and held in
readiness subject to a future call should it become necessary, and other
military preparations and movements to be made with a view to the
vigorous prosecution of the war. It was distinctly settled, and was well
understood by General Scott, that he was to command the Army in the war
against Mexico, and so continued to be settled and understood without
any other intention on my part until the Secretary of War submitted to
me the letter of General Scott addressed to him under date of the 21st
of May, 1846, a copy of which is herewith communicated. The character of
that letter made it proper, in my judgment, to change my determination
in regard to the command of the Army, and the Secretary of War, by my
direction, in his letter of the 25th of May, 1846, a copy of which is
also herewith communicated, for the reasons therein assigned, informed
General Scott that he was relieved from the command of the Army destined
to prosecute the war against Mexico, and that he would remain in the
discharge of his duties at Washington. The command of the Army on the
frontier of Mexico has since been assigned to General Taylor, with his
brevet rank of major-general recently conferred upon him.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 10, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I lay before the Senate a proposal, in the form of a convention,
presented to the Secretary of State on the 6th instant by the envoy
extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Her Britannic Majesty, for
the adjustment of the Oregon question, together with a protocol of this
proceeding. I submit this proposal to the consideration of the Senate,
and request their advice as to the action which in their judgment it may
be proper to take in reference to it.

In the early periods of the Government the opinion and advice of the
Senate were often taken in advance upon important questions of our
foreign policy. General Washington repeatedly consulted the Senate and
asked their previous advice upon pending negotiations with foreign
powers, and the Senate in every instance responded to his call by giving
their advice, to which he always conformed his action. This practice,
though rarely resorted to in later times, was, in my judgment, eminently
wise, and may on occasions of great importance be properly revived. The
Senate are a branch of the treaty-making power, and by consulting them
in advance of his own action upon important measures of foreign policy
which may ultimately come before them for their consideration the
President secures harmony of action between that body and himself. The
Senate are, moreover, a branch of the war-making power, and it may be
eminently proper for the Executive to take the opinion and advice of
that body in advance upon any great question which may involve in its
decision the issue of peace or war. On the present occasion the
magnitude of the subject would induce me under any circumstances to
desire the previous advice of the Senate, and that desire is increased
by the recent debates and proceedings in Congress, which render it, in
my judgment, not only respectful to the Senate, but necessary and
proper, if not indispensable to insure harmonious action between that
body and the Executive. In conferring on the Executive the authority to
give the notice for the abrogation of the convention of 1827 the Senate
acted publicly so large a part that a decision on the proposal now made
by the British Government, without a definite knowledge of the views of
that body in reference to it, might render the question still more
complicated and difficult of adjustment. For these reasons I invite the
consideration of the Senate to the proposal of the British Government
for the settlement of the Oregon question, and ask their advice on the
subject.

My opinions and my action on the Oregon question were fully made known
to Congress in my annual message of the 2d of December last, and the
opinions therein expressed remain unchanged.

Should the Senate, by the constitutional majority required for the
ratification of treaties, advise the acceptance of this proposition, or
advise it with such modifications as they may upon full deliberation
deem proper, I shall conform my action to their advice. Should the
Senate, however, decline by such constitutional majority to give such
advice or to express an opinion on the subject, I shall consider it my
duty to reject the offer.

I also communicate herewith an extract from a dispatch of the Secretary
of State to the minister of the United States at London under date of
the 28th of April last, directing him, in accordance with the joint
resolution of Congress "concerning the Oregon Territory," to deliver the
notice to the British Government for the abrogation of the convention of
the 6th of August, 1827, and also a copy of the notice transmitted to
him for that purpose, together with extracts from a dispatch of that
minister to the Secretary of State bearing date on the 18th day of May
last.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 11, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of War, which is
accompanied by documents relating to General Gaines's calls for
volunteers, received since the answer was made to the resolution of the
Senate of the 5th instant on that subject, and which I deem it proper to
submit for the further information of the Senate.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 12, 1846_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives:_

I transmit herewith for the information of Congress, official reports
received at the War Department from the officer commanding the Army on
the Mexican frontier, giving a detailed report of the operations of the
Army in that quarter, and particularly of the recent engagements[9]
between the American and Mexican forces.

JAMES K. POLK.

[Footnote 9: Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.]

WASHINGTON, _June 15, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States:_

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of War,
accompanied by a report of an expedition led by Lieutenant Abert on the
Upper Arkansas and through the country of the Camanche Indians in the
fall of the year 1845, as requested by the resolution of the Senate of
the 9th instant.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 16, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 3d instant, I
communicate herewith estimates prepared by the War and Navy Departments
of the probable expenses of conducting the existing war with Mexico
during the remainder of the present and the whole of the next fiscal
year. I communicate also a report of the Secretary of the Treasury,
based upon these estimates, containing recommendations of measures for
raising the additional means required. It is probable that the actual
expenses incurred during the period specified may fall considerably
below the estimates submitted, which are for a larger number of troops
than have yet been called to the field. As a precautionary measure,
however, against any possible deficiency, the estimates have been made
at the largest amount which any state of the service may require.

It will be perceived from the report of the Secretary of the Treasury
that a considerable portion of the additional amount required may be
raised by a modification of the rates of duty imposed by the existing
tariff laws. The high duties at present levied on many articles totally
exclude them from importation, whilst the quantity and amount of others
which are imported are greatly diminished. By reducing these duties to a
revenue standard, it is not doubted that a large amount of the articles
on which they are imposed would be imported, and a corresponding amount
of revenue be received at the Treasury from this source. By imposing
revenue duties on many articles now permitted to be imported free of
duty, and by regulating the rates within the revenue standard upon
others, a large additional revenue will be collected. Independently of
the high considerations which induced me in my annual message to
recommend a modification and reduction of the rates of duty imposed by
the act of 1842 as being not only proper in reference to a state of
peace, but just to all the great interests of the country, the necessity
of such modification and reduction as a war measure must now be
manifest. The country requires additional revenue for the prosecution of
the war. It may be obtained to a great extent by reducing the
prohibitory and highly protective duties imposed by the existing laws to
revenue rates, by imposing revenue duties on the free list, and by
modifying the rates of duty on other articles.

The modifications recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury in his
annual report in December last were adapted to a state of peace, and the
additional duties now suggested by him are with a view strictly to raise
revenue as a war measure. At the conclusion of the war these duties may
and should be abolished and reduced to lower rates.

It is not apprehended that the existing war with Mexico will materially
affect our trade and commerce with the rest of the world. On the
contrary, the reductions proposed would increase that trade and augment
the revenue derived from it.

When the country is in a state of war no contingency should be permitted
to occur in which there would be a deficiency in the Treasury for the
vigorous prosecution of the war, and to guard against such an event it
is recommended that contingent authority be given to issue Treasury
notes or to contract a loan for a limited amount, reimbursable at an
early day. Should no occasion arise to exercise the power, still it may
be important that the authority should exist should there be a necessity
for it.

It is not deemed necessary to resort to direct taxes or excises, the
measures recommended being deemed preferable as a means of increasing
the revenue. It is hoped that the war with Mexico, if vigorously
prosecuted, as is contemplated, may be of short duration. I shall be at
all times ready to conclude an honorable peace whenever the Mexican
Government shall manifest a like disposition. The existing war has been
rendered necessary by the acts of Mexico, and whenever that power shall
be ready to do us justice we shall be prepared to sheath the sword and
tender to her the olive branch of peace.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 16, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In accordance with the resolution of the Senate of the 12th instant,
that "the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, advised
to accept the proposal of the British Government accompanying his
message to the Senate dated 10th June, 1846, for a convention to settle
boundaries, etc., between the United States and Great Britain west of
the Rocky or Stony Mountains," a convention was concluded and signed on
the 15th instant by the Secretary of State, on the part of the United
States, and the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Her
Britannic Majesty, on the part of Great Britain.

This convention I now lay before the Senate, for their consideration
with a view to its ratification.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 17, 1846_.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of the Navy,
accompanied with the correspondence called for by the resolution of the
House of Representatives of the 4th of May last, between Commander G.J.
Pendergrast and the Governments on the Rio de la Plata, and the foreign
naval commanders and the United States minister at Buenos Ayres and the
Navy Department, whilst or since said Pendergrast was in command of the
United States ship _Boston_ in the Rio de la Plata, touching said
service.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 23, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for its consideration, a
convention concluded by the minister of the United States at Berlin with
the Duchy of Nassau, dated on the 27th May, 1846, for the mutual
abolition of the _droit d'aubaine_ and taxes on emigration between that
State of the Germanic Confederation and the United States of America,
and also a dispatch from the minister explanatory of the convention.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _June 24, 1846_.

_To the Senate_:

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of War,
accompanied by a report from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in
reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 9th instant, requiring
information on the subject of the removal of the Chippewa Indians from
the mineral lands on Lake Superior.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 2, 1846_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, together with
copies of the correspondence in the year 1841 between the President of
the United States and the governor of New York relative to the
appearance of Joshua A. Spencer, esq., district attorney of the United
States for the western district of New York in the courts of the State
of New York as counsel for Alexander McLeod, called for by the
resolution of the House of Representatives of the 10th of April, 1846.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 7, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate, for its consideration, a treaty of
commerce and navigation between the United States and the Kingdom of
Hanover, concluded and signed at Hanover on the 10th ultimo by the
respective plenipotentiaries.

And I communicate at the same time extracts of a dispatch from the agent
of the United States explanatory of the treaty.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 9, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and advice of the Senate with
regard to its ratification, a treaty concluded on the 5th and 17th days
of June last by T.P. Andrews, Thomas A. Harvey, and Gideon C. Matlock,
commissioners on the part of the United States, and the various bands of
the Pottawatomies, Chippewa, and Ottawa Indians, together with a report
of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and other papers explanatory of
the same.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 9, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of the Treasury,
transmitting a report from the Commissioner of Public Lands in reply to
the resolution of the Senate of the 22d of June, 1846, calling for
information of the "progress which has been made in the surveys of the
mineral region upon Lake Superior, and within what time such surveys may
probably be prepared for the sales of the lands in that country." In
answer to that portion of the resolution which calls for the "views" of
the Executive "respecting the proper mode of disposing of said lands,
keeping in view the interest of the United States and the equitable
claims of individuals who, under the authority of the War Department,
have made improvements thereon or acquired rights of possession," I
recommend that these lands be brought into market and sold at such price
and under such regulations as Congress may prescribe, and that the right
of preemption be secured to such persons as have, under the authority of
the War Department, made improvements or acquired rights of possession
thereon. Should Congress deem it proper to authorize the sale of these
lands, it will be necessary to attach them to suitable land districts,
and that they be placed under the management and control of the General
Land Office, as other public lands.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 11, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_.

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, together with
copies of the reports of the board of engineers heretofore employed in
an examination of the coast of Texas with a view to its defense and
improvement, called for by the resolution of the 29th June, 1846.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 15, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration of the Senate, a treaty
concluded on the 15th day of May last with the Comanche and other tribes
or bands of Indians of Texas and the Southwestern prairies. I also
inclose a communication from the Secretary of War and a report from the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, with accompanying documents, which
contain full explanations of the considerations which led to the
negotiation of the treaty and the general objects sought to be
accomplished by it.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 21, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith transmit, in compliance with the request of the Senate in
their resolution of the 17th of June, 1846, a report of the Secretary of
State, together with a copy of all "the dispatches and instructions"
"relative to the Oregon treaty" "forwarded to our minister, Mr. McLane,"
"not heretofore communicated to the Senate," including a statement of
the propositions for the adjustment of the Oregon question previously
made and rejected by the respective Governments. This statement was
furnished to Mr. McLane before his departure from the country, and is
dated on the 12th July, 1845, the day on which the note was addressed by
the Secretary of State to Mr. Pakenham offering to settle the
controversy by the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, which was rejected
by that minister on the 29th July following.

The Senate will perceive that extracts from but two of Mr. McLane's
"dispatches and communications to this Government" are transmitted, and
these only because they were necessary to explain the answers given to
them by the Secretary of State.

These dispatches are both numerous and voluminous, and, from their
confidential character, their publication, it is believed, would be
highly prejudicial to the public interests.

Public considerations alone have induced me to withhold the dispatches
of Mr. McLane addressed to the Secretary of State. I concur with the
Secretary of State in the views presented in his report herewith
transmitted, against the publication of these dispatches.

Mr. McLane has performed his whole duty to his country, and I am not
only willing, but anxious, that every Senator who may desire it shall
have an opportunity of perusing these dispatches at the Department of
State. The Secretary of State has been instructed to afford every
facility for this purpose.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _July 21, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of State, in answer
to the resolution of the Senate of the 18th of June, 1846, calling for
certain information in relation to the Oregon Territory.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 4, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I herewith communicate to the Senate the copy of a letter, under date of
the 27th ultimo, from the Secretary of State of the United States to the
minister of foreign relations of the Mexican Republic, again proposing
to open negotiations and conclude a treaty of peace which shall adjust
all the questions in dispute between the two Republics. Considering the
relative power of the two countries, the glorious events which have
already signalized our arms, and the distracted condition of Mexico,
I did not conceive that any point of national honor could exist which
ought to prevent me from making this overture. Equally anxious to
terminate by a peace honorable for both parties as I was originally to
avoid the existing war, I have deemed it my duty again to extend the
olive branch to Mexico. Should the Government of that Republic accept
the offer in the same friendly spirit by which it was dictated,
negotiations will speedily commence for the conclusion of a treaty.

The chief difficulty to be anticipated in the negotiation is the
adjustment of the boundary between the parties by a line which shall at
once be satisfactory to both, and such as neither will hereafter be
inclined to disturb. This is the best mode of securing perpetual peace
and good neighborhood between the two Republics. Should the Mexican
Government, in order to accomplish these objects, be willing to cede any
portion of their territory to the United States, we ought to pay them a
fair equivalent--a just and honorable peace, and not conquest, being our
purpose in the prosecution of the war.

Under these circumstances, and considering the exhausted and distracted
condition of the Mexican Republic, it might become necessary in order to
restore peace that I should have it in my power to advance a portion of
the consideration money for any cession of territory which may be made.
The Mexican Government might not be willing to wait for the payment of
the whole until the treaty could be ratified by the Senate and an
appropriation to carry it into effect be made by Congress, and the
necessity for such a delay might defeat the object altogether. I would
therefore suggest whether it might not be wise for Congress to
appropriate a sum such as they might consider adequate for this purpose,
to be paid, if necessary, immediately upon the ratification of the
treaty by Mexico. This disbursement would of course be accounted for at
the Treasury, not as secret-service money, but like other expenditures.

Two precedents for such a proceeding exist in our past history, during
the Administration of Mr. Jefferson, to which I would call your
attention. On the 26th February, 1803, Congress passed an act
appropriating $2,000,000 for the purpose of defraying any extraordinary
expenses which may be incurred in the intercourse "between the United
States and foreign nations," "to be applied under the direction of the
President of the United States, who shall cause an account of the
expenditure thereof to be laid before Congress as soon as may be;" and
on the 13th February, 1806, an appropriation was made of the same amount
and in the same terms. The object in the first case was to enable the
President to obtain the cession of Louisiana, and in the second that of
the Florida. In neither case was the money actually drawn from the
Treasury, and I should hope that the result might be similar in this
respect on the present occasion, though the appropriation is deemed
expedient as a precautionary measure.

I refer the whole subject to the Senate in executive session. If they
should concur in opinion with me, then I recommend the passage of a law
appropriating such a sum as Congress may deem adequate, to be used by
the Executive, if necessary, for the purpose which I have indicated.

In the two cases to which I have referred the special purpose of the
appropriation did not appear on the face of the law, as this might have
defeated the object; neither, for the same reason, in my opinion, ought
it now to be stated.

I also communicate to the Senate the copy of a letter from the Secretary
of State to Commodore Conner of the 29th ultimo, which was transmitted
to him on the day it bears date.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 5, 1846._

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a copy of a convention for the settlement and
adjustment of the Oregon question, which was concluded in this city on
the 15th day of June last between the United States and Her Britannic
Majesty. This convention has since been duly ratified by the respective
parties, and the ratifications were exchanged at London on the 17th day
of July, 1846.

It now becomes important that provision should be made by law at the
earliest practicable period for the organization of a Territorial
government in Oregon.

It is also deemed proper that our laws regulating trade and intercourse
with the Indian tribes east of the Rocky Mountains should be extended to
such tribes within our territory as dwell beyond them, and that a
suitable number of Indian agents should be appointed for the purpose of
carrying these laws into execution.

It is likewise important that mail facilities, so indispensable for the
diffusion of information and for binding together the different portions
of our extended Confederacy, should be afforded to our citizens west of
the Rocky Mountains.

There is another subject to which I desire to call your special
attention. It is of great importance to our country generally, and
especially to our navigating and whaling interests, that the Pacific
Coast, and, indeed, the whole of our territory west of the Rocky
Mountains, should speedily be filled up by a hardy and patriotic
population. Emigrants to that territory have many difficulties to
encounter and privations to endure in their long and perilous journey,
and by the time they reach their place of destination their pecuniary
means are generally much reduced, if not altogether exhausted. Under
these circumstances it is deemed but an act of justice that these
emigrants, whilst most effectually advancing the interests and policy of
the Government, should be aided by liberal grants of land. I would
therefore recommend that such grants be made to actual settlers upon the
terms and under the restrictions and limitations which Congress may
think advisable.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 7, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of the Navy, with the
accompanying documents, in answer to the resolution of the Senate of
August 6, 1846, calling for the report of the board of naval officers,
recently in session in this city, including the orders under which it
was convened and the evidence which may have been laid before it.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 7, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I transmit herewith, for the consideration and constitutional action of
the Senate, articles of a treaty which has been concluded by the
commissioners appointed for the purpose with the different parties into
which the Cherokee tribe of Indians has been divided, through their
delegates now in Washington. The same commissioners had previously been
appointed to investigate the subject of the difficulties which have for
years existed among the Cherokees, and which have kept them in a state
of constant excitement and almost entirely interrupted all progress on
their part in civilization and improvement in agriculture and the
mechanic arts, and have led to many unfortunate acts of domestic strife,
against which the Government is bound by the treaty of 1835 to protect
them. Their unfortunate internal dissensions had attracted the notice
and excited the sympathies of the whole country, and it became evident
that if something was not done to heal them they would terminate in a
sanguinary war, in which other tribes of Indians might become involved
and the lives and property of our own citizens on the frontier
endangered. I recommended in my message to Congress on the 13th of April
last such measures as I then thought it expedient should be adopted to
restore peace and good order among the Cherokees, one of which was a
division of the country which they occupy and separation of the tribe.
This recommendation was made under the belief that the different
factions could not be reconciled and live together in harmony--a belief
based in a great degree upon the representations of the delegates of the
two divisions of the tribe. Since then, however, there appears to have
been a change of opinion on this subject on the part of these divisions
of the tribe, and on representations being made to me that by the
appointment of commissioners to hear and investigate the causes of
grievance of the parties against each other and to examine into their
claims against the Government it would probably be found that an
arrangement could be made which would once more harmonize the tribe and
adjust in a satisfactory manner their claims upon and relations with the
United States, I did not hesitate to appoint three persons for the
purpose. The commissioners entered into an able and laborious
investigation, and on their making known to me the probability of their
being able to conclude a new treaty with the delegates of all the
divisions of the tribe, who were fully empowered to make any new
arrangement which would heal all dissensions among the Cherokees and
restore them to their ancient condition of peace and good brotherhood,
I authorized and appointed them to enter into negotiations with these
delegates for the accomplishment of that object. The treaty now
transmitted is the result of their labors, and it is hoped that it will
meet the approbation of Congress, and, if carried out in good faith by
all parties to it, it is believed it will effect the great and desirable
ends had in view.

Accompanying the treaty is the report of the commissioners, and also a
communication to them from John Ross and others, who represent what is
termed the government party of the Cherokees, and which is transmitted
at their request for the consideration of the Senate.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 8, 1846_.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I invite your attention to the propriety of making an appropriation to
provide for any expenditure which it may be necessary to make in advance
for the purpose of settling all our difficulties with the Mexican
Republic. It is my sincere desire to terminate, as it was originally to
avoid, the existing war with Mexico by a peace just and honorable to
both parties. It is probable that the chief obstacle to be surmounted in
accomplishing this desirable object will be the adjustment of a boundary
between the two Republics which shall prove satisfactory and convenient
to both, and such as neither will hereafter be inclined to disturb. In
the adjustment of this boundary we ought to pay a fair equivalent for
any concessions which may be made by Mexico.

Under these circumstances, and considering the other complicated
questions to be settled by negotiation with the Mexican Republic, I deem
it important that a sum of money should be placed under the control of
the Executive to be advanced, if need be, to the Government of that
Republic immediately after their ratification of a treaty. It might be
inconvenient for the Mexican Government to wait for the whole sum the
payment of which may be stipulated by this treaty until it could be
ratified by our Senate and an appropriation to carry it into effect made
by Congress. Indeed, the necessity for this delay might defeat the
object altogether. The disbursement of this money would of course be
accounted for, not as secret-service money, but like other expenditures.

Two precedents for such a proceeding exist in our past history, during
the Administration of Mr. Jefferson, to which I would call your
attention: On the 26th February, 1803, an act was passed appropriating
$2,000,000 "for the purpose of defraying any extraordinary expenses
which may be incurred in the intercourse between the United States and
foreign nations," "to be applied under the direction of the President of
the United States, who shall cause an account of the expenditure thereof
to be laid before Congress as soon as may be;" and on the 13th of
February, 1806, an appropriation was made of the same amount and in the
same terms. In neither case was the money actually drawn from the
Treasury, and I should hope that the result in this respect might be
similar on the present occasion, although the appropriation may prove
to be indispensable in accomplishing the object. I would therefore
recommend the passage of a law appropriating $2,000,000 to be placed at
the disposal of the Executive for the purpose which I have indicated.

In order to prevent all misapprehension, it is my duty to state that,
anxious as I am to terminate the existing war with the least possible
delay, it will continue to be prosecuted with the utmost vigor until
a treaty of peace shall be signed by the parties and ratified by the
Mexican Republic.

JAMES K. POLK.

VETO MESSAGES.

WASHINGTON, _August 3, 1846_.

_To the House of Representatives_:

I have considered the bill entitled "An act making appropriations for
the improvement of certain harbors and rivers" with the care which
its importance demands, and now return the same to the House of
Representatives, in which it originated, with my objections to its
becoming a law. The bill proposes to appropriate $1,378,450 to be
applied to more than forty distinct and separate objects of improvement.
On examining its provisions and the variety of objects of improvement
which it embraces, many of them of a local character, it is difficult to
conceive, if it shall be sanctioned and become a law, what practical
constitutional restraint can hereafter be imposed upon the most extended
system of internal improvements by the Federal Government in all parts
of the Union. The Constitution has not, in my judgment, conferred upon
the Federal Government the power to construct works of internal
improvement within the States, or to appropriate money from the Treasury
for that purpose. That this bill assumes for the Federal Government the
right to exercise this power can not, I think, be doubted. The approved
course of the Government and the deliberately expressed judgment of the
people have denied the existence of such a power under the Constitution.
Several of my predecessors have denied its existence in the most solemn
forms.

The general proposition that the Federal Government does not possess
this power is so well settled and has for a considerable period been so
generally acquiesced in that it is not deemed necessary to reiterate the
arguments by which it is sustained. Nor do I deem it necessary, after
the full and elaborate discussions which have taken place before the
country on this subject, to do more than to state the general
considerations which have satisfied me of the unconstitutionality and
inexpediency of the exercise of such a power.

It is not questioned that the Federal Government is one of limited
powers. Its powers are such, and such only, as are expressly granted in
the Constitution or are properly incident to the expressly granted
powers and necessary to their execution. In determining whether a given
power has been granted a sound rule of construction has been laid down
by Mr. Madison. That rule is that--

Whenever a question arises concerning a particular power, the first
question is whether the power be expressed in the Constitution. If it
be, the question is decided. If it be not expressed, the next inquiry
must be whether it is properly an incident to an expressed power and
necessary to its execution. If it be, it may be exercised by Congress.
If it be not, Congress can not exercise it.

It is not pretended that there is any express grant in the Constitution
conferring on Congress the power in question. Is it, then, an incidental
power necessary and proper for the execution of any of the granted
powers? All the granted powers, it is confidently affirmed, may be
effectually executed without the aid of such an incident. "A power, to
be incidental, must not be exercised for ends which make it a principal
or substantive power, independent of the principal power to which it is
an incident." It is not enough that it may be regarded by Congress as
_convenient_ or that its exercise would advance the public weal. It must
be _necessary and proper_ to the execution of the principal expressed
power to which it is an incident, and without which such principal power
can not be carried into effect. The whole frame of the Federal
Constitution proves that the Government which it creates was intended
to be one of limited and specified powers. A construction of the
Constitution so broad as that by which the power in question is defended
tends imperceptibly to a consolidation of power in a Government intended
by its framers to be thus limited in its authority. "The obvious
tendency and inevitable result of a consolidation of the States into one
sovereignty would be to transform the republican system of the United
States into a monarchy." To guard against the assumption of all powers
which encroach upon the reserved sovereignty of the States, and which
consequently tend to consolidation, is the duty of all the true friends
of our political system. That the power in question is not properly an
incident to any of the granted powers I am fully satisfied; but if there
were doubts on this subject, experience has demonstrated the wisdom of
the rule that all the functionaries of the Federal Government should
abstain from the exercise of all questionable or doubtful powers. If an
enlargement of the powers of the Federal Government should be deemed
proper, it is safer and wiser to appeal to the States and the people
in the mode prescribed by the Constitution for the grant desired than
to assume its exercise without an amendment of the Constitution.
If Congress does not possess the general power to construct works of
internal improvement within the States, or to appropriate money from the
Treasury for that purpose, what is there to exempt some, at least, of
the objects of appropriation included in this bill from the operation of
the general rule? This bill assumes the existence of the power, and in
some of its provisions asserts the principle that Congress may exercise
it as fully as though the appropriations which it proposes were
applicable to the construction of roads and canals. If there be a
distinction in principle, it is not perceived, and should be clearly
defined. Some of the objects of appropriation contained in this bill are
local in their character, and lie within the limits of a single State;
and though in the language of the bill they are called _harbors_, they
are not connected with foreign commerce, nor are they places of refuge
or shelter for our Navy or commercial marine on the ocean or lake
shores. To call the mouth of a creek or a shallow inlet on our coast
a harbor can not confer the authority to expend the public money in
its improvement. Congress have exercised the power coeval with the
Constitution of establishing light-houses, beacons, buoys, and piers on
our ocean and lake shores for the purpose of rendering navigation safe
and easy and of affording protection and shelter for our Navy and
other shipping. These are safeguards placed in existing channels of
navigation. After the long acquiescence of the Government through all
preceding Administrations, I am not disposed to question or disturb the
authority to make appropriations for such purposes.

When we advance a step beyond this point, and, in addition to the
establishment and support, by appropriations from the Treasury, of
lighthouses, beacons, buoys, piers, and other improvements within the
bays, inlets, and harbors on our ocean and lake coasts immediately
connected with our foreign commerce, attempt to make improvements in the
interior at points unconnected with foreign commerce, and where they are
not needed for the protection and security of our Navy and commercial
marine, the difficulty arises in drawing a line beyond which
appropriations may not be made by the Federal Government.

One of my predecessors, who saw the evil consequences of the system
proposed to be revived by this bill, attempted to define this line by
declaring that "expenditures of this character" should be "confined
_below_ the ports of entry or delivery established by law." Acting on
this restriction, he withheld his sanction from a bill which had passed
Congress "to improve the navigation of the Wabash River." He was at the
same time "sensible that this restriction was not as satisfactory as
could be desired, and that much embarrassment may be caused to the
executive department in its execution, by appropriations for remote and
not well-understood objects." This restriction, it was soon found, was
subject to be evaded and rendered comparatively useless in checking the
system of improvements which it was designed to arrest, in consequence
of the facility with which ports of entry and delivery may be
established by law upon the upper waters, and in some instances almost
at the head springs of some of the most unimportant of our rivers, and
at points on our coast possessing no commercial importance and not used
as places of refuge and safety by our Navy and other shipping. Many of
the ports of entry and delivery now authorized by law, so far as foreign
commerce is concerned, exist only in the statute books. No entry of
foreign goods is ever made and no duties are ever collected at them. No
exports of American products bound for foreign countries ever clear from
them. To assume that their existence in the statute book as ports of
entry or delivery warrants expenditures on the waters leading to them,
which would be otherwise unauthorized, would be to assert the
proposition that the lawmaking power may ingraft new provisions on the
Constitution. If the restriction is a sound one, it can only apply to
the bays, inlets, and rivers connected with or leading to such, ports as
actually have foreign commerce--ports at which foreign importations
arrive in bulk, paying the duties charged by law, and from which exports
are made to foreign countries. It will be found by applying the
restriction thus understood to the bill under consideration that it
contains appropriations for more than twenty objects of internal
improvement, called in the bill _harbors_, at places which have never
been declared by law either ports of entry or delivery, and at which,
as appears from the records of the Treasury, there has never been an
arrival of foreign merchandise, and from which there has never been a
vessel cleared for a foreign country. It will be found that many of
these works are new, and at places for the improvement of which
appropriations are now for the first time proposed. It will be found
also that the bill contains appropriations for rivers upon which there
not only exists no foreign commerce, but upon which there has not been
established even a paper port of entry, and for the mouths of creeks,
denominated harbors, which if improved can benefit only the particular
neighborhood in which they are situated. It will be found, too, to
contain appropriations the expenditure of which will only have the
effect of improving one place at the expense of the local natural
advantages of another in its vicinity. Should this bill become a law,
the same _principle_ which authorizes the appropriations which it
proposes to make would also authorize similar appropriations for the
improvement of all the other bays, inlets, and creeks, which may with
equal propriety be called harbors, and of all the rivers, important or
unimportant, in every part of the Union. To sanction the bill with such
provisions would be to concede the _principle_ that the Federal
Government possesses the power to expend the public money in a general
system of internal improvements, limited in its extent only by the
ever-varying discretion of successive Congresses and successive
Executives. It would be to efface and remove the limitations and
restrictions of power which the Constitution has wisely provided to
limit the authority and action of the Federal Government to a few
well-defined and specified objects. Besides these objections, the
practical evils which must flow from the exercise on the part of the
Federal Government of the powers asserted in this bill impress my mind
with a grave sense of my duty to avert them from the country as far as
my constitutional action may enable me to do so.

It not only leads to a consolidation of power in the Federal Government
at the expense of the rightful authority of the States, but its
inevitable tendency is to embrace objects for the expenditure of the
public money which are local in their character, benefiting but few at
the expense of the common Treasury of the whole. It will engender
sectional feelings and prejudices calculated to disturb the harmony of
the Union. It will destroy the harmony which should prevail in our
legislative councils.

It will produce combinations of local and sectional interests, strong
enough when united to carry propositions for appropriations of public
money which could not of themselves, and standing alone, succeed, and
can not fail to lead to wasteful and extravagant expenditures.

It must produce a disreputable scramble for the public money, by the
conflict which is inseparable from such a system between local and
individual interests and the general interest of the whole. It is unjust
to those States which have with their own means constructed their own
internal improvements to make from the common Treasury appropriations
for similar improvements in other States.

In its operation it will be oppressive and unjust toward those States
whose representatives and people either deny or doubt the existence of
the power or think its exercise inexpedient, and who, while they equally
contribute to the Treasury, can not consistently with their opinions
engage in a general competition for a share of the public money. Thus
a large portion of the Union, in numbers and in geographical extent,
contributing its equal proportion of taxes to the support of the
Government, would under the operation of such a system be compelled to
see the national treasure--the common stock of all--unequally disbursed,
and often improvidently wasted for the advantage of small sections,
instead of being applied to the great national purposes in which all
have a common interest, and for which alone the power to collect the
revenue was given. Should the system of internal improvements proposed
prevail, all these evils will multiply and increase with the increase of
the number of the States and the extension of the geographical limits of
the settled portions of our country. With the increase of our numbers
and the extension of our settlements the local objects demanding
appropriations of the public money for their improvement will be
proportionately increased. In each case the expenditure of the public
money would confer benefits, direct or indirect, only on a section,
while these sections would become daily less in comparison with the
whole.

The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution in withholding power over
such objects from the Federal Government and leaving them to the local
governments of the States becomes more and more manifest with every
year's experience of the operations of our system.

In a country of limited extent, with but few such objects of expenditure
(if the form of government permitted it), a common treasury might be
used for their improvement with much less inequality and injustice than
in one of the vast extent which ours now presents in population and
territory. The treasure of the world would hardly be equal to the
improvement of every bay, inlet, creek, and river in our country which
might be supposed to promote the agricultural, manufacturing, or
commercial interests of a neighborhood.

The Federal Constitution was wisely adapted in its provisions to any
expansion of our limits and population, and with the advance of the
confederacy of the States in the career of national greatness it becomes
the more apparent that the harmony of the Union and the equal justice to
which all its parts are entitled require that the Federal Government
should confine its action within the limits prescribed by the
Constitution to its power and authority. Some of the provisions of this
bill are not subject to the objections stated, and did they stand alone
I should not feel it to be my duty to withhold my approval.

If no constitutional objections existed to the bill, there are others of
a serious nature which deserve some consideration. It appropriates
between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 for objects which are of no pressing
necessity, and this is proposed at a time when the country is engaged in
a foreign war, and when Congress at its present session has authorized a
loan or the issue of Treasury notes to defray the expenses of the war,
to be resorted to if the "exigencies of the Government shall require
it." It would seem to be the dictate of wisdom under such circumstances
to husband our means, and not to waste them on comparatively unimportant
objects, so that we may reduce the loan or issue of Treasury notes which
may become necessary to the smallest practicable sum. It would seem to
be wise, too, to abstain from such expenditures with a view to avoid the
accumulation of a large public debt, the existence of which would be
opposed to the interests of our people as well as to the genius of our
free institutions.

Should this bill become a law, the principle which it establishes will
inevitably lead to large and annually increasing appropriations and
drains upon the Treasury, for it is not to be doubted that numerous
other localities not embraced in its provisions, but quite as much
entitled to the favor of the Government as those which are embraced,
will demand, through their representatives in Congress, to be placed on
an equal footing with them. With such an increase of expenditure must
necessarily follow either an increased public debt or increased burdens
upon the people by taxation to supply the Treasury with the means of
meeting the accumulated demands upon it.

With profound respect for the opinions of Congress, and ever anxious, as
far as I can consistently with my responsibility to our common
constituents, to cooperate with them in the discharge of our respective
duties, it is with unfeigned regret that I find myself constrained, for
the reasons which I have assigned, to withhold my approval from this
bill.

JAMES K. POLK.

WASHINGTON, _August 8, 1846_.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

I return to the Senate, in which it originated, the bill entitled "An
act to provide for the ascertainment and satisfaction of claims of
American citizens for spoliations committed by the French prior to the
31st day of July, 1801," which was presented to me on the 6th instant,
with my objections to its becoming a law.

In attempting to give to the bill the careful examination it requires,
difficulties presented themselves in the outset from the remoteness of
the period to which the claims belong, the complicated nature of the
transactions in which they originated, and the protracted negotiations
to which they led between France and the United States.

The short time intervening between the passage of the bill by Congress
and the approaching close of their session, as well as the pressure of
other official duties, have not permitted me to extend my examination of
the subject into its minute details; but in the consideration which I
have been able to give to it I find objections of a grave character to
its provisions.

For the satisfaction of the claims provided for by the bill it is
proposed to appropriate $5,000,000. I can perceive no legal or equitable
ground upon which this large appropriation can rest. A portion of the
claims have been more than half a century before the Government in its
executive or legislative departments, and all of them had their origin
in events which occurred prior to the year 1800. Since 1802 they have
been from time to time before Congress. No greater necessity or
propriety exists for providing for these claims at this time than has
existed for near half a century, during all which period this
questionable measure has never until now received the favorable
consideration of Congress. It is scarcely probable, if the claim had
been regarded as obligatory upon the Government or constituting an
equitable demand upon the Treasury, that those who were contemporaneous
with the events which gave rise to it should not long since have done
justice to the claimants. The Treasury has often been in a condition to
enable the Government to do so without inconvenience if these claims had
been considered just. Mr. Jefferson, who was fully cognizant of the
early dissensions between the Governments of the United States and
France, out of which the claims arose, in his annual message in 1808
adverted to the large surplus then in the Treasury and its "probable
accumulation," and inquired whether it should "lie unproductive in the
public vaults;" and yet these claims, though then before Congress, were
not recognized or paid. Since that time the public debt of the
Revolution and of the War of 1812 has been extinguished, and at several
periods since the Treasury has been in possession of large surpluses
over the demands upon it. In 1836 the surplus amounted to many millions
of dollars, and, for want of proper objects to which to apply it, it was
directed by Congress to be deposited with the States.

During this extended course of time, embracing periods eminently
favorable for satisfying all just demands upon the Government, the
claims embraced in this bill met with no favor in Congress beyond
reports of committees in one or the other branch. These circumstances
alone are calculated to raise strong doubts in respect to these claims,
more especially as all the information necessary to a correct judgment
concerning them has been long before the public. These doubts are
strengthened in my mind by the examination I have been enabled to give
to the transactions in which they originated.

The bill assumes that the United States have become liable in these
ancient transactions to make reparation to the claimants for injuries
committed by France. Nothing was obtained for the claimants by
negotiation; and the bill assumes that the Government has become
responsible to them for the aggressions of France. I have not been able
to satisfy myself of the correctness of this assumption, or that the
Government has become in any way responsible for these claims. The
limited time allotted me before your adjournment precludes the
possibility of reiterating the facts and arguments by which in preceding
Congresses these claims have been successfully resisted.

The present is a period peculiarly unfavorable for the satisfaction of
claims of so large an amount and, to say the least of them, of so
doubtful a character. There is no surplus in the Treasury. A public debt
of several millions of dollars has been created within the last few
years.

We are engaged in a foreign war, uncertain in its duration and involving
heavy expenditures, to prosecute which Congress has at its present
session authorized a further loan; so that in effect the Government,
should this bill become a law, borrows money and increases the public
debt to pay these claims.

It is true that by the provisions of the bill payment is directed to be
made in land scrip instead of money, but the effect upon the Treasury
will be the same. The public lands constitute one of the sources of
public revenue, and if these claims be paid in land scrip it will from
the date of its issue to a great extent cut off from the Treasury the
annual income from the sales of the public lands, because payments for
lands sold by the Government may be expected to be made in scrip until
it is all redeemed. If these claims be just, they ought to be paid in
money, and not in anything less valuable. The bill provides that they
shall be paid in land scrip, whereby they are made in effect to be a
mortgage upon the public lands in the new States; a mortgage, too, held
in great part, if not wholly, by nonresidents of the States in which the
lands lie, who may secure these lands to the amount of several millions
of acres, and then demand for them exorbitant prices from the citizens
of the States who may desire to purchase them for settlement, or they
may keep them out of the market, and thus retard the prosperity and
growth of the States in which they are situated. Why this unusual mode
of satisfying demands on the Treasury has been resorted to does not
appear. It is not consistent with a sound public policy. If it be done
in this case, it may be done in all others. It would form a precedent
for the satisfaction of all other stale and questionable claims in the
same manner, and would undoubtedly be resorted to by all claimants who
after successive trials shall fail to have their claims recognized and
paid in money by Congress.

This bill proposes to appropriate $5,000,000, to be paid in land scrip,
and provides that "no claim or memorial shall be received by the
commissioners" authorized by the act "unless accompanied by a release or
discharge of the United States from all other and further compensation"
than the claimant "may be entitled to receive under the provisions of
this act." These claims are estimated to amount to a much larger sum
than $5,000,000, and yet the claimant is required to release to the
Government all other compensation, and to accept his share of a fund
which is known to be inadequate. If the claims be well founded, it would
be unjust to the claimants to repudiate any portion of them, and the
payment of the remaining sum could not be hereafter resisted. This bill
proposes to pay these claims not in the currency known to the
Constitution, and not to their full amount.

Passed, as this bill has been, near the close of the session, and when
many measures of importance necessarily claim the attention of Congress,
and possibly without that full and deliberate consideration which the
large sum it appropriates and the existing condition of the Treasury and
of the country demand, I deem it to be my duty to withhold my approval,
that it may hereafter undergo the revision of Congress. I have come to
this conclusion with regret. In interposing my objections to its
becoming a law I am fully sensible that it should be an extreme case
which would make it the duty of the Executive to withhold his approval
of any bill passed by Congress upon the ground of its inexpediency
alone. Such a case I consider this to be.

JAMES K. POLK.

PROCLAMATIONS.

[From Statutes at Large (Little & Brown), Vol. IX, p. 999.]

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas by an act of the Congress of the United States of the 3d of
March, 1845, entitled "An act allowing drawback upon foreign merchandise
exported in the original packages to Chihuahua and Santa Fe, in Mexico,
and to the British North American Provinces adjoining the United States,"
certain privileges are extended in reference to drawback to ports
therein specially enumerated in the seventh section of said act, which
also provides "that such other ports situated on the frontiers of the
United States adjoining the British North American Provinces as may
hereafter be found expedient may have extended to them the like
privileges on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury and
proclamation duly made by the President of the United States specially
designating the ports to which the aforesaid privileges are to be
extended;" and

Whereas the Secretary of the Treasury has duly recommended to me the
extension of the privileges of the law aforesaid to the port of
Lewiston, in the collection district of Niagara, in the State of New
York:

Now, therefore, I, James K. Polk, President of the United States of
America, do hereby declare and proclaim that the port of Lewiston, in
the collection district of Niagara, in the State of New York, is and
shall be entitled to all the privileges extended to the other ports
enumerated in the seventh section of the act aforesaid from and after
the date of this proclamation.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.

[SEAL.]

Done at the city of Washington, this 17th day of January, A.D. 1846, and
of the Independence of the United States of America the seventieth.

JAMES K. POLK.

By the President:
JAMES BUCHANAN,
_Secretary of State_.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas the Congress of the United States, by virtue of the
constitutional authority vested in them, have declared by their act
bearing date this day that "by the act of the Republic of Mexico a state
of war exists between that Government and the United States:"

Now, therefore, I, James K. Polk, President of the United States of
America, do hereby proclaim the same to all whom it may concern; and I
do specially enjoin on all persons holding offices, civil or military,
under the authority of the United States that they be vigilant and
zealous in discharging the duties respectively incident thereto; and I
do, moreover, exhort all the good people of the United States, as they
love their country, as they feel the wrongs which have forced on them
the last resort of injured nations, and as they consult the best means,
under the blessing of Divine Providence, of abridging its calamities,
that they exert themselves in preserving order, in promoting concord,
in maintaining the authority and the efficacy of the laws, and in
supporting and invigorating all the measures which may be adopted by the
constituted authorities for obtaining a speedy, a just, and an honorable
peace.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed to these presents.

[SEAL.]

Done at the city of Washington, the 13th day of May, A.D. 1846, of the
Independence of the United States the seventieth.

JAMES K. POLK.

By the President:
JAMES BUCHANAN,
_Secretary of State_.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas by the act of Congress approved July 9, 1846, entitled "An act
to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to
the State of Virginia," it is enacted that, with the assent of the
people of the county and town of Alexandria, to be ascertained in the
manner therein prescribed, all that portion of the District of Columbia
ceded to the United States by the State of Virginia and all the rights
and jurisdiction therewith ceded over the same shall be ceded and
forever relinquished to the State of Virginia in full and absolute right
and jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside
thereon; and

Whereas it is further provided that the said act "shall not be in force
until after the assent of the people of the county and town of
Alexandria shall be given to it in the mode therein provided," and, if a
majority of the votes should be in favor of accepting the provisions of
the said act, it shall be the duty of the President to make proclamation
of the fact; and

Whereas on the 17th day of August, 1846, after the close of the late
session of the Congress of the United States, I duly appointed five
citizens of the county or town of Alexandria, being freeholders within
the same, as commissioners, who, being duly sworn to perform the duties
imposed on them as prescribed in the said act, did proceed within ten
days after they were notified to fix upon the 1st and 2d days of
September, 1846, as the time, the court-house of the county of
Alexandria as the place, and _viva voce_ as the manner of voting, and
gave due notice of the same; and at the time and at the place, in
conformity with the said notice, the said commissioners presiding and
deciding all questions arising in relation to the right of voting under
the said act, the votes of the citizens qualified to vote were taken
_viva voce_ and recorded in poll books duly kept, and on the 3d day of
September instant, after the said polls were closed, the said
commissioners did make out and on the next day did transmit to me a
statement of the polls so held, upon oath and under their seals; and of
the votes so cast and polled there were in favor of accepting the
provisions of the said act 763 votes, and against accepting the same
222, showing a majority of 541 votes for the acceptance of the same:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, James K. Polk, President of the
United States of America, in fulfillment of the duty imposed upon me by
the said act of Congress, do hereby make proclamation of the "result" of
said "poll" as above stated, and do call upon all and singular the
persons whom it doth or may concern to take notice that the act
aforesaid "is in full force and effect."

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.

[SEAL.]

Done at the city of Washington, this 7th day of September, A.D. 1846,
and of the Independence of the United States the seventy-first.

JAMES K. POLK.

By the President:
N.P. TRIST,
_Acting Secretary of State_.

SECOND ANNUAL MESSAGE.

WASHINGTON, _December 8, 1846_.

_Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:_

In resuming your labors in the service of the people it is a subject of
congratulation that there has been no period in our past history when
all the elements of national prosperity have been so fully developed.
Since your last session no afflicting dispensation has visited our
country. General good health has prevailed, abundance has crowned the
toil of the husbandman, and labor in all its branches is receiving
an ample reward, while education, science, and the arts are rapidly
enlarging the means of social happiness. The progress of our country
in her career of greatness, not only in the vast extension of our
territorial limits and the rapid increase of our population, but in
resources and wealth and in the happy condition of our people, is
without an example in the history of nations.

As the wisdom, strength, and beneficence of our free institutions are
unfolded, every day adds fresh motives to contentment and fresh
incentives to patriotism.

Our devout and sincere acknowledgments are due to the gracious Giver of
All Good for the numberless blessings which our beloved country enjoys.

It is a source of high satisfaction to know that the relations of the
United States with all other nations, with a single exception, are of
the most amicable character. Sincerely attached to the policy of peace
early adopted and steadily pursued by this Government, I have anxiously
desired to cultivate and cherish friendship and commerce with every
foreign power. The spirit and habits of the American people are
favorable to the maintenance of such international harmony. In adhering
to this wise policy, a preliminary and paramount duty obviously consists
in the protection of our national interests from encroachment or
sacrifice and our national honor from reproach. These must be maintained
at any hazard. They admit of no compromise or neglect, and must be
scrupulously and constantly guarded. In their vigilant vindication
collision and conflict with foreign powers may sometimes become
unavoidable. Such has been our scrupulous adherence to the dictates of
justice in all our foreign intercourse that, though steadily and rapidly
advancing in prosperity and power, we have given no just cause of
complaint to any nation and have enjoyed the blessings of peace for more
than thirty years. From a policy so sacred to humanity and so salutary
in its effects upon our political system we should never be induced
voluntarily to depart.

The existing war with Mexico was neither desired nor provoked by the
United States. On the contrary, all honorable means were resorted to to
avert it. After years of endurance of aggravated and unredressed wrongs
on our part, Mexico, in violation of solemn treaty stipulations and of
every principle of justice recognized by civilized nations, commenced
hostilities, and thus by her own act forced the war upon us. Long before
the advance of our Army to the left bank of the Rio Grande we had ample
cause of war against Mexico, and had the United States resorted to this
extremity we might have appealed to the whole civilized world for the
justice of our cause. I deem it to be my duty to present to you on the
present occasion a condensed review of the injuries we had sustained,
of the causes which led to the war, and of its progress since its
commencement. This is rendered the more necessary because of the
misapprehensions which have to some extent prevailed as to its origin
and true character. The war has been represented as unjust and
unnecessary and as one of aggression on our part upon a weak and injured
enemy. Such erroneous views, though entertained by but few, have been
widely and extensively circulated, not only at home, but have been
spread throughout Mexico and the whole world. A more effectual means
could not have been devised to encourage the enemy and protract the war
than to advocate and adhere to their cause, and thus give them "aid and
comfort." It is a source of national pride and exultation that the great
body of our people have thrown no such obstacles in the way of the
Government in prosecuting the war successfully, but have shown
themselves to be eminently patriotic and ready to vindicate their
country's honor and interests at any sacrifice. The alacrity and
promptness with which our volunteer forces rushed to the field on their
country's call prove not only their patriotism, but their deep
conviction that our cause is just.

The wrongs which we have suffered from Mexico almost ever since she
became an independent power and the patient endurance with which we have
borne them are without a parallel in the history of modern civilized
nations. There is reason to believe that if these wrongs had been
resented and resisted in the first instance the present war might have
been avoided. One outrage, however, permitted to pass with impunity
almost necessarily encouraged the perpetration of another, until at last
Mexico seemed to attribute to weakness and indecision on our part a
forbearance which was the offspring of magnanimity and of a sincere
desire to preserve friendly relations with a sister republic.

Scarcely had Mexico achieved her independence, which the United States
were the first among the nations to acknowledge, when she commenced the
system of insult and spoliation which she has ever since pursued. Our
citizens engaged in lawful commerce were imprisoned, their vessels
seized, and our flag insulted in her ports. If money was wanted, the
lawless seizure and confiscation of our merchant vessels and their
cargoes was a ready resource, and if to accomplish their purposes it
became necessary to imprison the owners, captains, and crews, it was
done. Rulers superseded rulers in Mexico in rapid succession, but still
there was no change in this system of depredation. The Government of the
United States made repeated reclamations on behalf of its citizens, but
these were answered by the perpetration of new outrages. Promises of
redress made by Mexico in the most solemn forms were postponed or
evaded. The files and records of the Department of State contain
conclusive proofs of numerous lawless acts perpetrated upon the property
and persons of our citizens by Mexico, and of wanton insults to our
national flag. The interposition of our Government to obtain redress was
again and again invoked under circumstances which no nation ought to
disregard. It was hoped that these outrages would cease and that Mexico
would be restrained by the laws which regulate the conduct of civilized
nations in their intercourse with each other after the treaty of amity,
commerce, and navigation of the 5th of April, 1831, was concluded
between the two Republics; but this hope soon proved to be vain. The
course of seizure and confiscation of the property of our citizens, the
violation of their persons, and the insults to our flag pursued by
Mexico previous to that time were scarcely suspended for even a brief
period, although the treaty so clearly defines the rights and duties of
the respective parties that it is impossible to misunderstand or mistake
them. In less than seven years after the conclusion of that treaty our
grievances had become so intolerable that in the opinion of President
Jackson they should no longer be endured. In his message to Congress in
February, 1837, he presented them to the consideration of that body, and
declared that--

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 property and persons 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.

In a spirit of kindness and forbearance, however, he recommended
reprisals as a milder mode of redress. He declared that war should not
be used as a remedy "by just and generous nations, confiding in their
strength for injuries committed, if it can be honorably avoided," and
added:

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 to atone 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 own 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 enforce
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 one of our vessels of war on
the coast of Mexico.

Committees of both Houses of Congress, to which this message of the
President was referred, fully sustained his views of the character of
the wrongs which we had suffered from Mexico, and recommended that
another demand for redress should be made before authorizing war or
reprisals. The Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, in their
report, say:

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 toward 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 can not doubt but that such
measures will be immediately adopted as may be necessary to vindicate
the honor of the country and insure ample reparation to our injured
fellow-citizens.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives made a
similar recommendation. In their report they say that--

They 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.

No difference of opinion upon the subject is believed to have existed in
Congress at that time; the executive and legislative departments
concurred; and yet such has been our forbearance and desire to preserve
peace with Mexico that the wrongs of which we then complained, and which
gave rise to these solemn proceedings, not only remain unredressed to
this day, but additional causes of complaint of an aggravated character
have ever since been accumulating. Shortly after these proceedings a
special messenger was dispatched to Mexico to make a final demand for
redress, and on the 20th of July, 1837, the demand was made. The reply
of the Mexican Government bears date on the 29th of the same month, and
contains assurances of the "anxious wish" of the Mexican Government "not
to delay the moment of that final and equitable adjustment which is to
terminate the existing difficulties between the two Governments;" 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;" that the "Mexican
Government would adopt as the only guides for its conduct the plainest
principles of public right, the sacred obligations imposed by
international law, and the religious faith of treaties," and that
"whatever reason and justice may dictate respecting each case will be
done." The assurance was further given that the decision of the Mexican
Government upon each cause of complaint for which redress had been
demanded should be communicated to the Government of the United States
by the Mexican minister at Washington.

These solemn assurances in answer to our demand for redress were
disregarded. By making them, however, Mexico obtained further delay.
President Van Buren, in his annual message to Congress of the 5th of
December, 1837, states that "although the larger number" of our demands
for redress, "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 days past that any specific communication in answer to our
last demand, made five months ago, has been received from the Mexican
minister;" and 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 favorably 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."
President Van Buren, believing that it would be vain to make any further
attempt to obtain redress by the ordinary means within the power of the
Executive, communicated this opinion to Congress in the message referred
to, in which he said:

On a careful and deliberate examination of their contents [of the
correspondence with the Mexican Government], 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 measure of redress.

Had the United States at that time adopted compulsory measures and taken
redress into their own hands, all our difficulties with Mexico would
probably have been long since adjusted and the existing war have been
averted. Magnanimity and moderation on our part only had the effect to
complicate these difficulties and render an amicable settlement of them
the more embarrassing. That such measures of redress under similar
provocations committed by any of the powerful nations of Europe would
have been promptly resorted to by the United States can not be doubted.
The national honor and the preservation of the national character
throughout the world, as well as our own self-respect and the protection
due to our own citizens, would have rendered such a resort
indispensable. The history of no civilized nation in modern times has
presented within so brief a period so many wanton attacks upon the honor
of its flag and upon the property and persons of its citizens as had at
that time been borne by the United States from the Mexican authorities
and people. But Mexico was a sister republic on the North American
continent, occupying a territory contiguous to our own, and was in a
feeble and distracted condition, and these considerations, it is
presumed, induced Congress to forbear still longer.

Instead of taking redress into our own hands, a new negotiation was
entered upon with fair promises on the part of Mexico, but with the
real purpose, as the event has proved, of indefinitely postponing
the reparation which we demanded, and which was so justly due. This
negotiation, after more than a year's delay, resulted in the convention
of the 11th of April, 1839, "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 created by this convention
to examine and decide upon these claims was not organized until the
month of August, 1840, and under the terms of the convention they were
to terminate their duties within eighteen months from that time. Four
of the eighteen months were consumed in preliminary discussions on
frivolous and dilatory points raised by the Mexican commissioners, and
it was not until the month of December, 1840, that they commenced the
examination of the claims of our citizens upon Mexico. Fourteen months
only remained to examine and decide upon these numerous and complicated
cases. In the month of February, 1842, the term of the commission
expired, leaving many claims undisposed of for want of time. The claims
which were allowed by the board and by the umpire authorized by the
convention to decide in case of disagreement between the Mexican and
American commissioners amounted to $2,026,139.68. There were pending
before the umpire when the commission expired additional claims, which
had been examined and awarded by the American commissioners and had not
been allowed by the Mexican commissioners, amounting to $928,627.88,
upon which he did not decide, alleging that his authority had ceased
with the termination of the joint commission. Besides these claims,
there were others of American citizens amounting to $3,336,837.05, which
had been submitted to the board, and upon which they had not time to
decide before their final adjournment.

The sum of $2,026,139.68, which had been awarded to the claimants, was a
liquidated and ascertained debt due by Mexico, about which there could
be no dispute, and which she was bound to pay according to the terms of
the convention. Soon after the final awards for this amount had been
made the Mexican Government asked for a postponement of the time of
making payment, alleging that it would be inconvenient to make the
payment at the time stipulated. In the spirit of forbearing kindness
toward a sister republic, which Mexico has so long abused, the United
States promptly complied with her request. A second convention was
accordingly concluded between the two Governments on the 30th of
January, 1843, which upon its face declares that "this new arrangement
is entered into for the accommodation of Mexico." By the terms of this
convention all the interest due on the awards which had been made in
favor of the claimants under the convention of the 11th of April, 1839,
was to be paid to them on the 30th of April, 1843, and "the principal of
the said awards and the interest accruing thereon" was stipulated to
"be paid in five years, in equal installments every three months."
Notwithstanding this new convention was entered into at the request of
Mexico and for the purpose of relieving her from embarrassment, the
claimants have only received the interest due on the 30th of April,
1843, and three of the twenty installments. Although the payment of the
sum thus liquidated and confessedly due by Mexico to our citizens as
indemnity for acknowledged acts of outrage and wrong was secured by
treaty, the obligations of which are ever held sacred by all just
nations, yet Mexico has violated this solemn engagement by failing and
refusing to make the payment. The two installments due in April and
July, 1844, under the peculiar circumstances connected with them, have
been assumed by the United States and discharged to the claimants, but
they are still due by Mexico. But this is not all of which we have just
cause of complaint. To provide a remedy for the claimants whose cases
were not decided by the joint commission under the convention of April
11, 1839, it was expressly stipulated by the sixth article of the
convention of the 30th of January, 1843, that--

A new convention shall be entered into for the settlement of all claims
of the Government and citizens of the United States against the Republic
of Mexico which were not finally decided by the late commission which
met in the city of Washington, and of all claims of the Government and
citizens of Mexico against the United States.

In conformity with this stipulation, a third convention was concluded
and signed at the city of Mexico on the 20th of November, 1843, by the
plenipotentiaries of the two Governments, by which provision was made
for ascertaining and paying these claims. In January, 1844, this
convention was ratified by the Senate of the United States with two
amendments, which were manifestly reasonable in their character. Upon a
reference of the amendments proposed to the Government of Mexico, the
same evasions, difficulties, and delays were interposed which have so
long marked the policy of that Government toward the United States. It
has not even yet decided whether it would or would not accede to them,
although the subject has been repeatedly pressed upon its consideration.
Mexico has thus violated a second time the faith of treaties by failing
or refusing to carry into effect the sixth article of the convention of
January, 1843.

Such is the history of the wrongs which we have suffered and patiently
endured from Mexico through a long series of years. So far from
affording reasonable satisfaction for the injuries and insults we had
borne, a great aggravation of them consists in the fact that while the
United States, anxious to preserve a good understanding with Mexico,
have been constantly but vainly employed in seeking redress for past
wrongs, new outrages were constantly occurring, which have continued to
increase our causes of complaint and to swell the amount of our demands.
While the citizens of the United States were conducting a lawful
commerce with Mexico under the guaranty of a treaty of "amity, commerce,
and navigation," many of them have suffered all the injuries which would
have resulted from open war. This treaty, instead of affording
protection to our citizens, has been the means of inviting them into the
ports of Mexico that they might be, as they have been in numerous
instances, plundered of their property and deprived of their personal
liberty if they dared insist on their rights. Had the unlawful seizures
of American property and the violation of the personal liberty of our
citizens, to say nothing of the insults to our flag, which have occurred
in the ports of Mexico taken place on the high seas, they would
themselves long since have constituted a state of actual war between the
two countries. In so long suffering Mexico to violate her most solemn
treaty obligations, plunder our citizens of their property, and imprison
their persons without affording them any redress we have failed to
perform one of the first and highest duties which every government owes
to its citizens, and the consequence has been that many of them have
been reduced from a state of affluence to bankruptcy. The proud name of
American citizen, which ought to protect all who bear it from insult and
injury throughout the world, has afforded no such protection to our
citizens in Mexico. We had ample cause of war against Mexico long before
the breaking out of hostilities; but even then we forbore to take
redress into our own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor by
invading our soil in hostile array and shedding the blood of our
citizens.

Such are the grave causes of complaint on the part of the United States
against Mexico--causes which existed long before the annexation of Texas
to the American Union; and yet, animated by the love of peace and a
magnanimous moderation, we did not adopt those measures of redress which
under such circumstances are the justified resort of injured nations.

The annexation of Texas to the United States constituted no just cause
of offense to Mexico. The pretext that it did so is wholly inconsistent
and irreconcilable with well-authenticated facts connected with the
revolution by which Texas became independent of Mexico. That this may be
the more manifest, it may be proper to advert to the causes and to the
history of the principal events of that revolution.

Texas constituted a portion of the ancient Province of Louisiana, ceded
to the United States by France in the year 1803. In the year 1819 the
United States, by the Florida treaty, ceded to Spain all that part of
Louisiana within the present limits of Texas, and Mexico, by the
revolution which separated her from Spain and rendered her an
independent nation, succeeded to the rights of the mother country over
this territory. In the year 1824 Mexico established a federal
constitution, under which the Mexican Republic was composed of a number
of sovereign States confederated together in a federal union similar to
our own. Each of these States had its own executive, legislature, and
judiciary, and for all except federal purposes was as independent of the
General Government and that of the other States as is Pennsylvania or
Virginia under our Constitution. Texas and Coahuila united and formed
one of these Mexican States. The State constitution which they adopted,
and which was approved by the Mexican Confederacy, asserted that they
were "free and independent of the other Mexican United States and of
every other power and dominion whatsoever," and proclaimed the great
principle of human liberty that "the sovereignty of the state resides
originally and essentially in the general mass of the individuals who
compose it." To the Government under this constitution, as well as to
that under the federal constitution, the people of Texas owed
allegiance.

Emigrants from foreign countries, including the United States, were
invited by the colonization laws of the State and of the Federal
Government to settle in Texas. Advantageous terms were offered to induce
them to leave their own country and become Mexican citizens. This
invitation was accepted by many of our citizens in the full faith that
in their new home they would be governed by laws enacted by
representatives elected by themselves, and that their lives, liberty,
and property would be protected by constitutional guaranties similar to
those which existed in the Republic they had left. Under a Government
thus organized they continued until the year 1835, when a military
revolution broke out in the City of Mexico which entirely subverted the
federal and State constitutions and placed a military dictator at the
head of the Government. By a sweeping decree of a Congress subservient
to the will of the Dictator the several State constitutions were
abolished and the States themselves converted into mere departments of
the central Government. The people of Texas were unwilling to submit to
this usurpation. Resistance to such tyranny became a high duty. Texas
was fully absolved from all allegiance to the central Government of
Mexico from the moment that Government had abolished her State
constitution and in its place substituted an arbitrary and despotic
central government. Such were the principal causes of the Texan
revolution. The people of Texas at once determined upon resistance and
flew to arms. In the midst of these important and exciting events,
however, they did not omit to place their liberties upon a secure and
permanent foundation. They elected members to a convention, who in the
month of March, 1836, issued a formal declaration that their "political
connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the
people of Texas do now constitute a _free, sovereign, and independent
Republic_, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes
which properly belong to independent nations." They also adopted for
their government a liberal republican constitution. About the same time
Santa Anna, then the Dictator of Mexico, invaded Texas with a numerous
army for the purpose of subduing her people and enforcing obedience to
his arbitrary and despotic Government. On the 21st of April, 1836, he
was met by the Texan citizen soldiers, and on that day was achieved by
them the memorable victory of San Jacinto, by which they conquered their
independence. Considering the numbers engaged on the respective sides,
history does not record a more brilliant achievement. Santa Anna himself
was among the captives.

In the month of May, 1836, Santa Anna acknowledged by a treaty with the
Texan authorities in the most solemn form "the full, entire, and perfect
independence of the Republic of Texas." It is true he was then a
prisoner of war, but it is equally true that he had failed to reconquer
Texas, and had met with signal defeat; that his authority had not been
revoked, and that by virtue of this treaty he obtained his personal
release. By it hostilities were suspended, and the army which had
invaded Texas under his command returned in pursuance of this
arrangement unmolested to Mexico.

From the day that the battle of San Jacinto was fought until the present
hour Mexico has never possessed the power to reconquer Texas. In the
language of the Secretary of State of the United States in a dispatch to
our minister in Mexico under date of the 8th of July, 1842--

Mexico may have chosen to consider, and may still choose to consider,
Texas as having been at all times since 1835, and as still continuing,
a rebellious province; but the world has been obliged to take a very
different view of the matter. From the time of the battle of San
Jacinto, in April, 1836, to the present moment, Texas has exhibited the
same external signs of national independence as Mexico herself, and with
quite as much stability of government. Practically free and independent,
acknowledged as a political sovereignty by the principal powers of the
world, no hostile foot finding rest within her territory for six or
seven years, and Mexico herself refraining for all that period from any
further attempt to reestablish her own authority over that territory,
it can not but be surprising to find Mr. De Bocanegra [the secretary
of foreign affairs of Mexico] complaining that for that whole period
citizens of the United States or its Government have been favoring the
rebels of Texas and supplying them with vessels, ammunition, and money,
as if the war for the reduction of the Province of Texas had been
constantly prosecuted by Mexico, and her success prevented by these
influences from abroad.

In the same dispatch the Secretary of State affirms that--

Since 1837 the United States have regarded Texas as an independent
sovereignty as much as Mexico, and that trade and commerce with citizens
of a government at war with Mexico can not on that account be regarded
as an intercourse by which assistance and succor are given to Mexican
rebels. The whole current of Mr. De Bocanegra's remarks runs in the same
direction, as if the independence of Texas had not been acknowledged.
It has been acknowledged; it was acknowledged in 1837 against the
remonstrance and protest of Mexico, and most of the acts of any
importance of which Mr. De Bocanegra complains flow necessarily from
that recognition. He speaks of Texas as still being "an integral part of
the territory of the Mexican Republic," but he can not but understand
that the United States do not so regard it. The real complaint of
Mexico, therefore, is in substance neither more nor less than a
complaint against the recognition of Texan independence. It may be
thought rather late to repeat that complaint, and not quite just to
confine it to the United States to the exemption of England, France, and
Belgium, unless the United States, having been the first to acknowledge
the independence of Mexico herself, are to be blamed for setting an
example for the recognition of that of Texas.

And he added that--

The Constitution, public treaties, and the laws oblige the President to
regard Texas as an independent state, and its territory as no part of
the territory of Mexico.

Texas had been an independent state, with an organized government,
defying the power of Mexico to overthrow or reconquer her, for more than
ten years before Mexico commenced the present war against the United
States. Texas had given such evidence to the world of her ability to
maintain her separate existence as an independent nation that she had
been formally recognized as such not only by the United States, but by
several of the principal powers of Europe. These powers had entered into
treaties of amity, commerce, and navigation with her. They had received
and accredited her ministers and other diplomatic agents at their
respective courts, and they had commissioned ministers and diplomatic
agents on their part to the Government of Texas. If Mexico,
notwithstanding all this and her utter inability to subdue or reconquer
Texas, still stubbornly refused to recognize her as an independent
nation, she was none the less so on that account. Mexico herself had
been recognized as an independent nation by the United States and by
other powers many years before Spain, of which before her revolution she
had been a colony, would agree to recognize her as such; and yet Mexico
was at that time in the estimation of the civilized world, and in fact,
none the less an independent power because Spain still claimed her as a
colony. If Spain had continued until the present period to assert that
Mexico was one of her colonies in rebellion against her, this would not
have made her so or changed the fact of her independent existence. Texas
at the period of her annexation to the United States bore the same
relation to Mexico that Mexico had borne to Spain for many years before
Spain acknowledged her independence, with this important difference,
that before the annexation of Texas to the United States was consummated
Mexico herself, by a formal act of her Government, had acknowledged the
independence of Texas as a nation. It is true that in the act of
recognition she prescribed a condition which she had no power or
authority to impose--that Texas should not annex herself to any other
power--but this could not detract in any degree from the recognition
which Mexico then made of her actual independence. Upon this plain
statement of facts, it is absurd for Mexico to allege as a pretext for

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