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government. The concurrent or reciprocal legislation of another nation is a mere motive, in view of which we proceed to pass acts to which we are entirely competent of ourselves, which operate only within our own boundaries, and which the consent of no other party is necessary to complete. The whole doctrine of the distinction between the legislative and the treaty-making power, however, has been laid down by the present Secretary of State with so much precision and power, that I will detain the Committee no longer upon it myself, but will proceed to read some extracts of the speech of Mr. Calhoun on the commercial treaty with Great Britain, in the House of Representatives, January 8, 1816. (See Elliott's Debates, vol. iv. p. 273.) )
“ He would establish, he trusted, to the satisfaction of the House, that the treaty. making power, when it was legitimately exercised, always did that which could not be done by law."
“Why cannot Congress make peace? They have the power to make war. Why cannot Congress, then, repeal the act making war ? He acknowledged, with the gentleman, they cannot consistently with reason. The reason is plain ; one power may make war; it requires two to make peace. ... It required a contract or a treaty between the nations at war. Is this peculiar to a treaty of peace? No; it is common to all treaties. It arises out of their nature, and not from any incidental circumstance attaching itself to a particular class. It is no more nor less than that Congress cannot make a contract with a foreign nation. Whenever, then, an ordinary subject of legislation can only be regulated by contract, it passes from the sphere of the ordinary power of making laws, and attaches itself to that of making treaties, wherever it is lodged. Whatever, then, concerns our foreign relations, whatever requires the consent of another nation, belongs to the trcaty power ; can only be regulated by it; and it is competent to regulate all such subjects, provided
and here are its true limits - sach regulations are not inconsistent with the Constitution.
It has for its object, contracts with foreign nations; as the powers of Congress have for their object whatever can be done in relation to the powers delegated to it without the consent of foreign nations. Each in its proper sphere operates with genial influence; but when they become erratic, then they are portentous and dangerous. A treaty never can legitimately do that which can be done by law; and the converse is also true. Suppose the discriminating duties repealed on both sides by law, yet what is effected by this treaty would not even then be done; the plighted faith would be wanting. Either side might repeal its law without a breach of contract: It appeared to him that gentlemen are too much influenced on this subject, by the example of Great Britain. Instead of looking to the nature of our government, they have been swayed in their opinion by the practice of that government, to which we are but too much in the habit of looking for precedents."
But we are now told, Mr. Chairman, that Texas was once a part of our own territory, ceded to us by France in 1803; that
this is, therefore, no question of original annexation; that we are only about to reclaim and reannex it. Sir, we have often heard of the magic power of words before now, but the question before us will be a lasting illustration of the mightier magic of syllables. There were two editions of a memorable letter to the people of Carroll county, Kentucky, published last Spring; the first was a letter relative to the annexation of Texas; the second was a letter relative to the re-annexation of Texas. They were published within a few weeks of each other, and prove how much importance is attached to this mono-syllabic after-thought. 0, Sir, if the friends of this measure had exhibited half as much of the “ suaviter in modo," as they have of the “fortiter in re," it would have been better, far better for the honor of our country.
But my hour is on the point of expiring, and I must leave all further remark upon the subject to another opportunity. I rejoice to believe that this is not the last time of asking in relation to this abhorrent union, and that we are not called on to declare our objections to it now, under the penalty of forever afterwards holding our peace. Meantime, circumstances may have changed before the measure is presented to us again. It may come before the country in a more constitutional shape. It may involve less danger of war. It may involve less encroachment on the rights of others. Objections of a temporary and formal character may have been removed. But I am unwilling to resume my seat without saying, that no such change of circumstances will alter the case for me. I am against annexation, now and always
Because I believe it to be clearly unconstitutional in substance;
Because I believe it will break up the balance of our system, violate the compromises of the Constitution, and endanger the permanence of our Union ;
And, above all, because I am uncompromisingly opposed to the extension of Domestic Slavery, or to the addition of another inch of Slaveholding Territory to this Nation.
GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES.
A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UXITED STATES, FEBRUARY 1, 1845, –
-A BILL FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF A TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT IN OREGON BEING UNDER CONSIDERATION, IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE ON THE STATE OF THE UNION.
I took the floor last evening, Mr. Chairman, as I stated when the Committee rose, with no view of preparing myself for any formal speech on the Oregon question. It may be remembered, that I addressed the House on that question at some length last year. The circumstances of the case have not materially changed since then, and my opinions in regard to it are altogether unaltered. I shall content myself, therefore, with a few remarks in reference to the precise bill under consideration, and with some observations in reply to gentlemen who have preceded me in the debate.
I shall enter into no argument of the American title to the Oregon territory. No such argument, certainly, is needed to convince the members of this House of the justice of our claim to that territory. Whatever else we may differ about, we all seem to have a sufficient sense of the soundness of our own title. It seems to be forgotten, however, that it is Great Britain, and not the United States, which requires to be convinced on this point. If gentlemen would only undertake to satisfy Sir Robert Peel and Lord Aberdeen that the American title is entirely indisputable, and that the British pretension is altogether void and groundless ; or if they could fortify Mr. Calhoun in his efforts to enforce these positions upon the British minister with whom he is treating, they would turn their researches and their rhetoric to a more profitable account. I fear they are contributing to no such result. I am inclined to believe that arguments, however strong, would lose much of their weight in the quarters I have suggested, when uttered in the tone of menace and defiance which has characterized so much of this debate.
Nor can I forbear to say, that it appears to me extremely impolitic for us to be publicly engaged in any arguments on the subject, while negotiations in regard to it are actually on foot within ear-shot of this Hall, and while we are necessarily ignorant how far our own individual views may conform to those, which the Ameri. can Secretary of State may be at this moment pressing upon the attention of the British negotiator.
Indeed, Sir, this whole proceeding is, in my judgment, eminently calculated to impede and embarrass the negotiations in which the two governments are employed. We have received authentic assurances that those negotiations have not yet failed, that they are still in progress, and that a communication in regard to them may be expected from the Executive before the close of the present session. Why not wait for this communication? Why insist on taking any step in the dark, when, in a few weeks at the most, we shall be able to act advisedly, and to see clearly the ground on which we are treading ?
I cannot help thinking, Mr. Chairman, that the course proposed to be pursued on this subject, savors somewhat of distrust of the hands to which our side of this negotiation is committed. I know not that any such thing is intended. I know not that there is any purpose to influence, by this proceeding, the Cabinet arrangements of the President elect. It seems to me, however, that the peculiar friends of the present Secretary of State may well feel some little jealousy on the point. There is such a thing known to the Parliament of Great Britain as a vote of confidence in the ministry. The passage of this bill, taken in connection with the circumstances under which it will have been passed, and with the considerations by which it has been urged, will seem not a little like a vote of want of confidence in our American Secretary. I am no champion of Mr. Calhoun's. His Texan negotiations and correspondence have certainly not inspired me with the most enthusiastic admiration of his diplomatic ability or tact. But it seems passing strange, I confess, that any of his friends should be willing to acquiesce in such marked imputations on his statesmanship and mipisterial fidelity as have been heard on all sides of the House.“ We cannot wait for negotiations. We want no more of them. They are sacrificing our territory. They are only another name for surrenders of our rightful soil and sovereignty.” These are the cries by which this measure is to be carried through! Why, Sir, I should imagine, from all this, that we had some unprincipled or incompetent British Whig at the head of our Foreign affairs, ready to mart our territory for gold; or that some such person was likely to succeed to the Department of State at the earliest moment. Such cries are the stale and unfounded reproaches with which political opponents have been wont to assail our public functionaries for party effect. That they should now be heard from the self-styled Democracy of the House, while a Democratic Secretary of State has the great seals of the nation still in his hands, and while a fire-new Democratic administration is on the very eve of accession, is, indeed, not a little extraordinary.
No more negotiations! Why, Sir, one would suppose that this would be the very time when a majority of this House would desire to have negotiations entered upon, and would feel a confidence that they would be conducted to a triumphant conclusion. What have they to fear? In the humiliating failure of all previous negotiations, they have the foil which is to give a greater brilliancy to their own success. If the treaty of Washington was really so inglorious a surrender, pray, pray, Mr. Chairman, do not forbid the abler, the more accomplished, the more patriotic negotiator of your own choice, present or future, to give us the example of a better treaty. Do not forbid him to retrieve the character of American diplomacy; to pluck up the drowning honor of the country from the waters of the St. John's; and to show us, for all time to come, how to preserve, with a greater skill, at once the rights and the interests of the Republic, including that highest of all her interests, Peace!
No more negotiations! The treaty of Washington an inglorious surrender! To be sure, four fifths of the Senate ratified that treaty, and the whole country applauded it. But then