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policy, that no serious disagreement has ever risen among ourselves in relation to it, although brought under view in a variety of forms, and at periods when the minds of the people were greatly excited by the agitation of topics purely domestic in their character. Nor has any deliberate inquiry ever been instituted in Congress, or in any of our legislative bodies, as to whom belonged the power of originally recognising a new state — a power, the exercise of which is equivalent, under some circumstances, to a declaration of war -- a power nowhere expressly delegated, and only granted in the constitution, as it is necessarily involved in some of the great powers given to Congress; in that given to the President and Senate to form treaties with foreign powers, and to appoint ambassadors and other public ministers; and in that conferred upon the President to receive ministers from toreign nations.
In the preamble to the resolution of the House of Representatives, it is distinctly intimated that the expediency of recognising the independence of Texas should be left to the decision of Congress. In this view, on the ground of expediency, I am disposed to concur; and do not, therefore, consider it necessary to express any opinion as to the strict constitutional right of the executive, either apart from, or in conjunction with the Senate, over the subject. It is to be presumed that on no future occasion will a dispute arise, as none has heretofore occurred, between the executive and the legislature in the exercise of the power of recognition. It will always be considered consistent with the spirit of the constitution, and most safe
, that it should be exercised, when probably leading to war, with a previous understanding with that body by whom war can alone be declared, and by whom all the provisions for sustaining its perils must be furnished. Its submission to Congress, which represents in one of its branches the states of this Union, and in the other the people of the United States, where there may be reasonable ground to apprehend so grave a consequence, would certainly afford the fullest satisfaction to our own country, and a perfect guaranty to all other nations, of the justice and prudence of the measures which might be adopted.
In making these suggestions, it is not my purpose to relieve myself from the responsibility of expressing my own opinions of the course the interests of our country prescribe, and its honor permits us to follow.
It is scarcely to be imagined that a question of this character could be presented, in relation to which it would be more difficult for the United States to avoid exciting the suspicion and jealousy of other powers, and maintain their established character for fair and impartial dealing. But on this, as on every other trying occasion, safety is to be found in a rigid adherence to principle. In the contest between Spain and her revolted colonies we stood aloof
, and waited not only until the ability of the new states to protect themselves was fully established, but until the danger of their being again subjugated had entirely passed away. Then, and not until then, were ihey recognised. Such was our course in regard to Mexico herself. The same policy was observed in all the disputes growing out of the separation into distinct governments of those Spanish American states, who began, or carried on the contest with the parent country, united under one form of government. We acknowledged the separate independence of New Grenada, of Venezuela, and of Equator, only after their independent existence was no longer a subject of dispute, or was actually acquiesced in by those with whom they had
been previously united. It is true that, with regard to Texas, the civil authority of Mexico has been expelled, its invading army defeated, the chief of the republic himself captured, and all present power to control the newly organized government of Texas milio within its confines. But, on the other hand, there is, in appearance at least, an immense disparity of physical force on the side of Texas. The Mexican republic, under another executive, is rallying its forces under a new leader, and menacing a fresh invasion to recover its lost dominion.
Upon the issue of this threatened invasion, the independence of Texas may be considered as suspended; and were there nothing peculiar in the relative situation of the United States and Texas, our acknowledgment of its independence at such a crisis could scarcely be regarded as consistent with that prudent reserve with which we have heretofore held ourselves bound to treat all similar questions. But there are circumstances in the relations of the two countries, which require us to act, on this occasion, with even more than our wonted caution. Texas was once claimed as a part of our property, and there are those among our citizens who, always reluctant to abandon that claim, cannot but regard with solicitude the prospect of the re-union of the territory to this country. A large portion of its civilized inhabitants are emigrants from the United States; speak the same language with ourselves; cherish the same principles, political and religious, and are bound to many of our citizens by ties of friendship and kindred blood; and more than all, it is known that the people of that country have instituted the same form of government with our own; and have, since the close of your last session, openly resolved, on the acknowledgment by us of their independence, to seek admission into the Union as one of the federal states. This last circumstance is a matter of peculiar delicacy, and forces upon us considerations of the gravest character. The title of Texas to the territory she claims is identified with her independence; she asks us to acknowledge that title to the territory, with an avowed design to treat immediately of its transfer to the United States. It becomes us to beware of a too early movement, as it might subject us, however unjustly, to the imputation of seeking to establish the claim of our neighbors to a territory, with a view to its subsequent acquisition by ourselves. Prudence, therefore, seems to dictate that we should still stand aloof, and maintain our present attitude, if not until Mexico itself, or one of the great foreign powers, shall recognise the independence of the new government, at least until the lapse of time, or the course of events shall have proved, beyond cavil or dispute, the ability of the people of that country to maintain their separate sovereignty, and to uphold the government constituted by them. Neither of the contending parties can justly complain of this course. By pursuing it, we are but carrying out the long-established policy of our government —a policy which has secured to us respect and influence abroad, and inspired confidence at home.
Having thus discharged my duty, by presenting with simplicity and directness the views which, after much reflection, I have been led to take of this
important subject, I have only to add the expression of my confidence, that
if Congress shall differ with me upon it, their judgment will be the result of dispassionate, prudent, and wise deliberation; with the assurance that, during the short time I shall continue connected with the government, Í shall promptly and cordially unite with you in such measures as may be deemed best fitted to increase the prosperity and perpetuate the peace of our favored country.
Fellow Citizens :
Being about to retire finally from public life, I beg leave to offer you my grateful thanks for the many proofs of kindness and confidence which i have received at your hands. It has been my foriune, in the discharge of public duties, civil and military, frequently to have found myself in difficul and trying situations, where prompt decision and energetic action were necessary, and where the interest of the counlry required that high responsibilities should be fearlessly encountered; and it is with the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the continued and unbroken confidence with which you have sustained me in every trial. My publie life has been a long one, and I cannot hope that it has at all times been free from errors. But I have the consolation of knowing that if mistakes have been committed, they have not seriously injured the country I so anxiously endeavored to serve; and at the moment when I surrender my last public trust, I leave this great people prosperous and happy; in the full enjoyment of liberty and peace; and honored and respected by every nation in the world.
If my humble efforts have, in any degree, contributed to preserve to you these blessings, I have been more than rewarded by the honors you have heaped upon me; and, above all, by the generous confidence with which you have supported me in every peril, and with which you have continued to animate and cheer my path to the closing hour of my political life. The time has now come, when advanced age and a broken frame warn me to retire from public concerns; but the recollection of the many favors you have bestowed upon me is engraven upon my heart, and I have felt that I could not part from your service without making this public acknowledg. ment of the gratitude I owe you. And if I use the occasion to offer to you the counsels of age and experience, you will, I trust, receive them with the same indulgent kindness which you have so often extended to me; and will, at least, see in them an earnest desire to perpetuate, in this favored land, the blessings of liberty and equal laws.
We have now lived almost fifty years under the constitution framed by the sages and patriots of the revolution. The conflicts in which the nations of Europe were engaged during a great part of this period; the spirit in which they waged war against each other; and our intimate commercial connections with every part of the civilized world, rendered it a time of much difficulty for the government of the United States. We have bad our seasons of
peace and of war, with all the evils which precede or follow a state of hostility with powerful nations. We encountered these trials with our constitution yet in its infancy, and under the disadvantages which a new and untried government must always feel when it is called upon to put forth its whole strength, without the lights of experience to guide it
, or the weight of precedents to justify its measures. But we have passed triumphantly through all these difficulties. Our constitution is no longer a doubtful experiment; and at the end of nearly half a century, we find that it has preserved unimpaired the liberties of the people, secured the rights of property, and that our country has improved, and is flourishing beyond any former example in the history of nations.
In our domestic concerns, there is everything to encourage us; and if you are true to yourselves, nothing can impede your march to the bighest
int of national prosperity. The states which had so long been retarded in their improvements by the Indian tribes residing in the midst of them, are at length relieved from the evil; and this unhappy race—the original dwellers in our land—are now placed in a situation where we may well hope that they will share in the blessings of civilization, and be saved from that degradation and destruction to which they were rapidly hastening while they remained in the states; and while the safety and comfort of our own citizens have been greatly promoted by their removal, the philanthropist will rejoice that the remnant of this ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury or oppression, and that the paternal care of the general government will hereafter watch over them and protect them. If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, we find our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere desire to do justice to every nation, and to preserve the blessings of peace, our intercourse with them has been conducted on the part of this government in the spirit of frankness, and I take pleasure in saying that it has generally been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion, and the mutual desire to be just; and the claims of our citizens, which had been long withheld, have at length been acknowledged and adjusted, and satisfactory arrangements made for their final payment; and with a limited, and I trust a temporary exception, our relations with every foreign power are now of the most friendly character, our commerce continually expanding and our flag respected in every quarter of the world. These cheering and grateful prospects, and these multiplied favors, we Owe, under ProAidence, to the adoption of the federal constitution. It is no longer a question whether this great country can remain happily united, and flourish under our present form of government. Experience, the unerring test of all human undertakings, has shown the wisdom and foresight of those who formed it; and has proved, that in the union of these states there is a sure foundation for the brightest hopes of freedom, and for the happiness of the people. At every hazard, and by every sacrifice, this Union must be preserved. The necessity of watching with jealous anxiety for the preservation of the Union, was earnestly pressed upon his fellow citizens by the father of his country, in his farewell address. He has there told us, that “while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may endeavor to weaken its bonds;” and he has cautioned us in the strongest terms against the formation of parties on geographical discriminations, as one of the means which might disturb our Union, and to which designing men would be likely to resort. The lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of Washington to his countrymen, should be cherished in the heart of every citizen to the latest generation; and, perhaps, at no period of time could they be more usefully remembered than at the present moment. For when we look upon the scenes that are passing around us, and dwell upon the pages of his parting address, his paternal counsels would seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and foresight, but the voice of prophecy foretelling events and warning us of the evil to come. Forty years have passed since this imperishable document was given to his countrymen. The federal constitution Was then regarded by him as an experiment, and he so speaks of it in his
address, —but an experiment upon the success of which the best hopes of his country depended, and we all know that he was prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to secure to it a full and fair trial. The trial has been made. It has succeeded beyond the proudest hopes of those who framed it. Every quarter of this widely-extended nation has felt its blessings, and shared in the general prosperity produced by its adoption. But amid this general prosperity and splendid success, the dangers of which be warned us are becoming every day more evident, and the signs of evil are sufficiently apparent to awaken the deepest anxiety in the bosom of the patriot. We behold systematic efforts publicly made to sow the seeds of discord between different parts of the United States, and to place party divisions directly upon geographical distinctions; to excite the south against the north, and the north against the south, and to force into the controversy the most delicate and exciting topics upon which it is impossible that a large portion of the Union can ever speak without strong emotions. Appeals, too, are constanıly made to sectional interests, in order to influence the election of the chief magistrate, as if it were desired that he should favor a particular quarter of the country, instead of fulfilling the duties of his station with impartial justice to all, and the possible dissolution of the Union bas at length become an ordinary and familiar subject of discussion. Has the warning voice of Washington been forgotten? or have designs already been formed to sever the Union ? Let it not be supposed that I impule to all of those who have taken an active part in these unwise and unprofitable discussions, a want of patriotism or of public virtue. The honorable feelings of state pride and local attachments find a place in the bosoms of the most enlightened and pure. But while such men are conscious of their own integrity and honesty of purpose, they ought never to forget that the citizens of other states are their political brethren; and that, however mistaken they may be in their views, the great body of them are equally honest and upright with themselves. Mutual suspicion and reproaches may in time create mutual hostility, and artful and designing men will always be found, who are ready to foment these fatal divisions, and to inflame the natural jealousies of different sections of the country. The history of the world is full of such examples, and especially the history of republics
What have you to gain by division and dissension? Delude not yourselves with the belief that a breach once made may be afterwards repaired. If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the balls of legislation, will then be tried in fields of battle, and determined by the sword. Neither should you deceive yourselves with the hope that the first line of separation would be the permanent one, and that nothing but harmony and concord would be found in the new associations formed upon the dissolution of the Union. Local interests would still be found there, and unchastened ambition. And if the recollection of common dangers, in which the people of these United States stood side by side against the common foe; the memory of victories won by their united valor; the prosperity and happiness they have enjoyed under the present constitution; the proud name they bear as citizens of ihis great republic; if all these recollections and proofs of common interest are not strong enough to bind us together as one people, what tie will hold united the new divisions of empire when these bonds have been broken, and this union dissevered? The first line of sepa