MoboReader> Literature > The War With Mexico, Volume I (of 2)

   Chapter 28 THE UNITED STATES MEETS THE CRISIS

The War With Mexico, Volume I (of 2) By Justin H. Smith Characters: 31319

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


1. Our policy did not permit us to accept a European arbitrator, and an arbitrator from Central or South America would not have been thought impartial.

2. Polk's Message was based upon the view that the left bank of the Rio Grande belonged to the United States (p. 139), and this was said by some to be inconsistent with the idea (involved in the resolutions annexing Texas and in Slidell's mission) that the boundary was an open question. But Polk's language amounted only to an assertion of the American claim; and a claim, however just, may be a subject of negotiation. His expression (taken from the Washington Union of May 9), "shed American blood upon the American soil," though denounced as a falsehood, was merely another assertion of the same claim, and was entirely in accord with the language of Madison, Jefferson, Monroe, Pinckney, and J. Q. Adams. A claimant, convinced that his cause is just, declares roundly, "This is mine," even though aware that his contention is disputed. A more conservative statement would have been: Mexico has invaded a region that I hold to be ours, and shed American blood on what I regard as American soil; but Polk seems to have felt no doubts, and in a trumpet-call to arms qualifications would have appeared out of place.

3. Benton, however, reported the House bill, which did not divide the subject.

4. Incidents preceding and attending the passage of the war bill (May 13). Richardson, Messages, iv, 388–92, 437–43. Benton, View, ii, 679. Polk, Diary, Apr. 18, 21, 25, 28; May 3, 5, 8, 9–13, 1846. 260Extracts from National Intelligencer. 315Winthrop to Schouler, Mar. 20, 1848. Webster, Writings, iv, 138. 260Winthrop, The Mex. War Bill. 210Holmes to Hammond, May 10, 1846. 354Welles papers. Proceedings of Senate and House in Cong. Globe, 29, 1, p. 257, and May 11–13; app., 912; Feb. 24, 1847 (Calhoun). Boston Courier, May 14. Boston Atlas, May 15. N. Y. Tribune, Dec. 9, 1847. Calhoun to A. P. C, May 14; to J. E. C, May 29, 1846: Jameson, C. Corresp., 690, 692. Benton, Abr. Debates, xvi, 99. 345Dix to Van Buren, May 16, 1846. Wash. Union, May 15, 1846; Jan. 2, 1848. Greeley, Am. Conflict, i, 187. Foster, Am. Diplom., 315. Johnston and Browne, Stephens, 203. Nat. Intelligencer, Dec. 27, 1847. Winthrop, Speeches, i, 573. Pub. Ledger, Dec. 4, 1846. 132Buchanan, memo. Certain incidents (Cong. Globe, 30, 1, app., 231) emphasize the fact that a regular war was contemplated by Congress. E.g. Holmes moved that the war bill should apply southwest of the Nueces only for the withdrawal or rescue of our army; voted down by 8–122. See also notes 9 and 10.

5. Benton states that Polk relied for peace upon the project of replacing Paredes with Santa Anna, which will be mentioned later in this chapter (View, ii, 680). He also charges (ibid.) that the administration-particularly Walker-was influenced by a wish to bring about the payment of American claims and make good certain speculations in Texas lands; but it was proper that the claims should be paid, and there is no proof of the second point.

6. Benton hesitated, and May 11 Polk counted on his opposition (Diary). In the debates on the annexation of Texas the Senator had denied that her territory extended to the Rio Grande (Smith, Annex. of Texas, 264, note), and he did not approve of Taylor's going there. Besides, he desired to see the Oregon issue settled before coming to an issue with Mexico. Possibly Calhoun's anxiety to prevent or defer war helped to drive Benton to the opposite side (354Welles papers; Polk, Diary, May 3, 11, 1846).

7. One may also view the matter at a slightly different angle. It was possible for Mexico, on learning that General Taylor had advanced peaceably to the Rio Grande, to say, Very well, he may occupy the disputed district jointly with us for the present. England and the United States maintained a peaceable joint occupation of Oregon for years. Taylor's advancing, therefore, did not per se and necessarily create a state of war. Now the United States did nothing else that could fairly be termed aggressive; but Mexico, by attacking American troops engaged in peaceful reconnoitring, destroyed the state of potential harmony, and consequently the state of war that ensued existed by her act. C. J. Ingersoll stated later (Cong. Globe, 29, 2, app., 125) that the language of the preamble was adopted for the purpose of conciliating, not offending, the Whigs; and one can see that it might seem likely to be easier for them to accept the war as an accomplished fact than to vote for a declaration.

8. From what is known of Calhoun's designs (Smith, Annex. of Texas, 209–216) this statement seems reasonable, and it is supported by positive evidence (chap, vi, note 10). 232Calhoun to -–, Nov. 7, 1846: The triumph of abolitionism at the north would cause disunion, for the southern people are determined to defend their rights.

9. To justify Calhoun's theory the Constitution should have been made to read: "Congress shall have power to declare war, and without such a declaration the United States shall never be at war," which would have been manifestly ridiculous; and the provision in article i, sect. 10, that a state, when in imminent danger, might begin war, should have been cancelled. Doubtless for partisan reasons, Webster (Curtis, Webster, ii, 301) took the same position as Calhoun, saying that Congress could not "create a fact"-i.e. could not state that war existed before it had declared war. Von Holst on the other hand, in order to face the tolerably evident certainty that we had a legal war with Mexico, says (United States, iii, 253) that Congress made Polk's lie [that war existed] into a fact! Many members of Congress had too little confidence (Calhoun to Thompson: Am. Hist. Rev., i, 314) in their knowledge of the situation to feel positive as to the full justice of the American cause, but this did not affect the validity of their action. Particularly noticeable was the rejection (27 to 97) of Delano's proposition that nothing in the war bill should be construed as approving of the President's conduct in taking armed possession of the intermediate region. Thus a much discussed question was formally raised and formally decided. 132King to Buchanan, June 1.

10. Discussion of the proceedings. (Feeling) 354Welles papers. (Assured) Polk, Diary, May 11, 1846. (Congressmen) Meigs, Benton, 360; Benton, View, ii, 680. Tribune, May 15. Journal of Commerce, July 1, 1847. Weekly Herald, May 16, 1846. (Dissensions) Boston Atlas, May 18, 1846; Jameson, Calh. Corresp., 1038 (Harris); Polk, Diary, Apr. 30; 345Polk to Van Buren, Jan. 4; Feb. 22, 25, 1845; 345Wright to V. B., Jan. 17, 1845; 345Butler to Polk, Feb. 27, 1845; 345V. B. to Polk, Feb. 27, 1845; 345S. T. Van Buren to M. V. B., Mar. 2, 3, 4, 1845; 297Cave Johnson to Polk, June 13, 1844; and see chap, xxxiv. (Offices) Polk, Diary, May 10; June 22, 1846, and passim. 210Holmes to Hammond, May 10, 1846. Lalor, Cyclop., iii, 1105. (Whig vote) 260Winthrop, Mex. War Bill, 108; Nat. Intelligencer, May 16, 1846; N. Y. Journal of Comm., Dec. 11, 1847; Wheeler, Hist, of Cong., i, 411; Von Holst, U. S., iii, 251. Calhoun to Clemson, Jan. 29, 1846; to A. P. C, May 14; to J. E. C, May 29; to Clemson, July 11; to J. E. C, July 29, in Calhoun Corres., 679, 691, 693–4, 700–1; also 707. 345Welles to Van Buren, July 28, 1846. Polk, Diary, Apr. 18, 21, 1846. Calhoun in Sen., Feb. 24, 1847: Cong. Globe, 29, 2, p. 501. Hunt, Calhoun, 279. Niles, May 16, 1846, p. 162. (Endorsed, etc.) Cong. Globe, 29, 1, p. 802 (Crittenden). Cong. Globe, 30, 1, app., 367 (Stanton). Johnston and Browne, Stephens, 210. 132King to Buchanan, June 1, 1846. Pierce, Sumner, iii, 108, 139. 132Buchanan, memo. Holmes of New York proposed in the House, May 11, that sect. one of the war bill should not apply southwest of the Nueces except for the rescue of our army. This was rejected by 8–122. May 12 Senator Crittenden, one of the foremost Whigs, proposed to substitute in the war bill the words "for the purpose of repelling the invasion" in place of the words "prosecute said war, etc." This recognized the territory as American. His proposal was supported by twenty senators (Cong. Globe, 29, 1, p. 803).

11. Livermore, for example, argued in this way (War, 15): Texas was annexed for the protection of Southern institutions; the war with Mexico resulted from the annexation of Texas; therefore the war with Mexico was due to the slaveholders' interest in slavery. But both of his premises need qualification; and the conclusion, so far as it suggests that the war was the necessary and designed consequence of the slaveholders' action in the Texas matter, does not follow. The abolitionists were enthusiastic, earnest, and on the outside of things. Hence they were naturally and almost unavoidably over-suspicious. Von Holst (U. S., iii, 302) says that the radical wing of the southern Democratic party openly avowed that the war with Mexico was a southern war; but was not Calhoun the leader and prophet of that wing? A few public men, the Charleston Patriot and Courier, and the Federal Union of Alabama looked upon the war as for the interest of the South; but it does not appear that they had any appreciable influence in bringing it about.

12. The occasion of the war was Taylor's going to the Rio Grande; but see chap, vii, p. 154.

13. Apparently one might say that-since Polk intended to recommend redress of our grievances-war was sure, without reference to the annexation of Texas, to come. But we are tracing the cause of an actual, not of a possible, war; and the President's recommendation might not have proved effectual. Benton (View, ii, 679) said that without the clash of arms it would have been difficult, perhaps impossible, to bring about war. Calhoun (Sen., Feb. 24, 1847: note 10) said it could not have been done. This opinion, however, was biased.

14. The cause of the war. Polk, Diary, Dec. 19, 23, 1846; Jan. 5, 23, 1847. Webster, Private Corresp., ii, 283. 370Taylor to Davis, Apr. 18, 1848. 32Buchanan to Shields, April 23, 1847. (Bulwark) Smith, Annex. of Texas, 132, 134–5, 204–8. (Unsuitable) 132Donelson to Buchanan, May 15, 1847. No. Amer., Feb. 10, 1847; Thompson in Wash. Union, Oct. 25, 1847, and Greenville (S. C.) Mountaineer, Oct. 21. Bourne, Essays, 227, 235. Charleston Mercury, Dec. 30, 1847 (long argument against annexing Mexican territory). W. Thompson to Calhoun, Dec. 18, 1847 in Jameson, Calhoun Correspondence, 1149 (slavery will not exist in Mexico). 137Fisher to Calhoun, Aug. 22, 1847. 137J. A. Campbell to Calhoun, Mar. 1, 1848. (Aiken) Boston Courier, Dec. 2, 1847; Mar. 9, 1848. 132King to Buchanan, June 11, 1847. N. Y. Tribune, Nov. 26, 1847. 157Lamar to Cobb, June 24, 1846. (Toombs) Cong. Globe, 29, 1, app., 133. So. Qtrly. Rev., Nov., 1850, 427–34. (Benton) Abr. Deb., xvi, 87; Benton, View, ii, 678. (Clay) Schurz, Clay, ii, 290. (Winthrop) Wash. Union, Sept. 30, 1846; Oct. 25, 1847; Winthrop, Winthrop, 59. (Douglas) Cutts, Questions, 154. (Johnson) Brown, Cong. Globe, 29, 2, app., 354. (Van B.) Wilson, Rise and Fall, ii, 9; Smith, Annex. of Texas, 243. Amer. Historical Association Rep., 1911, ii, 95 (Glenn). (Organs) Mr. Winthrop's Vote. (Sumner) Sumner, report, 30. (Report) Wash. Union, Feb. 25, 1847. (Agree) Winthrop in Wash. Union, Sept. 30, 1846. (Paredes) Diario, July 30, 1846. (Almonte) N. Y. Sun, Nov. 26, 1846 (Caractacus); Monitor Repub., May 9, 1847. Gordon, Aberdeen, 183. Mofras, Expédition, 8. Polk, Message, May 11, 1846 (Richardson). Cole, Whig Party, 121. See also the conclusion of chap. v.

At the end of March Paredes said: "Peace is not compatible with the maintenance of the rights and independence of the nation" (Roa Bárcena, Recuerdos, 22).

15. The dates are those of approval.

16. The action of Congress was promulgated by the adj. gen. in 65gen. orders 14, 18, 21, 34. See an article on the engineer company by Captain Willing, published by the U. S. engineer school, Washington Barracks. See also U. S. Statutes at Large, ix, 9–13, 17, 20; Upton, Milit. Pol., 204; Richardson, Messages, iv, 603–4.

17. Polk, Diary, May 13, 1846. Wash. Union, May 21. 65Gen. orders 12. 59Circular. With the freedom that has commonly marked authors dealing with the unpopular Polk Von Holst says (U. S., iii, 339) that his profession of seeking only a peace was a "falsehood." But Polk meant of course a peace satisfactory to the American government, for a peace satisfactory to Mexico would not have had to be "conquered," and this implied in general about the terms that we actually imposed.

18. "Germanicus" stated in the N. Y. Commercial Advertiser that in the Florida war the ratio of expense between regulars and militia was 1 to 6; of efficiency, 1 to 0 (Nat. Intell., Nov. 7, 1846). Of course the volunteers, who wished and expected to fight, were in general better than the militia, who wished and expected to remain at home. Had the regular army been increased to 50,000 privates (giving, say, 30,000 in the field), there would no doubt have been a great saving of time, blood and treasure (Stevens, Campaigns, 14). Taylor's position gave him a special responsibility. He should have pointed out the disadvantages of the volunteer system, recommended enlisting such troops (if at all) for the duration of the war, and continued to demand regulars.

19. The military measures. Ho. 60; 30, 1, p. 141. 65Gen. orders 57, Dec. 22, 1846. Upton, Mil. Pol, 195, 202, 204 (sequel showed). (1838) R. Johnson in Sen., Jan. 11, 1848 (Wash. Union, Jan. 12). Nat. Intelligencer, Nov. 7, 1846. (Cowardly, etc.) 354Welles papers. 63Marcy to Wright, June 3, 1846. 63Circ. letter, May 19, 1846. Webster, Letters, 346. Sen. 1; 29, 2, pp. 46–7. Wash. Union, June 25, 1846. (Stimulated) Sen. 4; 29, 2, p. 53. Johnson, Douglas, 114. Polk, Diary, June 20, 22, 1846. (Vacancies) Richardson, Messages, iv, 513–7. Ho. 60; 30, 1, p. 554 (Jesup). (Might have been) Taylor, Letters (Bixby), 75.

The authorized maximum of the army was 16,998 officers and men (Sen. 1; 29, 2, p. 53). The volunteer service was more attractive than the regular because it was easier to get rank there and the discipline was less severe; and something to offset this difference was needed.

20. Many of the volunteer regiments were in fact, owing to the appreciation of a West Point education shown by some of the states, commanded by trained men (Henry, Camp. Sketches, 127).

21. For numerous details on the subject of this paragraph see an article by the author in The Military Historian and Economist, Jan., 1917, p. 30, note 12.

22. The executive staff of the war dept. consisted of Bvt. Brig. Gen. R. Jones, adj. gen.; Lieut. Col. George Talcott, head of the ordnance bureau; Maj. Gen. T. S. Jesup, quartermaster gen.; Brig. Gen. N. Towson, paymaster gen.; Dr. T. Lawson, surgeon gen.; Bvt. Brig. Gen. G. Gibson, commissary gen. of subsistence; Col. J. G. Totten, chief engineer; Col. J. J. Abert, chief topog. engineer (Ho. 143; 29, 1. Ho. 60; 30, 1 p. 547).

23. The following remark from J. D. McPherson (in "General Grant's Political Myth"), who was close to Marcy in the war dept., seems worth quoting: "His massive intellect, his calm wisdom, his uncalculating integrity, the justness of all his purposes, the purity of his private life, and the goodness of his heart inspired me with admiration and reverence." Marcy loved books, too. Still he was, as Welles said, a keen, wary and adroit politician, well taught by a wide experience and fully acquainted with human nature of the sort with which he had to deal. He had f

altered at one juncture in his devotion to orthodox Democratic principles, and probably felt that he could never regain the position thus lost.

24. Raising and forwarding Volunteers. 60Marcy to Giles, May 19, 1846. For the corresp. with govs., May 15–19, see 60, 61, 63. 63Marcy to govs. of Ala., etc., June 5. 63Id. to Wright, June 3. 65Gen. orders 15, Wash., May 29. Marcy, report, Dec. 5, in Sen. 1; 29, 2. 61Memo., May 18. Polk (insists upon energy), Diary, May 19; June 23–4; Sept. 22, 24. (Marcy) Poore, Perley's Remins., i, 333; Wise, Seven Decades, 235. (Multitudes) 63Marcy to govs., May 19. 354Welles papers. (Motives) Trans. Ills. State Hist. Soc., 1904, p. 283; 1905, pp. 194–6; 1906, 174–5; Robertson, Remins., 59, 62–7; 146Caswell, diary, Jan. 26, 1847; Lyell, Second Visit, ii, 257; 139Campbell to D. C, Nov. 9, 1846; Carleton at mtg. of Mex. veterans; Prickett in Madison Record, 1850; Jamieson, Campaign, 73, 78. (High) Public Ledger, May 18, 1846. Quitman in Cong. Globe, 35, 1, p. 970. Lyell, Second Visit, ii, 343–5. N. Y. Herald, June 20, 1846. (Song) N. Y. Globe, June 1, 1846. Cameron in Cong. Globe, 29, 1, p. 826. 149L'Hommedieu to Chase, May 20, 1846. Wash. Union, May 27; June 12, 1846. Ohio Arch. and Hist. Qtrly., 1912, p. 280. Ills. State Hist. Lib. Pubs., ix, 38. Ark. Hist. Commission, Bulletin no. 6, p. 181. Perry, Indiana, 4–13, 17. I. Smith, Remins., 5. 239Kemper to daughter, May 30. St. Louis weekly Reveille, May 10. Everett, Recolls., 194–9. McCormack, Koerner, i, 495–7. Wallace, Autob., 114. Davis, Autob., 94–5. Iowa adj. gen., Roster, vi, 788–9. Quisenberry, Taylor, 22. 216Heiman, Services. Ex-gov. Porter of Tenn. to the author. Memphis Eagle, May 15. Niles, June 13, p. 227; July 4, p. 288; July 18, p. 313. Scharf, St. Louis, i, 362–8. 206Graham, Message, Nov. 17. 14Fair to Martin, June 4. 14Martin to Marcy, May 31. 61Bullock to war dept., May 8. 14Placard, May 7. 29Brown to Duffield, May 11; to Marcy, June 3. Claiborne, Quitman, i, 223–4, 228. 63Marcy to Brown, June 16. 225Cooke to Holt, May 17. (The drums) Poem by W. R. Benjamin, by permission. Polk, Diary, May 26. 189Evans, letter. 110Barbour, diary. Bishop, Journal, passim. For additional details see The Military Historian and Economist, Jan., 1917, p. 32, note 14.

As was natural, many complications arose in preparing the regiments for the field. The volunteers themselves, as a rule, did not know what they needed nor even what they wanted. They were ignorant and helpless regarding all military matters. Such officers as understood the business were compelled to work almost night and day. Everything had to be provided, and many of the things had to be made; and the men were usually ahead of the supplies. Two Tennessee regiments were able to move south about June 1, but it was not until about July 23 that the last Illinois regiments advanced in that direction.

25. To Brazos Island. 300Prickett, letter, July 30. Robertson, Remins., June 11, 17, 23. 332Tennery, diary, Aug. 13. Houstoun, Texas (1845), 68, 91–2, 147, 255–6. Oswandel, Notes, 31, 38, 44–8. 190Ewing, diary, July 12, 19, 21. Perry, Indiana, 83. Everett, Recolls., 197–8. 274Neeld, letter. French, Two Wars, 33. 272Memoir of Gen. Morgan. 110Barbour, diary, July 23. Bishop, Journal. 193Foster to mother, June 16.

"Brazos Island" is the name on the U. S. Coast Survey map. Gens. Butler, Marshall, Quitman, Pillow and Shields left New Orleans on the steamer New York, and arrived at the island Aug. 4 (Claiborne, Quitman, i, 239). The strait between Brazos Id. and Padre Id. on the north was called the Brazos de Santiago (Giddings, Sketches, 27). Gaines's proceedings led to great expense, and embarrassed the government very much. He kept on even after he knew of Taylor's victories, and the total number called out by him perhaps exceeded 12,000. For most of these forces there was no place under the law of May 13, and the government did not regard them as necessary. A few who had actually left their states were accepted for three months under a law of 1795; but the requisitions were countermanded, Gaines was peremptorily ordered (May 28) to suspend his operations in this regard, was relieved of his command, and was placed before a court of inquiry. His intentions were unquestionably good, and hence the court recommended that no further action should be taken. The best information on this subject is given in the record of the court (68judge advocate general's office) and in 65gen. orders no. 39, Washington, Aug. 20, 1846, which presents the facts, the conclusions of the court, and the remarks of the President thereon. See also Polk, Diary, June 5, 20; Aug. 15. 63Marcy to govs., June 5, 1846. 69Id. to Gaines, May 28. Ho. 60; 30, 1, p. 308. Docs. in Sen. 378; 29, 1, pp. 50–81. Gaines to Marcy, June 7: Sen. 402; 29, 1. Sen. 415; 29, 1. 65Gen. orders (Wash.) 16, 23. 63Marcy to Taylor, May 23. Wash. Union, June 9. Sen. proceeds., June 24. Gaines was succeeded by General Brooke. The headquarters of this military dept. were at New Orleans.

26. Scott, a Whig, testified that Polk was "in great alarm" (Coleman, Crittenden, i, 244). 256Marcy privately called the state of things "adverse" (to Wetmore). Holmes of South Carolina said the administration was prostrated (210to Hammond, May 10). Charleston Mercury, May 19: At the first symptom of actual fighting our government is taken all aback. Had Polk sent Taylor to the Rio Grande to bring on a war, he would have been rejoicing.

27. Polk, whose principal interview with Scott occurred on May 14, did not at that time believe that 20,000 volunteers would be needed (Diary).

28. Scott's information about the region was derived from Anthony Butler, formerly our minister to Mexico, and Gen. J. T. Mason (Scott in Sen. 378; 29, 1, p. 11), both of whom had been on the ground, and it led him to think the inactive season somewhat longer than it really was. Although Taylor with competent engineers had been for about seven months, while at Corpus Christi, in touch with a stream of traders and other persons from Matamoros, and might have sent out spies and reconnoitring parties, and had been on the river nearly two months, he does not seem to have supplied, despite urgent requests from the war dept. (e.g. Ho. 60; 30, 1, pp. 87, 88, 90, 91, 92), any adequate ideas about conducting a campaign in that quarter or even to have formed any for himself. Marcy, May 28, 1846 (ibid., 282), said, "I wish to be favored with your views as to what should be the future operations of the army on the Rio Grande." In submitting such views the General would have had to present information regarding topographical and other conditions, about which he seems to have left the government in the dark.

29. One should not be in haste to condemn the administration and the Democratic politicians, for ours is a party system and Scott was in politics. He should have realized that, standing at the head of the army, he was bound to serve the country as a whole, and should have refrained from seeking party honors that evidently might (as they now did) interfere with the fulfilment of that prime duty.

30. The question of general-in-chief. (It is believed that later events render a somewhat full treatment of this topic desirable.) 191Fairfield to wife, Apr. 14. Stanwood, Presidency, 195. (Politics) 13Pakenham, no. 74, June 13. 253Peters to McLean, June 26. Gaines, Sept. 10, 1845 in Sen. 378; 29, 1, p. 38. So. Advocate, Apr. 3 (Sanderson). Gaines, June 7 in Sen. 402; 29, 1. (Scott's personality) Scott, Mems., passim; F. Lee, Lee, 49; 354Welles papers; 252Mackall, Dec. 29, 1847; Mag. of Amer. Hist., xiv, 562 (Scammon, one of Scott's aides, here says that he never knew a man of the world less given to vanity than Scott); Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceeds., 1st ser., ix, 234–9; Sedgwick, Corresp., i, 182; Corwin to Follett, Mar. 13, 1845, in Ohio Hist. and Phil. Soc. Publics., July-Sept., 1914; Semmes, Service, 280–1; Grant, Mems., i, 41, 139; Grone, Briefe, 80; Keyes, Fifty Years, 1–82; 335Trist on Scott. Sen. 378; 29, 1, pp. 2–4. Richardson, Messages, iv, 448. Wash. Union, May 18. Scott-Marcy correspondence in Sen. 378; 29, 1, pp. 4–18; and in 256. 60Scott, memoranda for gen. staff. Coleman, Crittenden, i, 243–4. Polk, Diary, Mar. 28; May 13, 14, 19, 21–3, 25–6, 1846; Apr. 1, 1847. Niles, June 6, 1846, p. 214. Nat. Intelligencer, Aug. 29. Grant, Mems., i, 119. N. Orl. Commerc. Bulletin, June 18. Watson, Taylor, 121. Boston Atlas, June 12. N. Y. Herald, June 13. Welles papers. N. Orl. Picayune, June 17. 253Reed to McLean, Oct. 26. Boston Courier, June 15. 139W. B. Campbell to D. C., July 3, 1846. 256Marcy to Wetmore, April 22, 1847.

La Bruyère said, "There is in some men a certain mediocrity of mind that helps to make them wise." This was not at all true of Scott. It was characteristic of him that he blamed Marcy for only a want of candor and nerve, regarding him as merely the instrument of the party (Coleman, Crittenden, i, 244–6).

Rives (U. S. and Mexico, ii, 204) remarks that the private note of Scott (addressed to Senator Archer) "was enough to rouse the meekest of Presidents." But (1) the note charged only what was charged commonly-that the administration was making its appointments in a partisan, political way; (2) it was private; and (3) Scott had a legitimate reason for writing it-to explain why he did not intend to recommend men for commissions, as Archer probably expected him to do. In taking cognizance of a private note Polk acted as an eavesdropper, and he should have recalled the saying, "Eavesdroppers never hear anything good of themselves." Rives says also (ii, 413) that "for more than fourteen months before war was actually declared it was evident to every observer that war was highly probable, but Scott made no plans, collected no information, and did nothing to prepare for the coming strain upon the head-quarters organization of the army." But (1) war was not deemed highly probable, as Rives states, by the President, the Cabinet, Congress, Wall Street, Taylor or competent observers in general (see p. 133, etc.); (2) it is a rather bold assertion that Scott "did nothing to prepare," etc., and the present author, who intended to examine every war dept. paper relating to the subject, saw no proof of it; (3) as Rives states (ii, 582), the army had no intelligence bureau, and Scott possessed no authority to establish one; (4) to collect reliable data regarding Mexico and our frontier even informally would have cost a great deal, and the government was so economical that it would not provide even a pontoon train that was asked for (see p. 177); (5) before Jan. 13, 1846, Scott had studied the frontier and planned for Taylor's advance to the Rio Grande (p. 153); (6) May 14 he was ready with plans so elaborate and far-reaching that Polk thought him "scientific and visionary," and the next day he issued orders to the chiefs of the general staff (p. 199). Such plans and orders implied knowledge.

31. May 30, Taylor was brevetted major general and assigned to duty with that rank (Ho. 119; 29, 2, p. 12. Also Ho. 60; 30, 1, p. 283).

32. Anti-slavery theorizers represented (see Lalor, Cyclop?dia, iii, 1091) that Polk brought the Oregon issue to the verge of war so that Mexico should dare-with the expectation of having England for an ally-to fight us, and when hostilities had begun, made peace with England at a sacrifice of our claim; but this view has little or nothing except its ingenuity for support, and has a great number of facts against it.

9.33. The Oregon affair. 206J. Graham to Gov. G., Jan. 4, 1846. Dr. Bacon: "The ascendancy of the West is a fact" (New Englander, v, 319). (Cass) 1-- to Allen, Sept. 1, 1846. 210Hammond, diary, Feb. 19. Jameson, Calhoun Corresp., 653, 697–8. Polk, Diary, Oct. 21–3, 1845; Feb. 24–5; Apr. 18; June 3, 1846. Lodge, Webster, 260. 256Marcy to Wetmore, Apr. 30, 1845. Johnson, Douglas, 105. (Cabinet) 354Welles papers. A. Smith, Remins., 41. Garrison, Extension, 170. Polit. Sci. Qtrly., xxvi, 443–61 (Schuyler). Amer. Hist. Rev., xvi, 298–9 (Schafer). Reeves, Amer. Diplom., 243–64. London Times, Jan. 26, 1846. Hume in Ho. Commons, Jan. 23.

34. For Santa Anna's banishment see vol. i, p. 53. In May it was believed at Mexico that Santa Anna's return would mean peace (56W. S. Parrott, June 4, 9); and as late as July 31 and August 12 166Pommarès, a secret agent of Conner at Vera Cruz, said that such was the prevalent opinion there.

35. Atocha, Statement. Nat. Intelligencer, June 10, 1845. 13Bankhead, no. 41, 1846. 73Bermúdez de Castro, no. 444, res., 1847. Monitor Repub., Feb. 16, 1847.

36. Apparently Conner was to obey this order or not as the circumstances of the moment should render expedient. Consul Campbell of Havana was directed in June to write often to Conner and express his opinion on the propriety of allowing Santa Anna to enter Mexico (166to Conner, July 9); at the time Santa Anna sailed for Vera Cruz Campbell wrote (166Aug. 7) to Conner arguing that he should be permitted to land; and Conner, in a 162letter to his wife (Aug. 19), explained why he had thought it best to let him pass. The Journal des Débats (Oct. 6, 1846) believed that the American government had reason to count upon Santa Anna's intentions though not upon his word; this was no doubt Polk's view. Those who, in the usual fashion, have charged that Polk's Message of Dec. 8, 1846, lied about his relations with Santa Anna have failed to observe that it referred exclusively to the events preceding the order of May 13 to Conner (Richardson, iv, 491–2). Before Mackenzie was sent to Havana stronger and more definite information to the effect that Santa Anna was likely to regain power was received-particularly from Consul Black (Sen. 1; 29, 2, p. 34).

37. The United States appears (Consul Campbell, May 25, 1846) to have sent an earlier agent, who passed at Havana by the name of Brown, and was commonly said there to have brought proposals to Santa Anna. Mackenzie's ostensible mission-real enough, too, probably-was to ascertain whether privateers had been commissioned in Cuba (Polk, Diary, Jan. 8, 1848). He spoke Spanish fluently. Santa Anna took care to put out an explanation of Mackenzie's visit.

38. The negotiation with Santa Anna. Polk, Message, Dec. 8 (Richardson, iv. 492). London Times, Oct. 6, 1845; Jan. 31; July 6, 1846. Semmes, Service, 117–8. 52Dimond, nos. 324–6, 329, 1846. 52Campbell, June 9, 1846; April 9, 1847. 166Campbell to Conner, May 10. Von Holst, U. S., iii, 282–3. 52Slidell, Mar. 18; April 2. 166Dimond to Conner, Sept. 14, 1845. 166Pommarès to Conner, July 2; Aug. 12. Chase, Polk Admin., 163. Monitor Repub., Feb. 20, 1846. Wash. Union, June 21, 1847. Scribner's Monthly, xvii, 299. Constitutionnel, Sept. 20, 1846. 73Bermúdez de Castro, no. 441, 1847. Polk, Diary, Feb. 13, 14, 16, 1846; Jan. 8, 1848. Id. to Ho. Repres., Jan. 12, 1848 (Richardson). 46Bancroft to Conner, May 13, 1846. 297Mackenzie to Buchanan, July 7, 11; Aug. 15, 1846. 335Id. to Trist, Jan. 2; June 8; Aug. 17, 1846. Courrier des Etats Unis, Aug. 11, 1846. (Conspicuous) Benton, View, ii, 680. Journ. Milit. Serv. Instit., xli, 105. Meade, Letters, i, 116.

Polk stated in his diary, Jan. 8, 1848, that Mackenzie "wholly exceeded his authority" by writing out his recollection of the conversation with Polk and giving this to S. Anna as a message from the President. Mackenzie's report reached Washington Aug. 3, and was immediately followed up by Polk with a request for two million dollars to facilitate a settlement with Mexico (chap, xxvii).

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares