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London, with the exception of one or of the States--was so generally dissemitwo important oversights, was entirely nated, that the community for many years creditable to his diplomatic capacity'; felt no interest in the matter, and the Mr. Gallatin exhibited throughout, as documents relating to it were never colwas to be expected, a profound and lected so as to have a united weight, thorough acquaintance with the whole till the publication of Mr. Greenhow's subject; and Mr. Adams, whose position volume. How extensively that work at different times brought him into con was bought and read (for buying by tact with the question, gave evidence, in no means implies reading a book, else it this connection also, of that extended might even be supposed that Mr. Ingergeneral knowledge-especially of his- soll's History of the Late War is being torical matters—for which he is dis- perused to
extent) we cannot tinguished. We cannot, indeed, at the say, but its circulation could not have risk of appearing invidious; disguise our been adequate to familiarizing the public conviction, that the American Plenipo- with the full merits of the controversy, tentiaries displayed a better understanding as the Press gave but few and unconof the subject than the English Com- nected abstracts of the valuable materimissioners appeared to possess. We refer als it contained. Some Congressional especially to Messrs. Huskisson and speeches since have entered lucidly into Addington, who manifested an ignorance parts of the subject—but not fully enough on historical points—unless they pur- to settle the convictions of the country. posely misstated them-and a fertility of Others, uninformed, loud-mouthed—the extravagant assumption and illogical louder, indeed, the less informed—were reasoning quite remarkable. Our obser- made expressly for political effect. Mr. vation will be substantiated by the fact, Polk,* in his Inaugural Address, that he that many of their statements and pos- might come up to the measure of a itions have been significantly abandoned premature declaration, thrust forth in by the present able minister, Mr. Packen- advance for him by ignorant men at a ham. But the ample expositions of the partisan caucus-using assertions, not question at that time set forth, though argument-put forward the whole matter , they have been made the basis of all late by the ears, to no end but to drag a investigations and argument, were never great national question into the miserable familiar to the public. The territory in arena of party politics, where it could dispute appeared, at that period, so far not fail to be distorted, and make the off, and the idea of vast regions of barren- Republic appear in the eyes of Europe ness intervening, on both sides of the unreasoning, undignified, headstrong and Rocky Mountains—thus seemingly shut- grasping; Thus it happened that the ting it away forever from the cultivation late diplomatic correspondence was the
* There is no worse instance of the evil resulting from “scurvy politicians” using acknowledged national questions to hoist themselves into power, than was seen in the position in which Mr. Polk found himself, on assuming the responsibilities of his office. The point has been commented upon in our last number, in the article entitled “Pan. dora." The Baltimore Convention made haste to resolve that "our right to the whole of Oregon is clear and unquestionable;" that Oregon was to be re-occupied, as Texas was to be re-annexed, &c., &c. But to what end? Was the American title to Oregon a party question ? Had the subject been mentioned at the Whig Convention ? Had it in any way been compromised by Whig disaffection ? No! It was a juggle, and they knew it. They seized upon it to make votes; and they made them. Mark the result! A president, carried into offiee by this and other scrupulous means, feels himself, at first, called upon to talk as loudly as those who placed him there had talked for him. He utters his manifesto accordingly. England regards it as a menace-a defiance, a resolution of asserting claims per fas nefasque, quo jure quaque injuria. She is, of course, angry and assumes the warlike. But our President, when he comes to practical decision on the subject, finds that he has been unequivocal too early, that the question was virtually compromised years before, that he is placed in a false and a weak position. He is forced to ding to the wind his bravado promise to exact the whole, and the partypledge wbich had been made for him beforehand. He offers to give up nearly half of Oregon, provided we be allowed to keep the other half! “How natural,” says “ Pandora," " is the inference which will be drawn, on the other side, that he had been staggered by the force of the British claim, and compelled, in conscience, to defer to it. How easy the presumption, that when a president, so situated, could begin by professing so much, justice would give still more!
first consecutive and closely-reasoned the world possessed with too great a lust view of this complicated question that of territory (avaritia soli)—a feeling has fairly been spread before the public.* little appreciated by the monopolizers of It was on both sides exceedingly able, patriotism. They were willing, therefore, presenting for either country the entire to abide still by a division of claims. argument. The community were enabled Corresponding positions were assumed to see--what alone could reasonably de- by parties in Congress. Loco-foco oratermine their opinions—the comparative törs saw a productive opportunity of addfull strength of the rival claims at one ing to their stock of political capital, both survey. The effect was important. Those individual and partisan. They made haste who, having “uttered their most sweet to illuminate themselves, like automaton voices," to some effect, for the “ blood- figures in alabaster, for the admiration of less conquest” of Texas, sought after- constituents. They arrogated to the Party wards to monopolize the patriotism of the position of champions of the national the country by exclusive ontcries for honor, defenders of the soil. They acexclusive rights in Oregon (when, as we cused the Whig Party of opposition to have shown, they did not, and could not the wishes of the country, un-American have known the grounds of the claim), views, subserviency to British interests. suddenly awoke one morning, like Lord They talked boldly of War, and made no Byron, surprised to “ find themselves preparation ; scornfully of England, as if famous,” as having actually been-for scorn were a defence for our sea-coast the first time in some years—measurably and cities. They significantly hinted, in the right. Those, on the other hand, that a second Federal dynasty was to be whom many historical facts, actual joint overwhelmed by the odium which should occupancy for many years, and most of confound a second resistance to the popall, our repeated offers of compromise at ular war-spirit. The whole country, the 49th°, had naturally persuaded, that even the more moderate of their own the British right down io that latitude ranks, saw that they were pulling these was superior to our own, with perhaps a dangerous wires for no purpose but to shadow of argument for something be- strengthen their present ascendency, and yond, became, when the best pleadings secure it for the future :--not the 49th of both countries were before them, con or the 54th parallel of latitude, but a vinced that our title up to the 49th°, is parallel of power in '48, was the one irrefragable, with a claim, even as far as object of their resolutions belligerent and the Russian boundary, stronger than noisy declamations. The Whigs in ConGreat Britain can well establish. But gress saw quite through this game:-itis they were equally convinced that Eng. singular, indeed, that the Administration land was sincere in believing herself party could ever have supposed they possessed of a paramount title to a part; could be led blindfolded. They had, for that, if our abstract right to the whole be the most part, like the intelligent portion perfect, it will be difficult to persuade the of the community abroad, settled it in rest of the world that it is so—a consider their own minds, that the United States ation not to be disregarded by a people have perior rights in regon, and that not careless of a good name.; that, if we these rights are to be maintained. They could so persuade them, the very fact of felt, however, all those difficulties in the our having offered to rest satisfied with case which we have stated above, and the 49th parallel would be, in their eyes, preferred, like men aware of the true founa bar to enforcing a violent claim to the dations of a people's honor, that the Rewhole; and that whatever might be said public, abiding by its offered compromise, of the soil, British subjects have, by should seem to yield something of its long occupancy, acquired in that region abstract claims, now better understood, rights of property, at least, and trading rather than wear before the world the iminterests, ibat can not be overlooked. putations, which we might not be able to They were also impressed with a wish avoid, of inconsistency, ambition and ava. that the Republic should not appear to
rice. There was no one of them who was * We are not prepared to say, that our practice of publishing the diplomatic corres. pondence between this and other nations, contrary to European custom, is, in general, to be commended, though we cannot but consider it, in this case, fortunate, as a complete view of this controversy was greatly needed by the public, both in this country and in Europe. There are occasions, however, when the movements of government should be kept in profound secrecy.
not persuaded, that the dispute could be not help feeling a “gentle regret.” They honorably settled without the arbitration have not yet gained enough by their game. of the cannon; and they were especially They would gladly have recourse again resolved that the great question of Peace to the terrors of their magic lantern, careor War should not be used as a political less if they do not finally evoke the actual tool by their opponents—by some of them, Angel of Blood, and bring the nationwith no intention that War should follow unfortunate in its rulers to “ drink at -by others, with an utter recklessness the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury.” of results, if so they could gain their But we repeat our assurance, that their sordid ends" children playing on the machinations are idle, and that the nation hole of the asp, weaned children putting will again owe it, as often before, to that their hands on the cockatrice's den.” They “moral power of the Whig Party,” of 1ook their stand accordingly; and it is which we spoke in a former number, not too much to say, that their firm, in- that they are not plunged into irreparable telligent, unimpassioned conduct, aided misfortune. by the position which the Statesman of We have bestowed, by implication at South Carolina was bold enough to as- least, emphatic commendations on the sume in the face of the rank and file of Oregon Correspondence, as having tended his party, kept the question from being to enlighten public opinion in this counabsorbed by an unscrupulous faction for try, by placing face to face the strongest their own sinister purposes. The ad- arguments which either side can furnish; vices from England, by the last arrival, thus enabling every one to judge of preare such as entirely to sustain them; and ponderating claims, and to take a ground the country is free, we think, to rejoice at once positive, moderate, and American. that so important a controversy is placed Its effect in England, we apprehend, will back on the high national grounds from be found to have been still greater. The which it never should have been forced great body of the English people are away. Let those who so dealt with it absurdly ignorant of matters relating to bear the blame. There are symptoms, this country. Even most of their public indeed, that they are not pleased with the men, journalists and book-makers, betray too evident prospect of peace--for peace. a lack of knowledge on points of our ably, we are assured the question will history, geography, social order, that finally be settled. Not that the majority does great honor to either their self-conceit of them, as we have already intimated, or their indifference. If we travel in Eng. ever really desired or expected War. land, one half of those we converse with True, they have martial spirits among among the masses are likely to express them—valiant editors, orators, planners their wonder that, being Americans, we of campaigns—men of a “most dire na talk English. Mr. Alison, in his ponderture," and plainly born for some emer ous and partial history—a work as false gency–who appear quite ready, and did in its spirit as in its statements--speaks appear quite likely, to lead both their twice of the “two States of Massachuparty and their country into danger. setts and New England”-calls the CanaAnd they maintained their valor, for the dians the Tyrolese of America-asserts purpose, to an extraordinary pitch : his doubt whether each State, “so ex
tensive and undefined are their powers," “The lion shagg’d, fierce tail and fiery eye, cannot “ declare peace and war;” and Lasheth his sides to keep his courage high. represents Washington as giving his castBut the greater number of the political ing vote, in Congress, while President of jugglers, in whom that party have con the United States. Blunders almost as fided, by no means designed that the unpardonable are made in Parliamentary phantom they had so rashly conjured up, speeches. It is not surprising, therefore, should prove the devil in earnest. They that, on a subject so far removed from wished only to show their power, and to them as Oregon, their want of informamaintain it, by raising spectres which tion “ from King to Cobbler,” (with the they alone should seem able to put down exception of those who had studied it for again; and they imagined that this Shape diplomatic purposes,) was co-extensive of War would be both easily scared up, with their prejudices—both intense. But and the most potent. When they see, we observe that the English papers have however, the portentous shadow unex- published the whole, or parts of the corpectedly dissolve to reappear--too plainly respondence, as first put forth on this --in the assured form of Peace, they can side, and we think we can see the im
pression it has produced in a partial lull. made, it is further believed, by ministerial ing of that confident tone with which authority, the question of peace obviously they have hitherto asserted their claim rests with ourselves. down to the Columbia. The Times only We have thus made a historical sumattempts to answer Mr. Buchanan's last mary of the various aspects and positions letter, with a particular effort to show which this controversy has assumed, that our possession of several titles, con- partly that our further remarks may be flicting as between themselves, nullifies clearly understood, and partly to show the validity of them all as against Eng- how demagogues of little knowledge and land. The argument, though more terseless principle can pervert great national and spirited than Mr. Packenham's, is questions to party purposes. We are now false and inconclusive. We must, indeed, brought to this important point :-that it be allowed, as Americans, again to declare probably rests with the present Congress the gratification it has afforded us to ob to determine whether the dispute shall be serve the superior ability manifested on settled without war. It remains to conthe American side of the correspondence. sider the way in which this can be Mr. Packenham is undoubtedly a very effected, involving the nature of those clever man. It may be that he has con- rights which the British do possess on ducted the argument for his government the Pacific coast, and the extent to which as well as could have been done by Lord we ought to push our abstract claims. Aberdeen himself. It may be, too, that The Oregon question has been com.. he appears to disadvantage, because of monly spoken of as a question of boundthe palpable weakness of the claim which ary. In the proper use of terms, this is he urges. But as we read his notes and not so. The question is rather a quesstatements in their connection with those tion of title, which the parties have in of Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Buchanan, we vain attempted to settle by partition. cannot resist the conviction that an edu. The attempt to divide a territory between cation and practice amid the conflicts of contending claimants involves, of course, American politics, and in the intellectual the proposal of a boundary; and if the gymnastics of the legal profession, is a parties are agreed that there shall be a better training for the art of diplomacy division, the question of the line of parthan can be found in all the occupations tition becomes the only one. But even of British Statesmanship. This aside, then, the question where the division however-public opinion in England, we line shall run bears little resemblance · have assured ourselves from the tone of to a boundary question properly, so influential journals and by private advices, called—such as that which was so haphas been most essentially modified. How pily adjusted by the Treaty of Washmuch of this is owing to the very diplo. ington, in 1842. matic idea, which has doubtless impress We notice this misnomer, because it ed itself on their statesmen and journal- seems to us to have been the occasion of ists, that this is an excellent opportunity some misapprehension on both sides of to obtain from us a concession of Tariff the Atlantic. Where one government modifications, we cannot say. In what has clear and undoubted jurisdiction over spirit, also, such a compromise—worth a 'given territory, and another governmore to them than the whole of Oregon- ment has clear and undoubted jurisdicshould be met by us, we will not con tion over another territory contiguous to sider at present. All of this change in the former, and a misunderstanding has sentiment that is not due to that hope, is arisen as to which range of highlands, to be placed, we think, to the account of which water course, which parallel of an awakened sense of the actual prepon- latitude, marks the transition from the derance of the American claim. Under one jurisdiction to the other—that is a their united influence, it is believed, the question of boundary. To suppose any London Times--the dignified, unscrupu- analogy between the present question and lous and bitter enemy of American growth a question of that kind, is to misunderin America-put forth the leader which stand the whole matter. Our rights in has been much commented upon, urging Oregon—if we are to hold to the validity government to tender us the offer which of the Spanish title—are as good in we twice made them and they rejected, every part, from the Mexican boundary of the 49th parallel, giving England Van. to the Russian, as in any part ; and on the couver's Island, with joint navigation of other hand the rights of Great Britain, if the Columbia. As this suggestion is she has any, are equally ubiquitous. If
the “great powers” of Europe should to be peaceably settled. In doing this, now come to the conclusion, unanimous. however, we shall have occasion to refer ly, that the territories of the Turkish em- to some facts and arguments which have pire have been given up to barbarism long frequently before been employed. enough, and ought to be reclaimed imme What are the grounds, first, of any diately by being brought under the in- positive claims on the part of the British fluence of more civilized institutions, government to Oregon, or to any definite the question how to divide those territo- part of it as a territory of the British ries among the great claimants—how empire? In our view, after giving some much to give to Russia as the ancient attention to the argument, that governenemy of Turkey, and how much to ment seems to have no claim of that Britain as her ancient ally-how much to sort-none, we mean, that is warranted give to Austria on the score of contiguity, by the received law of nations. The and how much to France out of respect only.sources from which such a title can to the idea that the Mediterranean is a originate, according to that law as laid “ French lake"-Would not be at all like down on all sides, are discovery, settlethe question of a litigated boundary be. ment or occupation, treaty, contiguity tween Belgium and Holland, but would and prescription. be like the question now in dispute be. What, then, is the source of any claim tween the two great powers of the North that Great Britain can set up? Is it disAmerican continent about the partition covery? Did the British government, or of Oregon.
anybody under the authority and proOur Government, then, in asserting an tection of that government, discover the abstract title to the whole territory from north-west coast of America ? No. California to the Russian boundary, is Should we admit the story that Drake plainly right in the sense that such title sailed up the coast, even to the 48th deis as good at any one point of the coast gree instead of the 43d-an assertion as at any other. The British title, on which the English themselves have the other hand, if good for anything as wisely abandoned—who was Drake ? a title, is as good for the whole, or for as An Englishman sent out by his sovemuch as that government inay choose 10 reign to explore ? An honest merchant, demand, as for any part. This position sailing for lawful purposes under the brings the controversy to its true issue. protection of the British flag? Not at What is our ground of claim? What is all. He was a buccaneer-a mere pithe British? Which of the two is better rate-confessed to be such by Queen than the other?
Elizabeth herself. Did Britain discover There is little occasion here to give the great river of the west ? No. Afthe full details of discovery, exploration, ter its discovery, did she first explore it trade and treaties, which constitute the from its upper branches to its mouth, materials of the arguments on either side. with a view to occupation ? No. Facts The published correspondence, with the are indisputably against her. Did she various dissertations in reviews and pa- discover the great islands, straits and pers, have made the leading facts and harbors of the North western Archipeprinciples of the case familiar to the pub- lago? No. The old Greek pilot in the lic. The names of Juan de Fuca and Spanish service, Juan de Fuca, has left Heceta, of Meares and Vancouver, of his name there, from the year 1592, as a Gray and Kendrick, of the Treaty of perpetual testimony against the British Utrecht and the Nootka Sound Conven- claim of discovery; and if his narrative tion—the principles of international law be rejected as a fabrication--an assertion touching the rights acquired by discov- for which there is not good ground-yet ery, and the distinction between those the explorations and discoveries along treaties which war annihilates, and those those coasts and islands, by Perez, Hewhich survive the shock of arms—have ceta and Bodega, sent out by the Spanish become like household words wherever government for that purpose several there is intelligence enough to read the years before the English appeared in newspapers. What we propose, then, the Pacific Ocean at all, are conclusive is rather to express some general thoughts against the pretension. The only origithat occur to us respecting the nature of nal discovery of any kind made by her the American claim, the nature of the subjects, on ihe coast or inland, island or British rights as distinguished from it, river-of a nature to confer title accordand the manner in which the dispute is ing to received rules-is that of Fraser's