« ElőzőTovább »
THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE COUNTRY. The great difficulty in political, as in tide of human affairs, to the current of a religious, polemics is to be just and fear wise and constitutional progress. Benot”—whether in relation to one's own lieving that the views of the Whig Party, party or their opponents. It is not easy in relation to the public interests, are to withstand the pressure from around of mainly just, their movements honorable the multitude that are always struggling and salutary—that, as a body, they are to get the farthest possible in the advance; conservative without binding themselves and many are seduced into extremity to the past, progressive without destroyof argument, from the apparent strength, ing—we have taken our stand unalterably and credit for boldness, which extreme with them. So doing, however, we have positions give to those who most eagerly not held ourselves bound to see no good occupy them. The numbers are great, in any opinions or actions of our oppomoreover, of such as imagine that inod- nents. If their courses will really bear erate views imply weakness of character, the tests of virtue and utility, it shall be and that loud and positive assertions are sufficient to insure our regard. Act. indicative not only of power but of secur. ing otherwise, th Journal we have es. ity--borrowing the old war-maxim, that tablished with some care and labor were half the effectiveness of a fortress lies in worthy of being despised to-day, and of the formidable front it can be made to sinking to.morrow. bear.
We believe our readers will bear wit. We have endeavored to show ourselves ness, that we have, in some good degree, not of this class. From the commence- followed out this course of calm and ment of this Review, we have sought to evenbanded justice. It was certainly in make it evident to the country, that-as in this spirit that the Oregon question was literature, and morals, and social interests, discussed in our last number. On that we are not the slaves of foregone conclu- subject, indeed, it was less difficult to sions, dependent on opinions forged be- take such ground, since the Oregon confore we were born, but are ready to enter troversy was a question purely national, tain the possible necessities of change in in which, regarding the just maintenance the forms of thought—so in politics, we of our rights, the views of the American engage in no mere partisan warfare, but people were nearly unanimous, and which take our stand on high national questions, should never have been dragged into the considerations of general and abiding im- arena of party politics. For so attemptportance, yielding ourselves, in the great ing to monopolize it for future political efVOL. III. - NO. III.
fect, gambling with the common anxiety the question in the last number. We and interest of the country, the Adminis- shall not dwell upon them, but simply tration, and especially the leaders of the advert to such as will serve to make the party supporting it, were, in that argu- ground we are to assume thoroughly unment, severely censured. And they were derstood. We have, however, another censured alone. For it cannot be pretended object in view, and that is, to state some that the Whig party at the Baltimore points for our title itself more clearly convention, or at any time be
tha was done in the former article. since, in Congress or out of Congress, We begin, then, with reiterating our made even an incipient movement towards opinion, that the argument of the Secreemploying this question for political pur- tary of State respecting the superiority of poses. And as little pretence can there the American claim, considered as an abbe, that the Administration party did not stract title, based on the conventional adso employ it. The whole country knows missions of international law, remains it to be the case, and many of the public impregnable. We have seen no counterjournals in their own interest have borne statement in foreign journals even tendwitness to the fact. The war-speeches, ing successfully to overthrow it. On also-valiant and seasonable--of am. this side of the Atlantic several argubitious orators and presidential aspirants, ments have been constructed against itwere somewhat distant from our appro-, especially against the validity of the bation. But aside from these, we spoke, Spanish title--from well-informed and - according to our convictions, of many most able pens. These have, of course, things to be commended in the position come from the Whig side of politics. We of the Administration in this controversy do not regret it. It is well that the -it being, in fact (after the renewed offer strong, inquiring and fearless minds of of the 49th degree) the position of the the Whig party should be divided on country. We especially commended the such a question. A corresponding phase argument of the Secretary of State, which, of things has been seen on the opposite on the question of original naked title, side. Many intelligent writers and journals (apart from reasonable rights arising from belonging to the party in power, have circumstance) we held to be unanswer taken the ground, that there are con. able. We supported that argument, par- siderations naturally restricting our ultiticularly in relation to the Spanish title, mate reasonable claim to the 49th parallel. by collateral reasonings against the This division has taken place on both sophistical attacks of the English press, sides, because men have felt that it is a and what we could not help considering national question, and ought to be lifted the mistaken views of the venerable and out of the mud and fog of partisan learned ex-diplomatist, Albert Gallatin. politics into an atmosphere where one Of the motives—the policy-of the Ad can breathe with some freedom, and find ministration, in first assuming the exclu- that not all political illumination comes sive claim, and, in the very next move, from one direction. Who could regret offering to yield four-ninths of it, we said such a result? And if the division of nothing sincerely desiring that on a Whig opinions on the subject has at all great national question, our government, tended io this, we rejoice at it. In none of whatever party, should appear to stand of these arguments, however, has the well before the world.
American title been on the whole success. Thus much, then, of justice, at that fully invalidated. A skillful writer in position of affairs. We are now disposed the North American Review, following to exercise the attributem lex summa the able disquisition in the Edinburgh, moralium”-still further. It is a quality, attempted to show, that neither nation we are aware, less generally appreciated has a ground of claim sufficient to base a by them than mercy, notwithstanding title of absolute possession to any part of that they stand in about equal need of the Oregon, so that ihere can be nothing in two. But we shall be rewarded in the the way of making between them any exercise itself. We will even be liberal: kind of partition of the territory. Now we will endeavor to lay open the entire we are not disposed to deny that the policy of the Party and its Executive, so conventional canons which nations have that the whole country shall be able to agreed upon respecting the territorial admire.
rights conferred by prior discovery and To effect this satisfactorily, it will be exploration, by contiguity, occupancy, necessary to refer to statements and and prescription, have, from the very positions employed in our arguments on first, been open in the wide application
allowed them) to various objections. what grade of barbarism the dividing line They were all, primarily, of slight foun- is to be drawn, across which the civilized dation, vague, and unsatisfactory, as com foot cannot step upon an occupied soil as pared with the guaranties of individual it it had no owner. If the savages of rights by civil law, or in comparison North America, of Southern Africa, of with many other received international New Zealand, of Australia, whose simple regulations. How far discovery of a arts had not extended beyond the bow coast could confer a right to the vast and arrow, the stone kettle, the feathered interior of a continent—to what distance dress, and the tent of skins, could be the claim by first discovery and explora- subjected to English sway without hesition of a river could extend beyond the tation and as a matter of course, why head-waters of that river, or whether at should English writers be troubled that all—what length of time must pass before the Spanish dominion was with like ina right of prior discovery is lost by neg. difference and violence extended over the lect to occupy—what period of years, ancient empires of Mexico and Peru, during which a claim put forth by a whose inhabitants had attained to but nation is not objected to, can give a title certain forms of a sombre and barbaric by prescription—to what extent occu• civilization; or that the French are wetpancy at one point of a coast, or inland, ting the Desert with the blood of Abd-elcan establish a right to contiguous por. Kader's indomitable Arabs, because the tions of territory, and how far the general Desert should be civilized; or that the principle of contiguity gives a people Czar of Russia is sending his armies to possessing one unoccupied region a claim make the balf-cultivated mountaineers of to other unoccupied regions beyond, no Circassia acquainted with Russian refineother title to which exists elsewhere- ment? Why should not the English all these points were exceedingly unde. Government, having subdued, with a due fined, and lest to be determined very much mixture of craft and carnage, all the by circumstance and sufferance. They provinces of Lower India, finish the were also, to some degree, contradictory. bloody reduction of Nepaul among the A claim resting on discovery and explo- mountains, and then advance, with the
tion of a line of coast might, in many complaisance of a nation that is doing its cases, conflict with one reposed on dis- duty, upon Mahometan Persia on the one covery and exploration of a large river, hand, upon the spacious en pires of whose course, either of the main stream heathen Burmah and Siam on the other, or of its branches, should, at the distance or commence a better order of things in of two or three hundred miles inland, run Tartaric China ? Or what should hinder parallel with the coast. In other cases, the “ Holy Alliance” from proceeding to sovereignty extending over a large region their intended partitioning of Turkey, on the principle of contiguity, might whose mosques, palaces, populous cities encroach on territory claimed by a nation and manufactures do not quite redeem her occupying some single point or two on a from the reproach of barbarism ? The coast or river of that region.
Hottentots of the Cape of Good Hope are Nor can it be denied, that all these the lowest of mankind; one step above conventional rules were laid down by these are the ice-housing Esquimaux of Christian nations with a singular disre- Labrador and the Polar Sea; one step gard to the fact, whether any savage above these the miserable Root-diggers of tribes, or how populous, might for centu. the Pacific Coast; one or two removes ries have inhabited the coasts or river- from these, the hunting tribes of the Talleys, islands, or continents,which they Prairies and the Atlantic regions-tentso coolly partitioned among themselves, builders and planters of Maize; while all as if the earth were not, on the whole, the Indian races of the North were conintended for all who live on it. There siderably less advanced in modes of are not, indeed, forcible arguments want- living than the Mobilian tribes formerly ing for the doctrine, that the law of pro- inhabiting along the Gulf:-if superior gress-improvement—is the only law to these in knowledge and the arts of which the Human destinies can acknow. life, the Araucanians of Chili were yet ledge; that savagery, therefore, must be inferior to the Peruvians and Mexicans ; subject to civilization, and the wilder- these to the inhabitants of India; these, ness can be left for wild tribes to roam in some respects, to the Chinese, who, over no longer than till it is wanted for also, on the whole, are decidedly less the uses of cultivated society. Still, we civilized than the Persians, the Turks, confess we should be glad to know at and the ancient Moors. Where, then
shall the dividing line be drawn? Shall By treaty, also, between us and Spain, it depend upon the amount of population, there is a ground of title of great imwhether a people can consider as its own portance, unless the validity of the Spanthe territory it inhabits ? But the con- ish claim, not only as exclusive, but as to fusion of lines here is greater than among any portion of that territory, can be endegrees of barbarism. Some of the most tirely done away; and we showed, in savage tribes of American Indians were
our argument on this question, that quite numerous, yet occupied a limited Spain (if driven to such a reliance) could soil; others, in small and scattered bands, also advance a title by two centuries of wandered over immense regions of wil. prescription. To urge, then, that there derness. The Mexicans and Peruvians is no title at all for any party—or other were populous nations, living in cities, than the very feeble one " by contiguity" and cultivating nearly all the country -- is simply absurd, unless we choose to they possessed; while large portions offling aside, for the occasion, all the Turkey and Persia are nearly as destitute principles of international law touching of inhabitants as were the wildest parts such questions. of North America: and India and China, We shall not repeat the evidences again, are the most crowded countries of respecting the preponderance of claims the Globe. Perhaps, then, to prosess the on these grounds, between England and Christian religion may entitle a govern. the United States. They were set forth ment to overrun, despoil, and appropriate at some length in our last number; the territory and homes of a people whom and was shown conclusively, we think, Heaven has seen fit to leave a little longer that nearly every point makes for the in darkness!
American right. Ít was shown that But all such objections are nothing Spaniards first discovered the Pacific here. The original injustice, or defec- Ocean, in 1513; that as early as 1542 tiveness and uncertainty, of the conven- they had explored, by Governmental tional principles so long admitted by authority, the whole coast from Panama civilized nations, as pertaining to the dis- northward to the 41st, more probably to the covery and occupation of new countries, 43d parallel, which is one degree within it is quite too late now for them to regard the actual limits of Oregon; that beyond in controversies among themselves. The the doubt of any intelligent student in laws which Christendom has laid down, geographical history, De Fuca, in 1592, Christendom, within itself, must abide discovered and sailed through the Straits, by; unless, indeed, it is now thought which have ever since borne his name, well to abrogate the whole system, be separating Vancouver's Island from cause that government which has taken the continent; that they had established advantage of its indefinite provisions seven settlements at several points, as high up times as often as any other, finds it possible, as the shores of California ; that though in a present case, to do better without it. they occupied no part of the coast farther But if these principles were ever fit to be north, and made no additional exploraemployed, or are not now to be suddenly tions, for nearly two centuries, yet they abrogated, we affirm that there has never constantly asserted a claim to regions been a case in which they could more northward, on the ground of contiguity clearly apply, than in the Oregon ques- of sea-coast to the parts already explored tion. Every one of the received grounds and occupied—which claim was never of claim exists here, except legitimate called in question, by other nations, in occupancy. And they are found, on a the way of practical denial, (as alone it just consideration, to be of unusual dis- could legitimately have been done,) no tinctness. Some one nation, it is clear, foreign vessel venturing forbidden traffic must have made the first discoveries on on those shores, nor even a foreign flag, that coast; unless two had chanced to during all this period, once entering those make the same or equal discoveries at seas; that this long period of sufferance the same time-which, we know, was of an asserted claim gave them that title not the case; and a title resting upon by prescription which they had lost by them, provided they were published to neglect to occupy; that, even throwing the world, must, it is equally evident, aside all these grounds of sovereignty have belonged to that nation. That in that region, the fact, that at the end of there is a claim by contiguity is mani. this long interval, the Spanish Governfest, since the dominions of the only ment sent out three different expeditions, claimants in the case border, contermi- for the express purpose of exploring the nously, on the entire region of Oregon. whole northern coast—which expeditions