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Full text of "Speech of Mr. Stewart of Pennsylvania, on the Three Million Appropriation Bill, and the Mexican ..."

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SPEECH 



OF 

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I'T 



MR. STEWART, OF PENNSYLVANIA, 



ON THE 



THREE MILLION APPROPRIATION BILL, 



AND THE 



. MEXICAN WAR. 



Delivered in the House of Representativea of the U. S.^ Feb. 13, 1847. 



WASHINGTON: 

b J. fc Q. S. GIDEON, POINTERS 



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SPEECH 



The House being in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union on the Three Million 
Appropriation bill — 

Mr. STEWART said he proposed, in the first place, to inquire briefly into 
the true purposes and objects of this bill ; for it seemed to him that, in the 
course of the present debate, almost every thing else had been discussed but the 
iiiTi itself. This bill grants the President what he demands, three millions of 
dollars to make a treaty with Mexico, and authorizes him to pay the money be- 
fore the treaty is submitted to or approved by the Senate ; and the Senate are 
thus required to ratify this treaty before they see it, or know what it is. Is 
it not in effect a ratification of the treaty beforehand? How can the Sen- 
ate object to the tre^y, no matter what is its character or provisions, after 
having authorized the payment of the three millions in advance ? If they 
^0, the money will be lost, and lost by their act, in authorizing its pre- 
Tious payment. He contended, therefore, that any treaty which the President 
might choose to make for the acquisition of Mexican territory, would in effect 
be at once binding upon this Government. Let this bill once be passed, and I 
«ay that neither this House, nor the Senate, can, with any consistency, object to 
the treaty. The appropriating power is the only control this House can exert 
over the Executive in the making and executing of treaties. This it is proposed 
to exercise beforehand, and thiis surrender to the President the whole control of 
the treaty-making power. By this act we tie our hands and seal our lips, We 
have no right to object to any thing the President may do, and this is manifestly 
the object and design of this bill. In originating the present war without con- 
•«ulting Congress, then in session, the whole war power of this Government has 
been practically usurped by the President. He has carried it out in fact. He 
has made war while Congress was in session, without submitting the causes to 
their consideration, or asking or obtaining their concurrence. He did not ask 
tis to declare war,, but ordered the army to advance and biing on the war, and 
then called upon us to " recognise its existence," and appropriate money and 
men for its prosecution. Having thus seized upon the war-making power, he 
now wants us to surrender to jiim the treaty-making power also. As he began 
the war without the consent of Congress, so now he wants the means of making 
a peace without the aid or concurrence of either the House or the Senate. 

By this law we authorize him to pay Santa Anna, or any body else, three mil- 
lions to purchase a peace, which he has failed to conquer. And, if the Senate shall 
refuse to ratify it, the three millions are gone ! This bill empowers the President to 
make a treaty when, how, and with whom he pleases. If he shall be pleased to 
make a treaty exchanging Oregon for California, to give northern for southern terri- 



<^ 



tory, to surrender free territory for the acquisition of slave territory, and give these 
three millions to boot as earnest money, what right has the Senate to object ? If 
they do, may not the President say " what, do you object to the treaty? Did you 
not authorize me by law to' make a treaty that should put an end to this war^ 
and did you not give me three millions to do it ? I made the treaty; Mexico 
has ratified it. 1 have paid her the three, millions, and she has paid it to her 
army ; and now, if you refuse to ratify it, the money is a dead loss, and worse,"* 
it has gone to " aid and comfort the enemy." 

To obviate this objection, 1 have moved an amendment in the 11th line of the 
2d section of the bill, inserting after ** ratified by Mexico," the words '* and the 
United States." This will, if adopted, keep the money in our own hands till the 
treaty has been approved by the Senate. But, if the amendment be adopted, the 
real intent and object of this bill will be defeated. For if you postpone, as 
you ought clearly to do, the payment of the money till the treaty is ratified by 
the Senate, what is the use of passing this bill? Can't Congress appropriate 
the money simultaneously, with the approval and ratification of the treaty ? Cer- 
tainly. 

My objection to this bill is this, that, having surrendered the power to the 
President — having given up to him both the purse and the sword, I cannot con- 
sent, by this bill, to surrender to him the treaty-making power also, thus en- 
abling him to impose on Congress and the country just such a treaty as suits- 
himself. Is this to be tolerated ? I trust not, unless it is resolved by the ma- 
joiity here to convert this free Government into a despotism, and sacrifice our 
liberties on the altar of arbitrary power. » 

I have voted, and I intend to vote, for all the men, money, and measures, that 
may be necessary, in my judgment, to bring this unhappy war to a speedy and 
an honorably conclusion ; but this bill goes too far. 1 am ready to do whatever 
is proper and necessary to strengthen the Executive arm in maintaining the 
honor and interests of the cou<itry ; but this bill proposes a surrender of more 
power into the hands of the Executive than I can consent to grant. So much for 
the bill and its objects. 

And now, in regard to this Wilmot proviso. What is it? It is a proposition 
to prohibit the extension of slavery in the new territory we may acquire with 
these three millions of dollars, and which is now free territory. Where can be 
the objection to an object like this ? Gentlemen say that this is not the time ;. 
that this is not the place ; that it is a mere abstraction, and will have no practi- 
cal operation. But I say it will have a practical and most salutary operation, as- 
I shall show directly. But even if it were an abstraction, if it were merely a 
declaratory resolution, saying that Congress is in favor of liberty and opposed to- 
slavery, how would gentlemen vote ? Shall this American Congress, which 
claims to represent the freest people on earth, dwelling in the home, the citadel^ 
the cherished land of liberty, vote that we are in favor of slavery? Let the 
South so vote, if they choose; he did not blame southern men for maintaining- 
their own side of the question ; but let northern men beware. For his owa 
part, while he would faithfully abide by all the compromises of the Constitution^ 
while he would not invade, in the slighest degree, any of the constitutional rights 
of the South, he would never extend, by any vote of his, slavery over one foot 
of territory now free. I will, then, vote for this proviso, not only because I 
think it right in itself, but because I believe it will have a more powerful 
effect in restoring peace than any other measure that can be adopted — peace 
abroad and peace at home. I beg gentlemen to recollect that the acquisition 



of territory was the original design, and is now the declared ohject and purpose, 
«f this war. The acquisition of New Mexico and California is, we are now told 
on all sides, the object of this appropriation. It was for this purpose that James 
K. Polk brought the war on in the first instance. It was a scheme, a notable 
scheme, for the acquisition of territory by conquest; but that object was to b6 
^loncealed, and therefore he began the war without saying a word to Congress 
about it. He feared they would not sanction his scheme, and bring on a war for 
fiuch a purpose. Here was the great error committed by the President, »* a blunder 
Worse than a crime." When Mexico refused to recognise our minister, the Presi- 
dent instead of sending his army to the Rib Grande to bring on the war, should 
have sent his message to Congress, setting forth the causes, and recommending, 
if he chose, a declaration of war ; ayid then, if Congress had declared war, it 
would have been constitutionally declared by the people's representatives, and 
Aey would have cheerfully sustained it. But, instead of adopting this course, 
Ihough Congress was in session at the time, he ordered his army to march from 
Corpus Christi (where he himself says it had been posted for more than six 
nonths, without objection or molestation from Mexico) to the Rio Grande, into 
^e disputed territory, directly opposite to Matamoras, a Mexican town, block- 
ading the river, cutting off their supplies, and erecting a battery within gunshot 
•f the city itself^ — an act of war, and producing war as a necessary and inevitable 
consequence. It did produce war. Battles were fought. Our brave little army 
was cut oflf from its supplies ; and, when his plot had thus succeeded, then he 
called on us ** to recognise the existence of the war," and provide men and 
money for its prosecution. And why did he not send us his message, and leave 
it to us to judge whether the nation had good cause of war or not ? Because he 
was afraid to trust the House with the question. He knew that it never would 
sanction a war for the acquisition of territory ; and that was the reason why he 
look it upon him to send his army to bully Mexico into a war. 

Mr. Martin, of Tennessee, here interposed to inquire, whether war had not 
been declared against us by Mexico as early as April ? 

Mr. S. No, sir, no ; she did not. No declaration of war was ev^r made by 
Mexico against the United States, or by the United States against Mexico. It 
iJB an Executive war — a war brought on by your President, without a declara- 
tion of war on either side. Mexico, wishing to avoid hostilities, sent, by her 
Cieneral in command, a notice to our commander (General Taylor) not to cross the 
Colorado, otherwise they would regard it as an act of war, and an invasion of Mex- 
ico. They were not only willing to leave our army undisturbed at Corpus Christi, 
hut were willing we should march to the Colorado without resistance. No, sir, the 
Mexican Congress never declared war against us, and the President did not give us 
ihe chance to declare war against them. I tell the gentleman from Tennessee, 
i(Mr. Martin,) who represents Mr. Polk on this floor, that this is a war made by 
inis President, and, for all the consequences of which he is responsible to, and 
will be held responsible by, the American people. Peace is the true policy of 
this country ; war, and especially wars of conquest and invasion, are dangerous 
to the character, integrity, and best interests of this Union. As a friend of 
peace, present and prospective, I am in favor of this proviso. The object 
4> ilhis war being the acquisition of southern territory, as long as there is a 
hope of accomplishing this object, there will be no peace. Put an end to this 
hope, and you at once put an end to the war, by defeating its object. The mo- 
ment the President finds this proviso accompanying this grant of money, he 
will be for making peace ; and so will all the South. They want no restricted 
territory. If the restriction is imposed, and the territory acquired is to be free* 



from that moment the President would pay Mexico to keep her territory, rt- 
ther than bring it in on such conditions. I am for the proviso, therefore, becauiEf^ 
it will biing us peace. Impose tliis restriction, and Mr. Poik will say he wants 
no territory — the South will say they want none ; we say, agreed, we want 
none. Then, if Mexico is to lose no territory, she will be for peace ; and if we- 
are to acquire none, what are we fighting for ? Then, impose this restriction,, 
and the war will be promptly ended, to the great benefit and joy of both Repub* 
lies. 

But this restriction would not only terminate the war, but it will promote peace 
at home, domestic peace. It will avoid civil, and perhaps, in the end, servile 
wars. 

The acquisition of unrestricted territory will be an "apple of discord" to the 
States of this Union. New questions will at once spring up-— new lines of 
party distinction will be drawn, and the old ones obliterated. We shall be no^ 
longer divided as Whigs and Democrats. As long as our party, distinctions are 
founded on abstract principles, and measures of internal policy, they never will 
divide this Union — never ; but as soon as you make a geographical division-— a 
free party and a slave party, a northern party and a southern party— you at once 
strike a fatal blow at the integrity of this Union. I want to shun all these dan* 
gers — dangers which, I believe, can be avoided only by keeping out foreign 
territory. But the President tells us, in his Message, ;that this war was not com* 
menced, and is not prosecuted, for conquest. Sir, I am sorry he has said so. I 
am sorry for the credit and character of my country ; for what man is therd so 
blind as. not to see that conquest is the whole and solo end and object of this 
war? Whether we look to the manner of its commencement, or the manner of 
its prosecution, every one must see that territory, the acquisition of territory ,. 
was the first and last, the cherished and darling object of the President. But. 
the President tells us that Mexico began this war; that she struck first ; that she 
invaded our territory, and **shed American blood on American soil." If this be 
true, it is sufficient. Then why go back twenty years to give what the Presi* 
dent calls ^'a history of the causes tliat led to this war." Led who to this wart 
That led him to make it of course. Why rake up and cite, in order, this long' 
string of old grievances and causes of quarrel, long since settled by treaty? 
Why dwell on Mexican outrages, and what Mexico owes us ? She has acknow- 
ledged the debt, and has agreed to pay it ; and did pay as long as she had the 
means. But will war bring the money? Or will it not rather destroy both the 
ability and disposition of Mexico to pay ? Suppose a man living in Texas or 
Florida owes Mr. Polk, not $3,000,000, but $3,000 ; he sends a man over there 
to collect the money. The man acknowledges the debt, but says he can't pay* 
Mr. Polk flies in a passion, and says, '*ril make him pay." He hires a hundred 
men, agrees to pay them $10 per month, gives them 160 acres of land, finds 
them horses, borrows $50,000 to pay expenses, and away he goes. The man 
collects his neighbors, they have a fight; Mr. Polk, with the loss of half his 
men, gains a glorious victory ; he burns the man's barn ; he sets his stacks on 
fire ; destroys his cattle, and kills his wife and children ; and what is the result? 
Mr. Polk has ruined the man, and ruined himself; the debt is lost, and Mr. 
Polk's property is sold by the sheriff to pay the expenses of his folly, and that 
is the end of it. Such a course would be just as reasonable as this war upon 
Mexico to collect what she owes us. But who believes Mr. Polk to be in earur 
est ? Who does not know that this is only the ostensible motive, the pret<$xt» 
for the war, and that the true, the real object is, and was from the beginnings 
he acquisition of territory ? 



Bst the PrMid^t iMiflte, t^t Mexico strack fint is Ais trae t If «k 
that is enough ; why ^Lssiga twenty other insufficient reasons for this war? T]i» 
(bourse of the President puts me in mind of a case of outrageous assault and bat* 
tery tried in the West. The defendant's counsel admitted the charge, but undev^ 
todL to justify. He came into court with his plea, something like the message 
in length, containing twenty-four distinct grouikls of defence. To the terror of 
the court he opened his volume, and commenced reading : ** If the court please, 
our first ground of defence is, that the prosecutor struck Jir 8 1.^^ " Stop," said 
the court, " stop*— that's enough — prove that, and we want no more." " Aye» 
but," said the lawyer, "unfortunately for my client, that's just what we can*t 
prove!" "Then, why did you put it in?" " To save appearances, if your 
honors please." Just so in this case — "To save appearances," the President 
says, Mexico "struck first;" but, not being able to prove it, he goes back 
twenty-odd years to give, what he calls, " a history of the causes that led to 
the war," instead of giving the true causes in a word, by saying, "first, the ai^ 
nexation of Texas; second, the acquisition of California." 

Bm gentlemen dwell much upon the " glory" of this war. Glory ! — is there 
any glory to be got by the conquest of these miserable demi-savage, down-trod- 
den, and distracted Mexicans ? Is it glory for an elephant to kill an ant, or a 
lion to murder a mouse ? Glory? No, sir; that won't do. There would be 
more true glory in exercising generosity, magnanimity, and forbearance towards 
poor Mexico, than in killing her people, and robbing her of her territory. A 
war with Mexico can be glorious in no event, it may be disgraceful ; victory 
over such an enemy is not glorious, while defeat would be the deepest disgrace* 

Now, sir, though I disapprove of this war, in its origin and in its objects ; 
though I condemn both the manner of its commencement and the manner of its 
.prosecution, yet I have voted both the men and money asked for by the Presi- 
dent to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination. And why ? Because- 
we had no escape. The President had plunged us into the war without our 
consent. Our brave little army was cut off from its supplies, and in danger of 
utter destruction. We were obliged to rescue them by sending them speedy 
succor. But I never voted to prosecute this war for the purpose of acquiring 
additional territory by conquest. No, sir, never. If we shall succeed in get- 
ting this territory, what shall we do with it ? Shall we hold it by military oc- 
cupation ? By sendmg an army there, and keeping it there forever, with all its 
appendages and oppressive burdens of taxation, crushing the people of this 
country lo the earth ? Or shall we incorporate it into the Union ? And, if we 
do, are those semi-barbarian, half-blood, negro, and mulatto Mexicans fit for 
freedom? Are they capable of being free? Can you force them to be free I 
No, sir; you know you cannot. But, even if you could, have you any right to 
force freedom upon these unwilling men ? Are we to go and bring them in by 
force— drag these resisting people into our Union by the hair of their head ? 
But, even if \^ling to come, what preparation have they ? Are they qualified 
to exercise the rights of American citizens ? But, more than that, they are in 
a state of the highest exasperation against us. Sir, I would as soon bring a den 
of exasperated rattlesnakes into the midst of my family, as attempt to force 
' these treacherous and miserable Mexicans into political union with ourselves— 
unwilling and exasperated as they are. The result would be discord, strife, civil 
war, and, ultimately, and perhaps at no distant day, the dissolution of this now 
happy and glorious Union. I cannot sanction this appropriation for another 
reason. To do so would be to sanction the doctrine so boldly and unblushingly 
avowed here by the gentleman from Indiana, over the way, (Mr. Wick,) who 



8 

says, that we are here simply to give the Executive what he wants; and. that, if 
we are not willing to grant it, and in the/orm in which he asks it, we ought to go 
home, and let the people send here those who are. That is the rule h'e prescribes 
for himself and all good Democrats. Yes, that is the doctrine openly preached on 
this floor — the floor of an American Congress — by the gentleman from Indiana, who 
assumes to be "Sir Oracle" — the official whipper-in of the Democratic party — the 
grand sherifl* and head constable, set up and authorized to bring the Democracy 
to order. And has it come to this ? Is this your modern progressive Demo-^ 
cracy, that the President must have not only whatever he wants, but in the form 
he wants it ? The purse and the sword he already 1ms, and this bill adds the 
treaty-making power. A more despicably slavish creed never was taught under 
the dagger and the cord in the most grinding despotisms that ever has outraged 
the rights of man. What does it make of the representatives of a free people ? 
The poorest, meanest, most sycophantic, subservient, and crawling slaves that 
ever licked the foot of arbitrary power. We must give the President all he asks ! 
Indeed ! what business, then, have we here ? Why not go home, and save ex- 
pense ? One man is all we want. And yet that is modern Democracy, pro- 
mulgated by a self-styled political philosopher, who prides himself greatly on 
his wisdom, but more on his transcendental Democracy. This is not Democ- 
racy; it is the reverse of the old and true Democracy to which I belonged, and 
still belong ; it is the concentration of all power in the President ; the one-man 
power ; monarchy in fact, and, if not checked and chastised by the people, will 
soon be monarchy inform as well as in fact. But, sir, the day is now dawning 
in the East. The clouds and darkness that overshadow us are fast disappearing. 
The decree has gone forth. The time is at hand when the people will redeem 
themselves from the doings and the doctrines of this destructive Democracy. 

Sir, I here venture to say, that if James K. Polk, when he came into power, 
had set himself down, in Cabinet council, to devise a system of measures to 
destroy, first, his country, and next, his party, he could not have contrived a sys- 
tem better calculated to achieve the object than the one he has adopted and car- 
ried out. 

As to its eflects upon the party, look at the scenes of this morning — look at 
the scenes that daily surround us*— the divisions, dissentions, quarrels, and fights, 
that are daily occurring on this floor, between the belligerent divisions and regi- 
ments of the ** harmonious Democracy." Ask the Democrats from Pennsyl- 
vania, New York, and Ohio, what turned them out last fall, and they will tell 
you, and tell you truly, '* it was Polk and his policy" that done it. As to- its 
eflects upon the country, look at its condition when he came into power, and 
look at it now. Who could have believed that such a change could have been 
eflected in so short a time ? Then the country was in the enjoyment of peace 
and prosperity, already both are destroyed. Then the national industry was 
protected and prosperous, and the revenue abundant under the tarifl'of '42; now 
our national industry and our revenue have been both put down t^ether by the 
infamous British tavifl* of *46. True, sir, Providence has, to some extent, coun- 
teracted the destructive eflects of the Polk policy, by visiting Europe with a 
famine, a failure of the potato crop in Ireland, and of the wheat crop throughout 
Europe, while we have been blessed with an unusual, a superabundant crop, to 
supply this deficiency. This has greatly increased our imports, and sustained, 
to some extent, the revenue ; but this will be temporary. Yet, notwithstanding 
all these favorable circumstances, look at one great and undeniable fact: when 
Mr. Polk came into power the United States stock stood $116 for $100 ; now it 
is down to $98. This fact speaks volumes as to the disastrous eflects of his 



policy on the public credit, at home and abroad. Polk found the country with z 
sound currency, now we have the Subtreasury and Treasury note bills. The one 
says we will take nothing but specie, the other says we will pay nothing but 
paper. Treasury notes are in fact the paper issues of a suspended non-specie 
paying bank. It is a national bank without specie in its vaults — ^it is this, and 
nothing else. 

The Subtreasury and Treasury notes are inseparable ; they have always come 
and went together. They came in with Van Buren, and they went out with 
Van Buren. They have come in with Polk and they will go out with Polk. It 
is a contrivance to get money after the Treasury is exhausted, to feast and fattea 
the hundreds and thousands of hungry partizans with offices and salaries, good 
contracts and jobs, at the expense of the honest, hard working, and tax-paying 
farmers and laborers of the country; and, to cover their extravagance, they get up 
a war, no matter with whom, what for,or how. Van Buren made a war some-t 
thing like the present in its origin and objects, to rob a few Indians in Florida of 
their land, because they would not sell it at his price ; and this war has cost the 
people more than forty milHons of dollars, and we are now supporting these In- 
dians beyond the Mississippi at an expense of nearly a million a year. Well* 
Mr. Polk, following in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor, has made 
war upon Mexico, with the same object in view, to acquire territory and give 
fat jobs, contracts, and offices to his partizans, at the expense of the people ; but 
when, where, and how, the Polk war is to end, God only knows. What it is to 
cost in blood and treasure, no one can tell. One thing, however, we do know*/ 
the nation is being involved in debt at the rate of forty or fifty millions a year, 
without any measure of revenue proposed to discharge the debt, or even to pay 
the interest. Why not meet the crisis you have created like men? Why 
shrink and skulk from the responsibility? Two months after the declaration of 
the war against Great Britain, Congress promptly, and without hesitation, passed 
an act to double the duties on foreign goods, and imposed shortly afterwards in- 
ternal duties to meet the expenses of the war ; but now nothing can be done but 
pass enormous appropriation bills, issue Treasury notes, and divide the proceeds 
among greedy partizans, who stand with opep mouths to seize the bread and 
bones distributed at the White House.. The democratic plan seems to be to 
pass appropriation bills, take the money, and leave the Whigs to foot the bill as 
in 1840. The only legacy they will leave us when they die will be their debts, 
with the privilege of imposing taxes to pay them. The Democrats, it seems. 
Lave discovered Mr. Law's plan of getting clear of taxation. Some years ago, 
when taxes were very high in this city, my old friend Thomas Law, (brother of 
Lord Ellenborough,) who was very heavily taxed for unproductive property on 
Capitol Hill, one day gave out that he had discovered a plan to get rid of his 
taxes; his neighbors, who had a fellow-feeling on this subject, flocked in to find out 
what his plan was ; after a great deal of importunity, the old gentleman at last 
said, "well friends, if you must know, I am going to rfte." 

Now, the Democrats have found out that they are going to die soon, and they 
are determined to get all they can while their time lasts ^ and leave the Whigs to 
Lmppse the taxes, and to pay them. . 

But we were told the other day, that the Democratic party had carried out all 
its measures, and the results would contrast favorably with those of the Whigs* 
I am glad to hear this admission. They confess that their system of measures 
is in full and successfut operation, and we all can see the beautiful results. I 
will avail myself of the occasion which is thus. presented to me, and will follow 
out the contrast a little farther. 



10 

' Bat I must go back a little, and I mean to inquire whdt has been the effect of 
Whig policy on the prosperity, the character, and the credit of the country; and 
then what has been the result of the opposite ? 

In this inquiry, 1 shall deal with facts — I mean to speak from the record, and 
I challenge contradiction. ^ Thejn 1 state, in the first place, that the average ex- 
penditures of the Government, during the four years of Mr. Adam's administra- 
tion, was but twelve millions and a half a year, and part of this was to cover 
Uie expenses of an extensive system of internal improvements; and during the 
same four years, there were paid forty-five millions of the public debt, out of 
twenty-five millions of revenue. Mr. Adams was turned out for his extrava- 
gance, and Locofoco economy substituted. Mr. Van Buren came in as a per- 
sonal embodiment of Locofoco principles, and what was the annual expenditure 
during his four years ? The average, instead of twelve and a half, was twenty- 
eight millions; (in one year the expenditure reached thirty-seven millions.) 
Twelve and a half millions under Mr. Adams, twenty-eight millions under Mr. 
Van Buren; this is the difierence between Whig and Locofoco policy. With a 
revenue of more than 90 millions, they paid not one dollar of the public debt^ 
but increased it, in efiect, thirty-one millions; the expenditures having exceeded 
the revenue during his term by that amount. Mr. Van Buren found in the Trea- 
sury a surplus of 45 millions; of this, 28 millions were deposited with the States^, 
leaving 16 millions of available revenue, and to this add the proceeds of the sale 
of the Government bank stock, 8s millions, making a surplus of 24^ millions; 
the whole of this, with all the revenues of the Government, was expended dar- 
ing Mr. Van Buren's four years, and a large debt left to the Whigs upon the ac- 
cession of General Harrison to the Presidency in 1841. 

When the Whigs came into power, they found in the Treasury, not a surplus 
of 45 millions, as did Mr. Van Buren, but they found, on the contrary, a large 
debt, and the revenue run down to less than half the amount of the expendi- 
tures. In 1840, the net revenue was but $10,159,339. When the Whigs came 
in, they passed the Tariff of '42, (that tariff law which we, in our wisdom, re- 
pealed last winter,) and what did that law accomplish ? It raised the net revenue 
to $25,758,406 in 1644— it restored the credit of the nation — it raised up and 
protected the national industry, and made the nation prosperous. It paid off, in 
four years of its operation, (1842 inclusive,) 34 millions of the public debt, and 
left, in 1846, a bsdance of 6 millions in the Treasury; and raised the revenue- 
from 12 to 27 millions a year. 

This Whig Administration was turned out by frauds and deceptions of 
the grossest character. James K. Polk came in. Locofoco doctrine was 
again in the ascendant. The tariff of 1842 was repealed, and that of 184S 
substituted, Texas annexed, and then, as was predicted, came war, with all its 
unhappy and disastrous consequences. Here are the fruits of Locofoco policy. 
What is the condition of the country now ? It is worse than it was even under 
the ruinous reign of Martin Van Buren, whom the people turned out, head and 
heels. Mr. Van Buren spent for us twenty-eight millions a year ; and how 
■mch is James K. Polk spending ? God only knows. Just what he pleases to 
ask for — forty or fifty millions at least. We have given him men and given hina 
money-— millions upon millions— regiments upon regiments — treasury notes,^ 
loans, all he asks, and as fast as he asks; yet his friends here complain daily that 
the President is *« not sustained" in his patriotic purpose'" What have we re- 
fused him ? We granted him ten millions of dollars and fifty thousand volun- 
teers, who promptly tendered their services, and he has not called out much 



11 

nore tfaan half of them. What have we not done ? And, after all, what has 
Mr. Pdk done ? Has he prosecuted this war as he ought to have done ? No. 
He had authority to cadi out a sufficient force, but he declined to do it We of- 
fered liim troops enough, but he left them behind. And now, when the Mexi- 
cans have entrenched themselves, have strengthened their fortifications, put dowa 
their factions, and are united as one man, with their old and ablest chieftain^ 
Santa Anna, at their head — now, after eight or nine months' delay, the Prbsi* 
dent is ready to go forward ; he is bustling about, and complaining of want of 
means. General Gaines, knowing that the true course was to strike quick and 
heavy blows, promptly called to the field all the forces at hand, to act with ener- 
gy, before the enemy had time to harmonize and concentrate their strength, and 
thus to put an end to the war at once ; and, for doing this, he lias been court- 
martialled by the President, and removed from his command in the South. And 
what did the ^President do ? Instead of striking vigorously at the heart of 'Mexi'- 
CO, he is found invading her remote and defenceless frontiers, in organizing civil 
governments, and in securing territory to be held as indemnity for the expenses 
of the war, as " pay for heatrng the poker." By taking possession of her fron* 
tier provinces, the President has essentially strengthened Mexico, by relieving 
her from the necessity of keeping up troops on her frontiers to hold in check the 
fierce and warlike savages of the North,, who were continually making hostile 
incursions, and robbing and murdering her people. These Indians are now 
held in check by our troops, and Mexico has withdrawn hers to strengthen her 
defences at home. The whole of these movements show conclusively that the 
purpose and policy of the President, in the commencement and prosecution of 
this war, has been the acquisition of territory ; and, although he may deny it ia 
his message, who that looks to his acts can believe him ? Now, I submit to my^ 
friends in the South, in all kindness, I ask them, ought they not to be satisfied t 
Have we not given them Florida at a cost of forty millions? Have we not pur- 
chased for them Louisiana, which has given them four or five States ; and have we 
not recently annexed Texas, which will give them four or five more? All these 
vast territories have been acquired partly by the blood and treasure of the North,^ 
and have all been surrendered to the South ; and yet it seems that southern men 
are not satisfied ! Is this reasonable ; is it right ? When we claimed the whole 
of Oregon for the formation of free States, by a title declared by the President to 
be ♦* clear and unquestionable," yet nearly one half of it was given up by him* 
I tell my friends in the South, that they had better stop in their course of acqui- 
sition, especially by conquest. If they proceed, they will establish a geograph* 
ical line as a party line ; and that will in the end destroy this Union. Suppose 
parties are divided by geographical lines, with northern candidates and southern 
candidates for the Presidential offices. Suppose the North should triumph ia 
the struggle ; will the South submit ? We are told they will not ; that they will 
nullify and set up a government of their own. But in a different result the North 
might do the same thing. These are fearful consequences ; may they not follow^ 
the further acquisition of territory by conquest? These dangers may be remote ; 
I trust they may never occur — that wisdom and moderation may forever avert 
t^m from our beloved country — but I fear nothing can stop them (if unrestricted 
t^ltory i^ acquired by conquest) from swallowing up in the end all that is pre- 
cious in our present happy Union and free institutions. Such are some of the 
sad consequences which I fear will fiow from this war, if its original purposes 
and objects be carried out. 

This war which is to be prosecuted at the sacrifice of all the other great interests 
of our country ; for which internal improvements are to be arrested ; private 



12 

claims vetoed and postponed ; in short, we are told by the President in his Mes- 
sage, that DO appropriations that are not absolutely indispensable, are to be made 
while this war lasts. What would the money, already expended in killing those 
miserable Mexicans, have done for the improvement of our country ? It would 
have improved all our harbors, cleared out our rivers, and saved millions of 
property and hundreds of lives, lost for want of them ; it would complete 
a railroad from the Mississippi to the mouth of the Oregon; it would have 
conferred countless blessings and benefits upon Qur beloved country in a thou- 
sand forms; but instead of this, what has it done, and what will it do? It 
has destroyed thousands of lives, the lives of many of our best men, by 
sickness and the sword — it has made hundreds of widows and orphans — it 
will destroy the health as well as the habits of hundreds and thousands 
of our best citizens — it will build up an enormous standing army and pen- 
sion Ust to rest like an incubus upon the people for a generation to come, and 
perhaps in the end dissolve this Union, and with it destroy the last, best hope of 
liberty on earth ; and for what ? To gratify the lust of power and the lust of 
land — the ravenous appetite of James K. Polk, to acquire territory not his own, 
and signalize his Administration by the glories of war — war ! glorious war ! upon 
a weak, distracted, and unhappy sister Republic — and what for ? She owed us 
a debt of some two or three millions, which she was too' poor to pay. She ac- 
knowledged the debt, and promised to pay it as soon as she could. Yet this is 
made by the President in his Message, the great and leading cause of^war — how 
magnanimous ; how glorious ! We took Texas — she acquiesced. Not satisfied, 
Mr. Polk determines to have California. He sends Mr. Slidell to purchase it — 
they ofier to treat with him as a commissioner, but not as a minister — which 
ihey said implied relations of amity and friendship which did not exist. Mr. 
Polk would not yield the point, or change the name from minister to commis- 
jsioner, which, if done, might have prevented this war with all its horrors ; but 
rather than yield this point of etiquette, he ordered Mr. Slidell home, and imme- 
diately, and without consulting Congress then in session, ordered Gen. Taylor to 
inarch to the Jlio Grande, blockaded that river, and brought on the war. Up to 
this time what had Mexico done? Had she invaded Texas since its annexation ? 
No. Had she committed any act of hostility? None — none whatever. None is 
pretended ; yet we are to exterminate Mexico and revel in the Halls of the Mon- 
tezumas, and prosecute this Executive war at an expense of millions of money, 
^nd oceans of blood — is it right ! — before God and man, is it right ? 

And, to enable the President to prosecute this glorious war, he has sent us a 
message, which has just been received and read by the clerk, recommending the 
imposition of duties en tea and coffee. In his message at the commencement of 
ihe session, he spoke equivocally on this point ; but, as the revenue has fallen 
^eatly short: the last quarter, up to the first of January, having yielded only $3, 
645,000; less than it has been for many years past, he has at length come out and 
assumed the responsibility of avowing himself in favor of a tax on tea and coffee, 
as a revenue measure ; last session the doctrine of the Secretary, and of the Admin- 
istration, was that the reduction of duties increased the revenue ; but now, finding 
a plentiful lack of revenue, they propose to do — what ? Reduce the duties s^l 
further? Not at all. Hunger is very apt to bring people to their senses. Am 
now they have at last admitted the truth of the Whig doctrine, that the way to 

fet an increase of revenue is to increase the duties. This is quite new as a 
democratic doctrine. Mr. Polk did not use to think so. At one time he was 
for destroying the whole system of internal improvements, because it furnished 
*^ a sponge,'* to absorb the surplus, and keep up a high tariff. 



13 

But now he has found out another sponge, his extravagance and war furnishi 
a sponge large enough to absorb all the revenue, and even as much more. Now,, 
when he finds the revenue insufficient — when he discovers that the tariff is too 
low — ^having taken the duties off luxuries, he proposes to tax tea and coffee» 
That is now Democratic doctrine. The tariff of '46 takes duties off of the luxu- 
ries of the rich, and, to make up, it is proposed to tax the necessaries of the 
poor ; the tariff of '42 imposed high duties on luxuries, and no duties at all 
on tea and coffee. 

(Mr. Cobb here inquired what duties on luxuries had been reduced by the 
tariff of 1846?) 

Mr. S. said, the list was long, he could not recollect them all, but since he 
was called on, he would give the gentleman a few, and he would first mention 
brandy, and spirits distilled fiom grain. The duty on these, under the tariff of 
'42, was 162 per cent.; which Mr. Polk, and his omniscient Secretary, reduced, 
by the tariff of '46 sixty-two per cent. Under the tariff of '42, the revenue 
derived from brandy and distilled spirits was $1,623,000 on the importations of 
1845. Under the tariff of '46, the duties on the same would be but $1,191,000; 
showing a loss of revenue on brandy and distilled spirits alone of $432,000, and 
this loss is now to be made up by a duty oh tea and coffee ; and this is Demo- 
cratic policy— to take duties off of the rich man's brandy, Irish whiskey, and 
Holland gin, and put them on the poor man's tea and coffee ! If you want more 
money for your war, go back and restore these duties on brandies and foreiga 
spirits, and other luxuries, and then talk about taxing the necessaries of life. 

(Mr. Cobb here inquired whether the tariff of 1846 had not raised the price 
of American grain ?) 

Mr. S. said, after the Yankee fashion, he would answer the gentleman's ques- 
tion by asking him another : Did the tariff of '46 produce the potato-rot in 
Ireland ? Did it blight all the wheat crops of Europe, and produce a super- 
abundant crop here ? If it did, then the gentleman's notion was right, but not 
otherwise. He would tell the gentleman, that the tariff of '46 had about as 
much to do with the price of grain, as it had with the rising and setting of the 
sun — no more. 

Mr. S. supposed the gentleman had been studying Mr. Walker's late pro* 
found tariff tables, in which he stated that the price of grain in the United States 
had increased, from the 1st of July to the first of December last, 115 millions 
of dollars, which he attributed to the tariff of '46, although it all took place un- 
der the tariff of '42, that of '46 not having then commenced its operation. But,. 
I repeat, all his boasting about the increase of prices goes on the presumption 
that the tariff of '46 produced the potato-rot in Ireland, short crops abroad, and 
great crops at home. 

Mr. Cobb next inquired, what had raised the price of cotton? 

Mr. S. Was it the tariff of '46 ? What had it to do with cotton ? He would 
tell the gentleman it was a short crop. The last crop of cotton, he understood, 
had fallen short fully one-third ; while the demand was increasing, at home and 
abroad, a diminished supply, and an increased demand, had, as it always would, 
increased the price of cotton as of every thing else. 

But, since the gentleman from Georgia had called his attention to cotton, he 
would remind the gentleman of what the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Walker, 
had said on this subject. He said we must. take more British goods, or, if we 
did not, ** she would have to pay us specie ibr our breadstuff's, and, not having; 
it to spare, she will bring down the price of our cotton." This is the doctrine 




14 

of the Secretary. Now, sir, look at the facts. la this same report Mr. Walker 
states that, in 1845, we took $45,600,000 worth of British goods, while she 
took but $154,236 worth of oar hreadstuffs, (35,355 barrels of flour, 2,010 bush- 
els of wheat, and one barrel of corn meal ;) yet we are told officially that we 
must take more than forty-five millions of British goods, or she will have to pay 
ud specie ($154,000) for our breadstufis, and, not having it to spare, will reduce 
the price of *' our cotton IT^- Why, sir, it is mathematically true, that, if one- 
tenth part of the value of British goods consists of the '* breadstuff's" consumed 
by the labor employed in the production of the raw materials, and afterwards in 
converting them into goods, then we imported in 1845, 30 times as much British 
breadstuffs in the form of goods as she took from us in its raw condition ; for in- 
stance, in 1845 we imported $45,600,000 worth of her goods, one-tenth of which 
is $4,560,000, while she took but $154,236 worth of our breadstuff's, being 
about one-thirtieth part. Assuming that one-tentli of the value of goods consists 
of breadstuff's, (and he believed this was short of the real amount,) and this result 
is undeniable. Yet genUemen are constantly boasting of the importance 
of the English markets for American breadstuff's ; and this, in fact, con- 
stituted the great topic of both the late message and Treasury report. And 
he would here state a fact that would astonish the American people, and especi- 
^lly the farmers of this country. It was this — that for the last twenty-five years, 
from 1821 to 1846, while we import from forty to fifty millions of dollars' worth 
of goods from Great Britain per annum, she took but one million of dollars 
worth of all the provisions and breadstuffs of this country. This fact was es- 
tablished by a table which tie had made from the official reports on commerce 
and navigation, from their commencement, in 1821, down to this time, which 
he had had carefully revised and corrected by the librarian of this House, and 
which he intended to append to his speech. But the gentleman's interruption 
bad withdrawn his attention from the subject he was discussing. When inter- 
rupted, he was enumerating some of the luxuries on which the duties had been 
reduced by the tariff* of '46 ; he had mentioned brandy and spirits. The next 
item, though small, served to show the spirit and policy of that law ; he referred 
to cards. The duty on visiting cards had been reduced from 80 to 30 per 
cent., and on playmg cards from 257 to 30 per cent. They take seven- 
eighths of the tax off playing cards, and put it on tea and coffee ; and this 
was Democratic policy, the policy of the tariff" of '46. The duties by this 
act had been reduced on crbwn and cut glass, chandeliers, &;c., used by 
the rich, fiom 90 to 30 per cent. ; on pimento, cloves, cassia, dates, &c., from 
60 and 80 down to 40 per cent. ; on ready-made clothing, from 50 to 30 ; on 
silk hats and shoes, from 50 to 30. The duties on all these luxuries, and many 
others, consumed by the rich, are thus reduced, in most instances, more than one- 
half; and then the Secretary and President turn round and ask us to tax tea and 
coffee. No, sir, let them restore and increase the duties on luxuries, and then, 
if they have not revenue enough, let them talk about a duty on tea and coffee. 
Let them restore the three-and-a-half millions of revenue they have lost by the 
reduction of the duties on cotton goods ; the two millions on iron and its manu- 
factures ; the million and a half they have lost on sugar ; the million on wool- 
lens, and the million and a half on silk goods. Let them restore these protec- 
tive and revenue duties — restore the nine and a half millions taken of these five 
articles. Let them restore the $432,000 taken off brandy and spirits. Let 
them do this, and then talk to us about a duty on tea and coff'ee. He asserted 
that, with some modification, the tariff of '42 could be made to yield forty mil- 
lions, not only without prejudice, but with positive benefit and advantage to the 



15 

country ; not by doubling the duties, as at the commencement of the last war, 
but simply by increasing the duties on luxuries, and some others, for revenue 
and protection, extending them to some of the articles made free by the tariffed 
'42, and making them specific. Such a tariff, while it would give ample revenue 
and protection, would truly *' cover the country with benefits and blessings," 
restore prosperity to every branch of the national industry, put the country upon 
its own vast and undeveloped resources, and give this Administration abundant 
means to sustain the public credit at this fearful crisis iu our affairs. This 
was Whig policy ; this was the measure the Whigs would adopt if they had the 
power, instead of this miserable and pitiful attempt to put a duty on tea and 
coffee — a measure alike improper, unnecessary, and inadequate. Sir, restore 
the Whigs to power to-morrow, and, as in 1842L, they would soon lift up this 
down-tfodden and prostrate country. Do this, and peace and prosperity would 
be soon restored. Do this, and— -(Here the hour expired, and Mr. S. resumed 
bis seat.) 



16 



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