HC Deb 24 August 1846 vol 88 cc978-95

On the Motion of the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, that the other Orders of the Day be now proceeded with,


said: Sir, I take this opportunity, on the Orders of the Day being read, to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government and of this House to the present state of affairs as they exist between the United States of America and Mexico. It is within the knowledge of this House, that this country must have very considerable interest in the state of Mexican affairs; its annual exports to Mexico amount to something like half a million a year. In Mexico there are different establishments connected with British interests; there is the Mining Company as well as other companies. In Mexico, therefore, British capital is invested, and on private accounts, in establishments of various descriptions, to the amount of from seven to ten millions; while the debt of Mexico to this country—I mean the public debt of Mexico due to England—amounts to no less a sum than 10,200,000l. It is clear, therefore, under these circumstances, that war between the United States of America and Mexico must be extremely injurious to British relations with Mexico—it must be injurious to our commercial interests; and should that war end in conquest, as I fear is too probable—should it terminate in the subjugation of Mexico to the United States, the consequence most likely may be, that the debt due to Britain by Mexico will share the same fate as those debts which are owing by the United States itself to this country. But there is another consideration of still greater importance, and that is the position of Mexico as regards our West Indian Empire. The United States of America already stand upon the banks of our West Indian possessions; and should the Americans make themselves masters of Mexico, which is the object of their ambition, they will be at once within the range of our West India Colonies. But, connected with this subject, and inseparable from it, is the annexation of Texas to the United States. It will be in the recollection of the House, that it is now between ten and fifteen years since a body of land speculators in the United States called the attention of the President of the United States to the desirableness of forming settlements in Texas; and the consequence was, that a fictitious transfer of land took place as regarded the whole of the country between the River Nueces and the Red River, and which became covered with emigrants from the United States; and the desire of speculation in land became so enormous, that, at last, the Legislature of Texas, for the sum of 20,000 dollars, transferred to the United States of America, or at least to private speculators in those States, a considerable tract of country, equal to 400 square leagues. In this we discover the real cause of those disturbances which originated in the Texas. Mexico, the sovereign country—Mexico refused to sanction this transfer of land. Mexico was so opposed to the transfer, that it seized and imprisoned many of the parties to the transfer. From this period it became the interest of those American speculators to foment rebellion in the Texas; and we find that the first declaration of revolt, or what is called the first declaration of independence, was signed by ninety individuals; and we have the authority of Dr. Channing, an American historian, for asserting, that of those ninety persons who signed that declaration of independence, no less than eighty-eight were citizens of the United States of America. The next step that was then taken was to form an army of 800 men, and who proved successful against the forces of the Mexican Government. But how was that army constituted? Of the 800 men, 750 belonged to the United States of America, leaving of the whole number only 50 who were natives of Texas. And this was the assembly—and this was the party in which originated what has been called the efforts of the people of Texas for freedom. But it now appears that the great object of the inhabitants of the United States of America, who established themselves in the occupation of Texas, was to remit slaves from South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, to render those lands of which they possessed themselves as profitable as possible. In fact, the extension of slavery was at the bottom of their proceedings. The profits to be derived from slavery were the motives of this pretended love of freedom—this pretended sympathy in behalf of the people of Texas. It will also be in the recollection of the House that when Mexico threw off her dependence on the mother country, she made the declaration that no new slaves should be imported into the dominions of Mexico, and that slavery should cease at a certain prospective period. This contemplated abolition of slavery in Texas was at the bottom of that discontent which prevailed in Texas, but which had its origin with those in Texas who had combined with the disturbers of the public peace—the slaveowners of the United States of America. Matters went on in this course until the year 1845, when a further declaration of independence was made, and which was called the "Convention of Austen." I have by me the names, the signatures, and the addresses of every person who signed that manifesto of independence. There were sixty-one individuals who signed that document; and of those sixty-one, forty-nine are Americans, of whom twenty-three are lawyers, nineteen farmers and planters, the owners of slaves; of the remaining ten, I regret to say, that it appears they are our own countrymen—they are Englishmen—they are also rich men; but they are, I am sorry to find, Englishmen, although they hear names by which they might be mistaken to be natives of Texas. This was the convention which was the excuse of the United States for encouraging revolution, and for adopting annexation. And for what purpose? Self-agrandizement. This convention was followed up by a commission, which closed in the establishment of the independence of Texas. England and France were induced in a great measure to consent to the recognition of that independence, on the understanding that Texas would bind herself to abolish the African Slave Trade, as well as to diminish the number of slaves from Africa. But in this the Ministers of France and of England were overreached; for observe, it was not the object of those who were adventurers—it was not the object of the usurpers to cultivate their lands by the assistance of African slaves; they entertained views of a different character; their object was to make these new posssesions valuable by the importation of slaves from the United States; so that while Great Britain and France were carefully looking after the interests of the African race, the Ministers of England and France were altogether overreached in their diplomacy as regarded the interests of the American slaves, and who were to be brought from America in consequence of this occupation of Texas by the Americans. Thus was a new field for slavery created; the supply to be from those slaves who are reared in the United States. But, Sir, the appetite for aggrandizement did not stop with the annexation of the Texas; it extends also to Mexico and to California. We are told, that in the year 1845, while the eyes of all Europe were upon this country and America, taken up with the disputes of the Oregon territory—we are told by the press of the United States of America that America had turned its attention from the waste and barren wilds of the Oregon to the paradise of California; and that California, like Texas, would become constituent parts of the United States; and which will be the case, unless by the mediation of this country—a mediation which must be firm and earnest—it be prevented, and a stop put to the present existing war between Mexico and the United States. That war cannot too speedily be put an end to. If ever there was a case which so little justified a war of aggression, it is this, for all the aggression has been on the part of the United States towards Mexico. Mexico, after the declaration of independence by the Texans, and after the recognition of that independence by Great Britain and France—Mexico, I say, was content to look on with silence so long as America refrained from any aggression on its territories; but there is a territory between the river Nueces and Rio del Norte, which was in dispute between the Texas and Mexico; this portion of the territory of Mexico was never acknowledged as having at all belonged to Texas at any period of history. It was never so asserted, it never appeared to be any portion of the separate province of Texas, it always belonged to Mexico; and I understand it is so described in all the ancient maps; yet what have the United States done? They have taken possession of, and now occupy, this very portion between those two rivers; but yet such was the patience exercised by Mexico, that it made no attempt to repulse the settlers. But about the first week in May last, not being content with the possession of this territory, the United States, general threw his troops across from the left to the right bank of those rivers which had always been in the undisputed possession of the Mexicans; and when the Americans failed in this attempt, and because the Mexicans endeavoured to repulse the aggressors by force of arms, war ensued between Mexico and the United States. There never was a case of more unjustifiable, more wanton aggression. But seeing, as we have seen, the easy success of the arms of the United States against Mexico, it is impossible to doubt what must be the ultimate results, unless some interference take place—otherwise the arms of Mexico must succumb, and Mexico become a part of the United States. The rage for aggression, the impetuosity which marks the conduct of the United States for aggrandizement, are such, that volunteers without number are issuing forth from the Southern States of America. The State of Louisiana sent 5,000 men for the invasion of Mexico, and another 2,000 soon followed. Such was the spirit manifested, that there were more volunteers forthcoming than wanting, even for the purpose of the war. It would appear that the whole of the rage, that all the desire of America, is directed towards the possession, perhaps the usurpation of Mexico. As the annexation of Texas, two years ago, was then one great object of the policy of the United States of America, as it was the electioneering test for the Presidency of the United States; so no doubt the annexation of California will be the best test, not only of a similar proceeding, but of another electioneering contest in 1848. Already have the Americans obtained the possession of Matamoras. That gives them the key to Central Mexico. Already they are enabled, through the instrumentality of this possession, to introduce their manufactures into the whole of Central Mexico without payment of duty, and therefore, they have practically the monopoly of the supply of Mexico with the produce of their manufactures. This is a matter of serious concern to the commerce and to the manufactures of this country. But it is not only that the Americans are furnished with troops and volunteers without number, who are bent on the occupation of these lands, it has also become a sort of rage, a desire—an insatiable desire on the part of the United States, always to get additional possessions in the same direction. The great object of America is to stretch its power to the utmost possible extent. The United States look with longing eyes also on San Francisco, which is said to include the finest harbour in the world—a harbour of great extent; possessing every requisite for security, having great depth of water, and capable of affording shelter to the united navies of the world. We are told by the press of America—and that is the best test as to the state of public feeling—that the great sentiment, the great feeling which pervades that country, is—"May the stars which bespangle the flag of America be so increased that no room be left for the stripes" that even adorn that flag. If this be the sentiment which prevails throughout America, I want to know how long it will be before Her Majesty's Government take an active, an energetic part, to prevent its further aggrandizement? I want to know, will it be before Mexico and California be annexed as new stars to the already "bespangled" flag of the United States? My object, then, in calling the attention of Her Majesty's Government and of this House to the subject, is not only to ask of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, information as to what were the results of the mediation which have taken place between this country and America, but also to press upon the Government the great importance of affording full security to our own foreign possessions, so as to prevent the overpowering usurpation and dominion of the United States—that Her Majesty's Government may insist upon an immediate end to all hostilities between Mexico and the United States. We were told, in a memorable speech of the 29th of June last, that it was to the credit of a noble Lord then Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that by the first packet which left this country, and after the arrival of the news of hostilities between Mexico and the United States, that an offer of mediation was sent out to America. The news arrived on the 29th of May. The first packet sailed on the 3rd of June, and on the 2nd of June the Mexican Association addressed a letter, by its chairman, to Lord Aberdeen, calling on him, for the sake of British interests to interfere so as to prevent any interruption to our commercial relations with Mexico. The noble Lord was called on to interpose his mediation between Mexico and the United States to effect that object. On the 6th of June, Lord Aberdeen, through Mr. Addington, in his answer to the Mexican Association, stated that the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers was called to the subject; and that forthwith energetic measures would be taken to prevent any interruption in our commercial relations. The second packet went out on the 18th of June; and on the 29th of June, as I stated before, the late First Minister of the Crown declared to this House that the first packet had taken out the offer of mediation from this country to the United States of America. But I read in the New York Journal of the 20th of July, this great and astounding fact, that, notwithstanding the declaration of the right hon. Baronet the then First Lord of the Treasury, that such an offer had arrived in the United States, that no such offer of mediation had been sent out. And on the 24th of July, the Washington Union, an official organ of the American Government, and a Government authority, declared that no such offer of mediation had been made—that no such offer of mediation was sent out—nor had any such offer of mediation been signified to Mr. Pakenham. The question I shall therefore conclude with is, to ask my noble Friend what is the true state of the case? What was that offer of mediation submitted by Great Britain to the United States, bearing upon their hostile aggression on the Empire of Mexico—and what has been the result?


I have great pleasure in giving my noble Friend an answer to the question he has put. I trust, however, that the House will think I am pursuing that course which is most befitting the position I hold, if I do not follow my noble Friend in those observations which he has made upon the past transactions between this country and the United States, Mexico, and Texas, concerning the relation of that country with Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States. These are matters which belong to past periods; the facts are historically known; and it is not, I think, necessary or useful for me at present to express any opinion upon them. Sir, my noble Friend has expressed opinions as to the injury which must accrue to British interests from the war now going on between Mexico and the United States. I entirely concur with my noble Friend that in the present state of international relations in the civilized world it is impossible that any great war can be carried on between any two considerable and independent States without that war affecting prejudicially the commercial interests of all other countries which may have relations of commerce with the two contending parties. And in proportion as commerce increases, in proportion as commerce is freed from all those restraints which tend to limit and circumscribe its extent, in that proportion will it be the interest of all nations that peace should universally prevail. Therefore do I look with the greater satisfaction upon the progress which has lately been made by those doctrines of free and extended commerce which appear to me to afford additional security for the maintenance of peace all over the world. I think, however, my noble Friend has in some degree exaggerated the facility with which, in his opinion, the United States may establish their authority and dominion over the territories of Mexico. Those territories are vast in their extent, and in proportion to their vastness is enhanced the difficulty of carrying on military operations of an aggressive character within their limits. That country is occupied by a very large population, of from eight to ten millions of inhabitants, of a race different from the people of the United States, of a religion different from the religion of the United States; and though it might be easy for the United States to incorporate with the Union a country like Texas, filled and inhabited almost entirely by United States, settlers, the question, I can assure my noble Friend and the House, becomes very different when it applies to the annexation of territories much more thickly peopled, and inhabited by a race different in those two respects from the race which wishes to possess them. I will, however, say nothing which shall in any degree affect that character of impartiality which befits a Government that offers its mediation between contending parties. My noble Friend doubts the accuracy of the statement which was made by Her Majesty's late Government with respect to the offer asserted to have been tendered by them, of mediation between the two parties. I am glad, in justice to our predecessors, that my noble Friend has enabled me to set that question right. The facts of the case are shortly these. It is perfectly true, as asserted by the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that an offer was made to the United States, and also communicated to Mexico, which Her Majesty's late Government understood and meant to be an offer of mediation. That offer was, I think, properly conveyed, in terms which left great latitude of interpretation to the Government of the United States. Our position with respect to the United States was at that time not the position of unbiassed impartiality which befits the character of a mediator. The question between this country and the United States with respect to the Oregon territory had not at that time been finally settled. It was possible, notwithstanding the negotiations then going on, that that question might have assumed a character which would have divested Great Britain of the quality of impartiality which should belong to a mediator. If that discussion had ended in a rupture between Great Britain and the United States, our mediation, of course, between the United States and Mexico would have been out of the question. The offer, therefore, which was made to the United States was in effect this—that if the United States were disposed to accept the mediation of Great Britain, that mediation would be frankly offered and tendered. I think that was going as far as in the then existing state of things the Government of Great Britain could properly have gone. The Government of the United States, however, considering what I have already stated with respect to the position in which the Oregon question had placed Great Britain towards the United States, did not think it expedient to express any wish upon the subject; and therefore no answer was sent, it being understood by the Government of the United States that the communication was not one which necessarily required an answer; that they were left at liberty to act upon it if they pleased; but that no umbrage would be taken by this country if they abstained from taking any steps consequent upon it. I had, however, an interview not long ago with Mr. M'Lane, the American Minister, who, I am sorry to say, was obliged, on account of his health, to retire from his post here, and return to the United States. I am sure everybody who has had the good fortune of knowing that distinguished man will greatly regret that the two countries have lost the benefit of his services here as the organ of communication between the two Governments. I am satisfied that, whoever the United States may think fit to send in his place, no man can be sent who can have at heart more strongly than he has the maintenance of good relations between the United States and England, or who can be possessed in a higher degree of all those qualities which might enable him to carry that wish into effect. I found from Mr. M'Lane that such as I had described had been the understanding of the United States; and as fortunately it has fallen to my lot, since I have held the seals of the Foreign Department, to exchange with Mr. M'Lane the ratifications of a convention with the United States for settling the Oregon question, I, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, have instructed Mr. Pakenham now to make the renewed offer of mediation, in a shape that shall require an answer from the United States. A corresponding communication has been made to the Government of Mexico; and, therefore, the offer having now been made to both the contending parties, it will depend on the answers we may receive to these communications in what degree the Government of this country may be successful in bringing to an amicable settlement a difference which I am sure all the well-wishers of both Mexico and the United States would rejoice to see terminated. There is another point I think of some importance, as illustrative of general principles—that the United States having found themselves engaged in a war with Mexico which involved the necessity of great additional expenditure, military and naval, and finding that their revenue was insufficient to meet that increased demand, bethought themselves how that revenue might be increased. What was the step which the Government of the United States took for that purpose? That step was to lower the duties on imports. They said these high protecting duties might be all very well in time of peace, when the revenue is of less object to us; but we must abandon them now that the commencement of war requires a great augmentation of our resources. That circumstance is a strong illustration of the truth of those doctrines which go to show that freedom of commercial intercourse not only conduces to the development of the commercial industry of a country, but is the surest foundation of an augmenting and prosperous revenue.


I am quite sure that in negotiating these matters between the United States and Mexico, we shall not find the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs forsake his usual prudence and caution. But, at the same time, I am bound to state that the observations he has made on this occasion appear to me to be by no means satisfactory. The British merchants are deeply interested in the fate of Mexico—much more deeply than has been described; for independently of the great public debt owing by Mexico to this country, and independently of the great mercantile establishments, the British capital invested in mining operation, in sixty-five undertakings far exceeds the ten millions which have been alluded to by my noble Friend the Member for Lynn. So much are British merchants interested in the condition of Mexico, that at this moment they believe the political existence of that country to be at stake. It would have afforded us some consolation, if the noble Lord had informed us that the mediation to which he alluded had been accepted; but I cannot find any such consolation in the vague statement of the noble Lord, that in the development of the principle of free trade we shall find the best means of stopping foreign wars. I do not credit that theory; and, under present circumstances, I am the loss willing to accept it as truth, when the noble Lord tells us, in another part of his observations, that the reason why duties were reduced by the United States was, that they might have increased means of prosecuting the war. The two positions of the noble Lord are in direct contradiction to each other; and the best answer that could be given to the first position of the noble Lord would be, to refer it to that with which he concluded his observations. I said, it was the opinion of the merchants that at this moment the dolitical existence of Mexico was at stake; and that that was my noble Friend's apology for bringing the subject forward on this, almost the last, day of the Session. It is because they believe that in the interval between this and next Session circumstances of a vital character may occur; it is because they believe that this affords the only chance of calling the attention of the Government and people of this country, that the merchants have induced my noble Friend to bring the subject uuder the notice of the House. The noble Lord has said, that the affair of Texas is now matter of history. Why, it is because it is matter of history that my noble Friend has referred to it. It is an illustration of the system which has already been so prejudicial to English interests, and fatal to the power of the Mexican people; and my noble Friend referred to it because the same system is now pursued; and events are now contemplated which British merchants are anxious should not also become matter of history. When the merchants of England lent their money to the Mexican people, the Government of that country mortgaged the province of California as security. When the people and State could not pay the interest of the public debt, and at a subsequent period, in 1837, passed their law of conversion, being on the whole a highly equitable arrangement with the English creditor, they gave them another mortgage on Texas. That province, on which England had ample security, has already escaped the grasp of Mexico; and the English merchants and creditors are anxious that California should not escape also. The noble Lord, who understands the question better than any man in this House, or perhaps in the country, makes a most unsatisfactory speech concerning it. He speaks of the Oregon Treaty as a satisfactory arrangement. Why, the noble Lord knows as well as any man that the Treaty just ratified for Oregon is, perhaps, a necessary, but a fatal step in advance towards the completion of all the United States' designs on the Mexican territory. The plan of the United States has all along been to surround Mexico. They attack the provinces on one side; and the noble Lord, who thoroughly understands their policy, the moment their intrigues had induced Texas to declare itself independent, that moment the noble Lord recognized its independence, in order to place an independent State as a barrier between the United States and Mexico. What did the United States then? They annexed the barrier; and at the same time entered into a controversy about the worthless territory of Oregon, which to them was not of the slightest importance until they had obtained Texas. By these means they reached the Pacific, and took a position on the other side of Mexico, close on California, thus, as it were, surrounding the whole State. I am not objecting in the abstract to the Oregon Treaty. It is always our interest to fix the limits of the United States, as it is their policy to have everything undefined. It is our interest to have Treaties with the United States, because in controversies they afford positions for discussion; and it is also our interest because they gain time without loss of honour or dignity for the people of this country. But what has been the result of this Oregon Treaty? The United States have appropriated to themselves a rich province on one side of Mexico; and on the other they have taken up a position which, in effect, enables them entirely to surround the provinces of Mexico. Now, what the merchants want to know is, whether the Government of this country sees a fair probability of preserving the political integrity of Mexico? That is the Mexican question. The merchants understand it perfectly well, because their means of communication are ample and intimate; and they are as well acquainted with the Mexican resources in men and money as any Minister of State can possibly be. They are of opinion that the political integrity of Mexico is at stake, that it may be lost before two months are over; and, before Parliament is prorogued, they wish that the attention of the Foreign Minister and the country may be called to the question. The noble Lord has announced to us that Mexico is a very large country. It is a very large country; it is equal in size to Europe, with the exception of Russia; but it is still a country very easy of invasion; and is, moreover, the richest in natural resources of any country in the world. There is no other country of which it can be said, that while as the staple productions of its soil it brings forth every grain and vegetable in existence, while it produces sugar and coffee, tobacco, and the choicest dyes, at the same time it yields from the mines beneath its surface precious metals to the amount of 20,000,000 of dollars annually. Well, Sir, of this the British merchants are convinced, that there is no power of self-government in Mexico. They form that opinion, not only from fatal experience—not only from the losses they have incurred, and the amount of protection they have enjoyed, but from a mass of facts, from the opinions of influential Mexicans themselves, and from the past history of that country. This important fact is not very difficult to prove. Already portions equal in size to a European kingdom have applied to foreign Powers to undertake their protection. Both the great parties which divide the country, the central and federal parties, have announced in unequivocal terms that they will support any foreign Power which will secure order. I know that communications were made some years since to the Court of France. I should not be surprised if the noble Lord found some trace of them in Downing-street archives; but this I know, from my own experience, that this year the province of Sonora, which is larger than the United Kingdom, communicated by the representative of one of its most powerful families, the intelligence that they would acknowledge the suzerainty of the United States, if the latter would protect them and secure order. In fact, Mexico has only one desire. It has very little national feeling—it wants tranquillity. The want of order has not been produced as in other countries. Not from want of resources, because Mexico is the richest country in the world; not from want of credit, because for years it has been the spoiled child of European financiers—but because it labours under a positive and utter inability to maintain that police which is necessary to municipal civilization. I know that to promulgate opinions of this kind, to maintain that any nation is incapable of self-government, is sure to be unpopular in this House; but you must not imagine any analogy between Mexico and the United States: the means by which each threw off the domination of the mother country were totally different. That is a material difference, which forms the secret of all the remarkable vicissitudes which have occurred to the Spanish Colonies. Our Colonies threw off the yoke of the mother country because they were strong; the Colonies of Spain threw off her yoke because the mother country was weak. They had no means of self-government; and consequently at no time since their enfranchisement have they been able to govern themselves, although they maintained some years since certain semblances of order, through the influence of English capital and the exertions of English subjects. My noble Friend has not at all exaggerated the amount of our trade with Mexico. I remember, in 1842, moving for returns for the previous twenty years, when I found the averages on those returns to exceed half a million annually; while, if I went back to '24 and '26, when something like order was maintained, I found the consumption of British goods to exceed a million sterling annually. There is no doubt but that if you had maintained that order we should now be exporting to Mexico to the amount of 2,000,000l. a year. Then the question is—what are we to do with Mexico? It is all very well to say that the Government has offered mediation—we might have hoped something from that two months since; but now you may rely on it that mediation, even if it expedited, may stave off for a moment, but will not prevent, the catastrophe, unless some more decisive measures are adopted. What have been the means used by this country to support Mexico against the encroachments of the United States? Our Ministers have made use of that weapon which, in ancient monarchies, it is always proper to assume—they have made use of diplomacy. That is the proper weapon in a high state of civilization, and when communicating with Governments similar to our own; but I ask you what results you can obtain from diplomacy when acting on Governments which do not last a month—which are born in a revolution, and expire in a riot — whose cabinets are so transient that you may count them by the week, and are headed by the general who at the moment commands in the garrison or the camp? On the other hand, how do the United States move? Do they make representations to what, by courtesy, are called Mexican Cabinets, or to what is called, for the time, the Mexican Government? No; while you are acting as if at St. Peters-burgh or the Tuilleries, the citizens of the United States, availing themselves of an unblushing and avowed propaganda, never trust anything to diplomacy, but address all the weak, corrupt, and discontented portion of the population of the provinces, and, before you get an answer from the phantom of a Cabinet you address, those provinces are invaded and appropriated, the lands parcelled out, and the securities of the British merchants sold before you can receive an answer from Mr. Pakenham. I do not mention this as a sneer against Mr. Pakenham. I believe that a more able diplomatist does not exist; and I am glad to see that he has been removed from Mexico to the proper scene for the exercise of his talents and experience. But, to revert to the main subject: if Mexico be totally incapable of self-government, if all the projects of propping her up by diplomacy have failed, what are you to do? There is a third course: will you pursue it? Will you act as you have acted to other States under similar circumstances? Will you protect Mexico? Will you do by that country as you did by a revolted Colony—by Greece? Will you come forward, and in combination with the great Powers most interested in the affairs of Mexico, establish a protectorate for that country? Give them ten years of tranquillity, and I believe it will not be lost on that people. The merchants of England want these questions answered. They know what protests may be offered against anything like interference. They know that there is nothing more easy than to announce that, under no circumstances, can that system be adopted. But they are practical men, and know that at this moment the principle of interference is the only principle, and that you are carrying it out where your stake is not half so valuable, where your interests are not so vast, and where, I may be permitted to add, your political relations are not so important. There is not the slightest reason why the United States should not watch over Mexico, as Russia watches over Greece; there is no reason why France should not join in the protectorate; and as for our own country, you are called upon only to do that for which there is precedent, and which you are at this moment doing in other parts of the world. It is only by so doing that you can secure the independence of Mexico. I believe there are no other means. I believe that if you think you can by diplomacy influence the fortunes of Mexico, through those feeble coteries called cabinets, you are only repeating the delusion under which you so long laboured, and have so unfortunately persisted in. I cannot sit down without reminding the House and the country that there is a greater stake than even the vast treasury and vast future of Mexican affairs to England. It is not merely the twenty or thirty millions of debt, nor the increased number of consumers for our commerce; but if the principle on which the citizens of the United States are now acting be not arrested in a determined spirit, you may rely on it that your North American Empire is imperilled, and will, I believe, be lost. For my part, I cannot see that the desire of universal empire is a whit less dangerous in the other hemisphere than our own. If any European Power—if a modern Louis XIV., if a Napoleon, only announced the same principles of policy as, I will not say the American Government, for that is a second or third consideration, but the people of the United States have announced, the rest of Europe would soon be up in arms. It is a principle which, if persisted in in this case, cannot stop short of the entire conquest of America; and then, possessed at the same time of the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Lawrence, all the strong maritime and military points, the people of the United States will not only appropriate our West Indian possessions, but will shake the authority of our metropolitan empire.


, while he did not underrate the importance of the subject so temperately brought forward by the noble Member for Lynn, or of the statement made by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, did not think the data upon which they proceeded warranted the conclusion to which, they would drive the Government. Did the noble Lord wish a squadron to be sent to Mexico to demonstrate our readiness for hostilities? Such views, he thought, were not only chimerical but dangerous. It might be easy to invade, but it was not so easy to retain a country like Mexico. If it were written in the book of time that Mexico must fall, all the European Powers could not avert the catastrophe. He conceived the greatest security for the commercial prosperity of England in that quarter of the world would be the opening of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—an attempt which had been often talked of, and which he thought not romantic or impracticable, but feasible and possible. He did not know what the noble Lord desired. The communications had been renewed on the subject of Mexico from this country to the Government at Washington; and did the noble Lord desire to precipitate events? Ought we to be daring enough and criminal enough to evince a readiness for hostilities just at that moment the Oregon question had been settled? As to the exports to Mexico, he held they did not exceed 600,000l., and for that consideration were they willing to place the whole exports of the country in jeopardy? He recommended them to wait until next Session, and see what answer was received from Washington. He could say much more upon this subject; but he abstained, and would content himself with expressing his entire approbation of what had fallen from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary.


said, it was absolutely necessary for us to maintain something like the balance of maritime power, which we could not do if Mexico fell under the dominion of the United States. He was not without hope, however, that the long-suffering tenacity of the Spanish character would be able to maintain itself against the more compact power of the United States. He trusted that the mediation between the two countries would be accepted; but if not, that the great Powers of Europe would be aware that they could not suffer a great preponderance of power on the other side of the Atlantic, without eventually shaking their own power and commercial superiority. No Englishman could witness without sympathy the prosperity of the United States; but they must not attempt to ally the spirit of commerce with that of conquest. He was quite satisfied with the noble Lord's (Lord Palmerston's) statement, and hoped he would evince the same capacity and achieve the success as in his former efforts as a diplomatist.


congratulated the noble Lord on the novel position in which he must find himself. Nevertheless, he had always regarded the noble Lord as a peaceful Minister, and that the course of his policy was the best for the maintenance of peace between this and foreign countries. He had never pursued a mean, or truculent, or subservient policy, but one which became the power and character of this great country. It had been said, only a few months ago, that the noble Lord, not now in his place, failed in forming a Government because the noble Lord was considered even by his own friends to be a fighting man. But it was to be hoped that delusion was now dissipated: if it did still prevail, the speech of the noble Lord this afternoon ought to remove it from every mind, for a more peaceful speech had never been uttered. It was for the benefit of the whole human race that peace should be maintained, and nothing was so calculated to preserve it as free and unrestricted commerce. He was delighted to find the noble Lord was anxious for the restoration of peace between Mexico and the United States, and trusted he would not change his policy.

Subject dropped.

House adjourned at a quarter to Four o'clock.

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