Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/571

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1845.]
553
Its Position and Duties.

the preparations that cannot longer be postponed with safety for eventual, and not very distant, war—to hold on yet a little while longer to a system which, "with all its alleged injustice to consumers, fills the national coffers, while stimulating branches of home industry.

Who, indeed, but a forty-bale theorist, can look around the country and fail to see, that all is well—that labor meets with ready employment and remunerating wages—that agriculture, pursued with the skill and the diligence which alone command success in other pursuits, is flourishing—that the mechanical arts and manufacturing industry are prosperous—and that commerce, the nursery of the navy—the improver, the civilizer and refiner of nations—is abroad on every sea, and only asks at the hands of government, permanency in all legislation which is to affect it? To the eye of common sense, and of comprehensive patriotism, all is well in these various pursuits—yet the abstractions of theorists, always the most obstinate and impracticable of men, and the ignorant clamors of ward-meetings appealing to a fancied shibboleth of party, are aiming to disturb this general prosperity, and to substitute therefor a system, which, abandoning the care of our own labor, and preferring, by deliberate avowal, the workshops of Manchester to those of Lowell, would open our ports to the unchecked competition of a world which shuts its ports against competition from the products of our skill and industry.

There can be no error in assuming, that the Whigs in united phalanx from north to south will be found in opposition to experimental philosophy such as this, and will resist to the utmost every effort to break down the legislation which scatters blessings and abundance through the land.

The subject of Oregon, though here introduced after others, is in truth likely to be that one which will take precedence of all others, if treated as now there seems reason to suppose it will be, by the Administration.

Into the history of this question, and of our claim to the territory known by the name of Oregon—extending westward from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and from the 42d degree of north latitude to 54° 40'; comprehending an area of nearly 400,000 square miles—it is not now our design, nor within the limits prescribed in this paper would it be possible, to enter. It is sufficient for our present purpose to say that, although our title to the whole of that region is certainly as good as that of any other nation, and probably better, we have ourselves, on repeated occasions, virtually admitted that it was not so complete and unquestionable, as to preclude all other claims to any portion of it.

In 1818, in 1824, and in 1826, we fofered to settle the disputed title to this region between us and Great Britain, by prolonging beyond the Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific Ocean, the line which divides our possessions on the hither side of those mountains, the 49th parallel of north latitude. For reasons of her own, Great Britain on each of these occasions declined the proposed arrangement, and for thirty years the territory has been open to settlement and joint occupation by the citizens of both nations, without prejudice to, or preference of, the rights of either. These reminiscences seem abundantly to prove that we ourselves have heretofore been willing to negotiate for the quiet and undisturbed possession of that to which, nevertheless, the President in his inaugural message, declares we have a full and undoubted title. What, then, has occurred to change the relation of the country to this question, or to render it a duty of patriotism to insist upon immediate and entire occupation of the whole territory? We are at a loss to answer this interrogatory satisfactorily.

It is, indeed, sometimes assumed that among the issues determined by the Presidential election was that of Oregon; and that it is only in conformity with the popular behest, that the President has adopted such a positive tone.

In confirmation of this view, we are referred to the resolutions adopted at Baltimore by the Convention which nominated Mr. Polk, and which, it is contended, were received and acted upon, as the articles of the Democratic creed. But this argument, if it proves anything, proves too much; for if the resolution put forth by that Convention respecting Oregon, is to be considered as having, by the result of the Presidential election, been adopted and ratified by the people, then is negotiation of any sort in relation to this subject forbidden and foreclosed.

That resolution is in these words:

"Resolved, That our title to the whole of the territory of Oregon is clear and unquestionable—that no portion of the same ought to be ceded to England, or any other power, and that the re-occupa-