Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/573

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1845.]
555
Its Position and Duties.

dom and patriotism of all to give to this question a proper direction, and to insure to it a satisfactory solution.

It cannot, we would fain hope, be wrong to assume that the nation does not seek to do injustice—nor prefer the ways of violence, to those of moderation—nor wish for war, while war can be honorably avoided.

Upon this hypothesis the anxiety which undeniably now agitates the public mind respecting Oregon, can only arise from distrust of the administration. We confess ourselves to share in this distrust, and yet the course for us is so plain and smooth for escaping all difficulties on the subject, by persevering in what Mr. Calhoun so justly characterized as "a wise and masterly inactivity," that we cannot comprehend, on any sound principles of reasoning, why the country should be urged to deviate from it.

We do not want the territory merely as territory; and if we did, it would be no more accessible to us, nor as far as can be discerned, any more tempting for settlers, than now it is. For many years after the renewal in 1828 of the convention for the joint occupation of that territory by the citizens of both countries without prejudice to the rights of either, there was no attempt at, or tendency to, emigration and permanent settlement there from the United States. The first colony for settlement that went forth was in 1834. It consisted of a band of Methodists, under their ministers, and they established themselves in the valley of the Willamette river, where a few retired servants of the Hudson Bay Company, (British) were previously residing. Next in order, according to Greenough, colonies of Presbyterians or Congregationalists were planted in the Walla Walla and Spokan countries. In 1839, a printing press was set up in Walla Walla, on which were struck off the first sheets ever printed on the Pacific side of America north of Mexico. The Jesuits from St. Louis soon after sent out missionaries to that region to convert and instruct the Indians; but, according to the usage of that order, they ma le no settlement.

Since that period, emigration to Oregon has received a great impulse, and now there are some thousand American settlers in its different valleys, outnumbering, in the proportion probably of six to one, the English and all other European colonists.

In this one fact, if duly weighed, is to be found an argument conclusive, it would seem, against any change in a policy respecting that region, which is working so well, and by natural causes is tending to bring about, without shock or violence, but peacefully and surely, that result, which some among us seem so intensely to covet, as to be willing to rush into war for its attainment.

A new element, moreover, has recently entered into the speculations and calculations concerning Oregon—the possibility that, while the United States and Great Britain are debating to whom it shall belong, the actual occupants of the country may claim it for themselves, and seek to establish there a great Pacific Republic—bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and yet not identified with us. In such a contingency, who is there prepared to say that it would not be for the best that the controversy should be thus resolved?

Is there not much to excite and soothe the patriotic mind, in the idea of a new Republic—planted by our hands on the opposite side of the continent, bound to us by descent, by language, by similarity of institutions, by multiplying interests of mutual intercourse—growing up to greatness under the shadow of our Eagle's wings—and ready, when need shall come, to unite its arms with ours, in defence of the institutions, the principles and liberties, alike dear, and alike common to both; and especially for the assertion of that great American principle which shall forbid the intervention of European nations in American affairs?

We do not say that the people of Oregon would be more likely to prefer being a Republic by themselves to becoming a part of this Union. But we do say, it would be altogether wiser and more liberal, to let that people determine this matter for themselves. It is more honorable for all concerned—but especially for ourselves. There would be, in such a solution of the question—and this is a point of view which we gladly entertain—a triumphant refutation of the charge which, not England only, but France, and, indeed, Europe, seem disposed to bring against us, of seeking unlimited territorial aggrandizement. If it shall appear that, with claims so strong to Oregon as we think those of this country, it shall yet acquiesce in, and not only acquiesce in, but encourage, promote and protect, the formation there of an independent nation, bound to us by none other than moral and natural ties, there can be none to gainsay the disinterestedness of the act.

Whether during the sitting of Con-