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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO
March and April of 1860
From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, March 22, 1860.
WAR WITH MEXICO.
President Buchanan had at length succeeded in compassing his long cherished design. Actual war now prevails, by his contrivance, between Mexico and the United States. Two Mexican steamers were attacked on the 6th inst. before Vera Cruz, by a portion of the United States Gulf squadron, and captured. Fifteen Mexicans were killed in the encounter. This much and no more can be known from the dispatches, for the news has come from Washington, and the telegraph office there, like some others nearer home, manufacture lies without scruple. Whoever peruses the telegraphic statement will not fail to notice a palpable design on the part of the reporter for the Associated Press, to mislead public opinion and furnish a justification in advance of the conduct of the naval authorities. For instance, it said the captured steamers were supposed to be pirates! So stupid a falsehood as this is not often seen in print. Pirates in the midst of the fleets of Spain, France, England and the United States! But it is unnecessary to comment on pretexts put forward in behalf of the United States ships. We are satisfied that the American officers had direct instructions, to interpose in behalf of Juarez, whenever a necessity for doing so should arise, and we are also satisfied that the House of Representatives will investigate the transaction, and elicit all the facts bearing on the case. Mr. Buchanan doubtless congratulates himself on the success of his machinations to involve the two countries in hostilities, but he may have to repent his temerity. The war making power is invested in Congress alone; and the usurpation of that power by the Executive subjects him to impeachment. Indeed, the pressure of the judicial department on one side and of the executive department on the other, threatens to destroy the constitutional powers of Congress as between the upper and nether mill-stone. If the House of Representatives, which is becoming a nullity, be true to itself and to the legislative department, it will not fail to assert its authority and institute a rigorous examination of the entire Mexican policy of the Administration. The outward facts of that policy authorize the inference that it is underlaid by a web of shameless, wicked intrigues, not less fatal to the integrity of Mexico than to the equilibrium of the executive and legislative departments of the Federal Government.
The public are not ignorant of the various stratagems resorted to by the Administration for bringing about a collision. In the beginning, the illegal acts of Cortinas and his band were put forward as a sufficient reason for crossing the Mexican frontier and annexing the northern Mexican States. Public opinion was studiously excited against Miramon and his party. The organs of the Administration teemed daily with flame-colored descriptions of outrages on American citizens, perpetrated, it was said, by that party, which at the same time was represented to have no authority outside the walls of the City of Mexico. The last Annual Message vied with the sensation newspapers in depicting the woes and suffering of American citizens in the Pandemonium which had arisen on our Southern border, but subsequently it become notorious that all these stories were in whole or in part fictitious; that they were circulated and reproduced by the National Democratic press, at the instigation of politicians; and that the design evidently was to create and develop an anti Mexican feeling, on the part of the people which would look leniently on the acts of aggression against Mexico then mediated by the federal government. Next came the Juarez-McLane treaty, by which Mexican nationality was sold out-as far as the Juarez faction could sell out-for two millions of dollars. From the moment it was known that the treaty had been negotiated, no more was heard of Cortinas and his banditti. By some strange effect the parchment seemed to have extinguished the flames on the Rio Grande, and all round the Texas border. No sooner, however, was is ascertained that the Senate would not ratify it, than these flames burst forth anew, and to leave no doubt of the matter, Sam Houston, who was elected over the regular National Democratic nominee, by the clandestine support of the President; sounded his bugle horn and rattled his rusty sword in its scabbard. In the mean time American troops were ordered from all quarters toward the Mexican line, and a powerful squadron was directed to cruise in the Gulf and keep a watch over Vera Cruz. But the Senate, by refusing to ratify the treaty, or to sanction the project of organizing a Texas army; having refused to establish a protectorate over Mexico, the Administration was driven to the ultima ratio of open force, and hence the aggression in the Gulf which is so absurdly distorted and mystified by the telegraphic report. The old imposture of the Juarez Junta, the authority of which is circumscribed by the walls of Vera Cruz, being the national, as well as the constitutional, government, having the slightest pretensions to nationality or constitutionality, would be guilty of selling out, or rather attempting to sell out, the sovereignty of the nation, and the ownership of the of the national territory; or, having done so, could still claim to be national or constitutional. But with this matter we have but small concern. What we denounce is the criminal action of the Administration in committing wantonly and unjustly, an overt act of war with the intent of enkindling a general war, on the eve of a Presidential election. In the conflagration that would ensue, National Democracy would have a rare opportunity of indulging its propensity for plunder. It is a conspiracy to pour out the blood of two nations in order that the National Democratic party may retain its official power, and Mr. Buchanan receive a second nomination. This is evidently the secret of the blow against Mexico, and the Republicans in Congress will not have done their duty, unless they expose and defeat the whole nefarious scheme.
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