The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921 Page: 4
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The Southwestern, Historical Quarterly
such as must necessarily exist under the laws of nations and of war
to preserve order and protect the rights of the inhabitants, and
that it would automatically cease upon the conclusion of a treaty
of peace with Mexico.
But he was now forced to take a stand upon the boundary claims,
and he appeased the Texans by stating that nothing could be more
certain than that the temporary government would never injuri-
ously affect the right which he believed to be justly asserted by
Texas to the whole territory east of the Rio Grande, whenever the
Mexican claim to it should be extinguished by treaty. He now
absolved himself from any further responsibility on the question
by adding that the solution of the problem belonged more properly
to the legislative than to the executive branch of the government.'
This assurance had the desired effect in Texas, with the result
that so far as the local boundary question was concerned, all moves
toward securing a settlement were suspended until it could be de-
termined what effect the war would have upon the international
line of demarcation.
Polk later explained to Congress that under the circumstances
a postponement of the settlement was the most plausible solution.
It would obviously be impracticable, if not impossible, to deter-
mine a boundary line between two nations while they were at war
with each other. Therefore, in spite of the fact that New Mexico
was under the control of the United States army, since it had
never actually been occupied by Texas, and was still claimed by
Mexico, it was not yet an undisputed portion of the United States;
and even were the Texas claim admitted, no part of the disputed
territory could be delivered to it until the international question
of ownership was settled.0 This point of view, as well as the
promise in the President's statement to Governor Henderson that
the military government legally ceased to exist as soon as peace
should be established, led to the expectation in Texas that the ter-
ritory east of the Rio Grande would immediately be turned over
to the jurisdiction of the Texas government. But the practical
conditions required the maintenance of some definite form of gov-
ernment over the newly acquired territory, until a legalized civil
5Buchanan to Henderson, February 12, 1847, in Sen. Em. Doe. 24, 31st
Cong., 1st sess. (Ser. no. 554), p. 3.
Polk's message to Congress, July 24, 1848, in House Em. Doc. 70, 30th
Cong., 1st sess. (Ser. no. 521), p. 4.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921, periodical, 1921; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101078/m1/10/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.