Thoughts on the proposed annexation of Texas to the United States Page: 15 of 55
This book is part of the collection entitled: From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries.
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ANNEXATION OF TEXAS. 15
Such necessity must either grow out of conquest or the necessity
of establishing boundaries. Since when has it been established
that this government was formed with the idea of conquest,
or that it is susceptible of extension in that mode 1 Can this
government constitutionally obtain colonies contiguous or remote,
foreign States or distant islands l The very nature and
structure of the government forbid the idea. It is a great partnership
formed for union, common defence, and general welfare,
and was never intended to possess all the ancient oppressive and
dangerous attributes of sovereignty. Whenever this government,
instead of confining itself to the care of those whose ancestors
framed it, shall commence a career of warfare for the
purpose of territorial acquisition, so great a departure from the
intention of the original parties to the compact must be supported
by a new grant of power, by an enlargement of the charter
under which it now acts. War is one thing, conquest is another.
War may be inevitable; a warlike spirit is in some respects
honorable; but the spirit of conquest is the concentration of
tyranny and injustice. When this nation becomes animated by
it wq may bid farewell to our present form of government. On
the doctrine of conquest, the acquisition of territory by the
treaty-making power can never be sustained.
The right to fix boundaries is next insisted upon, and it is declared
to be essential that the treaty-making power should pos.
sess the authority to cede or to acquire territory, and that unless
this is so, no boundary could ever be adjusted, and an opening
would be left for perpetual dispute with bordering nations.
The right of fixing a boundary may indeed belong to the treatymaking
power where our boundary is uncertain, but such a right
necessarily involves neither cession nor acquisition. It is precisely
because the boundary is uncertain, and the right to the
soil not susceptible of being positively determined, that the treatymaking
power is authorized to act. In such a case it neither
cedes nor acquires; it relinquishes no right: it simply effects a
compromise based upon the impossibility of determining the
right. But to say that the treaty-making power can either cede
territory unquestionably belonging to the republic, or acquire
territory as unquestionably belonging to a foreign power, is
assuming the whole matter in dispute.
In this way the right to acquire Texas would be a right to
cede Iowa, and it is beyond dispute that the control of the territory
of the United States belongs to Congress and not to the
President and Senate. That the President and Senate could not
cede a portion of one of the sovereign states of this Union,
whether for the purpose of fixing boundary or any other, is too
plain for discussion; and the power of the State over its own soil
is not more clear than the authority of Congress over the territories.
The President and Senate, therefore, can as little cede the
unquestionable territory of the United States for the purpose of
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Sedgwick, Theodore. Thoughts on the proposed annexation of Texas to the United States, book, January 1, 1844; New-York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2387/m1/15/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .