Thoughts on the proposed annexation of Texas to the United States Page: 16 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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16 ON THE PROPOSED
territory for a similar object is Iquafty unmaintainable. But what
avails this discussion 1 Is it pretended that Texas is to be annexed
for the purpose of fixing a boundary line ? The boundary
between Mexico and the United States is but recently established,
and following, as it does, in nearly all its extent rivers and parallels
of latitude, it is almost as precisely defined as the Atlantic
coast. In such a case, therefore, to talk of the right to seize a
territory one-seventh as large as the whole Union, as resulting
from the power to fix a disputed boundary, is a perfect non-sequitur;
it is a pure legal absurdity.
The precedents of Louisiana and Florida are cited. Neither
executive nor legislative precedents prove any thing against the
Constitution. It is idle to suppose that the limited powers of a
government like ours can be enlarged by precedent; the doctrine
is contrary to every just principle of constitutional law.
Precedent is only resorted to where it is desirable to have a rule
settled, and where uncertainty is the greatest evil to be deprecated.
Such is the foundation of Judicial Precedents. But
neither the legislative nor executive branch of the government
have the slightest power to control the action of their successors
by their decision on a question of constitutional law. If this were
otherwise, the charter would be already abundantly interpolated.
We shall see, however, before closing this view of the subject,
that the above cited precedents, such as they were, are greatly
weakened by the decisive opinion of Mr. Jefferson against the
constitutionality of the measure.*
The next question that arises is, whether Congress has the
power to admit a foreign State into the Union.
" New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union."
Is it by this clause meant to give Congress the authority to form
new States out of the territory belonging to the Union in 1787,
or has Congress the right under this clause to introduce foreign
powers into this confederacy 1 We answer without hesitation
that the whole burthen of the argument is against the enormous
power contended for, and in favor of its restriction to the territory
belonging to the Union in 1787. If it is asked by what the
general words "New States" is to be limited, we reply by the
whole tenor of the instrument, by the history of its formation,
and by the very sense and nature of the thing.
By the tenor of the instrument-the very words " JNew States"
imply the idea of states yet to come into existence, and cannot
; * In the case of the American Ins. Co. the validity
of the treaty was admitted on all sides. None of the counsel denied the
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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/m1/16/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .