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Peace with Mexico   By: (1761-1849)

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Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/peacewithmexicob00gallrich

PEACE WITH MEXICO.

by

ALBERT GALLATIN.

Bartlett & Welford: No. 7 Astor House, New York.

I. THE LAW OF NATIONS.

It seems certain that Mexico must ultimately submit to such terms of peace as the United States shall dictate. An heterogeneous population of seven millions, with very limited resources and no credit; distracted by internal dissensions, and by the ambition of its chiefs, a prey by turns to anarchy and to military usurpers; occupying among the nations of the civilized world, either physically or mentally, whether in political education, social state, or any other respect, but an inferior position; cannot contend successfully with an energetic, intelligent, enlightened and united nation of twenty millions, possessed of unlimited resources and credit, and enjoying all the benefits of a regular, strong, and free government. All this was anticipated; but the extraordinary successes of the Americans have exceeded the most sanguine expectations. All the advanced posts of the enemy, New Mexico, California, the line of the lower Rio Norte, and all the sea ports, which it was deemed necessary to occupy, have been subdued. And a small force, apparently incompetent to the object, has penetrated near three hundred miles into the interior, and is now in quiet possession of the far famed metropolis of the Mexican dominions. The superior skill and talents of our distinguished generals, and the unparalleled bravery of our troops, have surmounted all obstacles. By whomsoever commanded on either side; however strong the positions and fortifications of the Mexicans, and with a tremendous numerical superiority, there has not been a single engagement, in which they have not been completely defeated. The most remarkable and unexpected feature of that warfare is, that volunteers, wholly undisciplined in every sense of the word, have vied in devotedness and bravery with the regular forces, and have proved themselves, in every instance, superior in the open field to the best regular forces of Mexico. These forces are now annihilated or dispersed; and the Mexicans are reduced to a petty warfare of guerillas which, however annoying, cannot be productive of any important results.

It is true, that these splendid successes have been purchased at a price far exceeding their value. It is true that, neither the glory of these military deeds, nor the ultimate utility of our conquests can compensate the lamentable loss of the many thousand valuable lives sacrificed in the field, of the still greater number who have met with an obscure death, or been disabled by disease and fatigue. It is true that their relatives, their parents, their wives and children find no consolation, for the misery inflicted upon them, in the still greater losses experienced by the Mexicans. But if, disregarding private calamities and all the evils of a general nature, the necessary consequences of this war, we revert solely to the relative position of the two countries, the impotence of the Mexicans and their total inability to continue the war, with any appearance of success, are still manifest.

The question then occurs: What are the terms which the United States have a right to impose on Mexico? All agree that it must be an "honorable peace;" but the true meaning of this word must in the first place be ascertained.

The notion, that anything can be truly honorable which is contrary to justice, will, as an abstract proposition, be repudiated by every citizen of the United States. Will any one dare to assert, that a peace can be honorable, which does not conform with justice?

There is no difficulty in discovering the principles by which the relations between civilized and Christian nations should be regulated, and the reciprocal duties which they owe to each other. These principles, these duties have long since been proclaimed; and the true law of nations is nothing else than the conformity to the sublime precepts of the Gospel morality, precepts equally applicable to the relations between man and man, and to the intercourse between nation and nation... Continue reading book >>




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