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May 23, 1836.]
Recognition of Texas.
republican Government can not only act with justice and moderation towards other nations, but that it can preserve a character for those elevated national virtues, placing it in honorable contrast with the selfish and arbitrary examples too often set by Governments of a different form. Mr. B. said that generous as the enthusiasm was which had been expressed on this occasion in behalf of Texas, and disinterested as the motives doubtless were, alleged in favor of the proposed departure from our neutrality, (for such he should regard a recognition of the independence of Texas at present,) did gentlemen believe that the sharp-sighted diplomacy of foreign nations would not suspect us of some disposition to aggrandize ourselves at the expense of a weaker neighbor, and of impatience to plant our eagles on a foreign soil? He regarded our national character as worth infinitely more than all the territorial possessions of Mexico, her wealth, or the wealth of all other nations added together. We occupied a standing among the nations of the earth, of which we might well be proud, and which we ought not to permit to be tarnished. We have, said Mr. B.,’ arrived at that period of our history, as a nation, when it
behooves us to act with the greatest wisdom and circum
spection. But a few years since, as a nation, we were comparatively in a state of infancy; we were now, in the confidence of youth, and with the buoyancy of spirit incident to this period of our existence as a nation, about to enter on “man’s estate.” Powerful in resources, and conscious of our strength, let us not forget the sacred obligations of justice and good faith, which form the indispensable basis of a nation’s character—greatness and freedom; and without which, no people could long preserve the blessings of self-government. Republican government was based on the principles of justice; and for it to be administered on any other, either in its foreign or domestic affairs, was to undermine its foundation and to hasten its overthrow. Mr. B. said that the peaceable acquisition of Texas by purchase, was a question which might well merit the consideration of the Government of the United States; but any step which looked, either directly or indirectly, to obtaining possession of it in any other way, or which would commit us to take part in the contest in which it was at present engaged, ought, in his opinion, to be steadily resisted. If, in the existing condition of things, we acknowledge her independence, it would become not only a matter of pride, but somewhat of obligation on our part, to maintain it by military force; an extremity on which gentlemen ought to pause, before they were prepared to precipitate the country improvidently into. If, said Mr. B., we shall receive unquestionable information that Texas can maintain her independence against the authority of the Mexican Government, none would be more willing to see her recognised as a free and independent State than himself; but, until then, we owed it to our character as a nation, to our love of justice and moderation, and to our republican form of government, to do nothing which would compromit the one or endanger the other. Mr. WALKER said the arguments made by some Senators were calculated to place him in a position which he had not occupied, and demanded a reply. Honorable Senators had spoken as though he (Mr. W.) had made some proposition to dismember Mexico, to violate the faith of treaties, and tarnish the national honor. Mr. W. had made no such proposition. He said he would violate no treaty; he would never desire to tarnish the national honor, or sully a single star that beams in the banner of the Union. The question is to inquire, through the appropriate committee, into the existence of a Government de facto in Texas. The sole question is, has a revolution been effected in Texas? Has
the Mexican Government been overthrown there? And whether this revolution, as in the present case, in a single campaign, or as in the three days at Paris, has been effected, leaves the question unchanged. Mr. W. would desire to call back honorable gentlemen from the fields of speculation into which they had wandered, and ask them to meet the question now proposed--whether the Senate ought not to inquire into the fact of the existence of a Government de facto in Texas? If in Texas there be a successful Government in operation, then we shall violate the fundamental principle of the law of nations, if we continue to recognise the existence of the Mexican authority in a country from which it has been expelled. But the recognition, it is said, should come from the Executive, or upon his suggestion. Had the President proceeded to recognise the independence of Texas, or to dictate our course here on this subject, some of those very Senators who object to my motion would have at once denounced, as a usurpation, such a course upon the part of the Executive. But the Senate has a right to act on this subject, not only as a branch of the Legislature, but as a branch of the executive department, in controlling our foreign relations. No treaty can be made with any foreign Power, no envoy accredited there, but through the direct action of the Senate, as a branch of the executive department; and it is therefore peculiarly appropriate that the proposed inquiry should commence here. But we are told the proposed inquiry is indelicate, under existing circumstances. Indelicate to whom? To Santa Anna, the captive chief of the Mexican Government? Mr. W. said that, to his mind, such an idea was irresistibly ludicrous. When our illustrious Franklin presented his credentials as the first American ambassador to France, did we think it indelicate to send such an envoy on such an embassy And when the young Franklins from Texas shall present their credentials, as they may already have done, on a similar embassy, shall we be told that the inquiry is indelicate, whether they do in fact represent a Government de facto or not? But if the inquiry is indelicate on our part, would it not be much more so on the part of the Executive--brought heretofore, and perhaps at the present moment, into actual conferences with the minister of Santa Anna? There was another strong reason for immediate action. The Senator from Massachusetts had stated that a foreign Power was endeavoring to obtain a cession of Texas from Mexico. If Mexico could
ever cede Texas to that foreign Power, now would be
the moment. If she made such cession when we refused even to inquire into the propriety of recognising the independence of Texas, might not Mexico, and such foreign Power to whom Texas was ceded, then declare her independence, because we shall have considered the Mexican Power as the lawful Government of Texas? This circumstance alone demanded immediate action. After some further remarks from Messrs. PRESTON, CALHOUN, and MANGUM, Mr. RIVES concurred in the necessity of caution. This Government should act with moderation, calmness, and dignity; and because he wished the Senate should act with that becoming moderation, calmness, and dignity, which ought to characterize its deliberations on international subjects, it was his wish that the subject might be referred. If it was postponed, it would come up again for discussion from morning to morning, to the exclusion of most of the business of the Senate, as there was nothing to prevent the presentation of petitions every morning, to excite discussion. It was for the purpose of avoiding these discussions, that he should vote to refer it at once to the Committee on Foreign Relations. A prominent member of that committee had been long and intimately acquainted with the subject of our foreign relations, and there were
members on it representing all the different sections of the country, to whose charge he believed the subject could be safely committed. It would seem, from the course of debate this morning, that gentlemen supposed the question of the recognition of the independence of Texas, or its admission into this Union, was directly before the Senate; and some gentlemen had volunteered their opinions in advance of the report of the committee. He did not vote to refer it to the committee to receive its quietus, but that they might give their views upon it; nor did he feel as if he were called upon to express an opinion upon the propriety of the measure. It was strange that Senators, who stated that their opinions were made up, should oppose the reference. Mr. CALHOUN explained. He stated that he was not prepared now to take either course that he had suggested. But he said that the questions, both of the recognition of Texas, and her incorporation into the Union, would soon be brought before them. He stated that the Texans, having the power, could make good terms with Santa Anna, or with the opposing party in Mexico; and that if they acted with prudence, Congress would soon be called upon to decide whether they should be incorporated into the Union. The gentleman from Virginia, he presumed, would not oppose this. He was not so prudent as to wait for the opinion of the committee. He had the fullest confidence in the committee, but, having made up his mind long ago, he did not rely on the opinions of any one. It was not that he considered action to be now premature, but because he desired to see a greater unanimity of opinion, that he wished this matter delayed. Mr. RIVES was under the impression, without being able to recall to his mind particularly who the individual Senators were, that other gentlemen had so expressed themselves. He held it to be entirely premature, in any Senator, in cases of reference, to express an opinion in advance. The committee would be governed by all proper and patriotic feelings, in their deliberations upon the subject, and report to the Senate their views upon it in detail, based upon authentic information received from all the sources within their reach. He believed that the discussion of all preliminary questions, without having well authenticated facts before them, gave rise to excited feelings. The gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Calhous] had stated his feelings as a southern man. Mr. CALHOUN explained. He stated that all parts of the Union, the manufacturing, navigating, and commercial interests, were all equally interested in the independence of Texas. Mr. RIVES repeated that it was for the purpose of avoiding these excited feelings and discussions, that he was in favor of the reference. They all knew the interest felt in relation to this Government. He did not conceive that voting for a reference, committed any one. Did any gentleman, when he voted for the reference of a particular claim to a committee, consider himself bound to vote for that claim? Certainly not. He hoped every Senator would acquiesce in the reference; and in all probability, in a short time, they would have placed in their hands such information of an official character as would enable them to act with unanimity, and perhaps even without discussion. Mr. President, when Santa Anna descended upon Texas, like Hyder Ali on the plains of the Carnatic, spreading destruction and desolation before him; when he stormed the Alamo, and put its noble and devoted defenders to the sword; when Colonel Fannin, who, after fighting gallantly an overwhelming force of his enemies, was seduced into an honorable capitulation; when this capitulation was basely and treacherously violated, and his followers assassinated; when property was
plundered and laid waste; when women and children were seen flying to the swamps, forests, and cane-brakes, for shelter and protection against the power of these ruthless invaders; then, in the hour of their darkest hopes, I was willing to vote an acknowledgment of the independence of Texas, because at that moment it would have served their cause a good purpose. But now, sir, the scene is changed; they have met their proud and vainglorious enemies, and completely triumphed; they have trampled their enemies in the dust, and worked out their own salvation. Texas is independent, and it matters but little whether we now pass through the forms of admitting it or not. She is too prosperous for me to take much interest in the matter. Mr. BUCHANAN said that he had in his possession a memorial from citizens of the city and county of Philadelphia, urging Congress to recognise the independence of Texas, which he intended to present to the Senate as soon as an opportunity should offer. After much deliberation, he had determined to move its reference to the Committee on Foreign Relations; believing that, under existing circumstances, this was the most proper disposition which could be made of these memorials. Mr. B. cntirely concurred in the views which had been presented by the Senator from Virginia, [Mr. Rives.] A reference of these memorials to that committee committed nobody. It left the future course of every Senator as free as it had been before. Such a vote did not, in itself, imply either that we favored or that we opposed the recognition of Texan independence. No inference could be fairly drawn from it, except that we deemed the subject of sufficient importance to justify an inquiry. Could any Senator deny, this proposition? It might be, though he confessed he thought it highly improbable, that the committee would feel themselves bound to determine against the cause of Texas, and against the ardent wishes of the people of the United States. In that event, it would become the duty of the committee to endeavor to tranquillize the country, and to satisfy the public that this view of the subject was correct. The simple reference of these memorials was the best mode of getting clear of the subject for the present; and for these reasons, if he had no other, he should vote for it. He did not believe that, in the present state of the war between Mexico and Texas, the most jealous minister ever sent from old Spain or Mexico would have any cause to complain of the mere reference of these memorials to a committee of the Senate. But, Mr. B. said, he should not do justice either to his feelings or his judgment, if he were to place his vote upon these considerations alone. When he had last addressed the Senate upon this subject, the civil war was still raging in Texas, and the result of the conflict was still involved in doubt. It would then have been a violation of the established principles of our policy to institute an inquiry whether we should recognise its independence. From these principles, whatever might be his feelings as a man, he should never depart as an American Senator. But since that time, the aspect of affairs had materially changed. Although he was not of a credulous or sanguine disposition, yet the sources of our information were so numerous, and of such a respectable character, that he now believed the dominion of Mexico over Texas was gone forever. For this he thanked his God. Its mountains and its fertile plains were destined to sustain millions of American freemen in the enjoyment of American liberty. Whatever struggles the patriots of Texas might yet be compelled to make in the sacred cause of liberty, of one thing he felt certain--that they would be finally triumphant. But would they use their victory as wisely as it had been bravely won? This was a question on which we should soon be able to form an opinion. Before we could acknowledge May 24, 1836.] their independence, we must be satisfied that they had organized and established a Government de facto, and were actually independent. When these facts were clearly proved, we should then owe it to ourselves—we should owe it to the feelings of the American people—to exhibit an alacrity in declaring them independent. On this subject we should manifest no tardiness nor cold delay; but, until that time should arrive, we must be faithful to our principles, and to our duties as a member of the great family of nations. A habit seemed to be growing in this body, of attributing to the opinions of Senators on this floor, who were known to be friendly to the present administration, a meaning beyond what could be fairly inferred from their expressions, and thus attempting to commit the Executive. This had been done in the course of the present debate. He protested against the justice of any such inference. What he had said upon the present occasion were his own opinions, for which he was individually responsible, without any reference whatever to those which might be entertained by the President of the United States. He trusted that, without further debate or delay, these memorials might be referred to the committee, and we might thus have a breathing spell from this subject, to attend to the other important business which was now pressing upon us. After some further observations from Mr. PRESTON, The several memorials were then referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
On motion of Mr. HUBBARD, the fortification bill was laid on the table until to-morrow.
On motion of Mr. WHITE, the rescinding resolution, which came up as the special order, was postponed, and made the special order for Thursday, after some remarks from
Mr. HILL, who expressed a wish to speak on the subject before he left the Senate, which he proposed to do at the end of this week, or the beginning of the next.
Mr. HUBBARD offered a resolution, setting apart Friday and Saturday of every week for the consideration of private bills, and asked the consideration of the resolution; but an objection was made, and the resolution lies over.
The special orders were then postponed until to-morrow, for the purpose of taking up the general orders.
The resolution offered some time ago by Mr. HUBin ARD, concerning the incorporation of banks in Florida, was taken up, and, on motion of Mr. EWING, of Ohio, with the consent of the mover, was referred to the Committee on Finance.
The Senate then adjourned.
TU Esday, MAY 24. ALABAM.A.
Mr. KING, of Alabama, stated that he had received information, on which the most perfect reliance could be placed, that a great number of individuals had been driven from their homes on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochie river, by the hostile Creek Indians, many of them having families, being deprived of their all, and having no means of sustaining themselves until the Indians can be put down, and the country restored to a state of peace and quiet. It was not necessary, Mr. K. said, to dwell on the scenes of affliction which were now witnessed in that unhappy country; all they could now do was, to extend to them such assistance as would enable these unfortunate people to sustain nature until their
country could be restored to a state of peace and quiet, and they reinstated in their homes. He therefore asked leave to introduce a joint resolution, authorizing the President of the United States to cause rations to be issued from the public stores to supply, for the present, those sufferers who have not the means of sustaining themselves and families.
He hoped that the resolution would be received by unanimous consent; and that the rule of the Senate, requiring one day's previous notice, would be dispensed with. In a case of this nature, Mr. K. said, that even one day was of importance.
The resolution was then read twice, and ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.
[At a subsequent part of the day, the above resolution having been reported correctly engrossed, was, on motion of Mr. K., and by unanimous consent, read the third time and passed.]
The resolution offered yesterday by Mr. HUB BAR p, of New Hampshire, setting apart Fridays and Saturdays for the exclusive consideration of private bills and private business, was taken up and discussed. Mr. HUBBARD called for the yeas and nays. Mr. NAUDAIN moved to strike out Friday, and the amendment was accepted by the mover, as a modification of his resolution. Mr. WEBSTER moved to lay the resolution on the table: Yeas 16, nays 17. The question was then taken on the adoption of the resolution: Ayes 16, noes 17. So the resolution was rejected. The Senate then took up a resolution lying on the table, that the Senate hereafter meet at eleven o’clock, daily, instead of twelve; which was agreed to.
On motion of Mr. HUBBARD, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill making appropriations for the erection of fortifications, purchase of sites, &c. The question being to strike out the appropriation as it stands for the fortifications in Portsmouth harbor, and inserting $150,000 per annum, for two years-Mr. HUBBARD rose and addressed the Chair, as follows: Mr. President: At this late period of the session, it may fairly be presumed that every subject connected with the legislative proceedings of Congress has been so thoroughly examined, so faithfully considered, and so well matured, that every member of the Senate is prepared for action; and that discussion, if not unacceptable, would seem to be wholly unnecessary. I am fully sensible of the truth of this sentiment, and I can assure the Senate that no man more deeply regrets than myself the necessity imposed upon me to present my views upon the immediate question before the Senate. If the honorable Senator from South Carolina [Mr. PREston] had not expressly intimated that he should renew his motion to strike from the bill the appropriation for a fortification at Portsmouth, I would not trouble the Senate with one single remark; but, Mr. President, coming as I do from New Hampshire, and being entirely sensible of the importance of the proposed fortification near the mouth of the Piscataqua, for the protection of public and private property in time of war, and for the better security of an enterprising, intelligent, and patriotic population in that immediate Yicinity, f should be deaf to the call of duty, I should be faithless to the interests of my constituents, if I should remain silent; if I should fail to present to the Senate the faç's within my own knowledge, and which facts cannot be presumed to be within the knowledge of all the Sena
[May 24, 1836.
tors; if I should fail to urge such general considerations, which ought to, and which I trust will, induce the Senate to retain this appropriation in the bill; and that, should any appropriation be made for the following year, the particular amendment presented by the Senator from Missouri, proposing a like appropriation for 1837, will be adopted. I must, therefore, ask the indulgence of the Senate for a few minutes, with the view to show the fitness, the propriety, the urgent necessity, of erecting a fortification at the mouth of the Piscataqua, near the harbor of Portsmouth.
In the first place, Mr. President, we are relieved from all constitutional difficulties in making appropriations for objects of this character. They are objects so intimately connected with the general defence and permanent security of the country, so essentially necessary to the security of public property, that there is no doubt of the constitutional authority of Congress over the subiect. J It is not only within our power, but I hold it to be our bounden duty, “to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.” So strong and so general was this sentiment, that in 1790, immediately after the adoption of the present form of government, General Washington, in his message to Congress, remarked that “among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”. In 1791 the same distinguished patriot again called the attention of Congress to the subject, by remarking “that the fortification of such places as are peculiarly important and vulnerable naturally present themselves to your consideration.”
“The safety of the United States, under Divine protection, ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangement, exposed as little as possible to the hazard of fortuitous circumstances.” In 1794 Washington communicated that, “as auxiliary to the state of our defence, to which Congress can never too frequently recur, they will not omit to inquire whether the fortifications which have been already licensed by law be commensurate with our exigencies.” And, in his farewell address, he urged upon the people to bear in mind “that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it.” Such were the sentiments of the Father of his Country, and such have been the sentiments of the most distinguished patriots of our republic. Such has been the favorite doctrine of every administration, with perhaps a single exception, from the formation of the Government to the present period. As a means of defence, fortifications will continue to be regarded as of primary importance; and in the language of the Secretary of War, as used in his able and .." report, “It is the duty of the Government to afford adequate protection to the seacoast-a subject of paramount obligation; and that we are called upon by every consideration of policy to push the necessary arrangements as rapidly as the circumstances of the country and the proper execution of the work will allow.” “Every town large enough to tempt the cupidity of an enemy should be defended by .. fixed or floating, suited to its local position, and sufficiently extensive to resist such attempt as would probably be made against it.” This, sir, is my text, and this my doctrine. Whatever may be our reliance upon the efficiency of our army in time of war; whatever may be our confidence in the energies of our navy in the day of danger; yet it will not be denied that fortifications, well manned and well armed, are indispensably necessary for affording adequate and proper protection to our principal harbors and towns upon our maritime frontier. In no other mode or manner can the population and prop
erty at particular points be so well defended and so securely preserved. It is, then, the voice of wisdom and of prudence, the dictate of sound policy and economy, to continue the system of fortifications—of protecting our maritime frontier, by the erection, at important and vulnerable points upon the coast, of permanent and enduring fortresses. I believe this to be the prevailing sentiment of our country; and in this day of our prosperity, in the abundance of our means, we ought to make liberal appropriations for objects of general defence and permanent protection. It cannot be controverted that some of our most important harbors, some of our principal towns and cities, some of our most valuable navy yards and naval depots upon our maritime frontier, are at this moment entirely defenceless; so exposed to attack that, in the event of a war, they would have to rely for their security upon the forbearance of the enemy. This is literally true with reference to the whole extent of our maritime frontier within the limits of New England. It is not my purpose to speak of any other point except the harbor of Portsmouth, which requires at the hands of the Government better protection, security, and defence. I leave other places to the care of other Senators better able than myself to look after their interests. I am free to admit that the opposition to this particular bill, as now modified, has greatly surprised me, after the expression of the unanimous opinion of the Senate upon the subject of public defence, and of the duty of Congress to make appropriations with reference to that subject. After the adoption of the resolution of the Senator from Missouri, in the early part of the session, proposing to make appropriations for the permanent security of the country, I could not but regard it, in some degree, as a pledge on the part of the Senate to give “their support to such legislative measures as shall have for their object the accomplishment of these great purposes.” I could not have anticipated such an opposition as is made to this bill. It has not been urged, from the commencement of the debate to the present time, and he believed that it was not even pretended by any one, that fortifications were not necessary, and were not required by every consideration of public policy, at the various points named in the bill. It seemed to be distinctly admitted, that a proper regard to public and to private security called upon Congress to erect adequate fortifications at the several places designated in the bill before the Senate. And yet the bill was opposed--strenuously and resolutely opposed. He would, therefore, attempt to show that the opposition to the appropriation for a work of defence near Portsmouth was altogether unreasonable; and that the facts which he would present to the consideration of the Senate would, he believed, demonstrate the propriety, the peculiar fitness, the absolute necessity, of fortifying this particular point upon our maritime frontier. The bill proposes to appropriate for this year one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to this object; and the amendment now offered by the Senator from Missouri continues the same amount of appropriation for the year 1837. The immediate questions presented to the Senate are— 1st. Would a fortification at the mouth of the Piscataqua river, under existing circumstances, be necessary? 2d. Would it be practicable? 3d. Would the cost of its erection be extravagant? 4th. Would its importance justify its probable expense? Certain the fact is, that, at this time, there are at that place no fortifications, worthy of the name. Fort Constitution, on New Castle island, and Fort McCleary, on the opposite side of the river, are both in a ruinous condition. The other works of defence which were
MAY 24, 1836.]
built during the last war, near the harbor of Portsmouth, and for its protection, were designed as merely temporary in their character, and at the close of that contest were suffered to go to ruin. It may then be stated, as a truth, that the only seaport town within the limits of New Hampshire is, at this time, utterly defenceless; that, in the event of a war, if our difficulties had not been arranged, if actual hostilities had resulted from recent collisions with our ancient ally, there is no work of protection, either on the Maine or the New Hampshire side of the Piscataqua, which could have prevented the fleet of the enemy from entering the harbor of Portsmouth, and laying waste the private property of her citizens and the public property of our Government. If the enemy had cried, “havoc, and let slip the dogs of war;” if they had dared to invade our territory, to plant themselves upon our soil, they would have met a body of yeomanry too patriotic to be subdued, too strong to be conquered; and yet this fact furnishes no argument against the erection of a sufficient fortification at the mouth of that harbor. So far from it, it strongly exhibits the necessity of the measure. As all such works are intended to give security against any sudden attack from the enemy, to afford protection to private and to public property, and to inspire a confidence of safety in the surrounding population, the first inquiry then, is, does the harbor of Portsmouth deserve protection and defence at the charge of the Government?. On this point the Secretary of War, in his report which has been so often and so deservedly commended, when speaking of the contemplated works at particular places, (among others, at Portsmouth,) remarks: “ These proposed works all command the approach to places sufficiently important to justify their construction under any circumstances that will probably exist. I think, therefore, that the public interest would be promoted by the passage of the necessary appropriations for them.” “If these appropriations are early made, most, if not all these works can be put in operation this season, and the money usefully applied as fast as their progress will justify.” "And he adds, “I think the measure would be expedient.”
There is certainly no ambiguity in this language used by the Secretary of War in his report. There is no room for doubt as to what are the sentiments of that officer in relation to this matter. And in this same document he further remarks, that “all the harbors and inlets upon the coast, where there are cities or towns whose situation and importance create just apprehension of attack, and particularly where we have public naval establishments, should be defended by works proportioned to any exigency that may probably arise. The political considerations which urge forward this great object are entitled to much more weight. When once completed, we should feel secure.
“There is probably not a man in the country who did not look with some solicitude during the past season at our comparatively defenceless condition, and who did not regret that our preparations, during the long interval of peace we had enjoyed, had not kept pace with ..o. and importance. We have now this lesson to add to our other experience. Adequate security is not only due from the Government to the country, and the conviction of it is not only satisfactory, but the knowledge of its existence cannot fail to produce an influence upon other nations, as well in the advent of war itself as in the mode of conducting it.
“If we are prepared to attack and resist, the chances of being compelled to embark in hostilities will be diminished much in proportion to our preparations. An unprotected commerce, a defenceless coast, and a military marine wholly inadequate to the wants of our service, would indeed hold out strong inducements to other nations to convert trifling pretexts into serious causes of quarrel.”
Such pure and patriotic sentiments are worthy of the head and of the heart from which they emanated. And what is their sum? That, in the time of peace, in the day of our prosperity, and in the midst of our abundance, we should be prepared for war. The quoted remarks of the Secretary have literally and faithfully described the present state and condition of Portsmouth and of that section of our maritime frontier. A fortification is all-important for the due protection and security of the harbor of Portsmouth. In a document communicated from General Bernard, Commodore Elliot, and Captain Totten, it is stated “that the only good roadstead or good harbor between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Ann is Portsmouth harbor, within the mouth of Piscataqua river. Line-of-battle ships can ascend this river seven miles above the town of Portsmouth.” And I hazard nothing in saying that a safer or a better harbor cannot be found upon the whole extent-of our maritime frontier.
The honorable Senator from Massachusetts must be much better acquainted with these facts than I am myself. Although we are both natives of New Hampshire, and have both resided for a time in Portsmouth; yet my own residence was merely temporary, while I engaged in the prosecution of my professional studies. At a much later period the Senator was numbered among the inhabitants of that place. He must, therefore, be much more conversant with its particular history than I can be; and, Mr. President, I hope, in the course of the debate, he will lend his aid in doing an act of justice to that ancient town, and to that section of country. I am, Mr. President, in the possession of a memorial, presented to Congress in 1827 by the citizens of Portsmouth, respecting the construction of a dry dock at the navy yard at that place, which contains much valuable information upon this subject, and from which I must be excused for making liberal extracts. The memorial represents, “that
| at every period of the history of this country, the har
bor of Portsmouth has been considered of great importance for naval purposes; that, under the colonial system, and long before the Revolution, the British Government, aware of the advantages of the place, were induced to make it a resort for their vessels of war, and to establish a yard where ships of a large class were built for the public service. That, during the war of independence, the Continental Congress ordered the construction at this port of a number of ships of the United States; one of which was the America, of seventy-four guns, the first ship of the line ever built in this country. The harbor of Portsmouth is formed by a cluster of islands, on one of which the navy yard is situated, and through which the river Piscataqua, dividing Maine from New Hampshire, disembogues into the ocean. Several of these islands on each side of the channel afford effective ra. king positions, where such fortifications might be erected, at a comparatively trifling expense, as would render it completely impregnable to the attacks of any naval force that could be brought against it. There is no bar or obstruction at the mouth of this harbor; on the contrary, at the lowest tides, there are ten fathoms of water at the . entrance through the main channel to the navy yard, and at the navy yard wharf, where ships of the largest class may lie, and from whence they may proceed to sea at dead low water. It is easy of access; and ships, when in, are safe from all storms; the loss of a vessel here, by stress of weather, being a circumstance wholly unknown. It is never, in the most intense cold of winter, obstructed by ice: while other naval ports are occasionally closed, this is as free and open as at midsummer.” Such is the harbor of Portsmouth; and the proposed fortifications at the mouth of the Piscataqua are for the defence and protection of this harbor. The position of Fort Constitution, on the New Hampshire side, must certainly, and that of Fort McCleary, on