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Message to the Senate Transmitting a Treaty of Annexation Concluded Between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas

April 22, 1844

To the Senate of the United Slates:

I transmit, herewith, for your approval and ratification, a treaty, which I have caused to be negotiated between the United States and Texas, whereby the latter, on the conditions therein set forth, has transferred and conveyed all its right of separate and independent sovereignty and jurisdiction to the United States. In taking so. important a step, 1 have been influenced by what appeared to me to be the most controlling considerations of public policy and the general good; and, in having accomplished it, should it meet with your approval, the Government will have succeeded in reclaiming a territory which formerly constituted a portion, as it is confidently believed, of its domain, under the treaty of cession of 1803, by France to the United States.

The country thus proposed to be annexed has been settled principally by persons from the United States, who emigrated on the invitation of both Spain and Mexico, and who carried with them into the wilderness, which they have partially reclaimed, the laws, customs, and political and domestic institutions of their native land. They are deeply indoctrinated in all the principles of civil liberty, and will bring along with them, in the act of reassociation, devotion to our Union, and a firm and inflexible resolution to assist in maintaining the public liberty unimpaired—a consideration which, as it appears to me, is to be regarded as of no small moment. The country itself, thus obtained, is of incalculable value in an agricultural and commercial point of view. To a soil of inexhaustible fertility, it unites a genial and healthy climate, and is destined, at a day not distant, to make large contributions to the commerce of the world. Its territory is separated from the United States, in part, by an imaginary line, and by the river Sabine for a distance of 310 miles; and its productions are the same with those of many of the contiguous States of the Union. Such is the country, such are its inhabitants, and such its capacities to add to the general wealth of the Union. As to the latter, it may be safely asserted that, in the magnitude of its productions, it will equal, in a short time, under the protecting care of this Government, if it does not surpass, the combined production of many of the States of the confederacy. A new and powerful impulse will thus be given to the navigating interest of the country, which will be chiefly engrossed by our fellow-citizens of the eastern and middle States, who have already attained a remarkable degree of prosperity by the partial monopoly they have enjoyed of the carrying trade of the Union, particularly the coastwise trade, which this new acquisition is destined in time, and that not distant, to swell to a magnitude which cannot easily be computed ; while the addition made to the boundaries of the home market, thus secured to their mining, manufacturing, and mechanical skill and industry, will be of a character the most commanding and important. Such are some of the many advantages which will accrue to the eastern and middle States by the ratification of the treaty—advantages, the extent of which it is impossible to estimate with accuracy, or properly to appreciate. Texas, being adapted to the culture of cotton, sugar, and rice, and devoting most of her energies to the raising of these productions, will open an extensive market to the western States, in the important articles of beef, pork, horses, mules, &c., as well as in breadstuffs. At the same time, the southern and southwestern States will find, in the fact of annexation, protection and security to their peace and tranquillity, as Well against all domestic as foreign efforts to disturb them; thus consecrating anew the Union of the States, and holding out the promise of its perpetual duration. Thus, at the same time that the tide of public prosperity is greatly swollen, an appeal, of what appears to the Executive to be of an imposing, if not of a resistless character, is made to the interests of every portion of the country. Agriculture, which would have a new and extensive market opened for its produce; commerce, whose ships would be freighted with the rich productions of an extensive and fertile region; and the mechanical arts, in all their various ramifications, would seem to unite in one universal demand for the ratification of the treaty. But, important as these considerations may appear, they are to be regarded as but secondary to others. Texas, for reasons deemed sufficient by herself, threw off her dependence on Mexico as far back as 1836, and consummated her independence by the battle of San Jacinto, in the same year; since which period, Mexico has attempted no serious invasion of her territory, but the contest has assumed features of a mere border war, characterized by acts revolting to humanity. In the year 1836 Texas adopted her constitution, under which she has existed as a sovereign power ever since, having been recognised as such by many of the principal powers of the world; and contemporaneously with its adoption, by a solemn vote of her people, embracing all her population but ninety-three persons, declared her anxious desire to be admitted into association with the United States, as a portion of their territory. This vote, thus solemnly taken, has never been reversed; and now, by the action of her constituted authorities, sustained as it is by popular sentiment, she reaffirms her desire for annexation. This course has been adopted by her, without the employment of any sinister measures on the part of this Government. No intrigue has been set on foot to accomplish it. Texas herself wills it; and the Executive of the United States, concurring with her, has seen no sufficient reason to avoid the consummation of an act esteemed to be so desirable by both. It cannot be denied that Texas is greatly depressed in her energies by her long-protracted war with Mexico. Under these circumstances, it is but natural that she should seek for safety and repose under the protection of some stronger power; and it is equally so that her people should turn to the United States, the land of their birth, in the first instance, in pursuit of such protection. She has often before made known her wishes; but her advances have, to this time, been repelled. The Executive of the United States sees no longer any cause for pursuing such a course. The hazard of now defeating her wishes may be of the most fatal tendency. It might lead, and most probably would, to such an entire alienation of sentiment and feeling, as would inevitably induce her to look elsewhere for aid, and force her either to enter into dangerous alliances with other nations, who, looking with more wisdom to their own interests, would, it is fairly to be presumed, readily adopt such expedients; or she would holdout the proffer of discriminating duties in trade and commerce, in order to secure the necessary assistance. Whatever step she might adopt, looking to this object, would prove disastrous, in the highest degree, to the interests of the whole Union. To say nothing of the impolicy of our pertaining the carrying trade and. home market of such a country to pass out of our hands into those of a commercial rival, the Government, in the first place, would be certain to suffer most disastrously in its revenue by the introduction of a system of smuggling, upon an extensive scale, which an army of custom-house officers could not prevent, and which would operate to affect injuriously the interests of all the industrial classes of this country. Hence would arise constant collisions between the inhabitants of the two countries, which would evermore endanger their peace. A large increase of the military force of the United States would inevitably follow, thus devolving upon the people new and extraordinary burdens, in order not only to protect them from the danger of daily collision with Texas herself, but to guard their border inhabitants against hostile inroads, so easily excited on the part of the numerous and warlike tribes of Indians dwelling in their neighborhood. Texas would undoubtedly be unable, for many years to come, if at any time, to resist, unaided and alone, the military power of the United States; but it is not extravagant to suppose that nations reaping a rich harvest from her trade, secured to them by advantageous treaties, would be induced to take part with her in any conflict with us, from the strongest considerations of public policy. Such a state of things might subject to devastation the territory of contiguous States, and would cost the country, in a single campaign, more treasure, thrice told over, than is stipulated to be paid and reimbursed by the treaty now proposed for ratification. I will not permit myself to dwell on this view of the subject. Consequences of a fatal character to the peace of the Union, and even to. the preservation of the Union itself might be dwelt upon. They will not, however, fail to occur to the mind of the Senate and of the. country. Nor do I indulge in any vague conjectures of the future. The documents now transmitted along with the treaty lead to the conclusion, as inevitable, that if the boon now tendered be rejected, Texas will seek for the friendship of others. In contemplating such a contingency, it cannot be overlooked that the United States are already almost surrounded by the possessions of European powers. The Canadas, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the islands in the American seas, with Texas trammelled by treaties of alliance, or of a commercial character, differing in policy from that of the United States, would complete the circle. Texas voluntarily steps forth, upon terms of perfect honor and good faith to all nations, to ask to be annexed to the Union. As an independent sovereignty, her right to do this is unquestionable. In doing so, she gives no cause of umbrage to any other power; her people desire it, and there is no slavish transfer of her sovereignty and independence. She has for eight years maintained her independence against all efforts to subdue her. She has been recognised as independent by many of the most prominent of the family of nations; and that recognition, so far as they are concerned, places her in a position, without giving any just cause of umbrage to them, to surrender her sovereignty at her own will and pleasure. The United States, actuated evermore by a spirit of justice, has desired, by the stipulations of the treaty, to render justice to all They have made provision for the payment of the public debt of Texas. We look to her ample and fertile domain as the certain means of accomplishing this; but this is a matter between the United Stales and Texas, and with which other governments have nothing to do. Our right to receive the rich grant tendered by Texas is perfect; and this Government should not, having due respect either to its own honor or its own interests, permit its course of policy to be interrupted by the interference of other powers, even if such interference was threatened. The question is one purely American. In the acquisition, while we abstain most carefully from all that could interrupt the public peace, we claim the right to exercise a due regard to our own. This Government cannot, consistently with its honor, permit any such interference. With equal, if not greater, propriety might the United States demand of other governments to surrender their numerous and valuable acquisitions, made in- past time, at numberless places on the surface of the globe, whereby they have added to their power and enlarged their resources.

To Mexico, the Executive is disposed to pursue a course conciliatory in its character, and at the same time to render her the most ample justice, by conventions and stipulations not inconsistent with the rights and dignity of the Government. It is actuated by no spirit of unjust aggrandizement, but looks only to its own security. It has made known to Mexico, at several periods, its extreme anxiety to witness the termination of hostilities between that country and Texas. Its wishes, however, have been entirely disregarded. It has ever been ready to urge an adjustment of the dispute upon terms mutually advantageous to both. It will be ready at all times to hear and discuss any claims Mexico may think she has on the justice of the United States, and to adjust any that may be deemed to be so on the most liberal terms. There is no desire on the part of the Executive to wound her pride, or affect injuriously her interest; but, at the same time, it cannot compromit, by any delay in its action, the essential interests of the United States. Mexico has no right to ask or expect this of us; we deal rightfully with Texas as an independent Power. The war which has been waged for eight years has resulted only in the conviction, with all others than herself, that Texas cannot be reconquered. I cannot but repeat the opinion expressed in my message at the opening of Congress, that it is time it had ceased. The Executive, while it could not look upon its longer continuance without the greatest uneasiness, has, nevertheless, for all past time, preserved a course of strict neutrality. It could not be ignorant of the fact of the exhaustion which a war of so long a duration had produced. Least of all was it ignorant of the anxiety of other powers to induce Mexico to enter into terms of reconciliation with Texas, which, affecting the domestic institutions of Texas, would operate most injuriously upon the United States, and might most seriously threaten the existence of this happy Union. Nor could it be unacquainted with the fact, that, although foreign governments might disavow all design to disturb the relations which exist under the constitution between these States, yet that one, the most powerful amongst them, had not failed to declare its marked and decided hostility to the chief feature in those relations, and its purpose, on all suitable occasions, to urge upon Mexico the adoption of such a course, in negotiating with Texas, as to produce the obliteration of that feature from her domestic policy, as one of the conditions of her recognition by Mexico as an independent State. The Executive was also aware of the fact, that formidable associations of persons, the subjects of foreign powers, existed, who were directing their utmost efforts to the accomplishment of this object. To these conclusions it was inevitably brought by the documents now submitted to the Senate. I repeat, the Executive saw Texas in a state of almost hopeless exhaustion, and the question was narrowed down to the simple proposition—whether the United States should accept the boon of annexation upon fair, and even liberal terms; or, by refusing to do so, force Texas to seek refuge in the arms of some other power, either through a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, or the adoption of some other expedient which might virtually make her tributary to such power, and dependent upon it for all future time. The Executive has full reason to believe that such would have been the result, without its interposition; and that such will be the result, in the event either of unnecessary delay in the ratification, or of the rejection of the proposed treaty.

In full view, then, of the highest public duty, and as a measure of security against evils incalculably great, the Executive has entered into the negotiation, the fruits of which are now submitted to the Senate. Independent of the urgent reasons which existed for the step it has taken, it might safely invoke the fact, which it confidently believes, that there exists no civilized government on earth, having a voluntary tender made it of a domain so rich and fertile, so replete with all that can add to national greatness and wealth, and so necessary to its peace and safety, that would reject the offer. Nor are other powers, Mexico inclusive, likely, in any degree, to be injuriously affected by the ratification of the treaty. The prosperity of Texas will be equally interesting to all, in the increase of the general commerce of the world: that prosperity will be secured by annexation.

But one view of the subject remains to be presented. It grows out of the proposed enlargement of our territory. From this, I am tree to confess, I see no danger. The federative system is susceptible of the greatest extension compatible with the ability of the representation of the most distant State or Territory to reach the seat of Government in time to participate in the functions of legislation, arid to make known the wants of the constituent body. Our confederated republic consisted originally of thirteen members. It now consists of twice that number, while applications are before Congress to permit other additions. This addition of new States has served to strengthen, rather than to weaken the Union. New interests have sprung up, which require the United power of all, through the action of the common Government, to protect and defend upon the high seas and in foreign parts. Each State commits, with perfect security, to that common Government, those great interests growing out of our relations with other nations of the world, and which equally involve the good of all the States. Its domestic concerns are left to its own exclusive management. But if there were any force in the objection, it would seem to require an immediate abandonment of territorial possessions which lie in the distance, and stretch to a far-off sea; and yet no one would be found, it is believed, ready to recommend such an abandonment. Texas lies at our very doors, and in our immediate vicinity.

Under every view which I have been able to take of the subject, I think that the interests of our common constituents the people of all the States, and a love of the Union, left the Executive no other alternative than to negotiate the treaty. The high and solemn duty of ratifying or of rejecting it, is wisely devolved on the Senate by the constitution of the United States.


WASHINGTON, April 22, 1844.

A treaty of annexation, concluded between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas, at Washington, April 12, 1844.

The people of Texas having, at the time of adopting their constitution, expressed, by an almost unanimous vote, their desire to be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and being still desirous of the same with equal unanimity, in order to provide more effectually for their security and prosperity; and the United States, actuated solely by the desire to add to their own security and prosperity, and to meet the wishes of the Government and people of Texas, have determined to accomplish, by treaty, objects so important to their mutual and permanent welfare.

For that purpose, the President of the United States has given full powers to John C. Calhoun, Secretary of State of the said United States; and the President of the Republic of Texas has appointed, with like powers, Isaac Van Zandt and J Pinckney Henderson, citizens of the said Republic; and the said plenipotentiaries, after exchanging their full powers, have agreed on and concluded the following articles:

Article I.

The Republic of Texas, acting in conformity with the wishes of the people and every department of its Government, cedes to the United States all its territories, to be held by them in full property and sovereignty, and to be annexed to the said United States as one of their Territories, subject to the same constitutional provisions with their other Territories. This cession includes all public lots and squares, vacant lands, mines, minerals, salt lakes and springs, public edifices, fortifications, barracks, ports and harbors, navy and navy yards, docks, magazines, arms, armaments, and accoutrements, archives and public documents, public funds, debts, taxes and dues unpaid at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty.

Article II.

The citizens of Texas shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States, maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and admitted, as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the Federal constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens of the United States.

Article III.

All titles and claims to real estate, which are valid under the laws of Texas, shall be held to be so by the United States; and measures shall be adopted for the speedy adjudication of all unsettled claims to land, and patents shall be granted to those found to be valid.

Article IV.

The public lands hereby ceded shall be subject, to the laws regulating the public lands in the other Territories of the United States, as far as they may be applicable; subject, however, to such alterations and changes as Congress may, from time to time, think proper to make. It is understood between the parties, that if, in consequence of the mode in which lands have been surveyed in Texas, or from previous grants or locations, the sixteenth section cannot be applied to the purpose of education, Congress shall make equal provision, by grant of land elsewhere. And it is also further understood, that, hereafter, the books, papers, and documents of the General Land Office of Texas, shall be deposited and kept at such place in Texas as the Congress of the United States shall direct.

Article V.

The United States assume and agree to pay the public debts and liabilities of Texas, however created, for which the faith or credit of her Government may be bound at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty; which debts and liabilities are estimated not to exceed, in the whole, ten millions of dollars, to be ascertained and paid in the manner hereinafter stated.

The payment of the sum of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars shall be made at the treasury of the United States, within ninety days after the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, as follows: Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to Frederick Dawson, of Baltimore, or his executors, on the delivery of that amount of ten per cent. bonds of Texas; one hundred thousand dollars, if so much be required, in the redemption of the exchequer bills which may be in circulation at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty. For the payment of the remainder of the debts and liabilities of Texas, which, together with the amount already specified, shall not exceed ten millions of dollars, the public lands herein ceded, and the net revenue from the same, are hereby pledged.

Article VI.

In order to ascertain the full amount of the debts and liabilities herein assumed, and the legality and validity thereof, four commissioners shall be appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who shall meet at Washington, Texas, within the period of six months after the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, and may continue in session not exceeding twelve months, Unless the Congress of the United States should prolong the time. They shall take an oath for the faithful discharge of their duties, and that they are not directly or indirectly interested in said claims at the time, and will not be during their continuance in office; and the said oath shall be recorded with their proceedings. In case of the death, sickness, or resignation of any of the commissioners, his or their place or places may be supplied by the appointment as aforesaid, or by the President of the United States during the recess of the Senate. They; or a majority of them, shall be authorized, under such regulations as the Congress of the United States may prescribe, to hear, examine, and decide on all questions touching the legality and validity of said claims, and shall, when a claim is allowed, issue a certificate to the claimant, stating the amount, distinguishing principal from interest. The certificates so issued shall be numbered, and entry made of the number, the name of the person to whom issued, and the amount, in a book to be kept for that purpose. They shall transmit the records of their proceedings, and the book in which the certificates are entered, with the vouchers and documents produced before them, relative to the claims allowed or rejected, to the Treasury Department of the United States, to be deposited therein; and the Secretary of the Treasury shall, as soon as practicable after the receipt of the same, ascertain the aggregate amount of the debts and liabilities allowed; and, if the same, when added to the amount to. be paid to Frederick Dawson, and the sum which may be paid in the redemption of the exchequer bills, shall not exceed the estimated sum of ten millions of dollars, he shall, on the presentation of a certificate of the commissioners, issue, at the option of the holder, a new certificate for the amount, distinguishing principal from interest, and payable to him or order, out of the net proceeds of the public lands hereby ceded, or stock of the United States, for the amount allowed, including principal and interest, and bearing an interest of three per cent. per annum from the date thereof; which stock, in addition to being made payable out of the net proceeds of the public lands hereby ceded, shall receivable in payment for the same. In case the amount of the debts and liabilities allowed, with the sums aforesaid to be paid to Frederick Dawson, and which may be paid in the redemption of the exchequer bills, shall exceed the said sum of ten millions of dollars, the said Secretary, before issuing a new certificate, or stock, as the case may be, shall make, in each case, such proportionable and ratable reduction on its amount, as to reduce the aggregate to the said sum of ten millions of dollars ; and he shall have power to make all needful rules and regulations necessary to carry into effect the powers hereby vested in him.

Article VII.

Until further provision shall be made, the laws of Texas, as now existing, shall remain in force; arid all executive and judicial officers of Texas, except the President, Vice President, and heads of departments, shall retain their offices, with all power and authority appertaining thereto; and the courts of justice shall remain, in all respects, as now established and organized.

Article VIII.

Immediately after the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint a commissioner, who shall proceed to Texas and receive the transfer of the territory thereof, and all the archives and public property, and other things herein conveyed, in the name of the United States. He shall exercise all executive authority in said territory, necessary to the proper execution of the laws, until otherwise provided.

Article IX.

The present treaty shall be ratified by the contracting parties, and the ratifications exchanged at the city of Washington, in six months from the date hereof, or sooner if possible.

In witness whereof, we, the undersigned, plenipotentiaries of the United States of America and of the Republic of Texas, have signed, by virtue of our powers, the present treaty of annexation, and have hereunto affixed our seals, respectively.

Done at Washington, the twelfth day of April, eighteen hundred and forty-four.

J.C. CALHOUN.                      [SEAL.]
ISAAC VAN ZANDT.               [SEAL.]

Source: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, House Doc 271 28th Cong. 1 Sess.

John Tyler, Message to the Senate Transmitting a Treaty of Annexation Concluded Between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project