Speech in United States House of Representatives: The War with Mexico, 12 January 18481
Mr Chairman:
Some, if not all the gentlemen on the other side of the House,2 who have spoken ^addressed the committee^ within the last two days, have spoken, rather complainingly, if I have rightly understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago, declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President3 I admit that such a vote should not be given, in mere party wantonness, and that the one given, is justly censurable, if it have no other, or better foundation– I am one of those who joined in that vote; and I did so under my best impression of the truth of the case– How I got this impression, and how it may possibly be removed, I will now try to show– When the war began, it was my opinion that all those who, because of knowing too little, or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the President, in the beginning of it, should, nevertheless, as good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war should be ended– Some leading democras democrats, including Ex President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand them; and I adhered to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it, were it not that the President, and his friends will not allow it to be so–

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Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every silent vote given for supplies, into an endorsement of the justice and wisdom of his conduct—besides that singularly candid paragraph, in his late message in which he tells us that Congress, with great unanimity, only two in the Senate and fourteen in the House dissenting, had declared that, "by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States," when the same journals that informed him of this, also informed him, that when that declaration stood disconnected from the question of supplies, sixtyseven in the House, and not fourteen merely, voted against it—4 besides this open attempt to prove, by telling the truth, what he could not prove by telling the whole truth—demanding of all who will not submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak out—besides all this, one of my colleagues ^(Mr Richardson)^ at a very early day in the session brings ^brought^ in a set of resolutions, expressly endorsing the original justice of the war on the part of the President–5 Upon these resolutions, when they shall be put ^on^ upon their passage & shall be compelled to vote; so that I can not be silent, if I would– Seeing this, I set ^went^ about preparing myself to give the vote understandingly when it should come– I carefully examined the President's messages, to ascertain what he himself had said and proved upon the point– The result of this examination was to make the impression, that taking all

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for true, all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification; and that the President would have gone farther with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter, that the truth would not permit him. Under the impression thus made, I gave the vote before mentioned– I propose now to give, concisely, the process of the examination I made, and the ^how I reached the^ conclusion I ^did–^ reached– The President, in his first war message of May 1846, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico; and he repeats that declaration, almost in the same language, in each successive annual message; thus showing that that he esteems that point, a highly essential one–6 In the importance of that point, I entirely agree with the President– To my judgment, it is the very point, upon which he should be justified, or condemned– In his message of Decr[December] 1846, it seems to have occurred to the President, ^him^, as is certainly true, that title-ownership– to soil, or any thing else, was ^is^ not a simple fact; but is a conclusion springin following one or more simple facts; and that it was incumbent upon him, to present the facts, from which he concluded, the soil was ours, on which the first blood of the war was shed–

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7Accordingly a little below the middle of page twelve in the Message of Decr 1846 last referred to, he enters upon that task; forming an issue, and introducing testimony, extending the whole, to a little below the middle of page fourteen– Now I propose to try to show, that the whole of this,—issue and evidence—is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception– The issue, as he presents it, is in these words "But there are those who, conceding all this to be true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed the Texan line, and invaded the teritory of Mexico–"8 Now this issue, is made up of two affirmatives and no negative; and Mr Polk is too good a lawyer to not know that is wrong, when truth is the object of pursuit– The ^main^ deception of it is, that it assumes as true, that one river or the other is necessarily the boundary; and cheats the superficial thinker entirely out of the idea, that possibly the boundary is somewhere between the two, rivers, and not actually at either– A further deception is, that it will let in evidence, which a true issue would exclude– A true issue, made by the President, would be about as follows "I say, the soil was ours, on which the first blood was shed; there are those who say

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it was not–"
I now proceed to examine the Presidents evidence, as applicable to such an issue– When that evidence is analized, it is all included in the following propositions=
1– That the Rio Grande was the Western boundary of Louisiana as we purchased it of France in 1803–
2 That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande, as her Western boundary–
3 That by various acts, she had claimed it on paper
4– That Santa Anna, in his treaty with Texas, recognised the Rio Grande, as her boundary-
5– That Texas before, and the US. after, annexation had exercised jurisdiction beyond the Nueces—between the two rivers–
6 That our Congress, understood the boundary of Texas to extend beyond the Nueces–
Now for each of these in it's turn–

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it was not" ours" I now proceed to examine the President's evidence, as applicable to such an issue as this— His first item is, that the Rio Grande was the Western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased it in 1803 of France ^in 1803;^ and seeming to expect ^this to be disputed,^ somebody to dispute with him about the truth of it, he argues over the amount of nearly a page, to prove it true; at the end of which he lets us know, that by the treaty of 1819, we sold ^to Spain^ the whole country from the Rio Grande eastward, to the Sabineto Spain— Now, admitting for the present, that the Rio Grande, was the boundary of Louisiana, what, under heaven, has ^had^ that to do with the present boundary between us and Mexico?— How, Mr Chairman, the line, that once divided your land and ^from^ mine, can still be the boundary between us, after I have sold my land to you, is, to me, beyond all comprehension— And how any man, with an honest purpose only, of proving the truth, could ever have thought of introducing such a fact to prove such an issue, is equally incomprehensible—9 His next piece of evidence is that "The Republic of Texas always claimed this river (Rio Grande) as her western boundary"10 That is not true, in fact—Texas has claimed it, but she has not always claimed it— There is, at least, one distinguished exception— Her state constitution,—the republic's most solemn, and well consid-

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ered act—that which may, without impropriety, be called her last will and testament revoking all others—makes no such claim—11 But suppose she had always claimed it— Has not Mexico always claimed the contrary? so that there is nothing but claim against claim, leaving nothing proved, until we get back of the claims, and find which has the ^better^ best foundation— Though not in the order ^in which^ the President presents his evidence, I now consider that class of his statements, which are, in substance, nothing more ^than^ that that Texas has, by various acts of her convention and Congress, claimed the Rio Grande, as her boundary, on paper– I mean here what he says about the fixing of the Rio Grande as her boundary in her old constitution (not her state constitution) about forming congressional districts, counties &c[etc.] &c–12 Now all of this is but naked claim; and what I have already said about claims is strictly applicable to this– If I should claim your land, by word of mouth, that certainly would not make it mine; and if I were to claim it by a deed which I had made myself, and with which, you had had nothing to, ^do,^ the claim would be quite the same, in substance—or rather, in utter nothingness– I next consider the President's statement that Santa Anna

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in his treaty with Texas, recognised the Rio Grande, as the western boundary of Texas– Besides the position, so often taken that Santa Anna, while a prisoner of war—a captive—could not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem conclusive—besides this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so called by the President, with Santa Anna– If any man would like to be amused by ^a sight of^ that little thing, which the President calls by that big name, he can have it, by turning to Niles' Register volume 50, page 336– And if any one should suppose that Niles' Register is a curious repository of so mighty a document, as a solemn treaty between nations, I can only say that I learned, to a tolerable degree certainty, by enquiry at the State Department, that the President himself, never saw it any where else– By the way, I believe I should not err, if I were to declare, that during the first ten years of the existence of that document, it was never, by any body, called a treaty—that it was never so called, till the President, in his extremity, attempted, by so calling it, to wring something from it in justification of himself in connection with the Mexican war– It has none of the distinguishing features of a treaty– It does not call itself a treaty– Santa Anna does not therein, assume to bind Mexico; he assumes only to act as the ^President–^ commander-

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in-chief of the Mexican Army and Navy; stipulates that the then present hostilities should cease, and that, he would not himself take up arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against Texas during the existence of the war of independence He did not recognise the independence of Texas; he did not assume to put an end to the war; but clearly indicated his expectation of it's continuance; he did not say one word about boundary, and, most probably, never thought of it– It is stipulated therein that the Mexican forces should evacuate the teritory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande; and in another article, it is stipulated that, to prevent collisions between the armies, the Texan army shall ^should^ not approach nearer than within five leagues—of what is not said—but clearly, from the object ^stated^ it is—of the Rio Grande– Now, if this is a treaty, recognising the Rio Grande, as the boundary of Texas, it contains the singular feauture, of stipulating, that Texas shall not go within five leagues of her own, boundary–13 Lest it be supposed that I misrepresent this document, I here give it entire
Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the United States, afterwards, exercising jurisdiction beyond

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the Nueces, and between the two rivers– This actual exercise of jurisdiction, is the very class ^or quality^ of evidence we want– It is first rate as ^excellent so^ far as it goes; but it does not ^it^ go far enough?– He tells us it went beyond the Nueces; but he does not tells ^us^ it went to the Rio Grande– He tells us, jurisdiction was exercised between the two rivers– but he does not tell us it was exercised over all the teritory between the^m^ two rivers- Some simple minded people, think it is possible, to cross one river ^and go beyond it^ without going all the way to the next- river that jurisdiction may be exercised between two rivers without covering all the country between them– I know a man, not very unlike myself, who exercises jurisdiction over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mississippi; and yet so much does ^far is^ this piece of land lack of ^from^ being all there is between those rivers, that it is just one hundred and fiftytwo feet long and ^by^ fifty feet wide, and no part of it much within a hundred miles of either^.^ river– He has a democratic neighbour between him and the Mississippi, —that is, just across the street, in that direction of that river—whom, I am sure, he could neither persuade nor force to give ^up^ his house & lot to him; ^habitation;^ but

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which ^nevertheless,^ he could certainly annex, if it were to be done, by merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or even, sitting down, and writing a deed for it–14
But next the President tells us, the Congress ^of the United States^ understood the state of Texas they admitted into the union, to extend beyond the Nueces– Well, I suppose they did– I certainly so understand it– But how far beyond? That Congress did not understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande, is quite certain by the fact of their joint resolutions, for admission, expressly leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. And it may be added, that Texas herself, is proved to have had the same understanding of it, that our Congress had, by the fact of the exact conformity of her new Constitution, to those resolutions–15
I am now through the whole of the President's evidence; and it is true, ^a singular fact,^ that if any one should declare that the President sent the army into the midst of ^a^ settlement of Mexican people, who had never submited, by consent or by force, to the authority of Texas or of the United States, and that there, and thereby, the first blood of the war was shed, there

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is not one word in all the President has said, which would either admit or deny the declaration– This strange omission, it does seem to me, could not have happen occurred by but by design–16 My way of living leads ^me^ to ^be^ about the courts of justice; and there, I have sometimes seen a good lawyer, struggling for his client's neck, in a desparate case, employing every artifice to work round, befog, and cover up, with many words, some point arising in the evidence ^case,^, which he dared not admit, and yet could not deny–17 Party bias may help to make it appear so; but with all the allowance I can make for that, ^such bias,^ it still ^does^ appears to me, that just such, and from just such necessity, is the President's struggle in this case–
Some time after my colleague (Mr Richardson) introduced the resolutions I have mentioned, I introduced a preamble, resolution, and interrogatories, intended to draw the President out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden ground– To show their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of the true rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico– It is, that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction, was hers; and wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction, was hers; and that whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one, from that of the other, was the true boundary between them– If, as is probably

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true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the boundary; but the uninhabited country between the two, was– The extent of our teritory in that region depended, not on any treatyfixed boundary ^(for no treaty had attempted it)^ but on revolution– Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better– This is a most valuable, —a most sacred right—a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world– Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it– Any portion of the ^such^ people of an existing government, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the teritory as they inhabit– More than this, a majority of any portion of the ^such^ people of an existing government, may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement– Such minority, was precisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution– It is not the quail a quality of revolutions, ^not^ to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones–

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As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in 1803, and sold it to Spain in 1819 ^according to the President's statements–^– After this, all Mexico, including Texas, revolutionized against Spain; and still later, Texas revolutionized against Mexico–18 ^In my view,^ Now, just so far as she carried her revolution, by obtaining the actual, willing or unwilling, submission of the people, so far, the country was hers, and no farther– Now sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very best evidence, as to whether Texas had actually carried her revolution, to the place where the hostilities of the present war commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories, I proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones– Let him answer, fully, fairly, and candidly– Let him answer with facts, and not with arguments– Let him remember he sits where Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer, as Washington would answer– As a nation should not, and the Almighty will not, be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion—no equivocation– And if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours, where the first blood of the war was shed —that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort Brown, then I am with him for his justification– In that case I,

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shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day– I have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this– I expect to give some votes, in connection with the war, which, without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety in my own judgment, but which will be free from the doubt ^h if he does so–^ with it– But if he can not, or will not do this —if on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit it, then I shall be fully convinced, of what I more than suspect already, that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong—that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him19 That originally having some strong motive —what, I will not stop now to give my opinion upon ^concerning—^—to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory —that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye, that charms to destroy—he plunged himself and the nation into it, and has swept, on and on, till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued,

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20 he ^now^ finds himself, where, he knows not where– How like the half insane mumbling of a fever-dream, is the whole war part of his late message! At one time telling us that Mexico has nothing whatever, that we can get, but teritory; at another, showing us how we can support the war, by levying contributions on Mexico– At one time, urging the national honor, the security of the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even, the good of Mexico herself, as among the objects of the war; at another, that telling us, that “to reject indemnity, ^by^ refusing to accept a cession of teritory, would be to abandon all our just demands, and to wage the war, bearing all it's expenses, without a purpose or definite object” So then, the national honor, security of the future, and every thing but teritorial indemnity, may be considered the no-purposes, and indefinite, objects of the war! But, having it now settled that teritorial indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation here, all that he was content to take, a few months ago, and the whole province of lower California to boot, and to still carry on the war—to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on– Not, when we shall have got enough, to square the books accounts, nor even to give Mexico any credit whatever, for it– Again, the President is res-

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solved, under all circumstances, to have full teritorial indemnity for the expenses of the war; but he forgets to tell us how we are to get the excess, after those expenses shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican teritory– So again, he insists that the separate national existence of Mexico, shall be maintained; but he does not tell us how this can be done, after we shall have taken all her teritory for indemnity– Lest the questions, I here suggest, be considered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying show they are not– The war has gone on some twenty months; for the expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the President now claims about one half of the Mexican teritory; and that, ^by^ far the better half, so far as concerns our making ^ability to make^ any thing out of it– It is comparatively uninhabited; so that we could establish land offices in it, and raise some money in that way– But the other half is already inhabited, as I understand it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country; and all it's lands, or all that are valuable, allre already appropriated as private property– How ^then^ are we ^to^ make any thing out of these lands with this

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incumbrance on them? or how, are we remove the incumbrance? I suppose no one will say we shall ^should^ kill the people, or drive them out, or make slaves of them, or even confiscate their property– How then can we make much out of this part of the teritory? If the prossecution of the war has, in expenses, already equalled the better half of the country, how long it's future prosecution, will be in equalling, the less valuable half, is not a speculative, but a practical question, pressing closely upon us– And yet it is a question that which the President seems to never have thought of– As to the mode of terminating the war war, and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefinite– First, it is to be done by a more vigourous ^vigorous^ prossecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemies counties, ^country;^ and, after ^apparantly,^ talking himself tired, on this point, the President drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us that "with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace" Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, and to adopt those of ours, and ^trusting in our protection,^ so ^to^ set up a government

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from which we can secure a satisfactory peace; telling us at the end, that "this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace." But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and then falls ^drops^ back on to the already half abandoned ground of "more vigorous prossecution– All this shows that the President is, in no wise, satisfied with his own positions– First he takes up one, and in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing further, ^new,^ he snatches up the old one ^again,^ which he has some time before cast off– His His mind, tasked beyond it's power, is running hither and thither, like an ant on a hot shovel, ^some tortured creature, on a burning surface,^ finding no position, on which it can settle down, and be at ease–21
Again, it is a singular omission in this message, that ^it,^ no where intimates when the President expects the the war to terminate– At the ^it's^ beginning, of the war, Genl Scott was, by this same President, driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could not be conquered in less than three or four months–22 But now, at the end of about twenty months, during which ^time^ our arms have given us the most splendid

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successes—every department, and every part, land and water, officers and privates, regulars and volunteers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things which it had ever before been thought men could not do,—at the end of ^after^ all this, this same President gives us a long message, without showing us, that, as to the end, he ^himself,^ has, even an immaginary conception– As I have before said, he knows not where he is– He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man– God grant he may be able to show, there is not something about his conscience, more painful than all his mental perplexity!

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1Abraham Lincoln wrote the text of this speech in its entirety. This manuscript version plus emendation, which were presumably inserted in the printer’s proof, is the source for a pamphlet version and a version published in the Appendix of the Congressional Globe. Except for changes in style and punctuation, the pamphlet and Globe Appendix versions follow the manuscript fairly closely. Principal variations in wording which appear in these versions are noted in footnotes. A report of the speech as delivered appears in the Congressional Globe and the Illinois Journal. The pamphlet and Globe Appendix versions have an appendix which includes the public portion of the Treaty of Velasco and Lincoln’s spot resolutions drawn from the Congressional Globe. Neither Lincoln’s manuscript nor the reports of the speech as delivered include this appendix.
Lincoln delivered this speech as the House of Representatives, as the Committee of the Whole, considered President James K. Polk’s annual message and the various resolutions referring it to the appropriate House committees.
Illinois Journal (Springfield), 10 February 1848, 1:4-6; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 154-56 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 93-95 (1848).
2Representatives from the Democratic Party.
3The vote Lincoln refers to was on George Ashmun’s amendment to a resolution expressing thanks to General Zachary Taylor and his troops. On January 3, 1848, Representative John W. Houston introduced a joint resolution of thanks to General Taylor and his soldiers. Representative Robert C. Schenck moved that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. Representative Thomas J. Henley moved to amend Schenck’s motion by adding the following: “with instructions to insert in the said resolution the following: 'engaged as they were, in defending the rights and honor of the country.’” Ashmun proposed to amend these instructions by adding at the end the following: “in a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States." The House adopted Ashmun’s amendment either by a vote of 82 yeas to 81 nays or 85 yeas to 81 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. (The House Journal and the Congressional Globe differ on the vote tabulation.) There is no evidence that the House resumed consideration of this joint resolution or its amendments. On February 7, 1848, the House passed a joint resolution of thanks to Taylor without Ashmun’s or Henley’s amendments by a vote of 181 yeas to one nay, with Lincoln voting yea. The Senate adopted the joint resolution with amendments on February 16, and the House concurred in the Senate amendments on May 4. President James K. Polk approved the resolution in final form on May 9.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 183-85, 365-66, 765, 773, 782; U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 178-79; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 95, 320 (1848).
4President Polk quoted from the preamble to an act promulgated on May 13, 1846, to prosecute the war with Mexico.
Lincoln compares the vote on the preamble alone versus the preamble when attached to the act of May 13, 1846. On May 11, 1846, the House amended the bill by striking out the first section and adding a new first section that included this preamble. The House adopted this amendment by a vote of 123 yeas to 67 nays.
When Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate included this preamble in the bill raising troops and supplies to conduct the war, the Whigs faced a dilemma. Knowing the fate of the Federalist Party for opposing the War of 1812, most congressional Whigs recognized that it was essential for their political survival to appropriate men and material to carry the war to a successful conclusion, but bristled at the idea of exonerating Polk for his culpability for instigating the conflict. In the end, only fourteen of seventy-seven Whigs in the House and two of twenty-four in the Senate voted against the act of May 13, 1846.
“An Act providing for the Prosecution of the Existing War Between the United States and the Republic of Mexico,” 13 May 1846, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):9-10; U.S. House Journal. 1846. 29th Cong., 1st sess., 792-93; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 233.
5On December 20, 1847, William A. Richardson proposed three resolutions justifying the war as “just and necessary,” and “prosecuted with the sole purpose of vindicating our national rights and honor,” and insisting that the United States “had no alternative,” in the face of repeated rejections of overture for peace, “but the most vigorous prosecution of the war, in such manner, consistent with the law of nations, as will make the enemy feel all its calamities and burthens.”
U.S. House Journal. 1847. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 131-32; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 59 (1847).
6On May 11, 1846, President Polk delivered a message to Congress recommending war against Mexico. His first and second annual messages were given on December 8, 1846 and December 7, 1847, respectively.
James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 11 May 1846, U.S. House Journal. 1846. 29th Cong., 1st sess., 784-89; James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 8 December 1846, U.S. House Journal. 29th Cong., 2nd sess., 11-42; James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 7 December 1847, U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 19-51.
7“Thorn” written above this line.
8Lincoln’s source for Polk’s quotation has not been identified. It comes from Polk’s annual message of December 1846.
James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 8 December 1846, U.S. House Journal. 29th Cong., 2nd sess., 21.
9In the pamphlet and Congressional Globe Appendix versions, Lincoln inserted here the following: “The outrage upon common right, of seizing as our own what we have once sold, merely because it was ours before we sold it, is only equalled by the outrage on common sense of any attempt to justify it.''
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 94 (1848).
10James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 8 December 1846, U.S. House Journal. 29th Cong., 2nd sess., 22.
11Drafted by a constitutional convention in July and August 1845 and accepted by the United States on December 29, 1845, upon the admission of Texas as a state, the Texas Constitution of 1845 did not specify the boundaries of the state.
John Sayles, The Constitutions of the State of Texas, 4th ed. (St. Louis: Gilbert, 1893), 185-222; Annie Middleton, "The Texas Convention of 1845," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 25 (July 1921), 26-62; “Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States,” 1 March 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):797; “Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union,” 29 December 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):108.
12Lincoln references the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, 1836. Sections six and seven of the schedule created congressional and senatorial districts.
John Sayles, The Constitutions of the State of Texas, 167.
13Santa Anna’s treaty with Texas was part of the aftermath of the Texas Revolution of 1836. On April 21, 1836, Texas forces routed Santa Anna and his army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and on April 22, the Texans took Santa Anna prisoner. On May 14, Santa Anna signed two treaties, one public and one private, which together became known as the Treaty of Velasco. In the public treaty, Santa Anna agreed to end hostilities, and in the private and confidential agreement he agreed to work to persuade the Mexican government to accept Texan independence. In exchange for these treaties, the Texans agreed to free Santa Anna and allow him to return to Mexico. The Mexican Government, however, repudiated the public agreement, arguing that it was invalid because Santa Anna was a prisoner when it was concluded.
Lincoln transcribed the public portion of the Treaty of Velasco for inclusion in the pamphlet and Congressional Globe Appendix versions of his speech.
Internal evidence from both the handwritten and printed versions of Lincoln’s speech suggests that he copied this treaty from Niles’ Weekly Register. Except for some minor differences in punctuation, Lincoln duplicates the version of the treaty from Niles’ Weekly Register, including transcribing the letter “C” instead of the letter “G” as David G. Burnet’s middle initial. The original handwritten treaty is housed at the Texas State Archives and Library Commission.
Will Fowler, Santa Anna of Mexico (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 171-73, 175, 176, 177-81; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 95 (1848); Niles’ Weekly Register (Baltimore, MD), 16 July 1836, 336:1; “The Treaty of Velasco (public),” 14 May 1836, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas., https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/velasco-public-1.html.
14“Drew” written next to this line.
15“Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States,” 1 March 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):797; “Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union,” 29 December 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):108.
16In the pamphlet and Congressional Globe Appendix versions, Lincoln replaced the sentence beginning “This strange omission,” and inserted the following: “In this strange omission chiefly consists the deception of the President's evidence---an omission which, it does seem to me, could scarcely have occurred but by design.'' The two versions have different punctuations.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 94 (1848).
17In the pamphlet and Congressional Globe Appendix versions, Lincoln emended “point arising in the case'' to “position pressed upon him by the prosecution.''
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 94 (1848).
18Mexico declared its independence from Spain on February 24, 1821. Texas rebelled against Mexico in 1835, gaining its independence after the Battle of San Jacinto. Mexico, however, refused to recognize Texas’ independence, and Republic of Texas and Mexico clashed several times in the 1840s.
Timothy J. Henderson, A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), 21; James L. Hale, Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas (New York: Free Press, 2006), 197-215.
19Allusion to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. In the pamphlet and Congressional Globe Appendix versions, Lincoln added the following: “; that he ordered General Taylor into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, purposely to bring on a war;.”
Genesis 4:1-11; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 95 (1848).
20“CR” written above this line.
21All the quotations and allusions in this paragraph are from President’s Polk’s annual message of December 7, 1847.
James K. Polk to the Senate and House of Representatives, 7 December 1847, U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 23, 32.
22President Polk and General Winfield Scott had a contentious and tenuous relationship from the beginning of Polk’s administration. A protégé of Andrew Jackson, Polk shared his mentor’s distrust of the army officer corps, seeking it as a bastion of Whiggery. Scott’s feud with Jackson, which stretched back to the War of 1812 and intensified during Jackson’s presidency, pushed Scott into the Whig camp, and his presidential ambitions further increased Polk’s suspicions of his senior general. Nevertheless, on May 13, 1846, the day he signed the declaration of war, Polk asked Scott to command the army in Mexico. Scott accepted the assignment, but Polk immediately became unhappy with Scott’s plan for equipping, training, and transporting 20,000 volunteers to the front, which he believed could not be accomplished until September 1846. Needing a quick victory in a controversial war, Polk felt that at best Scott was dragging his feet or at worst was sabotaging the war effort for political purposes. For his part, Scott believed that Polk was set on discrediting him and the army in the eyes of the public by advocating action before preparations were complete. The conflict came to a head when Scott wrote numerous inflammatory letters, which Polk used as a pretext to remove him from command. Scott remained in Washington, DC, while Zachary Taylor led the U.S. forces in Northern Mexico.
Reprimanded and consigned to administrative duties, Scott was unfazed, and he began drawing up an ambitious strategy to end the war by capturing Mexico City by way of Veracruz. By November 1846, it had become clear that Taylor’s offensive in Northern Mexico would not be decisive, and Polk recalled Scott to execute his plan. Scott launched the invasion in February 1847, and captured Mexico City in September 1847. Scott became embroiled, however, in a conflict with subordinate officers Gideon Pillow, an old friend of President Polk, and William J. Worth, resulting in Scott having both arrested. Polk and Secretary of War William L. Marcy backed Pillow and Worth, and Polk used this as a pretext to relieve Scott from command. On January 3, 1848, Polk recalled Scott from Mexico and ten days later Secretary Marcy replaced him with General William O. Butler. On January 31 and April 17, Lincoln voted for resolutions calling upon President Polk to explain Scott’s removal from command.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 331, 689-90; Walter R. Borneman, Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (New York: Random House, 2008), 293, 295-96, 298; Allan Peskin, Winfield Scott and the Profession of Arms (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2003), 132-43; Matthew Moten, Presidents and their Generals: An American History of Command in War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 98-99, 105-8, 112-14; “Scott, Winfield (1786-1866),” Webster’s American Military Biographies (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam, 1978), 372.

Autograph Document, 40 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).