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Indians Attacking Butterfield’s Overland Dispatch Coach
April 21, 1866

Source:  Harper's Weekly Online:


"A War President"
Lewis Cass and the Election of 1848

Source: (American Political Prints 1776-1876)

Slavery Moving Through 1810-1860


John L. O’Sullivan (November 1839)
The United States Magazine and Democratic Review

Yes, we are the nation of progress, of individual freedom, of universal enfranchisement.  Equality of rights is the cynosure of our union of States, the grand exemplar of the correlative equality of individuals; and while truth sheds its effulgence, we cannot retrograde, without dissolving the one and subverting the other.  We must onward to the fulfillment of our mission-to the entire development of the principle of our organization-freedom of conscience, freedom of person, freedom of trade and business  pursuits, universally of freedom and equality.  This is our high destiny, and in nature’s eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it.  All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man-the immutable truth and beneficence of God.  For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field.  Who, then, can doubt that our county is destined to be the great nation of futurity.

Source:  Retrieving the American Past, (Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002), pg.82-83.

W. E. Channing (August 1837)
The Works of William E. Channing

    It is full time, that we should lay on ourselves serious, resolute restraint.  Possessed of a domain, vast enough for the growth of ages, it is time for us to stop in athe career of acquisition and conquest.  Already endangered by our greatness, we cannot advance without imminent peril to our institutions, union, prosperity, virtue, and peace….
    Even were the dispositions of our government most pacific and opposed to encroachment, the annexation of Texas would almost certainly embroil us with Mexico.  This territory would be overrun by adventurers; and the most unprincipled of these, the proscribed, the disgraced, the outcasts of society, would, of course, keep always in advance of the better population.  These would represent our republic on the borders of the Mexican States.  The history of the connexion of such men with the Indians, forewarns us of the outrages which would attend their contact with the border inhabitants of our southern neighbour….
    Hitherto I have spoken of the annexation of Texas as embroiling us with Mexico; but it will not stop here.  It will bring us into collision with other states.  It will, almost necessity, involve us in hostility with European powers….
    I proceed now to a consideration of what is to me the strongest argument against annexing Texas to the United States….The annexation of Texas, I have said, will extend and perpetuate slavery.  It is fitted, and, still more, intended to do so.  On this point there can be no doubt….
    I now ask, whether, as a people, we are prepared to seize on a neighbouring territory for the end of extending slavery?  I ask, whether, as a people, we can stand forth in the sight of God, in the sight of the nations, and adopt this atrocious policy?  Sooner perish!  Sooner be our name blotted out from the record of nations!…

Source:  Retrieving the American Past, (Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002), pg.86-87.

Charles Sumner (April 1847)

It can no longer be doubted that this is a war of conquest….

A war of conquest is bad; but the present war has darker shadows.It is a war for the extension of slavery over a territory which has already been purged, by Mexican authority, from this stain and curse.Fresh markets of human beings are to be established;further opportunities for this hateful traffic are to be opened; the lash of the overseer is to be quickened in new regions; and the wretched slave is to be hurried to unaccustomed fields of toil.It can hardly be believed that now, more than eighteen hundred years since the dawn of the Christian era, a government, professing the law of charity and justice, should be employed in war to extend an institution which exists in defiance of these sacred principles.

It has already been shown that the annexation of Texas was consummated for the purpose.The Mexican war is a continuance, a prolongation, of the same efforts; and the success which crowned the first emboldens the partisans of the latter, who now, as before, profess to extend the are of freedom, while they are establishing a new sphere for slavery….But it is not merely proposed to open new markets for slavery: it is also designed to confirm and fortify the “Slave Power.”…Regarding it as a war to strengthen the “Slave Power,” we are conducted to a natural conclusion, that it is virtually, and in its consequences, a war against the free States of the Union….Nor should we be indifferent to the enormous expenditures which have already been lavished upon the war, and the accumulating debt which will hold in mortgage the future resources of the country.It is impossible to estimate the exact amount of these.At this moment the cost of the war cannot be less than seventy millions.It may be a hundred millions.


David Wilmot - 1847

    All territory of the union is the common property of all the states-every member, new or old, of the Union, admitted to partnership under the constitution, has a perfect right to enjoy the territory, which is the common property of all.  Some of the territory was acquired by treaty from England-much of it by cession from older states; yet more by treaties with Indians, and still greater quantities by purchase from Spain and France;-large tracts again by the annexation of Texas-and the present war will add still more to the quantity yet to be entered by citizens of the United States, or of those of any of the countries of Europe that choose to migrate thither.  All this land, no matter whence it was derived, belongs to all the states jointly….[N]o citizen of the United States can be debarred from moving thither with his property, and enjoying the liberties guaranteed by the constitution….Any law or regulation which interrupts, limits, delays or postpones the rights of the owner to the immediate command of his service or labor, operates a discharge of the slave from service, and is a violation of the constitution….To set up therefore a pretence that if they adhere to the property they possess, they shall be deprived of their rights in the states to be formed in any acquired territory, is an unprincipled violation of a solemn treaty, an attack upon the constitution, and a gross injustice to the rights of neighboring states.  If the constitution is respected, then the rights of no member in the common property can be impaired, because it is possessed of other property distasteful to other members.