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Friday, January 05, 2018

Manifest Destiny In Either Direction

On this date in 1846, the House debated:

Mr. Charles J. Ingersoll, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, to which was referred so much of the annual message of the President of the United States as relates to Oregon, reported a joint resolution (No. 5.) of notice to Great Britain "to annul and abrogate" the convention between Great Britain and the United States of August 6, 1827, relative to the country "on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Stony mountains," commonly called Oregon: which was read a first and second time.

Notable is what one Leonard Henley Sims, Representative from Missouri:

If the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth had landed first at the mouth of the Columbia, the same necessity for occupying the whole North American continent would exist that exists now. We should have pressed eastward till we had occupied the shores of the Atlantic, and southward to the Gulf of Mexico.

They say the Oregon country is poor. Then why does Great Britain want it? We have agricultural lands, and we would like to have some manufactures on the Pacific, and a share in its commerce and navigation. But, sir, much of Oregon is a fine grazing country. There you will already see flocks of sheep and herds of cattle in great numbers. How is it possible, sir, that gentlemen from the South should feel so indifferent to the acquisition of Oregon, I cannot see. I myself belong, morally and geographically, to the country south of Mason and Dixon's line. But I look upon this as an American question, and upon the country of Oregon as belonging to every portion of the American people.

Without speaking to the people of other States, he would say that, as to the people of Missouri, there was but one voice and one heart among them on this question. If the whole people of Missouri could be collected in a hollow square, and the line of 49 put before them, and the line of 54, they would all go for 54. If you put to them the question, notice or no notice, they would all go for the notice, and immediate notice.

The more you cry out, "war, war, we are in danger of war," the stronger they will go for Oregon. They were not to be thus intimidated. The western people had tried their valor on the plains of New Orleans; and if the venerated patriot, who now sleeps, in peace and honor, in the shades of the Hermitage he who refused to be buried in the tomb of a king could be permitted to give us his advice, he would say, "Go for Oregon, and for the whole of Oregon."

And here we are...


January 5, 2018 | Permalink


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