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tained. And here, while you declare, with commendable frankness, that you "would by no means be understood to vindicate the justice" (why not say the truth?) "of the declaration that war exists by the act of Mexico," yet you adhere to your vote, and animadvert upon the conduct of Mexico, in refusing to receive a minister instead of a commissioner, as if that were a vindication, apology, or extenuation! Do we live in a Christian land? Is this the nineteenth century? Does an American statesman venture any such suggestion in vindication, apology, or extenuation of war? On this point I join issue. By the Law of Nations as now enlightened by civilization, by the law of common sense, by the higher law of Christian duty, the fact presented in your vindication can form no ground of war. This attempt has given pain to many of your constituents hardly less than the original vote. It shows insensibility to the true character of war, and perverse adherence to the fatal act of wrong. It were possible to suppose a representative, not over-tenacious of moral purpose, shaken from his firm resolve by the ardors of a tyrannical majority ordaining wicked things; but it is less easy to imagine a deliberate vindication of the hasty wrong, when the pressure of the majority is removed, and time affords opportunity for the recovery of that sense of Right which was for a while overturned.
Another apology, in which you and your defenders participate, is founded on the alleged duty of voting succors to our troops, and the impossibility of doing this without voting also for the bill, after it was converted into a Declaration of Falsehood and of War. It is said that
patriotism required this vote. Is not that name profaned by this apology? One of your honored predeces
sors, Sir, a Representative of Boston on the floor of Congress, Mr. Quincy, replied to such apology, when, on an occasion of trial not unlike that through which you have. just passed, he gave utterance to these noble words : —
"But it is said that this resolution must be taken as 6 a test of Patriotism.' To this I have but one answer. If Patriotism ask me to assert a falsehood, I have no hesitation in telling Patriotism, I am not prepared to make that sacrifice.' The duty we owe to our country is, indeed, among the most solemn and impressive of all obligations; yet, high as it may be, it is nevertheless subordinate to that which we owe to that Being with whose name and character truth is identified. In this respect I deem myself acting upon this resolution under a higher responsibility than either to this House or to this people." 1
These words were worthy of Boston. May her Representatives never more fail to feel their inspiration! "But," say the too swift defenders, "Mr. Winthrop voted against the falsehood once." Certainly no reason for not voting against it always. But the excuse is still pressed, "Succors to General Taylor should have been voted." The result shows that even these were unnecessary. Before the passage of this disastrous Act of Congress, his troops had already achieved a success to which may be applied the words of Milton:
"That dishonest victory
At Chæronea, fatal to liberty."
But it would have been less wrong to leave him without succors, even if needful to his safety, than to vote falsehood and unjust war. In seeing that the republic received no detriment, you should not have regarded
1 Speech on the Resolution concerning the Conduct of the British Minister, Dec. 28, 1809: Annals of Congress, Eleventh Congress, Second Session, col. 958.
the army only; your highest care should have been that its good name, its moral and Christian character, received no detriment. You might have said, in the spirit of virtuous Andrew Fletcher, that "you would lose your life to serve your country, but would not do a base thing to save it." You might have adopted the words of Sheridan, in the British Parliament, during our Revolution, that you "could not assent to a vote that seemed to imply a recognition or approbation of the war." 1
Another apology is, that the majority of the Whig party joined with you,— or, as it has been expressed, that "Mr. Winthrop voted with all the rest of the weight of moral character in Congress, from the Free States, belonging to the Whig party, not included in the Massachusetts delegation"; and suggestions are made in disparagement of the fourteen who remained unshaken in loyalty to Truth and Peace. In the question of Right or Wrong, it is of little importance that a few fallible men, constituting what is called a majority, are all of one mind. Supple or insane majorities are found in every age to sanction injustice. It was a majority which passed the Stamp Act and Tea Tax,-which smiled upon the persecution of Galileo, which stood about the stake of Servetus, which administered the hemlock to Socrates, which called for the crucifixion of our Lord. These majorities cannot make us hesitate to condemn such acts and their authors. Aloft on the throne of God, and not below in the footprints of a trampling multitude, are the sacred rules of Right, which no majorities can displace or overturn. And the question recurs, Was it right to declare unjust and cowardly war, with superadded falsehood, in the cause of Slavery?
1 Speech, Nov. 27, 1780: Hansard, Parl. Hist., XXI. 905.
Thus do I set forth the character of your act, and the apologies by which it is shielded. I hoped that you would see the wrong, and with true magnanimity repair it. I hoped that your friends would all join in assisting you to recover the attitude of uprightness which becomes a Representative from Boston. But I am disappointed.
I add, that your course in other respects has been in disagreeable harmony with the vote on the Mexican War Bill. I cannot forget for I sat by your side at the time -that on the Fourth of July, 1845, in Faneuil Hall, you extended the hand of fellowship to Texas, although this slaveholding community was not yet received among the States of the Union. I cannot forget the toast,1 on the same occasion, by which you were willing to connect your name with an epigram of dishonest patriotism. I cannot forget your apathy at a later day, when many of your constituents engaged in constitutional efforts to oppose the admission of Texas with a slaveholding constitution, so strangely inconsistent with your recent avowal of "uncompromising hostility to all measures for introducing new Slave States and new Slave Territories into our Union."2 Nor can I forget the ardor with which you devoted yourself to the less important question of the Tariff, indicating the relative value of the two in your mind. The vote on the Mexican War Bill seems to be the dark consummation of your course.
Pardon me, if I ask you, on resuming your seat in Congress, to testify at once, without hesitation or delay, against the further prosecution of this war. Forget
1 "Our country, however bounded, still our country, to be defended by all our hands."
2 Speech at the Whig Convention in Faneuil Hall, Sept. 23, 1846.
for a while Sub-Treasury, Veto, even Tariff, and remember this wicked war. With the eloquence which you command so easily, and which is your pride, call for the instant cessation of hostilities. Let your cry be that of Falkland in the Civil Wars: "Peace! Peace!" Think not of what you call in your speeches "an honorable peace." There can be no peace with Mexico which will not be more honorable than this war. Every fresh victory is a fresh dishonor. "Unquestionably," you have strangely said, "we are not to forget that Mexico must be willing to negotiate."1 No! no! Mr. Winthrop! We are not to wait for Mexico. Her consent is not needed; nor is it to be asked, while our armies are defiling her soil by their aggressive footsteps. She is passive. We alone are active. Stop the war. Withdraw our forces. In the words of Colonel Washington, RETREAT! RETREAT! So doing, we shall cease from further wrong, and peace will ensue.
Let me ask you to remember in your public course the rules of Right which you obey in private life. The principles of morals are the same for nations as for individuals. Pardon me, if I suggest that you have not acted invariably according to this truth. You would not in your private capacity set your name to a falsehood; but you have done so as Representative in Congress. You would not in your private capacity countenance wrong, even in friend or child; but as Representative you have pledged yourself "not to withhold your vote from any reasonable supplies which may be called for "2 in the prosecution of a wicked war. Do by
1 Speech at the Whig Convention, Sept. 23, 1846.
2 Speech on the Tariff, June 25, 1846: Congressional Globe, Twenty-ninth Congress, First Session, p. 970.