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The Cuban Expedition

Brownson's Quarterly Review, October, 1850
Art. IV. - Cuba and the Cubans, comprising a History of the Island of Cuba, its present Social, Political, and Do­mestic Condition ; also, its Relation to England and the United States. By the Author of "Letters from Cuba." With an Appendix, containing important Statistical Informa­tion, and a Reply to Seiior Saco on Annexation, translated from the Spanish. New York : Hueston. 1850. 12mo. pp. 255.
This book, whose author, very much to our satisfaction, is unknown to us, may contain some valuable information on the subject of which it treats ; but it has evidently been written for the purpose of promoting a democratic revolution in Cuba, and of persuading our citizens to lend their aid in wresting that noble island from the Spanish Crown, and annexing it as a State to the American Union. This is sufficient to condemn it and its author in the minds of all honorable men, and espe­cially in the mind of every American citizen who retains some respect for international rights, and some regard for the honor of his country.
A considerable portion of our countrymen have long coveted the possession of Cuba, and our government, pretending that there was danger of its falling into the hands of Great Britain, went so far a few years since, we believe, as to make overtures to the Court of Madrid for its purchase.    But these overtures, of course, were not listened to, and the pretence proved so utterly unfounded, that the government has been  obliged  to abandon it.    Still, the desire for the acquisition of the island has continued, and many persons have thought that it could be effected by inducing and  aiding the native Cubans to revolt from Spain, establish themselves as an independent republic, and then apply for admission into the American Union.    In accordance with a plan of this sort, a military expedition was set on foot within our territories in 1849, to assist the Cuban patriots,  or  pretended Cuban  patriots,  to  revolutionize   the island.     This expedition was  prevented  for the   time  being from embarking by the intervention of the Federal government; but it has been renewed during the present year, and this time, successfully eluding the vigilance of the government, it actually effected a landing in small force, and, after a smart engagement, took possession of Cardenas, committed several murders, made the governor of the town a prisoner, burnt his palace, and robbed the public treasury.     But meeting a  determined  re­sistance, and not finding the native Cubans as ready to flock to its piratical standard  as it was expected they would be, it abandoned Cardenas, after holding possession of it for eight hours, and effected its escape, or return, to the territories of the United States,   apparently   for  reinforcements,  in  order speedily to renew the attempt in stronger force, and with a better prospect of final success.
As to the character of such an expedition against a power with whom we are at peace, or of the attempt to wrest from a friendly power one of its provinces and annex it to the Union, no matter under what pretext, there can be but one opinion among honorable men, and since its failure, the American press has been tolerably unanimous in condemning it ; but we may well doubt if the press would be thus unanimous in condemning it, if it had succeeded, or if there were a fair prospect of suc­cessfully renewing it. Had Lopez, the chief of the expedition, succeeded, we have too much reason to believe that he would have been hailed as a hero, and welcomed to a seat in the United States Senate by the side of the honorable Senators from Texas.
It cannot be denied that a portion, we would fain hope not a large portion, of the people of this country, have very loose notions of right and wrong, and, when blinded by their passions or stimulated by their interests, find little difficulty in convert­ing the pirate into the hero, and piracy and murder into wise and honorable policy. To this portion of our citizens religion and morality, municipal laws, and laws of nations have either no meaning or an odious meaning when opposed to their in­terests or their passions, their thirst for gold or their lust for the acquisition of territory. Regarding the will of the people as the supreme law, and by a natural and easy process confound­ing the will of the people with the will of the mob, or the will of the people as the state with the will of the people outside of the constitution and laws, they hold that what any portion of the people wish and are able to do, they have the unquestion­able and indefeasible right to do. Mistaking the sound and legal republicanism held by our fathers, and incorporated into our noble institutions, for wild and lawless radicalism, they assert the right of the people, or rather the mob, in every country, to rebel, whenever they please, against their legitimate sovereign, to overthrow with armed force the existing order whenever it ceases to suit their fancy or caprice, and to institute such new order in its place as shall seem to them good. Starting with this revolutionary principle, and assuming that all who avail themselves of it, and rise in arms against their sovereign, are necessarily the party of freedom, struggling for liberty, for the inalienable rights of man, they assume that the cause of such party is always the cause of justice, of humanity, of God, and therefore that we are all free to rush to their aid, to assist them with our sympathy, our counsel, our treasure, our arms, and our blood, irrespective of existing laws, the rights of sover­eigns, or the faith of treaties. Hence we find them always sympathizing with rebels, or party at war with their rulers, applauding their, prowess, rejoicing in their victories over the friends of order and legitimate authority, and mourning over their defeat. And hence these see in the attempts of the pirate Lopez and his crew nothing but the practical application of their own deeply cherished principles.
The fact that Lopez, after his return to the United States, was greeted with loud and prolonged applause, when he as­sured the citizens of Savannah that he had not abandoned his enterprise, but had consecrated his whole life to the liberation of Cuba, indicates only too clearly that these principles are by no means unpopular, at least in certain sections of the country. Indeed, the number of those who, if not ready to join actively in such an expedition as Lopez and his associates fitted out, yet hold that the Cubans have a perfect right, and we a perfect right to assist them, to rebel against their sovereign, to revolu­tionize the island, and, with the consent of our government, to annex themselves to the Union, is much larger, we fear, than a good citizen who regards the honor of his country is will­ing to believe, - so little value is placed upon the rights of sovereignty, and so little respect is paid even to the rights of property.
Certainly, we are far from asserting or insinuating that any considerable portion of our citizens are sufficiently depraved to join actively in a piratical attempt like that made by the recent Cuban expedition, but such an attempt is not wholly incom­patible with the political creed of perhaps a majority of our countrymen. According to the plan of the conspirators, the citizens of this country were to appear to the world only as the allies or auxiliaries of the people of Cuba. It was assumed that there was, or that there could be created, a Red Repub­lican party among the Creole population of the island, and it was through these that possession of it was to be obtained. The Cubans themselves were to appear before the world as the prime movers of the enterprise and chief actors in it. They were to proclaim themselves a republic, independent of Spain, and we were simply to enlist under their banner, and to aid them in achieving their independence. Annexation would, it was supposed, follow republicanism and indepen­dence, as a matter of course. This was the plan, and we can see nothing in it inconsistent with the doctrines advocated by the whole body of American demagogues, and by nearly the whole American newspaper press. Once lay it down, as nearly all our politicians of late have been in the habit of doing, that the people may rebel against the sovereign authority of the state when they judge proper, and that, irrespective of pre-existing constitutions and laws, they are sovereign and the legitimate source of all political power, and it is impossible for you to point out any thing wrong or censurable in the attempt to get possession of Cuba in the way proposed, that is, by re­bellion, murder, and robbery. According to these principles, the Creoles of Cuba, however few in number, or insignificant in position, who were dissatisfied with the Spanish government, or uneasy and merely desirous of a change, had a right to as­sume to be the people of Cuba, in whom vests the national sovereignty, and to organize themselves into a provisional gov­ernment, and speak and act in the name of the universal Cuban nation. If they had this right, on the same principles our citizens, as many of them as chose, had the right to treat them as the independent and sovereign people of Cuba, and as such to join with them, and assist them in effecting their indepen­dence, and consolidating their authority over the whole island ; for according to the popular political creed of this country, de­mocracy is the native inherent right of every people, the only-legitimate form of government, and therefore the national sover­eignty must always vest in the party struggling to maintain or to establish democracy. Either, then, we must say that Lopez and his crew are not censurable, except for their imprudence and ill-success, or abandon our popular political creed. If we hold on, as the mass of our politicians do, and no doubt will for some time to come, to the principles of that creed, it is only by a logical inconsequence that we can condemn the Cuban or any expedition of the sort.
But our politicians would do well to reflect that a people cannot hold and act on principles which would justify such an expedition, without placing themselves out of the pale of civil­ized nations, and authorizing the civilized world to treat them as a nest of pirates, and to make war on them as the common foe of mankind. Especially must this be so, when they avow and act on such principles against a power with which their government has treaties of peace and amity, as our government has with Spain. With such a people, having a popular form of government, which must in the long run, to a great extent at least, yield to the popular will, however expressed, no nation can live in peace ; for they hold themselves bound neither by the laws of nations nor by the faith of treaties. No nation within reach of their influence can ever be safe from their machinations ; and every one must be perpetually in danger of having them stir up its subjects to rebellion, and through them to strip it of its territories, and finally blot out its national existence. Friendly relations with such a people are out of the question, and the common interests of nations and of so­ciety must ultimately league the whole civilized world against them to exterminate them, or to be exterminated by them.
We are too sincere a patriot and too loyal a citizen to be­lieve that the majority even of those who adhere to these false and detestable principles are aware of the horrible consequences which legitimately flow from them.    It is but common candor to regard them as better than their principles, and to presume that, in general, they do not understand the real nature of the doctrines they profess, and indeed seem to glory in professing. They are no doubt greatly blinded by their passions, and misled by their insane thirst of gold and territorial acquisition, but much of their error originates in misapprehension of the true nature of their own political institutions.    These institutions are republican, indeed, and repugnant to both monarchy and politi­cal  aristocracy,  but  they  are  not democratic,  either in the ancient or the modern sense of that term.    Anciently, as in Athens, where the word originated, democracy meant a gov­ernment possessed and administered by the common people, in distinction from the Eupatrids, or nobles ; in modern times, it means the absolute and underived sovereignty of the people, or the native and inherent right of the multitude to do whatever they please, and is necessarily resolvable into anarchy or the despotism of the mob.   Our institutions are democratic in neither of these senses : not in the former, for they recognize no politi­cal distinction   of common  people  and Eupatrids, lords   and commons ;   not in  (he latter, for they recognize no political power in the people save as constitutionally defined and exer­cised in virtue of and accordance with legal forms, and they make it high treason to rebel against the state, or to levy war against its sovereign authority.    Under our political system, the people are the motive force, but not the governing power, and are, theoretically, neither the government nor the source of its rights.     The constitution and laws are above them.     Suffrage is not with us a natural right, an incident of one's manhood, but a public trust conferred by law, and capable of being ex­tended or contracted by municipal regulation.
But American politicians generally, not of one party only, for in this respect Whigs and Democrats do not essentially differ, have of late years overlooked this important fact, and, corrupted by French Jacobins, and English and  Scotch radicals, have sought to give to our institutions a democratic inter­pretation in the modern sense of the word. They cease to hold the laws sacred, and the constitution inviolable, and noth­ing is for them sacred or obligatory, but the arbitrary and irre­sponsible will of the multitude. According to them, the will of the people overrides constitutions and laws, and is the only au­thority to be consulted by the statesman, and, they are well-nigh prepared to say, by the moralist and the divine. He must be an obtuse dialectician indeed, who fails to perceive, when his attention is called to the point, that it is a necessary corollary from a democracy of this sort, that the people, or any number,of persons calling themselves the people, have the right to rebel against the state when they choose, and change its constitution as they please. This doctrine, of course, strikes at all legality, all legitimacy, abrogates all law, municipal or international, renders loyalty an unmeaning word, and leaves the people, theoretically at least, in a state of pure anarchy and lawlessness. It denies all government by denying to gov­ernment all sacredness and inviolability, and leaves us free to follow our own instincts, passions, lusts, and supposed interests, without regard to municipal law, the laws of nations, or the ob­ligations of treaties. Our error lies in our adhesion to the fun­damental principles of this false democracy, a democracy of foreign, not of native growth, and as anti-American as it is anti-national and anti-social. It is the prevalence of this false democracy amongst us that has in some measure blinded us, and rendered the mass of our people apathetic to the reprehensible character of the recent conduct of a portion of our citizens towards Spain, Mexico, and even Great Britain.
It, of course, will be easy for our demagogues and our rad­ical press to call us hard names for these remarks, to denounce us as the enemy of free institutions and the friend of tyrants and aristocrats, and to drown the voice of truth and justice by senseless shouts of " Popular Sovereignty," " The Rights of Man," " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," or other p> ilar watchwords which have convulsed the nations of the Old World, consecrated rebellion, and instituted the worship of the dagger ; but it will nevertheless remain still true, that a large portion of the American people have lost sight of the principles of their own institutions, and embraced principles which they cannot avow and act on without deserving to be placed outside of the pale of civilized nations, and which, if continued to be held and acted on, must in the end sink us to the level of the Asiatic Malays. There is no use in seeking to de­ceive ourselves. There is a spirit abroad among us, working' in the very heart of our population, that, unless speedily exor­cised, must ultimately, if our power continues to increase at its present ratio, make us the deadliest foe of Christian civilization that has arisen since Attila the Hun, and the early Saracenic and Turkish successors of the Arabian impostor.
It cannot be denied, and should not be disguised, that we are fast adopting the principles, and following in the footsteps, of the  old  French  Jacobins.    We are preparing to enter, and would that we could say we have not entered, upon a career of Jacobinical propagandists and territorial acquisition.     Other nations see this, and therefore see in us the future disturbers of the peace of the world.    Hence, while they admire our in­dustrial activity, our enterprise and energy in the material or­der, they detest our principles, and hold our national charactex1 in low esteem.    It is idle for us to cherish the delusion, that the' estimation in which the nations of the Old World hold us is owing to our republicanism and free institutions.    It is no such thing.    It is because they see in us, as a nation, no loyalty, no high moral aims, no lofty principles of religion and virtue, but a low, grovelling attachment to the world, the deification of material interests, and the worship of the " almighty dollar." It is because they see us becoming democratic propagandists, and sympathizers with the rebels against legitimate authority, the peace and order of society, wherever we find them, and ready to decree an ovation to every popular miscreant, who, after having lighted the flames of rebellion and civil war in his own country, flies hither to save his neck from the halter it so richly merits.    It is because we respect not the rights of sov­ereignty, the independence of nations, or the faith of treaties, and have proved ourselves capable of stirring up the citizens of a state with which we are at peace to a rebellion against its sovereign authority, for the sake of stripping it, through them, of a portion of its territory, and incorporating it into the Union.
Unhappily for our reputation, the recent military expedition against Cuba is not an isolated fact or an anomaly in our brief national history. It stands connected with our act of robbing Mexico of Texas, and annexing it to the Union. Texas was a Mexican province chiefly settled by American emigrants, who by settling it became Mexican citizens and subjects. These Americo-Mexicans, in concert with our citizens, and, it is said, with persons in high official station under our government, rebelled against the Mexican authorities, and by means of volun­teers, money, arms, and munitions of war from the States, suc­ceeded in achieving independence. As soon as this was achieved, or assumed to be achieved, the Republic of Texas applied to our government for admission into the American confederacy. Her application was indeed rejected by Mr. Van Buren, who was then President of the United States, and whose management of our foreign relations, little as we esteem that gentleman, we are bound to say, were creditable to him­self and to his country ; but it was renewed and accepted under his successor, and in 1845 Texas became one of the United States, and sent, as one of her representatives in the American Senate, the very man who is said to have concerted with Pres­ident Jackson and others the robbery, and who certainly was the chief to whom its execution was intrusted. Here was a great national crime, not yet expiated ; and here was set a pre­cedent not a little hostile to the nations that have territory con­tiguous to ours.
We acknowledge personally, with shame and regret, that, though opposed to the revolt of Texas from Mexico, and to the aid which she received from this country by the connivance of the government, we were, after her independence was an ac­knowledged fact, among those who, for certain political rea­sons, of less weight than we were led to believe, advocated her annexation to the Union. It is true, we repudiated the prin­ciples on which she and our countrymen defended her conduct, and we sought to make out a case of legality in her favor ; but, nevertheless, we were wrong, and are heartily sorry for what we did, and our only consolation is that we were too insignifi­cant to have had any influence on the result, one way or the other. But be this as it may, the recent expeditions for revo­lutionizing and annexing Cuba are historically connected with this great national crime. No sooner had Texas been annexed than the rage for annexation seemed to have become universal. Mr. Yulee, the Jew-Senator from Florida, immediately brought forward in the Senate a proposition for the acquisition of Cuba. Mr. Dallas, Vice-President of the United States, in the same year, 1845, gave, at a public dinner, the annexation of Cuba, as a toast, and in 1847 wrote a letter in favor of the appropria­tion of that island, as essential to his plans for the aggrandize­ment of the Union. Early in 1845 the press began to advo­cate the annexation of California, another province of Mexico, and it should be remembered that Colonel Fremont, an officer of the United States army, before he had learned that war exist­ed between us and the Mexican republic, actually, by the aid of American residents, got up a revolution in that province, and declared it independent of the Mexican authorities. Here the game of Texas was begun to be played over again, and it is not insignificant that this same Colonel Fremont is sent to repre­sent California in the Federal Senate, now that she is admitted as a State into the Union. There can be no reasonable doubt, that both California and New Mexico would have been annexed to the Union a la Texas, if the war with the Mexican repub­lic had not given us an opportunity of acquiring them in a more honorable manner, that is, openly by the sword. It was, as the papers said, "manifest destiny," and it is a prevailing be­lief among our politicians that the annexation of the whole of Mexico, and even of Central America, is only a question of time. The fever of annexation broke out eveji on our northern frontier, and if Great Britain had not appeared to us to be a more formidable power than Spain or Mexico, the Canadian Annexationists and Red Republicans would have received all the aid they needed to sever their connection with the British empire, and '•..; become incorporated with the United States. A war with Great Britain was not deemed prudent for the mo­ment, and the annexation of Canada is, for the present, post­poned. Pirate does not fight pirate, or even man-of-war, if the encounter can be avoided.
Now, in judging the bearing on our national character of the recent expedition of our citizens against Cuba, which it is well known both our people and our government are extremely anxious to possess, these facts must be taken into the account; and they show that it is not an isolated act, but one of a series of acts of like character, and of acts, too, which have received, at least in the case of Texas, even the sanction of the Fed­eral government. What our citizens had done in the case of Texas and California, what was to prevent them from doing in the case of Cuba ? and if the government connived at their conduct, and finally sanctioned it in the instance of fraudulently appropriating a province of Mexico, why should it not do the same in the instance of fraudulently appropriating a province of Spain ? Viewed in the light of our previous conduct, the ex­pedition to Cuba ceases to be merely the act of the adventurer Lopez and a few nameless and lawless individuals, the spawn of New York and New Orleans, Washington and Cincinnati, who were induced to engage in it, and becomes in some sort an act for which the American people themselves are responsi­ble, and other nations at least will, and have the right to, so regard it. The proposed Cuban republic, provisionally or­ganized, had its juntas, clubs, or agents in our principal cities ; the forces raised were chiefly our own citizens, under officers who had served under our flag in Mexico ; the regiments were numbered and named after individual Slates, as if they had been United States troops ; and the papers, - no bad index to public sentiment, - in announcing the killed and wounded in the attack on Cardenas, used the very terms they would have used if they had in fact been so. It is not unfair, then, to assume that the people of this country did to a great extent ac­tually sympathize with that expedition ; that they were so desirous of acquiring Cuba, and so indifferent as to the means, that their moral sense took no alarm at acquiring it in the man­ner we had acquired Texas ; and that, if they regarded the pro­ceedings as somewhat irregular, they yet were extremely ap­athetic to their moral turpitude. If, as no doubt was the fact, they were for the most part unprepared to take any very active part in furthering the nefarious proceedings, it is clear that they were not unwilling that they should go on and succeed. The expedition, if successful, would give us Cuba, the key to the Gulf of Mexico, open to us the final annexation of all the West Indies, liberate Cuba from the dark despotism of Spain, per­haps from the darker despotism of Rome, and introduce the oppressed Creoles to the advantages of our free institutions, of our Bible societies, and sectarian religion, and enrich us with the spoils of its churches and religious houses, supposed to be immensely rich. So the end would justify the means. If such had not been the public sentiment of our people, especially in our principal cities, and in the South and Southwest, the con­spirators could never have carried on their operations within the jurisdiction of the United States in the public manner they did ; they would have been denounced to the public authori­ties, and ample evidence would have been forthcoming for their conviction.
No doubt there was a large body of our citizens, passive in regard to nearly all public matters, that had never heard of Lopez, or the attempt to organize an expedition against Cuba, nay, who have not yet heard any thing of either ; no doubt there was a respectable number of enlightened and moral citi­zens, who were from the first indignant at the very thought of setting on foot such an expedition within our jurisdiction, and no doubt, again, that a large majority of our people, now the subject  is   brought  distinctly before   them,   and   its   enormity pointed out, are prepared to repudiate it; but it is still unde­niable that the rumors of the attempt to organize such an ex­pedition did not alarm the public mind, and the news of its embarking was received rather with approbation than horror. The iniquity of the proceeding did not strike the mass of the people till after " the sober second thought" induced by its ridiculous failure.    The feelings and wishes, the sympathies, of that whole body of citizens who usually give tone to our com­munity, and determine the action and policy of the American people, were decidedly with Lopez and his piratical associates, not in the least with the friendly power about to be so griev­ously wronged.     This portion of our citizens, whose dominant sentiment ordinarily represents that of the country, for ordinari­ly the less, not the more, worthy public sentiment predominates, saw nothing morally wrong in the nefarious proceeding, nothing, indeed, but the somewhat bold application of their own princi­ples.    It is this undeniable fact that authorizes us to say that the Cuban expedition met the popular sympathy, and that the American people as a body are to no inconsiderable extent im­plicated in its guilt, if not actively, at least passively.    It is this fact, again, which gives to that expedition its chief im­portance.
Even among those who opposed the proceedings in this case, as in that of Texas, comparatively few opposed them pri­marily and chiefly on the ground of their injustice to Spain, of their being a violation of the laws of nations, the faith of treaties, the rights of sovereignty, and the rights of property. They opposed the expedition for the same reasons that the South and Southwest favored it, because it was supposed that the acquisition of Cuba would strengthen the cause of negro slavery, and retard or wholly hinder its final emancipation. They reasoned that it must not be encouraged, because it was not an "Abolition" or a "Free Soil" measure. The question, therefore, was discussed, as far as discussed at all, after the manner of the English and American mind, on a collateral issue, not on its intrinsic merits. This of itself shows that the essential principle involved in it as a moral and international question was not regarded, even by not a few of the opponents of the expedition, as grossly immoral, and that even with them the rights of Spain, the laws of nations, and the faith of trea­ties, in themselves considered, counted for little, and were worth urging only when favorable to the views and purposes of a certain portion of our own citizens. The controversy, as far it went on, was confined to a purely local and domestic ques­tion, and became only a branch of the general controversy which has been for some time raging between the Northern and Southern sections of the Union. It is this fact, again, which has deceived so many otherwise well-disposed citizens. If the independence and annexation of Texas had been discussed on its merits, not in its relation to negro slavery, a matter of great indifference to many of us, there was still moral soundness enough in the American people, we doubt not, to have saved us from the great national and international crime we commit­ted ; and if the independence and annexation of Cuba could have been presented to the American people in its true light, free from all connection with the same subject, we owe it to our countrymen to say, that we have no doubt that a majority of them would have repudiated the proposition with indigna­tion. But the fact that it was not so presented and discussed was their own fault, and they must be held responsible for its consequences.
Thus far we have considered the Cuban expedition in its relation to the political principles and popular sentiments of the American people, as distinguished from the American govern­ment ; but it is necessary to go farther, and consider the dispo­sitions and acts of the government in regard to it. The con­duct of the American people outside of the government, or rather of the active minority, by which they are usually repre­sented, if not as bad as appearances indicate, is still gravely reprehensible, and extremely mortifying to all who are alive to the honor of their country. But notwithstanding this, the gov­ernment itself may have had honorable intentions, and been really in earnest to discharge its obligations towards Spain, with whom it has treaties of peace and friendship. Is such the fact ? Has it all along acted in good faith ? Has it failed to perform its duty through incapacity, or has it aimed to do no more than necessary to save appearances, and to avoid an open rupture with Spain ?
We wish to speak of the government with, the loyal respect the citizen always owes to the supreme political authority of his country, and we do not allow ourselves rashly to judge its intentions. It was bound to peace relations with Spain by express treaty,, made in 1795, and subsequently confirmed, the first article of which stipulates " that there shall be firm and inviolable peace and sincere friendship between the two govern­ments and their respective citizens and subjects, without ex­ception of persons or places."    Under this and other clauses of the same treaty, the United States were bound to use all neces­sary force to repress and punish all acts hostile to Spain, or any of her provinces or colonies, committed within their jurisdiction. The treaty, we need not say, is the supreme law of the land, and as binding on the citizen as on the government itself.    The citizens of a state cannot be legally at war with a power with which their government is at peace, and their hostile acts are its acts if it neglect to use all its power, if needed, to prevent or chastise them ;  for the government under the laws of nations, even in the absence of treaty stipulations, is responsible to for­eign powers for the acts of all persons within its jurisdiction. Undoubtedly it is excused from all hostile intention, if it does all in its power to prevent hostile acts on the part of its subjects, or persons within its jurisdiction, or if, failing wholly to pre­vent, it is prompt to put forth its whole power to repress them, and bring the offenders to justice ; for no government can at all times and under all circumstances control the entire conduct of every person within its jurisdiction.    But with this reserve, under the law of nations, the government is responsible for the conduct of all persons within its jurisdiction, and especially when the law of nations is defined, and, so to speak, intensified, by express treaty obligations.    Our government was then bound to exert all its vigilance and power, if needed, to prevent the beginning or setting on foot within its jurisdiction, and much more the embarking, of the military expedition against Cuba. This was clearly its duty, and any thing short of this was short of what Spain had the undoubted right to expect and to require at its hands.    It owed it, also, to Spain and to its own majesty to execute the full rigor of its own municipal law against the persons implicated in that expedition.
But our government, owing to the fact of its having connived at the rebellion of Texas, of its having, against the protest of Mexico, incorporated that province into the Union, and of its having gone to war with Mexico, and still further dismembered her, because she would not peaceably submit to be robbed of her territory, had given Spain ample reason to distrust its profes­sions except so far as backed by deeds, and to regard it as ca­pable of repeating its previous dishonorable and criminal con­nivance at rebellion, murder, and robbery. All the world knew that Texas had been wrested from Mexico by American citizens, or persons within our jurisdiction, without opposition from our government, and it was by no means improbable, a priori, that what it had consented to see done in the case of Texas, it might be willing to have done in the case of Cuba. Spain had seen in our relations with Mexico the manner in which we were capable of interpreting our treaties of peace and amity with for­eign powers, and might reasonably suspect us of being no further opposed to the Cuban expedition than was necessary to save appearances. This undoubtedly was the view taken by the movers and friends of the expedition ; otherwise we can hardly suppose they would have dared, knowing, as they must have known, the stringent nature of our laws, to commit the acts they did within the Federal jurisdiction. Our government, if it acted really in good faith, was therefore bound, at least for its own sake, to more than ordinary vigilance and activity in pre­venting or suppressing the enterprise, and bringing its partici­pators, aiders, and abettors to justice.
We doubt not the honest intentions of the government, but we must say that, so far from exerting this extraordinary vigi­lance or activity, it has undeniably failed in the full and prompt discharge of its duty both to Spain and to its own character. We are forced to this conclusion by a series of facts and con­siderations which seem to us to leave no room for doubt. The government can be said to have done its duty only on the sup­position that it could not detect the proceedings of the conspir­ators, or that it lacked power to arrest them, or was unable to procure the evidence necessary to establish juridically their guilt. No one of these suppositions is admissible, least of all the second ; for the government itself would not thank the friends who should undertake to defend it on the ground of its inability to fulfil its treaty obligations, and to execute its own laws. Such a line of defence the government would be prompt to repudiate, as it would place it in the most humiliating light before the nations of the world, and authorize them to refuse to enter into any treaty stipulations with it.
The proposition to acquire Cuba by means of revolutionizing it was before the country, and discussed in the public journals. Every body knew, or might have known, that, as far back at least as 1848, there was a movement concerted with American citizens, to be efficiently supported by us, going on in Cuba and some of our cities, to get up a republican revolution in Cuba, and that this revolution was intended to result in its indepen­dence and ultimate annexation to the Union.    Of all this the government could not have been uninformed. It was equally well known that the movement in certain sections of the Union met with great favor, that it accorded with the wishes of the country, and even of the government so far as the simple acqui­sition of Cuba was concerned, and throughout with the popular democratic creed of the great body of our politicians and of our newspaper press generally. Here was enough to place a loyal and competent government on its guard, and induce it to take active and efficient measures to preserve the peace relations be­tween us and Spain, and to prevent its treaty obligations with that government from being violated by persons within its juris­diction. Unhappily, it did nothing of the sort. Public men, men high in social, and even official station, were advocating the acquisition of Cuba, the press, especially at the Southwest, was busy manufacturing public opinion for the country, and urging the violation of the rights of property, the law of na­tions, and the faith of treaties, and the government was silent and inactive ; its organs were dumb, and it did and said nothing to give its deluded subjects any reason to believe that it would be more disposed to execute its laws against a Cuban, than it had been against a Texan, military expedition. Had the gov­ernment been really loyal, really disposed to respect the rights of Spain, and to fulfil its duties towards her, it may be asked why it did not exert itself in the beginning to correct the false opinion that the citizens of this country have a right to engage in a project for revolutionizing a province or colony of a friendly power, and of wresting it from its lawful sovereign, as well as the grave error that they could do all this without implicating the government in their guilt. At any rate, would it not, since its past delinquency had made it necessary, have assured its misguided subjects in the outset, that it would not suffer them to make the attempt with impunity ? Yet it took no notice of what was going on, and suffered the false opinion to spread, till it became a power all but impossible to be controlled.
It is true that the military expedition fitted out in 1849 was prevented from embarking by the intervention of the govern­ment. But its destination was no secret ; and the adventurers were set at liberty, without even the form of a trial, permitted to retain their arms and ammunition, and suffered to disperse themselves over the Union without receiving the punishment, or any portion of the punishment, which our laws annex to the high misdemeanour of which they were unquestionably guilty. Why was not the full rigor of the law executed against them ?  Had it been, others would have been deterred from engaging in similar expeditions. The very fact that they were let off without being punished was well calculated to produce the con­viction, unfounded we are willing to believe, that the govern­ment itself was at heart not ill disposed to their enterprise, and would do no more to prevent its execution than was strictly necessary to avoid an open rupture with Spain. It is idle to pretend that no sufficient proof could be obtained to convict them. Proof enough could have been obtained if the govern­ment had really wanted it, and earnestly sought for it; for the real character and objects of the expedition were well known, were matters of public notoriety, and it is not likely that they were incapable of being juridically established.
As was to be expected, the impunity extended to the mili­tary expedition of 1849 served only to encourage another. That had failed in consequence of appointing its rendezvous within the jurisdiction of the United Slates. The new expedi­tion had only to avoid that error, by assembling at some point without that jurisdiction ; from such point or points it could em­bark for its piratical attack on Cuba, free from the apprehension of being interrupted by the officers of the Union. It accord­ingly adopted that precaution, and, as is well known, with com­plete success. If it failed in its ulterior objects, it was owing, not to the vigilance or the activity of our government, but to the precautions taken by the Spanish authorities, and the unex­pected loyalty of the Cuban population. The Cuban demo­crats appear to have been from home, and the Red Republican demonstration proved a complete failure, to the no small honor of our Creole neighbours.
The government could not have been ignorant of the attempt to set on foot this new expedition within its jurisdiction. No sooner had it dismissed the adventurers from Round Island, than military preparations were recommenced in New York, Boston, and especially New Orleans ; men were enlisted, drilled in the use of arms, and despatched to Chagres, or other points out of the Union, and all in the most public manner. The ad­venturers hardly attempted to conceal their destination, and os­tentatiously displayed the cockade and colors of the proposed Cuban republic. The publishers of the New York Sun hoisted on their office the new flag of Cuba, and openly en­gaged in acts hostile to Spain. The advertisements and proc­lamations of the revolutionary junta were inserted in the pub­lic journals", and bonds made payable on the revenues of the island of Cuba were issued, to procure money for raising troops and exercising them in the use of arms. The conspirators car­ried their effrontery so far as to insert in the public journals of Washington, under the very nose of the government, an adver­tisement announcing the formation of a permanent junta des­tined to promote the political interests of Cuba, that is, to revolutionize the island. These acts, done openly, before all the world, of a nature easily traceable to their perpetrators, could not have been unknown to the government, unless it chose to remain ignorant of them. The Spanish Minister, as early as the 19th of January of this year, called the attention of the government to them. The Secretary, Mr. Clayton, is­sued, indeed, a feeble and indolent circular, on the 22d of the same month, to the District Attorneys of Washington, New York, and New Orleans, enjoining upon them to observe what should be passing in their respective districts ; but with no ap­parent result. These attorneys excused themselves from pros­ecuting the offenders, on the pretence that an overt act was necessary to justify the commencement of proceedings against them, - a pretence as creditable to their legal attainments as to their loyalty. The law declares, " That if any person shall within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States begin, or set on foot, or provide or prepare the means for, any military expedition or enterprise, to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominions of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States are at peace, every person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and shall be fined not exceeding tliree thousand dollars, and imprisoned not more than three years." *(footnote:* Statutes of the United States, 1818, chap. 88, sec. 6.)  The journals, by publishing the advertisements and proclamations of the conspirators, as well as the conspira­tors themselves, were guilty under this law, and liable to its penalties ; for the law makes the very beginning or attempt to get up such expedition or enterprise a high misdemeanour, as these district attorneys, if lawyers, must have known perfectly well. The district attorneys were probably not unfavorable to the expedition, and had no wish to interfere with it any fur­ther than they could help, and the Secretary of State, though well disposed himself, probably did not judge it necessary to insist with energy on their performance of their official duties. The crimes had been committed in their districts, and it was their duty to have prosecuted the offenders, and nobody can really be so simple as to believe that they could not have ob­tained the requisite evidence for their conviction, if they had sought it. But the government ought to be responsible for their neglect, for they were its agents.
The conspirators continued their operations, without the government's taking any efficient measures to arrest them. On the 8th of May, the Spanish Minister, M. Calderon de la Barca, writes to the Secretary again, and from this date continues in frequent communications to furnish him with precise infor­mation and detailed proofs of the movements of the conspirators, till the final departure of the expedition from the United States. Yet till its final departure nothing could excite the Secretary to activity ; but then, after the expedition had sailed, and there was no probability of being able to intercept it before it should effect a landing on the island, he despatched a vessel of war to the port of Havana, where there was no danger, and where there could be no expectation of encountering the pirates, with orders to observe the motions of vessels approaching that port, in order to ascertain if there had been commenced any military expedition or enterprise to be directed from the United States against the territory or the dominions of Spain !
This order strikes us as being little better than a mockery. To despatch a vessel of war on a cruise of observation to ascer­tain a well-known fact, - a fact already with detailed proofs be­fore the government, - was, to say the least, wholly unneces­sary, and calculated only to throw doubts on the good faith of the government. Then the fact that it was despatched only after the piratical expedition had embarked, when it was loo late to intercept it, and to the port of Havana, the best guarded and least exposed port of the island, and where nobody expected the pirates would attempt to effect their landing, could only in­dicate either the extreme inefficiency of the government, or its good-will to the pirates, and wish not to interfere with their sport of murder and robbery. The fact of the non-interference of the government till the last moment, and its inefficient inter­ference even then, are well calculated to throw doubts on its good faith, and to create a painful suspicion, which, however, we repudiate, that it was willing to connive at the expedition, - at least so far as to give it a fair chance of succeeding, if it could. At any rate, the facts we have detailed prove a culpable failure of the late administration in the discharge of its duty to Spain, and in the execution of the laws of the Union, and if Mr. Clayton thought to obtain credit with honorable men for his vigilance and promptness, he made a mistake.
We cannot but remark that Mr. Secretary Clayton's lan­guage is far more energetic when he has some pretence for asserting that Spain has infringed or is likely to infringe the rights of American citizens. He had remained nearly apathetic while the conspirators were at work in fitting out their expedi­tion against Cuba, and nothing could induce him to take efficient measures to arrest them. Our treaty obligations with Spain and our own laws were violated in open day, and he could at most only be induced to issue some indolent and tardy order to his subordinates to make observations. But when Spain, not exactly within her jurisdiction, but on a desert island close to her shores, takes a portion of the military expedition prisoners, he is incited to an unwonted degree of energy. The boot is on the other leg now, and he writes - we translate from the Courier des Etats- t/ms, not having the original despatch before us - to Mr. Campbell, our Consul at Havana, - " If the facts. relative to their capture are as reported, the President is re­solved that the eagle shall protect them from all punishment except such as may he inflicted on them by the tribunals of their own country. Tell the Count of Alcoy to send them back to the United States, where they will find a punishment worse than any that he can inflict on them, if they are honora­ble men, in the reprobation they will meet from all right-minded persons, for having made an attempt against the good faith of a nation that prefers its reputation for integrity to all the Antilles together." This is in some respects no less amusing than grandiloquent. The supposition that men enlisted in a pirati­cal expedition are honorable men is somewhat comical, and the suggestion that they would meet a heavier punishment for their crimes in the public opinion of their own country than any the Count of Alcoy could inflict on them, when that public opinion was in favor of their enterprise, and so strongly in favor of it that the Secretary himself wellnigh lacked the courage to brave it, is original, and shows that the late Secretary of State has one of the qualities, if not of a statesman, at least of a poet. Then the flourish about the high estimation in which we hold our national reputation for integrity would be worth more if we had, or even deserved, that reputation. We bartered that reputation for Texas, for California and New Mexico, and might easily be supposed capable of bartering it again for Cuba and Porto Rico. The frail one should not challenge admira­tion for her virtue.
The prisoners taken on the islands of Las Mugeres and Con-loy were, and it is well known that they were, a portion of the Lopez expedition, and had left the United States on a piratical enterprise against the dominions of Spain. They were pirates, and, under our treaty with Spain and the laws of nations, they were punishable as pirates. Spain had been invaded, her ter­ritory had been violated by our citizens, her subjects murdered, her treasury plundered, her public buildings burned, and the governor of one of her towns made prisoner; she was threat­ened with still further invasion from the same quarter, and with all the horrors of war. She had, under these circumstances, the right to protect herself by taking and hanging every indi­vidual she found engaged in the piratical expedition against her dominions. These Contoy prisoners, as they are called, were the comrades of those who had invaded her soil; they shared in their guilt, and were virtually pirates, and as such could not claim the protection of our government. To any demand of . ours to Spain to give them up, it was sufficient for her to allege this fact, and that she had taken them in the right of self-defence, and should treat them according to the law of nations.
Our government could demand the release of these prisoners only on the ground that there was no sufficient evidence to connect them with the piratical expedition against Cuba ; but of that fact Spain was a competent judge, and she had the full right to bring them to trial, and if convicted by her own tri­bunals, under the laws of nations, of being a part of that expedition, she had the undoubted right to sentence and punish them, without our having the least right to remonstrate. There was really nothing in the conduct of Spain with re­gard to the capture, detention, and trial of these prisoners of which we have the least right to complain. Spain was not obliged to wait till the pirates had actually set foot on her soil, and struck the first blow, before her right to arrest and punish them commenced. It was enough that their intention to in­vade her soil was manifest, and it was clear that they had em­barked for that purpose. These Contoy prisoners were taken under arms near her territories, on desert islands, the usual resort of the adventurers. Undoubtedly they had not yet ac­tually invaded Cuba, but the circumstances under which they were found lurking there sufficiently indicated their purpose, and pointed them out as a part of the expedition which had landed, committed its depredations, and retreated to Key West within the jurisdiction of the Union. They might be there waiting the return of their comrades with reinforcements to renew their piratical attacks, and no one can be so ignorant of the rights of Spain as to suppose that she was bound to respect their hiding-place till they had acquired sufficient force to commence the actual murder of her subjects, and the sack and destruction of her towns. She had the right to make them prisoners, and, if she had the right to make them prisoners, the right to retain them a reasonable time for investigating their case, and of ascertaining their guilt or innocence. She did only this, and considering the inefficiency our government had dis­played in protecting her from the piratical attacks of our own citizens, and that the expedition intended to operate against her from our territory had been defeated by her own exertions, without any efficient aid or act of ours, she had far more right to deem herself aggrieved by our peremptory demand for the delivery of the prisoners, than we to complain of her for de­taining and subjecting them, or proposing to subject them, to a trial before her own tribunals.
We are quite sure that, if the case had been reversed, we should have given a brief answer to a like demand from the Spanish government. How, in fact, did we reason, when General Jackson marched with his troops into Florida, then a Spanish province, and took military possession of its capital, be­cause the Spanish governor could not, or would not, restrain the Seminole Indians, as bound by treaty, from making predatory incursions into the territory of the Union ? If the tables had been turned, and the military expedition had been intended to operate from Cuba against us, and the Spanish authorities had been as remiss and inefficient in preventing or repressing it as ours has been, the whole force of the Union would have been put in requisition, if needed, to lay all Cuba in ashes ; and if we had detected armed adventurers from her ports lurking near our coast, watching a favorable opportunity to make a descent, we should have taken them prisoners, and with the briefest trial possible hung them up, every one of them, as pirates. Of this no man who knows our character, and our summary manner of dealing with those who violate our rights, can reasonably doubt. It would be well to remember that the obligations of the treaty between us and Spain are reciprocal, - that they do not bind her and leave us free, as one is tempted to think is our inter­pretation of them, but bind us as well as her, and what would be right in our case is equally right in hers.
The journals have been filled with loud complaints of the cruelty with which the Spanish authorities treated the Contoy prisoners while they detained them in custody. There is not a word of truth in these complaints, as the good plight of the prisoners when landed in the United States amply proves. They were well treated, and no unusual or unnecessary severi­ty was exercised against them, -no further severity than that of guarding against their escape, and their intercourse with their sympathizers or accomplices. We are well aware that the mass of the American people, believing all the falsehoods and retaining all the prejudices of their ancestors current in the days of Queen Elizabeth, are prepared to credit any absurd tale of Spanish cruelty that any idle vagabond chooses to invent; but this much is to be said of our countrymen, that they are prob­ably unrivalled in the facility of believing every thing - except the truth. No people can surpass them in their ability to be­lieve falsehood without evidence, or to reject truth though sup­ported by evidence complete and irrefragable. It is one of their titles to the admiration of the philosophers of the nine­teenth century.
We are not the apologists of Spain ; but we may say this much for her, that no nation has been more maligned, and no national character more vilely traduced, than the Spanish. There is no nobler blood in Europe than the brave old Cas-tilian, and a more elevated or virtuous peasantry than the Spanish is not to be found in the whole world. Time was, and not long since, when Spain was the freest country in Europe, worthy even of all admiration for her noble political institutions. She was, at no distant date, the ruling European nation, surpassing in grandeur and power all that Great Britain now claims to be. Domestic dissensions, fomented by foreign influences, foreign and civil wars, French invasion, French philosophism, English protection, radicalism, rebellion, revolu­tion, and the terrible struggle for her very national existence against the colossal power of Napoleon, in the zenith of his pride and his strength, have for the moment reduced her from her former relative position among European nations, and induced many in both hemispheres to forget the gratitude that is due her for her eminent services and eminent sacrifices to the cause of religion and European and American civilization ; but she is still a living and a noble nation, with a recuperative energy in her population to be found in no other population in Europe, and lowly as she lies at this moment to the eye of the superficial spectator, she has in her all the elements of her former greatness, and before her a long and glorious future. She has still a believing heart, a loyal soul, and an inbred reverence for religion and morality. The spoiler's work is wellnigh finished, and the infidel and sacrilegious revolutionary storm has wellnigh spent its fury, and the day draweth nigh for her to put off her garments of sorrow, and to put on her robes of joy and glad­ness. She has had, no doubt, her faults, and will have them again, but as to her cruelty it is mildness itself in comparison with the tender mercies of the renowned Anglo-Saxon, who, after twelve hundred years of culture, seems still to cherish in his heart the habits and tastes of his piratical ancestors.
But our failure in the discharge of our duty to Spain extends farther than we have stated. Cuba, in consequence of our re­missness and inefficiency, is still in danger of piratical attacks from our citizens, or at least of their attempts, in concert with disaffected Cubans, to get up a democratic revolution in the island, and involve it in the horrors of civil war. Spain has been put to great trouble and expense in defending that island from our machinations, which it was our duty to have spared her, and she is obliged to continue her armament and defences on the war footing, and that to defend her province from the hostile invasions of the subjects of a government which pro­fesses to be at peace with her. This is not an endurable state of things. Does it comport with our honor as a nation to suf­fer it to continue ? Have we not the will and the power to restrain our lawless citizens, and to compel them to respect the rights and the property of a friendly power ? Are we reduced either to the moral or physical necessity of compelling nations with whom we have treaties of peace and amity to arm them­selves to the teeth, and everywhere keep watch and ward against the depredations of our American citizens and subjects? We would fain hope not, and we look with confidence to the new administration to take efficient measures to reassure Spain, to indemnify her for the wrongs she has suffered in conse­quence of our remissness, and to relieve her from the necessity of keeping up any extra garrison in Cuba to protect her pos­session of that island from the aggressions of persons subject to the government of the United States. We have full confi­dence that, in the hands of the present Secretary of State, the errors and blunders of his predecessor will be repaired, and that our foreign relations will be managed with wisdom and energy, with jealous regard to the rights and feelings of other na­tions, and to the dignity and honor of our own.
We hope, too, that our citizens will participate in the reac­tion against wild and lawless democracy, or Red Republicanism, which appears to have commenced in the Old World ; and that, remembering that justice exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people, they will retrace their steps, and return to the wholesome principles embodied in their fundamental institu­tions. It is time for them to pay less attention to the acquisi­tion of territory, and more to the acquisition and maintenance of national honor. We have, morally considered, fallen to a fearful depth, but we have not fallen so low that we cannot, if we choose, rise again. We have prided ourselves on our in­stitutions, and have claimed to be a model republic. We are not, as a people, wholly insensible to the opinions of the civil­ized world, and we wish all nations to admire our political in­stitutions, and to model their own after them. This is all laud­able enough. But we cannot expect them to do it, unless we retrace our steps, and show that we ourselves adhere to the principles of our institutions, and are governed by them.
Hitherto republicanism in the Old World has been asso­ciated in the minds of intelligent and honest people with barbar­ism, the absence of public and private virtue, contempt of relig­ion, disregard of the most sacred obligations and relations, the loss of personal freedom, war on the Church, on morality, on property, on the family, and on society itself. It should have been ours to have proved by our example that this is only an accidental character of republicanism, and that a people may be republican, may dispense with kings and lords, without lapsing into barbarism or interrupting the progress of Christian civilization, - that such a people may be cultivated and moral, refined and religious, free and loyal, respecting the rights of God as well as the rights of man, preserving the sanctity of marriage, and the integrity of the family, respecting the rights of property, the rights of sovereignty, and the independence of nations, and maintaining peace and order under the reign of law. This should have been our mission, but we have been recreant to it ; we have been latterly identifying republicanism with democracy, and American democracy with the European, and doing our best to prove by our example, that in all lands democracy degenerates into license, becomes immoral, irre­ligious, and aggressive. We have been furnishing kings and aristocrats with" strong arguments against republicanism, and in favor of their system of government. Instead of aiding the emancipation of the oppressed of other lands, we have given their masters new reasons for withholding from them those fran­chises we so highly esteem, and have double riveted the chains of the slave. The Christian world may well exclaim, in view of our example for the last twenty years, " God save the king! for if licentious and despotic kings are bad, licentious and ag­gressive democracies are worse."
We are for ourselves neither monarchists nor aristocrats, but according to the best of our knowledge and ability a loyal American citizen ; yet we cannot shut our eyes to the danger­ous and utterly immoral and dishonorable career upon which the American people to a fearful extent have entered. It is diffi­cult, it may be too late, to arrest them ; but as one of the peo­ple, as one who yields to no man in his love of his country, and attachment to her government, we assure them that they will never secure true freedom and prosperity in the way they have thus far sought them. If they value national honor, if they love liberty, they must return to the recognition of law, the obliga­tions of morality, and the duty of religious faith and worship. No nation can recede from law without falling into anarchy, or depart from God without precipitating itself into hell. All is not gold that glitters. All change is not improvement. All motion is not progress, and every novelty is not a conquest from the domain of truth. Let our citizens meditate these common­places, and form a more just estimate of themselves. They have territory enough, - quite too much; they have room for all the virtuous expansion of which they are capable ; let them learn to be content with what they have, and that it is as base to steal a province from a neighbouring state, as it is to pick a neighbour's pocket, or to steal his sheep.
We have taken no notice of what is said about the tyranny with which Spain governs Cuba, for we have no authority to su­pervise her internal administration, and are bound to treat her as an independent and a Christian nation. We must annul our treaty with her before we can put her out of the pale of civil­ized nations, and we must put her out of that pale before we can have any right to supervise or interfere with her treatment of her own subjects. But what is said about Spanish tyranny and oppression in her colonies is all unfounded. Spain does not oppress and never has oppressed her colonial subjects, and Cuba would have far less real freedom as a democracy, than she enjoys as a province of the Spanish monarchy.    So it was said that the other American colonies of Spain were oppressed, and as far back as Jefferson's residence in Paris as the minister of the American confederacy, intrigues were begun with us to con­vert them into independent republics. We need only to com­pare what they are now with what they were under Spain, to comprehend the value of assertions as to Spanish tyranny and oppression. Let us leave Red Republican cant, learn to be just and honorable, and labor to secure liberty at home. So shall we best promote freedom abroad.