Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 25
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OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
Dec, 20, 1824.]
Occupation of the Mouth of the Oregon.
[H. of R.
ed upon, as it is plain and never exaggerated. From all
the information to be had on this subject, the time taken
from Franklin, in Missouri, to the mouth of the Oregon,
by the head of the river Platte, is fifty days.
Again, should capital be fixed at that point, as it soon
will be, Why not have a dock yard and a naval esta-
blishment, to construct and repair our fleet on that
sea? Would it not also be proper for this government
to negotiate with the republic of Mexico, or Guatimala,
for the privilege of passing the isthmus ? In this point
of view, Pensacola is likely to become the greatest city
in the south, and, perhaps, one of the greatest in this re-
public. The voyage is easy, and much shortev than any
would suppose who had never considered it. From Ore-
gon to the Gulf of Panama, is a voyage of22 days;
from thence, across the land, to the Bay of Mandinga, is
three days; then to Pensacola, is a voj age of eight days;
making a voyage from the mouth of Oregon to Pensa-
cola, in thirty-three days. There is another course
which may be pursued, making the trip shorter—it is,
to leave Oregon for the Bay of Tehuantepec, a voyage
of twenty days; thence, across, to the Uio Huasecualco
in three days; and in four more to Pensacola; in all
Is this not an object worthy to be secured? In the many
treaties which we have of late been negotiating, in all of
which, in my opinion, we have been much injured,
would it not be right to secure this object to the South,
that we may have some little benefit for immense injur-
ies? Or, are out' claims to Oregon, and our interests in
the Western ocean, really so "minute," that they cannot
be perceived ?
I throw out these hints, as forming principles for our
commerce and our country at large, to guide us in the
better way; just principles may be looked to as guides,
even when we cannot adhere to them as rules.
I shall, Mr. Chairman, close the few remarks I have
to make, by an appeal to the House, to> consider well
our interests in the Western Ocean, on our Western
Coast, and the trade to China and to India ; and the
ease with which it can be brought to Pensacola or
down the Missouri. What is this commerce ? Has it
not enriched the world ? Thousands of years have pass-
ed by, and, year after year, all the nations of the earth
have, each year, sought the rich commerce of that coun-
try ; all have enjoyed the riches of the East. This trade
was sought by K.ng Solomon, by Tyre, Bidon; this wealth
found its way to Egypt, and, at last, to Rome, to France,
Portugal, Spain, Holland, England, and, finally, to this
Kepublie. How vast and incomprehensibly rich must
be that country and commerce, which has never ceased,
one day, from the highest point of Jewish splendor, to
the instant I am speaking, to supply the whole globe
with all the busy imagination of man can desire, for his
ease, comfort, or enjoyment! Whilst we have so fair an
opportunity offered, to participate so largely in all this
wealth and enjoyment, it'not to govern and direct the
whole, can it be possible that doubts, on mere points of
speculation, will weigh with the House, and cause us to
lose forever, the brightest prospect ever presented to
the eyes of a nation ?
I will conclude my observations on this important sub-
ject, with one other remark, which I beg the House to
bear in mir-d, and give it such weight as it deserves.
The idea of extending our military frontier, or posts, to
the mouth of that river, seems to have created alarm in
the minds of some gentlemen ; but, when it is well con-
sidered, all cause of fear will vanish. It is not so im-
portant as to the number of military posts, as it is, that
they should be properly placed. I am thoroughly per-
suaded, that England governs the commercial world
more by the advantageous positions she occupies in it,
,ky 'lel* Physical strength or powerful marine. In
addition to the strength which she derives from her in-
sular position, whicU is as a bastion to the coast of Eu-
rope, she has Gibraltar and Malta, and other islands in
the Mediterranean, which hold all Europe in check. On
another side, she has a position in the West Indies,
in Africa, in India, and the South Seas ; all chosen with
the same intent, and all in completion of her scheipes ;
she wants nothing now to give her the entire control of
all the commerce of the world, for ages to come, but a
position on oui Western Coast, which she will soon
have, unless you pass this bill.
Mr. POINSETT, of South Carolina, offered an amend-
ment to the bill, the effect of which would be to leave
it discretionary with the President at what point on the
Pacific the military post should be established, and sup-
ported his amendment by some remarks, the substance
of which was understood to be, that the information in
possession of the mover, as to the geographical and to-
pographical advantages of the position at the mouth of
the Oregon, was adverse to that just laid before the
House by the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Floyd.) He
was not very confident of the accuracy of either, and
thought it best to leave the matter to the President, who
was, or doubtless would be, in possession of the best in-
telligence which was to be had in the case.
On motion of Mr. TRACY, of N. Y. the day being
somewhat advanced, the committee then rose.
Mr. COOK niMverl to discharge the committee of the
whole on the state of the Union from the farther consi-
deration of this bill, with a view to its reference to the
committee to whom so much of the President's message
as refers to this subject had already been committed.-—
This course appeared to him to be proper in itselfj and,
particularly so, as there were manifest defects in the
bill, which made it advisable that it should undergo re-
vision by a committee.
Mr. FLOYD said, he was not at all anxious about the
course this bill might take; but he could not see any ne-
cessity for the reference of it which was now propesad,
especially as the present committee was composed of a
majority of the persons who were upon the committee
by which, at the last session, this bill had been matur-
ed. The President, it was true, had recommended the
occupation oi' that territory in a military point of view.
This bill contemplated that object, indeed; but, io ad-
dition, it proposed to give power to the President to
erect the settlement into a territorial government when-
ever he may think proper. There must be at this Set-
tlement, besides traders, many shipwrights, blacksmiths,
and other artisans, &c.; and he stated, on the autlurity
of General Rector, that, in the last season, there vere
on the waters of the Missouri sixteen hundred peisons
engaged in the fur trade, who could not go over tc the
Columbia, because they would have been unprotected,
besides having high duties to pay, &c. The bill con-
tained but two features—the one was the establishment
of a military post, and the other was an authority tc the
President to establish a territorial government whenever
he might judge it expedient. He appealed to the Ame-
rican feeling of every gentleman whether it was proper
to place tinder military law or the caprice of the com-
mander of a post of two hundred troops, the number of
persons who would belong to such a civil settlement.
He could not, for his own part, think of such a thing for
a moment. The persons there would be chiefly engag-
ed in hunting and fishing, and he thought it was just
that they should have the blessings of civil government
as soon as their circumstances would admit of it. He
was, therefore, opposed to the reference of the bill to
a committee, as proposed.
Mr. COOK said, that this bill proposed certainly a
very important measure. Besides the establishment of
a civil colonial government on the coast of the Pacific
Ocean, it proposed the giving grants of land to settlers,
which were calculated to delude the people of this
country, enterprising as they are—to produce upon
them an impression that the country in question is adapt-
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/17/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.