Henry Clay, Raleigh Letter to editors of the National Intelligencer
April 17, 1844
Annexation and war with Mexico are identical. Now, for one, I certainly am not willing to involve this country in a foreign war for the object of acquiring Texas. I know there are those who regard such a war with indifference and as a trifling affair, on account of the weakness of Mexico, and her inability in inflict serious injury upon this country. But I do not look upon it thus lightly. I regard all wars as great calamities, to be avoided, if possible, and honorable peace as the wisest and truest policy of this country.
I do not think that Texas ought to be received into the Union, as an integral part of it, in decided opposition to the wishes of a considerable and respectable portion of the confederacy. I think it far more wise and important to compose and harmonize the present union, as it now exists, than to introduce a new element of discord and distraction into it
It is useless to disguise that there are those who espouse and those who oppose the annexation of Texas upon the ground of the influence which it would exert, in the balance of political power, between two great sections of the Union. I conceive that no motive for the acquisition of foreign territory would be more unfortunate than that of obtaining it for the purpose of strengthening one part against another part of the common confederacy. Such a principle, put into practical operation, would menace the existence, if it did not certainly sow the seeds of a dissolution of the Union.
Annexation would be to proclaim to the world an insatiable and unquenchable thirst for foreign conquest or acquisition of territory. For if today Texas be acquired to strengthen one part of the confederacy, tomorrow Canada may be required to add strength to another. Finally, the part of the confederacy which is now weakest, would find itself still weaker from the impossibility of securing new territory for those peculiar institutions (slavery) which it is charged with being desirous to extend
I consider the annexation of Texas, at this time, without
the assent of Mexico, as a measure compromising the
national character, involving us certainly in war with
Mexico, probably with other foreign powers, dangerous to
the integrity of the Union, inexpedient in the present
financial condition of the country, and called for by any
general expression of public opinion.
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