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Mr. Gales & Seaton

My Dear Old Friends:—Gineral Scott and I find a good
deal of bother about getting our dispatches through to Vera
Cruz, or else you'd hear from me oftener. I do think the
President is too backward about clearing out this road from
here to Vera Cruz, and keeping it open, and introducing the
improvements into the country that we stand so much in need
of here. He and Mr. Ritchie pretends to have constitutional
scruples about it, and says the Constitution don't allow of
internal improvements; and Mr. Ritchie says the resolutions
of '98 is dead agin it, too; and, besides, Mr. Ritchie says these
internal improvements is a Federal doctrine, and he'd always
go agin 'em for that, if nothin' else. But 'tis strange to me
the President hasn't never found out yet that where there's a
will there's a way, Constitution or no Constitution. All he's
got to do is, to call all these roads round here in Mexico
“military roads,” and then he'd have the Constitution on his
side, for everbody knows the Constitution allows him to make


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military roads. I know the President is very delicate about
fringing on the Constitution, so I don't blame him so much for
holding back about the internal improvements here in Mexico,
though I don't think there's any other part of the United
States where they are needed more. But there's no need of
splitting hairs about the roads; military roads isn't internal
improvements, and he's a right to make military roads as
much as he pleases. And as them is jest the kind of roads
we want here, and shall want for fifty years (for our armies
will have to keep marching about the country for fifty years
before they'll be able to tame these Mexicans, and turn 'em
into Americans), it is confounded strange to me that the
President is so behind-hand about this business. What's the
use of our going on and annexin' away down South here, if
he don't back us up and hold on to the slack? And there's
no way to hold on to it but to keep these military roads open
so our armies can go back and forth, and bring us in victuals,
and powder, and shot, and money.

Here we've been, weeks and weeks since we annexed the
city of Mexico, waiting and holding on for the President to
send us more men and more money, and tell us what to do
next. This backwardness of the President, since we got into
the city of Mexico, seems the more strange to me, considering.
For, when he was fixin' me off to come out here and see if I
could make a settlement with Santa Anna, I tried to persuade
him to let the armies hold still while I was making the bargain.
I told him he never could bring a man to reason or to
trade when he was knocking of him down all the time. But I
couldn't make him seem to understand it. He stood to it his
way was the best—the sword in one hand and peace in t'other,
all the way—a word and a blow, and the blow always first.

“Why, Major Downing,” says he, “if you want to reason
a man into a peace, that's another thing; but if you want to


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conquer a peace, my way is the only way. That's the way I
begun this war, and that's the way I mean to carry it out.”

“How so?” says I; “did you begin the war in that way?”

“Why,” says he, “Slidell was the word, and Taylor was
the blow; and not only my friends, but even my enemies,
admit that the blow come first.”

The President said that was the rule he had gone by all the
way along, and he meant to stick to it; and not hearing anything
from him so long, I'm afraid he's got a notion that peace
is conquered. But that would be a bad mistake, if he has got
such a notion; for it isn't conquered—it's only scattered.
It's a good deal as 'twas with Bill Johnson, when he and I
was boys, and he undertook to conquer a hornet's nest, expectin'
to get lots of honey. He took a club, and marched
bravely up to it, and hit it an awful dig, and knocked it into
a thousand flinders.

“There, blast ye,” says Bill, “I guess you're done tu now,”
as he begun to look round for the honey. But he soon found
'twasn't conquered—'twas only scattered. And presently
they begun to fly at him, and sting him on all sides. One hit
him a dab on his arm, and another on his leg, and another in
his face. At last Bill found he should soon be done tu, himself,
if he stayed there, so he cut and run.

“Hullo,” says I, “Bill, where's your honey?”

“Darn it all,” says he, “if I hain't got no honey, I knocked
their house to pieces; I've got that to comfort me.”

I wish you would try to convince the President that 'tis
only scattered here; 'tisn't conquered, and he must give us
the means to keep moving, or we shall get badly stung bimeby.
If he only backs us up well, I'll pledge myself that we'll
carry out the campaign marked out in my last dispatches,
which would bring us clear down to Cape Horn in four or five
years; and I'm very anxious to get there—it strikes me that


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 281. In-line image. The major is dreaming of a ship which has two sails labelled North America and South America. It has several canons labelled with various coutries' names, and is flying a banner that reads Annexation. ]
would be such a good horn to hold on to in all dilemmas, even
if all the rest of the country went by the board. I dreamt
t'other night that we had got through annexin' all North and
South America; and then I thought our whole country was
turned into a monstrous great ship of war, and Cape Horn
was the bowsprit, and Mr. Polk the captain. And the captain
was walking the deck with his mouth shet, and everybody
was looking at him and wondering what he was goin' to do
next. At last he sung out, “Put her about; we'll sail across
now and take Europe, and Asha, and Africa in tow—don't
stop for bird's-egging round among the West India Islands;
we can pick them up as we come back along—crowd all sail
now and let her have it.”


Page 282

Away we went; I never see a ship sail faster. The wind
begun to blow harder and harder, and then it come on an
awful storm, and at last it blowed a perfect harrycane. The
sails begun to go to flitters, and she rolled as if she was going
to upset. Some of the oldest and best sailors among the
crew told the captain we should all go to destruction, if he
didn't take in sail, and furl and clew up, and get things tight,
and bring her head round to the wind. Mr. Ritchie was
standing by his side, and says he, “Captain Polk, them is all
nothing but Federal lies, as I've shown hundreds of times, not
only in the Union, but years and years ago in the Enquirer.
Them fellers only want to give aid and comfort to the enemy;
don't pay any attention to 'em. Here's the chart”—he held
up in his hand the resolutions of '98— “sail by this, and I'll
risk her on any tack, and in all weathers.”

On we went, lickity-split; the harrycane blowed harder, the
timbers begun to creak, the sails split to ribbons, some of the
spars begun to snap and go by the board, and then all at
once there was a terrible cry, “Breakers ahead!” The captain
then jumped as if he was wide awake; and says he,
“Call all hands and put her about.” But when the officers
come to give orders to the crew, not one of them would mind
or pay any attention. The whole crew was in a mutiny; and
the ship was so large, and the crew was such a mixed up
mess of different sorts of folks that there was twenty different
mutinies all at once, in different parts of the vessel.

“Well,” says Captain Polk, “I wash my hands of this
mischief; if the crew won't help, the ship must go ashore.”

Then an old sailor spoke up and said: “All the crews in
the world couldn't do any good now; the ship was dished, and
must be plumped on the rocks; her sails and spars was gone,
the timbers sprung, and the hold already half full of water.”
In a few minutes she struck, and the rocks gored a hole


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through her side, and the water poured in, and down she sunk
lower and lower, till at last she gave one mighty guggle, and
plunged all under the water, except a piece of the bowsprit
that still stuck out. The storm and the waves swept over
her, and the whole crew and everybody aboard was lost, except
a few of us who scrabbled up and clung to the bowsprit.
Mr. Ritchie went down with the resolutions of '98 in his hand.

The hard spring I had to make, to get on to the bowsprit,
waked me up; and, although I an't one that thinks much of
dreams, I can't help thinking a good deal of Cape Horn, and
naterally feel anxious to get along down that way as fast as
we can; so I hope you'll urge the President to be a little more
stirring, and let us have men and money a little faster.

I shall have to break off here for to-day, because I've got to
write a little dispatch to the President to send by the same
post. I send you some letters from Uncle Joshua, and other
relations and friends, which you can, if you think best, hitch
on to my dispatches, jest as Gineral Scott takes the letters of
his under-officers and hitches on to his dispatches.

So I remain your old friend,


Dear Colonel:—Things is getting along here as well as
could be expected, considerin' the help we have, but we are all
together too weak-handed to work to profit. If you want us to
hurry along down South, we need a good deal more help and
more money. It wouldn't be no use to give that three millions


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of dollars to Santa Anna now, for the people have got so out
with him that he couldn't make peace if he had six millions.
He's skulking about the country, and has as much as he can
do to take care of himself. So I think you had better give up
the notion about peace altogether, it 'll be such a hard thing
to get, and send on the three millions here to help us along
in our annexin'. It's dangerous standin' still in this annexin'
business. It's like the old woman's soap—if it don't go ahead,
it goes back. It would be a great help to us in the way of
holdin' on to what we get, if you would carry out that
plan of giving the Mexican land to settlers from the United
States, as fast as we annex it. I've been very impatient to
see your proclamation offering the land to settlers to come
out here. You've no idea how much help it would be to us if
we only had a plenty of our folks out here, so that as fast as
we killed a Mexican, or drove him off from his farm, we could
put an American right on to it. If we could only plant as we
go, in this way, we should soon have a crop of settlers here
that could hold on to the slack themselves, and leave the
army free to go ahead, and keep on annexin'. I thought
when I left Washington, you was agoing to put out such a
proclamation right away. And I think you are putting it off
a good deal too long, for we've got land and farms enough
here now for two hundred thousand at least; and, if they
would only come on fast enough, I think we could make room
for twenty thousand a week for a year to come. But I'm afraid
you're too delicate about doing your duty in this business;
you are such a stickler for the Constitution. I'm afraid you're
waiting for Congress to meet, so as to let them have a finger
in the pie. But I wouldn't do it. From all I can hear, it
looks as if the Whigs was coming into power; and if they
should, it would be a terrible calamity, for they are too narrowminded
and too much behind the age to understand the rights


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of this annexin' business, and it's ten chances to one if they
don't contrive some way to put a stop to it.

I must tell you I went t'other day to see Gineral Cushing,
and found him awfully tickled about being nominated for
Governor of the old Bay State. At first he was a good deal
amazed at it; he was as much surprised as you was, Colonel,
when you first heard you was nominated for President. What
amazed him so much was that he'd always been thinking all
along that he was a Whig, till the nomination come, and then
he jumped up and snapped his fingers, and said he believed,
after all, the Democrats was the right party. He's in great
sperits, and says he's no doubt he shall be elected. He goes
for annexin' now the hottest of any of us, and says he takes
the great Alexander for his model, and goes for annexin' as
long as there is any country left to annex. His ancle is quite
well, and Gineral Pillow's foot is a good deal better.

I have the honor to be your private embassador and faithful
friend, from fifty-four forty on one side, down to Cape Horn on