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Dear Colonel:—If anybody asks you that impudent question
again, “What are we fightin' for?” jest tell him he's a
goose, and don't know what he's talking about, for we an't
fightin' at all; we've got peace now; got an armistice, they


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call it; so there's no sense at all in their putting that question
to you any more. We've got the opposition fairly on the
hip upon that question, if no other; fairly gagged 'em; they
can't say to you any longer now, “What are we fightin' for?”
This is some consolation for the shabby trick Trist has served
us. That fellow has made a bargain with the Mexicans to
stop the war, in spite of the orders you sent to him to come
right home and let things alone. I felt uneasy about it when
I see him hanging about here so long after he got his orders
to come home, and I said to him, once or twice, “Mr. Trist,
what's the reason you don't go off home and mind the President?
This unlawful boldness of yourn is shameful.”

“Why, Major,” says he, “he that does his master's will
does right, whether he goes according to orders or not. The
President sent me out here to make peace, and it's a wonder
to me if I don't fix it yet, somehow or other, before I've done
with it.” And then he put his finger to the side of his nose
and give me a sassy look, as much as to say, “Major Downing,
you better not try to be looking into diplomatic things
that's too deep for you.”

Says I, “Mr. Trist, I'm astonished at you; I thought you
was a man of more judgment, and looked deeper into things.
Don't you see what advantage it gives the President to let
things now stand just as they be? He's offered peace to the
Mexicans, and they have refused it. Therefore, the opposition
at home can't cry out against him any more if he goes ahead
with the war. He's shet their mouths up on that score. He's
made the war popular, and can go into the Presidential campaign
now with a good chance of being elected another term.
And now, if you go to dabblin' in the business any more, I'm
sure you'll do mischief. As things now stand, peace is the
last thing in the world that the President wants. You've
done your errand here and got your answer; and it's turned


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out jest right; we can go on with our annexin' all Mexico
now, without such an everlasting growlin' among the opposition
at home, for we've offered the Mexicans peace, and they
wouldn't take it. So you've nothin' to do now but to be off
home, for the war is jest in the right shape as it is.”

Well, now, after all this plain advice—for I felt it my duty
to be plain with him—he still kept hanging about here, day
after day, and the first I knew we was took all aback by
being told that Mr. Trist had made a treaty, and Gineral Scott
was to order an armistice. I couldn't hardly believe my ears
at first. I posted right off to Gineral Scott to know what it
all meant.

“Gineral,” says I, “are you going to order an armistice?”

“Yes, Major Downing,” says he, “Mr. Trist and the Mexican
Commissioners have signed the preliminaries of a treaty;
so, of course, we shall have an armistice.”

“Well, now, Gineral,” says I, “I don't think the President
will thank you for that.”

“Can't help that,” says he, “I must obey the orders of the
Government, thanks or no thanks. And when Mr. Trist was
sent out here to make a treaty, I was directed, whenever the
plan of a treaty should be signed on both sides, to order an
armistice, and wait for the two Governments to ratify the
treaty. Well, Mr. Trist and the Mexican Commissioners have
at last fixed up some kind of a bargain, and signed it, and,
of course, according to my orders, we have nothing to do but
to stand still and wait for the two Governments to clinch the

“But,” says I, “Gineral, you know Mr. Trist has no right
to make a treaty any more than I have, for the President has
ordered him to come home; and if he has made a treaty, it's
no better than a piece of blank paper, and you shouldn't
mind it.”


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 293. Two men sit on folding chairs at a folding table discussing matters with each other. One is in military uniform and his three-cornered hat is on the table. The other is in a suit and his tophat site on the table.]

“Don't know anything about them matters,” says he;
“I can't go behind the curtain to inquire what little maneuvers
are going on between the President and his Commissioner.
Mr. Trist came out here with his regular commission to make
a treaty. He has brought me a treaty signed by himself and
the Mexican Commissioners, and my orders are to cease hostilities.
Of course, we can do nothin' else but halt and stack
our arms.”

“Well,” says I, “Gineral, it an't right; it's bad business;
it 'll break up this grand annexin' plan that was jest going on
so nice that we might a got through with it in a year or two
more; and then it will bother the President most to death
about his election for the second term. That treaty must be
stopped; it musn't be sent home; and I'll go right and see
Mr. Trist about it.”

So off I went and hunted up Mr. Trist, and had a talk with
him. Says I, “Trist, how's this? They tell me you've been
making a treaty with these Mexicans.”


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“Shouldn't wonder if I had,” says he; “that's jest what I
come out here for.”

“Well, I must say, sir,” says I, “I think this is a pretty
piece of business. How do you dare to do such a thing? You
know the President has ordered you home.”

“Yes,” says he, “and I mean to go home as soon as I get
through the job he sent me to do.”

“Well, now,” says I, “Trist, I claim to know what the
President is about, and what he wants, and I'm his confidential
friend and private embassador out here, and I shall take
the liberty to interfere in this business. This high-handed
doings of yourn must be nipt off in the bud. What sort of a
bargain have you made? Jest let me look at the treaty.”

“Can't do it,” says he, “it's half way to Vera Cruz by this
time; I sent it off yesterday.”

“Blood and thunder!” says I, “then you have knocked
the whole business in the head, sure enough. You've committed
an outrageous crime, sir, and a great shame; and
don't you know, sir, that great crimes deserve great punishments?
I don't know what Colonel Polk will do; but I know
what my friend, Old Hickory, would do if he was alive; he
would hang you right up to the first tree he could come at.”

“What! hang me for doing jest what I was sent here to
do?” says he. “For I've made jest such a bargain as the
President told me to make; only a leetle better one.”

“That's nothing here nor there,” says I, “you know circumstances
alters cases. And you know well enough, or you
ought to have sense enough to know, that, as things now
stand, the President don't want a treaty. Now,” says I, “Mr.
Trist, answer me one plain question—Do you think you have
any right at all to make a treaty after the President has ordered
you home?”

“Well,” says he, “I think circumstances alter cases, too;


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and when the President ordered me home, I suppose he
thought I couldn't get through the job he sent me to do.
But I thought I could, and so I kept trying, and I've got
through with it at last, and done the business all up according
to my first orders; and I don't see why the President
shouldn't be well satisfied.”

“Well,” says I, “what's the items of the bargain? What
have you agreed upon?”

“Why,” says he, “we have the whole of Texas clear to the
Rio Grande; we have all of New Mexico, and all of Upper
California. And we pay the Mexicans fifteen millions of dollars,
and pay our own citizens five millions that the Mexicans
owed them. And we stop firing, draw our charges from the
guns that are loaded, and go home.”

“Well, now,” says I, “Trist, don't you think you are a
pretty fellow to make such a bargain as that at this time of
day? The President will be mortified to death about it.
Here we've been fightin' near about two years to make the
Mexicans pay over that five millions of dollars they owed our
people, and now you've agreed that we shall put our hands in
our pockets and pay it ourselves. The whole plan of the war
has been carried on by the President upon the highest principles,
to go straight ahead and `conquer a peace,' man-fashion;
and now you've agreed to back out of the scrape,
and buy a peace, and pay the money for it. You know very
well the President has declared, time and again, that the war
should go on till we got indemnity for the past, and security
for the future—them's his own words—and now you've agreed
to settle up without getting one jot of either. For the past
we are at least a hundred millions of dollars out of pocket,
besides losing ten or fifteen thousand men. As for the men,
I s'pose you may say we can offset them against the Mexicans
we have killed, and as we have killed more than


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they have, maybe it foots up a little in our favor, and that's
the only advantage you've secured. As for the hundred millions
of dollars, we don't get a penny of it back. So all the indemnity
you get for the past is a few thousand dead Mexicans,
that is, as many as remains after subtracting what they've
killed of us from what we've killed of them. But the capsheaf
of your bargain is the `security for the future.' The cities
and towns and castles that we have fit so hard to take, and
have got our men into, and all so well secured, you now agree
to give 'em all right up again to the enemy, and march our
men off home with their fingers in their mouths; and that's
our security for the future. As for the fifteen millions of dollars
you agree to pay for New Mexico and California, you
might jest as well a thrown the money into the sea, for they
was ours afore; they was already conquered and annexed,
and was as much ours as if we had paid the money for 'em.”

Here I turned on my heel and left him, for I was so disgusted
at the conduct of the feller that I wouldn't have any more
talk with him. And now, my dear Colonel, there is nothing
for us to do but to look this business right in the face, and
make the best we can of it. If there was any way to keep the
thing out of sight, it would be best for you to throw the treaty
into the fire as soon as you get it, and send word on to Gineral
Scott to go ahead again. But that is impossible; it will
be spread all over the country, and known to everybody. And
I'm convinced it will be the best way for you to turn right
about, make believe to be glad about what can't be helped,
and accept the treaty. The nominations for President is close
at hand, and you must get ready to go into the election for
your second term with what you've got, and make the best
show you can with it. If you should reject the treaty, the opposition
would get the advantage of you again; they would
then cry out that the Mexicans has asked for peace, and you


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had refused it; and there would be no end to their growling
about this oppressive war of invasion. But if you accept the
treaty, it puts an end to their grumbling about the war.

To pacify our friends that are very eager for the whole of
Mexico, you must tell 'em to look at it and see how much we
have already got; keep telling of 'em that half a loaf is better
than no bread; tell 'em to keep quiet till after your next
election is over, and maybe you'll contrive some plan to be cutting
into t'other half. Keep Mr. Ritchie blowing the organ,
all weathers, to the tune of half of Mexico for a song. Tell
the whole country, and brazen it out to everybody, that you've
made a great bargain, a capital bargain, much better than
Jefferson made when he bought Louisiana for fifteen millions
of dollars; tell 'em for the same sum of money you have got a
great deal more land, and more men on it. I'm satisfied this
is the best ground to take; we must go for the treaty, and,
bitter pill as it is, we must swallow it as though we loved
it. I s'pose it will have to go before the Senate, as
the Constitution now stands (the Constitution is very defective
on that pint, and ought to be mended, for it's dangerous
trusting important matters to the Senate); but you
must drive your friends all up to vote for it; don't let it
fail on no account; don't let 'em go to fingerin' it over, and
putting in amendments that will make the Mexicans so mad
that they will kick it all over again. For that would put
things into such a hurly-burly that I'm afraid you would lose
your election.

Ratify the treaty, and then gather up all the glory that's
been made out of this war, twist it into a sort of glory wreath
round your head, and march with a bold step and a stiff upper
lip right into the Presidential campaign, and I shouldn't
wonder if you beat the whole bunch of all your enemies and
all your friends. And if you went into your second term on


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the strength of half of Mexico, it would be a pretty good sign
that you might go into a third term on the strength of the whole
of it.

I remain your faithful friend,