(His last speech before Congress)
Calls for War with Mexico
February 6, 1837
(His last day as President was March 3, 1837)
To the Senate of the United States
At the beginning of this session Congress was informed that our claims upon Mexico had not been adjusted but that notwithstanding the irritating effect upon her councils of the movements in Texas, I hoped by great forbearance to avoid the necessity of again bringing the subject of them to your notice. That hope has been disappointed. Having in vain urged upon that government the justice of those claims and my indispensable obligation to insist that there should be “no further delay in the acknowledgement if not in the redress of the injuries complained of”, my duty requires that the whole subject should be presented as it now is, for the action of Congress, whose exclusive right it is to decide on the further measures of redress to be employed. The length of time since some of the injuries have been committed, the repeated and unavailing applications for redress, the wanton character of some of the outrages upon the property and persons of our citizens, upon the officers and flag of the United States, independent of recent insults to this government and people by the late Extraordinary Mexican Minister, would justify in the eyes of all nations immediate war. That remedy, however, should not be used by just and generous nations confiding in their strength for injuries committed, if it can be honorably avoided, and it has occurred to me that considering the present embarrassed condition of that country, we should act with both wisdom and moderation by giving to Mexico one more opportunity to atone for the past before we take redress into our own hands. To avoid all misconception on the part of Mexico as well as to protect our own national character from reproach, this opportunity should be given, with the avowed design and full preparation to take immediate satisfaction if it should not be obtained on a repetition of the demand for it. To this end I recommend that an act be passed authorizing reprisals and the use of the naval force of the United States by the Executive against Mexico to enforce them in the event of a refusal by the Mexican Government to come to an amicable adjustment of the matters in controversy between us upon another demand thereof made from on board one of our vessels of war on the coast of Mexico. The documents herewith transmitted, with those accompanying my message in answer to a call of the House of Representatives of the 17th ultimo, will enable Congress to judge of the propriety of the course heretofore pursued and to decide upon the necessity of that now recommended.
If these views should fail to meet the concurrence of Congress and that body be able to find in the condition of the affairs between the two countries as disclosed by the accompanying documents with those referred to, any well grounded reasons to hope that an adjustment of the controversy between them can be effected without a resort to the measures I have felt it my duty to recommend, they may be assured of my cooperation in any other course that shall be deemed honorable and proper.
Andrew Jackson Washington, February 6, 1837