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America's History in the Making

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"Spot" Resolutions

"Spot" Resolutions in the United States House of Representatives [1] December 22, 1847

First: Whether the spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as in his messages declared, was, or was not, within the teritories of Spain, at least from the treaty of 1819 until the Mexican revolution

Second: Whether that spot is, or is not, within the teritory which was wrested from Spain, by the Mexican revolution.

Third: Whether that spot is, or is not, within a settlement of people, which settlement had existed ever since long before the Texas revolution, until it's inhabitants fled from the approach of the U.S. Army.

Fourth: Whether that settlement is, or is not, isolated from any and all other settlements, by the Gulf of Mexico, and the Rio Grande, on the South and West, and by wide uninhabited regions on the North and East.

Fifth: Whether the People of that settlement, or a majority of them, or any of them, had ever, previous to the bloodshed, mentioned in his messages, submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas, or of the United States, by consent, or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at elections, or paying taxes, or serving on juries, or having process served upon them, or in any other way.

Sixth: Whether the People of that settlement, did, or did not, flee from the approach of the United States Army, leaving unprotected their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed, as in his messages stated; and whether the first blood so shed, was, or was not shed, within the inclosure of the People, or some of them, who had thus fled from it.

Seventh: Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his
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messages declared, were, or were not, at that time, armed officers, and soldiers, sent into that settlement, by the military order of the President through the Secretary of War---and

Eighth: Whether the military force of the United States, including those citizens, was, or was not, so sent into that settlement, after Genl. Taylor had, more than once, intimated to the War Department that, in his opinion, no such movement was necessary to the defence or protection of Texas.

[1] AD, DNA RG 233 HR 30 A B 3 (1); Congressional Globe, Thirtieth Congress, First Session, 1848, p. 64. The resolutions were read and laid on the table. The text of the resolutions as printed in the Globe was considerably altered from Lincoln's original, which is here followed in detail.

Reprinted in Roy P. Basler, ed., Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings (Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1946), 199—201.

Creator Abraham Lincoln
Context Polk had successfully brought the United States into a War with Mexico.
Audience Congress and his Illinois constituents
Purpose To persuade people to oppose the war

Historical Significance

Many intellectuals, particularly in New England, were very critical of the Mexican War, and not just because it was likely to expand slavery. Opponents of the war argued that the nation was acting immorally in declaring war on and invading Mexico.

Abraham Lincoln, a young Congressmen from Illinois, also argued against Polk's decision for war. Lincoln's questioning of the war prompted many of his constituents to question his patriotism, and he decided not to run for re-election. He would emerge a decade later as one of the nation's leading opponents to the geographic expansion of slavery.


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