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Tuesday, 13th April, 1847.
At the request of Mr. Buchanan I summoned the Cabinet to meet at ten o'clock this morning. All the members attended shortly after that hour. Mr. Buchanan submitted for consideration the project of a treaty with Mexico, which he had prepared in pursuance of the decision of the Cabinet on Saturday last, to be borne by Mr. Trist to the headquarters of the army in Mexico and to be concluded and signed by him if the Mexican government acceded to it. The boundary proposed in the project was the Rio Grande from its mouth to the point where it intersects the southern boundary of New Mexico, the whole of the provinces of New Mexico and Upper and Lower California to be ceded to the United States. There was a stipulation in a separate article securing to the United States the right of passage and transit from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean across the isthmus of Tehuantepec. The consideration which Mr. c is his draft of a treaty proposed to pay, in addition to the assumption of the claims of our citizens against Mexico, was $15,000,000, in instalments of $3,000,000 per annum. I expressed the hope that this boundary and concession might be obtained for this or even a less sum, but that I was willing to pay a larger sum for it if it could not be had for that sum, and that I thought Mr. Trist should be authorized to give more, if he found that to be the only obstacle in concluding a treaty. I was willing to make the consideration double that sum ($30,000,000) if the cession could not be obtained for a less sum, rather than fail to make a treaty. Mr. Buchanan earnestly resisted this and was in favour of restricting the offer to the $15,000,000. This point gave rise to much conversation and discussion. I stated my reasons at some length for being willing to enlarge the sum to $30,000,000, if the treaty could not be had for that sum. Among these reasons were, first, that the continuance of the war for less than twelve months would cost more than that sum; and secondly, that the country ceded to the United States would be worth, in the public lands acquired and commercial advantages, more than fourfold the $30,000,000. The members of the Cabinet expressed their opinions freely. Mr. Walker attached greater importance to the free passage across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec than to the cession of New Mexico and the Californias, and if that object could be obtained he was willing to pay $30,000,000, but without it he was not. Mr. Buchanan still opposed the enlargement of the consideration. Finally all the Cabinet except Mr. Buchanan yielded to my views, and it was agreed that Mr. Trist should be furnished with confidential instructions authorizing him in his discretion, if the treaty could not be obtained for a less sum, to stipulate to pay $30,000,000. It was further agreed that if the passage across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec could not be obtained, the maximum sum to be paid for the other cessions of the proposed treaty should not exceed $25,000,000. It was agreed, also, that if Lower California could not be obtained, that then the maximum sum to be paid for the Rio Grande as a boundary and the cession of New Mexico and Upper California should not exceed $20,000,000. To these several propositions all the Cabinet except Mr. Buchanan agreed, and he being overruled yielded and said he would modify the project of the treaty and prepare the instructions accordingly. I stated, and it was understood by all, that the several sums, mentioned were maximums to which Mr. Trist might go in the last resort, but that he would procure the treaty for as much less sum as possible. In the course of the discussion Mr. Walker insisted that the free passage across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec should be a sine qua non to the making of any treaty. To this I objected and stated that it constituted no part of the object for which we had engaged in the war. The balance of the Cabinet, though agreeing that it was important, yet concurred with me in opinion that it should not be a sine qua non in the making of a treaty. . .
About two o'clock P.M. it was announced to me that General Tom Thumb, a dwarf, who is being exhibited in this city and who has become quite celebrated by having been exhibited at all the principal courts of Europe, was in the parlour below stairs and desired to see me. I invited the Cabinet to take a short recess and to walk down with me, and they did so. We found a number of ladies and gentlemen in the parlour. Tom Thumb is a most remarkable person. After spending twenty or thirty minutes in the parlour I returned with the Cabinet to my office. 5
- Polk: The Diary of a President, 1845-1849, Covering the Mexican War, the Acquisition of Oregon, and the Conquest of California and the Southwest-Book by Allan Nevins, James Polk; 1929