With the cessions from Mexico came the great domain of California. Now, look how strangely history sometimes works out itself. Had there been any suspicion of the discovery of gold in California, neither Mexico nor our republic ever would have owned it! England surely would have taken it. The very year that my treaty eventually was ratified was that in which gold was discovered in California! But it was too late then for England to interfere; too late then, also, for Mexico to claim it. We got untold millions of treasure there. Most of those millions went to the Northern States, into manufactures, into commerce. The North owned that gold; and it was that gold which gave the North the power to crush that rebellion which was born of the Mexican War—that same rebellion by which England, too late, would gladly have seen this Union disrupted, so that she might have yet another chance at these lands she now had lost for ever.
Fate seemed still to be with us, after all, as I have so often had occasion to believe may be a possible thing. That war of conquest which Mr. Calhoun opposed, that same war which grew out of the slavery tenets which he himself held—the great error of his otherwise splendid public life—found its own correction in the Civil War. It was the gold of California which put down slavery. Thenceforth slavery has existed legally only north of the Mason and Dixon line!
We have our problems yet. Perhaps some other war may come to settle them. Fortunate for us if there could be another California, another Texas, another Oregon, to help us pay for them!
I, who was intimately connected with many of these less known matters, claim for my master a reputation wholly different from that given to him in any garbled “history” of his life. I lay claim in his name for foresight beyond that of any man of his time. He made mistakes, but he made them bravely, grandly, and consistently. Where his convictions were enlisted, he had no reservations, and he used every means, every available weapon, as I have shown. But he was never self-seeking, never cheap, never insincere. A detester of all machine politicians, he was a statesman worthy to be called the William Pitt of the United States. The consistency of his career was a marvelous thing; because, though he changed in his beliefs, he was first to recognize the changing conditions of our country. He failed, and he is execrated. He won, and he is forgot.
My chief, Mr. Calhoun, did not die until some six years after that first evening when Doctor Ward and I had our talk with him. He was said to have died of a disease of the lungs, yet here again history is curiously mistaken. Mr. Calhoun slept himself away. I sometimes think with a shudder that perhaps this was the revenge which Nemesis took of him for his mistakes. His last days were dreamlike in their passing. His last speech in the Senate was read by one of his friends, as Doctor Ward had