I maintain that it is an utter impossibility for a treaty-making power to impose a permanent disability on the government for all coming time, which, in the very nature and necessity of the case, may not be outgrown and set aside by the laws of national progression, which all unaided will render nugatory and vain all the plans and intentions of men. In the language of Honorable Edward Everett, in his famous diplomatic correspondence with the Compte De Sartiges in relation to the Island of Cuba, in 1852, when asked to join England and France in a tripartite treaty, in which a clause was embodied forbidding the United States from ever acquiring or annexing that Island to this republic, “It may well be doubted, whether the Constitution of the United States would allow the treaty making power to impose a permanent disability on the American government for all coming time, and prevent it under any future change of circumstances from doing what has so often been done in the past. In 1803 the United States purchased Louisiana of France, and in 1819 they purchased Florida of Spain. It is not within the competence of the treaty-making power in 1852 effectually to bind the government in all its branches, and for all coming time, not to make a similar purchase of Cuba. There is an irresistible tide of affairs in a new country which makes such a disposition of its future rights nugatory and vain. America, but lately a waste, is filling up with intense rapidity, and is adjusting on natural principles those territorial relations which, on the first discovery of the continent, were, in a good degree, fortuitous. It is impossible to mistake the law of American progress and growth, or think it can be ultimately arrested by a treaty, which shall attempt to prevent by agreement the future growth of this great republic.”
The good faith of this nation demands that we should live up to all our treaties and agreements, so far as it is possible to do so; but when in the course of events, and by reason of the fixed decrees of growth, we are not able to do so, then it becomes us, in honor and fairness to others, as well as to ourselves, to take immediate measures to modify, and if necessary entirely rescind them, let the consequences be what they may.