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crew taken by wreckers, contrary to their wishes, into Nassau, New Providence, where the slaves shared the same fate as at Bermuda.
These are the essential facts of the case. He did not intend to argue the questions that grew out of them. There was, indeed, little or no ground for argument. No one, in the least conversant with the laws of nations, can doubt that those vessels were as much under the protection of our flag, while on their voyage, proceeding from one port of the Union to another, as if they were in port, lying at the wharves, within our acknowledged jurisdiction. Nor is it less clear that, forced as the Enterprise was, by stress of weather, and taken, under the circumstances, as the passengers and crews of the other two were, into the British dominions, they lost none of the rights which belonged to them while on their voyage on the ocean. So far otherwise so far from losing the protection which our flag gave them while on the ocean, they had superadded, by their misfortunes, the additional rights which the laws of humanity extend to the unfortunate in their situation, and which are regarded by all civilized nations as sacred. It follows as a necessary consequence, that the municipal laws of the place could not divest the owners of the property which, as citizens of the United States, they held in the slaves who were passengers in the vessels; —and yet, as clear as is this conclusion, they were forcibly seized and detained by the local authorities of the islands ; and the Government of Great Britain, after five years' negotiation, has not only withheld redress, but has not even deigned to answer the oft-repeated applications of our Government in regard to it. We are thus left, by its silence, to conjecture the reasons for so extraordinary a course.
On casting his eyes over the whole subject, he could fix but on one that had the least plausibility—and that resting on a principle which it was scarcely credible that a government so intelligent could assume :-he meant the principle
that there could not be property in persons. It was not for him to object that Great Britain, or any other country, should assume this, or any other principle, it might think proper, as applicable to its own subjeets, but he must protest against the right to adopt it as applicable to our country or citizens. It would strike at the independence of our country, and be not less insulting than outrageous; while it would ill become a nation, that was the greatest slaveholder of any on the earth-notwithstanding all the cant about emancipation-to apply such a principle in her intercourse with others. It is true, to speak out boldly on this subject, and to expose freely the folly and hypocrisy of those who accuse others of that, in which, if there be guilt, they are most guilty themselves—ours is not the only mode in which man may have dominion over man. The principle which would abrogate the property of our citizens in their slaves, would equally abrogate the dominion of Great Britain over the subject nations under her control. If an individual can have no property in another, how can one nation, which is but an aggregate of individuals, have dominion, which involves the highest right of property, over another ? If man has, by nature, the right of self-government, have not nations, on the same principle, an equal right? And, if the former forbids one individual from having property in another individual, does not the other equally forbid one nation holding dominion over another? How inconsistent would it be in Great Britain to withhold redress for injustice and injury to our citizens, committed in the West Indies, on the ground that persons could not be property, while, in the East Indies, she exercises unlimited dominion over a hundred millions of human beings, whose labor she controls as effectually as our citizens do that of their slaves ? It is not to be credited that she will venture to assume, in her relations with us, a principle so utterly indefensible, and which could not but expose her to imputations that would
make her sincerity questionable. This she must see; and to the fact that she does see, he attributed her long and obstinate silence.
But, it may be asked, why does she not then make reparation at once in so clear a case ? Why not restore the slaves, or make ample compensation to their owners ? He could imagine but one motive. She had among her subjects many whose fanatical feelings on this subject she was unwilling to offend. But, while respecting the feelings of her own subjects, blind and misdirected as they are, she ought not to forget that our Government is also bound to respect the feelings and rights of its citizens. Let her remember that, if to respect the rights which our citizens have over their slaves, be offensive to any portion of her subjects, how much more so would it be to our citizens for our Government to acquiesce in her refusal to respect our rights to establish the relation which one portion of our population shall have to anotherand how unreasonable it would be for her to expect that our Government should be more indifferent to the feelings of our citizens than hers to any portion of her subjects. He, with every lover of his country, on both sides, desired sincerely to see the peace and harmony of the two countries preserved ; but he held that the only condition on which they could possibly be preserved, was that of perfect equality, and a mutual respect for their respective institutions; and he could not but see that a perseverance in withholding redress in these cases, must, in the end, disturb the friendly relations which now so happily exist between the two countries.
He hoped, on resuming the correspondence, our Government would
the claim for redress in a manner far more earnest and better becoming the importance of the subject, than it has heretofore been done. It seemed to him that a vast deal more had been said about the decision of the courts and the acts of the British Government, than ought to have been said. They had little or nothing to do with the case,
and can have no force whatever against the grounds on which our claims for justice stand. However binding on her own subjects, or foreigners voluntarily entering her dominions, they can have no binding effect whatever, where misfortunes, as in these cases, placed our citizens within her jurisdiction.
If they be properly presented, and pressed on the attention of the British Government, he could not doubt but that speedy and ample justice would be done. It could not be withheld but by an open refusal to do justice, which he could not anticipate. As to himself, he should feel bound, as one of the representatives from the slaveholding States, which had a peculiar and deep interest in the question, to bring this case annually before Congress so long as he held a seat on this floor, if redress shall be so long withheld.
On the Motion to refer the Message of the President
concerning the Relations of the United States with France, to the Committee on Foreign Relations ; delivered in the Senate, February 14, 1837.
I RISE with feelings entirely different from those of the Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Buchanan. He said he never listened to any message with greater satisfaction than the present. That which has excited such agrecable sensations in his breast, I have heard with the most profound regret. Never did I listen to a document with more melancholy feelings, with a single exception—the war-message from the same quarter, a few years since, against one of the sovereign members of this Confederacy.
I arrived here, said Mr. C., at the beginning of the session, with a strong conviction that there would be no war. I saw, indeed, many unfavorable and hostile indications ; but I thought the cause of difference between the two countries was too trivial to terminate so disastrously. I could not believe that two great and enlightened nations, blessed with constitutional governments, and between whom so many endearing recollections existed to bind them together in mutual sympathy and kindness, would, at this advanced stage of civilization, plunge into war for a cause so frivolous. With this impression, notwithstanding all I saw and heard, I still believed peace would be preserved ; but the Message and the speech of the Senator from Pennsylvania have dispelled the delusion. I will not undertake to pronounce with certainty that war is intended, but I will say, that, if the recommendations of the President be adopted, it will be almost inevitable.
I fear that the condition in which the country is now placed has been the result of a deliberate and systematic policy. I am bound to speak my sentiments freely; it is due to my constituents and the country, to act with perfect candor and truth on a question in which their interest is so deeply involved. I will not assert that the Executive has deliberately aimed at war from the commencement; but I will say that, from the beginning of the controversy to the present moment, the course which the President has pursued is precisely the one calculated to terminate in a conflict between the two nations. It has been in his power, at every period, to give the controversy a direction by which the peace of the country might be preserved without the least sacrifice of reputation or honor, but he has preferred the opposite. I feel, said Mr. C., how painful it is to make these declarations; how unpleasant it is to occupy a position which might, by any possibility, be construed into opposition to our country's cause ; but in my conception, the honor and the