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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 agreeable 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 interests of the country can only be maintained by pursuing the course that truth and justice may dictate. Acting under this impression, I do not hesitate to assert, after a careful examination of the documents connected with this unhappy controversy, that, if war must come, we are the authorswe are the responsible party. Standing, as I fear we do, on the eve of a conflict, it would have been to me a source of pride and pleasure to make an opposite declaration ; but that sacred regard to truth and justice, which, I trust, will ever be my guide under the most difficult circumstances, will not permit.
I cannot but call back to my recollection the position which I occupied, twenty-four years since, as a member of the other House. We were then, as I fear we are now, the eve of a war with a great and powerful nation. My voice then was raised for war, because I then believed that justice, honor, and necessity demanded it. It is now raised for peace, because I am under the most solemn conviction that by going to war, we would sacrifice justice, honor and interest. The same motive which then impelled to war, now impels
I have not, said Mr. C., made this assertion lightly. It is the result of mature and deliberate reflection. It is not my intention to enter into a minute examination of that unhappy train of events which has brought the country to its present situation ; but I will briefly touch on a few prominent points, beginning with that most unfortunate negotiation, which seems destined to terminate so disastrously for the country.
From the accession of the present king, his Ministry avowed itself favorable to the settlement of our claims. It could scarcely be otherwise. The king had just been raised to the throne, under a revolution originating in popular impulses, which could not but dispose him favorably towards us. La
fayette, at the time, possessed much power and influence, and had greatly contributed to elevate Louis Philippe to his present station. His feelings were known to be decidedly favorable to us. But, with all this favorable inclination, the Ministry were fearful of concluding a treaty. They dreaded the Chambers; they knew how odious all treaties of indemnity were to the entire French nation, and how difficult it would be to bring the Chambers to agree to make an appropriation to carry a treaty of indemnity into effect, even with our country. With these impressions, they frankly stated to Mr. Rives, our Minister, that the difficulty was not with them, but with the Chambers; that if a treaty were made, it could not be carried into effect without a vote of appropriation from the Chambers; and it was very doubtful whether such a vote could be obtained. These declarations were not made once, or twice ; they were repeated again and again, throughout every stage of the negotiation, and never more emphatically than in the very last, just before the conclusion of the treaty.
The President of the Council, M. Perrier, in a conversation with Mr. Rives, at that late period, stated that there would be no difficulty in arranging the question, were it not that he feared opposition on the part of the Chambers, which might place the relation between the two countries in a more dangerous state, by refusing to make the appropriation. How prophetic ! as if he had foreseen what has since come to pass. I do not profess to give his words; I did not anticipate the dicussion, and have not come prepared with documents; but what I state is substantially what he said. With this apprehension, he asked our Minister to wait the short period of two months, for the meeting of the Chambers, that they might be consulted before the conclusion of the treaty, in order to avoid the possibility of the embarrassment which has since occurred, and which has so dangerously em