« FöregåendeFortsätt »
claims a primary attention, from the order which it holds in your letter, but more especially from some important considerations that are connected with it. The idea entertained by the public, is, that the rights of the United States were abandoned by the American Commissioners in the late negotiation, and that their seamen were left, by tacit acquiescence, if not by formal renunciation, to depend for their safety on the mercy of the British cruisers. I have, on the contrary, always believed, and still do believe, that the ground on which that interest was placed by the paper of the British Commissioners of November 8, 1806, and the explanations which accompanied it, was both honorable and advantageous to the United States; that it contained a concession in their favor, on the part of Great Britain, on the great principle in contestation, never before made by a formal and obligatory act of the Government, which was highly favorable to their interest; and that it also imposed on her the obligation to conform her practice under it, until a more complete arrangement should be concluded, to the just claims of the United States.”
He further adds, in another place: o
“It was the more to be presumed, that the Government was willing to accept, in the mode which it proposed, the condition which we might be able to obtain in the other, from the consideration, that the latter were under its view at the time the instructions were given, by the .. of the British Commissioners, of November 8, and our letter of the 11th, and the certainty with which it, (the Government,) as well as we, must have been impressed, that more favorable conditions could not be expected.” And again : “The Government was equally willing, with us, to enter into some arrangement, which would preserve the peace of the country, although it should not accomplish the object which had been so ardently desired.”
More on this head need not be added, as it is most manifest, if war was to grow out of impressment, that it ought to have been declared while the Chesapeake affair hung over us, as that disgraceful occurrence grew out of impressment. But Mr. Jefferson cherished a different policy, and would not call Congress on the occasion.
Mr. Speaker, said Mr. S., if we are to raise the proposed army, commence a war of conquest,
take possession of the Canadas, and, afterwards,
as the gentleman from New Hampshire, (Mr. HARPER) tells us, we are to turn our attention to the Bahama 1slands, and conquer them also, when and where is this spirit of conquest and dominion to end ? If we indulge in it, then are we to be overwhelmed with all the miseries of poor miserable Europe; for there can be no end to wars of ambition and conquest. From a consciousness, on the part of Great Britain, that we could take possession of the Canadas, he believed she had forborne to make direct war upon us before now, She was not very squeamish on the subject of war; and when we prohibit all trade with her, which, he believed, it was just and right to do, she had no interest in a peace with us. Thus the Canadas, he observed, had served us as a pledge for her better behaviour. He would rather they should remain that pledge, than possess ourselves of them, and then not know what to do with them afterwards, . It was impossible for the
12th CoN. 1st Sess.-22
United States to hold and govern them. If we did, we must infuse a little more energy into our system of Government than it had at present— the energy of standing armies and standing taxes. Great Britain, sir, said he, deserves war at our hands, deserves to be chastised, and made to be just, if we had the power to do it. But we are a young nation, and have not the power. To attempt it, is but to throw aside our pacific character, and put on that of a belligerent military one; in fact, to inflict ruin upon ourselves. She strug
les, sir, for her existence; and if she meets her ate, it will have proceeded from the madness of her own councils, and the folly of her own measures. Her conduct conciliates no American feelings in her behalf; it ought not. But shall we, therefore, permit ourselves to fall into the same madness in our councils, and commit like folly in our measures 7 Can we persuade ourselves, that a “war of aggression” and conquest can suit the great agricultural interests of our country? Will it subserve the interests of commerce itself,
or, indeed, any other interest, in the present state
of the world ! Though not impossible to hope, it was certainly not reasonable to expect it. The vexations of our commerce, from the one or the other of the belligerents, since the French Revolution commenced, had continued, without interruption, during their wars to the present time, and afforded just cause of war to the United States, but the policy and expediency of it was denied, on the Republican side of the question, at all times. Notwithstanding, sir, what gentlemen may say, we are at present the freest, happiest, and most prosperous people upon earth, combining the view of our internal improvements with our external commerce. It may be well said, our merchants are the Jasons of the day, and are literally fetching away from Portugal and Spain the golden fleece, and leaving Great Britain and France to contend for the carcass. Such was the price, and such the demand, for our wheat and flour in those countries. The truth is, sir, that the great commercial question is between the United States and France, and her continental .. Her municipal regulations, and her exclusion of our commerce, deprives the Southern States of their greatest and best markets for their tobacco and cotton. These articles are not worth taking to market, and, without some change in Bonaparte's system, never like to be so again. That this is the state of the case, gentlemen cannot deny; a communication from the French Minister, and other documents on the table, go to show it. The President, in his Message, has recommended to Congress to adopt countervailing measures, but nothing has been yet done. British injustice has been justly met with the non-importation law—a countervailing system, such as has been relied upon heretofore, under
• By a late report of the Secretary of the Treasury, it appears we export of our native productions to Great Britain - - - - $20,308,275
To France and Italy, only - - - 1,194,275
Mr. Jefferson’s Administration, to save the United States from the calamities of a war—and was such a one as must operate, and did operate, with as much effect upon the enemy as the contemplated war could do, and with far less evil effects upon our own interests and happiness. The law in question did not itself propose to the belligerents to go farther than to enforce non-intercourse with that one which should not repeal her édicts; and, for one, he was not disposed to go farther. Mr. S. said he had opposed the war, and the measures leading to it, as impolitic and unjust, in Mr. Adams's time, and should not feel himself an honest and consistent politician not to oppose the war now contemplated. It would be for others to reconcile the old Republican policy with the new, in their own way; it was not in his power to do it. The affair of the Chesapeake taken out of the question, the state of the case was plain and easy. The amount of French depredations is known to have been nearly four millions at that period, for we paid it to our own merchants according the convention of 1803, and the charact belligerent edicts are before us. We can see and compare them for ourselves. We predicat present war without equal data, upon an amount of wrongs. - * * If, sir, we pass the bill before us to raise the twenty-five thousand men, it will be rather a Congressional than a Presidential army. The President, under his view of the occasion, recommends an additional force of ten thousand men as sufficient to put the country in that armor and attitude which he deemed proper to meet the crisis; and still, not with views of immediate war, spfar as we know, we make it twenty-five thousand, and declare them for purposes of immediate war. All this may be, as it should be, a just and wise course, but it appeared to him like supporting the
Administration over much. He was willing to
support it, and go with the majority so long as they adhered to the principles which brought them into power, and no longer. Mr. Stow.—Mr. Speaker, as I am not in the habit of occupying the time of this House, I trust they will listen to the few observations I am about to make with patience. The subject is of the utmost importance, and as it is my misfortune to differ in opinion with most of my political friends, it is a duty I owe to this House, to my constituents, and to myself, to make some explanation. We are this day called upon, Mr. Speaker, to decide the most momentous question which has ever came before the Legislature of this country. since the Declaration of Independence. . On our decision hang the future destinies of our country. Peace and war are alike before us. Our determination is, in my opinion, to pronounce whether this country shall have peace, plenty, laws, liberty and rational religion; or whether we shall have not a single war, of two, six or eight years, as the case may be—but whether, by one war, we shall create an interest which will plunge us into all the future wars which shall agitate the civilized world. But we are told that whenever a nation is injured, honor imperiously calls it to war—that
we must fight—that it is dishonorable to calculate. I deny that honor or prudence requires the indiscriminate resistance of injury, either in an individual or in a nation: how long to bear, and when to resist, is the province of reason to decide, not of passion—it is the business of sound calculation; it must be determined from an enlightened view of all the attendant circumstances. Among these circumstances I readily admit, that the reputation of courage, the character of avenging wrongs, is entitled to great consideration, inasmuch as it often prevents future insult and injury. It is wisdom to determine on the best course, and when that course is determined on, it is courage firmly to pursue it; and it is honorable to listen alike to the dictates of wisdom, as well as of courage. I confess I am too proud to calculate—in the language of unerring truth, “to sit down and count the cost.”
, For what do we go to war? Not for the comforts or conveniences of life—not-for our lands, our wives, our children, our families—not for our laws, our liberties, or our institutions: all these we have, and they are safe. For I do maintain, Mr. Speaker, that our country is essentially prosperous. It is highly so, when compared with any other country. Our agriculture and manufactures are daily improving. Where is the person in America, who suffers for want of the necessaries of life?—for food, clothing or shelter ? Where are the children who want instruction, or who go hungry to bed? If we go to war, it will be for luxuries, not for necessaries. I know that considerable difficulties exist in our mercantile towns from the interruption of trade, and I deeply regret them; but many of the evils of which we com
plain have not sprung from foreign injury—they are artificial—they have grown out of our exten'sive system of banking. By means of banks,
credit has been obtained easily—money has appeared-plenty: we have been too extravagant in our expenses, and we have contracted debts with too much facility. War will not remedy these evils—it will not pay our debts, but it will increase the disorder, and plunge us deeper into debt. But we are going to war for commerce. Commerce will be annihilated by war. We are to fight for the right of carrying our productions to the Continent, where no prudent man would carry them. We are to go to war for what must be destroyed by war; and we are about to fight for the right of going where we do not want to go: or, are we to fight our cotton and tobacco through the hostile fleets of Great Britain, and through the municipal edicts of Napoleon, to a market, and then trust fortune for getting the avails of it back 2 For these idle projects—for these less than “shadowy forms”—we are about to plunge this nation into all the horrors of war. For these we are to have standing armies, and navies, and impressments, (for I do maintain, that from the nature of the thing, to make a navy efficient, you must resort to impressment,) and widows, and orphans, and taxes, and debts, and funding systems, and contractors, and stockjobbers, and speculators, and Executive patronage. Can any curse be
Force. H. of R.
added ? Yes, monarchy, in due time, for these are the stuff which monarchies are made of. And for all these evils the people, that is, the industrious farmers and mechanics, are to be compensated in Quebec, in Halifax, and in glory. When all the vices and calamities which attend the system of an eternal succession of wars, present themselves before me, as a lover of my country, I hardly know whether to wish that the war we are about to engage in may be successful or not. If it shall be unsuccessful, I shall have to endure the mortification of seeing my country disgraced; and, if successful, I fear it will lure her on to a system of wars and debts, which must end in the loss of her liberties. We are told, Mr. Speaker, that commerce must be protected. From whom does this come? Have the ship owners asked your assistance? Are there any petitions from merchants on your table? No. They, for once, beg only that you will let them alone ; you have already loved them (as the ape did her child) so well, that you have hugged them almost to death. It is remarkable that this spirit of protecting commerce has come from the interior It is not from the ship owners, but it is from men furthest removed from ships. hen a man rises in this House, you may almost tell how ardent he will be, by knowing how far distant he lives from the sea. But how, Mr. Speaker, are we going to protect commerce 7 By taking Canada? Under this pretext (I meant to say project.) our commerce is really to be swept from the ocean —it is to be annihilated How will the capture of Canada protect commerce? It will be like a man who, for the purpose of securing a rice field, should go and fence his neighbor's corn field. No, Mr. Speaker, if you will defend your rights on the 9cean, it must be by a powerful maritime force— it must be by seventy-fours—it must be such a force as can cope with your enemy: lay a fifty-six pound weight in one scale, and go to putting pound weights in the other scale, and you will have done nothing till you have put in fifty-six of them—you will not have raised the opposite side a single inch. . It is the same in maritime affairs— unless a nation can cope with, she builds ships only for her enemy. I repeat, that it is the business of sound calculation, to determine whether the evils induced by such a fleet, would not be greater than all we should suffer from the want of it. The object of a nation, or individual, ought to be, to choose the least possible evil. Without regarding this principle, a person, because he had a right to travel a certain road, would not go round an inch, but would push forward, although it were beset by highwaymen, and his advance were certain death. A person who should fight for mere right, without any calculation of utility, would stop to cuff a bear or a thorn bush, if it chanced to be in his way. But, Mr. Speaker, some gentlemen appear to have an utter aversion-to calculation—they seem as if they did not dare to trust themselves with it—they can hardly bear to adjourn from day to day. Let me tell those gentlemen, who have so much fear that the spirit will cool by a
little delay, and a little reflection, that they would soon cool under the walls of Quebec. If they cannot trust themselves in this comfortable place, they would soon be brought to other counsels amidst the snows of Canada. Thus, Mr. Speaker, I have endeavored to explain, though in short, my views of the subject. In the present situation of the world, I am in favor of peace—but the majority have the right to decide. I shall consider the vote about to be given on this bill as pronouncing their determination; and should it be in favor of war, I shall deem it my duty to support that determination, and to do . in my power to make war successful, and to bring it to an honorable close. Mr. D. R. Williams said, there was nothing more natural than a desire to justify the vote we are called upon to give upon so important a question a question as the present; even in ordinar cases it is both natural and justifiable; . more so in a case which is of sufficient magnitude, abstractly considered, to excite all our solicitude, now become infinitely more momentous by the course the argument has taken; for the question is, not only shall the bill pass, but shall there be war 7 *After the maturest deliberation he had been able to give the subject, he must confess that he was not perfectly satisfied with the details of the bill before the House. He believed it to be fairly liable to the objections urged against it by his worthy friend from North Carolina, (Mr. Macon.) Sir, the organization of the troops contemplated to be raised is new ; it is true it had been intimated to be an imitation of the French organizatioh, but that is not the fact, and, viewing it as an experiment, he could not but distrust it or any other that should be attempted at this time. It puts down the old system, which carried us safe and triumphant through our war, and perhaps might better through another than to take up one that is new, untried, experimental; besides, it certainly does establish a preference in the command of officers of the same grade in the old and this new army; he thought the jealousies, suffi
cient already, without adding new causes; but as
it is impossible every member should obtain his precise wishes in matters of detail, perhaps no one ought sooner to distrust his own judgment than himself, and as the principle of the bill met his approbation, he would vote for it, more especially as he considered it the first measure of war against Great Britain. To his mind there appeared to be only these courses left for the nation: Repeal, the nonimportation law and take a war with France; make war on Great Britain, or submit to the principle of her Orders in Council., Which alternative then shall we accept 4. He had no agency in bringing the ". into its present situation, but it was not, therefore, less his duty, to exert every effort to rescue her from it. The period had arrived when he considered indifference as criminal; that he who was not for his country was against it. He was not disposed to repeal the non-importation law at this time; because he
considered, no matter whether he approved of the fact or not, that the faith of the nation was pledged to retain it, and that its repeal would, of course, be a violation of that faith ; nor did he believe that any circumstance could arise, so imperious in his mind, as to induce him, by any vote of his, to violate a faith..so dear, and heretofore so immaculate. The repeal of that law, happen when it may, must necessarily depend on circumstances that are not yet known. To yield to the principle of the Orders in Council, is a virtual abandonment of the rights of an independent nation. this debate by following some gentlemen through their tedious details concerning the relative importance of the events of 1798; let us come home to the present times, and inquire what is that principle 7 Practically considered, it is the exercise of supreme legislation over us, involving not only all the attributes of legitimate sovereignty but despotism direct. And when honored with seats in this House, while intrusted with the interests and rights, too, of the people of the United States, shalf we basely, and without resistance, succumb to British domination? The question then is, ought resistance to be made by physical force? He could not but rejoice that neither the revocation nor modification of the French edicts enter into the present, discussion. . However positive and important the repeal or modification of the Berlin and Milan decrees may be to us, they are, in relation to Great Britain, now merged by her in considerations of far different character and import. ment, through its accredited Minister here, has thrown the repeal of those decrees entirely out of the dispute; because, contrary to her solemn and reiterated promises, whether they are repealed or
not, her orders are to be continued in force. What
now is made the basis of their revocation ? You are required to act within the territorial limits of France; to put down her municipal regulations; to overthrow her whole system of internal trade and manufacture, whereby a channel may be
opened for the introduction of British manufac- |
tures into French ports. Is it possible that any man can mistake the secret object of such a requisition ? Can it be concealed that it is equivalent to an absolute, unqualified rejection of every overture for a repeal on her part? What pretext of justice has she for such a demand? Are French manufactures admitted into her ports? Will she admit them under any circumstance whatever ? Does she even permit you, who are to procure this advantage for her, to carry your own manufactures to her dominions? No. If, then, the renunciation of the principle of her orders depends upon our securing to her the introduction of her manufactures into France, what are we to expect 7 What other resource than positive resistance have we left? We are then brought to a direct decision, either to submit to the principle, or to oppose it by force. Submit 1 did he say ? he shrunk with detestation from the ideal Indeed he felt humbled by the seeming necessity of
He meant not to drivel out.
The demands made by that Govern
speaking of it; but the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Sheffey) had made it necessary to expose such a ruinous and disgraceful course. Much as he respected—he did not mean to reflect upon the man—but his arguments he abhorred. To his mind every hope that an accommodation may yet be effected with Great Britain appears perfectly unfounded. If there is a member of this House too idle to examine, or having examined the documents on your table, hsa not confidence in their statements, or does not believe that every effort by negotiation has been made, such a man deserves not to be convinced; to all others, any illustration of mine is unnecessary. Sir, negotiation has been exhausted; there is silent but conclusive testimony to the fact. Neither within this House, nor without it, to his knowledge, has any man, however violently opposed to the Administration, ventured the slightest intimation to the contrary; even the gentleman from Virginia, acute as he is, and hard as he labored against the bill, did not suggest a doubt. If then, negotiation is exhausted—it is a fact no where denied—what alternative have we but to fight or succumb? Gentlemen need not dwell upon the miseries, the consequences of war. I dread the curses of posterity more. But, sir, what are the causes of war? Similar injuries with those of which the old Congress complained, and against which they fought. Great Britain “exercises unbounded sovereignty on the ocean; ‘she names the ports and nations to which alone “our merchandise should be carried, and with * whom alone we should trade.” The wanton plunder of our property—the unprovoked impressment of our fellow-citizens—the assertion of principles, and the practice upon them, absolutely incompatible with our independence 1 Shall I #. on 7 No. Gentlemen cannot bear to hear the nauseous catalogue of wrongs repeated; notwithstanding they will not resent them. The same gentleman from Virginia acknowledges we have had sufficient and justifiable causes of war ever since the years 1805 and 1806. Indeed!, what were they? The interruption of a trade during war, not enjoyed in a time of peace. Was the impressment of seamen then such a cause of war? If these were justifiable causes of war then, how can he refuse to avenge the wrongs of his country now, increased and extended as they are? To his mind the interruption of that foreign carrying trade, injurious as it was, bears no comparison with her restrictions on the exportation of our own products. He could not give utterance to the indignation he felt at the imposition of a transit duty on our commerce to any part of the world that Great Britain might choose to interdict. No ; the gentleman may reply, the Orders in Council do not levy contribution on our trade now, they are modified, so as only to interdict particular places. If one place, why not every other place? But, indeed, has that proud, unbending nation modified her orders, of whom he declared it was impossible to divert from her purs:" Was it discovered she had taken too rank old upon the peaceable habits of our people? JANUARY, 1812.
That the imposition of such a tax had excited a ferment injurious to herself, the consequence of which no sophistry could conceal? Was the burning of gin at Baltimore calculated to induce a belief that it might renew the same scenes with the destruction of tea at Boston? The outrage was, indeed, too nearly allied to the causes of the Revolution to be borne. The orders are therefore modified ; but the evil still exists, the principle is retained, and is the same, whether exercised by her in imposing a tax on our trade, in restricting our commerce to particular places, or in asserting unbounded sovereignty on the ocean. What, at this moment, is the practical operation of her orders? She marks out the course and destination of your ships, laden with the productions of your own soil; if you vary in the least from the limits she prescribes, your property is captured and condemned “for contravening His Majesty's Orders in Councils" Shall we be again asked for the causes of war? The same gentleman of Virginia asks, what are the objects #. war 2 The objects are necessarily involved in the causes of war; and, to his mind, were legitimate, honorable, just, and necessary. The liberation of our unfortunate, incarcerated seamen is one object acknowledged by the gentleman to be proper. The sufferings ...'. meritorious description of citizens, who are as much entitled to protection as any other, (no matter how elevated.) cannot be palliated, and ought no longer to be endured. The right (not a restricted permission from Great Britain) to a free and common use of the ocean is another; the renunciation of a principle which exercises foreign jurisdiction over us, another; the reacknowledgment, not in form, but in fact, of independence—practicalsovereignty—another. There can be neither security for our rights nor our property, when the power of taxation, can be exercised, (it is immaterial under what name or character,) without representation; for surely the produce of labor is his, who can take of it whatever he pleases. Deprived of these great and vital ob: jects, who has a mind to calculate the result.” And yet, great and vital as they are, they constitute only a part. Will the gentleman reply, they are neither i. nor necessary 7 What gave rise to the Revolution ? Not a paltry tax on stamps or tea, but the assertion of the right to those taxes. What now is our situation? The principle and practices against, which we are called, upon to act, are, in magnitude and importance, infinitely transcending those of that day. To avoid war, we have receded, step by step, until we have not one inch of honorable ground left to stand on. Are we not degenerated 3 He would be glad to learn from the gentleman which of the numerous outrages we have suffered from Great Britain is greatest. So numerous are they, it appeared to his mind almost impossible to determine which is worst. We are now called upon to assert these objects; if there is no other, practicable mode than force, we are bound to make great and cheerful sacrifices to sustain that force. But suppose unqualified submission is yielded, will that satisfy
Additional Military Force.
that will not ; ".
her? He thought not. A disposition to advance on a receding opponent marks her character; your own experience teaches; yield them but for a cent, or a moment, and her system is fastened on your neck forever. To war there must be an end; to this there never will be. Her system, sir, is levelled at your most valuable interests; in a pecuniary point of view, it carries poverty and wretchedness everywhere; in every other it ought to be spurned with detestation. Indeed, sir, it is fastening a gangrene' at the heart of the nation, which will imposthumate in corruption and ruin; its life-strings must rot. It has been said our Constitution is not calculated to sustain a war. It surely is not calculated for submission; if it be, its brightest glories are gone, and his solicitude for its preservation must vanish with its virtues. He did not believe this was the fact. What is this Constitution ? It is a system of government which combines a vast variety of interests and character in one great national family. In this family are many peculiar interests; how, then, is it to be kept together? He wished to feel for the people of New England as he felt for the people .P. South–each have their peculiar interests. That of the Eastern section of the Union depends upon the right to navigate the ocean; that of the Southern States, in the possession of a certain species of personal property. ... If you withdraw the protection of the General Government from either, what is there left to cement its attachment to the Union ? Will any man contend that the rights of the one on the ocean are not as dear, or ought not to be maintained, as far as practicable, as inviolate as those of the other on the land 3 But it has been said, by the same gentleman, the people will not support a war for any object that does not touch their soil. There seems to be a sort of magic in these words. The British capture American vessels laden with the products of our own soil, destined to France; the people will not resent this, because the soil is not touched. He would be glad to learn from the gentleman what principle is there that will justify the seizure of our produce on its passage from Charleston to Bordeaux justify the capture of our
vessels bound from Boston to New York? What
then becomes of your coasting trade, the most
important branch of commerce? . It may all be destroyed; and yet, according to the doctrines of the day, the soil is not touched 1 But the destruction of the coasting trade is not sufficient to satisfy the implacable hatred of the enemy; the bays, rivers, and harbors, are infested with pi: rates; everything that floated on their broad bosoms is also destroyed; this comes still nearer the land, yet the soil is not touched Suppose the soil is touched. the hostile standard planted on the castle, and Boston laid in ashes, will the gentleman be contented to drive the enemy to the lines? He dare not follow them; beyond it would be foreign war! Yes, sir, just as much foreign war as we propose to wage; the people will not bear it! This is just such stuff." as dreams are made of.” The soil, sir, is touched; he felt it