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lution—which was already disposed of-saying, “if gentlemen were disposed to deny this information, let the denial be public.” On his motion being voted down he submitted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the people of the United States are entitled to the free navigation of the river Mississippi.
Resolved, That the navigation of the river Mississippi has been obstructed by the regulations recently carried into effect at New Orleans.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire whether any, and, if any, what legislative measures are necessary to secure to the people of the United States the free navigation of the river Mississippi.
The House refused to take these up for present consideration by a vote of fifty to thirty-two. The committee to which Randolph's resolution was referred, passed it January 7th. On its being reported to the House, it was moved to strike out the clauses avowing confidence in the Executive and a determination to await the issue of its measures. This failed—yeas thirty, nays fifty-three—and after some other divisions the original resolution passed, yeas fifty, nays twenty-five.
A bill passed, February 26th, appropriating two millions of dollars “to defray the expenses which might be incurred in relation to the intercourse between the United States and foreign nations.” The report on which this was founded, avowed the object of the appropriation to be “to enable the Executive to commence with more effect a negotiation with the French and Spanish Governments relative to the purchase from them of the island of New Orleans and the provinces of East and West Florida.”
On the 11th of February the President had nominated a Minister Extraordinary for the purpose of attempting to effect these objects. The next day the Senate confirmed the appointment. Yet on the 14th, Ross, of Pennsylvania, commenced in the latter body a very inflammatory speech, accusing the government of tamely sacrificing the interests of our western States. On denouncing the attempt to purchase the territory “by giving two millions of dollars to certain influential persons about court”—he was called to order by Wright, of Maryland, for publicly debating upon confidential information. Vice-President Burr “perceived nothing improper or out of order in what had been said.” Nicholas “hoped the galleries would be cleared.” Ross vociferated: “I will never speak on this subject with closed doors. The moment you shut your doors I cease; and when they are opened I will proceed. There is nothing of a secret or confidential nature in what I have to say.”
On the 16th, he resumed and finished his remarks, in the Senate, in a similar vein; and in conclusion moved the following resolutions:
Resolred, That the United States have an indisputable right to the free navigation of the river Mississippi, and a convenient place of deposit for their produce and merchandise in the island of New Orleans.
That the late infraction of such, their unquestionable right, is an aggression hostile to their honor and interest.
That it does not consist with the dignity or safety of this Union to hold a right so important by a tenure so uncertain.
That it materially concerns such of the American citizens as dwell on the western waters, and is essential to the union, strength, and prosperity of these States, that they obtain complete security for the full and peaceable enjoyment of such their absolute right.
That the President be authorized to take immediate possession of such place or places, in the said island, or the adjacent territories, as he may deem fit and convenient for the purposes aforesaid; and to adopt such other measures for obtaining that complete security as to him in his wisdom shall seem meet.
That he be authorized to call into actual service any number of the militia of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Mississippi Territory, which he may think proper, not exceeding fifty thousand, and to employ them, together with the military and naval forces of the Union, for effecting the objects above mentioned.
That the sum of five millions of dollars be appropriated to the carrying into effect the foregoing resolutions, and that the whole or any part of that sum be paid or applied, on warrants drawn in pursuance of such directions as the President may, from time to time, think proper to give to the Secretary of the Treasury.
On the 23d of February, Breckenridge moved to strike out all after the word “Resolved,” in Ross's resolutions, and to substitute provisions authorizing the President, whenever he should deem it expedient, to require the Executives of the several States to arm and call out eighty thousand effective militia, or to accept volunteers in the place of a portion of the detachment; to appropriate — sums for defraying expenses and erecting one or more arsenals, at such places as the President should judge proper, on the “western waters.” The last words were all that gave any indication whatever of the object of the force.
De Witt Clinton, of New York, made his first elaborate speech in the Senate, February 23d ; and it was on the preceding question. He was then within a few weeks of his thirtyfourth birth-day. He exhibited that legal research, that profound statistical and historical knowledge, that lofty and severe tone towards opponents, and we need not add, that talent which distinguished him through life. As a specimen both of the man, and of the manner of handling, on the Republican side, one of the incessant allusions of the Federalists, we select the following passages:
“We have heard much of the policy of Washington; it has been sounded in our ears from all quarters, and an honorable gentleman from Delaware (Mr. White) has triumphantly contrasted it with that adopted by the present Administration. I am not disposed to censure it in this case; on the contrary, I think it a high and respectable authority; but let it be properly understood in order to be rightly appreciated, and it will be found that the United States under his Administration, and that of his successor, have received injuries more deleterious, insults more atrocious, and indignities more pointed than the present, and that the pacific measure of negotiation was preferred. If our national honor has survived the severe wounds it then received, it may surely outlive the comparatively slight attack now made upon it; but if its ghost only now remains to haunt the consciences of the honorable gentlemen who were then in power, and who polluted their hands with the foul murder, let them not attempt to transfer the odium and the crime to those who had no hand in the guilty deed. The reins of Government were in their hands, and if the course they at that time pursued was diametrically opposite to that they now urge for our adoption, what shall we say of their consistency? What will they say of it themselves? What will their country say of it? Will it be believed that the tinkling sounds and professions of patriotism which have been so vehemently pressed upon us, are the emanations of sincerity, or will they be set down to the account of juggling imposture?”
After mentioning the injuries inflicted on us by England since the treaty of peace, and among them one perhaps not generally known, that in addition to detaining the American posts, she for a time added the insult of making Niagara, in the State of New York, the seat of government for Upper Canada, Mr. Clinton continued:
“It is well known we were engaged in a bloody and expensive war with several of the Indian tribes; that two of our armies had been routed by them, and that we were finally compelled to make great efforts to turn the tide of victory. These Indians were encouraged and aided by the emissaries of Great Britain–British subjects were seen disguised fighting in their ranks, and British agents were known to furnish them with provisions and the implements of war. The Governor-General of Canada, a highly confidential and distinguished officer, delivered a speech to the seven nations of Lower Canada, exciting them to enmity against this country; but in order to furnish the savages at war with sufficient aid, a detachment of British troops penetrated into our territory, and erected a fort on the Miami River. Here the Indians, dispersed and defeated by Wayne, took refuge, and were protected under the muzzle of British cannon. A violation of territory is one of the most flagrant injuries which can be offered to a nation, and would in most cases justify an immediate resort to arms, because, in most cases, essential to self-defence. Not content with exciting the savages of America against us, Great Britain extended her hostility to the eastern hemisphere, and let loose the barbarians of Africa upon us. A war existed at that time between Portugal and Algiers; the former blocked up the mouth of the Straits, by her superior naval force, and prevented the pirates from a communication with the Atlantic. Portugal has been for a long time subservient to the views of Great Britain; a peace was effected through the mediation of the latter; our unprotected merchantmen were then exposed without defence to the piracies of Algiers. Thus in three quarters of the globe we at one time felt the effects of British enmity. In the meantime, our commerce in every sea was exposed to her rapacity. All France was declared in a state of siege, and the conveyance of provisions expressly interdicted to neutrals. Paper blockades were substituted for actual ones, and the staple commodities of our country lay perishing in our storehouses, or were captured on the ocean, and diverted from the lawful proprietors. Our seamen were pressed wherever found; our protections were a subject of derision, and opposition to the imperious mandates of their haughty tyrants was punished by famine or by stripes, by imprisonment or by the gibbet. To complete the full measure of our wrongs, the November orders of 1793 were issued; our ships were swept from the ocean as by the operation of enchantment; hundreds of then were captured; almost all our merchants were greatly injured, and many of them reduced to extreme poverty. “These proceedings, without even a pretext, without the forms of justice, without the semblance of equity, were calculated to inflame every American feeling, and to nerve every American arm. Negotiation was, however, pursued; an envoy ertraordinary, in every sense of the word, was sent to demand redress, and a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation was formed and ratified. These events took place under the administration of Washington.””
He next described, in as animated a vein, the aggressions of France, and Mr. Adams's persisting in sending ministers until peace was secured with that power.
Wright of Maryland also pungently exposed the hypocrisy of appealing to the example of Washington for precipitating the country into war before resorting to negotiation. It would now, indeed, appear incredible that men who supported the
• In a second speech, Mr. Clinton was particularly severe on Jay, speaking of his treaty as a “bad and disgraceful” one—“neither honorable nor advantageous to this country"—a “pernicious instrument” signed without “expunging one of its most degrading provisions.” because “General Washington was prevailed upon by the circumstances of the times” and “elected it as only a lesser evil than war.” He declared that if the contents of the treaty had been known in New York, Mr. Jay's chance of success in the Governor election “would have been forlorn,” and that “at the subsequent elec. tion he was withdrawn”—that Chancellor Livingston was “as much superior to him as Hyperion to a satyr"—that “his incompetency [as Governor] became notorious,” and that “ he was found unqualified to hold the reins of state”—that “the men of his own arty knew it and lamented it,” and that “he fell like Lucifer, never to rise again.” e debate, strange to say, closed without any answer to this attack on Mr. Jay.
first President's foreign policy in 1794–5, should in 1803 urge avowed war measures towards Spain, which also were expected to involve a war with France, for the single act of a remote colonial officer, and before ascertaining whether his Government would either sanction or refuse to make reparation for his conduct. But it would appear still more incredible that a party thus circumstanced should voluntarily invite comparisons between their conduct on the two occasions, did we not consider men's blindness under partisan excitement, and did we not remember how sytematically Cabot's plan of impressing the name of Washington into the service of Federalism, in the face of any facts, and by mere force of reiteration, was carried out by that party. Mr. Clinton might have instructively extended his contrast in the action of the Federalists towards foreign powers, on the different occasions mentioned, to their deportment towards our own Executive. In 1795, they pronounced it unconstitutional and indecorous for the House to call on the Executive for diplomatic papers, to throw light on topics on which it was called upon by the Executive to legislate, after the constitutional functions of the latter in the premises were exhausted, and after the diplomatic arrangements were complete and not liable to be defeated or disturbed, so far as other powers were concerned, by making them subjects of legislative examination. In 1803, they claimed that the House could properly call for papers which were the subjects of pending and unfinished negotiation—that it could at this stage properly discuss the contents of such papers publicly, making them the topics of inflammatory denunciation against our own Executive, and of the most irritating strictures upon and menaces against the powers with whom it was negotiating—and that to deny these claims was to withhold information to which the legal rights and most important interests of the people entitled them. And these pretensions were set up by a party who had just resisted the admission of independent reporters of ordinary congressional proceedings for the use of the people! In 1795, the Federalists considered the treaty-making power so paramount and absolute in its province, that it had not only a right to form treaties and proclaim them supreme laws of the land without interference or coöperation from, or consultation