Abbildungen der Seite

objects of this proposal, for Madison's election could not reasonably have been considered doubtful. Jefferson's reply will be found in a letter to Colonel Duane, dated, October 1st. He declared, “he possessed so much of the Roman principle, as to deem it honorable for the general of yesterday to act as corporal to-day, if his services could be useful to his country; holding that to be false pride which postponed the public good to any private or personal considerations.” But he said, “the hand of age was upon him, that the decay of bodily faculties apprised him that those of the mind could not be unimpaired, had he not still better proofs.” He added much more in the same strain. The most remarkable part of the affair remains to be told. Mr. Madison actually proposed this arrangement to Mr. Jefferson.’ Whether he did so, merely to meet the wishes of friends, or in the expectation of a possible acceptance of the offer, we have no means of knowing, but there is probably little doubt that the former was his motive. The second session of the twelfth Congress opened, November 2d, 1812, under rather gloomy auspices. The American navy had already covered itself with imperishable glory by a series of such exploits as the masterly escape of the Constitution from the fleet of Commodore Broke, the capture of the Guerriere by the former vessel, of the Alert by the Essex, of the Frolic by the Wasp, of the Macedonian by the United States; and before the close of the year, though not until after the meeting of Congress, of the Java by the United States. On the other hand, a series of abortive attempts and disasters, alleviated only by occasonal gleams of success, had been the result of our efforts on land. Party excitement in and out of Congress was intense. Some of the Federal leaders and newspapers, particularly in New England, had encouraged Great Britain to persist in her orders in council, by tauntingly declaring that our government had no idea of war; that it kept up irritations merely for party purposes; that it did not dare in reality to open hostilities. When war was declared, the same partisans denounced it as unnecessary, unjust, and undertaken from the most criminal motives. To complaints were soon added open threats of disunion. None

1 we have this on the authority of an intimate friend of Mr. Madison, now living, who heard the fact from his own lips.

earlier or more eagerly urged the latter alternative than a por. tion of the “pulpit politicians” of Massachusetts.' We have seen the declaration of Quincy, the New England Federal leader in Congress, that the Government could not be “ kicked into a war.” In a debate in the same body, January 5th, 1813, on a bill to add twenty thousand men to the existing army establishment, Mr. Quincy said:

“I desire, therefore, that it may be distinctly understood, both by this House and

E. g. The Boston Repertory, in an article (January 9th, 1810) under the caption “Smoke ' Smoke" exclaimed: “Will our Administration never be understood? Shall we forever be the dupes of a contemptible farce, which has been exhibiting for years to make people wonder and stare : My life on it, our Executive have no more idea of declaring war than my grandmother.” The Ropertory declared (April 18th, 1810): “Our Government will not make war on Great Britain, but will keep up a constant irritation on some pretence or other, for the sake of maintaining influence as a party.” The same paper said (Dec. 24th, 1811) : “We are firmly persuaded that the majority in Congress do not mean to declare war at present, that they dare not; and that all their threats are but contemptible vaporing,” etc. The Philadelphia Gazette (January 10th, 1812), in speaking of the proposed war, and of the Republicans in Congress, said: !. They shrink from it.” . . . “They are frightened as the aspect becomes a little serious, and wish to go home and think about it.” . The Baltimore Federal Gazette said: “If you think a vote to raise 25,000 men looks like a war, quiet your apprehensions. You do not understand what is here called management. There will, as I believe, be no war. The war-whoop, the orders in council, the non-importation, the Presidential caucusing, will vanish before summer.” Such extracts might be indefin*. multiplied, and we will turn now to the pulpit. ev. David Osgood, D.D., pastor of the ... at Medford, Massachusetts, in a discourse delivered April 10th, 1810, and subsequently printed, said: “The strong prepos

sessions of so great a portion of my fellow citizens, in favor of a race of demons, and

against a nation of more religion, virtue, good faith, generosity, and beneficence, than any that now is, or ever has been upon the face of the earth, wring my soul with anguish, and fill my heart with apprehensions and terror of the judgments of heaven upon this sinful people.” . . . . In a printed discourse of the same gentleman, delivered June 27th, 1812, occur the following, among other equally virulent declarations: “If, at the command of weak or wicked rulers, they o an unjust war; each man who volunteers his services in such a cause, or loans his money for its support, or by his conversation, his writings, or any other mode of influence encourages its prosecution, that man is an accomplice in the wickedness, loads his conscience with the blackest crimes, brings the guilt of blood upon his soul, and in the sight of God and His law is a murderer.” “My mind has been in a constant agony, not so much at the inevitable loss of our temporal prosperity and happiness, and the complicated miseries of war, as at its guilt, its outrages against heaven, against all truth, honesty justice, goodness—against all the principles of social happiness.” “Were not the authors of this war in character nearly akin to the deists and atheists of France; were they not men of hardened hearts, seared consciences, reprobate minds, and desperate wickedness, it seems utterly incouceivable that they should have made the declaration.” “One hope only remains, that this last stroke of perfidy may open the eyes of a besotted people; that they may awake like a giant from his slumbers, and wreak their vengeance on "...i betrayers, by driving them from their stations, and placing at the helm more skillful and faithful hands.” “If, at the present moment, no symptoms of civil war appear, they certainly will soon, unless the courage of the war-party should fail them.” “A civil war becomes as certain as the events that happen according to the known laws and established course of nature.” In a published discourse of the Rev. J. S. J. Gardiner, A.M., rector of Trinity Church. Boston, delivered April 9th, 1812, occur, among many similar ones, the following expressions: “It is a war unexampled in the history of the world; wantonly proclaimed on the most frivolous and groundless pretences, against a nation from whose friend. ship we might derive the most signal advantages, and from whose hostility we have reason, to dread the most tremendous losses.” “Every provocation has been offered to Great Britain on our part, and, our resentment has risen in proportion as she has shewn a “onciliating spirit.” “What consequence is it to you if they be repealed, if you are sold to Napoleon, as you have reason to believe, by the slaves who have abused your confidence.” “Let no considerations whatever, my brethren, deter you at all times, and this nation, that it is my unequivocal belief that the invasion of Canada, which is avowed by the Cabinet to be its purpose, is intended by it, that continuance of the war and not peace is its object. . . . . I say, then, sir, that I consider the invasion of Canada, as a means of carrying on this war, as cruel, wanton, senseless, and wicked. . . . . Never was there an invasion of any country worse than this, in point of moral principle, since the invasion of the West Indies by the Buccaneers, or that of the United States by Captain Kidd. Indeed both Kidd and the Buccaneers had more apology for their deed than the American Cabinet. . . . . When in the usual course of Divine Providence, who punishes nations as well as individuals, His destroying angel shall on this account pass over this country—and sooner or later, pass it will—I may be permitted to hope that over New England his hand will be stayed. Our souls are not steeped in the blood which has been shed in this war. The spirits of the unhappy men who have been sent to an untimely audit, have borne to the bar of divine justice no accusations against us. . . . . I say, then, sir, without hesitation, that in my judgment the embarrassments of our relations with Great Britain, and keeping alive between this country and that a root of bitterness has been, is, and will continue to be, a main principle of the policy of this American Cabinet. They want not a solid settlement of our differences. . . . . The men who now, and who for these twelve years past, have, to the misfortune of this country, guided its councils and directed its destinies, came into power on a tide which was raised and supported by elements constituted of British prejudices and British antipathies. . . . . The transfer of power was effected undeniably, principally on the very ground of those prejudices and antipathies which existed in the nation against Great Britain, and which had been artfully fomented by the men now in power and their adherents, and directed against their predecessors. These prejudices and passions constitute the main pillar of the power of these men. In my opinion, they will never permit it to be wholly taken away from them.”

He said he knew “that while he uttered these things, a thousand tongues and a thousand pens were preparing without doors to overwhelm him, if possible, in their pestiferous gall.” But he added :

“It is not for such a man [as himself] to hesitate or swerve a hair's breadth from his country's purpose and true interests, because of the yelpings, the howlings, and snarlings of that hungry pack which corrupt men keep directly or indirectly in pay, with the view of hunting down every man who dare develop their purposes; a pack composed, it is true, of some native curs, but for the most part of hounds and spaniels of very recent importation, whose backs are seared by the lash, and whose necks are sore with the collars of their former masters.””

in all places, from execrating the present war.” “As Mr. Madison has declared war, let Mr. Madison carry it on.” “The Union has been long since virtually dissolved, and it is full time that this part of the disunited States should take care of itself.” In a discourse delivered July . the same year, Mr. Gardiner said: “The alternative then is, that if you do not wish to become the slaves of those who own slaves, and who are themselves the slaves of French slaves, you must either, in the language of the day, cut the connexion, or so far alter the national compact as to insure yourselves a due share in the government.” These extracts, in the substance, might be increased without limit: though such violences of mere language were not perhaps common. 1 Much more was added in the same strain and with equal violence of temper. He broadly intimated that Monroe was to be appointed to command the army for the

Tallmadge of Connecticut was convinced from the “prophesies” that God was pouring the full vials of his wrath upon the nations—that “the people of Great Britain had been exerting themselves to spread the knowledge and influence of that religion which alone could remove the malady and heal the nations”—and he wished to know if “these fair and happy prospects should be checked and perhaps blasted forever by this unhappy war?”—if it was “unworthy the legislators of a Christian people to reflect that they were now waging an offensive war, and one which in its consequences might be found to be directed against Him who was the God of armies?” He said, “when he reflected on these awful and solemn events, he could not but weep for his infatuated country, and if he had an angel's voice, he would call on every rational creature in these United States and entreat them to pause and consider before our country’s doom should be forever sealed.” Wheaton of Massachusetts closed a speech with the declaration that “his soul sickened at the thought of progressing in this war.”

Mr. Clay, then speaker, rose to reply to these various assaults, January 8th, 1813. He was so feeble from recent illness that he was compelled to sit down before closing his remarks, and to defer their conclusion until the next day. We have space only for those in which he depicted the conduct of the opposition, and in which he replied to Quincy's attack on Mr. Jefferson' and his Administration. Mr. Clay said:

“If gentlemen would only reserve for their own Government, half the sensibility which is indulged for that of Great Britain, they would find much less to condemn. Restriction after restriction has been tried; negotiation has been resorted to, until further negotiation would have been disgraceful. Whilst these peaceful experiments are undergoing a trial, what is the conduct of the opposition? They are the champions of war—the proud, the spirited, the sole repository of the nation's honor—the men of exclusive vigor and energy. The Administration, on the contrary, is weak, feeble, and pusillanimous—‘incapable of being kicked into a war.’

conquest of Canada, and that after three or four years he was to return at the head of his forces, a candidate for the Presidency. He added : “And whoever is candidate for the Presidency, with an army of thirty thousand veterans at his heels, will not be likely to be troubled with rivals, or to concern himself about votes. A president elected under such auspices, may be nominally a president for years; but really, if he pleases, a president for life.” Mr. Quincy again and again, during his speech, spoke of the “wise, moral, reflecting eople,” “the wise and thoughtful people of " New England, etc., etc. He spoke of the ederalists as comprising “almost all the moral sense and nine-tenths of the intelligence ’’ of New England, . He characterized the New England Republicans “as toads and reptiles which spread their slime in the drawing-room.” In the corrected report of his speech he, however, struck out this last sentence. (See Annals of Congress, 12th ongress, 2d session, p. 600.)

The maxim, ‘not a cent for tribute, millions for defence,' is loudly proclaimed. Is the Administration for negotiation? The opposition is tired, sick, disgusted with negotiation. They want to draw the sword and avenge the nation's wrongs. When, however, foreign nations, perhaps emboldened by the very opposition here made, refuse to listen to the amicable appeals which have been repeated and reiterated by the Administration, to their justice and to their interest—when, in fact, war with one of them has become identified with our independence and our sovereignty, and to abstain from it was no longer possible, behold the opposition veering round and becoming the friends of peace and commerce. They tell you of the calamities of war, its tragical events, the squandering away of your resources, the waste of the public treasure, and the spilling of innocent blood. ‘Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire.' They tell you that honor is an illusion ( Now, we see them exhibiting the terrific forms of the roaring king of the forest. Now, the meekness and humility of the lambo! They are for war and no restrictions, when the Administration is for peace. They are for peace and restrictions, when the Administration is for war. You find them, sir, tacking with every gale, displaying the colors of every party, and of all nations, steady only in one unalterable purpose—to steer, if possible, into the haven of power. “During all this time, the parasites of opposition do not fail, by cunning sarcasm, or sly innuendo, to throw out the idea of French influence, which is known to

be false, which ought to be met in one manner only, and that by the lie direct. * # * * * *

“Yet, preposterous and ridiculous as the insinuation is, it is propagated with so much industry, that there are persons found foolish and credulous enough to believe it. You will, no doubt, think it incredible (but I have, nevertheless, been told it is a fact), that an honorable member of this House, now in my eye, recently lost his election by the circulation of a silly story in his district, that he was the first cousin of the Emperor Napoleon. The proof of the charge rested on the statement of facts, which was undoubtedly true. The gentleman in question, it was alleged, had married a connection of the lady of the President of the United States, who was the intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson, late President of the United States, who some years ago, was in the habit of wearing red French breeches. Now, taking these premises as established, you, Mr. Chairman, are too good a logician not to see that

the conclusion necessarily follows!
* * + * * *

“Next to the notice which the opposition has found itself called upon to bestow upon the French Emperor, a distinguished citizen of Virginia, formerly President of the United States, has never for a moment failed to receive their kindest and most respectful attention. An honorable member from Massachusetts (Mr. Quincy), of whom I am sorry to say it becomes necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, to take some notice, has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither his retirement from public office, his eminent services, nor his advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults of party malevolence. No, sir! in 1801, he snatched from the rude hand of usurpation the violated constitution of his country, and that is his crime. He preserved that instrument in form, and substance, and spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, and for this he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party rage, directed against such a man! He is not more elevated by his lofty residence, upon the summit of his own favorite. mountain, than he is lifted by the serenity of his mind and the consciousness of a. well-spent life, above the malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own beloved Monticello is not more moved by the storms that beat against its

« ZurückWeiter »