Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

of the majority of the nation to the majority of a party, and, consequently, to a minority of the sovereign people. If it were permitted to appeal to former times, I would say that, during the six years that I had the honour of a seat in Congress, there were but two of those party meetings, called for the purpose of deliberating upon the measures proper to be adopted. The first was, (after the House had asserted its abstract right to decide on the propriety of making appropriations necessary to carry a treaty into effect,) whether such appropriations should be made with respect to the treaty with England of 1794. The other was in the year 1798, respecting the course proper to be pursued after the hostile and scandalous conduct of the French Directory. On both occasions we were divided; and on both the members of the minority of each meeting were left at full liberty to vote as they pleased, without being on that account proscribed or considered as having abandoned the principles of the party. This, too, took place at a time when, unfortunately, each party most erroneously suspected the other of an improper attachment to one or the other of the great

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

belligerent foreign nations. I must say that I never knew a man belonging to the same party as myself, and I have no reason to believe that there was any in the opposite party, who would have sacrificed the interests of the country to those of any foreign power. I am confident that no such person is to be found now in our councils or amongst our citizens; nor am I apt to suspect personal views, or apprehensive of the effect these might produce. My only fear is that which I have expressed, the difficulty for honourable men to disenthral themselves from those party sympathies and habits, laudable and useful in their origin, but which carried to excess become a tyranny, and may leave the most important measures to be decided in the National Councils by an enthusiastic and inflamed minority.



AFTER presenting to my English readers the foregoing comprehensive Extracts from Haywood, Hannegan, and Benton, and, lastly, those from the Letters of the venerable Gallatin, I may be permitted to ask the question, “Of what use could the Oregon ever be to England ?"

Grant that every right, and every power, that of occupancy alone excepted, belonged indisputably to Great Britain, (which they do not,) the right and power of occupancy being exclusively in the hands of the Americans, the territory is de facto already theirs. From this right and power there is

no appeal. And had the common sense of England, instead of her false pride, been enlisted in the cause, her people never would have scared themselves with the phantom of a war.

Had the


uselessness and the danger of such a possession been truly represented to them by those commissioned for such purposes, the just and clear headed English Public would have replied to the claim, “Let the Americans have the whole; England does not want it, and any insignificant rights we may possess we will dispose of for equivalents.” Such would have been their decision, wise for themselves, just towards America, had they been truly informed upon the subject, and allowed to understand the merits of the case. England in going to war for Oregon would have had all to lose, nothing to gain; she would have wasted time and life, and toil and treasure, would have increased her countless millions of debt, have compelled her already famishing multitudes to die of hunger for want of the corn and cotton of America; and might thus have risked a revolution in the heart of her empire. And the gasping Emigrants who leave her thronged and naked hungry shores in eager haste to seek for bread, where could they have sought an asylum ? At home they are ready to devour each other; I speak literally, not figuratively, for the horrors

of the besieged Jerusalem, which we read of in Josephus, do not surpass those we daily see detailed in the English and Irish journals.

And in case war had ensued—England would have carried her arms to the Pacific, as once she carried them to the Atlantic Coasts, some seventy years agoand with the same success; three millions of men, undisciplined, almost unarmed, vanquished her then ; now, twenty millions would oppose her, improved in the art of war, and provided with all its means and appliances. And supposing even that by some mysterious agency she had been successful, what would it avail her? Surrounded by a rival and indigenous population, would she enjoy it in peace? Near residents, and especially those who spring from the same family, are not the most harmonious neighbours; and Border warfare has been ever proverbial. In twenty years the people of Oregon may, possibly, (for who can read their destiny) proclaim themselves Free and Sovereign States.

To what purpose, then, this turmoil for a distant, uncertain, useless, and refractory possession ? There is no question that for the first two, three, or more

« ZurückWeiter »