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laurel," a character too dear to us to be now sullied by an unexampled departure from its christian principles, or ever to be sacrificed on the altars of vengeance against any particular nation....but some gentlemen speak of a war on this occason, with seeming pleasure, as necessarily leading to a connexion with Great Britain, and thereby drawing us into the vortex of European politics and perpetual war. The honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Ross) and the honorable gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. White) have both declared that we ought to take immediate possession of the mouth of the Mississippi, predicating their arguments on the violation of our rights and the magnitude of the subject....yet the honorable Mr. WELLS has gone farther, and declared that he was for taking possession of New Orleans, at all events, whether the act complained of was authorised or unauthorised, that the possession of that place was of such importance that we ought to possess it....and after telling us, (but with a bad grace) that there is no reliance on the faith of treaties, and after reprobating, what he called the profligate doctrine of the nations of Europe, “That treaties were no longer binding than it was their interest to respect them ;" advises us to adopt that infamous practice, by taking immediate possession of New Or. leans, supposed to be the property of France, who had not offended ; that if France once gets foot-hold there, it will be too late, and although it is admitted, that France has done us no injury, yet are we pressed to violate the faith of our treaty with that nation, by taking possession of her territory ; that nothing short of the possession of Terra Firma, can secure us in the free navigation of the Mississippi ; thus arę we invited by the lure of interest to commit the character of the nation, in violation of every moral principle, and contrary to the law of nations. ir Vatel, 150, $ 104, tells us, " That the end of war must
he lawful, to ligitimate the means ; that the cause must be “ just ; that one nation is not allowed to attack another for the “ purpose of aggrandizement; this is the same as if a private “ person should endeavor to enrich himself by seizing the " wealth of another.” Again, Vatel, 349, 8220, says, The "faith of treaties is holy and sacred between the nations, « whose safety and repose it secures ; and if people would not « be wanting to themselves, infamy would be the share of “ him who violates his fwth.” And if it be the practice of the nations of Europe to disregard their treaties, he hoped we should not copy their vices, but that it might be confined to
them ; it was so demoralizing an idea, that he hoped it would never again be advocated on that floor; sure he was it could not meet, as it did not merit, the approbation of the nation.... he wished for peace with all nations, and should therefore always observe the most exact and inviolable fidelity, in the execution of the treaties between us and them. He for his part had no foreign attachments, no national feelings but those of an American ; no rule but the law of nations, and the existing treaties; and however bad the bargain.... they should rule his conduct, as the only sure means to preserve the peace of the nation, so much the desire of every good man....war he conceived justifiable only in self defence.
. But the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Ross) tells us, that a right so important ought not to be held by a tenure so precarious : What better security can a nation exact to secure the enjoyment of her rights with foreign nations? Does he expect she will give us hostages ? He presumed not....treaties are the legitimate compacts to bind nations to each other, they are such as are known to the law of nations, by which are secured in our foreign relations, our most important rights, and he trusted, would be always so respected by all honest men, as to afford the utmost security....and he hoped that all infractors of them might be brought to condign punishment.
The gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. J. Mason) said he was not for war, that these resolutions did not propose war; would the gentleman consider it as war if a foreign army should land at Boston ? Would he believe the herald that should proclaim that 50,000 men with arms in their hands, and with military equipage, who had landed in the city, had come only on a friendly visit?....He presumed not! Sir, these resolutions are more than a declaration of war, they carry the war into actual effect, whereas the declaration only authorizes it....to his mind they presented the question of peace or war. We have been told that the western people would take up arms to possess themselves of the right...or would throw them. selves into the arms of a foreign power, as they could not subsist without it. No, sir; there is not a good citizen in that country that would abandon his invaluable rights of a freeman, or the title of an American citizen, to be the subject of any nation upon earth ; nor did he think it possible to alienate. their affections from their own government, or to shake their confidence in the present administration; and although the administration is charged with indifference to their interest,
they will not believe it, they know that the steps that have been heretofore taken in all past cases, of our violated rights, have with promptness been taken in this case ; they know that a minister has been sent....and they well know that eighty thousand militia have been put in requisition, and arsenals established in that country, and a number of gun boats ordered to be built for the protection of their commerce in the Mississippi ; with this they ought, and will be satisfied, as they expect but equal justice with the other parts of the union, and this, they may with certainty expect. It hath been emphatically asked, what would be our conduct if the Chesapeake was blockaded ? He said, the same as if the Mississippi was blockaded, but that was not the case. He, for his part, should never be influenced by geographical distinctions, every part of the union was alike intitled to the protection of government, and should alike have his support in all similar cases.... he did not believe the insinuation, that there was a spirit of sedition in that country, that could be fanned into a flame against the government; they well knew the attention that has been used from the earliest period of our government to secure the navigation of the river Mississippi....by the treaty that secured us our independence, and gave us existence as a nation....in the 8th article of that treaty, the freedom of the navigation of the Mississippi was secured.... even before the western country was fairly explored, or had a name....that afterwards, by the treaty of San Lorenzo el Real, in 22d article thereof, the freedom of the navigation of the river, and also the right of deposit at New Orleans, (for three years) was secured ; and afterwards there, or at such equivalent place on the banks of the Mississippi, as the king of Spain should assign: but it would seem from the arguments. of the gentlemen who press us to go to war, that these rights were now proposed to be abandoned, although every step that the nation can take, consistent with good faith, the law of nations, the practices of foreign nations, and of our own nation, in like cases have been taken. .
But the magnitude of this subject has been played off with vast address, by honorable gentlemen on this occasion. One tells us it will take 250 ships, of 250 tons burthen each, to export the products of the western people that come down the Mississippi.... Another tells us that their exports are upwards of 4 millions of dollars; and a third, that it will ruin 500,000 citizens, whose property is embargoed by the suspension of the right of deposit....and this they press, as if they intended the
magnitude of the object, as an argument to influence the decision of the principle upon which we were to decide the question. He, for his part, admitted the importance of the right of deposit, and that it ought, at all hazard, to be secured. He saw, with great pleasure, the rising greatness of the western country, which was to be ascribed to the long peace and prosperity of the nation....but he could not admit the gentlemen's state ments, either as to the quantity of produce to be exported, or the consequent quantity of ships it would take to export them. He could not tell where the gentlemen had obtained the data from which they had made their estimates ; but he was sure, it was not from the official documents on the subject, to which he should take the liberty to refer, to correct them ; the correctness of which could not be questioned. The whole exports from the official report last year, were, 71,957,144 dolls. The part that is foreign of that is, 35,774,971 dolls. That of the produce of the United States, 36,182,141 dolls. The exports from the Mississippi, last year, 1,095,412 dolls.... And not 4 millions, as has been stated, so that however important it was, it was far below the gentlemen's statement ; who are so zealous for the interest of that country, as to have lost sight of every other part of the union; and indeed, to have overlooked the real interest of that part, they affect to have so much at heart. They tell us that all their property is now em. bargoed. But, sir, he asked, would a war relieve it? and would it not embargo the other 35 millions of our productions, and greatly distress 5,500,000 citizens ? and instead of securing to the western people, the immediate use of the right of deposit, would most certainly deprive them altogether of the navigation of the Mississippi, and thus involve all in distress, without relieving that part ; but more severely injuring it.... He wished every member of that country was present. He was satisfied they would be opposed to it, themselves. It is well known that the Spaniards have a number of gun boats at New Orleans, and can entirely command the navigation of the river at that place. But, sir, it hath been (and he thought, cruelly) insinuated, that the western people will throw themselves into the arms of a foreign power ; but this they would consider as a libel against their political integrity, and defeat the gentlemen's object. They well knew, that the Atlantic states held the key of the Mississippi, that a single frigate could block it up, and compel the Spaniards above, to do them justice, by the influence of their own safety in the case. He would beg leave to refer to the official valedictory address of
General Washington, which is highly authoritative on this subject ; and leave it with the western people to make the application. He tells us, that, “ the unity of government, which “ constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is “justly so ; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real inso dependence, the support of your tranquillity at home, of your " peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity....of that very “ liberty you so highly prize. But it is easy to foresee, that “ from different causes, and from different quarters, much pains 56 will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds " the conviction of this truth ; as this is the point in your poli“ tical fortress, against which the batteries of internal and ex“ ternal enemics, will be most constantly and actively (though “ covertly and insidiously) directed; it is of infinite moment 66 that you should properly estimate the immense value of your
national union, to your collective and individual happiness , " that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immoveable " attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think, and " speak of it, as of the palladium of your political safety and “ prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous “ anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a-sus“ picion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly “frowning upon the first darvning of every attempt to alienate “ any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the 66 sacred ties which now link together its various parts.” .
Again...." the east, in its intercourse with the west, already “ finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior com
"munication, by land and water, will, more and more, find ." a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from ► abroad, or manufactures at home. The west derives from “ the east, supplies for its growth and comfort ; and what is s perhaps of still greater consequence; it must of necessity
owe the secure enjoyment of indispensible outlets for its own s productions, to the weight and influence of the future mariu time strength of the Atlantic side of the union, directed by “ an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any s other tenure by which the west can hold this essential advan. 56 tage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or “ from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign “ power, must be intrinsically precarious.” Again...." In so contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it " occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should -- have been furnished for characterising parties by geographi* cal discriminations, northern and southern, Atlantic and