Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

see no use in recognising this Republic 7 For what did the Republic fight? To be admitted into the family of nations. Tell the nations of the world, says Pueyrredon in his speech, that we already belong to their illustrious rank. What would be the powerful consequences of a recognition of their claim 7 I ask my honorable friend before me, (Mr. Bloomfield,) the high sanction of whose judgment in favor of my proposition I fondly anticipate, with what anxious solicitude, during our Revolution, he and his glorious compatriots turned their eyes to Europe, and asked to be recognised. I ask him, the patriot of 76, how the heart rebounded with joy, on the information that France had recognised us! “The moral influence of such a recognition on the patriot of the South will be irresistible. He will derive assurance from it of his not having fought in vain. In the constitution of our natures, there is a point, to which adversity may pursue us, without perhaps any worse effect than that of exciting new energy to meet it.N Having reached that point, if no gleam of comfort breaks through the gloom, we sink beneath the pressure, yielding reluctantly to our fate, and in hopeless despair losing all stimulus to exertion. And, Mr. C. asked, was there not reason to fear such a fate to the patriots of La Plata? Already enjoying independence for eight years, their Ministers were yet spurned from the Courts of Europe, and rejected by the Government of a sister Republic. Contrast this conduct of ours, said Mr. C. with our conduct in other respects. No matter whence the Minister comes, be it from a despotic Power, we receive him; and even now, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. SMITH) would have us send a Minister to Constantinople, to beg passage through the Dardandelles to the Black Sea, that, I suppose, we might get some hemp and breadstuffs there, of which we ourselves produce nonehe who can see no advantage to the country from opening to its commerce the nameless resources of South America, would send a Minister *::::: to Constantinople for a little trade! Nay, I have seen a project in the newspapers, and I should not be surprised, after what we have already seen, at its being carried into effect, for sending a Minister to the Porte. Yes, sir, from Constantinople or from the Brazils; from Turk or Christian; from black or white; from the Dey of Algiers or the Bey of Tunis—from the Devil himself, if he wore a crown, we should receive a Minister. We even paid the expenses of the Minister of his Sublime Highness the Bey of Tunis, and thought ourselves highly honored by his visit. “But, let the Minister come from a poor Republic, like that of La Plata, and we turn our i. on him. , No, sir, we will not receive him. The brilliant costumes of the Ministers of the Royal Governments are seen glistening in the circles of our drawing rooms, and their splendid *quipages rolling through the avenues of the Metropolis; but the unaccredited Minister of the Republic, if he visit our President or Secretary of State at all, must do it incog, lest the eye of

Don Onis should be offended by so unseemly a

sight! Mr. C. said, he hoped the gentleman from South Carolina, who was so capable of estimating the effect of moral causes, would see some use in recognising the independence of La Plata. He appealed to the powerful effect of moral causes, manifested in the case of the French Revolution, when, by their influence, that nation swept from about her the armies of the combined Powers by which she was environed, and rose up the colossal Power of Europe. There was an example of the effect of moral power. All—the patriots asked, all they wanted at our hands, was to be recognised as, what they had been for the last eight years, an independent Power. But, it seems, said Mr. C., we dare not do this, lest we tread on sacred ground; and an honorable gentleman from Virginia (Mr. SMyth) who, when he has been a little longer in this House, will learn to respect its powers, calls it an usurpation on the part of this House. , Has the gentleman weighed the terms which he employed ? If I mistake not, the gentleman, in the debate respecting the Fo to make internal improvements, called that too an usurpation on the part of this House. That power, too, however, he admitted to belong to the Executive, and traced it to an imperial source, informing us that Caesar, or somebody else, had exercised it. Sir, the gentleman has mistaken his position here; he is a military chieftain and an admirable defender of Executive authority, but he has yet to learn his horn-book as to the powers of this branch of the Legislature. Usurpation, Mr. C. said, is arrogating to yourself authority which is vested elsewhere. But what was it that he proposed, to which this term had been appled 7 To appropriate money to pay a foreign Minister his outfit and a year's salary. If that be an usurpation, said he, we have been usurping power from the commencement of the Government to the present time. The chairman of the Committee ow. and Means has never reported an appropriation bill without some instance of this usurpation. There are three modes under our Constitution, in which a nation may be recognised: by the Executive receiving a Minister; secondly, {y its sending one thither; and, thirdly, this House unquestionably has the right to recognise, in the exercise of the Constitutional power of Congress to regulate foreign commerce. To receive a Minister from a foreign Power is an admission that the party sending him is sovereign and independent. So the sending a Minister, as Ministers are never sent but to sovereign Powers, is a recognition of the independence of the Power to whom the Minister is sent. Now, the honorable entleman from South Carolina would have preerred the expression of our opinion by a resolution, independent of the opio bill. If the gentleman would vote for it in that shape, I would really gratify him; all that I want to do is to convey to the President an expression of our willingness, that the Government of Buenos Ayres should be recognised. Whether it shall be done by receiving a Minister or sending one, is quite immaterial. It is urged that there might

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

be an impropriety in sending a Minister, not being certain, after what has passed, that he would be received; but, Mr. C., said, that was one of the questions submitted to the discretion of the Executive, which he would determine, upon a view of all the circumstances, and who of course would F. have an understanding that our Minister would be duly respected. if gentlemen desired to know what a Minister from us was to do, Mr. C. said he would have him congratulate the Republic on the establishment of free government and on their liberation from the ancient dynasty of Spain; assure it of the interest we feel in its welfare, and of our readiness to concur

in any arrangements which might be advantaeous to our mutual interest. Have we not, asked r. C., a Minister at the Brazils, a nation lying alongside of the provinces of La Plata, and considering the number of slaves in it, by no means so formidable as the latter, and about equi-distant from us. In reference to the strength of the two Powers, that of La Plata is much the strongest, and the Government of Brazil, trembling under the apprehension of the effect of the arms of LaPlata, has gone farther than any other Power to recognise its independence, having entered into a military convention with the Republic, by which each power guaranties the possession of the other. And we have exchanged Ministers with the Brazils. The one, however, is a Kingdom; the other a Republic; and if any gentleman could assign any better reason why a Minister should be sent to one and not to the other of these Powers, he should be glad to hear it disclosed, for he had not been able himself to discover it A gentleman had yesterday told the House that the news from Buenos Avres was unfavorable. Take it all together, Mr. C. said, he believed it was not. But, he said, he put but little trust in such accounts. In our Revolution, incredulity of reports and newspaper stories, propagated by the enemy, had been so strengthened by experience, that at last nothing was believed *:::: Was not

attested by the signature of “Charles Thompson.”

Mr. C. said he was somewhat similarly situated; he could not believe these reports—he wished to see “Charles Thompson” before he gave full credit to them. The vessel which had arrived at Baltimore, and which, by the way, by its valuable *†. of specie, hides, and tallow, gave evidence of a commerce worth pursuing–brought some rumor of a difference between Artigas and the authorities of Buenos Ayres. With respect to the Banda Oriental, which was said to be occupied by Artigas, Mr. C. said it constituted but a very subordinate part of the territory of the United Provinces of La Plata; and it could be no more objection to recognising the nation because that

rovince was not included within its power, than it could have been to our recognition, because several States held out against the adoption of the Constitution. Mr. C. repeated that before he attached any confidence to a letter not signed “Charles Thompson,” he must know who the man is who writes it ; what are his sources of information, his character for veracity, &c., and of

all those particulars we were deprived of information in the case of the recent intelligence in the Baltimore papers, as extracted from private letters. But, said Mr. C. we are charged, on the pres. ent occasion, with treading on sacred ground. Let me suppose, what I do not believe would be the case, that the President had expressed an opinion,one way, and we another. At so early a pe. riod of our Government, because a particular individual fills the Presidential Chair—an individual whom I highly respect; more perhaps than some of those who would be considered his exclusive friends—is the odious doctrine to be preached here, that the Chief Magistrate can do no wrong? Is the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance—are the principles of the Stuarts, to be revived in this free Government 7 Is an opinion to be suppressed and scouted, because it is in opposition to the opinion of the President? Sir, as long as I have a seat on this floor, I shall not hesitate to exert the independence which belongs to the Representative character— I shall not hesitate to express my opinions, coincident or not with those of the Executive. But, Mr. C. said that he could show that this cry had been raised on the present occasion without reason. He supposed a case: that the President had sent a Minister to Buenos Ayres, and this House had been called on to make an appropriation for his payment. He asked of gentlemen whether in that case they would not have voted an approH. ? And had not the House a right to deiberate on the propriety of the doing so, as well before as after a Minister was sent? ould gentlemen please to point out the difference 7 I contend, said Mr. C., that we are the true friends of the Executive; and that the title does not belong to those who have taken it. We wish to extend his influence and give him patronage; to give him means, as he has now the power, to send another Minister abroad. But, apart from this view of the question, as regarded the Executive power, this House, Mr. C. said, had the incontestable right to recognise a foreign nation, in the exercise of its power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Suppose, for example, we passed an act to regulate trade between the United States and Buenos Ayres; the existence of the nation would be thereby recognised—as we could not regulate trade with a nation which does not exist. The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. SMrth) and the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. SMYTH,) the great champion of Executive power, and the opponent of legislative authority, #. contended that recognition would be cause of war. Mr. C. said these gentlemen were reduced to this dilemma: If it was cause of war, the Executive ought not to have the right to produce a war upon the country without consulting Congress. If it was no cause of war, it is an act which there was no danger in performing. There would be very little difference in principle between vesting the Executive with the power of declaring war, or with the power of necessarily leading the coun

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

try into war, without consulting the authority to whom the power of making war is confided. But Mr. C. denied that it was cause of war; but, if it were, the sense of Congress ought certainly in some way or other to be taken on it, before that step was taken. He knew, he said, that some of the most distinguished statesmen in the country had taken the view of this subject, that the power to recognise the independence of any nation did not belong to the President; that it was a power too momentous and consequential in its character to belong to the Executive. His own opinion, Mr. C. confessed, was different, believing the power to belong to either the President or Congress, and that it might, as most convenient, be exercised by either. If aid was to be given, to afford which would be cause of war, however, Congress alone could give it. This House, then, Mr. C. said, had the power to act on this subject, even though the President had expressed his opinion; which he had not further than, as appeared by the report of the Secretary of State, to decide that, in January last, it would not be proper to recognise them. But, Mr. C. said, the President stood pledged to recognise the Republic, if, on the return of the Commissioners, whom he has deputed, they should make report favorable to the stability of the Government. Those Commissioners sailed in December last, and might be expected to return in three or four months from this time. When they returned, then, Congress would not be in session. The President thus standing pledged, said Mr. C., I ask if we, who are ...: to invest him with the means of recognising that independence—of redeeming his pledge—are not the true friends of the Executive, and whether the opponents of this motion do not act as though they were not his friends ! Suppose the chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations had reported a provision for an appropriation of the description which I ropose, said Mr. C., should we not all have voted or it? . And could any gentleman be so pliant, as, on the mere ground of an Executive recommendation, to vote an appropriation without exercising his own faculties on the question; and yet, when there is no such suggestion, will not even so far act for himself as to determine whether a Republic is so independent that we may fairly take the step of recognition of it? He hoped that no such such submission to the Executive pleasure would characterize this House. One more remark, and Mr. C. said he had done. One gentleman had told the House that the population of the Spanish provinces was eighteen millions; that we, with a population of two millions only, had conquered our independence; and that, if the southern provinces willed it, they must be free. This population, Mr. C. said, he had already stated, consisted of distinct nations, having but little, if any intercourse, the largest of which was Mexico; and they were so separated by immense distances that it was impossible there should be any co-operation between them. Besides, they have difficulties to encounter which we had not. They have a noblesse; they are

divided into jealous castes, and a vast proportion of Indians; to which adding the great influence of the clergy, and it would be seen how widely different the circumstances of Spanish America were from those under which the Revolution in this country was brought to a successful termination. . He had already shown how deep-rooted was the spirit of liberty in that country. He instanced the little island of Margarita, against which the whole force of Spain had been in vain directed, containing a population of only 16,000 souls; but where every man, woman, and child, was a Grecian soldier in defence of freedom. For many years the spirit of freedom had been struggling in Venezuela, and Spain had been unable to conquer it. Morillo, in an official despatch transmitted to the Minister of Marine of his own country, avows that Angosturo and all Guiana are in possession of the patriots, as well as all the country from which supplies could be drawn. According to the latest accounts, Bolivar and other patriot commanders were concentrating their forces, and were within one day's march of Morillo; and if they did not forsake the Fabian policy, which was the true course for them, the result would be, that even the weakness of the whole of the provinces of Spanish America would establish its independence, and secure the enjoyment of those rights and blessings which rightfully belong to it. Mr. PoindextER, of Mississippi, claimed the indulgence of the Committee for that portion of their time which he felt it incumbent on him to occupy, in presenting to their consideration the views which he had taken of the motion submitted by the honorable member from Kentucky, (Mr. Clay.) , Sir, said he, the liberty of the hu. man species, in every quarter of the globe, is a theme, than which none can be more dear to the heart of the patriot and philanthropist; it was one on which he delighted to dwell, either in the tumultuous agitation of the legislative hall, or in the silent shades of retirement, where the mind

envelopes the vast scope of the universe, and con

templates man in the various and diversified situations and circumstances in which he has been placed by his Creator, for the fulfilment of the wise and inscrutable purposes of an overruling Providence. In casting his eye over the great events of the present day, Mr. P. said, the struggle which exists in Spanish America to break the fetters which have so long chained them to the car of an European despot, arrested his attention with irresistible attractions, and exhibited a grand and interesting scene on which he could not look without the strongest solicitude for their ultimate success—a solicitude which might sometimes carry him even beyond the bounds which prudence would prescribe, to accelerate an epoch so auspicious in the history of the New World, and so honorable to the establishment of human rights on a secure and solid foundation. He yielded to none in his attachment to the cause of freedom; and the honorable Speaker, who had with so much eloquence and force portrayed the condition of the Spanish colonies, and the sufferings of

[merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

their oppressed inhabitants, “seeking through blood and slaughter their long lost liberty,” could not carry his sympathies in their behalf further than he did. e had listened to that honorable gentleman with unfeigned pleasure, and appreciated the lofty and magnanimous motives by which he was actuated; and it was to him a source of regret, that a sense of the duty which he owed to his constituents, to himself, and to his country, impelled him to give a vote in opposition to the motion on the table. He entreated gentlemen to return from the wanderings into which they had been led by the wide and diffuse debate to which this subject had given rise, and locate themselves on the isolated proposition on which we are required to deliberate and decide. The question is not whether the people, contending against the power of the Spanish monarch for their emancipation from the unnatural and cruel bondage to which they have been subjected for centuries past, are entitled to the independence to which they aspire; nor whether it is our policy, at this time, to render them assistance, by a participation in the conflict; but we are asked simply to make an appropriation of $18,000, “for one year's salary and an outfit to a Minister * to the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata * —the salary to commence, and the outfit to be * paid, whenever the President shall deem it expe* dient to send a Minister to said United Pro‘vinces.” Is it expedient, under existing circumstances, to adopt a measure of this character, with a view to the recognition of the independence of these provinces? And if so, does it fall within the range of the Constitutional powers of the House of Representatives? He proposed to examine these points distinct from the multiplied topics which had been, in his opinion, improperly introduced into the discussion, and which shed no light on the question before the Committee. He would not stop to investigate the commercial advantages which might result to this country from the establishment of independent governments in the Spanish South American colonies; because the right of a new Power to be received into the great family of nations is not dependent on calculations of dollars and cents, nor on its relative intercourse with the rest of the world; but it rests on the basis of historical facts, and the known ability of the people to govern themselves in their own way, uncontrolled by the Sovereign, from whose authority they have been rescued by their valor and patriotism. The existence of such a renovation in the political condition of a community, once satisfactorily manifested, and without further inquiry, he was prepared to accord to them the immunities incident to sovereignty, leaving commerce to seek its level in the regular and natural progress of events; but if temptations of gain, by an interchange of commodities, are considerations which ought, in any manner, to guide us on an occasion like the present, it had been sufficiently shown, in the course of the debate, by an honorable gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. SMITH,) that we had but little to hope from that source, in relation to the

provinces of the Rio de la Plata. Of all the possessions of Spain on the continent of South America, engaged in hostilities with the parent country, we are least interested in forming a connexion with the district to which we are invited, by the proposed amendment, to send an accredited Minister. The distance by which we are separated from that country, and the wide extent of ocean which divides us, of difficult and perilous navigation, constitute insuperable barriers to a speedy and profitable intercourse, founded on the wants of the respective countries. Their pursuits, are agricultural, so are ours; many of the articles which we export to foreign markets, they will, in a very short time, likewise export, and become rivals instead of customers in the great staple commodities of the United States. It is true that they remit annually a large amount of the precious metals; these we want, and to obtain them every facility ought to be afforded; but to obtain them something must be given in exchange. What shall we offer them in return for their gold and silver ? Not breadstuffs—for they are supplied at home. Shall we send them our cotton, tobacco, sugars? No, sir; their climate and soil are admirably adapted to the cultivation of all these articles. Shall we find a market in that distant region, for our manufactures, which seem to be the sheet-anchor of our safety, if we are to judge from the solicitude manifested to extend to them the national patronage 3 Alas ! they are drooping on our own soil. Protecting duties, amounting, in some instances, to the exclusion of foreign fabrics from our market, are found to be essentially necessary to force the sale of these manufactures on our own people. Can we, then, entertain the most distant hope that they will venture to seek that competition abroad, which they so carefully and sedulously avoid at home 7 Such a hope cannot for a moment be tolerated. Sir, we have nothing in which a direct trade to South America can be É. with a reasonable prospect of profit. ngland alone will reap the rich harvest of those valuable markets, by means of her manufactures, which she can furnish of a superior quality and at more reduced prices than any other country. We may, perhaps, become the humble carriers, and in that way find employment for our shipping; but the delusive schemes of commercial monopoly, with which we have been so eloquently amused, will very soon vanish, “like the baseless fabric of a vision;” and with them, all the beneficial consequences which we had so fondly anticipated. In reference to the great agricultural interest of the country, Mr. P. saw no inducement which ought to precipitate us into a measure of doubtful policy, in aid of the revolutionary colonies. We have extensive and fertile territories, yet to populate, capable of yielding the richest productions of the earth. Let us dispose of these, and, as far as practicable, condense the , physical strength of the Republic. The hand of industry is nerved by the ravenous demand, which exists in every part of Europe, for the raw materials

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

with which we annually supply them. The laborer is rewarded beyond the example of any former period. Mr. P. asked, if a state of prosperity and tranquillity, like that we now enjoy, ought to be jeopardized in the pursuit of objects, which, so far as they favored the cause of personal liberty, came in collision with the best interests of the United States. Suppose, sir, the fine provinces of Mexico in our immediate neighborhood are opened to the plough, and the inhabitants engage in the active pursuits of agriculture, unrestrained by the arbitrary hand of power, by which their energies have been so long paralyzed, what would the effect of that happy change in their condition be on the productions of our own country? A competition in the important staples of cotton, sugar, tobacco, and flour, which, by increasing the quantity for exportation to Eu.." markets, would necessarily diminish their value, and, in the same proportion, depress that branch of labor which is the only solid basis of national and individual wealth. These results will unavoidably flow from the success of the revolutionary struggle in Spanish America. Mr. P. wished not to be understood as urging these considerations in opposition to the just claim which the oppressed, in all countries, have to dissolve the political bands which bind them to their oppressors. . He meant merely to remove the impression which had been attempted to be made, that the people of this country were deeply interested in o issue of the conflict between Spain and her revolting colonies. He could perceive no pecuniary advantages, either commercial or agricultural, which we should derive from the overthrow of the Spanish authorities in Mexico, New Grenada, Chili, or the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, or in any other part of her South American possessions. But he did not rest his argument on calculations of profit and loss; he wished the patriots every success in their noble effort to erect for themselves independent governments; he believed they must ultimately triumph over the imbecile monarch who now so ingloriously, and so infamously wields the destinies of Spain. The question then recurs, will the amendment offered by the honorable Speaker, if adopted, give strength to the patriot cause? He ... conceived not, and expressed his decided opinion, that it would be productive of consequences injurious to those for whose benefit it was introduced. He conceded the doctrine maintained by the honorable mover, that we have an undeniable right, if these districts, or colonies, have jo succeeded in establishing their independence, to acknowledge the fact, and to treat them with that respect due to the rank which they may have acquired. Such an act would not, in j; be just cause of war to Spain, or any other Power; because, if we, in other respects, maintain a strict neutrality, the mere recognition of an existing fact in relation, to the belligerent parties, would neither weaken or invigorate either of them; it would be entirely harmless and innocent. But it is not enough to show, that we possess the abstract

right to take this "...# it ought likewise to appear from unequivocal official testimony, that these provinces are ipso facto independent, and in the face of the world stand absolved from their allegiance to the Spanish monarch. Is this the condition of the people of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata? What, Mr. Chairman, is the nature and extent of the evidence on which we are to pronounce this fact, and pledge the national responsibility for its existence 3 Newspaper publications, extracts of letters, bulletins of the Commander-inChief of the Revolutionary forces, and the message of Pueyrredon, who styles himself the supreme director of the Republic of La Plata 1 And, sir, those scraps are ingeniously arranged, and gravely offered, as the foundation of a meas. ure involving the consistency, the honor, and perhaps the peace of the nation. Mr. P. protested against this premature and unauthorized proceeding. The introduction of a new sovereign among the nations of the earth is a measure of no ordi. nary character; it has ever been adopted with great caution and circumspection; and it would be folly and madness in this Government to volunteer in so hazardous an enterprise, without a full knowledge of every circumstance essential to its vindication, founded on incontestable documents, about which no subsequent controversy can arise. Let us hesitate in a case of so much delicacy, and maturely calculate the consequences before we involve the people of this country in a dilemma from which there is no retreat. Past experience will justify the declaration, that although the mere recognition of a new Power is not, according to the principles of public law, justifiable cause of war, nine times out of ten it leads to war. Sir, if you introduce a stranger into a drawing-room, or other genteel society, you identify him with yourself; you are security for his good behaviour; and if he prove a vagabond, or swindler, your own dignity and reputation sustain no inconsiderable reproach. Shall we enter into recognizance for the supreme director of La Plata, give him the right hand of fellowship, raise him into factitious consequence, and then embark in his quarrels to save ourselves from disgrace? Remember, sir, that, France, during the Revolution, after much deliberation acknowledged our independence, and concluded with us a commercial treaty. England did not wait to inquire into the motives of the French Government, nor to discuss the belligerent character of these transactions; but the signal for war was immediately hoisted, and hostilities commenced between the two nations. Are we prepared for similar results, and, if we are, what adequate inducements have we for the sacrifice, either in our own country, or the people whom we profess to serve? Our feelings are approached, and our sympathies excited, by the high sounding terms, liberty and republicanism. "Our free institutions are said to be imitated, and our countrymen revered, in our sister Republic of La Plata. Would to God, Mr. Chairman, that such, in reality, were the principles and habits of these

[ocr errors][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsett »