Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

FEBRUARY. 1803.

Mississippi Question.

SENATE.

universal practice. The gentleman from Penn- you must remove your neighbors from their possylvania had indeed told us that Great Britain sessions, and repel those to whom they may transhad departed from that practice'; unfortunately fer the soil; that Bonaparte's ambition is insatiafor Great Britain and the gentleman's argument, ble; that he will throw in colonies of Frenchroen, he told us, at the same time, that she had sustain- who will settle on your frontier for thousands of ed a mosi serious injury by her injustice and pre- miles round about, (when he comes theme ;) and cipitation. She went to war to seek retribution, he does not forget to tell you of the imminent and after fighting a while, she left off, and forgot dangers which threaten our good old friends the to ask the retribution for which she went to war! English. He tells you that New Orleans is the And this is the example held up for our imitation; lock, and you must seize upon the key, and shut because Great Britain violated the law of nations, the door against this terrible Bonaparte, or he will we are called upon to do so too! We are told come with his legions, and, as Gulliver served the also, that Great Britain commenced war during Lilliputians, wash you off the map. Not content, our Revolution, against the Dutch, without any in his great care for your honor and glory, as a previous notification ; that she did the same in the statesman and a warrior, he turns prophet to late war with France, and in both cases seized on oblige you—your safety in the present year or the the ships in her harbors; that is, like a profes- next, does not satisfy him-his vast mind, untramsional bully, she struck first, and then told them melled by the ordinary progressions of chronoloshe would fight them—and this is the gracious gy, looks over ages to come, with a faculty borderexample held up to us. ·

ing on omniscience, and conjures us to come forThe merits of the different propositions consist- ward and regulate the decrees of Providence at ed in this, that by the amendments we propose to ten

thousand years distance. seek the recourse of pacific nations—to follow up That gentleman, Mr. President, is a surprising our own uniform practice; we pursue, in fact, the genius-an amazingly great man-he could never ordinary and rational course. The first resolu- have been intended for this plain, unpowdered retions go at once to the point of war. This was publican era, in which we live satisfied, but which openly and fairly acknowledged by the gentleman must be a perpetual source of discontent to him. from New York, (Mr. G. Morris.) The gentle- But it is not for us to arraign Providence! We man from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Ross) indeed, told are told that, in the immensity of the universe, so us that it is not war—it was only going and taking unbounded is the space it occupies, that even this peaceable possession of New Orleans! He did little ball of earth which we inhabit, is so comnot before think the gentleman felt so little respect paratively insignificant and minute, that it would for the Senate, or estimated their understandings not be missed from the great galaxy; and yet we so much inferior to his own, as to call such a mea- are told that, in this little speck in the creation, sure an act of peace! How did the gentleman Omnipotence tired in six days and rested the sevmean to go, and how take peaceable possession ? enth. In the construction of so immense a sysWould he march at the head of the posse comi- tem, it would not then seem surprising if, in the tatus ? No! he would march at the head of fifty general confusion, souls had been shuffled into thousand militia, and he would send forth the bodies never designed for them, or thrown by whole naval and regular force, armed and provided chance into ages for which their stupendous facwith military stores. He would enter their island, ulties were not fitted; who can say that the soul set fire to their warehouses, and bombard their of that gentleman was not intended for some ancity, desolate their farms and plantations, and cient sage or hero, or for some sage of future ages having swept all their habitations away, after immensely remote, when America may have gone wading through streams of blood, he would tell through a long career of greatness and degenerathose who had escaped destruction, we do not cy, after the manner of other nations! Such a come here to make war on you—we are a soul, so heroic, and so hot for blood, would do very moderate, tender-hearted kind of neighbors, honor to the Crusades; who can say that he was and are come here barely to take peaceable posses- not intended for that age, and that ihe fall of Jeșion of your territory! Why, sir, this is too na- rusalem was not owing to the unhappy accident ked not to be an insult to the understanding of a of his being born out of his time, and in the child !

wrong country! But the gentleman from New York (Mr. Mor- The gentleman has, with great emphasis, reRIS) did not trifle with the Senate in such a style; peated, that Florida must be ours.

That this may he threw off the mask at once, and in a downright, be the case, at some remote period, is not in the manly way, fairly told us that he liked war-ihat order of human events improbable. The natural it was his favorite mode of negotiating between progression of population would seem to indicate nations; that wargave dignity to the species-that such an event. The geographical situation of that it drew forth the most noble energies of humanity! country has long rendered such a theory familiar That gentleman scorned to tell us that he wished to speculative minds. But the gentleman says it to take peaceable possession. No! He could not must be ours now. Hence it appears that the desnivel; his vast genius spurned huckstering; his posit at New Orleans is really not the object which mighty soul would not bear to be locked up in a the gentleman's great mind contemplated. But petty warehouse at New Orleans; he was for how is Florida to be obtained ? What injury war, terrible, glorious havoc! He tells you plainly, have we sustained in Florida ? Presently we that

you are not only to recover your rights, but shall be told we must have Louisiana; then the

SENATE.

Mississippi Question.

FEBRUARY, 1803.

gold mines of Mexico-these would be very good than the blockade of any or all of those rivers : things, if come by honestly-then Potosi-ihen the ocean was put in a state of blockade to us; St. Domingo, with their sugar, coffee, and all the our ships were captured and confiscated; our cirirest. These likewise are all very good and com- zens taken from on board our ships and put in fortable things in their way, honorably and justly irons; they were put on board British ships-ofobtained. But what have we to do with the ter- war, and compelled to fight the battles of despotritories of other people? Have we not enough of ism against men who were engaged in the deour own ? Have we not more than we can culti-fence of their country, against men fighting in vate or sell ?

the cause of liberty, and for whom a lively symIf we suffer this rapacious spirit to prevail, Mr. pathy was felt on account of the services renPresident, what is to be our character ? Our fate dered to America by them in our Revolution. is not difficult to foresee. The nations of the Old Was this no injury? Yet the gentleman from World will become jealous of our unjustifiable New Jersey (Mr. Dayton) tells us the time was, ambition—they will combine against us—they when, had a single American citizen been opwill humble and curb us. The British belt, that pressed or injured, the national honor would have binds us to the North, will be drawn tight 'upon been roused and asserted in his defence! What us. Should it appear that we seek to elbow out a wonderful discovery. It is to be lamented that every European nation who possesses colonies on it is all a fiction—that it has no existence but in this side of the Atlantic, then would the sanguin- the gentleman's unconscious imagination. Was ary passions which pant for havoc and disorder, it when the commander of a British frigate, the find ample scope for war and desolation ; we British captain, Pigot, stopped the American citishould see those Powers of Europe, lately armed zen, Captain Jessup, at sea, and because he comagainst each other, combined against us. plained of having his men impressed, tied him up

But it is not with our European neighbors only and flogged him at his gangway, that the sense of that the fervid impatience of the gentleman would national dignity was displayed? or when else ? embroil us; not satisfied with Florida, and the if the gentleman could tell, he ought, and he lock and key of Louisiana, he launches us into should be glad to hear the news. He insisted that the turbuleni sea of European politics, and sets us the wrongs done to us since the peace of 1783, by to tilting for that phantom, the balance of power! the British, were more deep, dishonorable, and Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Germany, Portugal, aflicting than any other, or than has bappened, and Spain, are severally described as swallowed or can happen, in consequence of the affair at New up by all-devouring France; and not only are we Orleans. Yet war was not advocated when Britto join in the crusade for restoring the lost bal- ain insulted and wronged us; recourse was had ance of power, but we are invited to do more- to measures of a pacific, and of a more certain and we are invoked to come forth and tell the nations efficacious nature. Certain commercial proposiof Europe, that America is a young and manly tions were brought forward to counteract and conation, that we are eager to restore that balance erce, by her commercial nerves, the nation that of power; and that we will do ourselves the honor had wronged us; a procedure very different from of leading the van in a new coalition !

the military peace-march to New Orleans. In Is any member of this House prepared for this ? the midst of the discussion of these resolutions, Is this the wish or will of the people of America? President Washington appointed Mr. Jay to proIt requires no answer. We find the gentleman ceed upon a negotiation; and the propositions beginning with the deposit at New Orleans, and were given up to await the issue of negotiation. erecting an immense foundation for mischief on In all negotiations which we have undertaken the rash act of a Spanish officer, in refusing us with sincerity, we have succeeded. Washingthe right to deposit our produce in their territory. ton did all that the most pacific policy required We are then carried back to anterior transactions, to prevent war; he did so with sincerity; and the capture of ships and the detention of seamen notwithstanding the adverse counsels by which in the South American colonies of Spain; we are he was sometimes deceived, it was his favorite then alarmed about the dangers on our frontiers principle to avoid foreign alliances, and to study from a French colony : but at length the secretihe arts of peace with diligence and constancy. comes out-we are told that we must go to war It must be recollected by many persons in that to restrain the overgrown power of France! The House, that in a correspondence which took place gentlemen pant for war, and care not for what or during the discussions on the British Treaty, with whom; they pursue war with a deplorable speaking of those who opposed that Treaty, he infatuation, and the most charitable construction called them the “friends of war and confusion." that can be put upon their conduct is, that they How far the title was proper is not here to be inknow not what they do.

quired; but it is put to their consideration, wheBut we are not to be seduced from the sober ther gentlemen who oppose negotiation and advopolicy which our situation and our experience cate taking peaceable possession of a foreigo tercommands. Under that illustrious character so ritory by force of arms, are or not entitled to the often alluded to, we are told no aggression was epithets. But whether the gentlemen agree on ever submitted to with impunity; that there was this point, whether they profess a peaceable inno blockade of the North river, Savannah, or the clination in the invasion of foreign territory with Delaware. He would tell the gentleman that arms in their hands, or openly avow their dethere was a blockade more serious and extensive sign to be actual hostility, is very immaterial

:

a

FEBRUARY, 1803.

Mississippi Question.

SENATE.

а

to the public, who will appreciate the consist- is very fine and fashionable, she vows to heaven ency of their pretensions and their propositions. she must and will have it; they belong to the

It had been correctly stated, that the true course shopkeeper to be sure, but what does that signify, of our policy always has been, and always ought the lady wants them, and all she has to do is to to be, to pursue negotiation, in preference to any knock ihe shopkeeper down and then gratify her species of menace or hostility. It was more con- wishes. Exactly parallel is the conduct recomsistent with a confidence in our own resolution, mended to us. If, indeed, we can obtain New for moderation in difficulty is always the true Orleans in an honest way, if the man will sell his criterion of courage. The course now proposed horse, or the shopkeeper his goods, why then we by the amendments of his friend from Keniucky may have it; but we cannot become so insensible was the same that had been formerly adopted. to justice, or to our true policy, as to invade and When the proceedings of the Legislature were take the property of an ally before we have comarrested by Jay's mission, this was the course. plained and demanded our rights, violated by an Eighty thousand militia were voted, and the officer of that ally. If negotiation fails, it will country was placed in its true position for defence, then be justifiable in us to redress ourselves, and a reliance upon the patriotism and courage of free- insist on our right; if our right is resisted, and men. The same course was adopted with regard further injury done, the laws and usages of nato France on a later occasion—and in both the tions will justify us in retaliating; and in such effect was answerable to the intention-we ob- an event, which he did not expect, we might be tained peace by negotiation. Those who advocate justified in going farther and taking more. But war measures now recommended very different this we could never do, or attempt, unless forced measures in the case of British aggression. One into a war. But as we are now called upon to gentleman, from New Jersey, indeed, disclaims act, pothing could be more unjust. We have any merit on this score; he washes his hands of heard of a right of ours under treaty being susall the sin which attaches to a love of peace; he pended, we know not by whom; all that we know disavows and rejects such a grovelling system; is, that a Spanish officer has undertaken to do this. born a soldier, the language of war is to him the But without telling your wrongs to his Governharmony of the spheres; war is never mentioned ment, you are told to enter on the territory and without stirring up his proud recollection of those spread fire, havoc, and desolation, among the unwonderful achievements in which he partook his offending and friendly inhabitants! Would the share of glory in the blood-stained field; his sym- savage tribes of our wilderness do the like? They pathies are aroused, like the sympathies of an old would not. You have just sent an Ambassador coach-horse at the crack of a whip! It is a kind upon this very subject, and you are told he must of instinct no one can account for it—but that it carry with him in his hand an account of this inis a natural propensity-it bears an analogy to vasion and ravage as his introduction to negotiate love-it is an indescribable something, and great on friendly and pacific terms! We empower him warriors have been ever great lovers-indeed, all to demand redress of what we have undertaken to the ancient knights were in love as a matter of redress ourselves. We ask for justice, and our

The passion for war lasts as long as life, recommendation is injustice. We ask ihe Spanbut that of love (from a natural cause) is not ish Government, Will you please to restore us our always as durable; the former seems already pre- deposit? when we have not only taken it but the dominant with the gentleman from New Jersey, whole island. What would be the reception of and has betrayed him into an unguarded conces- our Minister under such circumstances ? He would sion; while vaunting of his military achievements, be sent back; and we should be told that they he has told us that he was defending the State of would try to take from us, by force, what we had New York, when my friend, who now represents usurped beyond our just claim. Such is the that State with so much benefit to his country policy which gentlemen recommend. and honor to himself, (Mr. Clinton,) was on his Some gentlemen read us the newspapers; some mother's lap, or in the egg.shell; this is making private letters from God knows who; another out the gentleman rather older than I expected he tells us of the Prince of Parma, and the King of was, and is acknowledging a weight of years

, that Eutruria, and the Duke of Modena; that Spain I should hardly have thought a man of his gal- is the actual aggressor-then that France is the lantry would have been willing to own before so real mover. Further

, from the same source we numerous and elegant a collection of ladies as at learn that Lord Whitworth has arrived at Paris, this time honor us with their company. But we and that the expedition of the French is suspendare told by another redoubtable knight, that we ed, because Great Britain wishes to purchase Loumust have New Orleans whether the Spaniards isiana. Thus it is demonstrated, by the gentlewill or not-no ceremony in his opinion is neces men themselves, that they know not, or care not, sary.he says we want it, and therefore must have what they are doing, and that they are desirous it. Thus, if a buck of high metal were to see a of acting in the dark; for, if we raise the sword, fine horse, he might tell the rider: Sir, ihat is a we know not whether it is to fall on the head of very excellent horse indeed; I want it, and you Spain, France, or England. If it should happen must alight; I do not mean to rob you, sir, but to be on the last, some gentlemen would certainly really you must dismount, and let me have the deplore their present impetuosity. horse. A lady may like a fine transparent mus- We have been told that Spain had no right to lin, or a shawl, or brocade, or something else that I cede Louisiana to France; that she had ceded to

course.

[ocr errors]

SENATE.

Mississippi Question.

FEBRUARY, 1803.

W

[ocr errors]

us the privilege of deposit, and had therefore no States of South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, right to cede her territory without our consent! and Kentucky, (those States from which the genAre gentlemen disposed to wage war in support tleman from Pennsylvania, by his resolutions, of this principle ? Because she has given us a proposes to draw the militia,) every member of little privilege-a mere indulgence on her terri- this House is opposed to war; but from the East, tory-is she thereby constrained from doing any- (and one can sca

carcely refrain from laughing, to thing forever with her immense possessions? No hear of the all-important representatives of the doubt, if the gentleman, (Mr. Morris,) were to State of Delaware in particular,) such is the be the negotiator on this occasion, he would say: passion for the wonderful, or thgrabsurd, there "You mean to cede New Orleans; no, gentle- prevails the liveliest sensibility for the Western men, I beg your pardon, you cannot cede that, for country! we want it ourselves; and as to the Floridas, it Soon after the peace of 1783, our frontiers were would be very indiscreet to cede that, as, in all in a situation where national feeling had much human probability, we shall want that also in less occasion for irritation. The British had not only than five hundred years from this day; and then, retained their old garrisons on our territory, conas to Louisiana, you surely could not think of trary to treaty, but they actually advanced upon that, for in something less than a thousand years, us, and erected new. Yet such was the extreme in the natural order of things, our population will sensibility of the Eastern States then, that they progress towards that place also.”

went to sleep in perfect composure and their If Spain has ceded those countries to France, sensibility and their war rage was never roused the cession has been made with all the incum- until the British began to interfere with our combrances and obligations to which it is subject by merce at sea; then indeed they began to rub their previous compact with us. Whether Bonaparte eyes, and to discover that there was some danger. will execute these obligations with good faith, he But they continued still to feel very little for the could not say; but to say that Spain has no right Western people-perhaps they did not know them to cede, is a bold assertion indeed. The people of so well—they had not yet travelled over the America will not go along with such doctrines, Western lands! for they lead to ruin alone. We are also told, These contradictions must be resolved by other that the power of the Chief Consul is so great, than State interests; by other causes than any that he puts up and pulls down all the nations of sufferings of particular States. They must be the Old World at discretion, and that he can do explained by events in times past, and by causes so with us. Yet we are told by the wonderful which do not belong to the interests or the happistatesman, who gives ys this awful information, ness of the people. There are men in this counthat we must go to war with this maker and de- try who entertain an incurable passion for war; stroyer of Governments. If, after the unceasing there are some pen who see no means by which pursuit of empire and conquest, which is thus their ambition can be ġratified, but through the presented to us, we take possession of his terri- evils and distractions, the miseries and the distory, from the gentleman's own declarations, what contents, inseparable from a state of war. There are we to expect, only that this wonderful man, are, said he, such men. War leads to expense, who never abandons an object—who thinks his and to discontent with the Government which own and the nation's honor pledged to go through creates it; war strengthens the hands of Execuwhatever he undertakes-will next attack us? | live power, and weakens the authority and the Does the gentleman think that this terrible pic- voice of the people; war multiplies the means of ture, which his warm imagination has drawn, is profusion and waste of the public treasures in a conclusive argument for proceeding to that war contracts and jobs-it gives a preponderance to which he recommends?

one branch of the Government over the rest. The Senate, Mť. President, at this moment, From the beginning of this Government, this presents a very extraordinary aspect; and by those struggle has been visible, where ambition has not acquainted with our political affairs, it would leagued with avarice against the interests of the appear a political phenomenon. Here we see a people; and where there has been more pain and number of people from the Eastern States and trouble occasioned by the incessant efforts of this the seaboard, filled with the most extreme solici- combination, than all the other duties, cares, and tude for the interest and rights of the western incumbrances of Government. Perhaps some genand inland States; while the representatives of tlemen do not act from a consciousness of such the Western people themselves appear to know motives; perhaps some few may act from opinion, nothing of this great danger, and to feel a full and without personal or ambitious views; some confidence in their Government. The former de- perhaps conscientiously think that it would be claring that the Western people are all ready for preferable to lodge all authority in the Execurevolt and open to seduction; the latter ignorant tive, and to dispense with popular representation, of any such disposition, and indignant at the dis- or even ordinary legislation. Whatever might be grace which is thrown on their character. In the motives or the impressions of this few, this their great loving kindness for the Western peo-Government was not made for them; it was made ple, those new friends of theirs tell them that they for the many, and must be so administered. are a simple people, who do not know what is He could have enlarged much more on what good for them, and that they will kindly under- had fallen in debate, but his strength would not take to do this for them. From the contiguous enable him to pursue the examination much furFEBRUARY, 1803.

Mississippi Question.

SENATE.

ther; he would, therefore, content himself with inducements which should lead us to undertake staring his reasons for preferring the substitute to it, and the means of pursuing it seems to have the original resolutions.

been very crudely digested indeed. War is all This he considered to be a most favorable time they want—is all they wish; set it once going, for negotiation. We are told that Bonaparte and it will work afterwards to suit their purpose; never gives up an enterprise. He will not then give them but war, they care not with whom, or give up St. Domingo; he has attacked it, he has for what. been disconcerted, and is pledged to accomplish it Mr. Cocke.—The doctrines held by the gentleat any sacrifice. Great as that colony is, and per- man from New York (Mr. MORRIS) are curious. haps he does not think so much of it as in a com- He tells us, Mr. President, that we must go to war mercial view it merits, but if, as has been said, he for fear we may be compelled to go to war; that wishes to preserve it as a necessary means for the we must attack the Spaniards because they are reduction of the West Indies, this must be the weak; and we must attack the French because most favorable opportunity for pressing a negoti- they are powerful; we must force our Western ation. What may be attempted or expected from fellow-citizens into a war, from an apprehension that negotiation he would not say, because it was that if we do not, they will go to war themselves, not proper, in the present stage of proceedings. and become our mosi formidable enemies! This

He siated, that the original resolutions, by del- he supposed was what some people called oratory, egating to the President of the United States the but for which an honest man is at a loss to find a power to invade the neighboring territory of an proper name. The love of peace he has declared ally, with fifty thousand militia, and all our regu- to be a good reason for going to war; and this is lar military force; whilst they betray the most more oratory. There was something said about outrageous spirit of hostility, they are evidently a Duke of Parma and Hercules, but this he supcalculated to defeat all attempts at friendly nego- posed was oratory also; it was hardly possible to tiation, and, in two instances, most palpably vio- be serious upon this kind of doings. The gentlelate the Constitution. To Congress the power of man in the same speech told us that he did not making war is confided by the Constitution-a know what the President was doing in this busipower which they cannot transfer to the President ness; he has a bad memory for an orator, for it or any other authority. Secondly, the militia is but a few days since he was present at the nomcan only be used by Congress " to suppress insur- ination of James Monroe to proceed to Europe as rections and repel invasions;" they have no power Ambassador to negotiate on ihe subject; this was to send them without the limits of the United at least something, and more was expressed in the States upon any object of conquest, or to avenge Message from the Executive on the nomination. any national wrongs or indignities, that we may Why, sir, oratory appears to me a heap of conbe supposed to have suffered. The militia force, tradictions; fine words may, to be sure, be very therefore, if collected, could not be used for the diverting, but they are not half so well calculated purposes expressed in those resolutions.

for a republican people as matter of fact. The But, by the substitute offered by the gentleman gentlemen, indeed, appeared to think very differfrom Kentucky, a greater force is to be held in a ently, for we have been accused of wishing to state of preparation ; a part of these to be enlisted, keep their arguments and speeches from going or rather enrolled as volunteers, for a longer time abroad, and to keep to ourselves with closed doors, of service than militia are liable to, and by the all their fine doings about the Prince of Parma terms of their engagement may be marched any and the Emperor of the Gauls, and about the prowhere that may be required of them by an act of phecies of the gentleman to the Swiss so many Congress. Arsenals are to be built, and the arms years ago. He could assure gentlemen, that, for and ammunition deposited in suitable situations, his own part, he entertained as little apprehension so that should war be unavoidable, everything is about their fine speeches as he did of the Prince placed in a state of perfect preparation for such of Parma, or the hero of Italy; and he believed an event. And when Congress, with whom the his constituents generally thought about as much power of war is lodged, may think proper to de- of them, if they thought of them at all. clare it, the declaration of war may be followed But gentlemen tell us our rights are invaded, by an immediate and effectual movement. Thus, and that we must go down and attack the slugthe resolutions proposed as an amendment, whilst gish Spaniard; and that we should do this in they show more temper, moderation, and justice, time, before Bona parte comes, and builds a chain will be more effectual, should we find it necessary of fortificatious along your frontiers. How are to resort to the last means of settling national the public to understand all these things ? We disputes; they are such as the powers of Con- must not negotiate, because the Spaniards are gress are competent to, and by not attempting sluggards, and we must fight because Bonaparte, more, argue ai sincerity of intention, which the by the aid of that conjuring devil, which the gen. others (from their very different character in this tleman talked of, is to build up a whole line of respect) may be suspected of wanting. Though fortresses, all in one night, he supposed. These the ostensible pretext of those resolutions was to are the speeches which, we are told, we were secure the deposit at New Orleans, yet it was evi- afraid of letting go out to the public—in which dent that their object was war at all events. everything is contradictory. These gentlemen seem to be all equally anxious But how are we to account for this zeal for for war, though they differ about the causes and 'war, in those gentlemen now, who, not many

7th Con. 2d Ses.-8

a

« ForrigeFortsett »