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She sickens at your prosperity; she is jealous of you; she dreads your rivalship on the ocean. If you doubt this look at your trade in 1806. Your trade with England was twelve or thirteen millions in her favour. We bought fifty millions worth of her manufactures, and supplied her with the raw materials for those very manufactures. We furnished her with the necessaries of life, and in exchange, accepted her luxuries. How was our trade with France and Holland? Our exports, to both these countries, amounted to eighteen millions, our imports to twenty-five millions-Consider the superiority in trade with us, which Great-Britain enjoyed over her rival; would she have relinquished that superiority, would she have given up her profitable trade, for the single purpose of humbling that of her antagonist? Would she have hazarded the evils of a war with this country for this object? No, sir. She saw in your numberless ships, whose sails spread upon every sea; she perceived in your hundred and twenty thousand gallant tars, the seeds of a naval force, which in thirty years, would rival her on her own element. She therefore commenced the odious system of impressment, of which no language can paint my indignant execration; she dared to attempt the subversion of the personal freedom of your mariners. She aimed at depressing your commerce, which, she foresaw would induce your seamen to enter her service, would impair the means of cherishing your navy, of protecting and extending your commerce, and would at the same time raise her own power.
Sir, we are told this government is not calculated to stand the shock of war; that gentlemen will lose their seats in this and the other house; that your benches will be filled by other men, who, after you have carried on the war, will make for you an ignominious peace. I cannot believe that to retain their seats was the extent of the amor patriæ of gentlemen in this house. Can they let their brave countrymen, a Daviess and his associates in arms, perish in manfully fighting their battles, while they would meanly cling to their places? But I cannot persuade myself that the nation would be ungrateful. I am convinced that when they know that their government has been strictly impartial towards the belligerents-for
surely no gentleman in this house can be so base as to ascribe partiality or other improper motives to them— when they perceive the sincere and persevering exertions of their government to preserve peace; they will continue to adhere to them, even in an unsuccessful war to defend their rights; to assert the honour, the dignity and independence of the country. But my ideas of duty are such, that when my rights are invaded, I must advance to their defence, let what may be the consequence; even if death itself were to be my certain fate.
Extract from a Speech in Congress, by the HoN. DANIEL WEBSTER, on a bill making further provision for filling the ranks of the regular army, &c. 14th Jan. 1814.
THE design of this bill is to encourage, by means of a very extraordinary bounty, enlistments into the regular army. Laws already existing, and other bills now in progress before the house, provide for the organization of an army of sixty-three thousand men. For the purpose of filling the ranks of that army, the bill before us proposes to give to each recruit, a bounty, of one hundred and twenty-four dollars, and three hundred and twenty acres of land!—It offers also a premium of eight dollars to every person, in or out of the army, citizen or soldier, who shall procure an able bodied man to be enlisted.
Before I can determine for myself, whether so great a military force should be raised, and at so great an expense, I am bound to inquire into the object to which that force is to be applied. If the public exigency shall, in my judgment, demand it; if any object connected with the protection of the country, and the safety of its citizens shall require it; and if I shall see reasonable ground to believe, that the force, when raised, will be applied to meet that exigency, and yield that protection, I shall not e restrained by any considerations of expense, from givng my support to the measure: I am aware that the untry needs defence, and I am anxious that defence ould be provided for it to the fullest extent, and in the
promptest manner. But what is the object of this bill? To what service is this army destined, when its ranks shall be filled? We are told, sir, that the frontier is invaded, and that troops are wanted to repel that invasion. It is too true that the frontier is invaded; that the war, with all its horrors, ordinary and extraordinary, is brought within our own territories; and that the inhabitants, near the country of the enemy are compelled to fly, lighted by the fires of their own houses, or to stay and meet the foe, unprotected by any adequate aid of government. But shew me, that by any vote of mine, or any effort of mine, I can contribute to the relief of such distress. Shew me, that the purpose of government in this measure, is to provide defence for the frontiers. I aver I see no evidence of any such intention. I have no assurance that this army will be applied to any such object. There are strong reasons to infer the contrary, from the fact, that the forces hitherto raised have not been so applied, in any suitable or sufficient proportion. The defence of our own territory seems hitherto to have been regarded as an object of secondary importance, a duty of a lower order than the invasion of the enemy. The army raised last year was competent to defend the frontier. To that purpose government did not see fit to apply it. It was not competent, as the event proved, to invade with success the provinces of the enemy. To that purpose, however, it was applied. The substantial benefit which might have been obtained, and ought to have been obtained, was sacrificed to a scheme of conquest, in my opinion a wild one, commenced without means, prosecuted without plan or concert, and ending in disgrace. Nor is it the inland frontier only that has been left defenceless. The sea coast has been, in many places, wholly exposed. Give me leave to state one instance. The mouth of one of the largest rivers in the eastern section of the union is defended by a fort mounting fourteen guns. This fort, for a great part of the last session, was holden by one man and one boy only. I state the fact on the authority of an honourable gentleman of this house. Other cases, almost equally flagrant, are known to have existed; in some of which, interests of a peculiar character and great magnitude have been at stake. With this
knowledge of the past, I must have evidence of some change in the purposes of administration, before I can vote for this bill, under an expectation that protection will thereby be afforded to either frontier of the union. Of such change there is no intimation. On the contrary, gentlemen tell us explicitly, that the acquisition of Canada is still deemed to be an essential object; and the vote of the house, within the last half hour has put the matter beyond doubt. An honourable gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Sheffey) has proposed an amendment to this bill, limiting the service of the troops to be raised by its provisions, to objects of defence. To the bill thus amended he offered his support, and would have been cheerfully followed by his friends. The amendment was rejected. It is certain, therefore, that the real object of this proposition to increase the military force to an extraordinary degree, by extraordinary means, is to act over again the scenes of the two last campaigns. To that object I cannot lend my support. I am already satisfied with the exhibition.
Continuation of Mr. Webster's Speech, on the bill making further provision for filling the ranks of the regular army, &c.
GIVE me leave to say, sir, that the tone on the subject of the conquest of Canada, seems to be not a little changed. Before the war, that conquest was represented to be quite an easy affair. The valiant spirits who meditated it, were only fearful lest it should be too easy to be glorious. They had no apprehension, except that resistance would not be so powerful as to render the victory splendid. These confident expectations were, however, accompanied with a commendable spirit of moderation, the true mark of great minds, and it was gravely said, that we ought not to make too large a grasp for dominion, but to stop in our march of conquest northward, somewhere about the line of perpetual congelation, and to leave to our enemies or others, the residue of the continent to the pole. How happens it, sir, that this coun
try, so easy of acquisition, and over which, according to the prophecies, we were to have been, by this time, legislating, dividing it into states and territories, is not yet ours?-Nay, sir, how happens it, that we are not even free of invasion ourselves; that gentlemen here call on us, by all the motives of patriotism, to assist in the defence of our own soil, and pourtray before us the state of the frontier, by frequent and animated allusion to all those topics, which the modes of Indian warfare usually suggest.
This, sir, is not what we were promised. This is not the entertainment to which we were invited. This is no fulfilment of those predictions which it was deemed obstinacy itself not to believe. This is not that harvest of greatness and glory, the seeds of which were supposed to be sown, with the declaration of war.
When we ask, sir, for the causes of these disappointments, we are told that they are owing to the opposition which the war encounters, in this house, and among the people. All the evils which afflict the country are imputed to opposition. This is the fashionable doctrine, both here and elsewhere. It is said to be owing to opposition that the war became necessary; and owing to opposition also that it has been prosecuted with no better
This, sir, is no new strain. It has been sung a thousand times. It is the constant tune of every weak or wicked administration. What minister ever yet acknowledged, that the evils which fell on his country were the necessary consequences of his own incapacity, his own folly, or his own corruption? What possessor of political power ever yet failed to charge the mischiefs resulting from his own measures, upon those who had uniformly opposed those measures? The people of the United States may well remember the administration of Lord North. He lost America to his country. Yet he could find pretences for throwing the odium upon his opponents. He could throw it upon those who had forewarned him of consequences from the first, and who had opposed him at every stage of his disastrous policy, with all the force of truth, and reason, and talent. It was not his own weakness, his own ambition, his own love of ar