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Continuation of Mr. Webster's Speech, on the bill ma
king further provision for filling the ranks of the regular army, &C.
I AM aware, sir, that both the professed objects of the war, and the manner of prosecuting it, may receive the nominal approbation of a great majority of those who constitute the prevailing party in the country. But I know also how extremely fallacious any inference from that circumstance would be, in favour of the real popularity of the measure. In times like these, a great measure of a prevalent party becomes incorporated with the party interest.
To quarrel with the measure, would be to abandon the party. Party considerations, therefore, induce an acquiescence in that, on which the fate of party is supposed to depend. Gentlemen, sir, fall into strange inconsistencies on this subject. They tell us that the war is popular ; that the invasion of Canada is popular, and that it would have succeeded, before this time, had it not been for the force of opposition. Sir, what gives force to opposition in this country ? Certainly nothing but the popularity of the cause of opposition, and the numbers who espouse it. Upon this argument, then, in what an unprecedented condition are the people of these states ! vre have on our hands a most popular war; we have also a most popular opposition to that war. We cannot push the measure, the opposition is so popular. We cannot retract it, the measure itself is so popular. We can neither
forward nor backward. We are at the very centre of gravity ;-the point of perpetual rest!
The truth is, sir, that party support is not the kind of support necessary to sustain the country through a long, expensive and bloody contest; and this should have been considered, before the war was declared. The cause, be successful, must be upheld by other sentiments, and higher motives. It must draw to itself the sober approbation of the great mass of the people. It must enlist, not their temporary or party feelings, but their steady patriotism, and their constant zeal. Unlike the old nations of Europe, there are in this country no dregs of population, fit only to supply the constant waste of war,
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and out of which an army can be raised, for hire, at any time and for any purpose. Armies of any magnitude can here be nothing but the people embodied; and if the object be not one for which the people will embody, there can be no armies. It is, I think, too plain to be doubted, that the conquest of Canada is such an object. They do not feel the impulse of adequate motive. Not unmindful of military distinction, they are yet not sanguine of laurels in this contest. The harvest, thus far, they perceive has not been great. The prospect of the future is no greater. Nor are they altogether reconciled to the principle of this invasion. Canada, they know, is not to be conquered, but by drenching its soil in the blood of its inhabitants. They have no thirst for that blood. The borderers, on the line, connected by blood and marriage, and all the ties of social life, have no disposition to bear arms against ore another. Merciless indeed has been the fate of some of these people. derstand it to be fact, that in some of the affairs, which we call battles, because we have had nothing else to give the name to, brother has been in arms against brother. The bosom of the parent has been exposed to the bayonet of his own son. Sir, I honour the people that shrink from a warfare like this. I applaud their sentiments and their feelings. They are such as religion and humanity dictate, and such as none but cannibals would wish to eradicate from the human heart.
You have not succeeded in dividing the people of the Canadas from their government. Your commanders tell you that they are universally hostile to your cause.
It is not, therefore, to make war on their government; it is to make war, fierce, cruel, bloody war on the people themselves, that you call to your standard the yeomanry of the Northern States. The experience of two campaigns should have taught you, that they will not obey that call. Government has put itself in every posture. It has used supplication and intreaty; it has also mena. ced, and it still menaces, compulsion. All is in vain. It cannot longer conceal its weakness on this point. Look to the bill before
you. Does not that speak a language exceeding every thing I have said? You last year gave a bounty of sixteen dollars. You now propose to give a bounty of one hundred and twenty-four dollars. and you say you have no hope of obtaining men at a lower rate. This is sufficient to convince me, it will be suffi. cient to convince the enemy, and the whole world, yourselves only excepted, what progress your Canada war is making in the affections of the people.
It is to no want of natural resources, or natural strength, in the country, that your failures can be attributed. The Northern States alone are able to overrun Canada in thirty days, armed or unarmed, in any cause which should propel them by inducements sufficiently powerful. Recur, sir, to history. As early as 1745, the New-England colonies raised an army of five thousand men, and took Louisburg from the troops of France. On what point of the enemy's territory, let me ask, have you brought an equal force to bear in the whole course of two campaigns ? On another occasion, more than half a century ago, Massachusetts alone, although its population I did not exceed one third of its present amount, had an army of twelve thousand men. Of these, seven thousand were at one time employed against Canada. A strong motive was then felt to exist. With equal exertion, that commonwealth could now furnish an army of forty thousand men.
You have prosecuted this invasion for two campaigns. They have cost you more, upon the average, than the Campaigns of the revolutionary war. The project has already cost the American people nearly half as much as the whole price paid for independence. The result is before us.
Who does not see and feel, that this result disgraces us? Who does not see in what estimation our martial prowess must be by this time holden, by the enemy and by the world ? Administration has made its master effort to subdue a province, three thousand miles removed from the mother country ; lying at our own doors; scarcely equal in natural strength, to the least of the states of this confederacy, and defended by external aid to a limited extent. It has persisted two campaignsand it has failed. Let the responsibility rest where it ought. The world will not ascribe the issue to want of
spirit or patriotism in the American people. The pasE-session of those qualities, in high and honourable degrees, they have heretofore illustriously evinced, and spread out the proof on the record of their revolution. They will be still true to their character, in any cause which they feel to be their own. In all causes, they will defend themselves. The enemy, as we have seen, can make no permanent stand, in any populous part of the country. İts citizens will drive back his forces to the line. But at that line, at the point where defence ceases, and invasion begins, they stop. They do not pass it, because they do not chuse to pass it. Offering no serious obstacle to their actual power, it rises, like a Chinese wall, against their sentiments and their feelings.
Continuation of Mr. Webster's Speech, on the bill making
further provision for filling the ranks of the regular
IT is natural, sir, such being my opinions, on the present state of things, that I should be asked what, in my judgment, ought to be done. In the first place, then, I answer, withdraw your invading armies, and follow councils which the national sentiment will support. In the next place, abandon the system of commercial restriction. That system is equally ruinous to the interests, and obnoxious to the feelings of whole sections and whole states. They believe you have no constitutional right to establish such systems. They protest to you, that such is not, and never was, their understanding of your powers. They are sincere in this opinion, and it is of infinite moment, that you duly respect that opinion, although you may deem it to be erroneous. ple, sir, resisted Great-Britain, because her minister, under pretence of regulating trade, attempted to put his hand into their pockets, and get their money. There is that, sir, which they then valued, and which they still value, more than money. That pretence of regulating trade they believed to be a mere cover for tyranny and oppression. The present embargo, which does not vex, and harrass, and embarrass their commerce, but annihilates it, is also laid by colour of a power to regulate trade.
For if it be not laid, by virtue of this power, it is laid by virtue of no power. It is not wonderful, sir, if this should be viewed by them as a state of things, not contemplated when they came into the national compact.
Let me suppose, sir, that when the convention of one of the commercial states, Massachusetts for example, was deliberating on the adoption of this Constitution, some person, to whose opening vision the future had been disclosed, had appeared among them. He would have seen there the patriots who rocked the cradle of liberty in America. He would have seen there statesmen and warriors, who had borne no dishonourable parts in the councils of their country, and on her fields of battle. He would have found these men recommending the adoption of this instrument to a people, full of the feeling of independence, and naturally jealous of all governments but their own. And he would have found, that the leading, the principal, and the finally prevalent argument, was the protection and extension of commerce.
Now suppose, sir, that this person, having the knowledge of future times, had told them-" This instrument, to which you now commit your fates, shall for a time not deceive your hopes. Administered and practised, as you now understand it, it shall enable you to carry your favourite pursuits to an unprecedented extent. The increase of your numbers, of your wealth, and of your general prosperity, shall exceed your expectations. But other times shall arrive. Other councils shall prevail. In the midst of this extension and growth of commerce and prosperity, an embargo, severe and universal, shall be laid upon you, for eighteen months. This shall be succeeded by non-importations, restrictions and embarrassments, of every description. War, with the most powerful maritime nation on earth, shall follow. This war shall be declared professedly for your benefit, and the protection of your interest. It shall be declared nevertheless against your urgent remonstrance. Your voice shall be heard, but it shall be heard only to be disregarded. It shall be a war for sailors' rights, against the sentiments of those to whom eight-tenths of the seamen of the country belong. It shall be a war for maritime rights, forced upon those who are alone interested in such concerns. It