« ForrigeFortsett »
to a foreign foe, which was the case when France was the object of attack. Then federalists and republicans were united. After this we assumed a different attitude towards both France and Great-Britain, but in the same terms of impartiality; we author. ized the President to say to France, if you will refcind your decrees violating our neutral rights, we will revive the non-importation part of the non-intercourse law againft your rival Great Britain, provided the should not also cease to violate our neutral rightby a repeal of her orders; we authorised the President to use the very fame identical language to Great Britain, that if you will cease to violate our neutral rights, we will revive our non.im. portation system against your enemy France, provided she should not follow your example. This was said to France and to Great Britain in the spirit of conciliation and fincerity. France accepts the proposition ; but it is rejected by Great Britain, which acceptance on the part of France and the extinguishment of her orders, fo far as they violated our neutral rights, was announced by the President's proclamation, and the non-intercourse revived against Great-Britain. Under the fe circumstances Congress convened, but I looked in vain for refolutions of approbation of the President's conduct. The repeal of the French decrees was doubted, and the gentleman from Virginia was the first to introduce his resolution to repeal the non-importation revived against England by the President's proclamation and with that rep al the proclamation ; and now when it is not denied by a single individ. ual that the Berlin and Milan decrees are so modified as to ceale to violate our neutral rights, we find the lame opposition to meas, ures against Great-Britain, and the fame opposition to France as if no arrangement had been made. I might ask why this opposite conduet under the fame kind of arrangements, growing out of an act of Congress, and under the same folemnities of plighted faith on the part of this govemment. Under the arrangement with Great-Britain we are united against France. But under the arrangement with France we behold difunion again ; each man takes his party ranks. How does this prove partiality to France ? Does not the charge ill grace the lips of those who oppose these measures ? for no man has denied the similarity in the two arrangements. In the compact with England we agreed to repeal the non-intercourse as to her and continue it as to France it she would repeal the orders in council ; so with France we agreed to revive the non-intercourse against Great Britain if France would cease to violate our neutral rights, leaving all other subjects to ne. gociation. France was not required as a sine qua non to make good the damages for spoliations. Nor was Great-Britain required as a fine qua non to relinquish her iniquitous system of blockade, of impressment, the liberation of our fcamen, and a remuneration for captures and condemnations ; these topics were left to negociation.
The British minister has insinuated that we have suffered our commerce to be moulded by France to the annoyance of the British trade, and attempts have been made to conjure op the idea of an alliance with France against Great-Briain, because we have made arrangements with France that our neutral rights shall be regarded. The idea of an alliance is as idle as it is unfounded. Thank heaven, we are under no obligations to any power to go to war, nor to continue that war after the objects for which we contend shall be accomplithed. "The non importation law is the cause of co nplaint with Great Britain, and she knows if the orders in council and her blockade of May were repealed, that our non-importation law would ccafe to operate against her. But instead of this, fir, every day our merchant ships full a prey to the orders in council, and we are menaced with retaliation for the non-importation, which does not capture and condemn British 1hips and cargoes, but prevents the importation of British property into our markets.
In the year 1777 the United States entered into a treaty of alliance with the king of France; the first article binds the parties to make the cause of quarrel a common cause. The independence of the United States is the guarantee of the ed article, and the 8th binds the parties to continue the war until peace should be restored with each nation, and a treaty was to be made by common confent alone. This is an alliance, such a one as I hope we thall never have with France in the pr«fent undefined and bloody conflict of ambitious domination. I never with to see an alliance with any nation. It is known to the world that we have nothing to do with the European wars; and England knows that if the ceases to violate our neutral rights, commercial intercourse would be restored, and that her many tranfgrcflions would be left to far. ther negociation; that however, would not be the only requisition if left to my vote. The gentleman has also adverted to that part of the President's meflage which speaks of our relations with France. France is no doubt unfriendly in her rigorous munici. pal regulations; the President has recommended retaliation, and who will refuse to take thofe measures? I shall not. Mention has also been made of the riot at Savannah ; 'that transaction has two sides to it, I have read both of them; I fear fomething is rot. ten in Denmark; I will not judge, however, before the facts are correctly known.
But in the zeal to speak of French insult and injury, it was to be regretted that the talents of the gentleman from Virginia were not engaged upon the subject of our impressed feamen and com. mercial aggressions by G. Britain. He must not be surprised if thefe fubjects should not be omitted.
To attempt an enumeration of these aggressions would be a laborious task to me, a painful and disgusting recital to others; but considerations of this kind should not induce an omission of duty. Great sensibility has existed against the wanton capture and condemnation of our vessels and cargoes. An inroad upon the colonial trade pro
duced universal clamor; spirited complaints were forwarded with pedges of honor and property to oppose the robbery. But the number and enormity of these aggressions have blunted the feelings of seasibility, or the backwardness of the government has induced the sufferers to moan their loss without an appeal to our justice. The newspapers have become vehicles of complaint, and the only noters of British piracies, and the office of state is no longer troubled with reading the co'd detail. But to lump this business, about 28 years have elapsed since the commencement of the British spoliations. Suppose the vessels and cargoes captured and condemned within that period contrary to public law could be collected together in the Potomac, it would present to the mind a striking evidence of the justice of our complaints; you would find it difficult to find safe anchorage for these vessels from the Eastern Branch to Alexandria-ten miles distant, and the brick wall which encloses the Navy Yard would not furnish a sufficient ware-house for the property ; and to carry on this supposition, if a convocation of the real sufferers in the aggressions could be effected, a great multitude would animate the desert city. The list of bankruptcies should likewise be produced; you would bring the sufferers from every part of the United States.
In this group we should see every kind of importing, wholesale & retail merchant; the farmer, who raised the produce the mechanic who worked up the raw material,the shipowners,the ship carpenter and his numerous host ofjourneymen,the creditors of each class, and at the heels ef these people you might introduce the constables and sheriffs with their executions, and the tax-gatherers, and if silence was supposed to be ordered for the complaints of each class to be heard, we should find in the commercial class a distinguished orator from Boston, pleading the cause of the merchant ; so from Ne v-York, one from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Charleston. Thus British aggressions would be visually and mentally unfolded to the view, and doubts could no longer be entertained of its enormity.
But a stranger to these outrages would be surprized to be told, that this was a secondary class of injury upon which the subject of impressment should be introduced to his view. About 20 years have elapsed since the commencement of this infernal practice-this outrage upon the honor of our flag, and this attack upon the personal liberty and personal security of American citizens.
The number of native and naturalized seamen impressed from our merchant vessels and seduced from our merchant service cannot be estimated at less than 50,000 during this period of 20 years, and retained in bondage during life, or who have escaped by desertion or the interference of our government. The condition of these 50,000 men has been more intolerable than the malefactor in the penitentiary or work-house. Who could detail the misery of these men ?Who could number the stripes inflicted upon their naked skin at the yard-arm by a second lieutenant or midshipman? Who could enumerate the ignominiouş scars left by the cat-o-nine-tails ? This scourge, this infamous practice does not fall alone upon the unfortu.
Date tar, the hardy seamen--convoke the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives and children of these victims of maritime despotism, and hear from them their tale of sorrow, and let an hundred pens record their sighs and groans, which are now given in vain to the idle wind.
But to close this scene, the death of Robert Howell will shew the connection of this infamy with national honor.
It is well authenticated that a number of American citizens were serving on board the British ship of war the Little Belt, during her engagement with Commodore Rodgers—that these men, upon refusing to fight against their own country, were menaced with death-that during the engagement a certain Robert Howell of New York was wounded with a cannon ball, his whole thigh shot off-that just before his death, while in the act of sending to some relation some token of remembrance, a British officer enquired how he did--that Howell replied and told him he was dying, and said, "see to what you have brought me, to force me to fight against my brothers, my own countrymen have taken my life through your means." Let the curtain drop and hide the body of Howell from our sight!
Thus 28 years have elapsed, and the only remedy which we have attempted against these crying enormities, has been negociation and remonstrance, and so far from producing any beneficial effect, Great Britain has made new innovations and urged new pretensions, until the neutral rights of the United States are entirely destroyed. Let it not be forgotten, that for the abuses enumerated war is not alone urged, but those practices now continue and are put in more rigorous execution. We would agree to suffer the injuries inflicted for the sake of peace; but no principle of piracy is relinquished, nor is any abuse changed, and the United States are now the victims of this desolating system. May the wrath of this nation kindle into a flame and become a consuming fire! Though slow to anger, may her indignation be like the rushing of mighty waters and the volcanic eruptions of Hecla !
The gentleman from Virginia has called the military regular forces mercenaries. If by this appellation any reproach or degradation is intended, its justice and propriety is denied. In times like the present, when dangers thicken upon us, at a moment when we are compelled by most wanton tyranny upon the high seas, and upon land may be added, to abandon our peaceful habits for the din of arms, officers and soldiers in this country are governed by the noble feelings of patriotism and of valor. The history of the world may be ransacked ; other nations may be brought in review before us, and examples of greater heroism cannot be quoted, than shall be performed in battle by our officers and soldiers, military, naval, and marine. The deeds of their ancestors would be before them ; glory would animate their bosoms, and love of country would nerve the heart to deeds of mighty fame. If, therefore, there should not be a diminution of respect for those who entertain an opinion so degrading to our army, it should at least be understood that such opinions do not lessen the confidence due to those who faithfully serve their country, and who would lay down their life for it.--This reflection brings to mind the late memorable conflict upon the Wabash. Gov.Harrison pitched his tents near the Prophet's town; and although this fanatic had his followers collected, and the American forces were anxious to finish their work by an open and day-light engagement, if there was a necessity to resort to arms; their impetuous valor was easily stayed, when they were informed that the white flag of peace was to be hoisted next morning, and the effusion of blood was to be spared ; but in the silent watches of the night, relieved from the fatigues of valor, and slumbering under the perfidious promises of the savages, who were infuriated and made drunk by British traders, dreaming of the tender smile of a mother, and the fond embraces of affectionate wives, and of prattling children upon their knees, on their return from the fatigues of a campaign the destroyers came with the silent instruments of death, the war club, the tomahawk, and the bow and arrow; with these they penetrate into the heart of our forces they enter the tents of our officers--many close their eyes in deathit was a trying moment for the rest of our heroes, but they were equal to the dreadful occasion. The American forces flew to arms; they rallied at the voice of their officers; and soon checked the work of death. The savages were successively and successfully charged and driven until day-light, when they disappeared like the mist of the morning. In this dreadful conflict many were killed and wounded on both sides ; and the volunteers, and regiment under Col.Boyd, acted and fought with equal bravery, to their immortal honor. The volunteers from Kentucky were men of valor and worth—young men of hopeful prospects, and married men of reputation and intelligence, governed by no mercenary views-honor prompted them to their country. Some of these fallen heroes were my acquaintances, my friends ; one not the least conspicuous lived in my district, Col. Owens ; Col. Daviess, a neighbor.' You, Mr. Speaker, know the worth of some of these men ; and I regret you are not in my place to speak their praise. So long as the records of this transaction remain, the 9th of November will not be forgotten, and time shall only brighten the fame of the deeds of our army, and a tear shall be shed for those who have fallen. But the loss will not be felt by the public alone ; the friends of their social hours will regret their loss; the widow will mourn her disconsolate situation ; the orphan shall cry for the return of his father in vain ; and the mother