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resolations before the House, was admitted by all that have spoken on the question. In order to be understood, he would take a concise retrospect of our relations with G. Britain since nearly the commencement of the present government of the United States.
During the First Congress an Indian war was commenced on our western frontier, and conducted as usual with savage ferocity ; but believing that it only resulted from the combination of a few tribes, our defensive measures at first were weak, and our first attempts unfortunate. But it soon became such tedious and expensive war as to require for several years the exertion of all our resources. It had at last a fortunate conclusion ; but during its progress our government and the citizens were fully convinced that the Indians were encouraged and supported by the British government.
We all know, that for several years past, Indian councils have been convened by British agents, who influenced them by presents and employed them as emissaries to excite the peaceable Indians in our own territories to go to war against our new and dispersed settlements. It would be infidelity to doubt the truth of the Indians having received their arms, &c. from the British agents, and though these British allies have got a check in the late engagement, yet it also has cost us dear. We have no ground to conclude that the danger is over; revenge is the predominant passion of the savages ; and though we have not such unequivocal proofs of the British in the present instance, exciting the Indians to war and supplying them for that purpose, as we had in 1793, when President Washington received a copy of Lord Dorchester's speech to the Indian tribes, encouraging them to war against our settlements and promising them a co-operation of the British force—the copy of which gracious speech several members yet in Congress saw at that time, and every member has heard of it--through a kind Providence, that co-operation was prevented by the defeat of the British armies in Europe.-Though we have not at present such explicit proofs that the Indians at present are acting as British allies, yet we have as much proof as the nature of the case can afford, and it would be very unwise if we did not act accordingly.
From the above view of the subject, if we had no other cause, I deduce the expediency of increasing our regular force agreeably to the recommendation of the President and of our committee. I think more has been said about taking Canada than was necessary. It is true, that during the same Indian war it was the opinion of our most sage politicians, that we could never be secure against indian war till we had possession of Canada, and by that means have it in our power to cut off the communication between foreign nations and the Indians on our frontiers and in our own territory. They said, that neither our revenue, our credit or population would at that time justify the attempt ; but that we were rapidly increasing in population and all other resources, while the nations of Europe are wasting their own strength; but the time was fast approaching when we must re
pel national insults or surrender our independence. This was said particularly with respect to the impressment of our seamen. At the commencement of this outrage, never committed by any other nation but Britain, the public mind was very sensibly affected by it; but time, and the frequent repetition of the injury, seem to have repdered the public feelings callous. This put him in mind of what he had sometimes observed, that when the savages scalped a few families on the frontier, the whole country was terribly alarmed; but that after the savage butchery had continued and extended itself for some time, the sensibility seemed to abate. This had been evidently the effect of the continued impressment of our seamen.
Mr. F. said he did not vote for a respectable increase of our regu. lar force with a settled determination of going to war. His fixed view was to prevent war, the best means for doing which it was generally admitted, was to be prepared for it ; this was the most effectual means of deterring other nations from forcing it on us, or doing us unprovoked injury. This was not the first occasion that he had heard threats of taking Canada talked of on that floor, he thought improperly. We are now called to make provision for such a force as would enable the executive to preserve the peace of the country ; whether it would become expedient to defend the country by offensive operations, was not the present question: wbut was now proposed, was to provide sufficient means of defence. Whether it became expedient to conduct that defence by offensive operations, was a question to be decided after the means were provided; it was his opinion that this provision had been too long delayed.
If it is an advantage to a nation to have justifiable causes of war, the United States have possessed that advantage ever since the commencement of the present government, and even before that period.* These causes with Britain have been sometimes relaxed, and some. times changed their forms, but seem now to have come to a crisis. The impressment of our seamen, admitted by all to be a justifiable cause of war, has never been relinquished; but numerous other causes have now been added. Consulting what we thought expedi. ent,we have borne a testimony against these injuries by every practicable restriction, short of hostility: in doing this, we consulted our own resources. Since these causes of war commenced, our popula. tion, our revenue, our credit and other resources have greatly increased. The question now is, whether they are so much increased as to render it expedient to provide for our own defence by offensive operations if necessary. His owił opinion was, that we were in that situation, that it was our duty to make such provision as would have a tendency to prevent war; or, if war was necessary, would insure success, and on these principles would vote for the resolution.
The British retaining the western posts, and the Spaniards retaining part of our territory, were justifiable causes of war.
MR. ROBERTS: SPEECH.
MR. ROBERTS observed, he should offer no apology for rifing lo late in this difcuffion, as the short time for which he was about to ask attention, would not justify it. The eloquence and talents, which had been fo abundantly exhibited on this occasion, would not admit of more than a concise expression of his opibion, without subjecting him justly to the charge of presumption. When the report now under consideration came firit before the House, I was, faid he, disposed to decide upon it without dlebate. I have been frequently in the minority on the question of adjourn. ment, from a wish to reach the question on the resolutions. Un. der these impressions, I confess I viewed the challenge, or rather the invitation given by the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) " to debate this subject now, if it was to be debated at all,'' more as the impulse of an ingenuous mind, preferring on all occasions an open course, than the dictate of prudence or neceffi. ty. Nor was it till after the gentleman from North-Carolina, (Mr. Macon) had invited and urged discussion, that I became dispoled to join in opinion with them, the correctnels of which the debate of this day has very much strengthened.
By the adoption of this report, we are entering on a system of operations of the utmost national moment; the effets of which the wilest among us cannot fully foresee; and on which we have no choice but to act. The discussion has already elicited opin. ions, which it is wall to know exift ; and the more so, since fome of them admit the holders to vote for the report, while they allow them to be adverse to the measures which are necessarily to follow it. A little time may be well spent in comparing sentiments in this stage of the business, as it may be conducive to celerity of movement in the sequel, and give more certain effect to the measures which must ultimately be followed.
Every political community must of neceflity poffefs rights, which it may enjoy independently of and in comnion with every other. One of those rights is an uncontrolled jurisdiction over its own territory. It has long ago been found neceffary, for nations to settle by convention on the great scale where the limits of territory shall cease, and where the high seas shall commence. This convention or law has determined that the ships of neutrals shall be a part of the national territory ; so long as they are careful to preserve a pacific character. Through the intervention of vessels navigating the high feas, nations in amity are enabled to overcome the vant of proximity, and all the purposes of trade and commercial intercourse may thereby be extended, as well to the inhabitants of the remoteft corners of the earth, as to those only divided by a geometrical line. An attempt to interrupt this intercouse by a third nation, is fo ferious an act of hoftilitv and wrong, as not only always to justify, but to demand resistance.
The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Randolph) has said, the gov. erninent would not, on a former occasion, go to war, when their trade, which consisted in carrying the produce of one foreign country to another, was annoyed and cut up; and why not, he fays, be pacific now as well as then? While I agree our national rights extend to both alike (admitting however every government to make her own municipal regulations) I must be allowed to consider our direct export and import trade much better worth con. ten ling for, than what has been denominated our carrying trade.
Th cultivators and owners of the foil have never shewn any difposition to fight for the latter trade; and for a very plain and con. fiftent reason. War is sure to bring on it a train of evils and ex. pense; and where it is obvious that there will amount to more than the loss of the exercise of a right in its nature of but tranfi. tory use and minor interest; a free pople may with propriety re. fuse to hazard them for its support. It is not for such a people to war for a speculative right or an empty name. The carrying trade, it must be owned, was profitable in exercise, but it was a profit that could be given up, without vital prejudice to the nation. al interests. Not fo with our fair export trade. To yield this, would be absolute re-colonization. It must not only affect us, in the great resources of national strength ; but it must break the spirit of our citizens and make them infidels in the principle of felf-government. It would, at the fame time, add means and fa. cilities to the aggressing nation to multiply her outrages. Give up the export trade to Great Britain, and you will next be re. quired to give up the coasting trade, and to admit her navigation act to as complete operation into our bays and harbors, as it now has round the limited Thores of the British Isles. The spirit of commercial monopoly she has so pertinaciously manifested, proves that her ambition craves more than her ineans can aspire
The wrongs she has long been and still is committing to. wards these states, have assumed a character, that imperiously calls for a refiftance, made by all for the benefit of all.
Io the alternative offered in the non-importation aets for the restoration of friendly interconrfe with Great Britain and France, they have only been required, “to cease to violate our neutral rights” they are not required as a preliminary to amicable rela tions, to make indemnity for past fpoliations. This offer, mode. rate to faultiness, Britain avoids accepting, and at the same time forfeits her plighted faith to the United States to keep pace with France in relaxing her aggressions, on a miserable equivocation, After so paticut a forbearance ; after fo many, and so great facri. fices, made to avoid a refortyto wars; when moderation has uniformly invited injury : when an hoftility, as inveterate as constant and long continuing, can leave little hope of a change of temper on the part of the British government, it is surely time to prepare to make a stronger appeal to her interests.
The report itself, and the discussion arising out of it, presents different considerations to the mind. The executive message has delineated the posture of our affairs with Britain, and has inarked
out a course of policy adapted to them with much clearness. From the mutual explanations of the members of the committee on foreign relations, it appears that it became a question, whether their report Ihould conform to the message, or take a more ad. vanced position. It has been made, however, very much in con formity with it, and the members of the committee have most ly given their opinions on ulterior measures with equal candor and ability. With the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Nelson) I am ready to vote for the report ; but by this vote I do not pledge my. felf further than to act as future exigence may juftify. An atten. tive perufal of the message has impressed my mind with a conviction that it is the result of much and wife deliberation. It is strongly marked with a correct and intimate knowledge of this fubject. The constitution has assigned it as a duty to the execu. tive to superintend the external concerns of the Union. I deem it particularly fortunate that that oficer, from a long concern in the government, is well read in the history of our disputes with Britain. A communication of his opinion, in the highly responfible shape it has come before this Houfe, juftly claims for it high and great regard.
“By being ready,” says the message, "to meet with cordiality satisfactory proofs of a change of temper on the part of Britain, and in the mean time to adapt our meafures to the views which have been disclosed through their minister, we shall “best consult our whole duty.” In pursuance of these suggestions, the report appears to have been made. While we are seriously preparing to meet the worst, in the true fpirit of a republican people, we shall hold ourselves ready by this course to accept an honorable and fafe accommodation of differences to the last moment. If that accommodation does not take place before the time preparations are made for an appeal to arms, (of which, I confess, I have but little hope) I shall decide for war as promptly as any one, and place my foot as far as who goes fartheft; but that vote shall not be given to subserve any local or partial interests. Our people have heretofore been generally employed in growing the necessaries and raw materials for the comforts of life, and exchanging them for the elegancies, luxuries and wealth of other nations. In the advantages hus arising, every portion of the community have happily participated. The inhabitants of the more rigorous cli. mates of the east and north have been the merchants and naviga. tors for those of the milder regions of the south and west. This course of things, after having been for a while strongly impelled, by a war growing out of the French revolution, has now be. come impeded by obstructions derived from the same fource-a change of attitude with this change of things is called for, and