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objection on the part of Great Britain to a formal revocation of it; and no imaginable objection to a declaration of the fact that the blockade did not exist. The declaration would have been consistent with her avowed principles of blockade, and would have enabled the United States to demand from France the pledged repeal of her decrees ; either with success, in which case the way would have been opened for a general repeal of the belligerent edicts; or without success, in which case the United States would have been justified in turning their measures exclusively against France. The British government would, however, neither rescind the blockade, nor declare its non-existence, nor permit its nonexistence to be inferred and affirmed by the American plenipotentiary. On the contrary, by representing the blockade to be comprehended in the orders in council, the United States were compelled so to regard it in their subsequent proceedings.
“ There was a period when a favourable change in the policy of the British cabinet was justly considered as established. The minister plenipotentiary of his Britannic majesty here proposed an adjustment of the differences more immediately endangering the harmony of the two countries. The proposition was accepted with a promptitude and cordiality corresponding with the invariable professions of this go
vernment. A foundation appeard to be laid for a sincere and lasting reconciliation. The prospect, however, quickly vanished. . The whole proceeding was disavowed by the British government, without any explanation which could at that time repress the belief that the disavowal proceeded from a spirit of hostility to the commercial rights and prosperity of the United States. And it has since come into proof that, at the very moment when the public minister was holding the language of friendship, and inspired confidence in the sincerity of the negociation with which he was charged, a secret agent of his government was employed in intrigues, having for their object a subversion of our government, and a dismemberment of our happy union.
so In reviewing the conduct of Great Britain towards the United States, our attention is necessarily drawn to the warfare just renewed by the savages on one of our extensive frontiers; a warfare which is known to spare neither age nor sex, and to be distinguished by features peculiarly shocking to humanity. It is difficult to account for the activity and combinations which have for some time been developing themselves among the tribes in constant intercourse with the British traders and garrisons, without connecting their hostility with that influence, and without recollecting the authenticated examples
of such interpositions heretofore furnished by the officers and agents of that government.
“Such is the spectacle of injuries and indig. nities which have been heaped on our country ; and such the crisis which its unexampled forbearance and conciliatory efforts have not been able to avert. It might, at least, have been expected, that an enlightened nation, if less urged by moral obligations, or invited by friendly dispositions on the part of the United States, would hare found in its true interest alone, a sufficient motive to respect their rights and their tran, quillity on the high seas; that an enlarged policy would have favoured that free and general circulation of commerce, in which the British nation is at all times interested; and which, in times of war, is the best alleviation of its calamities to herself, as well as the other belligerents ; and more especially, that the British cabinet would not, for the sake of a precarious and surreptitious intercourse with hostile markets, bare persevered in a course of measures which necessarily put at hazard the invaluable market of a great and growing country, disposed to cultivate the mutual advantages of an active commerce.
“ Other councils have prevailed. Our moderation and conciliation have had no other effect than to encourage perseverance, and to enlarge pretensions. We behold our seafaring citizens still the daily victims of lawless violence,
committed on the great and common higlıway of nations, even within sight of the country which owes them protection. We behold our vessels freighted with the products of our soil and industry, or returning with the honest proceeds of them, wrested from their lawful destinations, confiscated by prize-courts, no longer the organs of public law, but the instruments of arbitrary edicts; and their unfortunate crews dispersed and lost, or forced, or inveigled, in British ports, into British fleets; whilst arguments are employed in support of these aggressions, which have no foundation but in a principle supporting equally a claim to regulate our external commerce in all cases whatsoever.
- We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain, a state of war against the United States; and on the side of the United States, a state of peace towards Great Britain.
" Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations, and these accumulating wrongs; or, opposing force to force, in defence of their natural rights, shall commit a just cause into the hands of the Almighty Disposer of events; avoiding all connections which might entangle it in the.contests or views of other powers, and preserving a constant readiness to concur in an honourable reestablishment of peace and friendship, is a solemn question, which the constitution wisely
confides to the legislative department of the government. In recommending it to their early deliberations, I am happy in the assurance that the decision will be worthy the enlightened and patriotic councils of a virtuous, a free, and a powerful nation.
“Having presented this view of the relations of the United States with Great Britain, and of the solemn alternative growing out of them, I proceed to remark, that the communications last made to congress, on the subject of our relations with France, will have shown that since the revocation of her decrees as they violated the neutral rights of the United States, her government has authorised illegal captures by its privateers and public ships, and that other outrages have been practised on our vessels and our citizens. It will have been seen also, that no indemnity had been provided, or satisfactorily pledged, for the extensive spoliations committed under the violent and retrospective order of the French goverument against the property of our citizens seized within the jurisdiction of, France.
“ I abstain at this time from recommending to the consideration of congress, definitive measures with respect to that nation, in the expeetation that the result of unclosed discussions between our minister plenipotentiary at Paris and the French government, will speedily