Page images
PDF
EPUB

This pre

the tes

shore by the admiral was fired upon by the American militia. The evidence

proves

this not to have been the fact. tence has been resorted to only to excuse conduct which no circumstances can justify. The committee forbear to make

any
observations

upon timony collected under the 8th head, from a perfect conviction that no person of this or any other nation can read the simple narrative of the different witnesses of the grossest violations of honour, justice, and humanity, without the strongest emotions of indignation and horror. That these outrages were perpetrated by Indians, is neither palliation nor excuse. Every civilized nation is answerable for the conduct of the allies under their command, and while they partake of the advantages of their successes, they are equally partakers of the odium of their crimes. The British forces concerned in the affair of the 22d at the ri. ver Raisin, are more deeply implicated in the infamy of these transactions than by this mode of reasoning, however correct. The massacre of the 23d January, after the capitulation, was perpetrated without any exertion on their part to prevent it; indeed, it is apparent from all the circumstances, that if the British officers did not connive at their destruction, they were criminally indifferent about the fate of the wounded prisoners. But what marks more strongly the degradation of the character of the British soldiers, is the refusal of the last offices of humanity to the bodies of the dead. The bodies of our countrymen were exposed to every indignity, and became food for brutes in the the sight of men who affect a sacred regard to the dictates of honour and religion. Low indeed is the character of that army which is reduced to the confession, that their savage auxiliaries will not permit them to perform the rites of sepulture to the slain. The committee have not been able to discover even the expression of that detestation which such conduct must inspire from the military or civil authority on the Canadian frontier, unless such detestation is to be presumed from the choice of an Indian trophy as an ornament for the legislative hall of Upper Canada.

The committee have considered it their duty to submit the evidence collected under the ninth head of the atrocities committed at Hampton, although these enormities have been committed since their appointment.

These barbarities

may tionally considered as the consequence of the example set by the officers of the naval force upon our coast. Human turpitude is always progressive, and soldiers are prepared for the most dreadful crimes by the commission of minor offences with impunity. That troops who had been instigated by the example of their

be ra

officers, to plunder the property and burn the houses of unarmed citizens, should proceed to rape and murder, need not excite surprize, however it may inspire horror. For every detestable violation of humanity an excuse is fabricated or found. The woun ed prisoners on the northern frontier were massacred by the Indians; the sick murdered, and the women violated at Hampton by the foreign troops in the pay of Great Britain. These pretexts, admitting them to be true, are as disgraceful as the conduct which made a resort to them necessary. Honour and magnanimity not only forbid the soldier to perpetrate crimes, but require every

exertion on his part to prevent them. If, in defiance of discipline, acts of violence are committed upon any individual entitled to protection, the exemplary punishment of the offender can alone vindicate the reputation of the nation by whom he is employed. Whether such exertions were made by the British soldiers, or the character of the British nation thus vindicated, the evidence will show.

The shrieks of the innocent victims of infernal lust at Hampton were heard by the American prisoners, but were too weak to reach the ears or disturb the repose of the British officers, whose duty, as men, required them to protect every female whom the fortune of war had thrown into their power. The committee will not dwell on this hateful subject. Human language affords no terms strong enough to express the emotions which the examination of this evidence has awakened; they rejoice that these acts have appeared so incredible to the American people; and, for the honour of human nature, they deeply regret that the evidence so clearly establishes their truth. In the correspondence between the commander of the American and British forces, will be found what is equivalent to an admission of the facts by the British commander. The committee have yet to learn that the punishment of the offenders has followed the conviction of their guilt. The power of retaliation being vested by law in the executive magistrate, no measure is considered necessary to be proposed, but the resolution annexed to this report.

As such enormities, instead of inspiring terror, as was probably intended, are, in the opinion of the committee, calculated to produce a contrary effect, they submit for the consideration of the house the following resolution:

Resolved, That the president of the United States be requested to have collected and presented to this house during the continuance of the present war, evidence of every departure by the enemy from the ordinary modes of conducting war among civilized nations,

$ 25. Congress adjourned on the 2d of August, after a session of ten weeks. The first Monday in December following was fixed by law for their next meeting.

STATE PAPERS

LAID BEFORE

CONGRESS.

12th CONGRESS-20 SESSION.

Message from the President of the United States to both Houses

of Congress at the commencement of the Session.

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.

ON our present meeting it is my first duty to invite your attention to the providential favours which our country has experienced, in the unusual degree of health dispensed to its inhabitants, and in the rich abundance with which the earth has rewarded the labours bestowed on it. In the successful cultivation of other branches of industry, and in the progress of general improvement, favourable to the national prosperity, there is just occasion, also, for our mutual congratulations and thankfulness.

With these blessings are necessarily mingled the pressures and vicissitudes incident to the state of war, into which the United States have been forced by the perseverance of a foreign power, in its system of injustice and aggression.

Previous to its declaration, it was deemed proper, as a measure of precaution and forecast, that a considerable force should be placed in the Michigan territory, with a general view to its. security, and, in the event of war, to such operations in the uppermost Canada, as would intercept the hostile influence of Great Britain over the savages, obtain the command of the lake on which that part of Canada borders, and maintain co-operating relations with such forces as might be most conveniently employed against other parts. Brigadier-general Hull was charged with VOL. I. PART I.

[B]

[ocr errors]

this provisional service; having under his command a body of troops, composed of regulars, and of volunteers from the state of Ohio. Having reached his destination after his knowledge of the war, and possessing discretionary authority to act offensively, he passed into the neighbouring territory of the enemy, with a prospect of easy and victorious progress. The expedition, nevertheless, terminated unfortunately, not only in a retreat to the town and fort of Detroit, but in the surrender of both, and of the gallant corps commanded by that officer. The causes of this painful reverse will be investigated by a military tribunal.

A distinguishing feature in the operations which preceded and followed this adverse event, is the use made by the enemy of the merciless savages under their influence. Whilst the benevolent policy of the United States invariably recommended peace, and promoted civilization among that wretched portion of the human race; and was making exertions to dissuade them from taking either side in the war, the enemy has not scrupled to call to his aid their ruthless ferocity, armed with the horrors of those instruments of carnage and torture, which are known to spare neither age nor sex. In this outrage against the laws of honourable war, and against the feelings sacred to humanity, the British commanders cannot resort to a plea of retaliation: for it is committed in the face of our example. They cannot mitigate it by calling it a self-defence against men in arms: for it embraces the most shocking butcheries of defenceless families. Nor can it be pretended that they are not answerable for the atrocities perpetrated; since the savages are employed with a knowledge, and even with menaces, that their fury could not be controuled. Such is the spectacle which the deputed authorities of a nation, boasting its religion and morality, have not been restrained from presenting to an enlightened age.

The misfortune at Detroit was not, however, without a consoling effect. It was followed by signal proofs that the national spirit rises according to the pressure on it. The loss of an important post, and of the brave men surrendered with it, inspired every where new ardour and determination. In the states and districts least remote, it was no sooner known, than every citizen was ready to fly with his arms, at once to protect his brethren against the blood-thirsty savages let loose by the enemy on an extensive frontier, and to convert a partial calamity into a source of invigorated efforts. This patriotic zeal, which it was necessary rather to limit than excite, has embodied an ample force from the states of Kentucky and Ohio, and from parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

« PreviousContinue »