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sitions heretofore furnished by the officers and agents of that go. vernment.
Such is the spectacle of injuries and indignities 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 have found, in its true interest alone, a sufficient motive to respect their rights and their tranquillity on the high seas; that an enlarged policy would have favored 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 the precarious and su reptitious intercourse with hostile markets, have persevered in a ccurse of measures which necessarily put at hazard the invaluable market of a great and growing country, risposed 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 common and highway of nations, even within sight of the coun. try 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 equally supporting 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 honorable re-establishment of
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 authorized 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 orders of the French government 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 expectation that the result of unclosed discussions between our minister plenipotentiary at Paris and the French government, will speedily enable Congress to decide, with greater advantage, on the course due to the rights, the interests, and the honor of our country. Washington June 1, 1812.
THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS,
TO WHOM WAS REFERRED THE MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
OF THE 1ST OF JUNE, 1812
That after the experience which the United States have had of the great injustice of the British government towards them, exemplified by so many acts of violence and oppression, it will be more difficult to justify to the impartial world their patient forbearauce, than the measure: to which it has become necessary to resort, to avenge the wrongs, and vindicate the rights and honor of the nation. Your committee are happy to observe, on a dispassionate view of the conduct of the United States, that they see in it no cause for censure.
If a long forbearance under injuries ought ever to be consi. dered a virtue in any nation, it is cne which peculiarly becomes the United States. No people ever had stronger motives to cherish peace: none have ever cherished it with greater sincerity and zeal.
But the period has now arrived, when the United States must support their character and station among the nations of the earth, or submit to the most shameful degradation, Forbearance has ceased to be a virtue. War on the one side, and peace on the other, is a situation as ruinous as it is disgraceful. The mad ambition, the lust of power, and commercial avarice of Great Britain, arrogating to herself the complete dominion of the ocean, and exercising over it an unbounded and lawless tyranny, have left to neutral nations an alternative only, between the
bare surrender of their rights, and a maily vindication of them. Happily for the United States, their destiny, under the aid of Ileaven, is in their own hands. The crisis is íordable only by their love of peace. As soon as it becomes a duty to relinquish tbat situation, danger disappears. They have suffered no wrongs, they have received no insults, however great, for which they cannot obtain redress.
More than seven years have elapsed, since the commencement of this system of hostile aggression by the British Government, on the rights and interests of the United States. The manner of its commencement was not less hostile, than the spirit with which it has been prosecuted. The United States have invariably done every thing in their power to preserve the relations of friendship with Great Britain. Of this disposition they gave a distinguished proof, at the moment when they were made the victims of an opposite policy. The wrongs of the last war harl not been forgotten at the commencement of the present on?. They warned us of dangers, against which it was sought to pro vide. As early as the year 1804, the Minister of the United States at London was instructed, to invite the British government to enter into a negociation on all the points on which a collision might arise between the two countries, in the course of the war, and to propose to it an arrangement of their claims on fair and reasonable conditions. The invitation was accepted. A negociation had commenced and was depending, and nothing had occurred to excite a doubt that it would not terminate to the satisfaction of both the parties. It was at this time, and under these circumstances, that an attack was made, by surprise, on an important branch of the American commerce, which affected every part of the United States, and involved many of their citizens in ruin.
The commerce on which this attack was so unexpectedly made, was between the United States and the colonies < f France, Spain, and other enemies of Great Britain. A commerce just in
itself; sanctioned by the example of Great Britain in regard to the trade with her own colonies; sanctioned by a solemn act between the two governments in the last war; and sanctioned by the practice of the British government in the present war, more than two years having elapsed, without any interference with it.
The injustice of this attack could only be equalled by the absurdity of the pretext alleged for it. It was pretended by the British government, that in case of war, her enemy had no right to modify its colonial regulations, so as to mitigate the calamities of war to the inhabitants of its colonies. This pretension peculiar to Great Britain, is utterly incompatible with the rights of the sovereignty in every independent State. If we recur to the well-established and universally admitted law of nations, we shall find no sanction to it, in that venerable code. The sovereignty of every State is co-extensive with its dominions, and cannot be abrogated, or curtailed in rights, as to any part, except by conquest. Neutral nations have a right to trade to every port of either belligerent, which is not legally blockaded ; and in all articles which are not contraband of war. Such is the absurdity of this pretension, that your committee are aware, especially after the able manner in which it has been heretofore refuted, and exposed, that they would offer an insult to the understand. ing of the house, if they enlarged on it, and if any thing could add to the high sense of the injustice of the British government in the transaction, it would be the contrast which her conduct exhibits in regard to this trade, and in regard to a similar trade by neutrals with her own colonies. It is known to the world that Great Britain regulates her own trade in war and in peace, at home and in her colonies, as she finds for her interest—that in War she relases the restraints of her colonial systom in favor of the colonies, and that it never was suggested that she had not a right to do it; or that a neutral in taking advantage of the re. laxation violated a belligerent right of her enemy. But with