Page images
PDF
EPUB

United States from this degrading oppression, and their flag from violation, is all that they have sought.

The lawless waste of our trade, and equally unlawful impressment of our seamen, have been much aggravated by the insults and indignities attending them. Under the pretext of blockading the ports and harbors of France and her allius, British squadrons have been stationed on our own coast, to watch and annoy our own trade. To give effect to the blockade of Eropean ports, the ports and harbors of the United States have been blockaded. In executing these orders of the British government, or in obeying the spirit which was known to animate it, the commanders of these squadrons have encroached on our jurisdiction, seized our vessels, and carried into effect impressments withir. our limits, and done other acts of great injustice, violence and oppression. The United States have seen with mingled indignation and surprise, that these acts, instead of procuring to the perpetrators the punishment due to their crimes, have not failed to recommend them to the favor of their government.

Whether the British government has contributed by active measures to excite against us the hostility of the savage tribes on our frontiers, your committee are not disposed to occupy much time in investigating. Certain indications of general notoriety may supply the place of authentic documents; though these have not been wanting to establish the fact in some instances. It is known that symptoms of British hostility towards the United States, have never failed to produce corresponding symptoms among those tribes. It is also well known that on all such occasions, abundant supplies of the ordinary munitions of war have been afforded by the agents of British commercial companies, and even from British garrisons, wherewith they were en. abled to commence that system of savage warfare on our frontiers, which has been at all times indiscriminate, in its ef.

fects on all ages, sexes and conditions, and so revoiting to hu. manity.

Your committee would be much gratified if they could close here the details of British wrongs; but it is their duty to recite another act of still greater malignity, than any of those which have been already brought to your view. The atteinpt to dismember our union, and overthrow our excellent constitution, by a secret mission, the object of which was to foment discontents, and excite insurrection against the constituted authorities and laws of the nation, as lately disclosed by the agent employed in it, affords full proof that there is no bound to the hostility of the British government towards the United States; no act, however unjustifiable, which it would not commit to accomplish their ruin. This attempt excites the greater horror from the consideration that it was made while the United States and Great Britain were at peace, and an amicable negociation was depending between them for the accommodation of their differences through public ministers regularly authorized for the purpose.

The United States have beheld, with unexampled forbearance, this continued series of hostile encroachments on their rights and interests, in the hope that, yielding to the force of friendly remonstrances, often repeated, the British government might adopt a more just policy towards them; but that hope no longer exists. They have also weighed impartially the reasons which have been urged by the British government in vindication of these encroachments, and found in them neither justification or apology.

The British government has alleged, in vindication of the orders in council, that they were resorted to as a retaliation on France, for similar aggressions committed by her on our neutral trade with the British dominions. But how has this plea been supported ? The dates of British and French aggressions are well known to the world. Their origin and progress have been

marked with too wide and destructive a waste of the

property of our fellow-citizens, to have been forgotti n. The decree of Berlin of Nov. 21st, 1806, was the first aggression of France in the present war. Eighteen months had then elapsed, after the attack made by Great Britain on our neutral trade with the colonies of France and her allies, and six months from the date of the proclamation of May, 1806. Even on the 7th of January, 1807, the date of the first British order in council, so short a term had elapsed, after the Berlin decree, that it was hardly possible that the intelligence of it should have reached the United States. A retaliation, which is to produce its effect by operating on a neutral power, ought not to be resorted to, till the neutral bad justified it by a culpable acquiescence in the unlawful act of the other belligerent. It ought to be delayed until after sufficient time had been allowed to the neutral to remonstrate against the measure complained of, to receive an answer, and to act on it, which had not been done in the present instance; and when the order of November 11th was issued, it is well known that a minister of France had declared to the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris, that it was not intended that the decrce of Berlin should apply to the United States. It is equally well known, that no American vessel had then been condemned under it, or seizure been made, with which the British government was acquainted. The facts prove incontestibly, that the measures of France, however unjustifiable in themselves, were nothing more than a pretext for those of England. And of the insufficiency of that protext, ample proof has already been afforded by the British government itself, and in the most impressive form. Although it was declared that the orders in council were retaliatory on France for her decrees, it was also declared, and in the orders themselves, that owing to the superiority of the British navy, by which the fleets of France and her allies were confined within their own ports, the French decrees were crnsidered only as empty tzats

It is no justification of the wrongs of one power, that the like were committed by another; nor ought the fact, if true, to have been urged by either, as it could afford no proof of its love of justice, of its magnanimity, or even of its courage. It is more worthy the government of a great nation to relieve than to assail the injured. Nor can a repetition of the wrongs by another power repair the violated rights, or wounded honor, of the in:

jured party. An utter inability alone to resist, would justify a quiet surrender of our rights, and degrading submission to the will of others. To that condition the United States are not reduced, nor do they fear it. That they ever consented to discuss with either power the misconduct of the other, is a proof of their love of peace, of their moderation, and of the hope which they still indulged, that friendly appeals to just and generous sentiment, would not be made to them in vain. But the motive was mistaken, if their forlearance was imputed, either to the want of a just sensibility to their wrongs, or of a determination, if suitable redress was not obtained, to resent them. The time has now arrived when this system of reasoning must cease.

It would be insulting to repeat it. It would be degrading to hear it. The United States must act as an independent nation, and assert their rights and avenge their wrongs, according to their own estimate of them, with the party who commits them, holding it responsible for its own misdeeds, unmitigated by those of another.

For the difference made between Great Britain and France, by the application of the non-importation act against England only, the motive has been already too often explained, and is too well known to require further illustration. In the commercial restrictions to which the United States resorted as an evidence of their sensibility, and a mild retaliation of their wrongs, they invariably placed both powers on the same footing, holding to each in respect to itself, the same accommodation, in case it accepted the condition offered, and in respect to the other, the same re

straint, if it refused. Had the British government confirmed the arrangement, which was entered into with the British Minister in 1809, and France maintained her decrees, with France would the United States have had to resist, with the firmness belonging to their character, the continued violation of their rights? The committee do not hesitate to declare, that France has greatly injured the United States, and that satisfactory reparation has not yet been made for many of those injuries. But that is a concern which the United States will look to and settle for themselves. The high character of the American people, is a sufficient pledge to the world, that they will not fail to settle it, on conditions which they have a right to claim.

More recently, the true policy of the British government towards the United States has been completely unfolded. It has been publicly declared by those in power, that the orders in council should not be repealed, until the French government had revoked all its internal restraints on the British commerce, and that the trade of the United States with France and her allies, should be prohibited until Great Britain was also allowed to trade with them. By this declaration, it appears, that to satisfy the pretensions of the British government, the United States must join Great Britain in the war with France, and prosecute the war, until France should be subdued, for without her subjugation, it were in vain to presume on such a concession. The hostility of the British government to these states has been still further disclosed. It has been made manifest that the United States are considered by it as the commercial rival of Great Britain, and that their prosperity and growth are incompatible with her welfare. When all these circumstances are taken into consideration, it is impossible for your committee to loubt the motives which have governed the British minis#r; in all its measures towards the United States since the year 1805. Equally is it impossible to doubt, longer, the course which the United States ought to pursue towards Great Britain.

« PreviousContinue »