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H. of R.

French Decrees.

JUNE, 1813.

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ers of that party which cries so loudly for peace; that Mr. Monroe and Mr. Foster did not underwar which shall involve in ruin the Administra- stand the meaning of the words actually and untion that declared it, and which shall bring into conditionally. What, sir! your Secretary of power the men who were put down by the people State, who has visited, in the character of an iwelve or thirteen years ago.

American Minister, nearly half the Courts of Sir, I felt some tonishment to hear the mem- Europe-he whose literary acquirements have ber from New York, (Mr. Grosvenor) who had done honor to this nation, not understand the no seat in this House when war was declared, meaning of the common English words actually who was not even in this city at that time, state and unconditionally! Mr. Foster, too, the acwith so much confidence in what events the war credited Minister of the "fast-anchored Isle," sent would or would not have taken place. If the by the British Government upwards of three public documents are referred to it will be seen, thousand miles to negotiate upon delicate and ihat the impressment of our seamen was consid- difficult points, is charged with the like ignorance. ered as a principal cause of the war. In the Ex- Sir, the gentleman who introduced these resoluecutive Messages of that session, in the Reports tions, (Mr. WEBSTER,) if he has ever read his of the Committee of Foreign Relations, it will namesake's spelling-book, (and no doubt he has,) be seen that the language of freemen was em- can readily expound them. Even a schoolboy ployed, the liberty of the citizen being deemed can tell you their meaning. I feel no great solimore valuable and precious than his property. ! citude or tenderness about the reputation of the was one of those who voted for the war, and late British Minister, but surely he ought not to ought to be presumed to know something of the be subject to this imputation. opinions and sentiments which prevailed at that In one idea advanced by the Opposition, I pertime, and yet I feel no hesitation in saying, that fectly concur: if the Executive had received a no man can pronounce what would have been the copy of the French decree previous to the declacourse pursued, had the Orders in Council been ration of war, and had withheld it from the Britrevoked. I have heard many members say they ish Minister, I should say he deserved the execrawould have voted for the war had the Orders in tion of his country. The honorable gentleman Council been previously abandoned—I have heard who has manifested such critical skill in language others say they would not; and yet the gentleman might have drawn its character in terms of black, from New York (Mr. GrosVENOR) affects to est import, and I would subscribe to it; but I speak with great confidence and precision on this know, with moral certainty, that the answer of subject. There are two reasons why this hono- the President will dissipate every idea of that rable gentleman should have been less confident kind-it will show, that, in the whole of this transin his assertions. In the first place he was not action, he has conducted with fairness and uppresent when the war was declared; in the second, rightness, and from a desire to prevent a conflict he belonged to the Opposition, and would not, on between ihis and any other nation. Yes, sir, he that account, have been so freely communicated has acted in obedience to honorable feelings, to with hy those who supported it.

which many who implicate him are entire stranSir, I wish gentlemen clearly and distinctly to gers. apswer me this question-Will they give up the It is said, that formerly, when Mr. Jackson inprinciple of impressment? Will they suffer the sulted this Government, there was great solicitude petty officers of the British Navy to seize at their manifested to resent it. Sir, who manifested on pleasure American citizens, force them into a that occasion a disposition to maintain the honor foreign service, and coin pel them with stripes to and dignity of this nation ? I answer, this side

fight the battles of the enemy, even against that of the House. At the same time, who palliated, · country which gave them birih? If so, let it be who excused, who apologized for that greatest of

known to the people-let it be proclaimed to this outrages ? and who attempted, finally, to justify pation of freemen-and let the line of distinction it? Why, sir, the political associates of these be drawn between those who will and those who very men who have just taken the honor of this will not submit to this tyranny of the mistress of Administration into their keeping, the seas." Gentlemen have indeed said that they The gentleman from New York (Mr. GROSVEwill not fight for the question of impressment. NOR) says, that a suspicion prevails among many But will they surrender it? Will they yield this of both parties in this couniry, that French influpoint to the King of Great Britain ? Will they ence has found its way into our councils. I do say that the slaves of George the Third have a believe, that among the prevailing party, the great right to seize and drive into captivity the freemen majority of the nation, there are none who susof the American States? I demand an answer-pect it. In the Opposition, I am satisfied there yea or day. There is no difficulty in understand are a few who have been so far misled as to ening the question. The gentleman from New York, tertain such a suspicion : but many are they who (Mr. Grosvenor,) in adveriing to the correspond-speak of French influence, and do not believe it ence between Mr. Monroe and Mr. Foster, affects exists; they use it to alarm and deceive others. great difficulty in understanding its meaning. I But is it not strange that the very party which cannot see wherein this difficulty lies—the lan- bas labored to excite this suspicion should now guage is plain, void of ambiguity, conveying dis- become so clamorous to put it down? tinct ideas, in clear and unequivocal expressions.

Having answered all the observations of others The same gentleman has the modesty to tell you I which are deemed material, I will make a few in

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June, 1813.

French Decrees.

H. OF R.

quiries of the honorable mover of these resolu- discussed, by my honorable friends on this side tions (Mr. WEBSTER) He certainly best knows of the House, I cannot hope to do more than glean the objects intended, and I pray him to answer the trifles which they have left me. for bimself, and not by proxy. Is it his object to The honorable gentlemen on my left are opmake it appear that the Duke of Bassano has been posed to the resolutions before the House; and in guilty of falsehood? If that shall turn out to be order the more effectually to combat them, have ihe case, what then? Will he make it a ground introduced topics of discussion wholly extrinsic of going to war against France ? Great, indeed, and foreign from the proper subject of debate. are the insults and injuries which we have re- Sir, in my opinion, they have lost sight of the ceived from the French Government, and much question, and unnecessarily drawn into dispute noise has the Opposition made respecting them; what they call the merits of the war, and the debut, sir, when my friend from Kentucky (Mr. Mc- merits of one of the great political parties of this Kee) offered a proposition to declare war against country. France, did the gentlemen on the other side of Why, sir, all this zealous opposition to the this House vole for it? To the best of my recol- adoption of these resolutions? Do they fear that lection, three of them voted for the measurema

a disclosure of the truth may injure the reputamajority of votes in favor of the proposition were lion or feelings of the President? Do they fear, given by this side of the House. He will not, I if the veil should be rent asunder, which has so apprehend, say that he will go to war with France long concealed this dark and mysterious transacon this account. Is it intended to predicate any tion, that it would appear to us, the American legislative act on the information which may be people, and the world, that the Executive had received from the Executive? I can conceive of been a traitor to the dearest interests of that peono legislative act which can grow out of it. ple, whose mistaken partiality had invested him What, then, do gentlemen mean? What can be with the honorable badges of exalted office ? If the object of these resolutions? To make it ap- they do, sir, I pity their timidity, and blush for pear that France has acted with bad faith, and them; but I hope they have no such fears. I sinyet neither go to war nor pass any legislative act cerely hope the Chief Magistrate of this great in consequence of it? I can see but one thing and once honorable nation, has not sunk to such which gentlemen can promise themselves to fol- an abominable depth of corruption, as to conceal low from this course of proceeding. They may a public document of such importance as the debope by this to throw new difficulties in the way cree of revocation of the 28th of April, 1811. A of the Administration, to draw off the attention of document, had it been timely promulged, would the people from the prosecution of the war, para- have promised to hush the bickerings and conlyze the national energies, and multiply the chan- tentions between us and Great Britain, to preces of getting new men into power. 'If this be vent a bloody war, to have eolivened and invigothe object, the gentleman may please himself rated our fainting commerce, and restored our with the idea of having labored for the good of long lost prosperiiy. his country; but sure I am that the country can It really appears to me, sir, that the gentlemen derive po benefit from such a course, however pay, your President a very ill compliment in opgreat his labors may be.

posing the resolutions; for, should they succeed To show what has been done by an American in that opposition, some might say that he and Coogress, how men have ceased their opposition, his friends dreaded the unmantling the truth; when the good of the country required it, I know that they feared to see it stripped paked. full well, sir, would avail bui litile. But on this Sir, I submit to the House, to the gentlemen occasion, we may profit from the conduct of the themselves, upon reflection, the question, if there enemy: he bas set an example well worthy of would not be good cause of suspicion, that there imitation. Although in the British Parliament had been an improper concealment of this paper, many were opposed to a war with America and should the resolutions be voted down? all those measures which produced it, yet when

I have ever entertained some vulgar notions, war had broken out they threw no obstacle in the that a frank and prompt disclosure of that which way of its success; they voted the necessary sup- was proper to be disclosed, was a sort of preplies, they joined in the resolution to carry it on sumptive evidence of integrity. And that an with vigor-for they recollected that England honest man would not wait to have the truth was their country and America its enemy. If drawn from him as from the felon under examisuch bas been the conduct of an English opposi- nation, but would volunteer what a moral and tion, what ought to be the conduct of American political obligation required him to make public. Representatives? If the slaves of a despot feel I have supposed a certain kind of mysterious the impulse of patriotism, and act in obedience to shrinking from the light, in public officers, in reiis mandates, how much more should it be the lation to official conduct ; a rolling up in shade case in this land of liberty, where the interest of and secrecy transactions which the public wishes each individual is intimately connected with the loudly demanded to be explained, was po very welfare of the Government, and where every cit. fair earnest of future good faith and honest deal. izen is his own master!

ing; or any very satisfactory, proof that wbat Mr. SHIPherd addressed the Chair as follows: had been done must necessarily be agreeable to Mr. Speaker, after the very able manner in the public sense of what ought to have been done. which the subject under consideration has been | I have supposed, sir, that the honest and faith

H.of R.

French Decrees.

JUNE, 1813.

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ful steward would rather court than shun an in-Jernment have explained this mysterious affair; quiry into his stewardship; and, fortified with or whether he, the President, has ever demanded conscious integrity, would, at all times, be ready that explanation. to exhibit bis accounts, and prove himself trust- The resolutions indicate our belief that there is worthy; and more especially, when suspicion had guilt somewhere, and they require that he should hovered over him and perched upon him. I inform us who is the culprit. If these can with should really think he would be unwilling to reason offend that great officer, blot them out of slumber away, year after year, with such a bird existence, that they may offend no more. Howof prey devouring his reputation, but that he ever, if gentlemen will insist that the resolutions would'instantly arouse himself, and with manly will be offensive to the President, I am constrainand heroic dignity drive her from her perch. ed to say, they never can offend an honest man.

Sir, when the resolution of 1793, which has Sir, the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. been read to the Committee, was under consider-CALHOUN) has admitted that there is guilt someation, the Federal members of Congress, who were where; either that the decree of 28th April, 1811, then a majority, felt po such fastidious delicacy was concealed in the French Cabinet, or by our for the character or dignity of the Great Wash- President, or that it was antedated. ington; no prudery then was betrayed; po alarm, Now, sir, whether the one or the other of the lesi the then President should feel himself insult- positions be true, no gentleman will venture to ed; but the Federalists, to a man, voted for the assert, is immaterial. I fear no contradiction adoption of the resolution. That resolution was when I make the assertion; for such a contradicdrawn by a very great and ingenious man; it be- tion would be of so rare a nature that few, if any, speaks the skill of its author; and it is too evident gentlemen will be ambitious first to introduce it. to be doubted, that one object, at least, of the re- It would be saying, at least, that it is a matter of solution, was to forward the interest of the Demo- indifference to the American people, whether cratic party. For that reason it is drawn with their Chief Magistrate has been dabbling in the all the minuteness of interrogatory, of which so pollutions of French policy and French intrigue. great a legislator and politician was capable; and Whether he has been ignorant of, or crimiyet the resolution was promptly adopted, and as nally concealed, a document, which, if it had promptly answered.

been disclosed would have saved him from suspi. It has been supposed, by some honorable gen- cion, and the nation from the horrors of war. tlemen over the way, that really the official dig- It would be saying, sir, that we have no inter- * nity of the President is assailed by the resolutions est in knowing whether Mr. Russell, our late : before us; I wish some of the gentlemen had con- Chargé d'Affaires in France, performed his diplo-ta descended to show in what respect. If there has matic duty with integrity or not: whether he been any attempt to prove that the resolutions, or sold his country for Imperial smiles, or guarded any of them, contain any such mischievous qual- her interests with scrupulous vigilance. ity, I have not been fortunate enough to hear; or It would be saying ihat it was a matter of in- ta if to hear, to understand the force of the reason- difference to us whether France was acting with B ing. For, so far from hearing any argument to good faith in her correspondence with our Govsupport the position, I do not know that any gen-eroment, or whether we were made the dupe of H tleman has even attempted it. As I understand imposture. Sir, if it would be correct to say all e it, the whole consists in the naked assertion that these things, then I admit that the resolutions is the fact is so. Could I be convinced that the are idle, and we are spending our time in vain; \ gentlemen are correct, I would join them and vote but if they are not correct, then it must create down the resolutions at once. Sir, I beg leave some surprise, that gentlemen' who love their here to enter my protest against that base, ser-country with such amazing and exclusive warmth vile, anti-republican creed, which places any of- of affection, who discover so much zeal for her ficer of our Government in that infallible and ir-honor, should oppose with a spirit bordering on responsible station which will shut the doors of frenzy, measures, which it must be seen are calcu- hd inquiry against the legislators of the people. We lated to favor her best interests, and heal her have a right to demand of the President informa- wouoded honor. tion on subjects which are interesting to our con- Sir, I consider it a duty we owe Mr. Russell, stituents. That this demand should be made in the Executive, and the nation, diligently to in respectful terms I admit; but in vain is it said, quire into this matter, and, if possible, to fix the ?? that the President is too high to be inquired of, guilt and odium upon the right man. and particularly inquired of, in relation to those If Mr. Russell is innocent let him be put to the things which concern bis duty, and the public test, and acquitted before the world. If the Presinterests.

ident is innocent, it would be the height of in- 4 The honorable gentlemen do not deny this in justice to him not to give him an opportunity to positive terms; but if they do not mean to deny brush off the suspicions that have gathered upon it, it is difficult to understand that they mean any him. If either or both of these gentlemen are thing. Sir, what do the resolutions require? That guilty, we wrong our country if we do not awake the Ëxecutive should inform us what has been from its slumbers this monster of sin. If the done, by whom, and in what manner; and they Emperor of France is guilty, (and really I can also require, if a certain state of things exists, never suppose him otherwise,) it becomes highly that he shall inform us whether the French Gov: I interesting that the world should know the fact;

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JUNE, 1813.

French Decrees.

H. OF R.

that they should know how much confidence is ted, would have taken away every pretext for to be reposed in the Imperial decrees of our loving war. A paper, made and laid up, with the same friend, this cut-throat Emperor.

laudable motives that fraudulent deeds are made Will the gentleman say re is no cause of and laid up, to be used on any emergency which suspicion against the President? Sir, I cannot might require their production. divest myself of a belief that all is not right in Šir, I will not charge any misconduct upon the Cabinet in relation to this affair. And I have our Administration without proof. I do not here been led to believe this, from a variety of suspi- mean to charge them with anything artfully cious circumstances which have been thickening committed; but I do mean to be understood that and gathering upon my mind since the procla- the facts before the American people are strong mation of the President of November 2, 1810, evidence upon my mind, and I believe upon the which emphatically declared that the decrees of miods of thousands, that there is much in our Berlin and Milan were repealed.

intercourse with France, which decisively de-Was this proclamation true? No, sir, it was mands of the Executive prompt aad unambigufalse, and from the date of that proclamation, ous explanation that the honor of the nation, until the promulgation of the long-slumbering, and the honor of the President, loudly demand repealing decree, purporting to bear date April it. I do mean to say that, unless this explana28, 1811, the French Emperor particularly charged tion is given, we have a right, indeed it is our upon the President this falsehood. He, the Em- duty, to withdraw our confidence from all conperor, after the date of that proclamation, and cerned in the transactions, How, sir, can genafter he must have known of it, declared his de- tlemen hang their confidence upon the integrity crees of Berlin and Milan to be a part of the laws of the Executive, if ultimately no reason shall of his Empire. Not only so, but the ocean from be given for transactions which are irresistible time to time was illuminated with the confla- presumptions to the candid mind, that the deargration of our vessels, buroed avowedly by the est interests of our country have been made subauthority of the Emperor, and in pursuance of servient to the base intrigues, the ambition and those decrees which our prophetic Chief Magis- malignant passions, of the greatest monster of trate had declared to be repealed. Never was depravity that ever waded to a throne through falsehood more evident! Mathematics cannot blood ? produce more certain demonstration.

Sir, the President has been charged with falseSir, I do not mean here to charge upon the hood by the Einperor of France; he or bis MinPresident wilful and corrupt falsehood; but the isters have been charged with secreting-wickleast that can be said is, that he had been cheated, edly secreting-a very important document, in he was too proud to ackoowledge it, and too the disclosure of which the people of this counmuch ensaared in the toils of his mighty friend try were deeply concerned; and if he has done io demand satisfaction.

so, the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. GRUNDY) Has this strange conduct ever been explained ? admits he ought to be held up to the execration No. Has any explanation ever been demanded ? of mankind," and yet say some gentlemen, it is a No. Has ever a murmur escaped the lips of the matter of total indifference to us to koow whePresident? If it has the nation is ignorant of ther these charges are true or false. it. It is a melancholy truth, that while he was For one, I never can be reconciled to consider roaring at the British Government like a lion, it as a matter of indifference; and I entreat genhe was cooing over the French with the gentle tlemen to give the President and Mr. Russell an Dess of the dove.

opportunity to deny this foul charge, and, so deFrom France he could be told that the Amer- nied, the nation must and will believe them. ican Government was "without honor," &c., and Let them deny it, and brand the infamous falsereceive it with the utmost meekness ; when from hood upon the Duke of Bassano. And I do not England a single sentence, (and which by the hesitate to say, if the President and Mr. Russell by no person could ever find,) a little sharply will disavow the truth of the statement of that composed, set the whole Cabinet in a rage. Sir, Duke to our Minister, Mr. Barlow, they will be I appeal to the good sense of mankind to judge believed; for one, I would believe them, in preif there is not abundant evidence to convince ference to all the mushroom Dukes and Emperevery unprejudiced mind, that equal measure ors that have grown into power in that Govern. has not been meted to the two belligerent nations. ment, whose least vices are falsehood, imposition,

If our Executive had drunken of the cup of and fraud. Gallic pollutions-had become intoxicated with Thus, sir, I have shown the absolute necessity the Circean draught, an inducement might be of a speedy, a clear, and unequivocal disclosure found for the concealment of this repealing de- of everything in relation to this business, as far cree. . For it is a well-known truth that the Em- as the knowledge of the Executive may extend. peror had fixed his heart upon an anticipated I shall now proceed to make some remarks in war between this country and England; so much answer to the gentlemen on my left. Few must so, that in the ravings of his frenzy and mad- be those remarks, for I already feel my strength ness, he declared it for us. If, then, our Admin- yielding to the intense heat of this hall. istration possessed the inclinatioos which have The honorable gentleman from Tennessee, who been imputed to them, what could be more natu- has just sat down, (Mr. GRUNDY,) stated in subral than to conceal a paper which, if promulga- Istance, if I understood him correctly, " that there

H. of R.

French Decrees.

June, 1813.

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was a party in this country, who neglected to however indiscreetly that Constitutional power aid the Administration in the prosecution of the may have been exercised. war; and who had placed impediments in their If I and my party are traitors, we are so Conway; who bad refused to lend their money ; that stitutionally, and not only Constitutionally, but such men were guilty of moral treason ; and that we are traitors in obeying the commands of God such conduct was as criminal, in a moral point of and the precepts of Christianity. Strange moralview, as to raise one's hand against the Govern- ity-strange treason! Whatever afflictions I may ment."

bé called io suffer in this world, I pray Heaven I The gentleman declared that he did not mean never may be cursed by a union to a party who any gentleman on this floor. For his courtesy in are governed by such a set of priociples as these. this respect, I thank him. But while I do so, I But, who are the men, that ihe honorable genmust inform that gentleman, that he will not be tleman would call moral traitors? They are the obliged to go far for traitors, if his definition of sons of those fathers who first planted the tree of treason is correct.

liberty in the American soil. They are the brave I do not hesitate to acknowledge myself one of men, who, while contending for independence, those persons, who, from the beginning until this The men of the Eastern and Northern S:ates.

braved the contest by the side of WASHINGTON. time, have thought the war to be of a description The very men whom Washington honored, and in which I could not conscientiously engage, and WASHINGTON loved, are in this eolightened age that it was my duty to withhold from the Ad- branded with the odious names of traitors and knowledge, sir, that I did believe the war to be sories.. I do not wish to make distinctions among declared in opposition to the dictates of common the States; it is unnecessary for my argument, prudence, wisdom, humanity, policy, and reli- and unpleasant; but I am warranted'in saying, it gion; and I do acknowledge that I still continue these which are the friends of the present war of the same of opinion ; I do sincerely believe,

bravely resisted British opposition, ihey did no that it is a war inexpedient, and ruinous in its the war. And, sir, I will say, that the principles

more than those who are in principle opposed to consequences; and to shed the blood of our peace which are embraced by the party so long and so able, unoffending Canadian neighbors, in such a war, notwithstanding the legislative' drapery in cruelly slandered, are the

same pure, sound, orwhich it has been dressed, is, to adopt the honor-thodox Whig principles which so much distinable gentleman's own emphatical phraseology, in should these men, like their fathers, ever be call

guished the patriots of Seventy-Six. And, sir, those who think as I do, moral murder. In me, led to defend their liberties against an enemy, sir, it would certainly be such. Therefore, to from whatever part of the world it may come, brand every man with the odious name of traitor; that enemy will learn by experience, that the who withholds his hands from being crimsoned with human blood-every man who will not de- sons, as well as their sires, are neither to be awed

That "liberty clare his approbation of the course of an Admin- by threats nor subdued by force.

or death" is the Eastern motio; and to erase that istration, who, with their mad projects, threaten to mark with ruin a country once prosperous and molto belongs not to their slanderers, wherever happy, is both unjust and cruel. But, I value the

they may live.

Sir, having disposed of the gentleman's moral approving whispers of my own conscience, and the consoling reflection

that I have obeyed the reason, let us inquire from whence has the mocommands of Him, who has said, “Thou shalt ney come, which has been loaned to the Governnot kill," far above the commendation of that ment, to carry on this war? Will the gentleman honorable gentleman, and a world full of others, from the pockets of men of his own party?

venture to say, that it has been exclusively drawn who may think as he does.

Will he deny that the Federalists own the The gentleman (Mr. Grundy) does not seem principal part of the stock of the two last loans ? to distinguish, with very great accuracy, between I refer the honorable gentleman to the books, and moral and legal obligations;, those imposed by I think he will be satisfied, that his own patriotic conscience, and those by law.

friends have not furnished the Government with In the first case, we are left free to determine all the money that has been loaned for this war ; for ourselves; in the latter, we have no will.

but that Federalists, have furnished, to say the In the former, I will obey the dictates of my least, the greatest part of it. If the honorable judgment, my moral senses, and act as they de- gentleman should search, it seems to me, he will cide; in the latter, I yield, 'I obey. Ask me to find a most treasonable blank near the name of shed blood, or to lend my money as a price for his own loyal State ; for, if my recollection does it, and I refuse ; demand of me a tax to support not much deceive me, the Government have been your war, and I will pay without hesitation. In sed with empty professions, instead of the more ihe former case, I am left free, and, sir, in spite of solid and useful iokens of affection, from a certain anathemas that issue from the lips or pens of the Western section of the Union. friends of this war, I shall avail myself of that Sir, in making this statement, I wish to be disfreedom, to withhold every possible aid from a tioctly understood, as bestowing no commendawar wicked and foolish in its commencement, tion upon Federalists, who have labored in this and unwisely protracted. In the latter case, i Governmental shaving-mill

. I consider that they bow to the Constitutional claims of my country, I have acted incorrectly; at war with their own

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