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principles. For it cannot, nor need not, be dis- In vain, then, do gentlemen tell us of the length sembled that the Federalists are universally op- of time which elapsed between the communicaposed to the war; they deem it an unjustifiable tion of the repealing decree and the repealing of and ruinous one, that it has been hatched in the the Orders in Council; no honest, sensible man, fermented hot-bed of party prejudice. The man, will venture to deny ihat, in this instance, the therefore, who holds such language and entertains British Cabinet acted with good faith, and 'with such opinions, and will, to gratify his avarice, a sincere desire to maintain peace between the lend bis money to promote an object which he two countries. condemns as unwarranted, is guilty, in my opin- The conclusion from these premises can be ion, of a censurable inconsistency; and should only one, and that is, that had the repealing dehe lose that money, so unworthily loaned, it cree been, as it ought to have been, disclosed seaought not, and, in me, it would not, excite any sonably to the British Cabinet, their Orders is uneasiness on account of his loss.
Council would have been repealed; and we now Sir, it has been said by the gentleman (Mr. should, instead of suffering the curses of this GRUNDY) "if the repealing decree had been dis. abominable war, have been enjoying the blessings closed at its date, it would not have prevented of peace. the war, even if the Orders in Council had been Sir, the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. repealed." And he seemed to be surprised at Calhoun) asserted, that “if the Orders in Counthe temerity of my honorable colleague, (Mr..cil had been repealed, yet we should have had GROSVENOR,) who asserted to the contrary: "Es war. The impressment of our seamen was a pecially, as my honorable colleague and his party sufficient cause, and for that would they have were wholly ignorant of the secret views of declared it.” Now, sir, much as I respect that the Administration, while the gentleman (Mr. gentleman's talents and integrity, in this instance 'GRUNDY) and his party were admitted to a par- I must believe he is mistaken. For I will not ticipation of those views.”
believe that the Administration would have been In the first place, I feel no disposition to deny given up to such fatal infatuation, such a bewilthat the honorable gentleman (Mr. GRUNDY) and dering, deadly mania, that they would have been his political friends are favored with the smiles so incurably mad as to have plunged this nation and secret opinions of His Majesty, the Presi- into a war on a point, in principle, the most indent; and that they are honored with a familiar considerable in controversy, without making one intercourse with that Nestor, the Vice President; more effort, at least, to an amicable adjustment and that the whole Executive Cabinet is open to of differences. them. And, sir, I have no inclidation to deny I could not believe, if the melancholy fact was what I am confident is true that the whole Fed- not in my view, that we should have been hureral party are shut out from those gracious privi- ried into this war without preparation, and, of leges.
course, to loiter away month after month, withAnd, sir, there is another truth that I have no out being able to commence any efficient operadisposition to deny, which is, that that republican tions. Government is in jeopardy, tottering to its fall, Sir, I did believe that a candid, prudent ruler whose Chief Magistrate has official secrets for of the nation, that a wise Legislature, who reone, and not for the other part of its Legislators. garded their country's happiness, would have And, sir, I loathe and detest those midnight con- paused before they made a desperate, frantic sultations and intrigues which are to savor the plunge into an abyss from which it might require interests and resentments of one part of the na- an age to be retrieved. I did suppose that our tion at the expense of the happiness and interests Administration would have stopped and cooled of the other.
before they emptied a whole vial of wrath upon If gentlemen wish to know what induces me our heads. Aud I still must believe, if the Orto believe that the war would not have been de- ders in Council had been repealed before the decclared, if the repealing decree had been timely laration of war, the Government would not have promulged, (and I presume the same reason in- declared it, for a mere principle in theory, which duced my honorable colleague to think so,) I can unquestionably might have been accommodated very readily inform them. Had this decree been upon fair and equitable grounds. But, sir, if the communicated to the British Goveroment in honorable gentleman (Mr. Calhoun) is right, we time, that Government would have repealed the are mistaken; if so, we err in judging too favore Orders in Council. Gentlemen may talk as much ably of the Administration, both of head and as they please of the declarations of the Prince beart; we err in supposing that they were wise Regent, the inference from what has been done enough to shun the precipice down which they is irresistible, upon every unprejudiced mind, 10 have fallen, and sufficiently honest and prudent prove what would have been done. Sir, no truth not to barter away the interest, the wealth, the is more certain than that those orders were re- peace, the blood, and independence of this once pealed after the receipt of the repealing decree great and highly favored nation, for a toy-a butwith as much promptness as the state of the terfly. British Cabinet would permit. And they veri- In this respect, and for this cause, we have fied, by a ready example, all their professions of erred, and are entitled to forgiveness. If we have a disposition to maintain a good understanding thought more favorably of those who declared between their Government and the United States. I the war than the gentlemen are willing to admit
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they deserve, we will yield to their superiormy. These, he has indeed said, were not designknowledge of the subject, and confess ourselves ed to apply io any gentleman occupying a seat wrong.
on this floor. My experience, sir, has been too One thing, sir, I ought to say: if the dictates limited to enable me io ascertain whether I owe of common sense, and the experience of mankind, this exemption to the gentleman's sense of juswill not enable us to judge what course the Ad- tice, or whether I am to consider it as a mere ministration would have steered, the consequences form of parliamentary decorum. In this state of of the war show most conclusively whal course doubt, as to the precise meaning of the gentleman, they ought to have steered. For, what but de- I will content myself with saying, that any feat and disgrace bave we experienced in all our charge of partiality to the cause of the enemy, as attempts to conquer the Canadas? Except the contrasted with that of my country, so far as relittle advantages we have recently gained, the gards me, would be utterly untrue. The bare supwar has been one continued series of abortive position of it is intolerable. It will not be deemattempts at victory; and, before this honorable ed egotism, I trust, to add, that baptized an AmeHouse and my country, I venture to prophesy, rican in the blood of a martyred father; bound to that for even these successes, we shall be com- my native land by every moral and natural tie pelled to pay, with severe interest. Depend upon that can fasten on the beart of man; with not one it, sir, with such an army, visited with the dread- motive of interest, of passion, or prejudice, to seful retributions which sooner or later blast and duce the loyalty of my affections; never can I sewither that Government which dares to mock parate myself from the cause of my country, howOmnipotence by violating the laws of God, and ever that cause may have been betrayed by those trampling under foot humanity, I say, sir, with to whose care it was confided. such an army, enfeebled with sickness, and with Without commenting on the delicacy of the a spirit broken, ambition quenched by poverty course which the gentleman has in this respect and nakedness; cudgelled and abused by the pursued, its art and address are sufficiently obbeardless, upstart subalterns, whose nod the solo vious. It reminds me of the mode of escape dier must obey; and with such a man at the which naturalists inform us is observed by the head of that army, the idea of reducing the Can- cuttle fish in time of peril. When his adversary adas is as romantic as the conquest of giants was is fast gaining upon him, and destruction seems in the hero of La Mancha.
inevitable, he muddies the water through which Mr. Gaston said, that when he entered the he glides, and finds safety in confusion. Thus it House that morning, he had no expectation of is with the gentleman from Tengessee. He would taking a part in this debate. He was perfectly escape from this discussion; he would elude the conscious of the disadvantages under which he inquiry, how far we owe this war to French immust appear, in attempting, without the benefit position, by raising a tumult about British prediof previous reflection, an examination of the ar- lections and British arguments. But the stratagument contained in the extraordinary barangue gem cannot take. No gentleman will suffer himof the gentleman from Tennessee; an harangue self to be diverted from the investigation which evidently studied and elaborate. But as the ques- these resolutions fairly suggest ; and such inquiry, tion had been called for; as no other gentleman deliberately pursued, must terminate in the disseemed disposed to occupy the floor; and as part covery of the necessary, though melancholy truth. of that argument demanded notice, he felt it his Mr. G. remarked, that whatever might be the duty to claim the attention of the Chair for a few issue of the resolutions, he cordially congratulated minutes. However unequal the contest, yet in the nation that they had been introduced. It was the cause of truth, and of the best interests of his due to the national honor, always involved in the country, he could not hesitate to engage in it. honor of the national agents-and it was due to Provided those were advanced, he was little so- the best interests of the country, that the mystery licitous as to the light in which he might appear. which enveloped this subject should be dissi
The gentleman had occupied no inconsiderable paled. portion of the time of the House, with invectives A formal authentic decree of the Government against those who had discouraged loans and en- of France, bearing date the 28th of April, 1811, listments. To the part of the country, said Mr. and purporting to be an absolute retraction of the G., wbich I have the honor to represent, such in Berlin and Milan decrees, was exhibited by that vectives are without the possibiliiy of application. Government to our representative Mr. Barlow With us loans and enlistments have been con- in May, 1812. On his expressing surprise at the sidered as acts purely voluntary, in which every decree, and its ancient date, the French Minister individual has been left free to pursue his incli- assured him that this decree had been communinations. Indeed, in these days of distress, few of cated to his predecessor, Mr. Russell, and had us have been able to lend, and the temptations to been sent on to the French Ambassador at Washenlistment have not been strong enough to carryington, with orders to lay it before the President. off many beside those whom all are willing to This information from Mr.Barlow wasgiven to this part with.
House at the close of its last session, in consequence The gentleman has also indulged himself in of a call on the President for intelligence about our insinuations, where more seemed meant than met relations with France; and it came without any the ear, of a disposition to take the part of Great explanation, comment, or denial. On all hands it Britain, and of prepossessions in favor of the ene- must be admitted, that a shameful fraud has been JUNE, 1813.
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somewhere perpetrated. The reputation of the to conceal them. This investigation, it has been pation demanded that this fraud should be placed justly urged, is demanded by a regard for the to the account of those who had committed it. character of our Government in the estimation Upon this imposture he, in his.conscience, be- of our own citizens, and of the world. In answer lieved the war had turned. Nothing can be more to this we are told its character needs no proimportant to the future safety of the people, than tection, it is too pure, too unsullied to be affected to learn how and whence this calamity had be by any charge. Sir, this is the language of rash, fallen them. Mr. G. declared himself, also, highly blind confidence! A most important decree of gratified with the liberal and manly course which the French Government, vitally affecting the had been pursued by the mover of these resolu- commerce, the peace, the independence, of this tions, and his honorable associates. The resolu- nation, is hidden from the Legislature and from tions had not been introduced at an early day af- the world, for more than twelve months after its ter the session, because of the wish that an op- date. Our Ambassador requires the cause of this portunity would be taken or made, by the Ad- concealment, and he is told by the official organ ministration or its friends, to give the desired in of the Government of France, in substance, that telligence without a call from this side of the there has been no concealment on their part; but House. It was notorious that the public voice that the suppression has in fact been on the part demanded a communication. A general curiosity of our Executive, or his agent. This charge of pervaded the country to learn how it was that fraud is stated explicitly in the correspondence of this decree of 28th April, 1811, had remained un- Mr. Barlow. If this accusation be in no way known here until after the declaration of war, and repelled, what inference will be drawn from the unknowo in England until it was too late, by a uninterrupted silence of the accused ? Sir, your repeal of the Orders in Council, to prevent a war. own citizens must doubt, and foreign countries The public sensibility was alive in requiring full will more than doubt, about the iruth of the assurance that the charge of the fraudulent con- charge. It is not yet, I hope, a maxim of our cealment of this decree-a charge which the Government that "the King cau do no wrong.” French Minister of Foreign Affairs had advanced There is no officer known to our Constitution against our Government and its agents, was not and laws who is to be presumed incapable of true. Under these circumstances it had been misconduct. When an imputation of soul crime hoped that the task of seeking this information is brought against any of them, and from an acwould not be thrown on those who, although they cuser of high rank, according to the usages of would yield to none in regard for the honor of the nations, it is emphatically due to his country that nation, or for the honor of its Goveroment, as such the charge should be repelled. A disposition could not be presumed to feel a very intense in- without cause to suspect public men of criminal terest in the personal reputation of those who ad- conduct, and to swallow with credulity all that ministered its affairs. Mr. G. declared, that for can be alleged against them, is indeed ungeneone he had indulged this hope, and had openly rous and illiberal. But the opposite extreme, a expressed it to gentlemen attached to the Admin- determination to believe everything right which istration. It was not until time had shown that is connected with authority, and to applaud withnothing would be done from that quarter, that the out examination all that has been or may be done resolutions in question were presented. The same by the " powers that be," is the characteristic of liberal motives which had delayed their introduc- servility and folly. Of this temper it has been tion, governed in the course which had been af- truly said, that "it is the screen by which power terwards pursued. Day after day was given bel' is concealed in its gradual progress to despotism, fore the motion was called up, that all who its most dangerous, if not its only dangerous doubted might examine into its propriety. And approach. And even when nothing worse than when the attention of the House was at length : imbecility wields the reins, it is by this it is upclaimed to this subject, all discussion was pure held in its course from blunder to blunder, until posely forborne on the part of the mover and bis it converts national misfortunes into national associates, (under the presumption that a mere ruin." call for information would not be resisted,) until A position, said Mr. G., has been taken by the such discussion had been rendered unavoidable, friends of the proposed resolutions, which has by the invitation and defiance of its opponents. given great dissatisfaction to the advocates of the Such conduct on the part of a minority, Mr. G. Administration, and against which all the force believed, was not often witnessed. It evinced a of assertion and of argument has been directed. magnanimity which he was proud to behold, and No proposition can be more completely establishwhich augured well to themselves and iheir ed. It is supported by evidence little short of country.
demonstration. The proposition is this, that had It was far from Mr. G's intention to travel the French repealing decree of the 28th April, over the ground which had been occupied by his 1811, been promulgated at the time of its date, or friends who preceded him, and especially by the at any time before the fatal resolution had been honorable gentlemen from New York, who had taken, to plunge this once happy country into. addressed the House yesterday. While the im- war, it would have averted this dire calamity. pressions of their manly footsteps might yet be Gentlemen in vain attempt to put this question seen, he should be satisfied with removing the to rest, in vain forbid this position to be taken obstructions with which it had been attempted | It is taken, and it will be maintained with all the
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obstinacy of right, in the face of the nation, and and Britain, shows it fully. France and Britain in defiance of every effort that can be used to ex- were viewed as equal aggressors on our rights. pel us.
The wrongs of both must be resented, and equally It is not my design to proceed step by step resented, or the wrongs of neither. Any measure through all the documents which are supposed to of hostility against one, either through the mebe connected with this subject. Few employ- dium of commercial or of actual warfare, not ments can be more stale, flat, and unprofitable, levelled also at the other, was pronounced to be either to the speaker or to the hearer. Indeed, subrnission. I do not say that ihe ground taken sir, however it may be with others, I am weary
On the contrary, I am convinced, of documents. They are so multiplied as to in that it was false in fact, and erroneous in princivolve every object in obscurity, and to afford to ple. But it was the ground deliberately taken by every man, who knows how to wrest a sentence ihe concurrent voice of every branch of the Govfrom its plain meaning, a text on which to preach ernment, solemnly proclaimed to the world as the a political sermon, according to his own fancy. true American ground, and which, in theory at I am sick of these documents, because their pe- least, has never yet been abandoned. The act of rusal too plainly shows, what is not unfrequent May, 1810, was an explicit re-assertion of the in private controversies, that we have been principles of the report of 1808. It refused to rewritten into a war. But it is necessary to take sent immediately the wrongs of either belligerent, a rapid comprehensive view of the state of our but pledged the faith of the Legislature, (an idle foreign relations, and of our course of policy in rash, unconstitutional pledge !) to become the regard to them, for a few years before the date of enemy of that one which should persist in injusthis suppressed decree. This will enable us to lice, after the other should have returned from ascertain the effect which its promulgation would the evil of her ways. If either should cease have produced.
from the violation of our neutral rights, and, on The Berlin and Milan decrees were permanent three months' notice of the fact, her rival enemy parts of a gigantic systeni, invented by Napoleon should refuse to imitate the praiseworthy examfor the destruction of his adversary. The avowed ple, then by an interdiction of all trade with her object of this system was to establish a code of ports, or in her productions, the obstinate foe was maritime laws, in support of which every com- to be punished." This law afforded a fit oppormercial nation was to be arrayed in a confede. tunity for French juggling. The famous letter racy, whereof he was to be the Protector, Legis- of the 5th of August, 1810, of the Duke of Cadore, lator, and Judge. Of this code the elementary purported to be founded upon it. This letter principles were, that the neutral flag should pro- announced a revocation of the Berlin and Milan iect all that it covered; that arms and munitions decrees, which were to cease to have effect on the of war should alone be deemed contraband ; that first day of November following, upon one or fortified places could alone be blockaded ; and the other of iwo conditions-a renunciation by that no blockade was effectual which was not Britain of her maritime doctrines, “ her principles also a siege. Great Britain was to be deemed an of blockade;" or an enforcement by America enemy of the human race, and cut off from human against Britain of the interdiction of intercourse. intercourse, until she acknowledged the new This equivocal promise was pronounced by Napoleon code. The nation that declined to ac- our Executive an actual repeal of the obnoxious cede to this confederacy, was viewed as the ally decrees; and Britain was demanded, upon the of Britain, and subjected to the most rigorous and fact of such repeal, to comply with her engagebarbarous usages of war. Her ships were burnt ment, to revoke her orders alleged to be retaliaon the ocean, and confiscated in port; her prop- tory. This demand was resisted upon the ground, erty plundered wherever found; hér citizens that the latter, instead of repealing, re-affirmed made prisoners, and her territories invaded. the decrees, the sole objects of which were to com
Britain refused to acknowledge this code; and, pel Britain to renounce her maritime rights, or professing to retaliate on France the consequences peutral nations to withhold communication from of her own insolence, issued orders prohibiting her. Facts were asserted, and brought forth on Deutral intercourse with a part of the French do- each side, in support of the respective construcminions so long as France enforced these mon- tions given to this Delphic letter. At this time, strous decrees. These she proudly declared should and during this conflict of expositions in the interlast while the decrees lasted. In the revocation pretation of the French Puzzlema conflict which of them she would proceed step by step with the had it not been followed by consequences the repeal of the decrees. It is foreign from my most serious, would have been indeed ludicrouspresent purpose to inquire how far the retaliatory let us suppose, that the repealing decree of April plea had any foundation; or if founded, whether 28, 1811, had made its appearance, as by its date it went in justification, or mitigation only, of the it ought to have done. It must have entirely attack on neutral righis. What was the ground changed the state of affairs. It must have sitaken by our Government ? On this point there lenced the controversy as to the construction of cannot be mistake. The celebrated report of the the infamous Cadore letter, while it established Committee of Foreign Affairs, of November, 1808, what was then the fact. It must have forever unquestionably approved by the Executive, and severed the fatal alliance which the President's by both branches of the Legislature, for on it was proclamation had made between the law of May, founded the law of non-intercourse with France I 1810, and this pretended repeal of the decrees on
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the 2d of November. And, sir, whether it had liberty to act only through those who are answerbeen followed by a corresponding revocation of able for what is wrong. The first moment when tbe British orders or not, it would, in all human a Cabinet could be had to deliberate on the French probability, have prevented this calamitous war. decree of April, 1811, produced the revoking order Would it have been followed by a correspond- of the 23d of June of last year-an order which iog revocation of the British orders? It is not the President has himself declared is susceptible given to man to pronounce with certainty upon of explanations that render it satisfactory. any event which has not happened; but, if it be Since, then, a knowledge of this decree, in possible to arrive at truth by inferring, from what May, 1812, was immediately followed by a satisdid take place, what would have taken place, had factory revocation of the obnoxious orders, why the same causes been brought into earlier opera- are we to believe that a knowledge of it in May, tion, there is no reason to doubt but that such a 1811, would not have produced the same conserevocation would then have followed. This de- quence? The gentleman from Tennessee undercree of the 28th of April, 1811, however insulto takes to inform us, and for this purpose has com: ing to the American Government in giving it the mented with as much fidelity as is usual with lie in the face of the world; and however, in most scholiasts on the Prince Regent's declaration other respects, the detestable reverse of what on what he calls Lord Castlereagh's despatch, and ought to have been desired, was a formal and ab- on the correspondence of Mr. Monroe with the solute abrogation of the obnoxious edicts as re- British Minister, Mr. Foster. These, in his judg. garded the United States. Under the hand of ment, clearly show that this would not have hapthe Emperor, and with all the solemnities of a pened. I cannot, if I would, follow the gentle. fundamental law of his Empire, it announced : man through all these comments. My lungs "The decrees of Berlin and Milan are definitively, already admonish me that I have spoken long, • and to date from the first day of November last, and there is yet a view of this subject which considered as not having existed in regard to must not be overlooked. Permit me, however, to American vessels.” Could there be any motive say that, whatever impression the circumstances of interest, any suggestion of pride, to prevent referred to were then calculated to make, and Great Britain from thereupon declaring that, as with the lights then alone appearing, they fall these decrees were definitively withdrawn from infinitely short now of supporting the inference American vessels, so, also, were her Orders in which the gentleman attempts to draw from them. Council ? So far from it, every inducement must The Prince Regent's declaration affords us not the have operated with her to adopt this course. She slightest aid in the inquiry. It speaks only of a would find in the edict of the 28th of April a full and unconditional repeal of the decrees being complete victory over the American Goveroment followed by a full and unconditional revocation as to the controversy whether France had there of the Orders. It intimates nothing as to the eftofore repealed these decrees. It would have fect which would be produced on the orders by a afforded to her one of the most desirable opportu- repeal of the decrees, as it regarded one neutral nities to contrast her good faith with French per- only. And this was the explicit language of my fidy. If she regarded her honor, it would have friend from New York, notwithstanding the stateurged to the measure ; if she valued American ment given of it by the gentleman from Tennestrade, she would not fail to embrace the certain see. It is one of the proudest triumphs of Truth, means of its restoration ; if she cared for the that, to combat her with success, she must not be friendship of America, she had it completely in met upon her own ground. Is it strange that the her power to dissolve the bands which tied her to declaration of the Regent is silent on ihis point ? France. The President was bound, by the act of No, sir; it was to be presumed that the new March, 1811, on wbich the French decree of the maritime code of Napoleon would be adhered to 28th April professed to be founded, to restore in- or relinquished. If adhered to, the orders were tercourse with Great Britain on the revocation to continue; if relinquished, they were to cease. of her orders; and no man was ignorant, much The dispute between ihe United States and Great less the British Court, that a restoration of that Britain was, as to the fact of the repeal or no reintercourse must, and would have been followed peal of the French decrees, and noi whether the by the resentment of the tyrant of France. And, repeal was limited to America alone, or extended do we not know that, as soon as this decree was to all neutrals. made known to the British Government, it did As to the despatch of Lord Castlereagh, none occasion a corresponding revocation of the Or- of us can pretend to know its contents, further ders jo Council ? I say, as soon, for, potwith-than may be collected from the correspondence standing the objection that an interval of thirty between Mr. Monroe and Mr. Foster. The fordays elapsed between the communication of this mer of these gentlemen asks the latter, (letter decree and the revocation of the orders, yet my June 30, 1812,) whether the recollection which estimable friend (Mr. GROSVENOR) has explained he has of the import of Lord Castlereagh's dethis circumstance to the conviction of scepticism spatch, in supposing it to differ from Mr. Foster's itself; the Prince Regent was, in fact, without a own leiter of the 30th May, in the circumstance Ministry. By the Constitution of that country, of declaring that the decrees must be repealed, the monarch cannot act but through the inter- not only against the United States, but against vention of his Ministers. As he is irresponsible the world, before any revocation will be had of to the law, for “ he can do no wrong," he is at the Orders, be accurate or not? Mr. Foster as