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I choose, Sir, to enter into these minute and particular details, because generalities, which in all other cases are apt to heighten and raise the subject, have here a ten
dency to sink it. When we speak of the commerce 5 with our Colonies, fiction lags after truth, invention is unfruitful, and imagination cold and barren.
So far, Sir, as to the importance of the object, in view of its commerce, as concerned in the exports from Eng
land. If I were to detail the imports, I could show how 10 many enjoyments they procure which deceive the bur
then of life; how many materials which invigorate the springs of national industry, and extend and animate every part of our foreign and domestic commerce. This
would be a curious subject indeed; but I must prescribe 15 bounds to myself in a matter so vast and various.
I pass, therefore, to the Colonies in another point of view, their agriculture. This they have prosecuted with such a spirit, that, besides feeding plentifully their own
growing multitude, their annual export of grain, compre20 hending rice, has some years ago exceeded a million in
value. Of their last harvest I am persuaded they will export much more. At the beginning of the century some of these Colonies imported corn from the Mother
Country. For some time past the Old World has been 25 fed from the New. The scarcity which you have felt
would have been a desolating famine, if this child of your old age, with a true filial piety, with a Roman charity, had not put the full breast of its youthful exuberance to the mouth of its exhausted parent.
As to the wealth which the Colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy;
and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment 35 has been exercised ought rather, in my opinion, to have
raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, Sii, what in the world is equal to it ? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and 5 behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis's Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen 10 Serpent of the south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the ac- 15 cumulated winter of both the poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries ; no climate that 20 is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, por the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people; a peo- 25 ple who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When I contemplate these things; when I know that the Colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the 30 constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection; when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of 35
power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of humar, contrivances melt and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.
I am sensible, Sir, that all which I have asserted in my 5 detail is admitted in the gross; but that quite a differ
ent conclusion is drawn from it. America, gentlemen say, is a noble object. It is an object well worth fighting for. Certainly it is, if fighting a people be the best way
of gaining them. Gentlemen in this respect will be led 1e to their choice of means by their complexions and their
habits. Those who understand the military art will of course have some predilection for it. Those who wield the thunder of the state may have more confidence in the
efficacy of arms. But I confess, possibly for want of this 15 knowledge, my opinion is much more in favor of prudent
management than of force; considering force not as an odious, but a feeble instrument for preserving a people so numerous, so active, so growing, so spirited as this, in a profitable and subordinate connection with us.
First, Sir, permit me to observe that the use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be
conquered. 25 My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not
always the effect of force, and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without resource; for, conciliation failing, force remains; but, force failing,
no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and 30 authority are sometimes bought by kindness; but they
can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.
A further objection to force is, that you impair the object by your very endeavors to preserve it. The thing 36 you fought for is not the thing which you recover ; but
depreciated, sunk, wasted, and consumed in the contest. Nothing less will content me than whole America. I do not choose to consume its strength along with our own, because in all parts it is the British strength that I consume. I do not choose to be caught by a foreign enemy 5 at the end of this exhausting conflict; and still less in the midst of it. I may escape; but I can make no insurance against such an event. Let me add, that I do not choose wholly to break the American spirit; because it is the spirit that has made the country.
10 Lastly, we have no sort of experience in favor of force as an instrument in the rule of our Colonies. Their growth and their utility has been owing to methods altogether different. Our ancient indulgence has been said to be pursued to a fault. It may be so. But we know, if 15 feeling is evidence, that our fault was more tolerable than our attempt to mend it; and our sin far more salutary than our penitence.
These, Sir, are my reasons for not entertaining that high opinion of untried force by which many gentlemen, 20 for whose sentiments in other particulars I have great respect, seem to be so greatly captivated. But there is still behind a third consideration concerning this object which serves to determine my opinion on the sort of policy which ought to be pursued in the management of 25 America, even more than its population and its commerce - I mean its temper and character.
In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole; and as an ardent is always a jealous 30 affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English 35
Colonies probably than in any other people of the earth, and this from a great variety of powerful causes; which, to understand the true temper of their minds and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to 5 lay open somewhat more largely.
First, the people of the Colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The
Colonists emigrated from you when this part of your 10 character was most predominant; and they took this
bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English
principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstrac15 tions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sen
sible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know,
Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country 20 were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question
of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders
of the state. The question of money was not with them 25 so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On
this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfac
tion concerning the importance of this point, it was not 30 only necessary for those who in argument defended the
excellence of the English Constitution to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove that the right had been acknowledged in ancient
parchments and blind usages to reside in a certain body 36 called a House of Commons. They went much farther;