« AnteriorContinuar »
• shall have been relieved from these causeless apprehensions.
If therefore, the House should exercise a constitutional right of judging of the propriety of the object of expenditure, and a refusal should be the result of their judgment, I do not believe that it will produce that fatal hostility of departments which would eventuate in a total dissolution of the government; but will be an exercise of one of the salutary checks, provided in the constitution, which, in my opinion, constitute its inerit, and not its reproach.
I shall now proceed to consider, whether a war with Great Britain will be the probable consequence of a refusal to make the necessary provision for carrying the British treaty into effect. To my mind, there does not appear to be the least ground for the clamor, which has been excited from this suggestion. I believe that Great Britain will make war upon the United States whenever she deems it her interest to do so; and that the treaty would impose no restraint upon her, if she thought her interest would justify the conduct. I also believe, that if there should be no treaty with Great Britain, she would not go to war with the United States, unless her interest should dictate the measure. In short, I believe, that Great Britain, like all other nations, will make her interest the criterion of her conduct in every question of peace or war.
If this opinion be well formed, the probability of war may be tested by this question. Is it the interest of Great Britain to make war upon the United States in the relative situation of the two countries? Great Britain is now engaged in a war in which the government hazards every thing. She is at this moment engaged in an important enterprize against the French West Indies. She is under the necessity of resorting to the United States for sundry supplies for facilitating the enterprize. The United States are the best commercial customer she has in the world. Under these circumstances, what would be her inducement for
war? What would be her inducements to avoid it? These questions furnish their own answers. The argument of war is an argument of dependence. It is also an argument which will last forever. If the fear of war is now to influence our conduct against our judgments, will not the same argument apply with double force two years after the expiration of the present war, to induce a continuance of the treaty upon its present injurious conditions ?
As the argument of war is the chief instrument, by which the treaty is pressed upon the people of the United States, I beg the indulgence of the committee in taking a retrospective view of this subject, and in examining it with some minuteness. Whatever may have been my opinion at the time of receiving the information of the hostile order of the 6th of November, I am now of opinion, that at that time, Great Britain did meditate war against the United States, although I believe there is no danger of it at present.
I believe too, that the neutrality, proclaimed by the United States, does not in the smallest degree, influence the conduct or disposition of Great Britain towards the United States in regard to war or peace, but that the true explanation of her disposition will be found in the course of events in Europe. On the 1st of February, 1793, France declared war against the king of England, and the stadtholder of Holland, and on the 7th of the same month against Spain. France was then at war with the emperor of Germany, and the king of Prussia, &c. A combination of most of the despots of Europe had previously been formed, (it is generally believed on the 21st July, 1791, at Pilnitz,) for the purpose of crushing the
revolutionary spirit, which had appeared in France. The accession of Great Britain, Spain, Holland, Portugal and some of the Italian States to the combination already formed, made it the most formidable which has ever appeared in the history of modern times.
The most desperate and bloody war, of course, ensued, and im
mediately succeeded the declaration of war against Great Britain; a series of successes took place, which threatened the absolute subjugation of France.
On the 1st of March, the French sustained a considerable loss by the surprise of the vanguard of their army, on the river Roer; on the 13th, the rebellion of La Vendee commenced; on the 18th, Dumourier was defeated; on the 20th, he abandoned his army; on the 3d of April
, his army retreated into France; on the 4th, Dumourier himself was outlawed; on the 13th, France made a declaration against all interference with foreign governments; on the 22d of April, the President issued the proclamation of neutrality; on the 3d of May, the rebellion of Corsica commenced ; 29th, the rebellion of the department of Loire; 30th, the rebellion of the city of Lyons; June 2d, thirty-two deputies of the convention, generally called the Brissotines, were arrested. About the same time, a rebellion commenced in the departments of Bouches du Rhone, Calvados and Eure; June the 8th, the first order by Great Britain for seizure of neutral vessels bound to France, with provisions, was issued. It is here to be remarked, that the impartial state of neutrality proclaimed by the President of the United States, on the 22d of the preceding April, was probably known to the British cabinet; but, whilst flushed with these successes in her crusade against liberty, the neutrality of the United States could not protect them from the invasion of their neutral rights. On the 10th of July, Conde surrendered to the Combined Armies; on the 27th, Mayence, &c.; on the 28th, Valenciennes ; at the end of July, the Spaniards were in possession of Bellegrade, Collioure, St. Elme, &c. and of the whole departinent of the eastern Pyrenees, and part of the lower Pyrenees. The Prussians and Austrians were possessed of the lines of Weisemburg, Fort Vauban, &c. and had blockaded Landau. The Piedmontese and Hanoverians had made successful inroads into other parts of France; the royalists of La Vendee were in possession of four departments.
The royalists of the fourth were in possession of Lyons, Marseilles, Toulon, and the departments of Vaucluse and Rhone. On the 28th of August, all Frenchmen were put in requisition; on the 28th, Toulon surrendered to lord Hood, by the royalists; on the 9th of September, the duke of York was defeated; on the 11th, Lyons was subdued; on the 30th of October, the Brissotines were executed. This was nearly the state of the war upon the European continent, at the time of issuing the hostile order of the 6th of November. In this chronological statement of facts, may be found the hostile disposition of Great Britain, widened by that order against the United States. France, convulsed with intestine divisions, which extended to the very heart of the convention, laboring under the most formidable external pressure, was supposed to be an easy prey to this terrible combination of despots: the combination having in view, as I believe, the total destruction of liberty. Great Britain, possessed of the most triumphant and formidable fleet, and guiding almost implicitly the movements of this great combinanation, already anticipated the destruction of liberty in France, and began to turn her attention towards the same object in the United States. Hence, the order of the 6th of November; hence, the truce between Portugal and Algiers; hence, the talk between lord Dorchester and the Indians. These were all acts of hostility, and evidently produced by the state of things before described. But what events followed these acts of hostility ?
A complete reverse of fortune immediately succeeded. The duke of York had been already defeated. On the 17th of December, Toulon was retaken by the French; on the 22d, the Austrian fortified camp near Werth, was attacked and carried; on the 24th and 25th, the army under the command of the duke of Brunswick was defeated at Kellsburg, and the Austrian army at Geisberg; on the 26th, the lines of Weisemburg were forced, and the Austrian army defeated.
On the 8th of January, the hostile order for seizing neutral vessels was revoked, and on the 9th, lord Grenville informed the American minister, that the revocation of the order was to take away all pretext from evil disposed persons amongst us, for indulging their resentment against Great Britain. But, however strongly this motive may have operated on the British cabinet, it certainly was very strongly enforced by the state of things upon the European continent, which was not only changed, but completely reversed between the 6th of November, 1793, and the 8th of January, 1794. It is remarkable, that notwithstanding the several changes in the conduct of Great Britain, towards the United States, they have been uniform in their impartial neutrality towards Great Britain; of course, the uniform disposition of the United States towards Great Britain, could not have produced the fluctuating disposition of Great Britain towards the United States. Great Britain, in all probability, supposed, that, in the intoxication of the combined powers, from their early successes, her influence might unite them in a war against the United States, and perhaps, in the height of her presumption, she might even have indulged the impious hope of regaining her dominion over them: but this sudden reverse of fortune checked her ambitious enterprize. Probably anticipating a speedy dissolution of the combination, and having abandoned all prospects of engaging them in her iniquitous project, and being unwilling to add a new and formidable enemy to the one she already had encountered, and even fearing the effects of her previous hostilities, a sudden revolution is produced in her conduct towards the United States: it is then she is desirous of taking away all pretext from “ evil disposed persons,” to indulge their resentment against her: it is then the order of revocation is seen. If, then, Great Britain was unwilling to encounter a new enemy, in her then situation, will any change of circumstances justify, at this time, the supposition of a