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obliged, in some measure, to give for a while, a tacit acquiescence. America, at the time, fully admitted the principle, although then at war. (Mr. Gallatin quoted, on this subject, the journals of Congress of the year 1780, page 210, and of the year 1781, page 80,) It has been introduced into every other treaty we have concluded since our existence as a nation. Since the year 1780, every nation, so far as my knowledge goes, has refused to enter into a treaty of commerce with England, unless that provision was inserted. Russia, for that reason, would not renew their treaty, which had expired in 1786; although I believe, that during the present war, and in order to answer the ends of the war, they formed a temporary convention, which I have not seen, but which, perhaps, does not include that provision. England consented to it, in her treaty with France, in 1788, and we are the first neutral nation who has abandoned the common cause, given up the claim, and by a positive declaration, inserted in our treaty, recognized the contrary doctrine. It has been said, that under the present circumstances, it could not be expected that Great Britain would give up the point; perhaps so; but the objection is not, that our negociator has not been able to obtain that principle, but that he has consented to enter into a treaty of commerce, (which we do not want, and which has no connexion with an adjustment of our differences with Great Britain,) without the principle contended for, making part of that treaty. Unless we can obtain security for our navigation, we want no treaty; and the only provision which can give us that security, should have been the sine qua non of a treaty. On the contrary, we have disgusted all the other neutral nations of Europe, without whose concert and assistance there is but little hope that we shall ever obtain that point; and we have taught Great Britain, that we are disposed to form the most intimate connexions with her, even at the expense of recognizing a principle the most fatal to the liberty of commerce, and to the security of our navigation.

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But, if we could not obtain any thing which might secure us against future aggressions, should we have parted, without receiving any equivalent, with those weapons of self-defence, which, although they could not repel, might, in some degree, prevent any gross attacks upon our trademany gross violation of our rights as a neutral nation? We have no fleet to oppose or to punish the insults of Great Britain; but, from our commercial relative situation, we have it in our power to restrain her aggressions, by restrictions on her trade, by a total prohibition of her manufactures, or by a sequestration of the debts due to her. By the treaty, not satisfied with receiving nothing, not satisfied with obtaining no security for the future, we have, of our own accord, surrendered those defensive arms, for fear they might be abused by ourselves. We have given up the two first, for the whole time during which we might want them most, the period of the present war; and the last, the power of sequestration, we have abandoned forever: every other article of the treaty of commerce is temporary; this perpetual.

I shall not enter into a discussion of the immorality of sequestering private property. What can be more immoral than war; or plundering on the high seas, legalized under the name of privateering? Yet selfdefence justifies the first, and the necessity of the case may, at least, in some instances, and where it is the only practicable mode of warfare left to a nation, apologize even for the last. In the same manner, the power of sequestration may be resorted to, as the last weapon of self-defence, rather than to seek redress by an appeal to arms. It is the last peace measure that can be taken by a nation; but the treaty, by declaring, that in case of national differences it shall not be resorted to, has deprived us of the power of judging of its propriety, has rendered it an act of hostility, and has effectually taken off that restraint, which a fear of its exercise laid upon Great Britain.

Thus it appears, that, by the treaty, we have promis.

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ed full compensation to England for every possible claim they may have against us, that we have abandoned every claim of a doubtful nature, and that we have consented to receive the posts, our claim to which was not disputed, under new conditions and restrictions never before contemplated-that after having obtained, by those concessions, an adjustment of past differences, we have entered into a new agreement, unconnected with those objects, which have heretofore been subjects of discussion between the two nations; and that, by this treaty of commerce and navigation, we have obtained no commercial advantage, which we did not enjoy before, we have obtained no security against future aggressions, no security in favor of the freedom of our navigation, and we have parted with every pledge we had in our hands, with every power of restriction, with every weapon of selfdefence which is calculated to give us any security.

There is yet another article which stands by itself, unconnected either with adjustment of past disputes, or with commercial regulations; I mean the ninth article, which provides that British subjects now holding lands in the United States, shall continue to hold them, and may sell or devise the same; and that neither they, nor their heirs or assigns shall, so far as may respect the said lands, and the legal remedies incident thereto, be regarded as aliens. I am not a lawyer, and, in expressing an opinion, I mean nothing more than to communicate my doubts, and ask for an explanation. There would be no difficulty in finding the meaning of the article, did it apply only to those British subjects, who have acquired lands under the laws of the states; but the former connexion of this country with England, renders the subject difficult to be explained, even by men of legal abilities; for its explanation must depend on the consequences of a principle unknown to the laws of England. The principle of the English law is, that no subject can shake his allegiance, that is to say, that no man who was once a citizen, can become

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an alien. Yet, by the effect of the revolution, British subjects, who, before 1776, had a right to hold lands in America, as part of the British empire, have become aliens in the United States, and the effect of that alienage upon their titles to such lands, and how far that effect is changed by the operation of the treaty, seem to me to be questions of a very nice nature." I will, however, beg leave to suggest what to me appears to be the effect of the treaty. So far as lands have been confiscated by the laws of any state, and those laws carried into effect, and so far as such lands having been considered as escheated, an office has been found, and the escheat been completed, I conceive the treaty will create no alteration; but where the lands have not been confiscated, either because no laws had been passed for that purpose, or because they had not been carried into effect before the treaty of 1783, and where the legal formalities of finding an office, &c. necessary to complete an escheat have been neglected, it seems to me the treaty may operate in three ways. Firstly, it will prevent any state from completing an escheat by finding an office, &c. when they have neglected doing it

. Secondly, it will enable the British subjects to sell or devise, and therefore to convert their life estate into a fee-simple for ever. And thirdly, it will enable those subjects to institute suits in courts for the recovery of those lands, providing them with a legal remedy, they had not before, since their alienage would have been a sufficient bar against bringing real actions. If the treaty may be supposed to have that effect, its tendency so far as relates, not to private estates, but to the former proprietary estates, may prove vexatious and injurious to several of the states. It will strengthen the proprietary claims of the Penn family, not in Pennsylvania, but in the state of Delaware. It may have some effect on the decision of the Fairfax claim in Virginia, and even on such parts of the lands of Maryland,

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VOL. I.

which have been sold, although formerly the property of the Baltimore family, as vacant lands and not as confiscated lands. In North Carolina, the proprietary claim of the Grandville family, which includes the best half of that state and of the southwestern territory, may be revived by the treaty; for although a law has passed in that state to confiscate the lands of all the British subjects who should be absent on a certain day, yet the proprietary lands were not meant to be comprehended within that provision; the commissioners, who were to sell the confiscated property, never disposed of a single acre of the lands, which were granted by another law of the state as vacant and not as confiscated lands, without having been actually escheated to the state by an office being found or any other formality whatever; and they are even expressly distinguished from land to be confiscated by the very act passed for the purpose of confiscating. (Mr. Gallatin here read the clause of the act he alluded to.) Supposing, however, every thing I have said on this subject as very doubtful, it is not less true that this article, under an appearance of reciprocity, grants a positive advantage to Great Britain without any equivalent being given-is, if not an infraction, at least a restriction over the legislative powers, and an exception to the laws of the different states on a subject of a delicate nature-may involve not only some of our citizens, but even several of the states in complex lawsuits and serious embarrassment, and although it may thus create much mischief, can give us no possible benefit.

From the review I have taken of the treaty, and the opinions I have expressed, it is hardly necessary for me to add, that I look upon the instrument as highly injurious to the interests of the United States, and that I earnestly wish it never had been made; but whether in its present stage, the House ought to refuse to carry it into effect, and what will be the probable conse

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