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bled, in her turn, to employ'all her ships and sailors in attacking my commerce, while hers will be safe under a neutral flag.” In the year 1793, indeed, when Russia entered into the coalition against France, Britain made a temporary cession to her of this right, because the reason, for which it had been withheld, could not operate, while Russia as well as England was at war with France: but even then she would not entirely relinquish it. All this France perfectly well knew; and knowing it, could she suppose, that England, would relinquish this right to us, who had not a single ship of war, when she had refused it to the vast force of the armed neutrality—that what she had refused to so many powerful nations she would yield to a people, who, though possessing vast resources, could not call them into action without great injury to themselves, and much delay—that what she had refused in time of peace, she would surrender in a war, where not only her success, but her very existence, depended on the support of her naval power; and surrender it too to that very nation, which possessing the greatest number of ships and sailors, was most capable of exercising the right to her injury and destruction ? No, France expected no such thing. She knew, that England would not surrender the right; and when she so warmly and pertinaciously urged us to resist the exercise of it, she could have had no other view than to set the two countries to quarrelling. England, she well knew, would not yield. Should we persist, a war must immediately take place.
The same, sir, will apply to the measures she wished us to adopt, respecting the impressment of seamen in our ships. It is well known, that England insists on a principle, by which all persons once her subjects always remain so, unless the right to their allegiance has been given up by the government itself
. This is the case with all persons born in the United States, or settled in them at the treaty of peace. From these she claims no allegiance. But such as have come here since the treaty, she still considers as her subjects, and
• claims the right of treating them as such, whenever she
finds them on her own territory, or on the high seas, the common territory of nations. Of this description there are numbers of sailors on board of our ships, and she claims a right to impress them. This right I do not mean to defend; I know that in its exercise it is liable to great abuse, and is particularly inconvenient to this country; but it is claimed and exercised by France herself, and by every other nation, as well as England. Yet France has constantly urged us to resist the exercise of it by England. We have done every thing in our power to induce England to renounce it, and not succeeding in that, we have taken all proper steps to remedy and prevent its abuse. But this does not satisfy France; she urges us to resist the right itself. Why? -Because she supposes that England will yield it? No, sir, no such thing. She well knows that England will not and cannot yield it with any regard to her own safety: it being of the last importance to her in a war like the present, where she has every thing staked on her maritime exertions, to prevent her seamen from passing from hers into neutral ships, where they get better wages, lighter duty, and are free from danger.
France well knows, therefore, that England will not yield this right, and this is precisely the reason why she urges us to resist it: because such a resistance must immediately produce a quarrel between Great Britain and the United States.
The same spirit is visible in her other demands; all of which tend to the same point. She wished us to adopt a construction of the treaty, that would have given her complete possession of our ports, and shut them to England. She would have armed vessels, and enlisted crews, in our country; she would have sold her prizes here; she would have taken the merchant ships of England on our shores, and in our very rivers; and our courts must not have interfered. No English ship of war could have entered our harbors, which she would not have expelled, by simply affirming, that it
had made prize on her citizens, no matter whether lately or four years ago, whether in the East Indies, the West Indies, Africa or Europe. Could she have imagined, that England would see all this partiality, all these favors to its enemy, without anger and jealousy ? Could she have imagined, that bitter complaints or irritating remonstrances on the part of that country, would not take place? Certainly she could not. She knew, that anger, jealousy and irritation would necessarily be excited : she knew, that a system, which, under the name of neutrality, would have all the effect of an alliance with her, must produce resentment and remonstrance on the part of England, and that these, added to the ancient animosities
not yet extinguished, but heightened on the contrary by recent injuries, must speedily end in hostility.
Sir, the plan of ambition and aggrandizement, pursued by France in Europe, affords additional proofs of her policy respecting this country. I have no doubt, that any gentleman, who will carefully examine the subject, will be convinced, that France deliberately attacked Austria as well as England, and of her own accord, and, in pursuance of a regular system of policy, lighted up the flames of the present war. I shall not, however, stop to examine that question, which would require a minute and tedious detail of facts, and is by no means, essentially necessary in the present deliberation. Whether France began the war from projects of dominion, or was driven into it for the defence of her independence, is, in some degree, unimportant at present; since it is perfectly evident, and has indeed been admitted on all sides, that with whatever motives the war began, it has long since been a mere contest for
In this contest, France, having detached Prussia from the alliance, enslaved Belgium, subjugated Holland, and obtained an absolute control over the government and forces of Spain, found her progress resisted by nothing but the firm persevering courage of Austria on one side,
and the vast maritime power of England on the other. Accordingly, she bent all her efforts to weaken and destroy these two powers, and left nothing unattempted to divide them. She made continual efforts to induce the Turks to fall on the house of Austria on one side, and to arm Prussia against it on the other. She offered to divide its spoils with Prussia, in order to engage the avarice and ambition of that rival power, by whose assistance she might break the strength of Austria, and then rule both, with the rest of Germany. As the fear of Russia has kept the king of Prussia in awe, and restrained his enterprises, she has left no stone unturned, to lull the new emperor of Russia into security, and obtain his acquiescence. By thus raising up enemies against Austria on every side, and pressing upon it at the same time with her whole military force, she is attempting to compel it to relinquish a large part of its territories, and make a peace separate from England. But she constantly refuses either to give up her own conquests, or to make a peace in which both England and Austria should be included. The policy of this is obvious and important. Could she, after having stripped and weakened Austria, succeed in detaching it from England, she would be left free to turn her whole undivided force against that rival nation, so long the great object of her jealousy and hatred, and whose maritime superiority, it has been her policy, for a century, to reduce. In the meantime, she leaves nothing unattempted to accomplish this purpose; and knowing that the naval strength and pecuniary resources of the English depend on their trade, she resolves to assail their trade in all possible ways. Hence her former and recent attempts to exclude English vessels from every port. Hence her instructions to Genet to draw us into an alliance, one condition of which is to be the exclusion of English vessels from our ports. Hence her threats to Portugal of an invasion by Spain, unless English vessels are excluded from the Portuguese ports. Hence her recent at
tempts of the same kind on Denmark and the Hanse towns.
To the success of this project against the commerce and navy of England, the aid of the United States is of the highest importance, and is so considered by France. I have it from the highest authority, that the plan of a maritime coalition against England, was early formed by France; that to the completion of it the accession of the United States was alone wanting; and that that accession was requested and refused. The pretence of this coalition, was to reduce the exorbitant maritime power of England, and prevent her tyranny over the other commercial states. The object of it was, and the certain effect of it if successful would have been, to break down England; by which means France, who came next to her in naval power, would have been left to reign unrivalled and uncontrolled in her stead. The United States would have been the most important member of this coalition. The great number of their ships and sailors would have enabled them to become the carriers of France, while she should employ all her maritime resources in attacking England. Their privateers also would have struck a deadly blow at the English commerce; and the use of their resources and their ports to France would have given her a decided superiority in the West Indies, and obliged the English to send so great a force there, as greatly to weaken their operations every where else. Hence it is evident that France could have no ally so important to her, in the naval war against England, as the United States. Indeed, without their assistance, she could have no hopes of success in the West Indies. Accordingly she took steps to secure this assistance, as soon as she began to form her project against England, and has pursued them ever since with the most unwearied perseverance, and by every expedient of threats, promises, flatteries, fraud and intrigue.