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It being, as I conceive, perfectly manifest from all these considerations, that the plan of France has always been to draw us into the war; the house is furnished with a ready solution of her anger against the British treaty, and a clue to all her present measures. It is evident, that her anger at the treaty has arisen entirely, from its having defeated her plan of drawing us into the war; and it will readily appear, that the whole aim and object of her present measures are to compel us to renounce it; to drive us into that quarrel with England, into which she has failed in her attempts to entice us. She must either mean this, or she must mean seriously to attack us, and drive us into a war against herself. 'To discover which of these is her real object, what is the true motive of her present measures, is of the utmost importance; because till that is done, it will be difficult to determine, in what manner those measures ought to be counteracted, which is the point immediately under consideration. I can never believe, that it is the intention of France seriously to attack this country, or to drive it into a war against herself. She has too much to lose and too little to gain by such a contest, to have seriously resolved on it, or even to wish it. In her counsels, I have observed great wickedness, but no folly; and it would be the extreme of folly in her to compel this country to become her enemy; especially in the present war, when we can throw so formidable a weight into the opposite scale. France well knows our power in that respect, and will not compel us to exert it. She well knows, that we possess more ships and more seamen than any country upon earth except England alone. She well knows, that our sailors are the most brave, skilful and enterprizing in the world, and, that by arming our vessels, our commerce would soon be made to float safe from privateers; while her fleets and large ships would be kept in awe by those of England. She knows that in the late war, the state of Massachusetts alone, with its privateers, took one third of all
the merchant ships of Great Britain; and that, though she had no commerce to be attacked, these maritime materials, greatly increased since that time, would enable us, if driven to the necessity, to create speedily a formidable marine, with which we could, not only defend ourselves, but attack her possessions. She knows, that we have a population not far short of six millions, and that the martial spirit, which conducted us gloriously through the trying scenes of the late war, though dormant indeed, could not have been extinguished. She knows, that by co-operating with the English, (a co-operation which must result naturally from our being driven into the war,) by opening our harbors to their ships, permitting them to arm, refit and victual in our ports, to recruit among our seamen, and to employ our vessels as transports, we could give them a most decided preponderance in the American seas, under which her own colonies, and those of Spain and Holland, which she most justly considers as her own, must speedily fall.
She knows, that in case of a war with us, Spain and Holland, who must be her allies, would be within our grasp. She knows that the Americans could and would lay hold of New Orleans and the Floridas, and that they are well acquainted with the road to Mexico; and she would dread that enterprizing valor, which formerly led them through barren wilds and frozen mountains, to the walls of Quebec. She knows, in fine, that to drive this country into a war with her at the present juncture, would bring about that co-operation of means, and that union of interests and views between us and the English, which it has been the great object of her policy to prevent, and which she had undertaken two wars, in the course of half a century, for the sole and express purpose of breaking. It is, there. fore, I think, impossible to conceive, that France means to drive or provoke us into war.
Her object, in my opinion, must be altogether different. It must
be to compel us to renounce the British treaty, and renew all our differences with that nation, under circumstances of irritation which must speedily end in a rupture.
What has led her to form this project? From whence could she derive hopes of success ? She has been led to form it, in my opinion, from a persuasion, erroneous indeed, but favored by many appearances, that we are a weak, pusillanimous people, too much devoted to gain to regard our honor, too careful about our property to risk it in support of our rights, too much divided to exert our strength, too distrustful of our own government to defend it, too much devoted to her to repel her aggressions at the risk of a quarrel, too much exasperated against England to consent to that co-operation, which must of necessity grow out of resistance to France. Various occurrences have combined to produce and confirm this persuasion, and the forbearance, which our government has exercised towards herself, is not the least of them. She has seen us submit, with patience, to the insults and outrages of three successive ministers, for the very least of which, she would have sent the minister of any nation out of her country, if not to the guillotine. The minister of the grand duke of Tuscany, with whom France had recently concluded a treaty, learning that the daughter of Louis the Sixteenth was to be sent out of the country, requested permission to pay her a visit. This request to visit an unfortunate young lady, the near relation of his sovereign, and whose tender age no less than her sex, her virtues and her calamities, entitled her to respect, was answered by an order from the directory, to quit the territories of the republic. His expression of a wish to show one mark of regard to virtuous misfortune and suffering innocence, was considered as an affront by the government of France, and punished by the instant dismissal of the minister. Accustomed to act thus herself, how can she impute our long suffering and
forbearance, under the perpetual insolence and insults of her ministers, to any thing but weakness, pusillanimity, or a blind devotedness to herself? The conduct of gentlemen on this floor too has more and more confirmed her in this injurious opinion of us ; has .confirmed her in the erroneous persuasion, that there. is a party in the very bosom of the government, devoted to her interests. I do not mean to charge gentlemen with acting under French influence. I am persuaded that, in the course they have taken, they believed themselves to be aiming at the good of their country, which they supposed might best be promoted in the manner recommended by them. But I would ask those gentlemen, and I solemnly call on them to lay their hands on their hearts and answer mewould ask them whether the course of conduct, which they have pursued, is not calculated to impress France with a belief, that they are devoted to her interests and not to those of their own country? Whether the manner, in which they have always connected the interests and wishes of France with their opposition to the measures of this government, does not necessarily tend to create and confirm this belief? When she saw them constantly making it a ground of opposition to measures, that they would be hurtful or displeasing to her; constantly supporting those plans which she was desirous of seeing adopted; constantly opposing all that she opposed; what could she infer, but that they were a party devoted to her views ? As she knows their numbers and importance, and has these apparently strong reasons for relying on their attachment, what can she conclude, but that however unable they may be to direct the government according to her wishes, they will be ready and able so to clog its operations, as to prevent it from adopting or pursuing vigorous measures against her? She no doubt does believe, and there is evidence of the fact from the most respectable quarter, our minister in
that country, that she has nothing to do but press hard on the government, in order to lay it, bound hand and foot, at the feet of this party, by means of which, she might then govern the country. She is further confirmed in this belief by the conduct of the people of this country, by their warm partiality for her cause and her nation, by their enthusiastic exultation in her victories, and the fond, sympathizing sorrow with which they mourn her disasters. Mistaking the source of these generous emotions, she has seen in them nothing but the proof of a slavish devotedness to herself, which would render this people incapable of asserting their own rights, when it must be done at the risk of her displeasure. She does not know, nor can she be made to understand, that it is the cause of liberty in which she is thought to be struggling, that inspires this enthusiasm, and that, should she change her conduct, and abandon the principles which she professes, these generous well-wishers would be found among the firmest of her opposers. A similar mistake she committed with respect to England, and that mistake further confirmed her original error. She saw much resentment excited by the attacks and outrages of England, and she supposed that resentment to be deep-rooted and durable. She did not know, and could not conceive, that, when England had given up her injurious pretensions for the future, and agreed to make a fair and just compensation for the past, we should forget our resentments, and cherish sentiments of mutual and friendly intercourse. She supposed these resentments to be far more deeply rooted, more universal, and more permanent, than they really are, and relies on them as a certain means of preventing any union of interests and operations between us and England, however recommended by policy or even required by necessity.
In all these delusions she is confirmed by the conduct, the speeches, and the writings, of persons in this