« AnteriorContinuar »
of the cradle. On this subject you need not suspect any decep tion on your feelings. It is a spectacle of horror which cannot be overdrawn. If you have nature in your hearts it will speak a language compared with which, all I have said or can say, will be poor and frigid. Will it be whispered that the treaty has made me a new champion for the protection of the frontiers ? It is known that my voice as well as vote have been uniformly given in conformity with the ideas I have expressed. Protection is the right of the frontiers ; it is our duty to give it.
" It is vain” he said “ to offer as an excuse, that public men, are not to be reproached for the evils that may happen to ensue from their measures. This is very true, when they are unforeseen or inevitable. Those I have depicted, are not unforeseen, they are so far from inevitable, we are going to bring them into being by
We choose the consequences, and become as justly answerable for them, as for the measures we know will produce them. By rejecting the posts, we light the savage fires, wel bind the victims. This day we undertake to render account to the widows and orphans whom our decision will make, to the wretches that will be roasted at the stake, to our country, and I do not deem it too serious to say, to conscience and to God. We are answerable, and if duty be any thing more than a word of imposture, if conscience be not a bugbear, we are preparing to make ourselves as wretched as our country. There is no mistake in this case, there can be none. Experience has already been the prophet of events, and the cries of our future victims have already reached us. The voice of humanity issues from the shade of their wilderness. It exclaims, that while one hand is held up to reject the treaty, the other grasps a tomahawk. It summons our imagination to the scenes that will open. It is no great effort of the imagination to conceive, that events so near, are already begun. I fancy that I listen to the yells of savage vengeance, and the shrieks of torture. Already they seem to sigh in the western wind-already they mingle with every echo from the mountains."
After adverting to other probable and almost certain consequences of a rejection of the treaty-dissentions between the different branches of the government-war abroad and anarchy at home, the orator reverses the picturem" let me cheer the mind,” he concludes “ weary, no doubt and ready to despond, on this prospect, by presenting another which it is yet in our power to realize. Is it possible for a real American to look at the prosperity of this country, without some desire for its continuance, without some respect for the measures, which many will say produced, and all will consess, have preserved it? Will he not feel some dread that a change of system will reverse the scene? The well grounded fears of our citizens in 1794, were removed by the treaty, but are not forgotten. Then they deemed war nearly inevitable, and would not this adjustment have been considered, at that day as a happy escape from the calamity ?
" The great interest and general desire of our people was to enjoy the advantage of neutrality. This instrument, however misrepresented, affords America that inestimable security. The causes of our disputes are either cut up by the roots, or referred to a new negociation, after the end of the European war. This was gaining every thing, because it confirmed our neutrality, by which our citizens are gaining every thing. This alone would justify the engagements of the government. For when the fiery vapours of the war lowered in the skirts of our horizon, all our wishes were concentrated in this one, that we might escape the desolation of this storm. This treaty, like a rainbow on the edge of the cloud, marked to our eyes the space where it was raging, and afforded at the same time, the sure prognostic of fair weather. If we reject it, the vivid colours will grow pale, it will be a baleful meteor, portending tempest and war."
The speech of Mr. Ames, though, delivered at nearly the close of this debate, was listened to by the house, and by a crowded audience, with a most silent and untired attention. Its eloquence was admired by all, though its effects were dreaded by some. When he took his seat, the question was loudly called for; but Mr. Venable expressed a hope, that the question might not
be taken that day. “ Mischievous effects," he said " stared them in the face, look which way they would; for if they refused to carry the treaty into effect, evils might be dreaded ; and if they carried it into effect, serious evils would certainly arise. The question was, to choose the least of the two evils. He himself was not determined, at present which was the least, and wished for another days consideration."
The question was postponed until the next day, and decided in the manner before stated.
The delay occasioned by these debates was favorable to the treaty. It gave time for reflection among those opposed, and also, afforded an opportunity for others, who had hitherto been silent, willing to leave the decision with the constituted authorities, to express their sentiments. The great mass of the people began seriously to reflect, on the consequences of its rejection ; nor could they be induced to believe that the president, who had once saved his country from the tyranny of Great Britain, had now sacrificed its best interests to the same power. During the discussion therefore, numerous petitions were presented to the house from different parts of the union, praying that the treaty might be carried into effect. This changed the votes, if not the opinions of some of the members.
Mr. Christie of Maryland, declared, he still considered it " as the worst of all hard bargains, yet, as he was satisfied that a large majority of his constituents wished it to be carried into effect, he should give his vote for that purpose, and leave the responsibility
This interesting session did not close, until the first of June. The final vote on the question of carrying the British treaty into effect, probably saved the United States, from being involved in the war, which then and so long afterwards desolated Europe.
Conduct of France with respect to the British treaty-French government consider
the treaty of 1778, at an end, after the ratification of the treaty with Great Britain The ultimate measures of the directory not taken until the final vote of the house of representatives to carry it into effect-Directory require the aid of Holland and Spain in defeating the treaty-Conduct of these nations Treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, between France and Spain-Spain delays fulfilling her treaty with the United States-Attempts to induce the western people to form an independent empire-Instructions of the Spanish governor to his agent on this subject - France supposed to be concerned in this plan-General Washington declines being a candidate for the presidency-People divided with respect to his successor, French minister supposed to interfere in the election---President Washington's last speech to congress---He recommends among other things, the establishment of a navy---Answers of both houses express great respect for his character, and a high sense of his eminent services---French depredations on American commerce---President submits to congress a review of the conduct of the French government towards the United States---His farewell address on retiring from office.
The two great belligerents, and particularly France, had viewed the contest in America, with respect to the British treaty, with peculiar solicitude. In its final ratification, the French government saw an end to all their hopes of “a family or national compact” with the Americans—and Great Britain could view its rejection, as only a prelude to war with the United States.
The jealousy of the rulers of France respecting the negociations of Mr. Jay, had been manifested in a variety of ways, from the commencement of his mission.
Mr. Munroe, as we have before stated, was instructed to solicit the aid of France, in securing the navigation of the Mississippi.
On the 25th of January, 1795, he submitted to the committee of public safety, the wishes of his government on this subject; and stated the importance of the navigation of that river to the United States. The answer of Merlin de Douay, one of the committee, shows, that the conduct of France would be governed by that of the United States, in regard to the treaty with England. In his note of the 22d of February, 1795, in answer to obser
vations on this subject, he said, “ the ideas which they present are not new to me, nor to the committee of public safety; and I have reason to think they will be taken into profound consideration, in suitable time and place. I ought not to dissemble, however,” he added, “ that this may depend upon the conduct which the American government will observe in regard to the treaty which its minister Jay has concluded with England. You know, sir, in effect, that there ought to be a reciprocity of services and of obligations between nations, as between individuals. I speak, however, here as an individual."* The French government were soon after somewhat more explicit on this subject. About the 9th of March, Mr. Munroe was informed by one of the members of the diplomatic section of the committee of public safety, “ that in confidence, Mr. Jay's treaty contained nothing which would give uneasiness here, they had expressly instructed their agent then negociating with Spain, to use his utmost efforts to secure the points in controversy between the United States and that power.”+ On the 12th of September, 1795, the secretary of state informed Mr. Munroe, that the president had ratified the treaty, and also furnished him with his reasons for so doing, with a view, that they might be presented to the French government. France was at that time particularly engaged in forming a new constitution, which went into operation, on the 27th of October, 1795. The legislature was divided into two branches, and the executive power lodged with five persons called a directory. Soon after this, de la Croix was appointed minister of foreign affairs. In February, 1796, this minister informed Mr. Munroe, that the directory had determined how to act in regard to the American treaty with Great Britain. They had, he said, considered the alliance between France and the United States at an end, from the moment that treaty was ratified; and intimated that a special envoy would be sent to announce this to the American government. Soon after, he presented to the American minister, a summary exposition of the complaints of the French government against