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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On the 8th of January, the hostile order for seizing neutral vessels was revoked, and on the 9th, lord Grenville informed the American minister, that the revocation of the order was to take away all pretext from evil disposed persons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
change of disposition in Great Britain, respecting war with the United States ? I believe not. Peace seems to be more important to Great Britain, at this moment, than at any time previously, during the whole period of the war. The nation is desirous of peace, and distressed for provisions. The combination, which indulged her presumptuous hopes, crumbled into dust.
Prussia is at peace with France, and almost at war with Great Britain. Spain is at peace with France, and hardly at peace with Great Britain. Holland is at peace and in alliance with France, and at war with Great Britain. Austria herself is almost exhausted, and desirous of peace; and the continuation of French exertions and successes has excited the admiration and astonishment of the world. Are these the circumstances which would justify apprehensions of war from Great Britain ? And are the United States to tremble at the sound of war from a nation thus circumstanced ? I trust not. And for what cause is this war to be produced ? Because the House of Representatives may deem it inexpedient to become the instrument of giving efficacy to a bad bargain.
I verily believe, that the alarm of war is not serious. I verily believe it is resorted to as an artificial instrument to effect a favorite object. For my part, I believe the hazard so small, as not to constitute an item in estimating the present question.
I believe, that Great Britain considers the United States as a more important commercial connexion, (particularly as it respects her views in the West Indies,) than some gentlemen seem to admit; and I believe also, that she views the United States more formidable as an enemy.
I infer these opinions from the avidity with which this treaty seems to have been received in that country, and particularly from an expression in the speech of the king at the late meeting of parliament. Two reflections were strongly impressed upon my mind from that speech. The one, that the treaty is deemed a very advantageous one to VOL. I.
Great Britain, the other, that Great Britain has no appetite for war against the United States, in her present situation.
Hence, I cannot believe, that there is the least possible foundation for the suggestion of the fatal hostility of departments of government, or of war with Great Britain, as amongst the consequences resulting from a refusal to make the necessary provisions for giving efficacy to the treaty.
As the present treaty is incomplete, and as further negociations are stipulated in the treaty itself, and in the event of a decision either way, are expected; I think the most important consequences of the vote will be these. If the House should refuse to make the provisions for carrying the treaty into effect, the new negociations will commence without the concessions contained in the present treaty. If the provisions are made, the further negociations will proceed under the weight of the concessions already made, and very little melioration of the present conditions can be expected, as the United States will have very little left to induce the melioration. And if no final adjustment of differences ensues, the United States will at least continue to possess all the rights attached to national sovereignty.
Much has been said, and much unnecessarily said, about intemperance and heats. I will appeal to the recollection of the committee, whether there ever was a more harmonious session than the present, until this treaty was introduced into the House; and, then, whether its opponents have not discovered at least as much coolness and deliberation as its advocates.
The treaty itself is the torch of discord, which has been unfortunately thrown into the United States, and it is extraordinary to observe, that those who have been most instrumental in introducing it, impute intemperance to others for a firm and decisive opposition to it. It is too much to suppose that the absolute sacrifice of opinion is an obligation due to the embarrassments, into which this treaty has thrown the United States.
Upon the whole, I conscientiously believe the treaty to be a bad one. I believe it contains the completest evidence of British interference in our internal affairs, and has laid the foundation for the further extension of British influence. It has restricted the exercise of some of the important rights of national sovereignty. It has voluntarily hazarded the neutrality of the United States in the present European war, and destroyed all pretensions to its character of impartiality. It has not afforded protection to our neutral rights, which is amongst its great objects; and, in the adjustment of the differences resulting from the inexecution of the
peace, it is unequaland unjust. All these important circumstances considered, and when it is also considered, that the British persevere în impressing our seamen and seizing our vessels in violation of the clearest rights of neutral nations, even since the signing of the treaty, I cannot consent to be the instrument of giving it efficacy. I believe, that it is one of those extraordinary cases, which justify strong and extraordinary resistance.