« AnteriorContinuar »
serted, that they are taught to believe, by their political leaders, and do, at this moment, consider the allegation, that war is at present existing between the United States and Great Britain, to be a “ federal falsehood.”
It was just so with respect to the invasion of Canada. I heard of it last June. I laughed at the idea, as did multitudes of others, as an attempt too absurd for serious examination. Iwas, in this case, again beset by common sense and common prudence. That the United States should precipitate itself upon the unoffending people of that neighboring colony, unmindful of all previously subsisting amities, because the parent state, three thousand miles distant, had violated some of our commercial rights; that we should march inland, to defend our ships and seamen; that, with raw troops, hastily collected, miserably appointed, and destitute of discipline, we should invade a country defended by veteran forces, at least equal, in point of numbers, to the invading army; that bounty should be offered and proclamations issued, inviting the subjects of a foreign power to treason and rebellion, under the influences of a quarter of the country upon which a retort of the same nature was so obvious, so easy, and in its consequences so awful; in every aspect, the design seemed so fraught with danger and disgrace, that it appeared absolutely impossible, that it should be seriously entertained.' Those, however, who reasoned after this manner, were, as the event proved, mistaken. The war was declared. Canada was invaded, We were in haste to plunge into these great difficulties, and we have now reason, as well as leisure enough, for regret and repentance.
The great mistake of all those, who reasoned concerning the war and the invasion of Canada, and concluded that it was impossible that either should be seriously intended, resulted from this, that they never took into consideration the connexion of both those events, with the great election for the chief magistra
cy, which was then pending. It never was sufficiently considered by them, that plunging into war with Great Britain was among the conditions, on which support for the presidency was made dependent. They did not understand, that an invasion of Canada was to be, in truth, only a mode of carrying on an electioneering campaign. But since events have explained political purposes, there is no difficulty in seeing the connexions between projects and interests. It is now apparent to the most mole-sighted, how a nation may be disgraced, and yet a cabinet attain its desired honors. All is clear. A country may be ruined, in making an administration happy.
I said, Mr. Speaker, that such strange schemes, apparently irreconcilable to common sense and common prudence, were, on that very account, more likely to be successful. Sir, there is an audacity which sometimes stands men in stead both of genius and strength. And, most assuredly, he is most likely to perform that, which no man ever did before, and will never be likely to do again, who has the boldness to undertake that, which no man ever thought of attempting, in time past, and no man will ever think of attempting, in time future. I would not, however, be understood as intimating, that this cabinet project of invasion is impracticable, either as it respects the collection of means and instruments, or in the ultimate result. On the contrary, sir, I deem both very feasible. Men may be obtained. For, if forty dollars bounty cannot obtain them, an hundred dollars bounty may, and the intention is, explicitly, avowed not to suffer the attainment of the desired army, to be prevented by any vulgar notions of economy. Money may be obtained. What, by means of the increased popularity, derived from the augmentation of the navy; what, by opening subscription offices, in the interior of the country; what, by large premiums, the cupidity of the monied interest may be tempted, beyond the point of patriotic resistance, and all the attained means being diverted to the use of the army, pecuniary resources may be obtained, ample, at least, for the first year. And, sir, let an army of thirty thousand men be collected, let them be put under the command of a popular leader, let them be officered to suit his purposes, let them be flushed with victories, and see the fascinating career of military glory opening upon them, and they will not thereafter, ever be deficient in resources: If they cannot obtain their pay by your votes, they will collect it by their own bayonets; and they will not rigidly observe any air-lines, or water-lines, in enforcing their necessary levies; nor be stayed by abstract speculations concerning right, or learned constitutional difficulties.
I desire, therefore, that it may be distinctly understood, both by this House and this nation, that it is my unequivocal belief, that the invasion of Canada, which is avowed, by the cabinet, to be its purpose, is intended by it; that continuance of the war and not peace is its project. Yes, sir, as the French emperor said concerning ships and colonies, so our cabinet, the friends of the French emperor, may say, with respect to Canada and Halifax. “They enter into the scope of its policy."
[Mr. Quincy was here called to order by Mr. Hall of Georgia, for intimating that the members of the cabinet were friends of the French emperor.
Mr. Quincy said, that he understood that the relations of amity did subsist between this country and France, and that, in such a state of things, he had a right to speak of the American cabinet, as the friends of France, in the same manner as he had now a right to call them, the enemies of Great Britain.
The Speaker said, that the relations of amity certainly did subsist between this country and France, and that he did not conceive the gentleman from Massachusetts, to be out of order in his expressions. That it was impossible to prevent gentlemen from expressing themselves, so as to convey an innuendo. Mr. Quincy proceeded.]
If, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Georgia, and his political friends, would take one thing into consideration, he, and they, will have no reason to complain, in case the cabinet be of that immaculate nature, he supposes. No administration, no man, was ever materially injured by any mere “innuendo." The strength of satire is the justness of the remark, and the only sting of invective, is the truth of the observation.
I will now proceed to discuss those topics, which naturally arise out of the bill under consideration, and examine the proposed invasion of Canada, at three different points of view.
First. As a means of carrying on the subsisting war.
Second. As a means of obtaining an early and honorable peace.
Third. As a means of advancing the personal and local projects of ambition of the members of the American cabinet.
Concerning the invasion of Canada, as a means of carrying on the subsisting war, it is my duty to speak plainly and decidedly, not only because l'herein express my own opinions upon the subject, but, as I conscientiously believe, the sentiments, also, of a very great majority of that whole section of country, in which I have the happiness to reside. I sir, that I consider the invasion of Canada, as a means of carrying on this war, as cruel, wanton, senseless and wicked.
You will easily understand, Mr. Speaker, by this very statement of opinion, that I am not one of that class of politicians, which has for so many years, predominated in the world, on both sides of the Atlantic. You will readily believe, that I am not one of those, who worship in that temple, where Condorcet is the high priest and Machiavel the God. With such politicians, the end always sanctifies the means; the least possible good to themselves, perfectly justifies, according to their creed, the inflicting the greatest possible evil upon others. In the judgment of such men,
it a corrupt ministry, at three thousand miles distance, shall have done them an injury, it is an ample cause to visit with desolation, a peaceable and unoffending race of men, their neighbors, who happen to be associated, with that ministry, by ties of mere political dependence. What though these colonies be so remote from the sphere of the question in controversy, that their ruin, or prosperity, could have no possible influence upon the result? What though their cities offer no plunder? What though their conquest can yield no glory? In their ruin, their is revenge. And revenge, to such politicians, is the sweetest of all morsels. With such men, neither I, nor the people of that section of country in which I reside, hold any communion. There is, between us and them, no one principle of sympathy, either in motive, or action.
That wise, moral, reflecting people, which constitute the great mass of the population of Massachusetts, indeed of all New-England, look for the sources of their political duties nowhere else, than in those fountains, from which spring their moral duties. According to their estimate of human life and its obligations, both political and moral duties, emanate from the nature of things, and from the essential and eternal relations, which subsist among them. True it is, that a state of war, gives the right to seize and appropriate the property and territories of an enemy. True it is, that the colonies of a foreign power are viewed, according to the law of nations, in the light of its property. But in estimating the propriety of carrying desolation into the peaceful abodes of their neighbors, the people of New England will not limit their contemplation to the mere circumstance of abstract right, nor ask what lawyers and jurisprudists have written, or said, as if this was conclusive upon the subject. That people are much addicted to think for themselves, and in canvassing the propriety of such an invasion, they will consider the actual condition of those colonies, their natural relations to us, and the effect,