« AnteriorContinuar »
and servants, and property, which happen to be in my neighborhood, and do them all the injury I can. While I am doing this, I receive a messenger from you, stating that the grounds of the recent injury are settled; that you comply fully with my terms. Your servants and children, whom I am plundering and killing, invite me to stay my hand until you return, or until some accommodation can take place between us. But, deaf to any such suggestions, I prosecute my intention of injury to the utmost. When there is reason to expect your return, I multiply my means of injury and offence. And no sooner do I hear of your arrival, than I thrust my fist into your face, and say to you, “ well, sir, here are fair propositions of settlement. Come to my terms, which are very just. Settle the old demand in my way, and we will be as good friends as ever.” Mr. Speaker, what would be your conduct, on such an occasion ? Would you be apt to look as much at the nature of the propositions, as at the temper of the assailant ? If you did not at once, return blow for blow, and injury for injury, would you not, at least, take a little time to consider ? Would you not tell such an assailant, that you were not to be bullied, nor beaten into any concession ? If you settled at all, might you not consider it your duty, in some way to make him feel the consequences of his strange intemperance of passion ? For myself, I have no question how a man of spirit ought to act under such circumstances. I have as little how a great nation, like Great Britain, will act. Now, I have no doubt, sir, that the American cabinet view this subject, in the same light. They understand well, that, by the declaration of war, the invasion of Canada, the refusal of an armistice, and perseverance in hostilities, after the principal ground of war bad been removed, they have wrought the minds of the British cabinet and people to a very high state of irritation. Now is the very moment to get up some grand scheme of pacification; such as may persuade the American people of the inveterate love of our cabinet for peace, and make them aquiescent in their perseverance in hostilities. Accordingly, before the end of the session, a great tub will be thrown out to the whale. Probably a little while before the spring elections, terms of very fair import will be proffered to Great Britain; such as, perhaps, six months ago our cabinet would not have granted, had she solicited them on her knees; such as, probably, in the opinion of the people of this country, Great Britain ought to accept; such, perhaps, as, in any other state of things, she would have accepted; but such, as I fear, under the irritation, produced by the strange course pursued by the American cabinet, that nation will not accept. Sir, I do not believe, that our cabinet expect, that they will be accepted. They think the present state of induced passion is sufficient to prevent arrangement. But, to make assurance doubly sure, to take a bond of fate, that arrangement shall not happen, they prepare this bill—a bill
, which proposes an augmentation of the army for the express purpose of conquering the Canadas-a bill, which, connected with the recent disposition evinced by our cabinet in relation to those provinces, and with the avowed intent of making their subjugation the means of peace through the fear to be inspired into Great Britain, is as offensive to the pride of that nation, as can well be imagined; and is, in my apprehension, as sure a guarantee of continued war as could be given. On these grounds, my mind cannot force itself to any other conclusion than this, that the avowed object of this bill is the true one; that the Canadas are to be invaded the next season; that the war is to be protracted; and that this is the real policy of the American cabinet.
I will now reply to those invitations to 6 union,” which have been so obstrusively urged upon us. If, by this call to union, is meant an union in a project for the invasion of Canada, or for the invasion of East Florida, or for the conquest of any foreign country whatever, either as a means of carrying on this war, or for any other purpose, I answer distinctly ;-) will unite with no man, nor any body of men, for any such purposes. I think such projects criminal, in the highest degree, and ruinous to the prosperity of these states. But, if by this invitation is meant union in preparation for defence, strictly so called; union in fortifying our sea-board; union in putting our cities into a state of safety; union in raising such a military force as shall be sufficient, with the local militia, in the hands of the constitutional leaders, the executives of the states, to give
a rational degree of security against any invasion, sufficient to defend our frontiers, sufficient to awe into silence the Indian tribes within our territories ; union in creating such a maritime force, as shall command the seas on the American coasts, and keep open the intercourse, at least between the states;-if this is meant, I have no hesitation; union on such principles, you shall have from me, cordially and faithfully—and this too, sir, without any reference to the state of my opinion in relation to the justice, or the necessity of this war. Because, I well understand such to be the condition of man in a social compact, that he must partake of the fate of the society to which he belongs, and must submit to the privations and sacrifices its defence requires, notwithstanding these may be the result of the vices, or crimes of its immediate rulers. But there is a great difference between supporting such rulers in plans of necessary selfdefence, on which the safety of our altars, and firesides, essentially depends, and supporting them in projects of foreign invasion, and encouraging them in schemes of conquest and ambition which are not only unjust in themselves, but dreadful in their consequences; inasmuch as, let the particular project result as it may, the general effect must be, according to human view, destructive to our own domestic liberties and constitution. I speak as an individual. Sir, for my single self, did I support such projects, as are avowed to be the objects of this bill, I should deem myself a traitor to
my country. Were I even to aid them, by loan, or any other way, I should consider myself a partaker in the guilt of the purpose. But, when these projects of invasion shall be abandoned; when men yield up schemes, which, not only openly contemplate the raising of a great military force, but also the concentrating them at one point, and placing them in one hand; schemes obviously ruinous to the fates of a free republic, as they comprehend the means, by which such have ever, heretofore, been destroyed ;—when, I say, such schemes shall be abandoned, and the wishes of the cabinet limited to mere defence, and frontier and maritime protection, there will be no need of calls to union. For such objects there is not, there cannot be, but one heart and soul in this people.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that while I utter these things, a thousand tongues, and a thousand pens, are preparing, without doors, to overwhelm me, if possible, by their pestiferous gall
. Already I hear, in the air, the sound of_" traitor”—“ British agent”—“ British gold” --and all those changes of vulgar calumny, by which the imaginations of the mass of men are affected; and by which they are prevented from listening to what is true, and receiving what is reasonable.
Mr. Speaker, it well becomes any man, standing in the presence of such a nation as this, to speak of himself seldom; and such a man as I am, it becomes to speak of himself, not at all; except, indeed, when the relations, in which he stands to his country, are little known, and when the assertion of those relations has some connexion, and may have some influence on interests, which it is peculiarly incumbent upon him to support. Under this sanction, I say, it is not for a man, whose ancestors have been planted in this country, now, for almost two centuries; it is not for a man, who has a family, and friends, and character, and children, and a deep stake in the soil; it is not for a man, who is self-conscious of being rooted in that soil as deeply, and as exclusively, as the oak which shoots
among its rocks; it is not for such a man to hesitate, or swerve a hair's breadth from his country's purpose and true interests, because of the yelpings, the howlings, and snarlings of that hungry pack, which corrupt men keep, directly or indirectly, in pay, with the view of hunting down every man, who dare develope their purposes; a pack, composed, it is true, of some native curs, but for the most part, of hounds and spaniels of very recent importation, whose backs are seared by the lash, and whose necks are sore with the collars of their former masters. In fulfilling his duty, the lover of his country must often be obliged to breast the shock of calumny. If called to that service, he will meet the exigeney with the same firmness, as, should another occasion call, he would breast the shock of battle. No, sir, I am not to be deterred by such apprehensions. May heaven so deal with me and mine, as I am true or faithless to the best interests of this people! May it deal with me according to its just judgements, when I fail to bring men and measures to the bar of public opinion; and to expose projects and systems of policy, which I realize to be ruinous to the peace, prosperity and liberties of my country!
This leads me, naturally, to the third and last point of view, at which I proposed to consider this bill; as a means for the advancement of the objects of the personal, or local ambition, of the members of the American cabinet. With respect to the members of that cabinet, I may almost literally say, I know nothing of them, except as public men. Against them I have no personal animosity. I know little of them in private life; and that little never made me ambitious to know more. I look at them as public men, wielding powers, and putting in operation means and instruments, materially affecting the interests and prospects of the United States.
It is a curious fact, but no less true than curious, that for these twelve years past, the whole affairs of this country have been managed, and its fortunes re