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consequence of his sense of their injustice, but because we had complied with the condition he had prescribed, in the letter of the duke of Cadore, in causing “our rights to be respected,” by a resistance to the British orders; and he has since added, that this decree of repeal was communicated to our minister at Paris, as well as to his own at Washington, to be made known to our cabinet. As the previous pledge of Great Britain gave the fullest assurance that she would repeal her orders as soon as the decrees on which they were founded should cease to exist; and as her subsequent conduct leaves no doubt that she would have been faithful to her promise, we can never too much deplore the neglect to make known this repeal, whether it be attributed to the French government or our own.
If to the former belong the guilt of this duplicity and falsehood, every motive of interest, and every incitement of duty, call loudly upon our administration to proclaim this disgraceful imposition to the American people ; not only as it would serve to develope the true character and policy of France, but to acquit our own officers of a suppression too serious to be overlooked or forgiven.
But whatever may be the true state of this mysterious transaction, the promptness with which Great Britain hastened to repeal her orders, before the declaration of war by the United States was known to her, and the restoration of an immense amount of
property, then within her power, can leave but little doubt that the war, on our part, was premature, and still less that the perseverance in it, after that repeal was known, was improper, impolitic, and unjust.
It was improper; because it manifested, in this instance, a distrust in the good faith and disposition to peace of a nation, from which we had just received a signal proof of both.
It was impolitic ; because it gave countenance to the charge of a subserviency to the views of France, and of an ulterior design of co-operating with her, in the profligate and enormous project of subjugating the rest of Europe.
It was impolitic; as it tended to unite all descriptions of people in England, in favour of the present war, and to convince them, however erroneously, that moderation and fairness, on her part, only laid the foundation of new claims and higher pretensions on ours.
It was unjust; because the evidence, afforded by the prompt repeal of the orders in council, ought to have satisfied us, that Great Britain was sincerely disposed to maintain and preserve pacific relations with the United States; and all wars are unjust, the objects of which can be attained by negotiation.
It was unjust; because the whole history of our diplomatic intercourse with Great Britain shows, that we never induced her to believe, that we considered the impressment of her own seamen, on board our merchant ships, as a reasonable ground of war, and we had never offered her the alternative of war, or a relinquishment of this practice.
It was unjust; because the pretensions and claims, on the one side and on the other, althoug! attended with difficulties, were not irreconcileable. Great Britain did not claim the right to impress our native seamen. She disavowed the practice in all cases when the fact was made known to her. She restored, on legal evidence, she had recently offered to return all who were of that description, of whom a list should be furnished by our government; and she had many years before made such offers of fair and amicable arrangements of this whole subject, as, to two distinguished members of our present cabinet, appeared u both honourable and advantageous.
It was unjust; because we had not taken previously all the reasonable steps, on our part, to remove her complaints of the seduction and employment of her seamen. This is made manifest, by the conduct of the same congress which declared the war, they having admitted the propriety of obviating those complaints, by an act passed subsequent to the commencement of hostilities.
No state in the union can have a greater interest, or feel a stronger desire to protect commerce, and maintain the legitimate rights of seamen, than this commonwealth. Owners of one third of all the navigation, and probably furnishing one half nearly of all the native seamen of the United States, we are better enabled to appreciate the extent of their sufferings, and must also be presumed to sympathise with them more sincerely than the citizens of states destitute of commerce, and whose sons are not engaged in its prosecution; unless it be admitted, that the sufferers, their parents, relatives, and friends, are less interested in their welfare and protection than those who are united to them only by the feeble ties of political connexion.
With all the means of information, furnished by every motive of duty, and every inducement of interest, we are constrained to say, that this evil of impressment has been grossly exaggerated; that we have reason to believe, an honest and fair proposal, as honestly and fairly executed, to exclude the subjects of Great Britain from our service, would have much more effectually relieved our own seamen, and more essentially advanced their interest, than a resort to war; that the true interests of the United States coincide with the policy adopted by all other
countries, and that we should be more independent, our seamen would be better protected, and our country eventually more prosperous, by renouncing altogether the pretension of screening and employing British seamen.
The doctrine of natural allegiance is too well founded, has been too long established, and is too consonant with the permanent interest, the peace and independence of all nations, to be disturbed, for the purpose of substituting in its place certain visionary notions, to which the French revolution gave birth, and which, though long since exploded there, seem still to have an unhappy influence in our country,
Having thus found the avowed causes of the war, and especially the motives for a perseverance in it, so wholly inadequate to justify the adoption of that policy, we have been obliged to resort to other and more concealed motives. We cannot, however, without the most conclusive evidence, believe, although the measures and language of some high public functionaries indicate the fact, that ambition, and not justice ; a lust of conquest, and not a defence of endangered rights, are among the real causes of perseverance in our present hostilities.
Must we then add another example to the catalogue of republics, which have been ruined by a spirit of foreign conquest? Have we no regard to the solemn professions we have so often repeated, none to the example, none to the precepts of Washington? Is it possible, either to acquire or to maintain extensive foreign conquests, without powerful standing armies? And did such armies ever long permit the people, who were so imprudent as to raise and maintain them, to enjoy their liberties?
Instances of military oppression have already occurred among us ; and a watchful people, jealous of their rights, must have observed sonte attempts to controul their elections, and to prostrate the civil before the military authority. If the language of some men, high in office ; if the establishment of a chain of military posts in the interior of our country ; if the extensive preparations which are made in quarters where invasion cannot be feared, and the total abandonment and neglect of that part of our country where alone it can be apprehended, have excited our anxiety and alarm as to the real projects of our rulers; these emotions have not been diminished by the recent invasion, seizure, and occupation of the territory of a peaceable and unoffending neighbour.
If war must have been the portion of these United States, if they were destined by Providence to march the downward road to slavery, through foreign conquest and military usurpation, your remonstrants regret that such a moment and such an oc
casion should have been chosen for the experiment; that while the oppressed nations of Europe are making a magnanimous and glorious effort against the common enemy of free states, we alone, the descendants of the pilgrims, sworn foes to civil and religious slavery, should voluntarily co-operate with the oppressor to bind other nations in his chains; that, while diverting the forces of one of his enemies from the mighty conflict, we should endanger the defenceless territories of another, in whose ports the flag of our independence was first permitted to wave, now struggling for existence beneath his iron grasp.
Permit the legislature of this commonwealth, whose citizens have been ever zealous in the cause of freedom, and who contributed their utmost efforts for the adoption of that constitution, under which, in former times, we enjoyed so much prosperity, most respectfully, but earnestly, to entreat and conjure the constituted authorities of the nation, by the regard due to our liberties, to our union, to our civil compact, already infringed, to pause before it be too late. Let the sober, considerate, and honourable representatives of our sister states, in which diffrent councils prevail, ask themselves
Were not the territories of the United States sufficiently extensive before the annexation of Louisiana, the projected reduction of Canada, and seizure of West Florida ?
Had we not millions upon millions of acres of uncultivated wilderness, scarcely explored by civilized man?
Could these acquisitions be held, as conquered provinces, without powerful standing armies? And would they not, like other infant colonies, serve as perpetual drains of the blood and treasure of these United States ? Or is it seriously intended to adopt the dangerous project of forming them into new states and admitting them into the union, without the
express consent of every mmber of the original confederacy? Would not such a measure have a direct tendency to destroy the obligations of that compact by which alone our union is maintained ?
Already have we witnessed the formation and admission of one state beyond the territorial limits of the United States, and this too, in opposition to the wishes and efforts, as well as in violation of the rights and interests of some of the parties to that compact; and the determination to continue that practice, and thereby to extend our republic to regions hitherto unexplored, or peopled by inhabitants whose habits, language, religion, and laws are repugnant to the genius of our government, is openly avowed.
Against a practice so hostile to the rights, the interests, the safety of this state, and so destructive to her political power ; so subversive of the spirit of the constitution, and the very principles upon which it is founded, your remonstrants, in the name and behalf of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, feel it their duty to enter their most solemn and deliberate protest.
If an extensive confederated republic is to be maintained, and we most fervently pray that it may, it can only be by a free communication of the grievances felt and the evils apprehended by any of its members, and by a prompt and liberal remedy. The same spirit of concession which dictated the formation and adoption of the constitution should be kept in permanent and perpetual exercise.
The blessings of government, its vigilance, its protection, its rewards, should be equally and impartially distributed, and its burdens as equally and fairly imposed. No portion of the union ought to be sacrificed to the local interests, passions, or aggrandizement of others. It cannot, however, be denied, that causes have occurred to disturb the balance, which, when adjusted, was intended to form the principal security of our present compact. But the remedy is in the power of congress, and we look to their wisdom for its efficacious and speedy application.
The chief motive which influenced the eastern states to abolish the old confederation, and to surrender a greater share of their own sovereign power, as appears by the recent history of those times, was the expectation that their commerce would be better protected by the national government.
The hardy people of the north stood in no need of the aid of the south, to protect them in their liberties. For this, they could safely rely, as they always had done, on their own valour. But it was an important object with them, that every aid, facility, and encouragement should be given to that commerce upon which their prosperity almost exclusively depended.
To ensure this great object, a very unequal proportion of political power was conceded to the southern states. presentation of slaves was the price paid by the northern states for the stipulated protection and encouragement of their trade, and for an agreement of the southern members of the union, that the public burdens should be apportioned according to representation. Experience, however, has proved, that although the contract on our part has been faithfully fulfilled, both these considerations have utterly failed.
Indications of a spirit hostile to commerce were early visible among some of those who now controul the destinies of our re. public; but the father of his country then presided in our councils, and this spirit was vanquished. Under the influence