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cle of first necessity, three or four hundred per centum. And now, that by our own acts, we have brought ourselves into this unprecedented condition, we must get out of it in any way, but by an acknowledgment of our own want of wisdom and forecast. But is war the true remedy? Who will profit by it? Speculators; a few lucky merchants, who draw prizes in the lottery; commissaries and contractors. Who must suffer by it? The people. It is their blood, their taxes, that must flow to support it.
But gentlemen avowed, that they would not go to war for the carrying trade; that is, for any other but the direct export and import trade; that which carries our native products abroad, and brings back the return cargo; and yet they stickle for our commercial rights, and will go to war for them! I wish to know, in point of principle, what difference gentlemen can point out between the abandonment of this or of that maritime right? Do gentlemen assume the lofty port and tone of chivalrous redressers of maritime wrongs, and declare their readiness to surrender every other maritime right, provided they may remain unmolested in the exercise of the humble privilege of carrying their own produce abroad, and bringing back a return cargo ? Do you make this declaration to the enemy at the outset? Do you state the minimum with which you will be contented, and put it in their power to close with your proposals at their option; give her the basis of a treaty ruinous and disgraceful beyond example and expression ? And this too, after having turned up your noses in disdain at the treaties of Mr. Jay and Mr. Monroe! Will you say to England, “ end the war when you please, give us the direct trade in our own produce, we are content ?". But what will the merchants of Salem, and Boston, and New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore, the men of Marblehead and Cape Cod, say to this? Will they join in a war, professing to have for its object, what they would consider, (and justly too,) as the sacrifice of their
maritime rights, yet affecting to be a war for the protection of commerce?
I am gratified to find gentlemen acknowledging the demoralizing and destructive consequences of the nonimportation law; confessing the truth of all that its opponents foretold, when it was enacted. And will you plunge yourselves in war, because you have passed a foolish and ruinous law, and are ashamed to repeal it? “But our good friend, the French emperor, stands in the way of its repeal, and as we cannot go too far in making sacrifices to him, who has given such demonstration of his love for the Americans, we must, point of fact, become parties to his war.
Who can be so cruel as to refuse him that favor?” My imagination shrinks from the miseries of such a connexion. I call upon the House to reflect, whether they are not about to abandon all reclamation for the unparalleled outrages, “ insults and injuries” of the French government; to give up our claim for plundered millions, and I ask what reparation or atonement they can expect to obtain in hours of future dalliance, after they shall have made a tender of their person to this great deflowerer of the virginity of republics? We have by our own wise (I will not say wiseacre) measures, so increased the trade and wealth of Montreal and Quebec, that at last we begin to cast a wishful eye at Canada. Having done so much towards its improvement, by the exercise of our restrictive energies,” we begin to think the laborer worthy of his hire, and to put in claim for our portion. Suppose it ours, are we any nearer to our point? As his minister said to the king of Epirus, “ may we not as well take our bottle of wine before as after this exploit? Go! march to Canada! leave the broad bosom of the Chesapeake and her hundred tributary rivers; the whole line of seacoast from Machias to St. Mary's, unprotected! You have taken Quebec-have you conquered England? Will you seek for the deep foundations of her power in the frozen deserts of Labrador ?
* Her march is on the mountain wave,
Her home is on the deep!” Will you call upon her to leave your ports and harbors untouched, only just till you can return from Canada, to defend them? The coast is to be left defenceless, whilst men of the interior are revelling in conquest and spoil. But grant for a moment, for mere argument's sake, that in Canada you touched the sinews of her strength, instead of removing a clog upon her resources-an incumbrance, but one, which, from a spirit of honor, she will vigorously defend. In what situation would you then place some of the best men of the nation? As Chatham and Burke, and the whole band of her patriots, prayed for her defeat in 1776, so must some of the truest friends to their country deprecate the success of our arms against the only power that holds in check the arch-enemy of mankind.
The committee have outstripped the executive. In designating the power, against whom this force is to be employed, as has most unadvisedly been done in the preamble or manifesto with which the resolutions are prefaced, they have not consulted the views of the executive, that designation is equivalent to an abandonment of all our claims on the French government. No sooner was the report laid on the table, than the vultures were flocking round their prey—the carcass of a great military establishment. Men of tainted reputation, of broken fortune, (if they ever had any,) and of battered constitutions, “ choice spirits tired of the dull pursuits of civil life,” were seeking after agencies and commissions, willing to doze in gross stupidity over the public fire; to light the public candle at both ends. Honorable men undoubtedly there are, ready to serve their country; but what man of spirit, or of self-respect, will accept a commission in the present army? The gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. Grundy,) addressed himself yesterday, exclusively to the “ republicans of the House." I know not whether I may consider myself as entitled to any part of the benefit of the honor
able gentleman's discourse. It belongs not, however, to that gentleman to decide. If we must have an exposition of the doctrines of republicanism, I shall receive it from the fathers of the church, and not from the junior apprentices of the law. I shall appeal to my worthy friends from Carolina, (Messrs. Macon and Stanford,) - men with whom I have measured my strength,” by whose side I have fought during the reign of terror; for it was indeed an hour of corruption, of oppression, of pollution. It is not at all to my tastethat sort of republicanism which was supported, on this side of the Atlantic, by the father of the sedition law, John Adams, and by Peter Porcupine on the other. Republicanism! of John Adams and William Cobbett!
Gallant crusaders in the holy cause of republicanism! Such “ republicanism does, indeed, mean any thing or nothing." Our people will not submit to be taxed for this war of conquest and dominion. The government of the United States was not calculated to wage offensive foreign war; it was instituted for the common defence and general welfare; and whosoever should embark it in a war of offence, would put it to a test which it is by no means calculated to endure. Make it out that Great Britain has instigated the Indians on a late occasion, and I am ready for battle; but not for dominion. I am unwilling, however, under present circumstances, to take Canada, at the risk of the constitution, to embark in a common cause with France and be dragged at the wheels of the car of some Burr or Bonaparte. For a gentleman from Tennessee, or Gennessee, or lake Champlain, there may be some prospect of advantage. Their hemp would bear a great price by the exclusion of foreign supply. In that too, the great importers are deeply interested. The upper country on the Hudson and the lakes would be enriched by the supplies for the troops, which they alone could furnish. They would have the exclusive market: to say nothing of the increased preponderance from the acquisition of Canada and that section of the union, which the southern and western states have already felt so severely in the apportionment bill.
[Mr. Randolph here adverted to the defenceless state of the sea-ports, and particularly of the Chesapeake, and observed, that there was but a single spot on either shore, which could be considered in tolerable security.]
Permit me now, sir, to call your attention to the subject of our black population. I will touch this subject as tenderly as possible. It is with reluctance that I touch it at all; but in cases of great emergency, the state physician must not be deterred by a sickly, hysterical humanity, from probing the wound of his
patient: he must not be withheld by a fastidious and mistaken delicacy from representing his true situation to his friends, or even to the sick man himself, when the occasion calls for it. What is the situation of the slave-holding states? During the war of the revolution, so fixed were their habits of subordination, that wbile the whole country was overrun by the enemy, who invited them to desert, no fear was ever entertained of an insurrection of the slaves. During a war of seven years, with our country in possession of the enemy, no such danger was ever apprehended. But should we, therefore, be unobservant spectators of the progress of society within the last twenty years; of the silent, but powerful change wrought, by time and chance, upon its composition and temper? When the fountains of the great deep of abomination were broken up, even the poor slaves did not escape the general deluge. The French revolution has polluted even them. Nay, there have not been wanting men in this House, witness our legislative Legendre, the butcher who once held a seat here, to preach upon this floor these imprescriptible rights to a crowded audience of blacks in the galleries; teaching them, that they are equal to