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Members of the House of Representatives,...
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
IN THE SUBJECT OF THE WAR WITH GREAT
PRINTED AT THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES' GAZETTE.
233. e. 58
ADDRESS. .. The undersigned Members of the House of Representatives,
to their respective Constituents.
- A Republick has for its basis the are,that the undersigned have undertaken, capacity and right of the people to govern this address. A subject of higher and themselves. A main principle of a repre. more immediate importance impels them sentative republick is the responsibility to the present duty. of the representatives 10 their consti, The momentous question of war, with Luents. Freedom and publicity of debate Great Britain, is decided. On this topick, are essential to the preservation of such so vital to your interests, the right of Eorms of government. Every arbitrary publick debate, in the face of the world, abridgment of the right of speech in re- and especially of their constituents, has presentatives, is a direct infringement of been denied to your representatives. They the liberty of the people. Every unne- have been called into secret session, on cessary concealment of their proceedings this most interesting of all your publick an approximation towards tyranny. When relations, although the circumstances of by systematick rules, a majority takes to the time and of the nation, afforded no itself the right, at its pleasure, of limit. one reason for secrecy, unless it be found ing speech, or denying it, altogether; in the apprehension of the effect of pubwhen secret sessions multiply; and in lick debate, on publick opinion; or of pube proportion to the importance of questions, lick opinion on the result of the vote. is the studious concealment of debate, a Except the message of the president people may be assured, that such prace of the United States, which is now be. cices continuing, their freedom is but fore the publick, nothing confidential was shortlived.
communicated. That message contained Reflections, such as these, have been no fact, not previously known. No one Forced upon the attention of the under. reason for war was intimated, but such signed, members of the house of repre- as was of a nature publick and notorious. sentatives of the United States, by the The intention to wage war and invade events of the present session of congress. Canada, had been long since openly avowThey have witnessed a principle, adopt. ed. The object of hostile menace had ed as the law of the house, by which, been ostentatiously announced. The inkinder a novel application of the previous adequacy of both our army and navy, for question, a power is assumed by the ma- successful invasion, and the insufficiency jority to deny the privilege of speech, at of the fortifications for the security of any stage, and under any circunstances our seaboard were every where known. of debate. And recently, by an unpre. Yet the doors of congress were shut upon Cedented assumption, the right to give the people. They have been carefully reasons for an original motion, has been kept in ignorance of the progress of meamade to depend upon the will of the ma- sules, until the purposes of administrajority.
tion were consummated, and the fate of Principles more liostile than these to the the country sealed. In a situation so exexistence of representative liberty, can- traordinary, the undersigned have deemed mot easily be conceived. It is not, how. it their duty by no act of theirs to sanction ever, on these accounts, weighty as they à procceding, so novel and arbitrary. On
the contrary, they made every attempt, the system, had become identified with in their power, to attain publicity for their the pride, the character, and the hope of proceedings. All such attempts were our cabinet. As is natural with men, vain. When this momentous, subject, who have a great stake depending on the was stated, as for debate; they demand. success of a favourite theory, pertinacity cd that the doors should be opened. seemed to increase as its hopelessness
This being refused, they declined diss, became apparent. As the inefficiency of cussion; being perfectly convinced, from this system could not be admitted, by its indications, too plain to be misunderstood advocates, without ensuring its ahandon. that, in the house, all argument, with ment, ill success was, carefully attributed closed doors, was hopeless; and that any to the influence of opposition. act, giving implied validity to so flagrant To this cause the people were taught an abuse of power, would be little less to charge its successive failures and not than treachery to the essential rights of to its intrinsiek imbecility. In this state a free people. In the situation, to which of things the undersigned deemed it prothe undersigned have thus been reduced, per, to take away all apology for adhe. they are compelled, reluctantly to resort rence to this oppressive system. They to this publick declaration of such views were desirous, at a period so critical in of the state and relations of the country, publick affairs, as far as was consistent as determined their judgment and vote with the independence of opinion, to upon the question of war. A measure contribute to the restoraiion of harmony of this kind has appeared to the under- in the publick councils, and concord signed to be more imperiously demand. among the people. And if any advaned! byl the circumstance of a , mes. tage could he thus obtained in our foreign sage and manifesto being prepared and relations, the undersigned, being encirculated at publick expense, in which gaged in no purpose of personal or party the causes for war were enumerated, and advancement, would rejoice, in such an the motives for it concentrated, in a man occurrence. ner suited to agitate and influence the The course of publick measures also publick mind. In executing this task it at the opening of the session, gave hope will be the study of the undersigned to that an enlarged & enlightened system of reconcile the great duty they owe to the defence, with provision for, or security of people, with that constitutional respect our maritime rights, was about to be comwhich is due to the administrators of pub- menced; a purpose, which, wherever lick concerns.
found, they deemed it their duty to foster, In commencing this view of our af. by giving, to any system of measures, fairs, the undersigned would fail in duty , thus comprehensive, as unobstructed a to themselves did they refrain from re- course as was consistent with their genecurring to the course, in relation to pub. ral sense of publick duty. After a course Tick measures, which they adopted, and of policy, thus liberal and conciliatory, have undeviatingly pursued, from the it was cause of regret that a communicacommencement of this long and eventful tion should have been purchased by an session; in which they deliberately sacri. unprecedented expenditure of secret serficed every minor consideration to what vice money; and used, by the chief mathey deemed the best interests of the gistrate, to disseminate suspicion and country.
jealously; and to excite resentment, For a succession of years the under- among the citizens, by suggesting impusigned have, from principle, disapproved tations against a portion of them, as a series of restrictions upon commerce, unmerited by their patriotism, as unwar. according to their estimation, inefficient ranted by evidence. as respected foreign nations, and injuri. It has always been the opinion of the ous, chiefly, to ourselves. Success, in undersigned, that a system of peace was
the policy, which most comported with complain, although in some aspects, very the character, condition, and interest of grievous to our interests, and in many the United States; that their remoteness humiliating to our pride, were yet of a from the theatre of contest, in Europe, nature which in the present state of the was their peculiar felicity and that noth- world, either would not justify war, or ing buta necessity, absolutely imperious, which war would not remedy. Thus, should induce them to enter as parties for instance the hovering of British vesinto wars, in which every consideration sels upon our coasts, and the occasional of virtue and policy seems to be forgot- insults to our ports, impcriously deman. ten, under the overbearing sway of rapa- ded such a systematick application of har. city and ambition. There is a new erą, bour and seacoast defence, as would rein human affairs. The European world pel such aggressions; but in no light, is convulsed. The advantages of our can they be considered as making a re. own situation are peculiar. « IVhy * quit sort to war, at the present time, on the our own to stand upon foreign ground ? part of the United States, either necessary Why, by interweaving our destiny with or expedient. So also, with respect to that of any part of Europe, entangle our the Indian war, of the origin of which, peace and prosperity in the toils of Euro. but very imperfect information has as pean ambition, rivalship, interest, hu, yet been given to the publick. Without mour, or caprice ?”
any express act of Congress, an expedi In addition to the many moral and pru. tion was last year, set on foot and dential considerations, which should de. prosecuted into Indian territory, which ter thoughtful men from hastening into had been relinquished by treaty, on the the perils of such a war, there were some part of the United States. And now peculiar to the United States, resulting we are told about the agency of British from the texture of the government and traders, as to Indian hostilities. It de. the political relations of the people. A serves consideration, whether there has form of government, in no small degree been such provident attention, as would experimental, composed of powerful and have been proper to remove any cause independent sovereignties associated in of complaint, eitber real or imaginary, relations, some of which are critical, as which the Indians might allege, and to well as novel, should not be hastily pre. secure their friendship. With all the cipitated into situations, calculated to put sympathy and anxiety excited by the to trial, the strength of the moral bond, state of that frontier; important as it by which they are united. Of all states, may be, to apply adequate means of prothat of war is most likely to call into tection, against the Indians, how is its activity the passions, which are hostile safety ensured by a declaration of war, and dangerous to such a form of govern. which adds the British to the number of ment. Time is yet important to our enemies? country to settle and mature its recent As " a decent respect to the opinion institutions. Above all, it appeared to of mankind” has not induced the two the undersigned from signs not to be houses of congress to concur in declarmistaken, that if we entered upon this ing the reasons, or motives, for their war, we did it as a divided people; not enacting a declaration of war, the underonly from a sense of the inadequacy of signed and lie publick are left to search, our means to success, but from moral and elsewhere, for causes either real, or os. political objections of great weight and tensible. If we are to consider the prevery general influence.
sident of the United States, and the comIt appears to the undersigned, that the mittee of the house of representatives, wrongs, of which the U. States have to on foreign relations, as speaking on this
solemn occasion, for congress, the Uni* Washington.
ted States have three principal topicks ot