« AnteriorContinuar »
need not expect, in case of such a war, that we should be suffered to participate of the profitable emoluments of the carrying trade, unless we were in a respectable situation. Recollect the last war. Was there ever a war in which the British nation stood opposed to so many nations ? All the belligerent powers in Europe, with nearly one half of the British empire, were united against it. Yet that nation, though defeated, and humbled beyond any previous example, stood out against this. From her firmness and spirit in such desperate circumstances, we may divine what her future conduct may be. I did not contend, that it was necessary for the United States to establish a navy for that sole purpose, but instanced it as one reason out of several, for rendering ourselves respectable. I am no friend to naval or land armaments in time of peace, but if they be necessary, the calamity must be submitted to. Weakness will invite insults. A respectable government will not only entitle us to a participation of the advantages which are enjoyed by other nations, but will be a security against attacks and insults. It is to avoid the calamity of being obliged to have large armaments, that we should establish this government. The best way to avoid danger, is to be in a capacity to withstand it.
The imposts, we are told, will not diminish, because the emigrations to the westward will prevent the increase of population. Gentlemen have reasoned on this subject justly, to a certain degree. I admit, that the imposts will increase till population becomes so great as to compel us to recur to manufactures. The period cannot be very far distant, when the unsettled parts of America will be inhabited. At the expiration of twenty-five years hence, I conceive, that in every part of the United States, there will be as great a popusation as there is now in the settled parts. We see already, that in the most populous parts of the union, and where there is but a medium, manufactures are beginning to be established. Where this is the case,
the amount of importations will begin to diminish. Although the imposts may even increase during the term of twenty-five years, yet when we are preparing a government for perpetuity, we ought to found it on permanent principles, and not on those of a temporary nature.
Holland is a favorite quotation with honorable members on the other side of the question. Had not their sentiments been discovered by other circumstances, I should have concluded from their reasonings on this occasion, that they were friends to the constitution. I should suppose, that they had forgotten which side of the question they were defending. Holland has been called a republic, and a government friendly to liberty. Though it may be greatly superior to some other governments in Europe, still it is not a republic, nor a democracy. Their legislature consists, in some degree, of men who legislate for life. Their councils consist of men who hold their offices for life, and who fill
up offices and appoint their salaries themselves. The people have no agency, mediate or immediate, in the government. If we look at their history, we shall find, that every mischief which has befallen them, has resulted from the existing confederacy. If the stadtholder has been productive of mischief-if we ought to guard against such a magistrate more than any evil, let me beseech the honorable gentleman to take notice of what produced that, and of those troubles which interrupted their tranquillity from time to time. The weakness of their confederacy produced both. When the French arms were ready to overpower their republic, and the Hollanders were feeble in the means of defence, which was principally owing to the violence of parties, they then appointed a stadtholder, who sustained them. If we look at more recent events, we shall have a more pointed demonstration, that their political infelicity arose from the imbecility of their government. In the late disorders, the states were almost equally divided, three provinces on one side, three on
the other, and the other divided: one party inclined to the Prussians, and the other to the French. The situation of France did not admit of their interposing immediately in their disputes by an army; that of the Prussians did. A powerful and large army marched into Holland and compelled the other party to surrender. We know the distressing consequences to the people. What produced those disputes and the necessity of foreign interference but the debility of their confederacy? We may be warned by their example, and shun their fate, by removing the causes which produced their misfortunes.
My honorable friend has referred to the transactions of the federal council with respect to the navigation of the Mississippi. I wish it was consistent with delicacy and prudence to lay a complete view of the whole matter before this committee. The history of it is singular and curious, and perhaps its origin ought to be taken into consideration. I will touch on some circumstances, and introduce nearly the substance of most of the facts relative to it, that I may not seem to shrink from explanation. It was soon perceived, sir, after the commencement of the war with Britain, that among the various objects that would affect the happiness of the people of America, the navigation of the Mississippi was one. Throughout the whole history of foreign negotiation, great stress was laid on its preservation. In the time of our greatest distresses, and particularly when the southern states were the scene of war, the southern states cast their eyes around to be relieved from their misfortunes. It was supposed that assistance might be obtained for the relinquishment of that navigation. It was thought that for so substantial a consideration, Spain might be induced to afford decisive succor.
It was opposed by the northern and eastern states. They were sensible that it might be dangerous to surrender this important right, particularly to the inhabitants of the western country. But so it was, that the southern states were for it, and the
eastern states opposed it. Since obtaining that happy pea re, which secures to us all our claims, this subject has been taken again into consideration, and deliberated upon in the federal government. A temporary relinquishment has been agitated. Several members from the different states, but particularly from the northern, were for a temporary surrender, because it would terminate disputes, and at the end of the short period for which it was to be given, the right would revert, of course, to those who had given it up. And for this temporary surrender some commercial advantages were offered. For my part, I considered that this measure, though founded on considerations plausible and honorable, was yet not justifiable but on grounds of inevitable necessity. I must declare, in justice to many characters who were in Congress, that they declared they never would agree to the measure, unless the situation of the United States was such as could not prevent it.
On the whole, I am persuaded that the adoption of this government will be favorable to the preservation of the right to that navigation. Emigrations will be made from those parts of the United States which are settled, to those which are unsettled. If we afford protection to the western country, we shall see it rapidly peopled. Emigrations from some of the northern states have lately increased. We may conclude, that those who emigrate to that country, will leave behind them all their friends and connexions as advocates for this right.
What was the cause of those states being the champions of this right, when the southern states were disposed to surrender it? The preservation of this right will be for the general interest of the union. The western country will be settled from the north as well as from the south, and its prosperity will add to the strength and security of the nation. I am not able to recollect all those circumstances which would be necessary to give gentlemen a full view of the subject. I
can only add, that I consider the establishment of the new government to be the best possible means of securing our rights as well in the western parts as elsewhere.
I will not sit down till I make one more observation on what fell from an honorable member. He said, that the true difference between the states, lies in this circumstance—that some are carrying states, and others productive, and that the operation of the new government will be, that there will be a plurality of the former to combine against the interest of the latter, and that consequently it will be dangerous to put it in their power to do so. I would join with him in sentiment, if this were the case. Were this within the bounds of probability, I should be equally alarmed; but I think that those states which are contradistinguished as carrying states, from the non-importing states, will be but few. I suppose the southern states will be considered by all, as under the latter description. Some other states have been mentioned by an honorable member on the same side, which are not considered as carrying states. New Jersey and Connecticut can by no means be enumerated among the carrying states. They receive their supplies through New York. Here then is a plurality of non-importing states. I could add another, if necessary. Delaware, though situated upon the water, is upon the list of non-carrying states. I might say that a great part of New Hampshire is so. I believe a majority of the people of that state receive their supplies from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Might I not add all those states which will be admitted hereafter into the union? These will be non-carrying states, and will support Virginia in case the carrying states should attempt to combine against the rest. This objection must therefore fall to the ground.*
* The preceding speech is composed of several delivered by Mr. Madison during the session of the convention.