Imágenes de páginas

sents itself in a very serious light indeed; especially if the doctrine be resorted to, that has been laid down by the executive in the letter of Mr. Jefferson, then secretary of state, to Mr. Pinckney, on the 7th of September, 1793. This letter is a comment on the British instructions of June the 8th, 1793, for seizing neutral provisions. After stating the measure as a flagrant breach of the law of nations, and as ruinous to our commerce and agriculture, it has the following paragraph. “ This act too, tends to draw us from that state of peace in which we are willing to remain. It is an essential character of neutrality to furnish no aids not stipulated by treaty”-that is, sir, by a treaty made prior to the war-“to one party, which we are not equally ready to furnish to the other. If we permit corn to be sent to Great Britain and her friends, we are equally bound to permit it to be sent to France. To restrain it would be a partiality that must lead to war; and between restraining it ourselves, and permiting her enemies to restrain it unrightfully, there is no difference. She would consider it as a mere pretext, of which she certainly would not agree to be the dupe ; and on what honorable ground could we otherwise explain it? Thus we should see ourselves plunged, by this unauthorized act of Great Britain into a war, with which we meddle not, and which we wish to avoid, if justice to all parties, and from all parties, will enable us to avoid it.” Sir, I entreat the committee to give this very interesting executive document all the attention which it demands, and which they have in their power to bestow.

I am now, sir, come to that article of the treaty by which the sequestration of British property is prohibited; upon which I must say, that though I should, in all probability, be one of the last men existing, to have recourse to such an expedient for redress, I cannot approve of a perpetual and irrevocable abandonment of a defensive weapon, the existence of which may render the use of it unnecessary. Sir, there is an extra

ordinary peculiarity in the situation of this country, as it stands in its relations to Great Britain. As we have no fleets or armies, to command a respect for our rights, we ought to keep in our own hands all such means as our situation gives us. This article, sir, is another instance of the very little regard that has been paid to reciprocity. It is well known, that British subjects now have, and are likely always to have in this country, a vast quantity of property of the kind made sacred. American citizens, it is known, have little, and are likely to have little of the kind in Great Britain. If a real reciprocity was intended, why are not other kinds of private property, such as vessels and their cargoes, equally protected against violation? These, even within the jurisdiction of Great Britain, are left open to seizure and sequestration, if Great Britain shall find it expedient; and why is not property on the high seas, under the protection of the law of nations, which is said to be a part of the law of the land, made secure by a like stipulation ? This would have given a face of equality and reciprocity to the bargain. But nothing of the sort makes a part of it. Where Great Britain has a particular interest at stake, the treaty watchfully provides for it; when the United States have an equal interest at stake, and equally entitled to protection, it is abandoned to all the dangers which it has experienced.

Having taken this brief review of the positive evils in this part of the treaty, I might add the various omissions, which are chargeable upon it: but, as I shall not pretend to exhaust the subject, I will mention only one, and that is, the utterly neglecting to provide for the exhibition of sea papers; and, I cannot help regarding this omission as truly extraordinary, when I observe that in almost every modern treaty, and particularly in all our other treaties, an article on this subject has been regularly inserted. Indeed it has become almost an article of course in the treaties of the present century

I shall now, sir, consider the aspect in which the commercial articles of this treaty present themselves for consideration. In the free intercourse stipulated between the United States and Great Britain, it cannot be pretended that any advantage is gained by the former. A treaty is surely not necessary to induce Great Britain to receive our raw materials and to sell us her manufactures. Let us, on the other hand, consider what is given up by the United States.

It is well known that when our government came into operation, the tonnage of America, employed in the British trade, bore a very inconsiderable proportion to the British tonnage. There being nothing on our side to counteract the influence of capital and other circumstances on the British side, that disproportion was the natural state of things. As some small balance to the British advantages, and particularly that of her capital, our laws have made several regulations in favor of our shipping, among which is the important encouragement resulting from the difference of ten per centum in the duties paid by American and foreign vessels. Under this encouragement, the American tonnage has increased in a very respectable degree of proportion to the British tonnage." Great Britain has never deemed it prudent to frustrate or diminish the effects of this, by attempting any countervailing measures for her shipping; being aware, no doubt, that we could easily preserve the difference by further measures on our side: but by this treaty, she has reserved to herself the right to take such countervailing measures against our existing regulations, and we have surrendered our right to pursue further defensive measures against the influence of her capital. It is justly to be apprehended, therefore, that under such a restoration of things to their former state, the Amèrican tonnage will relapse into its former disproportion to the British tonnage.

Sir, when I turn my attention to that branch of the subject which relates to the West Indies, I see still



greater , cause for astonishment and dissatisfaction. As the treaty now stands, Great Britain is left as free, as she ever has been, to continue to herself and her shipping, the entire monopoly of the intercourse. Recollecting, as I do, and as every member of the committee must do, the whole history of this subject, from the peace of 1783, through every subsequent stage of our independence, down to the mission of the late envoy, I find it impossible, adequately to express my astonishment, that any treaty of commerce should ever have been acceded to, that so entirely abandoned the very object for which alone such a treaty could have been contemplated; I never could have believed that the time was so near, when all the principles, claims and calculations, which have heretofore prevailed among all classes of people, in every part of the union, on this interesting point, were to be so completely renounced. A treaty of commerce with Great Britain, excluding a reciprocity for our vessels in the West India trade, is a phenomenon which fills me with more surprise than I know how to express.

I may be told, perhaps, that in the first place, Great Britain grants to no other nation the privilege granted to the United States of trading at all with her West Indies, and that, in the second place, this is an important relaxation of the colonial system established among the nations of Europe. To the first of these observations, I reply, that no other nation bears the same relation to the West Indies as the United States; that the supplies of the United States are essential to those islands; and that the trade with them has been permitted purely on that account, and not as a beneficial privilege to the United States.

To the second, I reply, that it is not true, that the colony system requires an exclusion of foreign vessels from the carrying trade between the colonies and foreign countries. On the contrary, the principle and practice of the colony system are, to prohibit, as much as may be convenient, all trade between the colonies

and foreign countries; but when such a trade is permitted at all, as necessary for the colonies, then to allow the vessels of such foreign countries a reciprocal right of being employed in the trade. Great Britain has accordingly restrained the trade of her islands with this country, as far as her interest in them will permit. But, has she allowed our vessels the reciprocal right to carry on the trade so far as it is not restrained ? -No such thing. Here she enforces a monopoly in her own favor, contrary to justice, and contrary to the colonial system of every European nation that possesses any colonies; none of whom, without a single exception, ever open a trade between their colonies and other countries, without opening it equally to vessels on both sides. This is evidently nothing more than strict justice. A colony is a part of an empire. If a nation choose, she may prohibit all trade between a colony and a foreign country, as she may between any other part of her dominions and a foreign country; but if she permit such a trade at all, it must be free to vessels on both sides, as well in the case of colonies as of any other part of her dominions. Great Britain has the same right to prohibit foreign trade between London and the United States, as between Jamaica and the United States; but if no such prohibition be made with respect to either, she is.equally bound to allow foreign vessels a common right with her own in both. If Great Britain were to say, that no trade whatever should be carried on between London and the United States, she would exercise a right of which we could not reasonably complain. If she were to say, that no American vessels should be employed in the trade, it would produce just complaints, and justify a reciprocal regulation as to her vessels. The case of the trade from a port in the West Indies is precisely similar.

In order that the omission of the treaty to provide a reciprocity for our vessels in the West India trade, may be placed in its true light, it will be proper to attend to another part of the treaty, which ties up the

« AnteriorContinuar »