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administration of a citizen, who, by a long course of great actions, regulated by prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, conducting a people, inspired with the same virtues, and animated with the same ardent patriotism and love of liberty, to independence and peace, to increasing wealth and unexampled prosperity, has merited the gratitude of his fellow-citizens, commanded the highest praises of foreign nations, and secured immortal glory with posterity.
In that retirement, which is his voluntary choice, may he long live to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, the gratitude of mankind; the happy fruits of them to himself and the world, which are daily increasing, and that splendid prospect of the future fortunes of his country, which is opening from year to year. His name may be still a rampart, and the knowledge that he lives, a bulwark against all open or secret enemies of his country's peace.
This example has been recommended to the imitation of his successors, by both Houses of Congress, and by the voice of the legislatures and the people, throughout the nation.
On this subject it might become me better to be silent, or to speak with diffidence; but, as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology, if I venture to say, that-if a preference, upon principle, of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it, until it shall be altered by the judgments and wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual states, and a constant caution and delicacy towards the state governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interests, honor, and happiness of all the states in the union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, eastern or western position, their various political opinions on essential points, or their
personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life, in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but, as the only means of preserving our constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, profligacy, and corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice and humanity, in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufactures for necessity, convenience, and defence; if a spirit of equity and humanity towards the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition, by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them: if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe, which has been adopted by the government, and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress, and applauded by the legislatures of the states and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship, which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America, and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause, and remove every colorable pretence, of complaint; if an intention to pursue, by amicable negociation, a reparation for the injuries, that have been committed on
the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever nation; and if success cannot be obtained, to lay the facts before the legislature, that they may consider, what further measures the honor and interest of the government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice, as far as may depend upon me, at all times, and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship and benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived ; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country, and of my own duties towards it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured but exalted by experience and age, and with humble reverence I feel it my duty to add--if a veneration for the religion of a people, who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me, in any degree, to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor, that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.
With this great example before me; with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest of the same American people, pledged to support the constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy; and my mind is prepared without hesitation, to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it, to the utmost of my power.
And may that Being, who is supreme over all, the patron of order, the fountain of justice, and the protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue his blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration, consistent with the ends of his providence.
SPEECH OF ROBERT G. HARPER,
NECESSITY OF RESISTING THE AGGRESSIONS AND
ENCROACHMENTS OF FRANCE,
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
UNITED STATES, MAY 29, 1797.
In 1797, the French Directory refused to receive Mr. Pinckney,
the minister of the United States, under such circumstances that the President deemed it advisable to call a special session of Congress to take the subject into consideration. He accordingly issued a proclamation convoking Congress; and in his message, communicated at the opening of the session, he expressed, in strong terms of disapprobation, his sense of the indignity offered to the United States by the Directory.
An address was moved in the House of Representatives, responding the sentiments of the President. An amendment, however, was proposed, expressive of an opinion that the House viewed the conduct of the Directory as less reprehensible than it had been represented by the President, and recommending conciliatory measures as the basis of the
negociations about to be entered into with France. The amendment being under consideration in committee of the
whole, Mr. Harper delivered the following speech :
MR. CHAIRMAN, At the time the interruption took place on Saturday, by the unfortunate indisposition of the speaker, I had drawn near to the close of those observations, with which at that time, I intended to trouble the committee. I shall now resume, as nearly as possible, the same train of remarks, and bring them to a conclusion as speedily as possible. As more time, however, is now afforded to me, I will take a range somewhat more extensive than I had prescribed to myself on the
former day, endeavoring, at the same time, to avoid every thing, not strictly relative to the question on the amendment, now under consideration.
[Mr. Harper here observed, that he should go a little out of his way, in order to notice and refute some positions laid down by gentlemen in favor of the amendment, which, though wholly irrelevant to the present question, would have a tendency, if allowed to pass uncontradicted, to render the people discontented with the government. Having concluded his remarks upon this subject, he proceeded thus :)
The scope and object of this amendment is to recommend it to the President, to offer certain concessions to France, in the negociations which he has declared it his intention to commence.
These concessions, are understood to relate to the list of contraband, which is more extensive, as stated by the British treaty, than in that with France; and to the right of taking enemies' goods out of neutral ships, which Britain enjoys, and France by her treaty with us has given up. In these two points it is the scope and object of the amendment to recommend, that the two nations should be placed on the same footing. Hence the amendment is to be considered under two points of view; first, the recommendation itself; and secondly, the thing recommended.
As to the recommendation itself, I ask, is it constitutional—is it useful-is it politic?
With respect to its constitutionality, every body knows, that the power of negociation is given wholly to the President by the constitution, and that of making treaties to the President and senate. Can the House of Representatives control or direct that power? Can it instruct the President in matters, which the constitution has entrusted solely and exclusively to his judgment? Shall it undertake to instruct him— will he be bound to obey those instructions ? Should he think fit to pursue a different course, will the House be justified by the constitution and their duty in with