« AnteriorContinuar »
ble adjustment should be resorted to; and demand of reparaa tion should precede actual hostility. I will even say, that were the Spaniards to cross the Mississippi at the Falls of St. Anthony, and build a fort on our side of the river, place a garrison in it, and thus actually invade our territory; in my opi. nion we ought to negociate and demand explanations before we sent troops to demolish the fort. Although the act would justify the immediate use of force, yet the station is so remote, and of so little importance in the use of it, that friendly means might be safely and wisely resorted to in the first instance.
Quitting Europe, the gentleman exultingly appeals to the usages of our own country, in cases which he alledges were either similar to, or stronger than the present. The name of WASHINGTON is introduced to silence all further dispute on this question! Sir, I reverence the authority of that great man's official conduct. He was the father of his country, the terror of its enemies, and the ornament of human nature. He is now gone to mix with the heroes and sages of other times and nations, in a happier world ; but it was easily foreseen that those who seldom agreed with him in his life, would be the first after his death, to fly for shelter to his example, when overtaken by calamity or misfortune! That man led the armies of this country to victory....to independence. He knew better than any man the interests, the feelings, the dispositions of the people. He witnessed the origin and progress of complaints on both sides respecting the inexecution of the treaty of peace between us and Great Britain. We justly reproached them with detention of the western posts, and their refusal to deliver our slaves, as stipulated by ,treaty: They replied that we did not pay them our old debts. These disputes became the subject of negociation, under the old confederation, and we had a minister in that country who attempted an amicable adjustment. When general WASHINGTON came to the head of our present government, he sent another minister to that country, and while he was endeavouring a peaceable accommodation, a storm broke out in France, which soon spread beyond its own boundaries, and involved the neighbouring nations in war. The rulers of France, wishing to engage us in their quarrel, sent a minister to this country with express instructions to embroil us, if possible, in this desolating war. Unfortunately that minister possessed abilities and a disposition well adapted to such a mission. He landed in a part of our country remote from the seat of government, and instantly began to issue his commissions to our Hence the talk of Lord Dorchester to the Indians, and the other aggressions on the western frontier, which, however unjustifiable, were not altogether without provocation.
In the meanwhile, the French minister increased in his activity and boldness of enterprise, under the very eye of our government ; he multiplied his complaints against the executive, and his caresses and professions upon the people, until at last, confident in his numbers and support, he set the President at defiance, and threatened an appeal to the people. At that awful crisis of delusion, WASHINGTON came forward, Moses like, and put himself in the gap between the pestilence and the people. He demanded the minister's recal; he was recalled....He arrested the hands of our citizens who were armed to plunder in time of peace....He enforced the observation of the rules of justice and neutrality. When these things. became known in England, they produced a revocation of the orders to plunder our merchants. But the havoc and destruction had been dreadful ; we were highly and justly incensed, the blood of both nations was up.... It had scarcely cooled, and was easily roused to be ready for war. If the British had not recalled their orders of November, 1793, we undoubtedly should have instantly gone to war. It would have been unavoidably, nay, absolutely necessary. But when the revocation of those orders was known here, our President considered that our own conduct had not been perfectly regular; there was some cause of complaint against us, in the midst of all the just complaints we had against the British cruisers ; there were also old differences, which had created great uneasiness between the two countries. In the recent causes of quarrel, we had been the first, in suffering improper acts to be done by a foreign agent within our own territory, which we ought to have prevented as neutrals. Under all these circumstances, being already engaged in an Indian war, he resolved to try negociation: An envoy extracrdinary was accordingly sent. or How does all this apply to the present case? There had been old, unsettled differences, with England; ours with Spain were settled by the treaty of 1795. There were horrible spoliations upon our trade by Britain, but we had permitted acts towards them, with which we were obliged to reproach ourselves. Spain has also spoiled our commerce, and to an immense extent, without provocation. For that, the case of England would say negociate, and we have actually been negociating. But had England blockaded your harbours, had
she shut out half a million of your people from access to the ocean, had she closed up the Chesapeake or the Delaware, would there have been negociation ? No. You would, you must have had immediate war. Such an invasion of the sovereignty and independence of the country would have left no hesitation in the mind of any man ; but fortunately as our affairs then stood, we were not obliged to resort to hostilities. The man of high talents who undertook to negociate, succeeded in forming a treaty between the two countries. Such, however, were the passions of the times, that the negociator was grossly calumniated. The treaty was opposed by the formidable array of all the artillery of popular opinion, organized in town meetings, played off along the coast from Boston to Charleston, under the direction of the ablest engineer in this country. Public opinion was again shaken, but finally peace was preserved, the treaty went fairly into execution, and even the negociator was elected their governor, by the people of his own state, where he presided for a long time, with honour to himselt, and infinite advantage to the interests and peace of the society ; until at length he retired from public life, leaving an example which will always be useful for imitation, and serve at the same time, as a severe reproof to those who may materially depart from it.
Our differences and negociations with England, then, furnished an interesting and serious view of the course we have taken in troublesome times, but certainly do not present any thing like the present case. For although they actually held our western posts and built a new fort at the foot of the rapids of Miami, yet, we had never been in possession of those posts....we had not purchased the country from the Indians.... we had no settlements near it....no great portion of our citizens were obstructed or cut off from the free exercise of their rights ; and there were mutual complaints, perhaps mutual enquiries, between the parties, which seemed to require negociation as the only mode in which they could ever be terminated.
Next comes our difference with Spain. To this it may be answered briefly....that we made a treaty with that power: difficulties arose respecting the execution of that treaty; we had not then been in the possession or exercise of the rights claim. ed under the treaty. The Spaniards delayed and evaded the execution, in a very unjustifiable manner. But the administration of that day did not rely upon negociation alone ; they ordered troops to the Ohio, and had the Spaniards persisted