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change of disposition in Great Britain, respecting war with the United States ? I believe not. Peace seems to be more important to Great Britain, at this moment, than at any time previously, during the whole period of the war. The nation is desirous of peace, and distressed for provisions. The combination, which indulged her presumptuous hopes, crumbled into dust.
Prussia is at peace with France, and almost at war with Great Britain. Spain is at peace with France, and hardly at peace with Great Britain. Holland is at peace and in alliance with France, and at war with Great Britain. Austria herself is almost exhausted, and desirous of peace; and the continuation of French exertions and successes has excited the admiration and astonishment of the world. Are these the circumstances which would justify apprehensions of war from Great Britain ? And are the United States to tremble at the sound of war from a nation thus circumstanced ? I trust not. And for what cause is this war to be produced ? Because the House of Representatives may deem it inexpedient to become the instrument of giving efficacy to a bad bargain.
I verily believe, that the alarm of war is not serious. I verily believe it is resorted to as an artificial instrument to effect a favorite object. For my part, I believe the hazard so small, as not to constitute an item in estimating the present question.
I believe, that Great Britain considers the United States as a more important commercial connexion, (particularly as it respects her views in the West Indies,) than some gentlemen seem to admit; and I believe also, that she views the United States more formidable as an enemy.
I infer these opinions from the avidity with which this treaty seems to have been received in that country, and particularly from an expression in the speech of the king at the late meeting of parliament. "Two reflections were strongly impressed upon my mind from that speech. The one, that the treaty is deemed a very advantageous one to
Great Britain, the other, that Great Britain has no appetite for war against the United States, in her present situation.
Hence, I cannot believe, that there is the least possible foundation for the suggestion of the fatal hostility of departments of government, or of war with Great Britain, as amongst the consequences resulting from a refusal to make the necessary provisions for giving efficacy to the treaty.
As the present treaty is incomplete, and as further negociations are stipulated in the treaty itself, and in the event of a decision either way, are expected; I think the most important consequences of the vote will be these. If the House should refuse to make the provisions for carrying the treaty into effect, the new negociations will commence without the concessions contained in the present treaty. If the provisions are made, the further negociations will proceed under the weight of the concessions already made, and very
little melioration of the present conditions can be expected, as the United States will have very little left to induce the melioration. And if no final adjustment of differences ensues, the United States will at least continue to possess all the rights attached to national sovereignty.
Much has been said, and much unnecessarily said, about intemperance and heats. I will appeal to the recollection of the committee, whether there ever was a more harmonious session than the present, until this treaty was introduced into the House; and, then, whether its opponents have not discovered at least as much coolness and deliberation as its advocates.
The treaty itself is the torch of discord, which has been unfortunately thrown into the United States, and it is extraordinary to observe, that those who have been most instrumental in introducing it, impute intemperance to others for a firm and decisive opposition to it. It is too much to suppose that the absolute sacrifice of opinion is an obligation due to the embarrassments, into which this treaty has thrown the United States.
Upon the whole, I conscientiously believe the treaty to be a bad one. I believe it contains the completest evidence of British interference in our internal affairs, and has laid the foundation for the further extension of British influence. It has restricted the exercise of some of the important rights of national sovereignty. It has voluntarily hazarded the neutrality of the United States in the present European war, and destroyed all pretensions to its character of impartiality. It has not afforded protection to our neutral rights, which is amongst its great objects; and, in the adjustment of the differences resulting from the inexecution of the treaty of peace, it is unequal and unjust. All these important circumstances considered, and when it is also considered, that the British persevere in impressing our seamen and seizing our vessels in violation of the clearest rights of neutral nations, even since the signing of the treaty, I cannot consent to be the instrument of giving it efficacy. I believe, that it is one of those extraordinary cases, which justify strong and extraordinary resistance.
SPEECH OF ALBERT GALLATIN.
THE BRITISH TREATY,
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED
STATES, APRIL 26, 1796.
In committee of the whole on the following Resolution, Resolved,
as the opinion of this committee, that it is expedient to pass the laws necessary for carrying into effect the treaty with Great Britain : Mr. Gallatin spoke as follows:
MR. CHAIRMAN, I will not follow some of the gentlemen, who have preceded me, by dwelling upon the discretion of the legislature; a question which has already been the subject of our deliberations, and been decided by a solemn vote. Gentlemen, who were in the minority on that question, may give any construction they please to the declaratory resolution of the House; they may again repeat, that to refuse to carry the treaty into effect, is a breach of the public faith, which they conceive as being pledged by the President and senate. This has been the ground on which a difference of opinion has existed since the beginning of the discussion. It is because the House thinks that the faith of the nation cannot, on those subjects submitted to the power of Congress, be pledged by any constituted authority other than the legislature, that they resolved, that, in all such cases, it is their right and duty to con
sider the expediency of carrying a treaty into effect. If the House think the faith of the nation already pledged, they cannot claim any discretion; there is no room left to deliberate upon the expediency of the thing. The resolution now under consideration, is merely “ that it is expedient to carry the British treaty into effect,” and not whether we are bound by national faith to do it. I will, therefore, consider the question of expediency alone; and thinking, as I do, that the House has full discretion on this subject, I conceive that there is as much responsibility in deciding in the affirmative, as in rejecting the resolution, and that we shall be equally answerable for the consequences that may follow from either.
It is, however, true, that there was a great difference between the situation of this country, in the year 1794, when a negociator was appointed, and that in which we are at present; and that consequences will follow the refusal to carry into effect the treaty in its present stage, which would not have attended a refusal to negociate, and to enter into such a treaty. The question of expediency, therefore, assumes before us a different and more complex shape, than when before the negociator, the senate, or the President. The treaty, in itself and abstractedly considered, may be injurious; it may be such an instrument as, in the opinion of the House, ought not to have been adopted by the Executive; and yet, such as it is, we may think it expedient, under the present circumstances, to carry it into effect. I will, therefore, first take a view of the provisions of the treaty itself, and in the next place, supposing it is injurious, consider, in case it is not carried into effect, what will be the natural consequences of such refusal.
The provisions of the treaty relate either to the adjustment of past differences, or to the future intercourse of the two nations. The differences, now existing between Great Britain and this country, arose either from non-execution of some articles of the trea