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which their conquest and ruin will have, not only upon the people of those colonies, but upon themselves; and their own liberties and constitution. And above all, what I know will seem strange to some of those who hear me, they will not forget to apply to a case occurring between nations, as far as is practicable, that heaven-descended rule, which the great author and founder of their religion has given them, for the regulation of their conduct towards each other. They will consider it the duty of these United States, to act towards those colonies, as they would wish those colonies to act in exchange of circumstances, towards these United States.
The actual condition of those colonies, and the relation in which they stood to the United States, antecedent to the declaration of war, were of this nature. Those colonies had no connexion with the questions in dispute between us and their parent state. They had done us no injury. They meditated none to us. Between the inhabitants of those colonies and the citizens of the United States, the most friendly, and mutually useful intercourse subsisted. The borderers, on this, and those on the other side of the St. Lawrence, and of the boundary line, scarcely realized that they were subjects of different governments. They interchanged expressions and acts of civility. Intermarriages took place among them. The Canadian sometimes settled in the United States. Sometimes our citizens emigrated to Canada. After the declaration of war, had they any disposition to assail us ? We have the reverse, expressly, in evidence. They desired nothing so much as to keep perfect the then subsisting relations of amity. Would the conquest of those colonies, shake the policy of the British cabinet? No man has shown it. Unqualified assertions, it is true, have been made, but totally unsupported by any evidence, or even the pretence of argument. On the contrary, nothing was more obvious, than that an invasion of Canada inust strengthen the ministry of Great
Britain, by the excitement and sympathy, which would be occasioned, in the people of that country, in consequence of the sufferings of the innocent inhabitants of those colonies, on account of a dispute, in which they had no concern, and of which they had scarcely a knowledge. All this was anticipated. All this was frequently urged to this House, at the last and preceding sessions, as the necessary effect of such a measure. The event has justified those predictions. The late elections in Great Britain, have terminated in the complete triumph of the friends of the British ministry. In effecting this change, the conduct of these United States in relation to Canada, has had, undeniably, a mighty influence, by the disgust and indignation, felt by the British people, at a step so apparently wanton and cruel.
As there was no direct advantage to be hoped from the conquest of Canada, so also there was none incidental. Plunder there was none.
At least none, which would pay the cost of the conquest. Glory there was none. Could seven millions of people obtain glory, by precipitating themselves upon half a million and trampling them into the dust ? A giant obtain glory, by crushing a pigmy! That giant must have a pigmy's spirit, who could reap, or hope, glory from such an achievement.
Surely a people, with whom we were connected by so many natural and adventitious ties, had some claims upon our humanity. Surely, if our duty required that they and theirs should be sacrificed to our interests, or our passions, some regret mingled in the execution of the purpose. We postponed the decree of ruin, until the last moment. "We hesitated—we delayed, until longer delay was dangerous. Alas! sir, there was nothing of this kind, or character, in the conduct of the cabinet. The war had not yet been declared, when Gen. Hull had his instructions to put in train, the work of destruction. There was an eagerness for the blood of the Canadians, a headlong precipitation for
their ruin, which indicated any thing else, rather than feelings of humanity, or visitings of nature, on account of their condition. Our armies were on their march for their frontier, while yet peace existed between this country and the parent state; and the invasion was obstinately pursued, after a knowledge that the chief ground of controversy was settled, by the abandonment of the British orders in council; and after nothing remained but a stale ground of dispute, which, however important in itself, was of a nature, for which no man has ever yet pretended, that for it alone, war would have been declared. Did ever one government exhibit, towards any people, a more bloody and relentless spirit of rancor? Tell not me of petty advantages, of remote and possibly useful contingencies, which might arise from the devastation of those colonies. Show any advantage, which justifies that dreadful vial of wrath, which, if the intention of the American cabinet had been fulfilled, would, at this day, have been poured out upon the heads of the Canadians. It is not owing to the tender mercies of the American administration, if the bones of the Canadians, are not, at this hour, mingled with the ashes of their habitations. It is easy enough to make an excuse for any purpose. When a victim is destined to be immolated, every hedge presents sticks for the sacrifice. The lamb, who stands at the mouth of the stream, will always trouble the water, if you take the account of the wolf, who stands at the source of it. But show a good to us, bearing any proportion to the multiplied evils, proposed to be visited upon them. There is none. Never was there an invasion of any country worse than this, in point of moral principle, since the invasion of the West Indies by the buccaneers, or that of these United States, by Captain Kidd. Indeed both Kidd and the buccaneers had more apology, for their deed, than the American cabinet. They had at least the hope of plunder. But, in this case, there is not even the poor refuge of cupidity. We have heard great lamentations
about the disgrace of our arms on the frontier. Why, sir, the disgrace of our arms, on the frontier, is terrestrial glory, in comparison with the disgrace of the attempt. The whole atmosphere rings,
with the utterance, from the other side of the house, of this word
glory”—“ glory,” in connexion with this invasion. What glory? Is it the glory of the tyger, which lifts his jaws, all foul and bloody, from the bowels of his victim, and roars for his companions of the wood, to come and witness his prowess and his spoils ? Such is the glory of Gengis Khan and of Bonaparte. Be such glory far, very far, from my country. Never,never may it be accursed, with such fame.
" Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
May such fame as this, be my country's meed!
But the wise and thoughtful people of our northern section will not confine their reflections to the duties which result from the actual condition of those colonies, and their general relations to the United States; they will weigh the duties the people of the United States owe to themselves, and contemplate the effect which the subjugation of those Canadians will have upon our own liberties and constitution. Sir, it requires but little experience in the nature of the human character, and but a very limited acquaintance with the history of man, to be satisfied, that with the conquest of the Canadas, the liberties and constitution of this country perish.
Of all nations in the world, this nation is the last which ought to admit among its purposes the design of foreign conquests. States, such as are these, connected by ties so peculiar, into whose combination there
enters, necessarily, numerous jealousies and fears ; whose interests are not always reconcileable, and the passions, education and character of whose people, on many accounts, are repugnant to each other; with a constitution made merely for defence; it is impossible that an association of independent sovereignties, standing in such relations to each other, should not have the principles of its union and the hopes of its constitution, materially affected by the collection of a large military force; and its employment, in the subjugation of neighboring territories. It is easy to see, that an army, collected in such a state of society, as that which exists in this country, where wages are high, and subsistence easily to be obtained, must be composed, so far as respects the soldiery, for the most part, of the refuse of the country; and, as it respects the officers, with some honorable exceptions indeed, must consist, in a considerable degree, of men desperate, sometimes in fortune, at others in reputation 1; “ choice spirits,” men“ tired of the dull pursuits of civil life,” who have not virtue or talents to rise in a calm and settled state of things, and who, all other means of advancement or support wanting, or failing, take to the sword. A body of thirty or fifty thousand such men combined, armed and under a popular leader, is a very formidable force. They want only discipline and service, to make them veterans. Opportunity to acquire these, Canada will afford. The army, which advances to the walls of Quebec, in the present condition of Canadian preparation, must be veteran. And a veteran army, under a popular leader, flushed with victory, each individual realizing, that while the body remains combined, he may be something, and possibly very great—that if dissolved, he sinks into insignificance, will not be disbanded by vote. They will consult with one another, and with their beloved chieftain, upon this subject, and not trouble themselves about the advice of the old people, who are knitting and weaving in the chimney cor