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rected the storm' of the most furious revolutions, compressed the elements of his science into one sententious maxim, “ words are things.'
But the distinction between offensive and defensive war has peculiar claims upon our recollection. So fatal is war to the best interests of the human family, that a tremendous responsibility always rests upon the nation that commences it. This responsibility attaches through all its stages, and is awfully increased into certain guilt by the neglect of any fair opportunity to restore the relations of peace. Besides, the consideration that the war was offensive in its origin—that consideration which emphatically creates the obligation to terminate its borrors as speedily as justice will permitwill frequently be found to present the greatest obstacles to efforts at reconciliation. The advocates for this war, vieing with each other in zeal for its justification and continuance, do not precisely agree in opinion, as to its causes, or as to the objects for which it is to be prosecuted.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania, who presides over your judiciary committee, (Mr. Ingersoll,) in an elaborate argument, seems desirous to prove, (I am not certain which,) either that the war is a consequence of the violation on the part of Great Britain of his favorite principle, 'free ships make free goods,' or is to result in the establishment of this principle. This comprehensive dogma the gentleman contends to be a part of the original unadulterated code of national law, consecrated by the treaty of Utrecht, strenuously asserted by Britain herself in her dispute with Spain, in the year 1737, recognized in her commercial treaty with France in 1786, and vitally essential to our maritime interests. The gentleman from Virginia, whom I yesterday heard with much pleasure, (Mr. Jackson,) dissents from his political friend, and declares that this maxim has never been asserted by our government, under any administration, as founded on the common law of nations. Although the gentleman from
Virginia, is in this respect unquestionably correct, yet it is not certain that the chairman of the judiciary committee, is altogether erroneous in attributing to the administration an expectation of establishing by this war some such theory. That the neutral flag shall protect all from capture is a very convenient doctrine for a nation frequently at war with an adversary of decidedly superior maritime strength. France who, with occasional short intervals, has been for centuries at war with England, has very naturally wished to incorporate this doctrine into the law of nations. Her imperial master has adopted it as one of the elementary principles of his new maritime code, which he solemnly promulgated in his decree of Berlin, of November 1806; and in support of which, he has used every violence and stratagem to array the nations of the world, into one great maritime confederacy. At least as early as the infamous Turreau's letter of June, 1809, the executive of this country was perfectly apprized of such a confederacy, of the purposes which it was to uphold, and of the determination of France to bribe or compel our accession to it. The decree of the great protector of the confederacy, of the date of April, 1811, though probably not issued till May, 1812, announced in language sufficiently distinct, that this claim had been so far complied with on our part, as to exempt from the further application of the penalties of disobedience. And our declaration of war, against the sole recusant of this imperial theory, was proclaimed by Napoleon to his senate, as a spirited and generous exertion, to vindicate the new religion of the flag which, like the superstition of the sanctuary, was to protect every fraud and shelter every crime. Extravagant, therefore, as the positions of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, may be thought by the far greater part of this committee, they may have more countenance from the administration, than is generally suspected; and on this account, njay deserve a rapid and iransient examination.
The assertion that by the general law of nations, the character of the vessel gives a character to the goods is unequivocally denied. The actual reverse of the assertion is maintained by jurists generally, with harmony
that forbids doubt. Instead of detailing these opinions separately, permit me to give the language of one who wished well to the gentleman's doctrine, who had often carefully explored the musty volumes of national law, and was never apt to carry his admissions beyond the line which candor prescribed. Mr. Jefferson in his letter to Genet, of 24th July, 1793, expresses
himself thus: “I believe it cannot be doubt. ed, but that by the general law of nations, the goods of a friend in the vessel of an enemy are free, and the goods of an enemy found in the vessel of a friend are lawful prize. It is true that sundry nations, desirous of avoiding the inconveniences of having their vessels stopped at sea, ransacked, carried into port, and detained under pretences of having goods on board, have in many instances, introduced another principle between them, that enemy bottoms shall make enemy goods, and that friendly bottoms shall make friendly goods; a principle much less embarrassing to commerce, and equal to all parties in point of gain or loss; but this is altogether the effect of particular treaty, controlling in special cases the general principles of the law of nations, and therefore, taking effect between such nations only as have agreed to control it."
If the gentleman will examine the treaties to which he has adverted, the commercial treaty of Utrecht, between England and France, (which, by the bye, the house of commons refused to sanction, and the subsequent treaty of Mr. Pitt, in 1786, he will find the language on this head unequivocal. The arrangement is declared to be made with a view to prevent the embarrassments and dissentions that would arise without such an arrangement; or, in other words, from the application of the principles of the common law of nations. Nor is it at all strange, that Britain, in a com
mercial treaty, from which she expected to derive inmense advantage, should acquiesce in such an arrangement as between her and France. For it is obvious that no practical effect would result from it, except when one was at peace and the other at war. And such a state of things has so rarely happened, that its occurrence might be numbered among political impossibilities. The “ no search” clamor in England of 1737, which the gentlemen have produced the parliamentary debates to prove, had about as much to do with the belligerent right to capture enemy's property conveyed in neutral ships, as the “ no search” cry made about thirty years afterwards, in the case of John Wilkes and general warrants. The dispute of 1737, with Spain, grew out of a municipal claim asserted by that government, and of the rigorous practice of their Guarda Costas to search British vessels hovering on the coasts of the Spanish colonies for prohibited articles designed to be smuggled into them. A claim said to be repugnant to the treaty of Seville, and certainly very inconvenient to the illicit trade between Jamaica and the Spanish main; and a practice enforced with all that barbarity which usually characterizes the minions of custom-house and revenue tyrants. How far the establishment of the gentleman's project would be beneficial to this country is, perhaps, not so clear. At a time when we had no capital to afford employment to our navigation, it certainly would have been advantageous. But, since that period has passed away, the most enlightened commercial men will tell you, they wish for no such innovation. Its effect would be, to give us, when neutrals, the benefit of being among the carriers of the commodities of the weaker maritime belligerent for freight. But the effect of the old principle is to give us the profit which results, not merely from the carriage, but the purchase and resales of these commodities, with almost a monopoly in either market.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania has assigned another cause for the war, in which he has obtained the
concurrence of several of his friends—the instigation, by the British government, of Indian wars. Although, sir, this theme of popular declamation has almost become trite; although the tomahawk and the scalping knife have been so often brandished with rhetorical ambidexterity, that their exhibition almost ceases to excite interest, yet far be it from me to think or speak lightly of the cruelties of savage warfare, or to conceal my utter abhorrence and detestation of them. But it is a different, very different question, whether the Canadians have armed the Indians to join in defence against a common invader, or had, previously to war, instigated them to hostilities against us. This last charge I do not believe-no evidence has been given to warrant it, that I have yet heard. Over the affair of Tippecanoe, the commencement of Indian war, there hovers a mystery which ought to be dissipated, but which the government will not dispel. I have sought, honestly sought, for information. Of official there is little or none. From private sources, not likely, in this respect, to mislead, (for they are friendly to this war, and connected with the western interest and feeling,) I learn, that the great cause of Indian hostilities is to be found where experience and history would prompt us to look for it-is to be found in our cupidity for their lands, and their jealousy and distrust of our superior intelligence and force. Indian wars have been, until a few years back, almost uninterrupted in this country, both before and since the revolution. They need no other instigations than are to be found in the inconsistent views, interests, claims, passions and habits of neighboring, yet distinct races of people.
Sir, general Harrison's treaty of November, 1809, was the mine of the great Indian explosion. The Indians complained, I know not how justly, that in that treaty they were cheated of lands which the parties to it had no right to convey, and never meant to convey. There are gentlemen in this legislature who know that Tecumseh immediately afterwards avowed his fixed purpose to vindicate by force and by a union of the