Gambar halaman

quire a military strength and a pecuniary expenditure not less continued or less in amount than were demanded to take it. Such a conquest is never finished; when nominally effected, it is to be begun. But we will incorporate it into the union-Aye, this would be indeed a pleasant result. Let my southern friends—let gentlemen who represent slave-holding states attend to this. How would this project take at home? What would their constituents give to have half a dozen new states made out of the Canadas ? It is besides, so notable an expedient for strengthening the nation, and so perfectly in accordance with the principles of our form of government. We are to force men into an association the very life of which is freedom, and the breath of that life unrestrained choice! And to give vigor to the nation, we are to admit into its councils, and into a free participation of its power, men whose dislike of its government has been strengthened into abhorrence by the exasperations of war, and all whose affections are fixed upon its enemy! But at all events you are to keep the Canadas. What then, will you do about sailors' rights! You will not be a jot nearer to them then than you are now-How will you procure them or seek to procure them? Will you then begin in good earnest to protect or obtain them by naval means? Would it not be advisable to attend to this declared object of the war now, rather than wait until after the Canadian scheme is effected!

Perhaps you mean to keep Canada and abandon sailors' rights. If so, why not avow to the people that it is conquest you fight for and not right? But perhaps it is designed, when the conquest is effected, to give it back to Britain as an equivalent for the cessation, on her part of some maritime right—for the privilege that our ships shall not be searched for British sailors. On this question you may make an arrangement practically securing all we ought now to contend for. You will, I hope, make it in the pending negotiation. But that by a surrender of Canada after it is conquered you may purchase from her a disavowal

or relinquishment of the right, no man can believe who understands either the views or the prejudices of that people. They believe the right essential to their naval existence, to deter their seamen from general desertion. All classes in that country so regard itwe know there is not a difference of opinion among any description of politicians in the kingdom upon this subject. If they have any jealousy of you, (and I believe some of them have,) it is not a jealousy of your territorial extent, but of your fitness to become their commercial and naval rival. Can it be believed then that they would compromise in a surrender of a claim, which, surrendered, in their judgment, weakens them, and invigorates you where alone they are apprehensive of a competition, for the sake of preventing an accession to your territory which extends your limits, while it takes away from your strength ? Indulge no such delusion; were Canada a thousand times more important to Britain than it is, it were yet of less value than her naval power. For the sake of it she would never yield a principle on which that naval power depends. No, sir, the return of conquered Canada, even with the hoped for agency in your favor of the Russian emperor, would not weigh a feather in the scale against what she deems her

first great national interest. As it regards too these fancied exertions of Russia in our favor, gentlemen surely deceive themselves. However attached Russia may be to the most liberal principles of commercial intercourse, she never will array herself against the right of the sovereign to compel the services of his seafaring subjects. On this head her policy is not less rigorous, (to say the least,) than that of England. I will not be more particular. A short time will probably show the grounds of my belief.

But, sir, among the reasons for prosecuting the invasion of Canada, one has been gravely stated of a very peculiar kind. Canada, says a gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun,) should be invaded to protect our frontiers and seaboard from invasion-it

is the most economicaland effectual method of defence. Although this consideration presents nothing very splendid to our view, yet it would be worth all other reasons for the invasion if it were founded on fact. But ask the people on your frontiers and on your seaboard, and what will they say? They will tell you, that it is the invasion of Canada alone which endangers them. The most effectual defence to them would be an abandonment of your scheme. Sir, an invasion of the United States, but for the purpose of diverting your forces from Canada or retorting on you the distresses of war, cannot enter into the scheme of British or Canadian policy. It is not to be prosecuted, but at vast inconvenience and expense, with great loss of useful soldiers, under a certainty of ultimate failure, and without hope of glory or gain. The Canadian yeomanry, freed from the terms of invasion, will cheerfully resume their peaceful occupations; and such of the British regulars as are not required for ordinary garrison duty, instead of being employed in a miserable, predatory, yet destructive border warfare, will be sent to mingle in the European strife where renown and empire are the mighty stake.

Surely this is emphatically the age and the government of paradox. A war for • free trade,' is waged by embargo and prohibition of all commercial intercourse; “sailors' rights' are secured by imprisoning them at home, and not permitting them to move from place to place within their prison but by a license from a collector like a negro's pass, and obtained on the security of a bondsman; and our frontiers and seaboard are to be defended by an invasion of Canada, which can alone endanger an attack!

But the real efficient argument for perseverance in the scheme of Canadian conquest has been given by the gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. Grundy.) We made the war on Britain, says the gentleman, and shall we restrict ourselves to defensive measures ? For what purpose was war declared if we do nothing



against the possessions of the enemy? Yes, sir, it is the consideration that this war was originally offensive on our side, that creates the, I fear, insuperable obstacle to our discontinuance of it.

It were vain to lament that gentlemen are under the influence of feelings which belong to human nature. It would be idleness to declaim against the sinfulness or the folly of false pride. All must admit that it is one of the greatest efforts of magnanimity to retrace a course publicly taken, and in the correctness of which reputation is staked. If honorable gentlemen could but perceive that this difficulty is one of pride only, and of pride opposing their country's best interests, I know that they could, and believe many of them would, make the effort. Painful as may be the acknowledge ment of political error, yet, if they clearly saw that either this humiliation must be endured, or the nation ruined, they could not hesitate in their choice between such alternatives. But, sir, I wish not to present such alternatives to their election-so difficult is it to produce a conviction against which the pride of the heart rebels, that I will not attempt it. Gentlemen are not called on to retract. They may now suspend the execution of their scheme of invasion without an acknowledgment of its error. They may now, without humiliation, restrict themselves to defence, although the war was in its origin offensive. A second favorable opportunity is presented of restoring tranquillity to our once happy country. The first, the revocation of the orders in council, was suffered to pass unimproved. Let not this be lost; a third may not shortly occur. Your enemy has invited a direct negotiation for the restoration of peace.

Your executive has accepted the offer, and ministers have been appointed to meet the commissioners of the opposite party. This circumstance ought to produce an entire and essential change in your policy. If the executive be sincere in the acceptance of this proposition, he must have acted on the hope that an amicable adjustment of differences might be made. And while

there is such a hope, such a prospect, on what principle can you justify invasion and conquest ? Force is the substitute, not the legitimate coadjutor of negotiation. Nations fight because they cannot treat.

Every benevolent feeling and correct principle are opposed to an effusion of blood, an extension of misery, which are hoped to be unnecessary. 'Tis necessity alone which furnishes their excuse: do not then, at the moment when you avow a belief, a hope at least, that such necessity exists not, pursue a conduct which, but for its existence, is inhuman and detestable. Besides, sir, if you are earnest in the wish to obtain peace from the Gottenburg mission, suspend in the meantime offensive operations, which cannot facilitate, and may prevent the accomplishment of your object. Think you that Britain is to be intimidated by your menaced invasion of her territories? If she had not learned by experience, how harmless are your threats, she would nevertheless see but little cause for fear. She knows that the conquest cannot be completed in one, nor in two campaigns. And when she finds that every soldier whom you enlist, is to cost you, in bounty alone, upwards of one hundred guineas, she will perceive that the war is more destructive to your finances, the great source of military strength, than to her territories. The blow aimed at her, recoils upon yourselves. But the exasperations which inust result from the wrongs mutually inflicted in the course of the campaign, may have a very injurious effect upon the disposition to pursue pacific efforts. They will be apt to create a temper on each side, unfavorable to an amicable arrangement.

In truth too, sir, you are not prepared for such a campaign, as in honor and humanity you can alone permit yourselves to carry on. Suppose by the month of May or June, you raise your men. What are they? Soldiers, fitted to take care of themselves in camp, and support the reputation of your armies in the field ? No; they are a mere rabble of war recruits : march them to Canada, and pestilence will sweep them off

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »