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severely, except such as arise from those inevitable conclusions, which avowed principles and distinct conduct have impressed upon the mind. I say then, sir, without hesitation, that, in my judgment, the embarrassment of our relations with Great Britain, and keeping alive, between this country and that, a root of bitterness, has been, is, and will continue to be, a main principle of the policy of this American cabinet. They want not a solid settlement of our differences. If the nation will support them in it, they will persevere in the present war. If it will not, some general arrangements will be the resort, which will leave open opportunities for discord, which, on proper occasions, will be improved by them. I shall give my reasons for this opinion. I wish no sentiments of mine to have influence any further than the reasons, upon which they are founded, justify. They are public reasons, arising from undeniable facts; the nation will judge for itself.
The men, who now, and who, for these twelve years past, have, to the misfortune of this country, guided its councils, and directed its destinies, came into power, on a tide, which was raised and supported, by elements, constituted of British prejudices and British antipathies. The parties which grew up in this nation, took their origin and form, at the time of the adoption of the treaty negociated by Mr. Jay, in 1794. The opposition of that day, of which the men, now in power, were the leaders, availed themselves, very dexterously, of the relics of that hatred towards the British name, which remained after the revolutionary war. By perpetually blowing upon the embers of the ancient passions, they excited a flame in the nation, and by systematically directing it against the honorable men, who, at that time, conducted its affairs; the strength and influence, of those men, were impaired. The embarrassments with France, which succeeded, in 1798 and 1799, were turned to the same account. Unfortunately those, who then conducted public affairs,
attended less to the appearances of things than to their natures; and considered more, what was due to their country, than was prudent, in the state of the prejudices and jealousies of the people, thus artfully excited against them. They went on in the course they deemed right, regardless of personal consequences. and blind to the evidences of discontent, which surrounded them. The consequences are well known. The supreme power in these United States, passed into the hands, which now possess it; in which it has been continued down to the present time. This transfer of power was effected, undeniably, principally on the very ground of these prejudices and antipathies, which existed in the nation against Great Britain; and which had been artfully fomented by the men now in power, and their adherents, and directed against their predecessors. These prejudices and passions constitute the main pillar of the power of these men. In my opinion, they never
will permit it to be wholly taken away from them. They never will permit the people of this country, to look at them and their political opponents, free of that jaundice, with which they have carefully imbued the vision of their own partizans. They never will consent to be weighed in a balance of mere merit, but will always take care to keep in reserve, some portion of these British antipathies, to throw, as a makeweight, into the opposite scale, whenever they find their own sinking. To continue, multiply, strengthen and extend, these props of their power, has been, and still is, the object of the daily study, and the nightly vigils of our American cabinet. For this the British treaty was permitted to expire by its own limitation; notwithstanding the state of things which the treaty of Amiens had produced in Europe, was so little like pemanent peace, that the occurrence of the fact, on which the force of that limi. tation depended, might easily have been questioned, with but little violence to the terms, and in perfect conformity with its spirit. For this, a renewal of the
treaty of 1794, was refused by our cabinet, although proffered by the British government. For this, the treaty of 1807, negociated by Messrs. Monroe and Pinckney, was rejected. For this, in 1811, fifty thousand dollars were paid out of the public treasury, to John Henry, for the obvious purpose of enabling the American cabinet to calumniate their political opponents, on this very point of British influence, upon the eve of elections occurring in Massachusetts, on the event of which, the perpetuation of their own power was materially dependent. Mr. Speaker, such men as these never will permit a state of things to pass away so essential to their influence. Be it peace, or war, arrangement, or hostility, the association of these British antipathies, in the minds of the mass of the community, with the characters of their political opponents, constitutes the great magazine of their power. This
composes their whole political larder. It is, like lord Peter's brown loaf, their “beef, mutton, veal, venison, partridge, plumb pudding and custard.”
From the time of the expiration of the British treaty of 1794, and the refusal to renew it, the American cabinet have been careful to precede negociation with some circumstance or other calculated to make it fail, or at least to make a successful result less certain. Thus in_1806, when, from the plunder of our commerce, by British cruisers, a negociation, notwithstanding the obvious reluctance of the cabinet, was forced upon them, by the clamors of the merchants, the non-importation law of April, in that year, was obtruded between the two countries. In the course of the debate upon that law, it was opposed upon this very ground, that it was an obstacle to a successful negociation. It was advocated, like the bill now under discussion, as an aid to successful negociation. It was also said by the opponents of that law of 1806, that Great Britain would not negociate, under its operation, and that an arrangement, attempted under proper auspices, could not be difficult, from the known in
terests and inclinations of that nation. What was the consequence? Precisely that which was anticipated. The then President of the United States, was necessitated to come to this House and recommend a suspension of the operation of that law, upon the openly avowed ground, of its being expedient to give that evidence, of a conciliatory disposition, really
because, if permitted to continue in operation, negociation was found to be impracticable. After the suspension of that law, a treaty was formed. The merits of that treaty, it is not within the scope of my present argument to discuss. It is sufficient to say, it was deemed good enough, to receive the sanction of Messrs. Monroe and Pinckney. It arrived in America, and was rejected by the authority of a single individual, apparently because of the insufficiency of the arrangement about impressment. Really because a settlement with Great Britain, at that time, did not“ enter into the scope of the policy” of the American cabinet. The negociation was, indeed, renewed, but it was followed up with the enforcement of the non-importation law, and the enactment of the embargo. Both which steps were stated, at the time, as they proved afterwards, to be, of a nature to make hopeless successful negociation.
In this state, the executive power of this nation formally passed into new hands, but substantially remained under the old principles of action, and subject to the former influences. It was desirable that a fund of popularity should be acquired for the new administration. Accordingly, an arrangement was made with Mr. Erskine, and no questions asked concerning the adequacy of his powers. But, lest this circumstance should not defeat the proposed arrangement, a clause was inserted in the correspondence, containing an insult to the British government, offered in the face of the world, such as no man ever gave to a private individual, whom he did not mean to offend. The President of the United States said, in so many words, to
person at the head of that government, that he did not understand what belonged to his own honor, as well as it was understood by the President himself. The effect of such language was natural, it was necessary; it could not but render the British governinent averse to sanction Erskine's arrangement. The effect was anticipated by Mr. Robert Smith, then acting as secretary of state. He objected to its being inserted, but it was done, in the President's own hand writing. As Mr. Erskine's authority was denied by the British government, it is well known, that, in fact, on the point of this indignity, the fate of that arrangement turned. Can any one doubt, that our cabinet meant that it should have this effect? I send you word, Mr. Speaker, “ that I have agreed with your messenger, and wish you to ratify it. I think you, however, no gentleman, notwithstanding, and that you do not understand, as well as I, what is due to your own honor.” What think you, sir? Would fy such an arrangement, if you could help it? Does a proffer of settlement, connected with such language, look like a disposition or an intention to conciliate ? I appeal to the common sense of mankind, on the point.
The whole state of the relations induced between this country and Great Britain, in consequence of our embargo and restrictive systems, was, in fact, a standing appeal to the fears of the British cabinet. For, notwithstanding, those systems were equal in their terms, so far as they affected foreign powers; yet their operation was, notoriously, almost wholly upon Great Britain. To yield to that pressure, or do any thing which should foster, in this country, the idea that it was an effectual weapon of hostility, was nothing more than conceding, that she was dependent upon us.
A concession which, when once made by her, was certain to encourage a resort to it by us, on every occasion of difficulty between the two nations. Reasoning, therefore, upon the known nature of things, and the plain interests of Great Britain, it was