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foretold, that, during its continuance she would concede nothing. And the event has justified those predictions. But, the circumstance the most striking, and that furnishing the most conclusive evidence of the indisposition of the American cabinet to peace, and their determination to carry on the war, is that connected with the pretended repeal of the French decrees, in November, 1810, and the consequent revival, in 1811, of our restrictive system against Great Britain.
If ever a body of men were pledged to any thing, the American cabinet, its friends and supporters were pledged for the truth of this fact, that the French decrees of Berlin and Milan were definitely repealed, as it respects the United States, on the first of November, 1810. If ever any body of men staked their whole stock of reputation upon any point, our cabinet did it on this. They and their partizans asserted and raved. They denounced every man as a British partizan, who denied it. They declared the restrictive system was revived by the mere effect of the proclamation. But, lest the courts of law should not be as subservient to their policy, as might be wished, they passed the law of the 2d of March, 1811, upon the basis of this repeal, and of its being definitive. The British government refused, however, to recognize the validity of this repeal, and denied that the Berlin and Milan decrees were repealed on the 1st of November, 1810, as our cabinet asserted. Thus, then, stood the argument between the British ministry and our cabinet. The British ministry admitted, that, if the Berlin and Milan decrees were repealed on the 1st of November, 1810, they were bound to revoke their orders in council. But they denied that repeal to exist. Our cabinet, on the other hand, admitted, that, if the Berlin and Milan decrees were not repealed on the 1st of November, 1810, the restrictive system ought not to have been revived against Great Britain. But they asserted that repeal to exist. This was, virtually, the state of the
question between the two countries, on this point. And it is agreed, on all hands, that this refusal of the British government to repeal their orders in council, after the existence of the repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees, as asserted by the American cabinet, was the cause of the declaration of war between the two countries. So that, in truth, the question of the right of war depended upon the existence of that fact; for, if that fact did not exist, even the American cabinet did not pretend, that, in the position in which things then stood, they had a right to declare war on account of the continuance of the British orders in council.
Now, what is the truth in relation to this all-important fact, the definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees on the 1st of November, 1810; the pivot upon which turned the revival of the restrictive system, and our declaration of war? Why, sir, the event has proved, that in relation to that fact, the American cabinet was, to say the least, in an error. Bonaparte himself, in a decree, dated the 28th of April, 1811, but not promulgated till a year afterwards, distinctly declares, that the Berlin and Milan decrees were not definitely repealed, as relates to the United States, on the 1st of November, 1810. He also declares, that they are then, on that 28th of April, for the first time repealed. And he founds the issuing of this decree on the act of the American Congress, of the 2d of March, 1811. That very act, which was passed upon the ground of the definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees on the 1st of November, 1810, and which, it is agreed on all sides, the American government, were bound in honor not to pass, except in case of such antecedent repeal !
Were ever a body of men so abandoned in the hour of need, as the American cabinet, in this instance, by Bonaparte? Was ever any body of men so cruelly wounded in the house of their friend? This—this was the unkindest cut of all.” But how was it received by the American cabinet ? Surely they
were indignant at this treatment. Surely the air rings with reproaches upon a man, who has thus made them stake their reputation upon a falsehood; and then gives little less than the lie direct to their assertions. No, sir, nothing of all this is heard from our cabinet. There is a philosophic tameness, that would be remarkable, if it were not, in all cases affecting Bonaparte, characteristic. All the executive of the United States has found it in his heart to say in relation to this last decree of Bonaparte, which contradicts his previous allegations and asseverations is, that * This proceeding is rendered, by the time and manner of it, liable to many objections !"
I have referred to this subject as being, connected with future conduct, strikingly illustrative of the disposition of the American cabinet to carry on the war, and of their intention, if possible, not to make peace. Surely if any nation had a claim for liberal treatment from another, it was the British nation from the American, after the discovery of the error of the American government in relation to the repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees in November, 1810. In consequence of that error, the American cabinet had ruined numbers of our own citizens, who had been caught by the revival of the non-intercourse law; they had revived that law against Great Britain under circumstances, which now appeared to have been fallacious; and they had declared war against her on the supposition, that she had_refused to repeal her orders, in council, after the French decrees were, in fact, revoked; whereas, it now appears, that they were in fact not revoked. Surely the knowledge of this error was followed by an instant and anxious desire to redress the resulting injury. As the British orders in council were, in fact, revoked on the knowledge of the existence of the French decree of repeal, surely the American cabinet, at once, extended the hand of friendship; met the British government half way; stopped all further irritation, and strove to place every
thing on a basis, best suited to promote an amicable adjustment. No, sir, nothing of all this occurred. On the contrary, the question of impressments is made the basis of continuing the war. On this subject, a studied fairness of proposition is preserved, accompanied with systematic perseverance in measures of hostility. An armistice was proposed by them. It was refused by us. It was acceded to by the American general on the frontiers. It was rejected by the cabinet. No consideration of the false allegation, on which the war in fact was founded, no consideration of the critical and extremely conseqential nature to both nations of the subject of impressment, no considerations of humanity, interposed their influence. They renewed hostilities. They rushed upon Canada. Nothing would satisfy them but blood. The language of their conduct is that of the giant, in the legends of infancy.
Fee, Faw, Fow, Fum,
Can such men pretend that peace is their object ? Whatever may result, the perfect conviction of my mind is, that they have no such intention, and that, if it come, it is contrary both to their hope and expectation.
I would not judge these men severely. But it is my duty to endeavor to judge them truly; and to express fearlessly the result of that judgment, whatever it may be. My opinion results from the application of the well known principle of judging concerning men's purposes and motives; to consider rather what men do, than what they say; and to examine their deeds in connexion with predominating passions and interests; and on this basis decide. In making an estimate of the intentions of these, or any other politicians, I make little, or no account of pacific pretensions. There is a general reluctance at war, and desire at peace, which pervades the great mass of
every people, and artful rulers could never keep any nation at war, any length of time, beyond their true interest, without some sacrifice to that general love of peace, which exists in civilized men. Bonapa te himself will tell you, that he is the most pacific creature in the world. He has already declared, by his proclamation to Frenchmen, that he has gone to Moscow for no other end, than to cultivate peace, and counteract the emperor of Russia's desire of war. In this country, where the popular sentiment has so strong an impulse on its affairs, the same obtrusive pretension must inevitably be preserved. No man, or set of men, ever can, or will get this country at war, or continue it long in war, without keeping on hand a stout, round stock of gulling matter. Fair propositions will, always, be made to go, hand in hand, with offensive acts. And when something is offered so reasonable, that no man can doubt but it will be accepted, at the same moment something will be done of a nature to embarrass the project, and if not to defeat, at least to render its acceptance dubious. How this has been, in past time, I have shown. I will now illustrate what is doing and intended at present.
As from the uniform tenor of the conduct of the American cabinet in relation to the British government, I have no belief, that their intention has been to make a solid arrangement with that nation, so, from the evidence of their disposition and intention, existing abroad, and on the table, I have no belief that such is at present their purpose. I cannot possibly think otherwise, than that such is not their intention. Let us take the case into common life. I have demands, Mr. Speaker, against you, very just in their nature, but different. Some of recent; others of very old date. The former depending upon principles very clearly in my favor. The latter critical, difficult and dubious, both in principle and settlement. In this state of things and during your absence, I watch my opportunity, declare enmity, throw myself upon your children,