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of its moral property, I never had, I never can have any other feelings than those of the most profound respect, and of the utmost kindness. With him my acquaintance is very limited, but, so far as it has extended, it has been of the most amicable kind. I know the motives which have been, and which will again be attributed to me, in regard to the other exalted personage alluded to. They have been, and will be unfounded. I have no interest, other than that of seeing the concerns of my country well and happily administered. It is infinitely more gratifying to behold the prosperity of my country advancing by the wisdom of the measures adopted to promote it, than it would be to expose the errors which may be committed, if there be any, in the conduct of its affairs. Little as has been my experience in public life, it has been sufficient to teach me that the most humble station is surrounded by difficulties and embarrassments. Rather than throw obstructions in the way of the President, I would precede him, and pick out those, if I could, which might jostle him in his progress; I would sympathize with him in his embarrassments and commiserate with him in his misfortunes. It is true, that it has been my mortification to differ with that gentleman on several occasions. I may be again reluctantly compelled to differ with him ; but I will with the utmost sincerity assure the committee that I have formed no resolution, come under no engagements, and that I never will form any resolution, or contract any engagements, for systematic opposition to his administration, or to that of any other chief magistrate.
I beg leave further to premise that the subject under consideration, presents two distinct aspects, susceptible, in my judgment, of the most clear and precise discrimination. The one I will call its foreign, the other its domestic, aspect. In regard to the first, I will say, that I approve entirely of the conduct of this government, and that Spain has no cause of complaint. Having violated an important stipulation of the treaty
of 1795, that power had justly subjected herself to all the consequences which ensued upon the entry into her dominions, and it belongs not to her to complain of those measures which resulted from her breach of contract; still less has she a right to examine into the considerations connected with the domestic aspect of the subject.
What are the propositions before the committee ? The first in order is that reported by the military committee, which asserts the disapprobation of this House of the proceedings in the trial and execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister. The second, being the first contained in the proposed amendment, is the consequence of that disapprobation, and contemplates the passage of a law to prohibit the execution hereafter, of any captive, taken by the army, without the approbation of the President. The third proposition is, that this House disapproves of the forcible seizure of the Spanish posts, as contrary to orders, and in violation of the constitution. The fourth proposition, as the result of the last, is, that a law shall pass to prohibit the march of the army of the United States, or any corps of it, into any foreign territory, without the previous authorization of Congress, except it be in fresh pursuit of a defeated enemy, The first and third are general propositions, declaring the sense of the House, in regard to the evils pointed out; and the second and fourth propose the legislative remedies against the recurrence of these evils.
It will be at once perceived, by this simple statement of the propositions, that no other censure is proposed against general Jackson himself, than what is merely consequential. His name even does not appear in any one of the resolutions. The legislature of the country, in reviewing the state of the union, and considering the events which have transpired since its last meeting, finds that particular occurrences, of the greatest moment, in many respects, have taken place near our southern border. I will add, that the House has
not sought, by any officious interference with the duties of the
executive, to gain jurisdiction over this matter. The President, in his message at the opening of the session, communicated the very information on which it is proposed to act. I would ask, for what purpose ? That we should fold our arms and yield a tacit acquiescence, even if we suppose this information discloses alarming events, not merely as it regards the peace of the country, but in respect to its constitution and character? Impossible. In communicating these papers, and voluntarily calling the attention of Congress to the subject, the President must himself have intended that we should apply any remedy that we might be able to devise. Having the subject thus regularly and fairly before us, and proposing merely to collect the sense of the House upon certain important transactions which it discloses, with the view to the passage of such laws as may be demanded by the public interest, I repeat, that there is no censure anywhere, except such as is strictly consequential upon our legislative action. The supposition of every new law, having for its object to prevent the recurrence of evil, is that something has happened which ought not to have taken place, and no other than this indirect sort of censure will flow, from the resolutions before the committee.
Having thus given my view of the nature and character of the propositions under consideration, I am far from intimating, that it is not my purpose to go into a full, a free, and a thorough investigation of the facts, and of the principles of law, public, municipal and constitutional, involved in them. And, whilst I trust I shall speak with the decorum due to the distinguished officers of the government, whose proceedings are to be examined, I shall exercise the independence which belongs to me as a representative of the people, in freely and fully submitting my sentiments.
In noticing the painful incidents of this war, it is impossible not to inquire into its origin. I fear that it will be found to be the famous treaty of Fort Jackson,
concluded in August, 1814; and I ask the indulgence of the chairman, that the clerk may read certain parts of that treaty. (The clerk having read as requested, Mr. Clay proceeded.) I never perused this instrument until within a few days past, and I read it with the deepest mortification and regret. A more dictatorial spirit I have never seen displayed in any instrument. I will challenge an examination of all the records of diplomacy, not excepting even those in the most haughty period of imperial Rome, when she was carrying her arms into the barbarian nations, that surrounded her; and I do not believe a solitary instance can be found of such an inexorable spirit of domination pervading a compact purporting to be a treaty of peace. It consists of the most severe and humiliating demands—of the surrender of large territory—of the privilege of making roads through the remnant which was retained-of the right of establishing trading houses--of the obligation of delivering into our hands their prophets. And all this, of a wretched people, reduced to the last extremity of distress, whose miserable existence we had to preserve by a voluntary stipulation, to furnish them with bread! When did the allconquering and desolating Rome ever fail to respect the altars and the gods of those whom she subjugated! Let me not be told, that these prophets were impostors who deceived the Indians. They were their prophets—the Indians believed and venerated them, and it is not for us to dictate a religious belief to them. It does not belong to the holy character of the religion which we profess, to carry its precepts, by the force of the bayonet, into the bosoms of other people. Mild and gentle persuasion was the great instrument employed by the meek Founder of our religion. We leave to the humane and benevolent efforts of the reverend professors of Christianity to convert from barbarism those unhappy nations yet immersed in its gloom. But, sir, spare them their prophets! spare their delusions! spare their prejudices and super
stitions! spare them even their religion, such as it is, from open and cruel violence. When, sir, was that treaty concluded? On the very day, after the protocol was signed, of the first conference between the American and British commissioners, treating of peace, at Ghent. In the course of that negotiation, pretensions so enormous were set up, by the other party, that, when they were promulgated in this country, there was one general burst of indignation throughout the continent. Faction itself was silenced, and the firm and unanimous determination of all parties was, to fight until the last man fell in the ditch, rather than submit to such ignominious terms. What a contrast is exhibited between the cotemporaneous scenes of Ghent and of Fort Jackson : what a powerful voucher would the British commissioners have been furnished with, if they could have got hold of that treaty! The United States demand, The United States demand—is repeated five or six times. And what did the preamble itself disclose ? That two thirds of the Creek nation had been hostile, and one third only friendly to us. Now, I have heard, (I cannot vouch for the truth of the statement,) that not one hostile chief signed the treaty. I have also heard, that perhaps one or two of them had. If the treaty were really made by a minority of the nation, it was not obligatory upon the whole nation. It was void, considered in the light of a national compact. And if void, the Indians were entitled to the benefit of the provision of the ninth article of the treaty of Ghent, by which we bound ourselves to make peace with any tribes with whom we might be at war, on the ratification of the treaty, and to restore to them their lands as they held them in 1811. I do not know how the honorable Senate, that body for which I entertain so high a respect, could have given their sanction to the treaty of Fort Jackson, so utterly irreconcileable as it is with those noble principles of generosity and magnanimity which I hope to see my country always exhibit, and par