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of a war.

empire throughout that element which covers two thirds of the globe, has been obtained, and Britain finds herself, at this era, the dreaded mistress of the seas! With what rapacious sway she has begun to put forth this arm of her supremacy, we, fellow-citizens, have experienced, while the flames of Copenhagen have lighted it up to Europe in characters of a more awful glare.

When the late Colonel Henry Laurens left England, in the year 1774, he had previously waited on the Earl of Hillsborough, in order to converse with him on American affairs. In the course of conversation Colonel Laurens said, the duty of three pence a pound on tea, and all the other taxes, were not worth the expense

“ You mistake the cause of our controversy with your country," said his lordship: “ You spread too much canvass upon the ocean; do you think we will let you go on with your navigation, and your forty thousand seamen ?"* The same hostile spirit to our growing commerce has actuated every minister, and every privy council, and every parliament of Great Britain since that time; and it is the spirit she manifests towards other nations. The recent declarations, made upon the floor of the House of Commons in debate upon the orders in council, add a new corroboration to the proofs that this monopolizing spirit has been one of the steady maxims designed to secure and uphold her absolute dominion upon the waves. But to that Being who made the waters and the winds for the common use of his creatures, do we owe it never to forego our equal claim to their immunities.

In entering upon a war it is our chief consolationthat will give dignity to the contest and confidence to our hearts; to know that before God and before the world, our cause is just. To dilate on this head, although so fruitful, would swell to undue limits this ad

* The writer derived this anecdote through one of our principal statesmen who has been abroad,

dress, and betray a forgetfulness of the informed and anticipating understandings of this assembly. Our provocation consists of multiplied wrongs, of the most numerous injuries, of the most aggravated insults. They have been fully placed before the world in the recent authentic declarations of our government. In these declarations will be read the solemn justification of what we have done, and our posterity will cling to them as a manly, yet pure and unblemished portion of their inheritance. In the language of one of them flowing from the highest and the purest source, founded on authentic history, and which exhibits a state paper alike distinguished by its profound reasoning, its elevated justice, and its impressive dignity, we have 6 beheld, in fine, on the side of Great Britain a state of war against the United States; and, on the side of the United States, a state of peace towards Great Britain.” It is the same pen,* too, which has been officially employed for so many years in combatting our wrongs and striving for their pacific redress, with a constant and sublime adherence to the maxims of universal equity as well as of public law, which now solemnly declares our actual situation. Can Americans then hesitate what part to act? Whither would have fled the remembrance of their character and deeds? Whither soon would flee their rights, their liberties? Where would be the spirits, where the courage, of their slain fathers? Snatched and gone from ignoble sons! What should we answer to the children we leave behind, who will take their praise or their reproach, from the conduct of their sires—and those sires republicans! Who, rejecting from the train of their succession the perishing honors of a riband or a badge, are more nobly inspired to transmit the unfading distinctions that spring from the resolute discharge of all the patriot's high duties! Why should we stay our arm against Britain while she wars upon us; are we appalled at her legions; do we shrink back at her vengeance? No, fellow-citizens, no! we have faced those legions, braved and triumphed over that vengeance. Powerful as she is, old in arms and in discipline, upon the plains of America has she once learned that her ranks can be subdued and her high ensign fall

* Mr. Madison's--then President of the United States.

. Not in a boastful, but in a temper to encourage, would we speak it, British valor has yielded to the equal, spontaneous valor, but the more indignant fire which freedom and a just cause could impart, when opposed to the hired forces of an unjust king. And is there less to inspire now? Let a few short reflections determine.

While I abstain from any enumeration of the other encroachments of Great Britain upon us as an independent nation, through their successive accumulations until they have ended in making the whole trade of our country in substance and in terms colonial, suffering it to exist, and to exist only, where it subserves her own absorbing avarice, or what she calls her retaliating vengeance, I must nevertheless solicit your indulgence to pause with me, for a little while, upon a single wrong

The seizure of the persons of American citizens un, der the name and the pretexts of impressment, by the naval officers of Great Britain, is an outrage of that kind which makes it difficult to speak of it in terms of appropriate description; for this, among other reasons, that the offence itself is new. It is probable that the most careful researches into history, where indeed of almost every form of rapine between men and between nations is to be found the melancholy record, will yet afford no example of the systematic perpetration of an offence of a similar nature, perpetrated, too, under a claim of right. To take a just and no other than a serious illustration, the only parallel to it is to be found in the African slave trade; and if an eminent statesman of England once spoke of the latter, as the greatest practical evil that had ever afflicted mankind, we

may be allowed to denominate the former the greatest practical offence that has ever been offered to a civilized and independent state. With the American government it has been a question of no party or of no day. At every period of its administration, the odious practice has been constantly protested against, and its discontinuance been demanded under every form of pacific remonstrance. With all our statesmen, while engaged in exercising the public authorities of the nation, it has been deemed, if not otherwise to have been abrogated, legitimate cause of war. The only imaginable difference among any of them, has been, as to the time when it would be proper to use this imperious resort; as if the time was not always at hand for a nation to redeem such a stain upon its vitals, and as if an encroachment of this nature does not become the more difficult to beat back with each year, and with each instance, in which it is permitted. But it best accorded with the genius of our government, with its love of peace, and perhaps with what was due to peace, to attempt at first its pacific removal. General Washington, when at the head of the government, is known to have viewed it with the sensibility that such an indignity could not fail to arouse in his bosom, and had he lived until this day to see it not only unredress. ed and unmitigated, but increased, amidst all the ami. cable efforts on our part for its cessation, there is the strongest reason for supposing that his just estimate of the nation's welfare, that his lofty and gallant spirit, would have stood forth, had it been but the single grievance, the manly advocate for its extirpation by the sword. But if our submission to it so long has incurred a just reproach, happily it is in some measure assuaged in the reflection that our forbearance -will serve to put us more completely in the right at this eventful period.

That our enemy has invariably refused to accede to such terms as were answerable to the indispensable expectations of our own government, as the organ of a

ry

sovereign people, upon this head, is a point susceptible of entire proof. Avoiding other particulars, it will be sufficient to introduce a single one. It is a fact, which the archives of our public departments will show, that in order to take from Great Britain the remnant of her own excuses for seizing our men under the pretext, at all times disallowable, of invading the sanctua

of our ships in search of her own, it was proposed to her, that the United States would forbear to receive her seamen on board of their vessels, provided she, in her turn, would abstain from receiving our men on board of hers. This would wholly have destroyed the insulting claim, set up by her, to break in with armed men upon our vessels while peaceably sailing on the ocean under color of forcibly taking her own mariners; for, the regulation, if adopted, would have given the previous assurance that her own were not there to be found. But this proposal, it is also a fact, she declined. As rapacious of men, as greedy of riches and grasping at dominion, she neglected to avail herself of a regulation that would curtail her in this new species of plunder ; this plunder in the flesh and blood of freemen, of which she has afforded the first example, in all time, to the eyes of an insulted world.

of an insulted world. But it forcibly marks the devouring ambition of her naval spirit; and that if public law is ridiculed, justice scoffed at, sovereignty prostrated, and humanity made to shudder and to groan; still, her ships must have men.

Under a mere personal view of this outrage, and considering it on the footing of a moral sin, it is strictly like the African slave trade. Like that it breaks up families and causes hearts to bleed. Like that it tears the son from the father, the father from the son. Like that it makes orphans and widows, takes the brother from the sister, seizes up the young man in the health of his days and blasts his hopes forever. It is worse than the slavery of the African, for the African is only made to work under the lash of a task-master, whereas the citizen of the United States, thus enslaved, receives

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VOL. V.

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