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was reasonable ground to believe that the force, when raised, would be applied to yield that protection, no considerations of expence would induce an opposition to the measure. But what is the object of the bills ? To what service is the army destined, when its ranks shall be filled ? It is said that the frontier is invaded, and that troops are wanting to repel that invasion. It is too true that the frontier is invaded; that the war, with all its horrors, is brought within our own territories. But was it the purpose of government by this measure to provide defence for the frontiers? No. The rejection of the amendment limiting the service of the troops to objects of defence*, showed that this was not the purpose to be effected, but that the real object was to act over again the scenes of the two last campaigns.
The object of the war was said to be fruitless and unattainable. Sailors' rights was the pretended, the conquest of Canada the real object. Before the war, that conquest was represented to be quite an easy affair. The valiant spirits who meditated it, were only fearful lest it should be too easy to be glorious. And now what is the state of the case? With all the blood and treasure that have been expended, not one foot of Canada is in our possession, nay we are not even free from invasion ourselves.
The war was said to be an unpopular measure. While it was allowed that both its professed objects, and the manner of prosecuting it, had received the nominal approbation of the majority of the people, it was urged, that any inferrence from that circumstance in favour of the real popularity of the measure would be extremely fallacious. In times like these, it was said, a great measure of a prevalent party becomes incorporated with the party interest. To quarrel with the measure would be to abandon the party. Party considerations therefore induce an acquiescence in that on which the fate of party is supposed to depend. But party support is not the kind of support necessary to sustain the country through a long, expensive, and bloody contest; and this should have been considered, before the war was declared. The cause, to be successful, must be upheld by other sentiments, and higher motives. It must draw to itself the sober approbation of the great mass of the people. It must enlist, not their temporary or party feelings, but their steady patriotism, and their constant zeal. Unlike the old nations of Europe, there are in this country no dregs of population, fit only to supply the constant waste of war, and out of which an army can be raised, for hire, at any time and for any purpose. Armies
An amendment to this effect had been offered by Mr. Sheffey, of Virginia, which was negatived by a considerable majority. VOL. III.
of any magnitude can here be nothing but the people embodied-and if the object be not one for which the people will embody, there can be no armies. It is too plain that the conquest of Canada is not such an object. The people do not feel the impulse of adequate motives, and thence, and thence alone, the necessity of offering such enormous bounties, which after all will prove unavailing.
The disasters of the American arms, it was said, have been attributed to the opposition. This is the fashionable doctrine both here and elsewhere. It is the constant tune of every weak or wicked administration. What minister ever yet acknowledged that the evils which fell on his country were the necessary consequences of his own incapacity, his own folly, or his own corruption? What possessor of political power ever yet failed to charge the mischiefs resulting from his own measures, upon those who had uniformly opposed those measures? The people of the United States may well remember the administration of lord North. He lost America to his country, Yet he could find pretences of throwing the odium upon his opponents. He could throw it upon those who had forewarned him of the consequences from the first, and who had opposed him, at every stage of his disastrous policy, with all the force of truth, and reason, and talent. It was not his own weakness, his own ambition, his own love of arbitrary power, which disaffected the colonies. It was not the tea act, the stamp act, or the Boston port bill, that severed the empire of Great Britain. Oh, no!-It was owing to no fault of administration. It was the work of opposition. It was the impertinent boldness of Chatham ; the idle declamation of Fox; and the unseasonable sarcasm of Barre! these men, and men like them, would not join the minister in his American war. They would not give the name and character of wisdom to that which they believed to be the extreme of folly. They would not pronounce ose measures just and honourable, which their principles led them to detest. They declared the minister's war to be wanton. They foresaw its end, and pointed it out plainly both to the minister and to the country. He pronounced the opposition to be selfish and factious. He persisted in his course, and the result is in his history.
Whoever would discover the causes, which have produced the present state of things, must look for them, not in the efforts of opposition, but in the nature of the war in which we are engaged, and in the manner in which its professed objects have been attempted to be obtained. Quite too small a portion of public opinion was in favour of the war, to justify it origi
nally. A much smaller portion is in favour of the mode in which it has been conducted. This is the radical infirmity. Public opinion, strong and united, is not with you in your Canada project. Whether it ought to be, or ought not to be, the fact that it is not, should, by this time, be evident to all; and it is the business of practical statesmen, to act upon the state of things as it is, and not to be always attempting to prove what it ought to be. The acquisition of that country is not an object generally desired by the people. Some gentlemen indeed say it is not their ultimate object; and that they wish it only as the means of effecting other purposes. But a large portion of the people believe that a desire for the conquest and final retention of Canada is the main spring of public measures. Nor is the opinion without ground. It has been distinctly avowed by public men, in a public manner. And if this be not the object, it is not easy to see the connexion between your means and ends. At least that portion of the people, that is not in the habit of refining far, cannot see it. You are, you say, at war for maritime rights and free trade. But they see you lock up your commerce and abandon the ocean. They see you invade an interior province of the enemy. They see you involve yourselves in a bloody war with the native savages: and they ask you, if you have in truth a maritime controversy with the western Indians, and are really contending for sailors' rights with the tribes of the prophet.
The bills were also opposed on the ground of the incompetency of the administration to conduct the war to a successful issue. It was said that the administration deserved no credit on account of the navy, which was not an object of their creating, and that the military operations exhibited one connected series of disasters and defeats. The plan as well as the execution of both campaigns was wrong. The object was conquest, the means of the country were applied as if for defence. The army was scattered all along the frontier, from Detroit to Lake Champlain, and thus divided was so weak as not to present an efficient force at any given point. Instead of concentrating the army, and then seizing and fortifying a position which would have cut off the communication between the upper and lower provinces, by which the upper country would have fallen without a blow, the plan of operations had been to take Canada in detail, a plan no less cruel than weak.--If the event gives character to military operations, it was said, our men in power are totally unfit for a war administration. They have shown neither talent in projecting nor promptness
in executing; neither the boldness of enterprise, nor the dexterity of stratagem.
The principles that have been avowed in the progress of the war were also urged as a reason why this army should be denied to the administration. The proclamations of generals Smyth and Hull were cited as a stain on the nation, the first for offering a bounty of $ 200 for every captured horse, and $40 for the spoils of each dead Indian, the latter for his threats of commencing“ a war of extermination” in case of the employment of the Indians, the owners of the invaded territories, the lords of the soil, who could not be expected to be idle spectators of operations having in view to take from them their privileges, their wigwams, their cornfields, and their hunting-grounds.
Mr. Webster, one of the ablest of the opposition members, thus concludes his speech on this subject:
" It is natural, sir, such being my opinion on the present state of things, that I should be asked what, in my judgment, ought to be done. In the first place, then, I answer, withdraw your invading armies, and follow councils which the national sentiment will support. In the next place, abandon the system of commercial restriction. That system is equally ruinous to the interests, and obnoxious to the feelings of whole sections and whole states. They believe you have no constitutional right to establish such systems. They protest to you that such is not, and never was, their understanding of your powers. They are sincere in this opinion, and it is of infinite moment, that you duly respect that opinion, although you may deem it to be erroneous. These people, sir, resisted Great Britain, because her minister, under pretence of regulating trade, attempted to put his hand into their pockets, and get their money. There is that, sir, which they then valued, and which they still value, more than money. That pretence of regulating trade they believed to be a mere cover for tyranny and oppression. The present embargo, which does not vex, and harass, and embarrass their commerce, but annihilates it, is also laid by colour of a power to regulate trade. For if it be not laid by virtue of this power, it is laid by virtue of no power. It is not wonderful, sir, if this should be viewed by them as a state of things not contemplated when they came into the national compact.
“Let me suppose, sir, that when the convention of one of the commercial states, Massachusetts for example, was deliberating on the adoption of this constitutition, some person, to whose opening vision the future had been disclosed, had appeared among them.
“ He would have seen there the patriots who rocked the cradle of liberty in America. He would have seen there statesmen and warriors, who had borne no dishonourable parts in the councils of their country and on her fields of battle. He would have found these men recommending the adoption of this instrument to a people, full of the feeling of independence, and naturally jealous of all governments but their own. And he would have found, that the leading, the principal, and the finally prevalent argument, was the protection and extension of commerce,
“Now, suppose, sir, that this person, having the knowledge of future times, had told them, this instrument, to which you now commit your fates, shall for a time not deceive your hopes. Administered and practised as you now understand it, it shall enable you to carry your favourite pursuits to an unprecedented extent. The increase of your numbers, of your wealth, and of your general prosperity, shall exceed your expectations. But other times shall arrive. Other councils shall prevail
. In the midst of this extension and growth of commerce and prosperity, an embargo, severe and universal, shall be laid upon you for eighteen months.
* This shall be succeeded by non-importations, restrictions, and embarrasments of every description. War with the most powerful maritime nation upon earth, shall follow. This war shall be declared professedly for your benefit, and the protection of your interest. It shall be declared nevertheless against your urgent remonstrance. Your voice shall be heard, but it shall be heard only to be disregarded. It shall be a war for sailors' rights, against the sentiments of those to whom eight tenths of the seamen of the country belong. It shall be a war for maritime rights, forced upon those who are alone interested in such concerns.
“ It shall be brought upon you by those to whom seamen and commerce shall be alike unknown-who shall never have heard the surges of the sea ; and into whose minds the idea of a ship shall never have entered, through the eye, till they shall come from beyond the western hills, to take the protection of your maritime rights, and the guardianship of your commercial interests, into their skilful and experienced hands. Bringing the enemy to the blockade of your ports, they shall leave your coasts to be undefended, or defended by yourselves. Mindful of what may yet remain of your commerce, they shall visit you with another embargo. They shall cut off your intercourse of every description with foreign nations. This not only they shall cutoff your intercourse of every description by water