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The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) had made a direct appeal to the republican party, and endeavored to rally and unite them in this to them at least new doctrine of war. If the appeal of the gentleman had any reference to him, he would beg leave to deny some of his positions. He had himself had some small share to act in the political scenes of '98—9, and he was glad to find from the gentleman's declaration that he had joined in the "clamor” of the day, to pull down the then federal administration for the unjustifiable war which they had gone into with France. Mr. S. said, he knew he had joined in it most heartily. He believed he then acted right in all he did to supersede that administration, and he still believed he was right. The best interests of the country forbid the war, and so the people determined, when ultimately they came to decide the questicn. That party thus ousted by the public voice, the present republican majority was brought in upon their own professions of better principles—the love of peace and economy. But now forgetting our old professions under a French crisis, we had raised the cry of war under a British one, and nothing short of it was to save our honor. Mr. S. declared if there was any difference in the causes of war then and now, he thought it turned most decidedly in favor of the former period, since the more intolerable outrage in the case of the Chesapeake had at length been atoned for. What were the facts ?, French decrees existed at that time against your rightful commerce--he spoke of the arrette or decrees of the French directory--these had the same practical effect on our maritime neutral rights that the British orders have now. French cruisers way-laid the mouths of your harbors, and captured your vessels ; and the first successful act of the United States after the quasi war commenced, was the taking of one of these cruisers in the mouths of one of our harbors. He begged leave to read the decree itself--and there were others passed atout the same time, not less obnoxious :
“ January 18, 1798, Art. 1-The character of vessels in what concerns their quality, as neutral or enemy, shall be decided by their cargo ; in consequence, every vessel found at sea, laden in whole or in part, with merchandise coming from England or her possessions, shall be declared good prize, whoever may be the proprietor of their productions or merchandise.”
To the spoliations committed under decrees of this kind, which they have always refused to retribute and make good, they added a further indignity to the nation in the persons of its envoys. They refused to receive them in their character as such, but clandestinely met their subordinate agents to intrigue and tamper with them for bribes, and for a considerable time withheld the necessary passports for their return home. Wrongs and indigoities like these, said Mr. S. the republican minority of '98-9 did not consider of magnitude enough for the U.States to forego the great interests of peace, and give into a war, which was then made to redress them. How the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) could avow himself the advocate
of peace doctrines then, and those of war now, would be for himself to reconcile. He felt that those interests were as omnipotent now as they were then.
But, said Mr. S. the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr.Calhoun) tells us that it is a principle of honor in a nation, as in an individual, to resist a first insult. If such doctrine is to be admitted, when should we have had a moment's peace ? From one or the other of the belligerents of Europe, since their late wars commenced, we have never been without just complaints against them for some violation of our neutral rights, and of course must have taken an early share in their wars. The truth is, we cannot liken, nor will the similitude hold good between an individual's honor, or his sensibility to it, and that of a nation's. A single impressment or capture may be well admitted to form a ground of reprisal and war; but we should have been a ruided country long ere now, if under the existing circumstances of the world, and belligerent Europe,we had yielded to this quickness of sensibility, and had gone to war for a first and single instance of aggression from either of the belligerents. The same gentleman argues that every thing now calls upon us to make a stand ; that there was no danger to our liberties in a standing army of twenty or thirty thousand men, and that as all admitted there was justifiable cause of war, he believed it had now become necessary. This was declaiming, Mr. Stanford said, very handsomely upon the subject of war, he would agree; and he
well recollected we had heard the same doctrines precisely, and he thought he might be permitted to say, a strain of declamation, at least equally handsome upon the same subject, and from the same state, in 1798-9.* Mr. Stanford contended as the then doctrines of war, (and it must be admitted, the causes of it were so alike in their character) it was fair to expect that in due time public opinion would come to be the same in both cases.
But, said Mr. S. he could not perceive how the present of all others had become the necessary and accepted time for war with Great Britain. The attack on the Chesapeake had been atoned for, to the satisfaction of our government, and he trusted had not been so done *as to aggravate the crisis of affairs between the two countries. If calculated to do so, our government would not have received it, The impressment of our seamen was a just cause of complaint against the British government ; but it commenced under the administration of General Washington, and no one would say he was less sensible to national honor and independence than ourselves. Under all the circumstances of that cause of complaint, he did not think it a cause sufficient for him to depart from the neutral ground he had assumed; nor was the annoyance of our commerce less vexatious in his time than since. In like manner, under Mr. Adams' administration the same complaints existed, though in that of the latter, not perhaps to the same degree ; and under the eight years of Mr. Jefferson's ad
* This allusign is supposed to be to Mr. Harper, then from S.Carolina.
ministration the same state of things continued, certainly with an increased degree of violence, to which was also added, the more aggravating insult upon the Chesapeake. Mr. Jefferson had never been suspected of partiality for Great Britain ; and then, indeed, the accepted time had come for a war with that government--all parties were united and pledged themselves to support him in the war. The pulse of the nation beat high for it. But he felt, because he knew, that peace was the best interest of his country, and forebore to call Congress together. He had always admired the man ; but upon that occasion he felt more than a sentiment of admiration towards him. When at length wrongs had thus accumulated and called for some system of counteraction and resistance, till negociation could be farther tried, the embargo was resorted to in preference to war ; and when that was done away,a system of non-intercourse was substistuted; and to that again succeeded the present alternative law of the same kind; the non-importation system which has grown out of this with Great Britain, has not been tried one whole year yet. If gentlemen will have it that this is the accepted time for war, how has it happened, that we have not had it before now? Our councils may be presumed to have bzen as sensible to aggression, and as patriotic to redress it as we now are.
He would beg leave to turn to a vote of this House at the last session of the tenth Congress, when Mr. Jefferson was still president. The embargo was about to be repealed, and such gentlemen as felt themselves disappointed in its effects were disposed to substitute a more energetic system than that of non-intercourse, and proposed the following amendment to the bill," and to cause (meaning the president) to be issued under suitable pledges and precautions, letters of marque and reprisal against the nation thereafter continuing in force its unlawful edicts against the commerce of the United States.” This was considered, as indeed it was, a question of war, and the vote · stands only 33 to 74. The affair of the Chesapeake thep hung over us, and all the circumstances under which we found ourselves, called more imperiously for redress than they ever had done before or since, and still a different view of what was the true interest of the country prevailed. Again, he would turn to the second session of the eleventh Congress, under the present administration, and still we should find thas a large majority in this House were determined not to abandon the peace of the nation. They were disposed to countervail the bel. ligerent edicts by commercial restrictions and to adopt any thing in that way short of war; but nothing which should endanger the peace of the country
A bill, however, was introduced, “ authorising the president of the United States to employ the public armed vessels, and permitting the merchant vessels to arm for the defence of American commerce.” The fate of this measure was similar to that of the preceding Congress and appears to have been negatived by a vote of 67 to 47. This was too at a time when we were about to repeal the noa-intercourse law, which was done, and the non-importation sys
tem substituted---no warlike substitute could be carried at any of these periods, and so far it has not appeared to have been the accepted time for war, and he trusted that time had not yet come.
If, saiu Mr. S. the proposed war was to be of the defensive kind, war which had become necessary to defend ourselves at home,there would be no hesitation about the cost or difficulties to be encountered; but it is avowed to be for conquest. We are to take the Cana. das to insure respect to our maritime rightz ; that we should be able to take them, he would not pretend to doubt; but it would probably be at the expense of much blood and treasure, and still perhaps without coming any nearer to the object of it, that of securing respect to those rights. To a nation, young, growing, and prospering as we were, the burdens and expenses of a foreign war was no small consideration with him. In 1798-9, it was fashionable to count the cost, and look at the taxes to follow; that doctrine now, however, was forgotten: but he would take the liberty to read, before he sat down, a passage or two from a pamphlet of Mr. Nicholas's, of Kentucky, who is now no more, but who was at that time considered orthodox in all the republican doctrines of the day.-" In a war like the present, (says Mir. Nicholas) which we have now made an offensive one, esery thing of this kind (speaking of the taxes) ought to be taken into consideration, although it would be improper to do so if our country was rea ly attacked by a foreign power; because we ought then to hazard every thing, rather than become subjects to any foreign pow. er.”—Again, “ If the lasting preservation of the honor, liberty, and independence of America, is our real object, we should carefully avoid war during the infant state of our couutry. Such premature efforts bring on a state of imbecility in the political as well as in the human body, and prevent either from attaining that degree of strength which they would otherwise certainly arrive at. Twenty years more of peace would leave America fully competent to defend all her just rights against any nation. Five years war at this time would, probably, put it out of her power to do it with effect for one hundred years to come."
Mr. Stanford further added, that as the United States was the only portion of the civilized world which enjoyed any share of the blessings of peace, he had trusted the present state of Europe would form an argument better than any he could use, and a lesson complete against our having any thing to do with their unhappy conflicts and
But, Mr. Speaker, said Mr. Stanford, opposed as he was to the idea of the United States becoming one of the belligerent nationsto the linking our destinies with those of the European powers; to the taking any share in their present conflicts ; if his country once dedermined upon it, he would not then hesitate to vote any force, or other means, to bring it to as speedy and as happy an issue as possible; till then he should preserve his own consistency; and contribute in no way to bring about that state of things which he believed would prove most ruinous to his country.
MR. KING-Mr. Speaker, I should not have troubled this House with any remarks of mine, had it not been for the observations, which have just fallen from my colleague from North Car. olina. I shall not, fir, attempt to follow that gentleman in the his. tory which he has given of the progress of party in this country, but shall content myself with stating, that in our sentiments, we entirely differ; his is the doctrine of submission; yes, sir, the most abject fubmiffion, mine, I trust, is not. I am in favor of the ref. olution now on your table. I am aware, sir, of the many important considerations which will naturally suggest themselves to the mind of every real friend of his country, when he views the con. sequences which may result from the adoption of the measure now contemplated. When, fir, the habits of a nation, ingrafted as it were in its very nature, are about to be departed from; when the destinies of the country are about to be launched on an untri. ed ocean, and when the doubt is about to be solved, whether our republican government is alike calculated to support us through the trials and difficulties of war, and guide us in safety down the gentle current of peace, I am aware, fir, that we thould pause and ponder well the subject; that we should divest ourselves of those warm feelings which most generally take poslı ffion of our minds on viewing the unjust prostration of the rights of our country. Sir, that interest which I feel in common with others, on the decision of a question of such magnitude and importance, will I trust in. duce this House to bear with me a moment, whilst in a few words I explain the motives by which I am actuated in giving my de. cided approbation to the refolution now under consideration. If, sir, I were merely to turn my attention to the local situation of that portion of the country, which I have the honor particularly to represent; its extensive and exposed sea coasts, combined with its prefent commercial advantages; I should without hesitation give my vote to the proposed measure. But, fir, as in my indi. vidual capacity I feel at all times willing to make not only pecuniary facrifices, but to expofe, my person in vindicating the rights and interests of my country, in my representative capacity, I will undertake to say, that my constituents will do no lels. Sir, the demon Avarice which benumbs every warm emotion of the soul, has not yet gained the ascendency in the south, the love of coun. try animates every breast, and burns with unextinguishable ardor; fir, they feel in common I trust with a great majority of eve ery portion of this Union, the degradation of our country in submitting for a moment longer to the dishonorable terms proposed directly or indirectly by the British government. Mr. Speaker, I hold it to be correct, that in discusing a subject of such importance : a view of the various matters necessarily connected with it, will not be considered irrelevant; but, fir, I will not weary the patience of this House with a detail of injuries unparalleled in the history of former times, wantonly inflicted on a nation which