« 前へ次へ »
Although the author of this information had been, and perhaps justly, branded, by gentlemen of all descriptions of party, with the epithets of traitor and spy; and although the evidence of a person standing in his peculiar situation ought to be received with many grains (he might say even pounds) ot allowance, it did not therefore follow that a committee would not have it in their power to extort from him, directly or indirectly, information which might be valuable to the community. If he could not give it himself, he might, either intentionally or unintentionally, lead a committee of this house to sources whence it might be procured. As a member of the committee of Foreign Relations he could not say that he had any particular anxiety to take his share of this burdensome and in some respects invidious duty ; yet, as a reference to that committee had been mentioned, he certainly should not shrink from the discharge of that portion of duty devolving on him, in case the house should give that direction to the papers.
In some respects, the character, he would not say of a portion, but of the whole nation, was implicated in this affair. The information was either of such a character as ought never to have been submitted to the house, such as was unworthy of notice, such as it would be a compromitment of the national character to act on; or else it was of a character which demanded that they should sift it, bolt it to the bran; that they should call the indivichual before them, if he was to be found within our jurisdiction ; that he should be called upon to say to whom, in what manner, and in what character, he had developed his views. When he said this, he did not give any pledge, that upon his (Henry's) testimony, he (Mr. Randolph) would condemn men of high minds and fair fame. You yourself, Mr.Speaker, (said Mr. Randolph) are too much in the practice of sifting evidence, not to know that we may reason from things false to things true ; that the falsehood of a witness is not unfrequently an unerring clue to truth. If, Sir, he should have it in his power to bring into question the character of any individual in this country, it will be competent to the party thus implicated, either by fair presumption or direct testimony, to rebut any such implication; or presumption or testimony still deeper will go very far to uphold and fix these imputations. You, Sir, are too well read in the history of the country from which we spring, not to be conversant in all the plots, from the Popish treasons in the reign of James the First, down to those of the Rye-house ; and from thence perhaps to the plot of Col. Despard. This witness, to be sure, stands before us in a most questionable point of view. He evidently undertook a service, in its nature not by any means enviable, not generally esteemed most honorable, with a view to reward. He points out specifically the nature of the reward he expected. It was in the power of a government at once the most corrupt and most wealthy perhaps in the world, by not a very unreasonable douceur for the services performed, forever to have sopped the barking of this political Cerberus. That government must have much underrated his services. But is this all? Was it not his business to enhance to this government, to magnify to a virtuous and therefore credulous people, the importance of the mission with which he was charged, and the zeal and ability with which he discharged its duties? On whose testimony are we to take the account of the mighty deeds performed? The place is pointed out; we have the where and the when ; but that all-importsnt fact, with whom, is studiously kept out of view. He has had it in his power to do great mischief to the United States. This is his story. In proportion to the mischief which he was able to inflict, ought his Services to have been appreciated by the British government, they entertaining the views which these papers ascribe to them. As they, for reasons best known to themselves, I suppose from that infatuation which sometimes attends the movements of governments, bave refused to give him adequate recompense, he turns his attention to
In proportion as his services were valuable to those to whom they were rendered, precisely in the same ratio must be the value of the disclosure made to us.
Without going further, Mr. R. said he was decidedly of opinion that the message should be referred to the Committee of Foreign Relations, with power to send for persons, papers, effects, and records ; that every thing which could be sifted out of this transaction be laid without reserve before the people. Nothing short of this would satisfy the public sentiment, nor did he think it ought.
Mr. Fisk said, that the remarks which had been made by gentlemen, induced him to ask the indulgence of the house to give some information, and make a few observations, relative to the subject now under consideration.--This Mr. Henry was an Englishman, but had long resided in this country; so long that he had obtained a captaincy in the army raised in the year 1798: he was a man of gentlemanly deportment, and reputed good moral character; that he (Mr. Fisk) and his colleague (Mr. Strong) well remembered when he passed through Burlington, in the spring of 1808, and that his object was at that time much suspected to have been what he now states -but as a politician, he was thought by the republicans to have been a firm believer in the British maxim, " that the end sanctifies the means”-and the federal party enjoyed the full benefits of his principles and labors, while he lived in Vermont. Sir, gentlemen say he is a traitor, a spy, and therefore what he here relates is not entitled to credit. However dishonorable a transaction like this may be deemed by our government, whose motives and conduct are directe ed and squared by the principles of morality and justice, yet I believe it is not thought so very disgraceful in the British government, as to be beneath her first characters to undertake. Sir, was the mission to Copenhagen, to destroy that city, murder the innocent inhabitants, and rob the Danes of their feet, a more honorable one than this? Certainly pot: and yet, sir, the famous Mr. Jackson, who went on that mission, was considered worthy of being a minister to this coun
try, where he was caressed and highly esteemed by some; and performed both missions much to the satisfaction of his master. Why, sir, can gentlemen seriously doubt the truth of these facts stated by this Mr. Henry, when they have it from the highest authority, that the former British minister, Mr. Erskine, while here at this very time, was in the same business this Henry was sent to perform? In a letter written by that minister to his government, and published by its order, he tells them, “I have endeavored, by the most strict and diligent enquiries into the views and strength of the federal party, to ascertain to what extent they would be willing and able to resist the measures of the party in power, and how far they could carry the opinions of this country along with them in their attempts to remove the embargo, without recurring to hostilities against both G. Britain and France.” And again he tells them in his letter of the 15th Feb. 1809, when speaking of the divisions which then agitated this country, and the opposition made to the laws by the people of the Eastern States, “ The ultimate consequences of such differences and jealousies arising between the Eastern and Southern States, would inevitably tend to a dissolution of the Union, which has been for some time talked of, and has of late, as I have heard, been seriously contemplated by many of the leading people in the Eastern division.”
Now, fir, when the British minister was on this business by order of his government, is it extraordinary or incredible that this Henry should be sent on the same errand by Governor Craig ? The occurrences of those times place the fact out of doubt? I perfectly recollect, that on my return home from this place, in March, 1809, I was informed of this Henry having passed through the country, and it was then conjectured that lie was on the very business which he now states. But, fay gentle. men, he libels and calumniates the government. Why, fir, he does not more so, than has often been done on this floor by a gentleman not now present, or than has been done for years by one description of presses and newspapers in this country.
This division of the Union is not a new subject. As early as the time the Jay treaty agitated this country, I saw 2 numbers in the Centinel, printed at Boston, ho!ding out the idea of a separa. tion of the states. I am very far from believing it was ever the wish of the great body of the federal party, or that they would knowingly join the enemies of this country, to effect such a purpose ; but that there are some who call themselves federalists, and who in principle and feeling are Englishmen, that would do it, I have no doubt.
From the very nature of things, all monarchical and despotic governments must always be inimical to, and leck the destruction of, this government, while it remains a free one ; and the only means of effecting this is by fomenting divisions among us, angļying one party against the other, and thereby dividing the Union. I believe this to have been the conftant' object of the British gnvernment from the date of our treaty of peace until now, and they will always join the minority, be its political character what it may. And I humbly hope this occurrence will be received as a solemn admonition by all citizens of this country to unite in support of their own government and liberties; and convince them in what estimation they are held, notwithstanding the professions of friendship made towards this country by the British government and its agents.
Mr. Smilie said, the character of this man was nothing to us, though it irigiu be to him, and he therefore should not follow the example of gentlemen who had made fo free with it. There was one point of view in which he considered the publication of thofe documents, which was of real importance : that they ex. hibited to the American people what sort of a nation we had to de al with. It appeared to him that Great Britain considered no means dishonorable, providid they would accomplish the at. tain:nent of her object. With respect to Mr. Wright's idea, that the publication of the papers would throw an odium on the leading parties in this country, Mr. S. said none of those papers said any thing more difrefpe&tful to the parties in this country than those parties had frequently said of each other in the public prints. He never had believed that the mass of the Federal par. ty wilhed a fiparation of the Union ; but that there were men in it attached to the British interests, he knew to be true. There was at least enough in these papers to put every man on his guard with respect to the insidious dishonorable conduct of that government, and he would therefore vote for printing five thou. fand copies.
Mr. Macon said, this was one of those debates which some. times arose in the Houfe, in which all were on one side of the question. Nothing can be more true than that these papers do prove that Great Britain has not yet ceased her attempts to disturb the peace of this nation. That they were genuine, he believed, although they came from a man whom that government had employed. There was nothing new in the manner of communicat. ing them. How was it in the conspiracy of Blount and Liston ? Mr. Adams communicated the disclosure to Congress. I im. agine that Burr's conspiracy was communicated by some one who was or had been engaged in it. In this case, a man who had been in the service of this government, preferring the British, was whilst in Canada engaged by Gov. Craig to go into a part of this country to endeavor to procure a division of the Union. Mr. M. said, he had four years ago stated that both Great Britain and France had agents in this country. Had they not had them in other countries? They had ; and he cited Holland as a particu• lar instance.
[Debate concluded in No. 23.]
No. 23.] TWELFTH CONGRESS....First Session., [1811-12.
[Debate concluded.] THE conftitution, said Mr. M. is founded on the Union of these ftates, and (if I may be allowed to use a word once fashionable) on the indivisibility of the empire. And what was the object of Great Britain ? For what did she employ this man ? To feparate the Union ; to destroy the constitution, the greatest work of the greatest men this country has produced. Sir, I was almost struck with horror, when such documents were reading, to fee that any man could laugh at them. They expose an attempt, not to ftab an individual, but, to stab a nation. Owing to our rela. tive situation in consequence of our revolution, you can never expect Great Britain to look upon you with as much friendship as other nations. There is another reason for her jealoufy : we have predicted over and over again that we shall, at one time or other, clip her maritime wing. She believes it ; and the exist. cnce of the nation depends on her preventing it.
The only question that presents itself is—Is the information useful to us? Does it not confirm every man in the belief, that while she is making professions of friendship through her minis. ter here, Great Britain is in another direclion plotting our destruction by her secret agents ? It would be happy for us if we had not allo French agents here. I never did believe the federal party had any notion of joining Great Britain ; but this nation, favored as it is, has yet not been clear of discord ; and to say. that there is not a man in the federal or republican parties who would with a union with Great Britain or France, would be to say what I do not believe.
So long, fir, as both belligerents remain as they have been for the last hundred years, willing to disturb the peace of the world, , so long we ought to watch their motions. Let the Executive have obtained these papers as he might, it became his duty to communicate them to Congress. They will convince every man in the nation, it appears to me, that all the talk about the friendship and good disposition of the British nation towards us was a mistake. May we not reasonably suppose that Great Britain moved the Prophet ? Whenever we come near a point with G. Britain, do not the Indians move? How was it before Jay's treaty, and whenever she is likely to assume a hostile attitude ? Exactly at those moments are the Indians moved upon you. To conquer this country by force of arms, if united, is impossible.