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asked from the French minister of foreign relations, he confirmed, in his answer of the 7th of October, 1807, the . determination of his government to adopt that construction. Its first application took place on the 10th of the same month, in the case of the Horizon, of which the minister of the United States was not informed until the month of November; and on the twelfth of that month, he presented a spirited remonstrance against that infraction of the neutral rights of the United States. He had, in the meanwhile, transmitted to America the instruction to the council of prizes of the 18th of September. This was received on the of December ; and a copy of the decision in the case of the Horizon, having at the same time reached government, the President, aware of the consequences which would follow that new state of things, communicated immediately to Congress the alteration of the French decree, and recommended the embargo, which was accordingly laid on the 22d of Dec. 1807 ; at. which time it was well understood, in this country, that the British orders of council, of November preceding, had issued, although they were not officially communicated to our government.
On the 11th of that month those orders did actually issue, declaring that all the ports of France, of her allies, and of any other country at war with England, and all other ports of Europe, from which, although not at war with England, the British flag was excluded, should thenceforth be considered as if the same were actually blockaded ; that all trade in articles of the produce or manufactures of the said countries should be deemed unlawful; and that every vessel trading from or to the said countries, together with all goods and merchandise on board, and also all articles of the produce or manufacture of the said countries, should be liable to capture and condemnation.
These orders cannot be defended on the ground of their being intended as retaliating on account of the Berlin decree, as construed, and uniformly executed from its date to the 18th September, 1807, its construction and execution having till then infringed no neutral rights. For certainly the monstrous doctrine will not be asserted even by the British government, that neutral nations are bound to resist, not only the acts of belligerent powers which violate their rights, but also those municipal regulations,
which, however they may injure the enemy, are lawful and do not affect the legitimate rights of the neutral. The only retaliation to be used in such cases, must be such as will operate on the enemy without infringing the rights of the neutral. If solely intended as a retaliation on the Berlin decree, as executed prior to the month of September, the British orders of council should have been confined to forbidding the introduction into Great Britain of French or enemy's merchandise, and the admission into British ports of neutral vessels coming from a French or other enemy's port. Indeed the ground of retaliation on account of any culpable acquiescence of neutrals in decrees violating their rights, is abandoned by the very tenour of the orders; their operation being extended to those countries from which the British flag was excluded, such as Austria, although such countries were neither at war with Great Britain, nor had passed any decree in any way affecting or connected with neutral rights.
Nor are the orders justifiable on the pretence of an acquiescence on the part of the United States, in the French decree as construed and executed subsequent to the 18th September, 1807, when it became an evident infraction of their rights, and such as they were bound to oppose. For their minister at Paris, immediately made the necessary remonstrances; and the orders were issued not only without having ascertained whether the United States would acquiesce in the injurious alteration of the French decree, but more than one month before that alteration was known in America. It may even be asserted that the alteration was not known in England when the orders of council were issued; the instruction of the 18th September, 1907, which gave the new and injurious construction, not having been promulgated in France, and its first publication haying been made in December, 1807, and by the American government itself.
The British orders of council are, therefore, unjustifiable on the principle of retaliation, even giving to that principle all the latitude which has ever been avowedly contended for. They are in open violation of the solemn declaration made by the British ministers in December, 1806; that retaliation on the part of Great Britain would depend on the execution of an unlawful decree, and on the acquiescence of neutral nations in such infraction of
their rights. And they were also issued, notwithstanding the oflicial communication made by the ministers of the United States, that the French decree was construed and executed so as not to infringe their neutral rights, and without any previous notice or intimation denying the correctness of that statement.
The Berlin decree, as expounded and executed subsequent to the 18th September, 1807, and the British orders of council of the 11th November ensuing, are therefore, as they affect the United States, co-temporaneous aggressions of the belligerent powers, equally unprovoked and equally indefensible on the presumed ground of acquiescence. These, together with the Milan decree of December, 1807, which filled the measure, would on the principle of self-defence have justified immediate hostilities against both nations on the part of the United States. They thought it more eligible in the first instance by withdrawing their vessels from the ocean, to avoid war, at least, for a season, and at the same time, to snatch their immense and defenceless commerce from impending destrúction.
Another appeal has in the meantime been made, under the authority vested in the President for that purpose, to the justice and true interest of France and England. The propositions made by the United States, and the arguments urged by their ministers, are before Congress. By these, the very pretext of the illegal edicts was removed, and it is evident that a revocation, by either nation, on the ground on which it was asked, either must have produced, what both pretended to have in view, a restoration of the freedom of commerce and of the acknowledged principles of the law of nations; or in case of refusal by the other belligerent, would have carried into effect, in the most efficient manner, the ostensible object of the edicts, and made the United States a party in the war against him. The effort has been ineffectual. The propositions have been actually rejected by one of the belligerent powers, and remain unanswered by the other. In that state of things, what course ought the United States to pursue? Your committee can perceive no other alternative but abject and degrading submission-war with both nations—or a continuance and enforcement of the present suspension of commerce.
The first cannot require any discussion. But the pressure of the embargo so sensibly felt, and the calamities inseparable from a state of war, naturally create a wish that some middle course might be discovered, which should avoid the evils of both, and not be inconsistent with national honour and independence. That illusion must be dissipated; and it is necessary that the people of the United States should fully understand the situation in which they are placed.
There is no other alternative but war with both nations, or a continuance of the present system. For war with one of the belligerents only would be submission to the edicts and will of the other; and a repeal in whole or in part of the embargo must necessarily be war or submission.
A general repeal, without arming, would be submission to both nations.
A general repeal and arming of our merchant vessels, would be war with both, and war of the worst kind, suffering the enemics to plunder us without retaliation upon them.
A partial repeal must, from the situation of Europe, necessarily be actual submission to one of the aggressors, and war with the other.
The last position is the only one on which there can be any doubt ; and it will be most satisfactorily demonstrated by selecting, amongst the several modifications which might be suggested, that which may on first view appear the least exceptionable ; a proposition to repeal the embargo, so far only as relates to those powers which have not passed or do not execute any decrees injurious to the neutral rights of the United States.
It is said that the adoption of that proposition would restore our commerce with the native powers of Asia and Africa, and with Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Russia. Let this be taken for granted, although the precise line of conduct now pursued by most of those nations, in relation to the United States, is not correctly ascertained. So far as relates to any advantages which would result from that measure, if confined to its ostensible object, it will be sufficient to observe that the exports of articles of the domestick produce of the United States, during the year ending the 30th September, 1807, amounted to $48,700,000, and that the portion exported to the countries above enumerat
ed, falls short of $7,000,000; an amount too inconsiderable, when compared with the bulk of our exports, to dea serve attention, even if a question assecting the independence of the nation was to be decided by considerations of immediate profit.
But the true effect of the proposition would be to open an indirect trade with Great Britain, which, through St. Bartholomew and Havanna, Lisbon, Cadiz or Gottenburg, would receive, at prices reduced by glutted markets, and for want of competition, all the provisions, naval stores, raw materials for her manufactures, and other articles which she may want.
Whether she would be satisfied with that favourable state of things, or whether, considering that boon as a pledge of unqualified submission, she would, according to the tenour of her orders, interrupt our scanty commerce with Russia and occasionally, under some new pretext, capture rather than purchase the cargoes intended for her own use, is equally uncertain and unimportant. Nor can it be doubted that a measure which would supply exclusively one of the helligerents, would be war with the other. Considered merely as a question of profit, it would be much more eligible at once to raise the embargo in relation to Great Britain, as we would then, at least, have the advantages of a direct market with the con
But the proposition can only be defended on the ground that France is the only aggressor, and, that having no just reason to complain of England, it is our duty to submit to her orders. On that inadmissible supposition, it would not only be more candid, but also a more dignified, as well as more advantageous course, openly to join Eng. land, and to make war against France. The object would be clearly understood, an ally would be obtained, and the mcanness of submission might be better palliated.
It appears unnecessary to pursue any further the examination of propositions, which the difficult situation of the United States could alone have suggested, and which will prove more inadmissible, or impracticable, as the subject is more thoroughly investigated. The alternative is painful; it is between a continued suspension of commerce, and war with both England and France. But the choice must ultimately be made between the two; and it is important that we should be prepared for either the one or The other.