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If the war in which we have been rashly plunged, was undertaken to appease the resentment or secure the favour of France, deep and humiliating must be our disappointment. For although the emperor is lavish in his professions of “ love for the American people," applauds our ready self-devotion, and declares “ that our commerce and our prosperity are within the scope of his policy,”yet no reparation has been made or offered for the many outrages, indignities, and insults he has inflicted on our government, nor for the unnumbered millions of which he has plundered our citizens. And when we consider the course of policy pursued by our rulers in their external relations and commercial restrictions, from the prohibition of our trade to St. Domingo, to the declaration of war against Great Britain; that this course often received his open appro. bation, and was not unfrequently conformable to the system which he himself had adopted; when we consider also the mysterious secresy which has veiled the correspondence of the two governments from our view; and, above all, when we consider that in many instances the most important measures of our government have been anticipated in Paris long before they were known to the American people, we cannot conceal our anxiety and alarm for the honour and independence of our country. And we most fervently pray, that the sacrifices we have already made, like the early concessions of Spain and Portugal, of Prussia and Sweden, may not be the preludes to new demands and new concessions; and that we may be
preserved from all political connexion with the common enemy of civil liberty.
To the constituted authorities of our country we have now stated our opinions, and made known our complaints. Opinions, the result of deliberate reflection; and complaints,
wrung from us by the tortures of that cruel policy” which has brought the good people of this commonwealth to the
A policy which has annihilated that commerce so essential to their prosperity; increased their bur. dens while it has diminished their means of support; provided for the establishment of an immense standing army, dangerous to their liberties, and irreconcileable with the genius of their constitution; destroyed their.just and constitutional weight in the general government, and, by involving them in a disastrous war, has placed in the power of the enemy the controul of the fisheries, a treasure of more value to the country than all the territories for which we are contend. ing, and which furnished the only means of subsistence to thousands of our citizens; the great nursery of our seamen, and the right to which can never be abandoned by New England. Under such circumstances, silence towards the government would be treachery to the people. In making this solemn representation of our sufferings and our dangers, we have been influenced only by the duty which we owe to our constituents and our country, to our consciences and the memory of our fathers. And to the Searcher of all hearts we appeal for the purity of our motives and the sincerity of our declarations.
verge of ruin
Far from wishing to embarrass the administration in any of their negotiations for peace, we cannot but express our regret that they should not have evinced a sincere desire for this great object, by accepting some of the repeated overtures made by the enemy for the suspension of hostilities : and permit us, in conclusion, most earnestly to request, that measures may immediately be adopted to stay the sword of the destroyer, and to revent further effusion of human blood; that our invading armies may be forthwith recalled within our own territories; and that every effort of our rulers may be speedily directed to the attainment of a just and honourable peace; that mutual confidence and commercial prosperity may be again restored to our distracted and suffering country; and that by an upright and faithful administration of our government, in the true spirit of the constitution, its blessings may be equally diffused to every portion of the union.
In the house of representatives, June 14th, 1813.
for concurrence. TIMOTHY BIGELOW, Speaker. In senate, June 15, 1813.
Read and concurred.
JOHN PHILLIPS, President.
A true copy:
Clerk of the Senate.
Clerk of the House of Representatives. To the honourable the Senate and house of Representatives of the
United States of America in congress assembled. The undersigned committee, chosen by the minority of the senators and representatives of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, beg leave to represent, that they have perceived with extreme regret, that the legislature of this state, in their present session, have presented a remonst ince to congress denouncing the administration of the general government, reprobating the war, as improper, impolitic, and unjust; impeaching the motives of the congress which declared it, exVOL. I.
eusing and justifying all the aggressions of Great Britain, and charging the majority of the representatives of the people with wantonness, ambition, oppression, and cruelty: while the executive of the United States is steadily pursuing that course of policy, which alone can secure a safe, equitable, honourable, and permanent peace, and are actually negotiating to effect it, it is impossible to conceive what good motive could induce the legislature of this state to vote a remonstrance so unreasonable in its origin, reprehensible in its language, erroneous in its facts and principles, and pernicious in its effects.
Who, that is American, can but feel indignant to hear it stated by the legislature of a state, that we ought to have resisted the French decrees, agreeably to the demand of the British government; that we have seduced her seamen from their allegiance, and that we have invaded the territory of a peaceable and unoffending neighbour? Where is the man, who values his reputation, who would not indignantly frown at the insinuation, that war was waged from motives of ambition or lust of conquest; that we are leagued with France, to oppose the European nations, and that our government have established a chain of military posts, "to prostrate the civil to the military authority ?” And what man, not exclusively British, can, without the deepest mortification, read a remonstrance, which, in the time of war and pending negotiation, should take the enemy's ground, support their claims, and justify their aggressions? We assure the congress and people of the United States, that we utterly protest against the statements and principles contained in that humiliating remonstrance. It appears to us too much like the attempt of a disappointed and malignant faction, who, to obtain power, would trample on the rights and liberties of their country. We do not, however, apprehend that any faction in this country have either the power or the nerve to effect a purpose of this sort. We trust and sincerely believe that the people would resist, and effectually suppress every attempt to sever or weaken our bond of union. We are aware that it is in times of calamity and war that ambitious and designing men will be tempted to stir up the people to opposition and rebellion. But we are assured that a large majority of the people of this state would, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, resist all opposition to the laws and government of their country. We believe the war to be just and necessary; that the government have invariably maintained strict justice and impartiality towards the belligevents of Europe; that they have submitted to an accamulation of wrongs which no other nation would have endured; they have negotiated until negotiating was vain; that it is their intention, as it is their duty, to protect the rights of commerce and of sailors,“ peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must." That since the pretended repeal of the orders in council, every pacific advance has been made, both by the executive and by congress, which was consistent with the rights and honour of the nation. And that we are willing to endure all the evils and privations of this war, and to expend our property and our blood in its prosecution. We hope the legislature of Massachusetts have better evidence of their consistency, prudence, patriotism, and love of peace, than is contained in their extraordinary remonstrance.
We wish for peace, but we fear that this remonstrance, if it has any effect, will tend to prevent rather than to accomplish it. We hope that the very proper course adopted by the administration to effect a peace, will meet with the success to which it is entitled: but should Great Britain, regardless of the numerous wrongs she has inflicted on us, and calculating on her power, or encouraged by her friends in America, persist in her hostile pretensions, we have no doubt but the people of this state will cordially, actively, and zealously come forward and lend their aid in the prosecution of the war, until our rights are established on a permanent basis. (Signed)
Message from the President of the United States, transmitting
information touching the French decree purporting to be a repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees; in pursuance of the
resolutions of the House of the twenty-first of June last. To the House of Representatives of the United States.
I transmit to the house of representatives a report of the secretary of state, containing the information requested by their resolutions of the 21st of June last.
JAMES MADISON. Washington, July 12, 1813. The Secretary of State, to whom was referred several reso
lutions of the House of Representatives of the 21st ultimo, requesting information on certain points relating to the French decree of the 28th April, 1811, has the honour to make to the President the following
REPORT: In furnishing the information required by the house of representatives, the secretary of state presumes that it might be deemed sufficient for him to state what is now demanded, what part thereof has been heretofore communicated, and to supply the deficiency. He considers it, however, more conformable to the views of the house, to meet, at this time, without regarding what has been already communicated, every inquiry, and to give a distinct answer to each, with the proper explanation relating to it.
The house of representatives has requested information, when, by whom, and in what manner, the first intelligence was given to this government of the decree of the government of France, bearing date on the 28th April, 1811, and purporting to be a definitive repeal of the decrees of Berlin and Milan; whether Mr. Russell, late charge d'affaires of the United States to the government of France, ever admitted or denied to his government the correctness of the declaration of the duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow, as stated in Mr. Barlow's letter of the 12th May, 1812, to the secretary of state, that the said decree had been communicated to his, Mr. Barlow's, predecessor there, and to lay before the house any correspondence with Mr. Russell on that subject, which it may not be improper to communicate, and also any correspondence between Mr. Barlow and Mr. Russell, in possession of the department of state ; whether the minister of France to the United States ever informed this government of the existence of the said decree, and to lay before the house any correspondence with the said minister relative thereto, not improper to be communicated, with any other information in possession of the executive, which he may not deem it injurious to the public interest to disclose, relative to the said decree, tending to show at what time, by whom, and in what manner, first made known to this government, or to any of its representatives or agents ; and lastly, to inform the house whether the government of the United States hath ever received from that of France any explanation of the reasons of that decree being concealed from this government and its minister for so long a time after its date, and if such explanation has been asked by this government, and has been omitted to be given by that of France, whether this government has made any remonstrance or expressed any dissatisfaction to the government of France at such concealment?