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H. of R.]
[MAY, 1797 independence, and not to any exertions of our To the President of the United States : own. Our treaty with Great Britain is execrated;
Sir: The interesting detail of those events which they wish us to have no connexion with that have rendered the convention of Congress at this time country; they wish to destroy the trade of Great indispensable, (communicated in your Speech to both Britain, and they look upon us as her best cus- Houses,) has excited in us the strongest emotions. tomer.
Whilst we regret the occasion, we cannot omit to tesThe whole of these documents having been tify our approbation of the measure, and to pledge ourread, on motion, they were committed to the selves that no considerations of private inconvenience Committee of the Whole on the state of the shall prevent, on our part, a faithful discharge of the Union, and 500 copies ordered to be printed. duties to which we are called.
We have constantly hoped that the nations of EuANSWER TO PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
rope, whilst desolated by foreign wars, or convulsed by Mr. Venable, from the committee to whom it intestine divisions, would have left the United States was referred to prepare an Answer to the Speech to enjoy that peace and tranquillity to which the imparof the President, reported one, which was twice tial conduct of our Government has entitled us; and it read and referred to a Committee of the Whole. is now with extreme regret we find the measures of
On the Speaker inquiring for what day it should the French Republic tending to endanger a situation so be made the order, Mr. W. Smith mentioned to desirable and interesting to our country. morrow; Mr. Nicholas, Monday.
Upon this occasion, we feel it our duty to express, in Mr. Giles said the Answer could not be printed the most explicit manner
, the sensations which the before to-morrow. As it was perhaps the most present crisis has excited, and to assure you of our important Answer which was ever returned to a
zealous co-operation in those measures which may apSpeech since the commencement of the present pear necessary for our security or peace.
Although the first and most ardent wish of our hearts Government, and therefore ought to be well considered, he thought Monday was as early as it lic and with all the world, yet we can never surrender
is that peace may be maintained with the French Repubought to be taken up.
those rights which belong to us as a nation; and whilst Mr. Livingston said there was another reason we view with satisfaction the wisdom, dignity, and for delay. In the reading of the Answer, it ap- moderation, which have marked the measures of the peared io him to go to the approbation of all the Supreme Executive of our country, in its attempts to measures of the Executive in relation to foreign remove, by candid explanations, the complaints and nations. If he were not wrong in this, it was of jealousies of France, we feel the full force of that indigthe utmost consequence that the papers which had nity which has been offered our country in the rejection just been read, should also be laid before them of its Minister. No attempts to wound our rights as a previous to its discussion, as they could not form sovereign State will escape the notice of our constituan opinion on the subject until they had an oppor- ents: they will be felt with indignation, and repelled tunity of perusing these papers.
with that decision which shall convince the world that The question was carried for Monday.
we are not a degraded people; that we can never sub
mit to the demands of a foreign Power without examiCONTESTED ELECTION.
nation, and without discussion. Mr. New presented the petition of Robert Ru- !
Knowing, as we do, the confidence reposed by the therford, complaining of the undue election of people of the United States in their Government, we General Morgan, (for the district which he for: cannot hesitate in expressing our indignation at the merly represented,) and praying for redress in the sentiments disclosed, by the President of the Executive premises. Referred to the Committee of Elec- Directory of France, in his Speech to the Minister of
the United States
. Such sentiments serve to discover tions. Mr. W. Smith moved that, as the considera- real opinions of our constituents. An attempt to sepa
the imperfect knowledge which France possesses of the tion of the Answer to the President's Speech was
rate the people of the United States from their Govern. made the order for Monday, when this House ment, is an attempt to separate them from themselves ; adjourn, it might adjourn to that day. Agreed and although foreigners who know not the genius of to, and adjourned.
our country may have conceived the project, and foreign emissaries may attempt the execution, yet the united
efforts of our fellow-citizens will convince the world of Monday, May 22.
its impracticability. James A. BAYARD, from Delaware, appeared:
Happy would it have been, if the transactions disproduced his credentials, was qualified, and took closed in your communication had never taken place, his seat.
or that they could have been concealed. Sensibly, how
ever, as we feel the wound which has been inflicted, we ANSWER TO PRESIDENT'S SPEECH. think with you, that neither the honor nor the interest On motion, the House resolved itself into a Com- for preserving peace ; and we are happy to learn that
of the United States forbid the repetition of advances mittee of the Whole, Mr. Dent in the Chair, on
fresh attempts at negotiation will be commenced; nor the Answer reported to the President's Speech,
can we too strongly express our sincere desires that an which was read by the Clerk, as follows:
accommodation may take place, on terms compatible The committee to whom it was referred to prepare an with the rights, interest, and honor of our nation.
Answer to the Speech of the President of the United Fully, however, impressed with the uncertainty of the States, communicated to both Houses of Congress, on result, we shall prepare to meet with fortitude any Tuesday, the 16th May, 1797, report the following: unfavorable events which may occur, and to extricate
[H. OF R. ourselves from the consequences, with all the skill we will put an end to every friendly relation between the possess, and all the efforts in our power. Believing two countries; but we flatter ourselves that the Gove with you that the conduct of the Government has been ernment of France only intended to suspend the ordijust and impartial to foreign nations ; that the laws for nary diplomatic intercourse, and to bring into operation the preservation of peace have been proper, and that those extraordinary agencies which are in common use they have been fairly executed, the Representatives of between nations, and which are confined in their in-' the People do not hesitate to declare that they will give tention to the great causes of difference. We therefore their most cordial support to the execution of principles receive with the utmost satisfaction, your information, so deliberately and uprightly established.
that a fresh attempt at negotiation will be instituted; The many interesting subjects which you have recom- and we expect with confidence that a mutual spirit of mended to our consideration, and which are so strongly conciliation, and a disposition on the part of the United enforced by this momentous occasion, will receive every States to place France on the footing of other countries, attention which their importance demands; and we by removing the inequalities which may have arisen in trust, that by the decided and explicit conduct which the operation of our respective treaties with them will will govern our deliberations, every insinuation will be produce an accommodation compatible with the en. repelled which is derogatory to the honor and indepen-gagements, rights, duties, and honor of the United dence of our country.
States. Permit us, in offering this Address, to express our
“ We will consider the several subjects which you satisfaction at your promotion to the first office in the have recommended to our consideration, with the attenGovernment, and our entire confidence that the pre- tion which their importance demand, and will zealously eminent talents and patriotism which have placed you co-operate in those measures which shall appear necesin this distinguished situation, will enable you to dis- sary for our own security or peace. charge its various duties with satisfaction to yourself, “ Whatever differences of opinion may have existed and advantage to our common country.
among the people of the United States, upon national The Clerk having finished reading the Answer,
subjects, we cannot believe that any serious expectation the Chairman proceeded to read it paragraph by people from their Constitutional agents, and we should
can be entertained of withdrawing the support of the paragraph. The three first paragraphs were read hope that the recollection of the miseries which she without anything being said upon them ; but, upon herself has suffered from a like interference, would prethe fourth being read
vent any such attempt by the Republic of France; but Mr. Evans moved, that instead of " will be felt ! we explicitly declare for ourselves and our constituents with indignation,” should be inserted, “ will be that such an attempt would meet our highest indignafelt with sensibility,” as a milder phrase; as he tion, and we will repel every unjust demand on the wished to avoid using expressions more harsh than United States by foreign countries; that we will ever was necessary.
consider the humiliation of the Government as the Mr. Nicholas said. if his colleague would give greatest personal disgrace.” him leave, he believed he had an amendment to Mr. W. Smith was of opinion that the amendoffer, which would be proper to be offered before ment offered was wholly out of order, as it went one he had moved, as he believed there was a rule entirely to change the form of the Answer; and, in the House which forbids the striking out a clause before it couid be considered, would require to be after it had been amended; and if the amendment printed. he should propose obtained, it might be necessary Mr. NICHOLAS said, if the gentleman could to strike out a part of that paragraph. It was his inform him how he could have introduced it difintention to move a new paragraph, to be inserted ferently, he should be obliged to him. As to its between the first and second. He believed it being a substitute, every new matter introduced would be in order to do so.
might be so termed. He did not know how a new The Chairman wished the proposition to be section could be introduced, if there were any read.
weight in the objections urged against the propriMr. Nicholas asked if it was not always in ety of this. order to insert a new section.
Mr. THATCHER observed, the gentleman from The Chairman believed it was, provided it was Virginia bad read three or four paragraphs, in the not intended as a substitute for another.
form of amendments. He presumed he did not Mr. Nicholas said he should candidly avow it mean to add these, without striking out some part to be his intention to insert several new sections. of the report. He wished him to say what part For the information of the committee, he would, he meani lo strike out, that they might see how therefore, read the whole, though he meant, at the Answer would stand when amended in the present, to move only one.
way he proposed. If they stood together, they The following are the propositions which Mr. would be inconsistent. N. read in his place; the first of which was under Mr. Giles presumed it was the object of the consideration :
committee to bring into view a comparison of After the first section insert:
ideas in some shape or other, and he thought the “ Although we are actuated by the utmost solicitude amendment proposed was calculated to produce for the maintenance of peace with the French Repub- this effect. If he understood the Answer as relic, and with all the world, the rejection of our Minis- ported, it was predicated upon the principle of apter and the manner of dismissing him from the territo- proving all the measures which had been taken by ries of France, have excited our warmest sensibility; ihe Executive with respect to France, whilst the and, if followed by similar measures, and a refusal of all amendment avoided giving that approbation. The negotiation on the subject of our mutual complaints, I simple question was, which of the two grounds the
H. of R.)
Answer to the President's Speech.
House would take? He believed the best way of ments on this subject. It was to be expected that ascertaining this, would be to move to insert, and if there had been any intention in Government to if the amendments were carried, to recommit the have come to an adjustment of the difference bereport: to be made conformable to them.
tween the two countries, our Minister would have Mr. GALLATIN said, when an amendment was been clothed with some power of accommodation. carried which affected other parts of a composi- Mr. N. supposed that when the French Directory tion, it was not usual to strike out, but to re-com- agreed to receive him, this was their opinion ; but mit.
upon seeing his letters of credence, they found no The Chairman having declared the motion 'to such power was given or intended. [He read the be in order,
object of his mission from the President's Speech, Mr. Nicholas said, the present crisis was, in viz: “ faithfully to represent," &c.] his mind, the most serious and important which If these, he said, were all the objects expressed this country had known since the declaration of in his letters of credence-and if there had been its independence; and it would depend much, per- more, the President would doubtless have inhaps, upon the Answer which they were about to formed them of it--the matter perfectly justified return to the Speech of the President, whether the character he had given of it. we were to witness a similar scene of havoc and He made these observations, because he thought, distress to that which was not yet forgotten;such on an occasion like the present, the truth should as had been passed through upon an important be made to appear, and though an insult had been occasion, but such as could be entered upon only offered to this country, which could not fail to as a last resource. The situation in which we produce irritation, yet that irritation should stop stood with respect to France called for the most short of the point where it would produce action, judicious proceeding; it was his wish to heal the as he was certain any steps taken which might breach, which was already too wide, by temper- hazard the peace of the country, would not conate, rather than widen it by irritating measures. duce to the welfare of its citizens. He hoped, on this occasion, they should get rid There was a subject, he said, which seemed to of that irritation which injury naturally produced have involved itself with this, and of which he in the mind. He declared he felt for the insult should take some notice, viz: a charge against which had been offered to Mr. Pinckney; and he certain persons with being attached to the French felt more for him, from the dignity with which he cause. It might, perhaps, be the opinion of some had borne it, which had proved him a proper members of that House, more particularly of character for the embassy. He was sorry that it strangers, that he was improperly influenced by should have been thought necessary by the French party zeal in favor of the French, a zeal which it Republic to refuse to acknowledge him as the had been blazoned forth existed to an immoderate Minister of this country; but he did not think it degree in this country. He had frequently heard right to suffer this first impression to influence insinuations of this sort, which he considered so their proceedings upon this business. If the insults groundless as to be worthy only of contempt; offered were a sufficient cause for war, let the but when charges of this kind were made in the subject be examined by itself, separate from all serious manner in which they were now brought others; but, if it be our wish to proceed with ne- forward, it was necessary to call for proof. Who gotiation, he thought it wisest and best to adopt said he, is the man who has this proof ? He knew a firm but moderate tone.
For his own part, he had no intercourse As he before observed, he felt for the situation with the French but of the commonest kind. He of the gentleman employed by this country; he wished those who possessed proofs of improper thought it was a trying one, and did great honor conduct of this kind, would come forward and to himself, and he deserved the thanks of his coun- show them-show who are the traitors of whom try for the good temper with which he had sus- so much is said. He was not afraid of the imtained it; but Mr. N. confessed the subject did not pressions any such charges brought against him strike him with all the force with which it seem- might make upon his constituents, or where he ed to have impressed the mind of that respectable was known ; indeed, he had not the arrogance to character. He did not consider the insuli offered believe the charge was levelled against him, to Government as going further than the ill-treat- though he believed he was frequently charged ment which our Minister had received. He be with a too great attachment to the French cause. lieved that the circumstances, which appeared in When he first came into that House, he found the papers laid before them, in some degree ac- the French embroiled with all their neighbors, counted for the conduct of the French Govern- who were endeavoring to tear them to pieces. ment. It appears that at first the Directory were He knew what had been the situation of this willing to receive Mr. Pinckney, but when they country when engaged in a similar cause, and saw his credentials they refused to acknowledge was anxious for their success.
Was there not him. This circumstance, he said, seemed to give cause for anxiety, when a nation, contending for a character to the transaction which explained its the right of self-government, was thus attacked ? meaning.
Especially when it is well known, that if the It will be recollected, said Mr. N., that since the Powers engaged against France had proved succa use, or imagined cause (let it be one or the oth-cessful, this country would have been their next er) of complaint against ihis country, that there object. Had they not, he asked, the strongest has been an intercourse between the two Govern-proofs (even the declarations of one of their Gov
Answer to the President's Speech.
[H. OF R.
ernors) that it was the intention of England to measure which he was convinced was a misdeclare war against America, in case of the suc-chievous one. And he thought before gentlemen cessful termination of the war against France ? passed a vote which might eventually lead to It redounded to the honor of the citizens of this war, they ought to make a solemn pause. eountry, he said, that they had never shown a He confessed that he considered the answer redisposition to embark in the present European ported to them, as going to decide the question of war.
peace or war for this country. He thought it a He would mention another reason for his feel-ihing of that sort which might have the worst ing so sensibly in favor of the French cause. It possible effect, and could have no good effect. It was because he found so much indifference to it may tend to irritate, to prevent any sort of inquiry in this part of the country. He shuddered for his or settlement taking place, but it cannot send toown country when he found such a disposition wards an adjustment of differences. Gentlemen prevailing in any part of its citizens. He could could not suppose that a stormy threat, or the poi calculate upon the effects. He could not ac- most violent declamation against that country, count for it; especially when he found that a could have the effect in view. Does any gentledisposition unfriendly to Republican Government man believe, said he, that we are able to meet had arisen in the country. "It was to counteract them in war? If not, why make such declarathis disposition, that he opposed a contrary zeal, tions as shall preclude further negotiation ? We though he was not conscious of having been over are condemning the French Government because zealous.
they ask for redress, without listening to negotiaHe could not help taking notice of some cir- tion: yet we say to them, we are right; you have cumstances in the correspondence of Mr. Pinck- no cause to complain; all the departments of our ney, because he believed they would be made use Government have acted right. The President's of io influence the public mind. He meant the Speech, which he said they were about to echo, allusion which was made to the state of politics declared the Government has been uniformly in this country: Besides Mr. Pinckney's own right, and that he would never violate the princiopinion, be speaks of a late emigrant returned to ples which had been acted upon. France, who described this country as of no What, said Mr. N., can be expected, if we all greater consequence than Geneva or Genoa. At act upon this temper? Your declaration with Årst, he said, he supposed this to be one of those respect to France will probably reach that counthings which tended the same way with all the try before any Envoy can be sent to endeavor to rest; but he believed this was not the case. He negotiate a settlement of differences; and when knew only of one emigrant who had returned to they see, that if negotiation fail, we are deterFrance, who was of considerable consequence. mined on war, would not that be the reason for That emigrant, however, was not the associate of them to take the advantage of us? And if our the friends of France in this country, but of those Envoy was to be sent out under instructions corwho were most opposed to it; so that whatever responding to the temper which seems to prevail, opinions he might have formed of this country, with an idea that all had been fair and right on they were not gathered from the friends of the our part, little success could be expected from the French. But he could not see any certain deduc- embassy. Why endeavor to frighten them, when tion which could be made from such an opinion. we are the weakest Power ? He did not mean
He supposed that it would be said that great 10 recommend humiliating measures; he would efforts bad been used by the French faction in pledge himself not to submit to insult without that opposition which had been made to particu- redress ; nor was any man more unwilling to lar measures which have had relation to that make mean or improper concession than he; but country; but if gentlemen attended to the busi- the language of moderation and justice he preDess, it would be found that it was not in the ferred to a boasting manner. If injury or error power of gentlemen said to be in the French fac- had been committed on our part, he wished it to tion, to make any choice; they have merely de- be corrected. He considered it to be for the honeided on the subject before them. There was or, credit, and interest of this country, that the do choice to vote this way or that. Whatever committee should go into a fair and full examiappeared to them right in any measure, that they nation of the subject before them. He hoped, were obliged to do, and not because they had the therefore, that examination would take place. power of doing it; for it was not always right for The difference, Mr. N. said, between the Ada majority, because they could carry a measure, dress reported, and the proposition he had brought to exert iheir power. Suppose, said he, in the forward was this: the former approved all the present instance, there should be a majority in the measures of the Executive, and the latter recomHouse determined to carry a certain measure, mended an inquiry relative to the operation of though it should involve the nation in war, could the British Treaty. It was this question upon he, because he was called a French patriot, give which the committee would decide, and it was of up his opinion and join in the vote į He could importance, he said, that they should weigh the Dot. And if, by going into a measure of this causes of difference between us and the French kind, they produce division, they must not charge Republic, and not decide that we are right, withthose who opposed their measures with it. Those out examination, because, if, after being brought #bo produced the division must answer it. He to hostility, we are obliged to retract, it would would not, if bis life depended upon it, vote for a show our former folly and wantonness.
H. oF R.]
Answer to the President's Speech.
Mr. N. said he would inquire into the rights of denied the right that free ships make free goods. France as they respected three principal subjects, It was not indeed wholly given up, but we agree which were more particularly causes of complaint that it shall be suspended during the present war. between the two countries. These were, the He thought this wrong, and asked if any country, right of our vessels carrying English goods, the who granted a privilege to one nation which they article respecting contraband goods, and thai re- refused to another, could pretend to any firmness specting the carrying of provisions. He knew no in their proceedings ? He thought they could not. better way to determine how far we could support With respect to contraband articles, he had those articles of the British Treaty, than by ex- little to say. It was asserted that the articles tracting the arguments of our own Minisierial stipulated in the British Treaty as contraband, characters in support of these measures. With were made so by the law of nations. Where the respect to the question of free ships making free doctrine was found he could not say. It had been goods, his impressions were very different from quoted from Vattel; this authority might be corthose of the Secretary of State. He says, with rect; but he never found any two writers on this respect to the regulation of free ships making free subject agree as to this article. In a late publicagoods, it is not changing a right under the law of tion on the law of nations (Marten’s) he found it nations; that it had never been pretended to be a directly asserted that naval stores were not contraright, and that our having agreed to it in one in- band. But he said, if the contrary were the law stance, aud not in another, was no just cause of of nations, they were bound to extend the same complaint by the French Government. He advo- privilege to France which they gave to England: cates this transaction in his letter to Mr. Adet last they could not have one rule for the one nation, Winter. Mr. N. said, he knew not what was the and a different one for the other. origin of the law of nations upon the subject; he The 18th article of the British Treaty, respectknew not how it came into existence; it had ing the carrying of provisions, always struck him never been settled by any convention of nations. as a very important one. It had heretofore been Perhaps, however, the point now under considera- contended that this article did not go to any protion came as near to a fixed principle. as any other visions except such as were carrying to besieged of what are called the laws of nations ever did, or blockaded places; but he believed the British as only one nation in Europe could be excepted had constantly made it a pretence for seizing profrom the general understanding of it. Mr. Pick- visions going to France. Indeed, if he was not ering, he thought, seemed not to have given full mistaken, the British Minister had publicly deforce to this circumstance, but seemed to have clared in the House of Commons, that the proweakened the evidence. [He referred to what visions on board the vessels intended for the QuiMr. Pickering had said upon the subject.] It was beroon expedition had been supplied from what Mr. Pickering's idea, that the stipulation of free had been captured in American vessels. ships making free goods, was a mere temporary Mr. N. contended that this was the opinion of provision; that it was not an article in the law of the Executive of this country, as published in all nations, but a new principle introduced by the the public papers, and of course known to the contracting parties. In order to prove this was Government of France. In the letter of Mr. Jefnot the case, Mr. N. referred to the provisions en ferson to Mr. Pinckney in 1793, he declares that tered into by the armed neutrality of the north there is only one case in which provisions are conof Europe; to a treaty between France and Spain ; traband, and shows the necessity of a neutral nato a note from the Court of Denmark; and to the tion observing the same rules towards all the declaration of the United States themselves on Powers at war. But, in the present case, the right the subject.
was ceded during the present war. In his mind, therefore, Mr. N. said, it became in It was an unfortunate circumstance against the some degree certain, that this stipulation was an neutrality of this country, to find a doctrine so article in the law of nations, and that an abandon- differently applied at different times. It was a ment of it, as a neutral Power, was an abandon- strong proof of the progress of the passions. It ment of neutral ground.
might be considered as a fraudulent thing, in one But, said he, let us consider the circumstances instance, to give up a right for a compensation to under which this treaty was made ; let us see ourselves. whether it is the law of nations or not.
But Mr. Pickering, in his observations upon the intention of the parties to make the law of this circumstance, says, that this stipulation is nations as free as in their power; and if we really a beneficial thing to France, it encourages choose to abandon the principle of free ships mercantile adventures; but this Mr. N. denied, making free goods, shall we call upon France to and said, that if it encouraged adventure, it would do the same? This did not appear to be consist- also increase the facility of captures. ent with justice. Justice seemed to require an In considering the tendency of the amendment opposite course. If wecould not maintain this stipu- which had been proposed, he had not spoken of lation with all the world, we are bound to allow the possible operation of agreeing to the Answer, France the same privilege which we allow to any as reported, especially when carried by a small other nation. It was not for the interest of this majority of that House, and contrary to the wishes country to insist upon the fulfilment of hard trea- of a great part of the people of the United States. ties, to do which would be a greater loss than If the measure were carried by two, three, five, or benefit. In the treaty with Great Britain, we had ten votes, did gentlemen expect this would an