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sir, even admitting that we were to sustain a temporary inconvenience from a small reduction in the price of the produce of our farms, are we to put a few cents difference in the price of a pound of cotton, or tobacco, or a barrel of flour, or a quintal of fish, in competition with the honor and general interest of our country? Is there a member of this House, is there a man in the commu mity, that would submit to see his neighbor drag ged into ignoble bondage, merely because it would produce a slight shock in the market for his produce? Such an idea would, I believe, be universally spurned at.
tion. And it is worthy of remark that, owing to the difference in the value of their cargoes and ours, the one consisting entirely of bulky articles, necessaries of life, and raw materials for manufactures, and the other made up of these materials after they have received the last touch of art and industry; if we succeeded in taking one for their three, the balance perhaps would be about equal.
The resolution has also been called a war measure. Now, I would ask, what is there warlike about it? Sir, I before have said, and I repeat it, that I deprecate war. With me it will always be But, Mr. Chairman, the strongest objection I a last resort. Recourse should be had to every have heard mentioned is, that if we do pass a non-peaceable means to obtain_justice, before an apimportation act, it cannot be executed, and either peal is made to arms. The resolution I conwe shall be laughed at by G eat Britain, or it will sider purely as a measure of that kind, and so it afford a pretext to her Minister, whose decision is must appear to the British Minister, unless he is well known, to let loose his cruisers and sweep determined on war, and then he will find some the ocean. This is the language used in Britain. pretext. It is common for persons going to war Their writers acknowledge that a non-import- to publish a declaration, stating their reasons in ation act would be to them a serious calamity, justification of their conduet to other nations. Let but comfort themselves with the reflection that it the British Minister take the resolution and pubcould not be executed. Now, I ask, what reason lish it at length, and will any other nation concan be assign d why it could not be as well exe-sider it as a sufficient ground for war? It merely cuted now as it was in former times? Are we so states that we consider ourselves injured, and that, abject, so degenerate, as to submit to such nation-in justice to ourselves, we must suspend our inal indignity rather than forego the pleasure result-tercourse until we obtain redress. The British ing from an indulgence in British luxuries? But Minister will never put his reputation and charait may give offence to the British Minister, who acter at hazard on such a foundation. will sweep the ocean with his cruisers. This, to be sure, is a sweeping objection, but how will it apply? What right has the British Minister to take offence at any regulations we may see proper to adopt? We have a moral, and we have a Constitutional right to manage our own commercial concerns in our own way, provided we do not infringe or violate the rights of other nations. This sacred trust has been committed to us by the people of this country, and I hope we will never feel disposed to resign it to any foreign Minister.
Mr. Chairman, in every point of view in which I have been able to consider this subject, the propriety of adopting the resolution which has been read, appears to me equally impressive; and, therefore, although it may be opposed, I cannot but hope it will receive the sanction of a large majority of the House. In this hope I am confirmed when I refer to the Journals and see what was done hy the House of Representatives, under circumstances somewhat similar to the present, in the year 1794. The same nation, of whose conduct we now complain, was then committing deBut admitting that great man with all his de- predations on our commerce. She had, on the cision. should let loose his cruisers, what will he 6th of November, issued her celebrated orders; and, gain? Is he not more at our mercy than we are it is worthy of remark, that these orders were first at his? If he attempts to make a general sweep, published by the cruisers which were acting unself-defence will justify reprisals. The debts ow-der them. The late captures, unauthorized by ing to British subjects, the immense property own- any public orders, but proceeding on a decree of ed by them in this country, will, of course, be laid their admiralty court, which it appears was to be hold of. I will perhaps be told here, that, by the considered as the signal for making the sweep, treaty of 1794, sequestration of debts is prohibit- evince a fixed system of hostility towards our ed. True; but if one of the contracting parties commerce, and an ungenerous mode of making its Violates the contract, the other is released from attacks. The unwary and unsuspecting fall a his obligation. If Britain violates nine articles of prey to their hidden designs. She was at that time the treaty, she cannot consider us bound by the also stimulating the Indians to commit hostilities tenth. Besides, her provinces are quite contiguous on our frontiers, and the western posts were not and open to us, and by securing them we would surrendered agreeably to what we considered the make ourselves masters of the fur trade, from true intent and meaning of the Treaty of 1783. which she derives such important advantages. To counteract these hostile measures, à proposiEven on the ocean. I doubt whether she would tio was made in the House of Representatives for be a gainer in the contest. And this is not mere suspeuding all commercial intercourse with that theory. During the last war our privateers capnation. That proposition was at that time adopttured more of their vessels than they took of oused by a very large majority. All parties united with all their navy. Our shipping then was not in giving it heir support. The great political more than a fourth of what we now possess and distinction, which has unfortunately prevailed too the number of seamen about in the same propor-long in this country, did not, on that occasion,
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discover itself a great deal. The representation from importing from Great Britain any articles, from the State in which I live, was at that time however necessary or convenient they may be; about equally divided between the two great con-while, at the same time, we are permitted to carry tending parties. and yet, on that question, their any articles to her market. The effect will be, votes were completely blended. The representa that while our productions are accumulating in tion from the Southern States, I observe, was genthe hands of the British manufacturers and mererally in favor of that measure. The respectable chants, they will have no means of paying for State of Virginia, in particular, which was repre- them; and of consequence debts to a very large sented by a constellation of talents. not only ranged amount will become due from British merchants itself on the affirmative side of the question by its 10 American citizens. Even at the present day, vote, but also bore a very distinguished part in I have great doubts whether there are not greater the argument in support of the measure. From sums due by the merchants of Great Britain to a similarity of circumstances, are we not now to the citizens of the United States than there are expect a similar result? Although the evil com recoverable debts due by American citizens to plained of is, in the first instance, more severely them. If so, what will become of the second exfelt in a particular section of the country, its ef-pedient proposed to be resorted to by my colfects will ultimately extend to every part of it. league, that of sequestration? The balance of And, so far as the honor of the Government is impli-injury, instead of being in our favor, will be cated, a sensibility arising from that source must necessarily be experienced by all its citizens at the same time.
Before I sit down, Mr. Chairman. permit me to say that, although my opinion on this subject is formed on the most mature reflection, yet, if a majority of the Committee think differently, if they prefer something more energetic, or if they have any other system which they consider more efficient to obtain the object, I may, for the sake of unanimity, be disposed to yield my opinion. Unanimity I consider as all-important. We are told, by a document on our table, that the nation, against whose conduct we complain, calculates on our divisions. Her hopes of being able to pursue her system, are built on an idea, that division among ourselves will prevent our adopting any efficient measures. In this hope, I trust, they will now be disappointed, and that we shall show to them and to the world, that however we may differ as to the administration of our internal affairs, on all great national questions, in which the honor and true interest of our country, in re lation to foreign governments, is involved, that we are but one people.
Mr. J. CLAY.-I had entertained a hope that the call of my colleague would have been deJayed for a few days longer, as the documents we have received from the Treasury Department have been but two days on our table, at least in a printed form, and as they are calculated to throw much light on the subject before us. In the few remarks which I am about to offer, I shall not follow my colleague through the detail he has made of the injuries and insults of Great Britain. We all of us wel! know that the national flag has been grossly outraged, and the national honor violated by her. But I do not conceive that the best mode of obtaining redress for these wrongs is to do that which will be more injurious to ourselves than to her. My objections to this resolution are twofold. The first is, thai. if carried into effect, it places greater means of injuring us in the hands of our enemy than she already possesses; and the second, that we shall not be able to maintain the course it points out for any length of time.
By the resolution before us we are prohibited
against us. If my colleague had looked over the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, and had attended to the amount of American property afloat, he would have seen that there is not less than one hundred millions of dollars worth of American property at the mercy of the cruisers of Britain. I believe that the naked vessels, independent of the products they carry, amount in value to more than thirty millions of dollars. It will be seen that the commerce of the United States in exports and imports amount to one hundred and fifty millions, of which it is fair to calculate that one-third is constantly exposed on the ocean. Of this amount about forty millions is carried on between the United States and the Power with whom it is proposed to cut off intercourse. With this fact staring us in the face, would it be politic to expose so much property to the retaliation of the British Ministry? When the gentleman spoke of the amount of British depredations, he ought to have stated the amount of those recently committed. I believe I am not very wrong in stating the whole amount of American property detained by British cruisers as not exceeding six millions of dollars. On balancing, therefore their interests, ought the United States to resort to measures of hostility; to measures which, in the opinion of every man, will justify retaliation?
Besides, I would wish my colleague to show us how we are to be supplied with articles heretofore derived from Great Britain. All articles of iron manufacture, hardware, of cotton and coarse woollens, we are obliged to import from that islland. From her East India dominions we likewise import a great variety of useful articles; while from her West India islands we import a great portion of one article, spirits which pays one-sixth of our whole amount of duties, the amount which we get from her colonies will be found to be two and a half millions of dollars. From the same document it appears that the whole of this article imported from the British dominions is consumed in the United States. But it is said that we may find a substitute for it. I acknowledge it. We may find this substitute iu the products of our domestic distilleries, which pay no duties. Are we prepared to sacrifice so
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large a part of our revenue as is derived from the set up. Besides, in 1793, the spirit of this counimportation? For it will be observed that other try was very different from that which now prekinds of spirits are in a great measure exported vails. The Revolution of France had, at that from the United States, while all that we import time, rekindled the enthusiasm of our own Revofrom British settlements is consumed in this coun-lution, and I believe I shall not be incorrect in try. If the importation of British manufactures saying that a majority of our citizens were in is p ohibited. I do not know whence we are to be favor of drawing the sword in favor of France. furnished with the articles we stand in need of. I ask, if that is the case now? If a majority of It is true that France has some rising manufac- the people of America are ready to take part with tures, and she takes off about a fourth part of the the Emperor Napoleon? And, notwithstanding cotton exported from the United States. But are the measures then taken, in 1794 we concluded a we, by this measure, to cut off the market of the treaty which sacrificed everything we had conagriculturist for this article to the extent of tended for, and for which I believe my colleague ninety thousand bales at present annually ex-voted, at least for appropriations to carry it into ported to Great Britain? operation. If this was the issue of violent meas
for taking measures which my colleague says will strike at the vitals of Great Britain, but which, he says at the same time, will not be a cause of war. I am, on the contrary, in favor of such measures as we are able to carry into effect, and which may be adopted without permanent injury to ourselves.
But the great and material injury to the Unitedures. I am not now for taking them. I am not States will be from the destruction of revenue occasioned by this measure. The present revenue may be estimated at $12.000.000, of which the sum of $5.400 000 is paid on importations from Great Britain and her dependencies. We have an annual appropriation of $8.000.000 for the payment of the principal and interest of the public debt. We have been engaged in extinguishing this debt for near twenty years, and have so far succeeded.
It is a probable calculation that if we remain at peace, and do not cut off the right hand of our revenue, the debt will be extinguished by the year 1816. To me this is an object as desirable as it can be to my colleague. I do not. therefore, wish to deprive the Government of this large share of revenue derived from duties on merchandise imported from Great Britain.
Mr. CROWNINSHIELD. The gentleman from Pennsylvania, who has last spoken, regrets that this subject has been taken up so soon, but I regret it has not been taken up an earlier period. Although, after I found certain information called for, I moved for other documents, calculated to shed further light on the subject, yet I then said, and I am still convinced that this information could not influence my decision on the subject under consideration. The documents called for are, however. now before us, and it appears that As to the effects of this measure on Great Brit- the balance of trade between the United States ain, I might acknowledge, if it could be perma- and Great Britain is from eleven to twelve milnent that it might raise a clamor among her mer- lions against us. This difference we are obliged chants and manufacturers, which might induce the to make up by remittances in cash or bills from Minister of that nation to relax in the course now other countries; when, if we did not purchase of pursued. But I will appeal to any gentleman her more than we sell to her, we should not owe conversant with the state of the country from the this annual balance, and the amount would sureyear 1792 to this time, to say whether there is ly be returned to the United States, very probably any probability of our being able to endure a non- in cash, as a balance in our favor from other Euimportation of British goods for any length of ropean nations. The trade, therefore, with Great time; for more than about six or eight months. Britain, so far as relates to the balance, is disadWe have neither stock enough on hand, nor man- vantageous to us. The gentleman from Pennsylva ufactures or manufacturers of our own to enable nia (Mr. CLAY) thinks that this resolution will maus to do so. It is true that our manufactures are terially injure us, while it will inflict little injury advancing surely, though slowly, and I may state on Great Britain. But there can be no doubt the in corroboration of this fact, what may not gen-measure it contemplates will injure Great Britain erally be known, that in the city of Philadelphia, manufactures are now carried on to a greater extent than they were forty years ago in the town of Birmingham. But can we, from this source, or from foreign markets, supply the great demand of our citizens? No. There are some articles which we may obtain elsewhere. Let us then prohibit the importation of these from Britain. Let us carry such a system as this into effect. One which, as it will do us little injury, is likely to be permanent, and will therefore have a permanent influence on Great Britain.
My colleague has alluded to the measures taken in the year 1793. But he will recollect that the orders issued by the British Government at that period went much further than the principle now
vastly more than it will injure us. Great Britain has, without any cause whatever, condemned our vessels engaged in the carriage of colonial productions, the bona fide property of American citizens. The gentleman has acknowledged that these captures may amount to six millions of dollars. I do not know the amount, but if the adju dications continue, I believe it will soon exceed that sum. But if the amount did not exceed one million, we are bound in duty to protect our merchants. The gentleman, in his remarks goes on the calculation that Great Britain will go to war with us if we adopt this resolution. But I have no such idea. If, however, I held that opinion, I should not on that account withhold my approhation from it. Because I believe if a war should
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take place, the United States will have a great advantage over Great Britain. We should be able, in that event, to fit out a great number of privateers, and we should make two captures to their one. If a war should take place, which I do not hesitate to say I should greatly deprecate, we should take twice as much of their property as they would take of ours. But we are not, by the adoption of this resolution, about to enter into war with Great Britain. No such thing is in the contemplation of any gentleman. We are merely about to prohibit the importation of British goods in consequence of her having seized our vessels engaged in carrying on a lawful commerce, and in consequence of her seizure of American citizens protected by the American flag.
With regard to the measure contemplated by the resolution, I hope that Great Britain will not permit it to go into operation; that she will, on the contrary, on mature reflection, give us back the property she has wrongfully taken from us and liberate our seamen from the captivity in which
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goods can afterwards be safely transported to any belligerent country in Europe, in the same bottom on which they were originally imported, or on any other neutral bottom whatever. This appears to have settled the question, and numerous decisions in England bath before and since that time have confirmed the principle as a correct one. But notwithstanding all this, to our astonishment, the same adjudications have been renewed, and the same principle, considered as abandoned last war, is now revived. In the early part of the last summer we find it once more brought into existence, and the following case was made use of, as a fit pretext, to warrant the new captures which were intended should be made under this extraordinary decision of the court of appeals; In the latter part of the late war which was terminated by the treaty of Amiens. an American vessel was carried into the Island of New Providence, and adjudicated. An appeal was carried to Great Britain, where the condemnation was affirmed on the ground that she was carrying on a trade during war which was not allowed in time With regard to the observation of the gentle- of peace. Under this decision the cruisers of man, relative to our inability to supply ourselves Great Britain have seized a great number of with the goods we get from her settlements in the other vessels. I know this case particularly. The East Indies. I think it proper to observe that they vessel I have referred to, was the Essex, Captain may be obtained from other colonies in that quar- Orne. There was a direct importation of her ter; and as to spirits, there can be no doubt of our cargo into Salem, in Massachusetts; after remaingetting a sufficient quantity of spirits, notwith- ing stored three or four weeks, the duties having standing the adoption of this resolution. But been paid, it was shipped for the Havana. Qa suppose we could not obtain a sufficient quantity her passage to Havana, she was seized, and adof rum, or manufactured articles for our ordinary judicated in New Providence. There was an supply, and the revenue should be thereby affect-appeal, and after remaining nearly four years uned for a time. We ought not to be governed by decided, the judgment is at last confirmed in Eng. this consideration. But I believe the industry land, and the capture of American vessels comand enterprise of our merchants would soon ob-mences. Can we put up with such decisions? tain from other markets, a sufficient supply of every article, woollen goods, perhaps, excepted.
she detains them.
Can we agree to them? If this principle be allowed, I desire to know whether the whole carryIn November, 1793, Great Britain adopted a ing trade of the United States will not eventusimilar principle with regard to the colonial trade, ally be sacrificed? By the carrying trade, I mean except that the orders issued at that time went the direct trade to and from the colonies, as well further than the present principle. In conse- as to Europe. If we acquiesce in their capturing quence of these orders four or five hundred of our a part, Great Britain will extend her captures still vessels were seized. Every one knows the con- further, and make a sweep of our whole trade. duct of the American Government at that time. A For my part, I am not willing to make this sactreaty was finally made in which Great Britain pro-rifice; if it were no more than a million I could mised to pay for the aggressions committed by her not agree to it. vessels on neutral rights. But nearly ten years elapsed before our merchants received compensation for their losses. This principle slept till 1801. Great Britain did not find it convenient to call it again into existence before that time. It then appears by a correspondence between Mr. King, then our Minister at the Court of Great Britain, and Lord Hawkesbury, that she attempted to renew it at this time. Mr. King, however, remonstrated; and he finally received a note from Lord Hawkesbury, who had referred the subject to the Attorney General of Great Britain, admitting that the seizure, under this principle, was not warrantable. The opinion is this: that the neutral has a right to carry on a commerce with the enemies' colonies. That the continuity of the voyage is broken when the return cargo is landed in the neutral country, and has paid duties there, and that the
As to the impressment of our seamen, that too is a subject of most serious complaint. We have called for a document on this point, which unfortunately is not yet on our tables. It is so extensive, and the information drawn from such various sources, that the Secretary of State has not yet been able to present it. We have, however, understood, that the number of our impressed seamen amounts to above 3,000. During the last war Great Britain impressed upwards of 2000 of our seamen, of which she restored 1,200. proved to be American, and 800 remained in her possession at the peace. In the short period of two years she has impressed 3,000 seamen. I believe that we are bound, by all peaceable in eans, to ob tain the liberation of these men. Lately, one of our frigates was shipwrecked off Tripoli, and 300 men taken captives. We immediately passed a
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new appropriation bill, and sent out several additional frigates. The affair has terminated honorably to our country, and our seamen are released. Will we not now do as much for 3,000 seamen, as we then did for 300, which are but a tenth part? After the course we are now taking, should Britain persist in her captures and in ber oppressive treatment of our seamen, and refuse to give them up, I would not hesitate to meet her in war. But, as I observed before, I do not believe Great Britain will go to war. Our trade is too valuable to her. She knows, too, that in such an event she will lose her Eastern provinces. The States of Vermont and Massachusetts will ask no other assistance than their own militia to take Canada and Nova Scotia. Some of her West India islands will likewise fall. She knows also other things. Her subjects own sixteen millions of the old public debt of the United States, eight millions of the Louisiana stock, and three or four millions bank stock, and have private debts to the amount of ten or twelve millions; amounting in the whole to nearly forty millions of dollars. Will Great Britain, by going to war, risk her provinces, and this large amount of property? I think she will not put so much to hazard. I believe she will take no other steps than are usual with regard to neutral trade. As I said before, the risk of a contrary course will be too great. Her Minister is now trying a system, the continuance in which will depend on us. He means to see how much we can bear. By this step we shall put an end to it. If, before it goes into effect, we give him time to reflect, he will, rather than experience the injury that menaces his country, pay for the property that has been condemned, and release our seamen. Under these circumstances, and viewing the resolution as a pacific measure, I hope it will be adopted unanimously.
(it is true) that it is not a war measure; but they defend it on principles which would justify none but war measures, and seem pleased with the idea that it may prove the forerunner of war. If war is necessary-if we have reached this pointlet us have war. But while I have life. I will never consent to these incipent war measures, which, in their commencement breathe nothing but peace, though they plunge at last into war. It has been well observed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania behind me (Mr. J. CLAY) that the situation of this nation in 1793, was in every respect different from that in which it finds uself in 1806. Let me ask, too, if the situation of England is not since materially changed? Gentlemen who, it would appear from their language, have not got beyond the horn-book of politics, talk of our ability to cope with the British navy, and tell us of the war of our Revolution. What was the situation of Great Britain then? She was then contending for the empire of the British channel, barely able to maintain a doubtful equality with her enemies, over who she never gained the superiority until Rodney's victory of the twelfth of April. What is her present situation? The combined fleets of France, Spain, and Holland, are dissipated, they no longer exist. I am not surprised to hear men advocate these wild opinions, to see them goaded on by a spirit of mercantile avarice, straining their feeble strength to excite the nation to war, when they have reached this stage of infatuation, that we are an over-match for Great Britain on the ocean. It is mere waste of time to reason with such persons. They do not deserve anything like serious refutation. The proper arguments for such statesmen are a straight waistcoat, a dark room, water gruel, and depletion.
It has always appeared to me that there are three points to be considered, and maturely considered, before we can be prepared to vote for the resolution of the gentleman from Pennsylvania: First. Our ability to contend with Great Britain for the question in dispute: Secondly. The policy of such a contest: Thirdly. In case both these shall be settled affirmatively, the manner in which we can, with the greatest effect, re-act upon and annoy our adversary.
Mr. J. RANDOLPH.-I am extremely afraid, sir, that so far as it may depend on my acquaintance with details connected with the subject, I have very little right to address you, for in truth, I have not yet seen the documents from the Treasury, which were called for some time ago, to direct the judgment of this House in the decision of the question now before you; and, indeed after what I have this day heard, I no longer require that Now the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. document or any other document-indeed I do CROWNINSHIELD) has settled at a single sweep, not know that I ever should have required it-to to use one of his favorite expressions, not only that vote on the resolution of the gentleman from Penn- we are capable of contending with Great Britain sylvania. If I had entertained any doubts they on the ocean, but that we are actually ner supewould have been removed by the style in which rior. Whence does the gentleman deduce this the friends of the resolution have this morning inference? Because, truly, at that time when discussed it. I am perfectly aware, that on en- Great Britain was not mistress of the ocean, when tering upon this subject, we go into it manacled. a North was her prime minister, a Sandwich the handcuffed, and tongue-tied; gentlemen know that first lord of her admiralty, when she was governed our lips are sealed, on subjects of momentous for- by a counting-house administration, privateers of eign relations, which are indissolubly linked with this country trespassed on her commerce! So, too, the present question, and which would serve to did the cruisers of Dunkirk; at that day Suffreid throw a great light on it in every respect relevant held the mastery of the Indian seas. But what is to it. I will, however, endeavor to hobble over the case now? Do gentlemen remember the capthe subject, as well as my fettered limbs and pal-ture of Cornwallis on land. becau e De Grasse sied tongue will enable me to do it.
I am not surprised to hear this resolution discussed by its friends as a war measure. They say
maintained the dominion of the ocean? To my mind no position is more clear, than that if we go to war with Great Britain, Charleston and Boston,