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With a navy of her own, America might co- Chap. Vh. operate to advantage with any power at war with 1794.~" Algiers, but it would be risking too much to depend altogether on any foreign nation.
To the argument that the force was incompetent to the object, it was answered, that, from the documents before them, and from the diligent inquiries of a large committee, the number and strength of the Algerine corsairs had been ascertained, and the armament contemplated in the bill was believed to be sufficient. If gentlemen thought differently it was surprising that they did not move to augment it.
The expense of the frigates had been strongly urged. But the saving in insurance, in ships and cargoes, and in the ransom of seamen, was more than an offsett against this item. "But is not the slavery of our fellow citizens, and the national disgrace resulting from it to be taken into the account ? these are considerations beyond all calculation. Who can, after reading the affecting narratives of the unfortunate, sit down contented with cold calculations and syllogisms ? their narratives ought to excite every possible exertion not only to procure the release of the captured, but to prevent the increase of the number of these unhappy victims.
That a bill providing six frigates to exist during the war with the Algerines should excite apprehensions of a large permanent navy, and of an immense debt, was truly astonishing. But even if the bill had not contained a clause enabling the president to discontinue the armament provided
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Chap, vii peace should be concluded with the regency of 1794. Algiers, the weight of the objection was denied. America was peculiarly fitted for a navy. She abounded in all kinds of naval resources, and had within herself those means which other nations were obliged to obtain from abroad. The nature of her situation, and the dispositions of a considerable proportion of her citizens, evinced still more the propriety of a naval establishment. Perhaps the country was not yet mature for such an establishment to any great extent. But the period was not far distant when it would be. The United States had an increasing population, much individual wealth, and considerable national resources. It was not believed that the expense of equipping a small naval armament for the protection of their commerce would be insupportable.
It was, however, matter of surprise that gentlemen who had deemed the improvement of American navigation as a source of defence, an object of so much importance as to be anxious to wage an immediate commercial war with Great Britain for that purpose, should avow such a fixed determination against resorting to that resource in any degree whatever under circumstances the most urgent.
The original resolution was carried only by a majority of two voices; but as the bill progressed, several members who were accustomed to vote in the opposition gave it their support; and on the final question a majority of eleven appeared in its favour. The other branch of the legislature conQuired, and it received the cordial assent of the Chap. Vu. president. 1794.
Pending these discussions, the irritations in which they commenced were greatly aggravated by accounts, that captures of American vessels by British cruisers were made to an extent altogether unprecedented; and early in March, an authentic paper was received which proved that those captures were not unauthorized.
On the sixth of November, 1793, additional instructions had been issued to the ships of war and privateers of Great Britain, requiring them to stop and detain all ships, laden with goods the produce of any colony belonging to France, or carrying provisions or other supplies to any such colony, and to bring the same with their cargoes to legal adjudication in the British courts of admiralty.
These instructions made a serious impression on the most reflecting and moderate men in the United States. It was believed that they could have originated only in a spirit of hostility which must lead to war; and that it had now become the part of prudence to prepare for that event.
On the 12th of March, Mr. Sedgewick moved several resolutions, the objects of which were to raise a military force, and to authorize the president to lay an embargo. The armament was to consist of fifteen thousand men, who should be brought into actual service in case of war with any European power, but not until war should break out. In the mean time, they were to receive pay while assembled for the purpose of discipline.
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Chap. Vii. which was not to exceed twenty-four days in each 1794. year. Some additional inducements to inlist were held out to the non-commissioned officers and privates.
After stating the motives which led to the introduction of these resolutions, they were laid on the table for the consideration of the members. Two days afterwards, a motion was made to take up that which related to an embargo; but this motion was negatived for the purpose of resuming the consideration of the commercial regulations which had been offered by Mr. Madison. On the motion of Mr. Nicholas, those resolutions were amended so as to subject the manufactures of Great Britain alone, instead of those of all nations having no commercial treaties with the United States, to the proposed augmentation of duties. They were again debated with great earnestness, but no decision on them was made.
In addition to the objections urged against them as forming a commercial system in time of peace, they were said to be particularly inapplicable to the present moment. If, as was believed, the United States were about to be forced into a war, the public counsels ought to be directed to measures of defence. In that event, the resolutions would, at best, be useless. But the greater the danger of war, the more incumbent was it on the government to unite public opinion in support of it; and this would best be effected by observing a line of conduct which would furnish no just cause of hostility. The commercial discriminations proposed were of a hostile and irritating nature. ■might render war certain, would be considered Chap, Vh, by many as unnecessary, and might impair that 1794. unanimity in which the great strength of the country consisted. It was submitted to the gentlemen to decide whether it was wise to press their system through with so small a majority as was in its favour.
The resolutions were defended on the principle, that though not in themselves contributing to the national defence, they would not prevent the adoption of such other measures as the state of things might render necessary. If war should take place, they could do no harm. But war must at some time be succeeded by peace; and they would form a valuable basis for negotiation.*
On the 21st of March, Mr. Sedgewick's motion authorizing the president to lay an embargo was
• In the course of this debate the resolutions were still considered as calculated to promote the interests, not of the United States but of France. Mr Ames said they had French stamped upon the very face of them. This expression produced a warm retort from colonel Parker. He wished there was a stamp on the forehead of every person to designate whether he was for France or Britain- For himself he would not be silent and hear that nation abused to whom America was indebted for her rank as a nation He was firmly persuaded that but for the aid of France in the last war, those gentlemen now on the floor who prided themselves in abusing her, would not have had an opportunity in that place of doing it. This sentiment produced a clap in the galleries. This indecorum was severely reprobated, and a motion was made to clear the galleries. Although the debate shows that the degree of sensibility excited by this disorder was extremely different in the different parties, it was justified by none and the galleries were cleared