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Chap. vn. negatived by a majority of two voices; but in a 179*. few days, the consideration of that subject was
AnembMgo resumed, and a resolution passed, prohibiting all trade from the United States to any foreign port or place for the space of thirty days, and empowering the president to carry the resolution into effect.
This resolution was accompanied with vigorous provisional measures for defence, respecting the adoption of which, no considerable division of sentiment was avowed. A bill passed into a law for fortifying certain ports and harbours; and Mr. Sedgwick, from a committee to whom that subject was referred, reported a plan for the organization of 80,000 select militia, which was agreed to. This report also contained provisions for raising a corps of artillerists and engineers, not to exceed 800 men including officers, for the purpose of garrisoning the posts which had been or might be established for the defence of the sea coast, and a provisional army to consist of 25,000 men. Means were also used to replenish the magazines with arms and ammunition.
While the measures of congress thus strongly indicated the expectation of war, a public docu. ment made its appearance which seemed to demonstrate that Great Britain also was preparing for that event. This was the answer of lord Dorchester, on the 10th of February, to a speech delivered by the Indians of the Seven Villages of Lower Canada assembled at Quebec, as deputies from all the nations who had attended a great council held at the Miamis in the year 1793, ex
cept the Shawnese, Miamis, and Loups. In this Chap, Vh. answer, his lordship had openly avowed the 1794. opinion, founded as he said on the conduct of the American people, that a war between Great Britain and the United States during the present year was probable, and that a new line between the two nations must then be drawn by the sword.
This document was not authentic; but it obtained general belief, and contributed to confirm the opinion that war was scarcely to be avoided.*
On the 27th of March, Mr. Dayton moved a resolution for sequestering all debts due to British subjects, and for taking means to secure their payment into the treasury, as a fund out of which to indemnify the citizens of the United States for depredations committed on their commerce by British cruisers, in violation of the laws of nations.
The debate on this resolution was such as was to be expected from the irritable state of the public temper. The invectives against the British nation were uttered with peculiar vehemence. In advocating the measure, some members took occasion to remark that the proclamation of neu
* A copy of this speech was communicated to the president by governor Clinton, who also furnished such testimony of its authenticity as could leave not much doubt on that pointIn his letter acknowledging the receipt of it, the president requested governor Clinton to obtain that information respecting the population, the dispositions of the people, and the military strength of Canada, which in the event of war, it might be useful to possess.
Chap. vii. trality had not produced peace. A regard for 1794, peace had been construed into a fear of war. A resistance of the feelings of the people for the cause of France had been palatable food for British arrogance and presumption. Submission to aggression had invited new aggressions; appeals for justice had been deemed testimonies of debility; until at length the United States, after being stripped of their citizens and property, were upon the eve of a war because they had not exerted their rights at an earlier period.
Before any question was taken on the proposition for sequestering British debts, and without a decision on those proposed by Mr. Madison, Mr. Clarke moved a resolution, which in some degree suspended for a time the commercial regulations that had been so earnestly debated. This was to prohibit all intercourse with Great Britain until her government should make full compensation for all injuries done to the citizens of the United States by armed vessels, or by any person or persons acting under the authority of the British king; and until the western posts should be delivered up.*
• A few days before the motions of Mr. Dayton and Mr. Clarke, a report was made by the secretary of state relative to the vexations of American commerce committed by the officers and cruisers of the belligerent powers. It was made from materials collected in an inquiry which had been instituted by the president before the meeting of congress. In this report, after detailing the numerous complaints which were made against Great Britain, the secretary proceeded to notice those which were brought against other nations. Against France he said it was urged that her privateers ha
On the fourth of April, before any decision was Chap. Vh. made on the several propositions which have been 17g4. stated, the president laid before congress a letter just received from Mr. Pinckney, the minister of the United States at London, communicating additional instructions to the commanders of British armed ships, which were dated the eighth of January. By these instructions, those of the sixth of November were revoked; and, instead of bringing in for adjudication all neutral vessels trading with the French islands, British cruisers were directed to bring in those only which were laden with cargoes the produce of the French islands, and were on a direct voyage from those islands to Europe.
The letter detailed a conversation with lord Grenville on this subject, in which his lordship, after dwelling on the friendly dispositions to the United States, which had induced a revocation of the order of the sixth of November, explained the motives which had originally occasioned that order, and gave to it a less extensive signification than it had received in the courts of vice admiralty.
rassed the American trade no less than those of the British. That their courts of admiralty were guilty of equal oppression. That they had violated the treaty between the two nations. That a very detrimental embargo had detained a number of American vessels in her ports, and that the government had discharged a specie contract with assignats. The effect of this report seems to have been to excite a suspicion that the secretary of state was not sufficiently attached to liberty and to France.
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Chap, vii. It was intended he said to be temporary, and 1794. was calculated to answer two purposes. One was, to prevent the abuses which might take place in consequence of the whole of the St. Domingo fleet having gone to the United States; the other was, on account of the attack designed upon the French West India islands by the armament under sir John Jarvis and sir Charles Grey; but it was now no longer necessary to continue the regulations for those purposes. His lordship added, that the order of the sixth of November did not direct the confiscation of all vessels trading with the French islands, but only that they should be brought in for legal adjudication; and he conceived that no vessel would be condemned under it, which would not have been previously liable to the same sentence.
The influence of this communication on the party in the legislature which was denominated federal, was very considerable. They no longer thought war inevitable, but believed the door for negotiation to be open, and that the existing differences between the two nations still admitted of explanation and adjustment. Under the impression of this opinion, they strenuously opposed all measures which were irritating in their tendency, or which might be construed into a dereliction of the neutral character they were desirous of maintaining; but they gave all their weight to those which, by putting the nation in a posture of defence, prepared it for war, should negotiation fail.
On the opposite party, no change of sentiment or of views appears to have been produced. Their