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the house is wholly without information. For myself, I am ready to declare that I have neither seen, nor known, nor heard, of any circumstances in the general posture of affairs, or in the particular relations of this country to them, that can account for the unequal and injurious arrangements which we are now called upon for laws to execute. But there is something further to be taken into account; I mean the continuance of the spoliations on our trade, and the impressment of our seamen, whether to be understood as practical comments on the treaty, or as infractions of it, cannot but enforce on the minds of the committee the most serious reflections. And here, sir, I beg leave to refer once more to the passage I have already read, extracted from the letter of Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Pinckney, and to ask if, as there stated by the executive, our neutrality and peace are to be exposed by permitting practices of that kind, what must be thought of our giving effect, in the midst of such practices, to a treaty from which a countenance might be derived by that nation for going on further with them.
I am aware that the executive, notwithstanding the doctrine and policy laid down as above, has finally concurred in the treaty under all those circumstances. But I do not consider that as invalidating the reasoning drawn from the present state of things. I may be treading on delicate ground; but I cannot think it improper to remark, because it is a known fact, that the executive paused for some weeks after the concurrence of the senate, before he ratified the treaty with his signature; and I think it may fairly be presumed that the true grounds of that pause were the renewal of spoliation, and a recollection of the lights in which they had been represented; that on that supposition he was probably influenced in signing the treaty when he did, by an expectation that such a mark of confidence in the British government, would produce an
abolition of the unlawful proceeding, and consequently, if it were foreseen that the spoliations would have been continued, as we find them to be, the treaty would not have been then signed, or if it had not been then signed, it would not be signed under the circumstances of the moment, when it is falling under our consideration.
I shall conclude, Mr. Chairman, with taking notice of two considerations which have been made great use of by way of inducing congress to carry the treaty into effect. In the first place it has been said, that the greater part of the treaty is to continue in force for no longer a time than two years after the termination of the present war in Europe; and that no very great evils can grow out of it in that short period. To this I reply, that ten of the articles containing very objectionable stipulations, are perpetual; and that, in the next place, it will be in the power of Great Britain, at the expiration of the other articles, to produce the same causes for the renewal of them, as are now urged in their support. If we are now to enforce the treaty lest Great Britain should stir up the Indians, and refuse to pay our merchants for the property of which she has plundered them, can she not, at the end of two or three years, plunder them again, to the same or greater amount; cannot the same apprehensions be revived with respect to the Indians, and will not the arguments then be as strong as they are now, for renewing the same treaty, or for making any other equal sacrifices that her purposes may dictate.
It has been asked, what would be the consequences of refusing to carry the treaty into effect? I answer, that the only supposable consequence is, that the executive, if governed by the prudence and patriotism, which I do not doubt will govern that department, will of course pursue the measures most likely to obtain a reconsideration and remodification of the offensive parts of the treaty. The idea of war as a consequence of refusing to give effect to
the treaty, is too visionary and incredible to be admitted into the question. No man will say that the United States, if they be really an independent people, have not a right to judge of their own interests, and to decline any treaty that does not duly provide for them. A refusal, therefore, in such cases, can afford no cause, nor pretext, nor provocation for war, or for any just resentment. But, apart from this, is it conceivable that Great Britain, with all the dangers and embarrassments that are thickening on her, will wantonly make war on a country which is the best market she has in the world for her manufactures, which pays her an annual balance in specie, of ten or twelve millions of dollars, and whose supplies, moreover, are essential to an important part of her dominions? Such a degree of infatuation ought not to be ascribed to any country. And, at the present crisis, for reasons well known, an unprovoked war from Great Britain, on this country, would argue a degree of madness, greater than any other circumstances that could well be imagined.
With all the objections, therefore, to the treaty, which I have stated, I hope it will not now be carried into effect, and that an opportunity will take place for reconsidering the subject, on principles more just and favourable to the United States.
SPEECH OF MR. AMES,
ON THE SAME OCCASION, DELIVERED 15th APRIL, 1795.
MR. CHAIRMAN, I ENTERTAIN the hope, perhaps a rash one, that my strength will hold me out to speak a few minutes.
In my judgment, a right decision will depend more on the temper and manner, with which we may prevail upon ourselves to contemplate the subject, than upon the development of any profound political principles, or any remarkable skill in the application of them. If we could succeed to neutralize our inclinations, we should find less difficulty than we have to apprehend in surmounting all our objections.
The suggestion, a few days ago, that the house manifested symptoms of heat and irritation, was made and retorted as if the charge ought to create surprise, and would convey reproach. Let us be more just to ourselves and to the occasion. Let us not affect to deny the existence and the intrusion of some portion of prejudice and feeling into the debate, when, from the very structure of our nature, we ought to anticipate the circumstance as a probability, and when we are admonished by the evidence of our senses that it is a fact. How can we make professions for ourselves, and offer exhortations to the house, that no influence should be felt but that of duty, and no guide respected but that of the understanding, while the peal to rally every passion of man is continually ringing in our ears. Our understandings have been addressed, it is true, and with ability and effect; but, I demand, has any corner of the heart been left unexplored? It has been ransacked to find auxiliary arguments; and, when that
attempt failed, to awaken the sensibility, that would require none. Every prejudice and feeling has been summoned to listen to some peculiar style of address; and yet we seem to believe, and to consider a doubt as an affront, that we are strangers to any influence but that of unbiassed reason.
It would be strange, that a subject, which has roused in turn all the passions of the country, should be discussed without the interference of any of our own. We are men, and therefore not exempt from those passions: as citizens and representatives, we feel the interest that must excite them. The hazard of great interests cannot fail to agitate strong passions: we are not disinterested; it is impossible we should be dispassionate. The warmth of such feelings may becloud the judgment, and, for a time, pervert the understanding. But the public sensibility, and our own, has sharpened the spirit of inquiry, and given an animation to the debate. The public attention has been quickened to mark the progress of the discussion, and its judgment, often hasty and erroneous on first impressions, has become, solid and enlightened at last. Our result will, I hope, on that account, be the safer and more mature, as well as more accordant with that of the nation. The only constant agents in political affairs are the passions of men. Shall we complain of our nature; shall we say that man ought to have been made otherwise. It is right already, because HE, from whom we derive our nature, ordained it so; and because, thus made and thus acting, the cause of truth and the public good is the more surely promoted.
But an attempt has been made to produce an influence of a nature more stubborn, and more unfriendly to truth. It is very unfairly pretended, that the constitutional right of this house is at stake, and to be asserted and preserved only by a vote in the negative. We hear it said, that this is a struggle for liberty, a manly resistance against the