« PreviousContinue »
H. OF R.]
(DECEMBER, 1796 were perfectly congenial with his wishes, and changed, why alter it merely to substitute other he was prepared to give his opposition to any of words ? On the whole, Mr. S. observed, that the amendments proposed. On mature delibera- he did not see the answer could in any degree tion, there was not a sentiment in the report be reproached. There are no sentiments in it but he highly approved. He could not see any but what are justifiable on the ground of truth; thing unnatural or unbecoming in drawing just they are free from adulation. It is such an excomparisons of our situation with that of our pression of national regret and gratitude as the neighbors; this is the only way we can form a circumstance calls for; a regret at the retirejust view of our own happiness. It is a very ment of a faithful and patriotic Chief Magistrate necessary way to come to a right knowledge of from office. A regret and gratitude which he our own situation by comparing it with that of believed to be the sentiment of Americans. other nations. He would not reproach another Mr. SWANWICK began by observing that there peopie because they are not so happy as we are; were points in the Address in which all gentlebut he thought drawing simple comparisons in men seemed to agree, while on other parts they the way of the report was no reproach. He cannot agree. We all agree in our desire to pay was not against bringing the comparison down the PRESIDENT every possible mark of respect; to private life, as the gentleman from Virginia but we very materially disagree wherein a comhad done; he should think it wrong in a man parison is drawn between this and foreign nato exult over his neighbor who was distressed tions. If we are happy and other nations are or ignorant, because himself was wealthy or not so, it is but well for us; but he thought it wise. Yet he saw no impropriety in his own would be much more prudent in us to let other family of speaking of their happiness and ad- nations discover it, and not make a boast of it vantages, compared with that of others; it ourselves. It is very likely that those nations would awaken in them a grateful sense of their whom we commiserate may think themselves superior enjoyments, while it pointed out the as happy as we are: they may feel offended to faults and follies of others, only in order that hear of our comparisons. If we refer to the those he had the care of may learn to avoid | British Chancellor of the Exchequer in his them: thus while our happiness is pointed out, speeches, he would tell us that is the happiest the miseries of nations involved in distress are and most prosperous nation upon earth. How delineated to serve as beacons for the United then can we commiserate with it as an unforStates to steer clear of. He did not, with the tunate country? If, again, we look to France, gentleman from Virginia, in any degree, doubt that country which we have pointed out as full of the wisdom or firmness of the Administra- of wretchedness and distress, yet we hear them tion of America. In the language of the Ad- boast of their superiority of light and freedom, dress, he entertained a very high opinion of it, and we have reason to believe not without "a grateful conviction that the wise, firm, and foundation. A gentleman had talked about the patriotic Administration of the PRESIDENT had flourishing state of our agriculture, and asserted been signally conducive to the success of the that our late commercial calamities were not present form of Government." Such language proofs of our want of prosperity, which the as this is the only reward which can be given gentleman compared to specks in the sun. That by a grateful people for labors so eminently gentleman speaks as though he lived at a disuseful as those of the PRESIDENT had been. tance. Has he heard of no commercial distresses, This was not his sentiment merely, it was the when violations so unprecedented have of late sentiment of the people of America. Every occurred? One merchant has to look for his public body were conveying their septiments of property at Halifax, another at Bermuda, i gratitude throughout the whole extent of the another at Cape Francoise, another at Gonaives, Union. Why then should this House affect a &c.; all agree that they have suffered, and that singularity, when our silence on these points by the war. These are distresses gentlemen would only convey reproach instead of respect. would not like to feel themselves. Mr. S. said If these sentiments were true, why not express he had felt for these occurrences. We are not them? But if, on the contrary, what the gen-exempt from troubles : probably we may have tleman asserted, that the Administration of the suffered as much as other nations who are inPRESIDENT had been neither wise, firm, nor volved in the war. It is a question whether patriotic, then he would concur with the mo France has been distressed at all by the war. tion for striking out; but he was not convinced She has collected gold and silver in immense of the truth of this assertion; and while this quantities by her conquests, together with the is not proved, he should vote against the mo- most valuable stores of the productions of the tion.
arts; as statues, paintings, and manuscripts of Mr. SITGREAVES said, he could not agree with inestimable worth ; and at sea has taken far the motion of the gentleman from South Caro- more in value than she has lost: besides, her lina, (Mr. HARPER,) because his motion was for armies are subsisting on the requisitions her substituting other words in the place of those victories obtain. And has England gained in the report, without any reason whatever. If nothing by the war? If we hearken to Mr. Pitt, the gentleman, by altering the phraseology, can we may believe they are very great gainers. make the sentiment any better, by all means Surely the islands in the West and East Indies, let it be done : but if the sentiment is not to be Ceylon, and the Cape of Good Hope, the key to
[H. of R the East Indies, are advantages gained; besides would remind the committee, that if they the quantity of shipping taken from our mer- wished to retain, or even to amend, any section chants. Mr. S. thought if we were to compare, or sentence of all that was proposed to be we should find those nations had gained by the struck out, they ought to give their negatives to war, while we had lost; and of course there this motion, as the only means of accomplishing Fis no reason for us to boast of our advan- | their purpose. It was sufficient, therefore, for tages.
those who were opposed to the question for Mr. W. SMITH next rose, and observed that striking out the whole, to show that any part gentlemen wished to compliment the PRESIDENT, included within it ought to be preserved.Not bat took away every point on which encomium unnecessarily to waste time, by lengthening the could be grounded. One denies the prosperity debate, he would take the clause first in order, of the country, another the free and enlightened and confine his remarks to that alone. This state of the country, and another refuses the part of the Address had certainly not been read, PRESIDENT the epithet of wise and patriotic. or had been misunderstood and misrepresented
Mr. GILES here rose to explain. If he was by the member from Pennsylvania. meant, he must think the gentleman was Mr. AMEs said, if gentlemen meant to agree wrong in his application. He said he had never to strike out the whole as proposed, in order to harbored a suspicion of the good intentions of adopt those words substituted by the gentleman the PRESIDENT, nor did he deny his patriotism; | from South Carolina (Mr. HARPER), he must obbut the wisdom and firmness of his Administra- serve that he thought this would be as far from tion he had doubted. He thought him a good giving satisfaction to others, who, it appeared, meaning man, but often misled.
wanted no substitute. He, therefore, hoped Mr. SNITI again rose, and said, he must con- that kind of influence would not prevail on this fess himself at a loss for that refinement to dis- occasion. The gentleman who made the mocover between the wisdom and patriotism of the tion did it to accommodate matters, and not PRESIDENT, and that of his Administration. It because he himself objected to the answer rewas moved to strike out this acknowledgment ported. of wisdom and firmness. What were we to sub- It is well known that & committee of five stitute as complimentary to him in its place ? members, opposite in sentiment, was appointed The first paragraph proposed to be struck out to prepare a respectful Address in answer to related to our speaking of the tranquillity of this the PRESIDENT'S Speech. [Here the original country, compared to nations involved in war. | instructions were read.] As it was the duty of Could this give offence, because we feel pleasure the committee to prepare a respectful Address, in being at peace? It was only congratulating it cannot be matter of surprise, although it may Our own constituents on the happiness we enjoy. of disapprobation with some, that the committee To appreciate the value of peace, it was neces. did their duty, and have taken notice of the sary to compare it with a state of war. It was several matters recommended to the House in the wisdom of this country to keep from war, that Speech. Respecting the particular notice and other nations hold it up as exemplary in us. they have taken, it might have been thought The gentleman himself has declared his wish for that some difficulty would occur. He said he the preservation of peace; and though he ad- need not observe, that the committee had reason mires it, and nations admire it in us, yet we are to imagine that the form of the report would not to compare our state with nations involved be agreeable to the House, as they were unaniin the calamities of war, in order to estimate mous; although there had been in the wording oor enjoyments. The words of this Address are some little difference of opinion, yet all agreed hot & communication to a foreign minister, it is substantially in the Address, from a conviction a congratulation to our own Ohief Magistrate of the delicacy of the subject. For that reason, of the blessings he, in common with us, en- | if that only, unless the sentiments in the report jogs. Mr. S. hoped the words would not be of the Address should be found inconsistent struck out.
with truth, he hoped no substitute of a form of Mr. DAYTOX (the Speaker), said, that he did words merely would prevail, as it would no Dot rise to accept the challenge given by the longer be that agreed to in the committee, nor gentleman who spoke last from South Carolina, could come under their consideration equal to and to point out a nation more free and en- the printed report. He therefore trusted that lightened than ours; nor did he mean to contest when the committee came to the question, the fact of ours being the freest and most en- whether to strike out or not, gentlemen would lightened in the world, as declared in the re- be guided by no other motive to vote for strikported Address, but he was nevertheless of ing out, than an impropriety in the sentiments opinion that it did not become them to inake through an evident want of truth in them; and that declaration, and thus to extol themselves | if such cannot be discovered, why strike out the by & comparison with, and at the expense of expressions ? al others. Although those words were in his It had been observed by some gentleman, that view objectionable, he was far from assenting the cry of foreign influence is in the country. to the motion for striking out the seven or | He did not see such a thing exist. He would eight last elauses of the Address. The question not be rudely explicit as to the foundation there of order having been decided, Mr. D. said he was for such a cry; but when it was once
H. OF R.]
[DECEMBER, 1796 raised, the people would judge whether it was fuse him our testimony of gratitude. No, he fact or not. He could not tell how this influ- bears in his breast a testimony of his purity of ence was produced, but the world would draw | motive; a conscious rectitude, while in public a view how far we were under foreign influence. life, which daggers could not pierce. He would Mr. A. here alluded to the influence which retire with a good conscience; perhaps it would foreign agents wished to have over the minds be said this was adulation, but let it be remem. of the people of this country, in order to sup- bered this was truth; this was not flattery; let port a factious spirit, probably to the appeal gentlemen deny this; let them prove that this lately made to the people. He also alluded to a is not the will of their constituents. The cooncircumstance when the Imperial Envoy, M. try would judge our opinions when we come to Palm, in 1727, at London, published a rescript, give our yeas or nays; then the real friends of complaining of the conduct of that Court; the that man would be known. spirit of the nation rose, and discord was sown. The gentleman wishes him back to Virginia, In consequence of which the Parliament peti- was glad he designed to go; he did not regret tioned the King to send the Envoy out of the his resignation. His name will appear in that country for meddling with the concerns of their opinion. The whole of the PRESIDENT'S life nation. That is the nation which we call cor- would stamp his character. His country, and rupted. Yet a similar affair has occurred here, the admiring world knew it; and history keeps and it is not to be reprobated; we are not to his fame, and will continue to keep it. We may complain of it, nor even hear it, according to be singular in our opinions of him, but that will this doctrine. Independence is afraid of in- not make his character with the world the less juries, and almost of insults. We must forbear illustrious. We now are to accept of his resigto exult in our peace, our light, our freedom, nation without a tribute of respect. We are lest we should give offence to other nations not to speak of him as either wise or firm. We who are not so. This may be the high tone of can only say he is an honest man: this would independence in the views of some people, but scarcely be singular; many a man is honest I must confess it is not so in mine; but it is without any other good qualifications. What probable those people may be wiser than I am, circle would gentlemen fix the committee in to and their views extend farther, Foreign influ- amend this Address, if they are not to give ence exists, and is disgraceful indeed, when we scope to these sentiments? Better appoint no dare admire our own constitution, nor adore committee at all. If we address the PRESIDENT God for giving us to feel its happy effects. He at all, I hope it will be respectfully, for loth rethought, respecting the recent complaints of the spect is insult in disguise. I hope we shall not French Minister, that there was not even a pre- alter the original draft of the Address, but text for the accusation.
agree according to our former intentions to preIt had been observed by a gentleman, that sent a respectful and cordial Address, the PRESIDENT, no doubt, is a very honest man, Mr. SWANWICK rose to explain to those parts and a patriot, but he did not think him a wise of the observations of some gentlemen who had man.
| lately spoken (Mr. Dayton and Mr. AMES) on Mr. GILES here rose to explain. He said that, that part of the paragraph, which speaks of our in his assertions, he meant not to reflect on his gratitude to Providence. He should be sorry private character. He referred to his Adminis if such an idea was entertained from any thing tration. No doubt but the gentleman possessed | he had observed. It was not that part of the
paragraph, but the part where we are contrasted Mr. AMES said, he considered well what the with other nations, that he objected to princigentleman had said. As a private man, his in- pally. Although, he must observe, it was not tegrity and goodness cannot be doubted; but in spoken in a style common to devotion, to tell his Administration-here we are to stop short; Providence how wise and enlightened we were. not a word about that; it won't bear looking It does not boast of our philanthropy, to say into; it has been neither firm nor wise. If the how much wiser and better we are than other House, in their Address to him, were to say, we nations. He thoaght the gentleman's reference think you a very honest, well-designing man, | to a clergyman very curious. It would not be but you have been led astray, sometimes to act right in us to say to God, we thank thee, we treacherously, and even dishonest in your Ad- are wiser or more enlightened than others! If ministration—we think you a peaceful man, we are so, let us rejoice in it, and not offend and though much iniquity may have been prac- others by our boasting. Gentlemen say, we are tised in your Government, yet we think you are happier than though we were at war; are we not in fault; on the whole, sir, we wish you at peace? No: we are involved in the worst snugly in Virginia. Such sentiments as these Il of wars. Witness our spoliations from Algerine, do not like. Is this an Address or an insult? | English, and French cruisers, from some of Is this the inark of respect we ought to show to which he himself had suffered materially. The the first man in the nation? Mr. A. observed, PRESIDENT does not think we are at peace: be that he did not agree with the gentleman from recommends a navy as the only efficient securiSouth Carolina (Mr. SMITH), who said, that the ty to our commerce. How could that little President would carry daggers in his heart with island (England) command such influence in him into his retreat from public life, if we re- foreign dominions? It is by her navy. We
[H. OF R cannot boast of such power. While we think fall us before? It certainly may be ascribed to ourselves much happier and stronger than that instrument. Gentlemen may talk as they others, others think us more diminutive; let us please about the law of nations, but the law not boast. He feared that the revenues of this of nations is, that a neutral nation shall not do country would suffer materially through the any thing to benefit one belligerent power to the great stagnation of commerce. He did not injury of another. Mr. G. said, he thought think they would be as productive as formerly. I matters carried a serious aspect, and he very He feared it was too generally known, that this much disapproved of the declaration of a genwas not a time of very great prosperity. As he tleman (Mr. Ames) who says, now is the time did not, for one, feel the prosperous situation of danger; we are on the eve of a war with of the country, he could not consent to violate France, now let us boldly assert our rights. At his feelings by speaking contrary to them. The the time the British Treaty was debating on, Lentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. AMEs) last that gentleman was overcome with the prospect session, spoke with great eloquence and at of a war; he then depicted it in horrible forms; great length of the horror of war; which he but now how different his language! He now considered as inevitable if the British Treaty seems not afraid to embrace all its horrors, and (then the subject of debate) was not carried was zealously calling out for the nation to supinto effect.
port the Administration. Why did we not hear Ur. CHRISTIE moved for the committee to this when the British spoliated on our comrise. The House divided on the motion; 43 merce! If we are upon the eve of a war with members appeared against it, 31 only in favor France, as the gentleman supposes, it will be of it. It was lost.
disastrous to this country; we have reason to Mr. GILES rose and observed that he should deplore it; it will be calamitous indeed. France not have troubled the committee with any has more power to injure this country than any further observations, but his ideas had been nation besides, and none we can injure less. misrepresented ; although he endeavored to What an influence can she command over our prevent a possibility of misconstruction, yet it commerce? She can exclude us from our own seems he had not been able to accomplish his ports; spoil our trade with Great Britain, and wish. It was not wonderful, he said, that the from her own extensive country; she can shut PRESIDENT's popularity should be introduced us out from the East Indies, as well as the into the debate when it had been so long in West Indies; ruin our trade in the Mediterraquestion. It had been too commonly done, he nean, which, owing to the late conquests of the thought, but he hoped the influence of it would | French, may be rendered very flourishing and not be very great. As to the unanimity of the important to us; and by her alliance, offensive committee who drew up the Address, he cared and defensive, with Spain, we not only have very little about it; he should be extremely another enemy, but lose our late advantages in sorry to see it have any influence on the mem- the navigation of the Mississippi. Suppose, by bers of that House.
the influence of her politics, the doctrine of lib. Gentlemen have said, that if we take out the erty and equality were to be preached on the expressions of our sense of the wisdom and other side of the Alleghany mountains, what firmness of the Administration of the PRESIDENT, numerous enemies may they breed in our own they cannot find any ground on which to com-country? France can wound us most, and we pliment him; if so, he for one would not be have the least reason to provoke her. It would willing to present an Address at all. But his be policy in her to go to war with us; by rainviews were quite different; he thought it coulding our trade with England, she could give a be effectually done without adulation. He violent wound to her enemy; yet that gentlecould not consent to acknowledge the wisdom man says, now is the time to assert our rights, and firmness of his Administration. Gentlemen now we are in danger. The war-whoop and the had inquired for instances in evidence of this hatchet, of which the gentleman spoke so feelassertion. He said, that without seeking for ingly last session, is no longer in his thoughts. more instances, that of the British Treaty was If this was the only reason he had, it would be & standing proof in support of the assertion. enough to influence his vote against an acknowThough many gentlemen believe nothing has ledgment of the wisdom and firmness that has been done injurious to the United States dictated our Administration. through that treaty, yet I acknowledge I see Mr. WILLIAMS rose and said, he was sorry to Fery great danger; we are not now in that trouble the committee at such a late hour, but state of security which could be wished. It is he could not be satisfied with giving a silent well known that the operation of the British vote on an occasion when the PRESIDENT's popTreaty is the groundwork of all the recent ularity was doubted. He thought members complaints of the French Government. It may ought to speak the will of the people they rephe said that many of the complaints of the resent. He could assert that it was not merely French Minister originated from actions previ- his own opinion he spoke, but that of his conons to the British Treaty. It may be so, but stituents, when he voted for the Address as rethat was the means of calling forth complaints ported. He was sorry to hear the gentleman which, perhaps, would otherwise never have last up speak in the style he had done, although been made; else why did not this calamity be-lhe owned it was not altogether new to him.
H. OF R.]
(DECEMBER, 1796. The gentleman wished the first clause to be I expressive of the wisdom and firmness of the struck out. Mr. W. thought it was the duty of PRESIDENT's administration. He declared he every pious man to thank God for the benefits thought it had much contributed to the success he enjoys. And shall not we, as a nation, thank of this country, and if success had attended his him for keeping us from a state of war?' Gen- measures, there could be nothing inconsistent tlemen's ideas were to strike the whole out in a in their acknowledging it; which was all the mass; but he hoped they would not be grati-compliment necessary to give satisfaction. fied. Mr. W. said, he was very sorry to hear Mr. RUTHERFORD.-My colleague has in a the gentleman speak against the wisdom and great measure anticipated my sentiments on firmness of the PRESIDENT, which assertion this occasion. I am sorry for the mistaken zeal seemed to have its foundation in the Treaty the gentlemen of the committee should have concluded with Great Britain. He would ask shown for the PRESIDENT, by introducing exthe gentleman whether that act of ours should pressions into the Address so exceptionable, and have any influence on our situation with which should be subject to such an uncornfortFrance? Wherein have we differed from the able exposure of that character. compact made with France by our treaty made I was able yesterday only to attend a part of with that country? We surely had a right to the debate, through indisposition, but what I treat with Great Britain, else we could not be did stay to hear, hurt me very much. I heard an independent nation; and France will not de- gentlemen speak ill of the common parent of ny this. In 1778, the Ambassador of France our country, whom we all revere; and was a informed the British Court that bis nation had slip, but one criminal slip, to rob the PRESIDENT entered into a treaty with the United States, of his good name? We have seen the goodness and at the same time informed them that great of the heart of that man, and with satisfaction. attention had been paid by the contracting par- | We have seen him wrestling with his own feelties not to stipulate any exclusive advantage in ings to continue in the important and weighty favor of the French nation, and that there was business of Government; we have seen him reserved, on the part of the United States, the contending with two great rival nations, and liberty of treating with any nation whatsoever yet preserved peace. When he had made a upon the same footing of equality and recipro- slip, the people of America have stepped forcity. But the gentleman (Mr. GILES) says, we ward to assist him, and dropped the generous ought not to give an advantage to an enemy, tear, sensible that to err is human, and that we Mr. W. said, that no advantage was given to are all liable to do wrong. I am sure that my Britain, but, on the contrary, the article com-colleagues and every one in the House hold the plained of must be of advantage to France; it character aud virtue of that man in high esis an encouragement for American vessels to go teem. I am sorry to see that division of sentito their ports; it insures them against loss, it ment which has taken place; it would make they are interrupted in their voyage. It had the world believe that we wish to rob liim of been said that it would be to the interest of those qualifications. It is the justice and duty France to go to war with as; if they consider of this House to do that man, that patriot, all it so, all that gentleman can say will not pre- the honor they can, whilst it is the interest of vent it. When we reflect on a Treaty entered this nation to hold in view those great points into on this principle with Great Britain, should with generous satisfaction, and good wishes to France complain?
the man who has stepped forward, and not in
vain, to the support of our Republic in the war, THURSDAY, December 15.
and under Divine assistance was made our de
liverer. And now for gentlemen to come here Address to the President.
and speak of the troubles of the country, ascribThe House, according to the order of the day, ing all our adversity to him, it is like applying resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole cold water where the strongest energy is neceson the answer to the PRESIDENT'S Address, Mr. sary. Again I would repeat, that if that man, MUHLENBERG in the chair.
our common parent, has committed errors, it is The question before the committee was Mr. no more than we all may do-it is the general GILES' motion for striking out.
| lot of all. If there have been faults in the AdMr. Nicholas said, he sincerely wished that ministration, I do not think they lie at his door, such an answer might be agreed to, as would but at his counsellors'; he has had bad counselgive a general satisfaction. He hoped some lors; his advisers are to blame, and not him. mode would be adopted to unite the wishes I never saw how he could have done otherwise of every gentleman; his disposition, he said, than he did. And now, sir, said Mr. R., it is led him to vote for the paragraph; he thought our duty to bear those great actions and genehimself at liberty so to do, as he was satisfied rous sentiments in our view, that, on his retirethe Administration had been, in many instances, ment from his public station, we may render wise and firm. He thought it improper that him all the respect due to his character. Nor such debate should take place at the present would I less remember our situation with time. He could see no inconvenience that could France, that great and generous Republic, under arise from voting for the Address. The words whom we owe our liberty. Let us not give on which most stress had been laid, were those offence to her, but by every mark of gratitude