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DECEMBER, 1796.]
Address to the President.

[H. OF R. and respect, act a part consistent with a just said, for nations to applaud themselves, and he sense of our peaceable intention. Let us act thought it could give no offence to any. He with the greatest circumspection and delibera- did not hear gentlemen mention what nation tion.

was meant. He presumed the only nation that Mr. LIVINGSTON was sorry the answer was could be alluded to was the French Republio. not drafted so as to avoid this debate. He If, however, it can be proved that they have said it was his sincere desire and hope that the used similar language, he supposed it would give candor of gentlemen who advocated the Ad- gentlemen some ease as to this particular. In dress in its present form, and those who wished looking over some papers, he had seen several it amended, would so combine as to make it bombastical expressions in a note of Barthelemy, agreeable to all. He said he intended to oppose a report to the Convention of Laviere, and of the amendments which had been proposed, al- Cambaceres, in the name of the three committhough he did not see the Address every way tees. In one are these words, "a Government right; with a view to reconcile parties, when so powerful as the French.” In another, he the present motion was disposed of, he should calls it “the most enlightened in the civilized move to strike out some words, in order to in- world.” In another, “the first in the universe.” sert others. He could not, like some gentle He hoped that while that nation could use exmen, draw consolation from the misfortunes of pressions like these, the gentlemen of this House other nations; their distresses were rather mat- would not think the expressions referred to ter of regret; nor did he see a propriety, as an- would give offence to that or any other nation. other gentleman had done, of likening our af Mr. PARKER said, when he made the motion fairs with those of the members of a family; he did not refer to any particular nation; he bat, even if it would bear, he could not see that had neither France nor England in view; he did tranquillity in this family as was expressed. not wish to see us contrast our political situation His only objection, he said, to the paragraph in with that of any other country. His objections question, was the words “tranquil prosperity.” to the words, he said, arose from our making He believed the United States did not enjoy the declaration ourselves. Our Government, that tranquil prosperity; on the contrary, he he acknowledged, was free; it was the best, in thought this was a time of great calamity in the his opinion, any where. He wished to believe conntry, and he thought that it was owing, the people as enlightened as any other; he beprincipally, to the measures of the Government. lieved they were, and if they were not, they had There were other clauses in the Address, he only themselves to blame; but however enlightsaid, he should, when they came to be consider- ened or free we were, in his opinion, we were ed, make objections to, and he thought they not the proper organs to declare it; however could be all easily removed by motions suitable; enlightened we might be, he thought the last however, he said there were many sentiments four years Administration had convinced many, in the Address in which he heartily concurred. as well as himself, that the Administration was He should vote against the striking out the not the most enlightened ; if they had, they eight clauses in question, as he thought such would not have suffered such shameful spoliaamendments could be proposed as would make tions on our commerce, and shameful acts of the Address meet his hearty concurrence, and cruelty to our seamen. He said the two little be believed give general satisfaction.

monarchies of Denmark and Sweden, neither Mr. Giles' motion was then put, to strike of which, in point of extent, can be compared out those clauses, and negatived.

with the United States, more (to use the comMr. PARKER renewed the motion he made parison of the gentleman from Pennsylvania yesterday, to strike out the words “freest and yesterday) than a speck is to the sun; nor are most enlightened in the world.”

they either of them in population nearly equal Mr. Ames hoped that the motion to strike to the United States; and although they are out would not prevail; for, without being over surrounded by the greatest warlike powers in a tenacious on the subject, he must give a prefe- belligerent state, yet they have preserved their rence to the copy of the report which was neutrality inviolate; their ships have not been printed; the members had the advantage of wantonly seized, nor have their seamen been weighing it in their minds, which they would torn from their ships, or whipped at the ganglose by adopting the substitute; besides, he way of British ships-of-war, or been shot by thought the ideas were so crowded in that pro- their press-gangs. To mention the instances of posed, as to render it heavy; he hoped the British cruelty towards our seamen in every reported Address would be agreed to.

instance that could be adduced, would take up Mr. Harper's motion was then put and ne-time unnecessarily; one alone, that recently gatived. Twenty-five members only voting for happened, I shall relate: the motion.

The brother of a member of this House (Mr. Mr. Parker again moved to strike out “free- FRANKLIN, of N. C.) was impressed on board a est and most enlightened,” &c.

British ship-of-war in the West Indies; he was Mr. W. Smith said yesterday, in the discussion unacquainted with seamanship, having only on the subject, gentlemen had assigned for their made a passage from North Carolina to tlie reason to strike out those words that other na- Islands ; being awkward and not being a seatirons would be offended at us. It was usual, he man, he was discharged. The same evening, a

H. OF R.]
Address to the President.

[DECEMBER, 1796. press-gang of the same ship fell in with him and and were well-informed as to public affairs. In made him a prisoner; in attempting to make his such a country, liberty is likely to be permaescape, he was shot at. The ball was aimed at nent. They are enlightened enough to be free. his body; it was not winged with death, but It is possible to plant it in such a soil, and the young man was wounded in the hand. reasonable to hope that it will take root and

Mr. AMEs said, if any man were to call himself flourish long, as we see it does. But can liberty, more free and enlightened than his fellows, it such as we understand and enjoy, exist in sociewould be considered as arrogant self-praise. His ties where the few only have property, and the very declaration would prove that he wanted many are both ignorant and licentious ? sense as well as modesty, but a nation might be Mr. CHRISTIE wished to make an amendment called so, by a citizen of that nation, without to the paragraph, which he thought would animpropriety; because, in doing so, he bestows no swer the end equally as well as striking it out; praise of superiority on himself; he may be in if agreeable to the gentleman from Virginia, fact, and may be sensible that he is less enlight-|(Mr. PARKER,) he would move to put the word ened than the wise of other nåtions. This sort among” after the word “freest," which would of national eulogium may, no doubt, be fostered read “the freest and among the most enlightby vanity, and grounded in mistake; it is some-ened." He could not say we were the most times just, it is certainly common, and not al- enlightened, but he did think us the most free; ways either ridiculous or offensive. It did not not that he was afraid of offending any nation, say that France or England had not been re- but he thought this a more consistent declaration. markable for enlightened men; their literati are Mr. SwANWICK said, nobody doubted but we more numerous and distinguished than our own. were free and enlightened, but he thought their The character, with respect to this country, he declaration was no evidence of the truth of it. said, was strictly true. Our countrymen, almost He thought the last amendment very good, but universally, possess some property and some it would be still better if the gentleman would pretensions of learning—two distinctions so re- put the word “among " a little further back, markably in their favor, as to vindicate the so as to read “among the freest and most enexpression objected to. But go through France, lightened.” A pacific disposition could not be Germany, and most countries of Europe, and it proved by any thing so well as treating others will be found that, out of fifty millions of people, with respect as well as ourselves; we may not not more than two or three had any pretensions be exclusively free or enlightened. He hoped to knowledge, the rest being, comparatively with it would be thus altered. Americans, ignorant. In France, which con- Mr. CHRISTIE thought we were the freest tains twenty-five millions of people, only one people in the world; he, therefore, could not was calculated to be in any respect enlightened, agree to the amendment last proposed. and, perhaps, under the old system, there was Mr. Coir could not say with the gentleman not a greater proportion possessed property ; last up, that we were the freest, but he was whilst in America, out of four millions of peo- very willing to agree with the amendment of & ple, scarcely any part of them could be classed gentleman, that we were among the freest and upon the same ground with the rabble of Europe. most enlightened; he thought the first amendThat class called yulgar, canaille, rabble, so nu- ment much improved by this; he said it removed merous there, does not exist here as a class, great part of the difficulty from the minds of though our towns have many individuals of it. many gentlemen; however, he hoped no unLook at the lazzaroni of Naples; there are twen- necessary time would be taken up with such ty thousand or more houseless people, wretched, trifles. and in want! He asked whether, where men Mr. DAYTON (the Speaker) said, that some of wanted every thing, and were in proportion of the observations which had been brought into 29 to 1, it was possible they could be trusted the present debate, were of too delicate a nature with power? Wanting wisdom and morals, to be commented upon or even repeated; he how would they use it? It was, therefore, that should not, therefore, follow the gentleman who the iron-hand of despotism was called in by the spoke last, in his inquiry, how far this country few who had any thing, to preserve any kind of was exposed to be annoyed by France in the control over the many. This evil, as it truly possible, though happily not probable, event of was, and which he did not propose to commend, a rupture with France ? rendered true liberty hopeless. In America, As to the words “freest and most enlightenout of four millions of people, the proportion ed," which were more immediately the subject which cannot read and write, and who, having of discussion, he did not object against them on nothing, are interested in plunder and confu- the ground of fact, but he considered the exsion, and disposed for both, is small. In the pression as resolving itself into a question of Southern States, he knew there were people decorum and delicacy, the rules of which apwell-informerl; he disclaimed all design of invi-peared to him to be violated, in their ascribing dious comparison; the members from the South to themselves such a superlative preference, would be more capable of doing justice to their however true, in a comparison with every other constituents, but in the Eastern States he was people. The amendment of the gentleman from more particularly conversant, and knew the Maryland Mr. CHRISTIE) very much softened people in them could generally read and write, the terms and rendered them more palatable.

DECEMBER, 1796.]
Address to the President.

[H. OF R. Ur. KITCHELL thought we had given a very any other expression could not be justly estigood proof that we are not the most enlightened mated by considering it in the abstractit people in the world, by this discussion; and if ought to be viewed in its application and use. we declare to the world that we are, that de- We are about to lose the services of the PRESIclaration will be a still more glaring proof. It Dent, who is admitted on all hands to have appeared to him quite unnecessary; he thought been a useful and patriotic officer. The House it spending a great deal of time to no purpose ; of Representatives are desirous that he should it was not important enough for that waste of take with him to his honorable retirement the time, when the session was to be so short; he only reward which the nature and spirit of our therefore wished the question to be put. political institutions admit of—the approbation

Mr. SITGREAVES agreed that a very useless of his country. It will surely be admitted that and improper latitude had been assumed in the we ought to give to the expression of this apdiscussion, and he thought that a few moments probation all the value of which it is susceptiwould not be misspent in recalling the attention ble; and it is obvious, from the slightest peof the committee to the real question before rusal of this paragraph in the Address, that the them. The assertion that we are the freest and words in question give to it all its force and enmost enlightened nation in the world was foundergy, and that without them, it would be an fault with, and while some gentlemen moved to unmeaning compliment. The spectacle of a strike it out altogether, others proposed to qual- nation, neither free nor enlightened, offering to ify it in different ways. Mr. S. believed that, its first Magistrate the tribute of approbation in any modification of the expression, the criti- and applause, would neither be “novel nor incism was, in itself, extremely unimportant; and teresting,” since the days of history are stained if

, as some gentlemen had treated it, it was a with numberless instances of prostituted praise mere question of decorum, he should feel per- and courtly adulation; bit when it is the volfectly indifferent whether it was rejected or untary homage of a free and enlightened peoretained. But when he heard one member ple, offered with sincerity to an illustrious feldeny that we are the most free, and another low-citizen, it is truly a precious reward for that we are enlightened; and most especially patriotic. labors. Those who object to this exwhen he heard that the expression was con- pression, therefore, ought to move to strike out tended to be improper in relation to the acts the whole paragraph. To reject the words would and the administration of the Government, he totally defeat the intended compliment; to confessed it did appear to him to be of some qualify them would spoil it. Mr. S., therefore, consequence not to part with the expression, wished to retain them as they were reported. lest, by doing so, the House should give coun Mr. THATCHER said, he did not think the obtenance to these objections. For his own part, ject of the present question of much consehe believed the proposition to be true; he con- quence, nor did he care much about it; howceived the word "enlightened,” as applicable ever, he would wish to see the members more to political illumination; and not to our rank unanimous on the subject; he would, therein arts, sciences, or literature; and he consid- fore, propose an amendment, which he thought ered the sentence as equivalent to an assertion would have some tendency towards it, which that we enjoy the most enlightened system of was to leave out the superlative, and let the political freedom extant. In this view of it, he passage read, “The spectacle of a free and enthought it literally true; and, if true, he could lightened nation.” not discern the indecorum of declaring so on the Mr. HENDERSON commended the ingenuity present occasion. He was strongly impressed of the last motion, as he thought it would more with the propriety of the idea which he had concentrate the ideas of the members. He suggested yesterday, that this should be con- would vote for it. sidered as an act of intercourse purely domestic, Mr. Christie's motion was then put, and nean expression of self-gratulation on our supe- gatived. rior happiness, which, by the forms of society, Mr. Thatoner's motion was put, and passed onght not to be noticed by any other nation. in the affirmative. We may be deemed, without too bold a figure, Mr. LIVINGSTON then moved to strike out the to be speaking in soliloquy; and to listen to words from the next paragraph, “ Wise, firm, what we say would be no better than eaves- and patriotic Administration, and insert in dropping: the indecorum would rest with those their place, “Your wisdom, firmness, and pawho overhear us, and not with ourselves. It triotism has been." He could not say that all could not be denied that such a belief of the the acts of the Administration had been wise superiority of our political situation ought to be and firm; but he would say, that he believed cherished among us. If we did not believe it, the wisdom, firmness, and patriotism of the we should take shame to ourselves, because our PRESIDENT had been signally conducive to the Government is the work of our own hands. If success of the present form of government. the belief that we are free and enlightened is He was willing to give him every mark of repaluable, the expression of it is also valuable, spect possible, but he believed some of his pubbecause it tends to preserve us so; it is a senti- lic acts of late rendered the present motion ment which we cannot dwell upon too much. necessary.

But, he contended, the propriety of this or Mr. W. SMITH opposed the amendment, as he

H. OF R.]
Address to the President.

[DECEMBER, 1796. thought the gentleman who proposed it con- shame on us. Our sons will blush that their ceived the words to imply more than was fathers were his foes. If excess were possible meant by them—they are not meant to include on this occasion, it would be a glorious fault, every act of the Executive. He thought that and worth a dozen of little, speaking, frigid virthe Administration in general had been wise, tues. I abhor a grudging bankrupt payment, firm, and patriotic; that the wisdom and firm where the debtor is much more benefited than ness of the PRESIDENT had been conducive to the creditor. The gentleman from Virginia the success of the present form of government. misrepresents his own constituents I am sure Had not the words been put in the reported he does all the rest of the Union. On the presAddress, he thought it would not have been of ent occasion we ought not to consult our own consequence whether they were ever inserted; little feelings and sensibilities. We should speak but the difference is very great. Now they are with the heart and in the voice of millions, and inserted, they are made public, and, to erase then we should speak warm and loud. What! them now, and substitute words in any manner “Damn with faint praise :” and suppress or deficient in sentiment to them, would be to freeze the warm, energetic, grateful sensations carry censure and not respect. That the Ad- of almost every honest heart from Maine to ministration of that valuable man had been Tennessee! I will not do it! Every line shall wise and conducive to the good of this country, burn! This is a left-handed way of adoring will not admit of a doubt; and for us to rob the people. him of that honor which is his due, would be Mr. Dayton (the Speaker) said, the motion insult. And any thing short of the words in then before them was of great importance, and the Address he thought would not carry a every man who thought favorably of the PRESproper mark of respect.

IDENT'S Administration should there make a Mr. GILES observed, that he thought the Ad- stand. For, if the words were struck out, it ministration had been very deficient in wisdom. would convey an idea to the world that it was Many gentlemen, he said, were very particu- the opinion of that House that the Administralarly opposed to the British Treaty and to the tion of the PRESIDENT had neither been wise great emission of transferable paper. Could it nor patriotic. Gentlemen might very well conthen be supposed these gentlemen could, in this cur in the Address in its present form, who did instance, so change their opinion? The gentle- not think that every single act of the PRESIman last up had said, that because the words DENT had been wise and firm, since it was his were in the reported Address they ought not Administration in general which was referred to be struck out. He thought that the House to, and not each individual act. He hoped, had now as much power to act as though the therefore, the amendment offered would be decommittee had made no report. He thought cidedly opposed, and that the words proposed they ought not in any way to be influenced by to be struck out would be retained. the report of the select committee, but act as Mr. GALLATIN thought the words objected to though they had to form the Address them- were conceived to mean more than they really selves. He believed that the PRESIDENT Pos- did mean by gentlemen who supported the pressessed both wisdom and firmness. He was wil-ent motion ; nor could he conceive how the ling to compliment the PRESIDENT as much as words " firmness and patriotism," proposed to possible in his personal character, but he could be inserted, could apply to any thing but the not think it applicable to his Administration. public character of the PRESIDENT. On the first He thought the amendment proposed would view of the Address, Mr. G. said, he thought meet his concurrence, and he hoped it would with the gentlemen from New York and Virgibe agreed to.

nia, and it was not without considerable hesitaMr. GILBERT hoped and presumed that the tion that he brought himseli to agree to this motion of his colleague would not obtain. He part of the Address. He found, however, on understood that the House addressed the PREBI- further examination, that they did not go so far DENT in answer to his Speech, always as a pub- as he at first thought they did. Had they aplic man, and not in his private capacity. How proved of every measure of the PRESIDENT OF extraordinary, then, will it appear in this House THE UNITED STATES, he should have voted to refer only to his private conduct! It is, in against them. But, in the first place, he would substance, complimenting him as a private man, observe, that his Administration did not inwhile the very words reprobate him in his pub- clude Legislative acts; so that whatever evils lic station. We are now to address him as had arisen from the funding or banking systems PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. We may were not to be charged to the PRESIDENT. tell him of his wisdom and his firmness, but They did not mean to pay compliments to themwbat of all that unless we connect it with his selves but to the PRESIDENT : therefore, the Administration ?

words in question related only to the AdminisMr. Isaac SMITI.-The sin of ingratitude istration of the PRESIDENT alone, and not to those worse than the sin of witchcraft; and we shall officers of State which had been supposed by damn ourselves to everlasting fame if we with- some gentlemen. The first question was, then, hold the mighty tribute due to the excellent whether that Administration had been marked man whom we pretend to address. Posterity, with wisdom, firmness, and patriotism? And, throughout all future generations, will cry out he would briefly say, so far as related to the inDECEMBER, 1796.)

Address to the President.



ternal situation of the country, it had borne these liam Lyman, Samuel Maclay, Nathaniel Macon, and marks. He did not recollect any instance | Abraham Venable. where he could say here was any want of wis- Resolved, That the SPEAKER, attended by the dom, or there of firmness or patriotism. If they House, do present the said Address; and that proceeded to foreign affairs, a great number of Mr. AMES, Mr. Madison, and Mr. SITGREAVES, members were found (he for one) who wished be a committee to wait on the PRESIDENT to that certain acts had not taken place; and, if he know when and where it will be convenient for thought, in giving approbation to this Address, him to receive the same. be was approving of these measures, he would certainly vote against it. But, as the gentlemen

Friday, December 16. from South Carolina and New Jersey (Mr. SMITH

Mr. AMES, from the committee appointed to and the SPEAKER) had observed, as the appro- / wait on the PRESIDENT to know when and bation went to the Administration in toto, it

where he would receive the answer of this had respect to no particular act. Nor did he

| House to his Address, reported that he had apbelieve the literal sense of the words would

| pointed to receive it at his house this day at apply to the business of the late treaty. [He

two o'clock. read the words.] The most clear meaning of these words related to the present Government

Address to the President. and constitution ; and the word "success"

The SPEAKER informed the House that the could apply to those parts of the Administration | hour was nearly at hand, which the PRESIDENT only which had had time to be matured. He had appointed for receiving the Address of the did not believe that at the present period it | House, in answer to his Speech. The members, could be said that the Treaty with Great Britain

in a body, accordingly waited upon the PRESIhad been successful, and, therefore, could not be | DENT, at his house; and the SPEAKER proincluded within the meaning of the expression.

nounced the following Address: Not meaning to pledge an approbation of that

“SIR : The House of Representatives have attendact, and not conceiving that the sentence could

ed to your communication respecting the state of our have such a meaning, he would vote against the

country, with all the sensibility that the contemplaproposed amendment, and for the original

tion of the subject and a sense of duty can inspire. The question was put on the amendment and “We are gratified by the information, that meanegatired. The committee then rose, reported sures calculated to ensure a continuance of the friendthe Address with the amendments, when the ship of the Indians, and to maintain the tranquillity House took them up, and having gone through of the Western frontier, have been adopted; and we them—

indulge the hope that these, by impressing the Indian On the question being about to be put on the tribes with more correct conceptions of the justice, as answer as amended, Mr. BLOUNT wished the well as power of the United States, will be attended veas and nars might be taken that posterity with success. might see that he did not consent to the Address.

“While we notice, with satisfaction, the steps that The main question being put, it was resolved

| you have taken, in pursuance of the late treaties

with several foreign nations, the liberation of our citiin the affirmative-yeas 67, nays 12, as follows:

zens, who were prisoners at Algiers, is a subject of YEAs-Fisher Ames, Theodorus Bailey, Abraham peculiar felicitation. We shall cheerfully co-operate Baldwin, David Bard, Theophilus Bradbury, Nathan in any further measures that shall appear, on considBryan, Gabriel Christie, Thomas Claiborne, John eration, to be requisite. Clopton, Joshna Coit, William Cooper, William “We have ever concurred with you in the most Craik, James Davenport, Henry Dearborn, George | sincere and uniform disposition to preserve our neuDeat, George Ege, Abiel Foster, Dwight Foster, tral relations inviolate; and it is, of course, with Jesse Franklin, Nathaniel Freeman, jr., Albert Gal- anxiety and deep regret we hear that any interruplatin, Ezekiel Gilbert, James Gillespie, Nicholas Gil- tion of our harmony with the French Republic has man, Henry Glenn, Chauncey Goodrich, Andrew occurred; for we feel with yon, and with our constiGregg, Roger Griswold, William B. Grove, Robert tuents, the cordial and unabated wish to maintain a Goodloe Harper, Carter B. Harrison, Thomas Hart- perfectly friendly understanding with that nation. ley, Jonathan N. Havens, John Heath, Thomas Hen-| Your endeavors to fulfil that wish, and by all horrorderson, William Hindman, George Jackson, Aaronable means to preserve peace and to restore that harKitchell, Samuel Lyman, James Madison, Francis mony and affection, which have heretofore sn happily Malbone, Andrew Moore, Frederick A. Muhlenberg, subsisted between the French Republic and the John Nicholas, John Page, Josiah Parker, John United States, cannot fail, therefore, to interest our Patton, John Read, John Richards, Samuel Sewall, attention. And while we participate in the full reJohn S. Sherburne, Samuel Sitgreaves, Nathaniel liance you have expressed on the patriotism, selfSmith, Israel Smith, Isaac Smith, William Smith, respect, and fortitude of our countrymen, we cherish Richard Sprigg, jr., William Strudwick, John Swan- the pleasing hope that a mutual spirit of justice and mowick, Zephaniah Swift, George Thatcher, Mark deration will ensure the success of your perseverance. Thompson, John E. Van Allen, Pbilip Van Cortlandt, “The various subjects of your communication will, Joseph B. Varnum, Peleg Wadsworth, and John respectively, meet with the attention that is due to Williams.

their importance. Nays.-Thomas Blount, Isaac Coles, William B. “When we advert to the internal situation of the Giles, Christopher Greenup, James Holland, Andrew United States, we deem it equally natural and becomJackson, Edward Livingston, Matthew Locke, Wil- ) ing to compare the present period with that immedi

VOL. II.-3

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