Page images
PDF
EPUB

'EBRUARY, 1803.) Mississippi Question.

[SENATE. If this kind, can you retract? You cannot; it Now, sir, is it not our duty to consult our s in fact a declaration of war itself. Many of country's interest, before we take this rash step, he courts of Europe would consider it so, and which we cannot recall? Peace is the interest lave engaged in war for less cause of offence of all republics, and war their destruction; it han this resolution contains. You pronounce loads and fetters them with debt, and entangles It once, without knowing whether the proceed- not only the present race, but posterity. Peace, ngs at New Orleans were sanctioned by the sir, has been the ruling policy of the United Jourt of Spain, that that nation is in a state of States throughout all her career. If we show rostility against your honor and interest, which the citizens that we are not willing to go to war, leclaration, coupled with the following resolu- and load them with taxes, they will all be with ion, “That it does not consist with the dignity us, when a necessity for war arrives. What, or safety of this Union to hold a right so im- sir, was the policy of America, from the com>ortant by a tenure so uncertain," is a direct mencement of the Revolution ? At that day, nsult to that nation. But if war is not to be did we hastily go to war? No; we tried every ound in those resolutions, is it not in the fifth peaceable means to avoid it, and those means 'esolution, " That the President be authorized | induced a unanimity in the people. o take immediate possession of such place or At the commencement many States were explaces in the said island, or the adjacent territo-ceedingly divided, in some a majority were ries, as he may deem fit or convenient.” Is this against us; yet, seeing the moderation and jus20t war? If it be not, he knew not what war tice of our measures, and the rashness and tywas! And now let us inquire, if we should be ranny of the British cabinet, they came over to justified in adopting those measures, on the our side, and became the most zealous among grounds of public or private justice, or the laws us. At the present moment, sir, the people of nations.

are averse to war, they are satisfied with the Sir, the going to war has always been con- steps of the Executive, they wish negotiation. sidered, even among barbarous nations, a most If you adopt these resolutions, they will be still serious thing; and it has not been undertaken divided ; if you negotiate, and fail in that newithout the most serious deliberation. It was gotiation-if you cannot obtain a redress of

practice among the Romans, prior to under the injury which they feel as well as you, they taking a war, to consult the faciales on the will go all lengths with you, and be prepared justice of it; and, after it had been declared for any event; you will have this advantage, just, to refer it to the Senate, to judge of the you will be unanimous, and America united is policy of it; and unless the justice and the pol- à match for the world. In such a case, sir, icy were both accorded in, the war was not every man will be anxious to march, he would undertaken. If this was the case then amonggo himself if called on, and whether the slugbarbarous nations, shall we, who call ourselves gish Spaniard or the French grenadier coma civilized nation, not well weigh the justice mands New Orleans, it must fall; they will and the policy of going to war, before we un- | not be able to resist the brave and numerous dertake it?

hosts of our Western brethren, who are so As to national honor and dignity, he believed much interested in the injury complained of. we have all a proper sense of it, and he would He was himself of opinion that New Orleans be one of the last on this floor to put up with must belong to the United States; it must insult and indignity from any nation; but, as come to us in the course of human events, much as we had heard of it, he did not think although not at the present day; for he did not we ought, without negotiation, to resent every wish to use force to obtain it, if we could get a injury by war. In many cases, national honor redress of injury; yet it will naturally fall into is only a convertible term for national interest; our hands by gradual but inevitable causes, as and he begged leave to relate an anecdote of a sure and certain as manufactures arise from celebrated soldier on this head. After the fail | increased population and the plentiful products ure of the attempted storm of Savannah, in the of agriculture and commerce. But let it be noyear 1779, Count D'Estaing, who was wounded | ticed, that if New Orleans by a refusal of jusin the attack, and lay in that situation about five tice falls into our hands by force, the Floridas, miles from Savannah, was visited by Governor as sure as fate, fall with it. Good faith forbids Rutledge and other gentlemen of South Caro- encroachment on a pacific ally; but if hostility lina and Georgia. The Governor having per- shows itself against us, interest demands it; ceived some movements in camp indicative of a Georgia in such case could not do without it. retrogade motion, told the Count that his own God and nature have destined New Orleans honor and the honor of France were concerned and the Floridas to belong to this great and risin his remaining and taking the city. The ing empire. As natural bounds to the South, Count very mildly replied, “Gentlemen, if my are the Atlantio, the Gulf of Mexico, and the honor is to be lost by not taking the city, it is Mississippi, and the world at some future day lost already; but I deem my honor to consist cannot hold them from us. in the honor of my country, and that honor is my conntry's interest!" The time of operation in the West Indies was arrived, and the Count re-embarked his troops.

to.

SENATE.]
Mississippi Question.

(FEBRUARY, 183,

the resolutions themselves? So far from crans THURSDAY, February 24,

ing, or diminishing the power of gentlemen en Mississippi Question.

posed to us, in a crisis like the present, we col Agreeably to the order of the day, the Senate offer to strengthen their own hands. Had the resumed the consideration of the resolutions re-advice of an honorable gentleman near me (r. specting the indisputable right of the United MORRIS) been listened to, when you were dis States to the free navigation of the Mississippi, banding your army, this crisis would not bsve together with the proposed amendments there- happened. Had you then posted at the Natebez,

as he recommended, a thousand soldiers, the DarMr. WELLA, of Delaware, said, -Gentlemen igation of the Mississippi would not now bare have persuaded themselves that the conduct of been interrupted. He foretold you what would the Intendant is not authorized by the Spanish happen, and his prediction has been literally or French Government; but what reason have fulfilled. they assigned as in support of this opinion? There is but one fault I find with these rese They tell us of the friendly assurances received lutions, which is, they do not go far enough. from the Minister of His Catholic Majesty resi- If I could obtain a second, I would move aa dent near our Government; and they place amendment explicitly anthorizing the taking considerable stress upon the circumstance of possession of both the Floridas as well as the the Governor of New Orleans disapprovirg of island of New Orleans, In one respect I e what the Intendant has done. I will not stop tirely accord vith the honorable gentleman to speak of the imprudence of reposing them from Georgia, (Mr. Jacksox,) and I admire selves upon the assurances of a Minister, per- the manly and decisive tone in which he has haps expressly instructed to mislead them. spoken upon this subject. We both agree that But why have they trusted to the imaginary the Floridas must be attached to the United collision of sentiment between the Governor States ; but we differ in point of time. The and Intendant of New Orleans? Do not gen- violent aggression committed upon our rights, tlemen know that our Government is in pos- and the extent of the danger with which we session of testimony, demonstrating beyond all are threatened, in my humble opinion, would kind of doubt, that this is not the fact? Have amply justify our taking possession of them they not seen the letter of the Governor of immediately. Look at the relative situation New Orleans to the Governor of the Mississip- of Georgia, the Mississippi Territory, and he pi Territory? In this letter I learn that the Floridas, and it will require very little of the Governor comes out and acknowledges his co- spirit of prophecy to foretell that we shall, ere operation with the Intendant, justifies the long, be compelled to possess ourselves of them breach of the treaty, and declares that these / in our own defence. instruments cease their binding force the mo- Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.—Mr. President, ment it suits the interest of either party to my object is peace. I could assign many reasons break through thein. Alas! the history of the to show that this declaration is sincere. Bat world furnishes us too many evidences of can it be necessary to give this Senate any other this melancholy truth. But this is the first assurance than my word ? Notwithstanding time that any nation has had the hardihood to the acerbity of temper which results from party avow it. No, sir, even Carthage herself, who strife, gentlemen will believe me on my word. became proverbial for her disregard of treaties, I will not pretend, like my honorable colleagoe, never attained to a point so profligate. If I am (Mr. CLINTON,) to describe to you the waste, incorrect in my statement, honorable gentle- the ravages, and the horrors of war. I have men, who have easier access to the sources of not the same harmonious periods, nor the same official information than is permitted to us, will musical tones; neither shall I boast of Chris. set me right. Why has this document been so tian charity, nor attempt to display that ingesedulously kept from the public eye? Why it nuous glow of benevolence so decorons to the should be even now so carefully locked up, is a cheek of youth, which gave a vivid tint to every mystery not for me to unravel.

sentence he uttered; and was, if possible, as I see no other course for us to pursue than impressive even as his eloquence. But, though that pointed out by the resolutions. Our inter- we possess not the same pomp of words, our ests, our honor, and our safety, require it to be hearts are not insensible to the woes of humanadopted. I am aware that the alarm of war ity. We can feel for the misery of plundered will be rung through the country. I know towns, the conflagration of defenceless villages, full well the pains that will be taken to impress and the devastation of cultured fields. Turnan opinion upon our fellow-citizens that we ing from these features of general distress, we are the friends of war. This we cannot help: can enter the abodes of private affliction, and the danger with which our country is threat-behold the widow weeping, as she traces, in ened, will not permit us to shrink from the the pledges of connubial affection, the reserdischarge of our duty, let the consequences to blance of him whom she has lost for ever. We ourselves be what they may. Let me ask you see the aged matron bending over the ashes of with my honorable friend from New Jersey, her son. He was her darling ; for he was gen(Mr. DAYTON,) what stronger evidence can we erous and brave, and therefore his spirit led give you of the sincerity of our intentions than him to the field in defence of his country. We

FEBRUARY, 1803.)
Mississippi Question.

(SENATE. can observe another oppressed with unutterable | arrested, but whether by authority or not is anguish: condemned to conceal her affection ; equivocal. He says the representative of Spain forced to hide that passion which is at once verily believes it to be an unauthorized act. the torment and delight of life; she learns that My honorable colleague informs us there has those eyes which beamed with sentiment, are been a clashing between the Governor and Inclosed in death; and his lip, the ruby harbin-tendant. He says we are told by the Spanish ger of joy, lies pale and cold, the miserable Minister it was unauthorized. Notwithstandappendage of a mangled corpse. Hard, hard in- ing these assurances, however, my honorable deed, must be that heart which can be insensi- colleague has, it seems, some doubts; but neverble to scenes like these, and bold the man theless he presumes innocence, for my colleague who dare present to the Almighty Father a is charitable. The honorable member from conscience crimsoned with the blood of lia Maryland goes further. He tells us the Minischildren.

i ver of Spain says, the Intendant had no such Yes, sir, we wish for peace; but how is that authority, and the Minister of France, too, says blessing to be preserved? I shall here repeat there is no such authority. Sir, I have all posa sentiment I have often had occasion to ex- sible respect for those gentlemen, and every propress. In my opinion, there is nothing worth per confidence in what they may think proper Fighting for, but national honor; for in the na-w communicate. I believe the Spanish Minister tional honor is involved the national indepen- has the best i raginable disposition to preserve dence. I know that a State may find itself in peace; being indeed the express purpose for such unpropitious circumstances, that prudence which he was sent among us. I believe it to may force a wise government to conceal the sense be an object near to his heart, and which has & of indignity. But the insult should be engraven strong hold upon his affections. I respect the on tablets of brass, with a pencil of steel. And warmth and benevolence of his feelings, but he when that time and chance, which happen to must pardon me that I am deficient in courtly all, shall bring forward the favorable moment, compliment; I am a republican, and cannot then let the avenging arm strike him. It is by commit the interests of my country to the avowing and maintaining this stern principle goodness of his heart of honor, that peace can be preserved. But What is the state of things? There has been let it not be supposed that any thing I say has a cession of the island of New Orleans and of the slightest allusion to the injuries sustained Louisiana to France. Whether the Floridas from France, while suffering in the pangs of have also been ceded is not yet certain. It has her Revolution. As soon should I upbraid a been said, as from authority, and I think it sick man for what he might have done in the probable. Now, sir, let us note the time and paroxysms of disease. Nor is this a new senti- the manner of this cession. It was at or imment; it was felt and avowed at the time mediately after the treaty of Lunéville, at the when these wrongs were heaped on us, and I first moment when France could take up a disappeal for the proof to the files of your Secre- tant object of attention, But had Spain a right tary of State. The destinies of France were to make this cession without our consent? then in the hands of monsters. By the decree Gentlemen have taken it for granted that she of Heaven she was broken on the wheel, in the had. But I deny the position. No nation has face of the world, to warn mankind of her folly a right to give to another a dangerous neighbor and madness. But these scenes have passed without her consent. This is not like the case away. On the throne of the Bourbons is now of private citizens, for there, when a man is inseated the first of the Gallic Cæsary. At the jured, he can resort to the tribunals for redress; head of that gallant nation is the great—the and yet, even there, to dispose of property to greatest-man of the present age. It becomes one who is a bad neighbor is always considered us well to consider bis situation. The things as an act of unkindness. But as between nahe has achieved, compel him to the achieve- tions, who can redress themselves only by war, ment of things more great. In his vast career, such transfer is in itself an aggression. He wbó we must soon become objects to command at renders me insecure; he who hazards my peace, tention. We too, in our turn, must contend or and exposes me to imminent danger, commits submit. By submission we may indeed have an act of hostility against me, and gives me the peace, alike precarious and ignominious. But rights consequent on that act. Suppose Great is this the peace which we ought to seek? | Britain should give to Algiers one of the BahaWill this satisfy the just expectation of our mas, and contribute thereby to establish a nest country? No. Let us have peace permanent, of pirates near your coasts, would you not consecure, and, if I may use the term, independent. sider it as an aggression? Suppose, during the Peace which depends, not on the pity of others, late war, you had conveyed to France a tract but on our own force. Let us have the only of land along Hudson's River, and the northern peace worth having, a peace consistent with route by the Lakes into Canada, would not honor.

Britain have considered and treated it as an act Before I consider the existing state of things, of direct hostility? It is among the first limitalet me notice what gentlemen have said in rela- tions to the exercise of the rights of property, tion to it. The honorable member from Ken- that we must so use our own as not to injure tucky has told us, that indeed there is a right another; and it is under the immediate sense

SENATE.]
Mississippi Question.

(FEBRUARY, 1894 of this restriction that nations are bound to act procedure. Sir, if the Intendant was arnepable toward each other.

to the Minister, why did he not inform him of But it is not this transfer alone. There are the step he was about to take, that the Presi. circumstances both in the time and in the man- dent of the United States might seasonabis ner of it which deserve attention. A gentle- have been apprised of his intention, and given man from Maryland (Mr. WRIGHT) has told the proper notice to our fellow-citizens? Why you, that all treaties ought to be published and has he first learnt this offensive act from those proclaimed for the information of other nations. who suffer by it? Why is he thus held up to I ask, was this a public treaty? No. Was contempt and derision? If the Intendant is to official notice of it given to the Government of be controlled by the Minister, would he have this country? Was it announced to the Presi- taken a step so important without his advice! dent of the United States, in the usual forms Common sense will say no. But, the bitter cup of civility between nations who duly respect of humiliation was not yet full. Smarting upeach other? It was not. Let gentlemen con- der the lash of the Intendant, the Minister soothes tradict me if they can. They will say perhaps you with assurances, and sends advice-boats to that it was the omission only of a vain and idle announce your forbearance. But while they ceremony. Ignorance may indeed pretend that are on their way, new injury and new insalt such communication is an empty compliment, are added. The Intendant, as if determined which, established without use, may be omitted to try the extent of your meekness, forbids to without offence. But this is not so. If these your citizens all communication with those wbo be ceremonios, they are not vain, but of serious inhabit the shores of the Mississippi. Thongh import, and are founded on strong reason. He they should be starving, the Spaniard is made who means me well acts without disguise. criminal who should give them food. FortaHad this transaction been intended fairly, it nately, the waters of the river are potable, or would have been told frankly. But it was se- else we should be precluded from the common cret because it was hostile. The First Consul, benefits of nature, the common bounty of in the moment of terminating his differences heaven. What then, I ask, is the amount of with you, sought the means of future influence this savage conduct? Sir, it is war. Open and control. He found and secured a pivot for and direct war. And yet gentlemen recordthat immense lever, by which, with potent arm, mend peace, and forbid us to take up the he means to subvert your civil and political in- gauntlet of defiance. Will gentlemen sit here stitutions. Thus, the beginning was made in and shut their eyes to the state and condition deep hostility. Conceived in such principles, of their country? I shall not reply to what it presaged no good. Its bodings were evil, has been said respecting depredations on comand evil have been its fruits. We heard of it merce, but confine myself to objects of which during the last session of Congress, but to this there can be no shadow of doubt. Here is s hour we have not heard of any formal and vast country given away, and not without danregular communication from those by whom it ger to us. Has a nation a right to put these was made. Has the King of Spain, has the States in a dangerous situation? No, sir. And First Consul of France, no means of making yet it has been done, not only without our cogsuch communication to the President of the sent previous to the grant, but without obsery. United States? Yes, sir, we have a Ministering the common forms of civility after it was in Spain; we have a Minister in France. No- made. Is that wonderful man who presides thing was easier, and yet nothing has been done. over the destinies of France, ignorant or unOur First Magistrate has been treated with con- mindful of theso forms? See what was done tempt; and through him our country has been the other day. He directed his Minister to insulted.

communicate to the Elector of Bavaris, his inWith that meek and peaceful spirit now so tended movements in Switzerland, and their strongly recommended, we submitted to this object. He knew the Elector had a right to insult, and what followed? That which might expect that information, although the greater have been expected; a violation of our treaty. part of Swabia lies between his dominions and An open and direct violation by a public officer Switzerland. And this right is founded on the of the Spanish Government. This is not the broad principles already mentioned. case cited from one of the books. It is not a Having thus considered the effect of this ces wrong done by a private citizen, which might, sion upon the United States, in a general point for that reason, be of doubtful nature. No; it of view, let us now examine it more particularis by a public officer,--that officer, in whose ly, as it regards the greater divisions of our particular department it was to cause the faith-country, the Western, the Southern, the Middle, ful observance of the treaty which he has vio- and the Eastern States. I fear, sir, I shall delated. We are told indeed that there was a tain you longer than I intended, certainly longer clashing of opinion between the Governor and than the light of day will last, notwithstanding the Intendant. But what have we to do with my effort to comprise what I have to say in the their domestic broils? The injury is done, we smallest compass. As to the Western States, feel it. Let the fault be whose it may, the suf- the effects will be remote and immediate. Those fering is ours. But, say gentlemen, the Spanish more remote may be examined under the twoMinister has interfered to correct this irregular l fold aspect of peace and war. In peace they

FEBRUARY, 1803.]
Mississippi Question.

(SENATE. will suffer the diminution of price for their pro- | from their present connection. The talents of duce. The advantage of supplying the French, the French to gain the good will of the savages Dutch, and Spanish colonies, may at first sight is well known, and the disposition of those unlead to a different opinion ; but when the port cultured men for war, is equally notorious. of New Orleans is shut to all but French ships, Here then is a powerful instrument of destructhere will no longer be that competition which tion, which may be used against you with ruinnow exists, and which always results in the ous effect. Besides, what is the population of highest price that commodities can bear. The the Southern States? Do you not tremble French merchants have neither the large capi- when you look at it? Have we not within these tal, nor have they the steady temper and per- few days passed a law to prevent the importasevering industry which foster commerce. Their tion of certain dangerous characters? What invariable object in trade, is to acquire sudden will hinder them from arriving in the Floridas, wealth by large profit; and if that cannot be and what can guard the approach from thence done, they abandon the pursuit for some new to our Southern frontier These pernicious project. Certain of the market, and certain of emissaries may stimulate with a prospect of freethe increasing supply, they will prescribe the dom the miserable men who now toil without price, both to those who cultivate, and to those hope. They may excite them to imitate a fatal who consume. Such will be the effect in peace. example, and to act over those scenes which fill

In a war with Great Britain, the attention of our minds with horror. When the train shall her fleets to cut off supplies from her enemies, be laid; when the conspiracy shall be ripe; must necessarily affect the price of produce in when the armies of France shall reach your a still greater degree, and in a war with France frontier, the firing of the first musket will be a it will bear no price at all, until New Orleans signal for general carnage and confiagration. If shall be wrested from their grasp. Add to this you will not see your danger now, the time the danger and the devastation from the troops must soon arrive when you shall feel it. The of that country, aided by innumerable hosts of Southern States being exposed to such immi. savages from the Western wilds. Such being nent danger, their Representatives may be made the evident effects to be produced in times not to know, that a vote given in Congress shall far remote, the present evil follows from the realize the worst apprehensions. You will then anticipation of them. The price of land must feel their danger even on this floor. be reduced, from the certainty that its produce Let us now consider the consequence of the will become less valuable. The flood of emi- cession we complain of, to other nations, and gration to those fertile regions must cease to this we may do generally, and then more espeflow. The debts incurred in the hope of advan cially as to those who have a direct and immetageous sales, must remain unpaid. The distress diate interest in the transaction. In a general of the debtor must then recoil on his creditor, view, the first prominent feature is the colossal and, from the common relations of society, be- power of France. Dangerous to Europe and to come general.

the world, what will be the effect of a great inWhat will be the effect on the Southern crease of that power? Look at Europe! One States? Georgia, Carolina, and the Mississippi half of it is blotted from the list of empire. Territory are exposed to invasion from the Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Britain, are the Floridas and New Orleans. There are circum-only powers remaining, except Sweden and stances in that portion of America which render Denmark, and they are paralyzed. Where is the invasion easy, and the defence difficult. Italy, Switzerland, Flanders, and all Germany Pensacola, though the climate be warm, is west of the Rhine? Gone; swallowed up in among the healthiest spots on earth. Not only the empire of the Gauls. Holland, Spain, Pora large garrison, but an army may remain there tugal, reduced to a state of submission and dewithont hazard. At Pensacola and St. Augus-pendence. What is the situation of the powers tine, forces may be assembled to operate in that that remain? Austria is cut off from Italy, the season of the year, when the morasses which great object of her ambition for more than three separate them from our southern frontier no centuries; long the rival of France, long balanlonger breathe pestilence. By what are those cing with the Bourbons the fate of Europe, she armies to be opposed ? Will you call the militia must now submit, and tacitly acknowledge to from the North to assist their Southern bre- the world the superiority of her foe, and her thren? They are too remote. Will you secure own humiliation. Prussia, under the auspices their seasonable aid, bring them early to the of the Great Frederick, was at the head of a fields they are ordered to defend? They must Germanic league to balance the imperial power. perish. The climate, more fatal than the sword, | Though united with Austria for a moment in will destroy them before they see their foe. the hollow league of the coalition, she has, like The country adjoining to our Southern frontier Austria, been actuated by a blind jealousy, and is now in possession of the most numerous tribes favoring the operations of France for the ruin of savages we are acquainted with. The access of her rival, expected to share largely in the to it from New Orleans and the Floridas is easy general spoil. In this fond hope she is disapand immediate. The toys and gewgaws manu-pointed; she now sees the power of France at factured in France, will be scattered in abun- her door. There is not å fortress from the dance, to win their affections, and seduce them | Rhine to the Baltic, except Magdeburgh, which

« PreviousContinue »