Page images



empty compliment, which, established without use, may be omitted without offence. But this is not so. If these be ceremonies, they are not vain, but of serious import, and are founded on strong reason. He who means me well, acts without disguise. Had this transaction been intended fairly, it would have been told frankly. But it was secret because it was hostile. The First Consul, in the moment of terminating his differences with you, sought the means of future influence and control. He sought and secured a pivot for that immense lever by which, with potent arm, he means to subvert your civil and political institutions. Thus, the beginning was made in deep hostility. Conceived in such principles, it presaged no good. Its bodings were evil and evil have been its fruits.

[After reviewing the state of Europe under the domination of Napoleon, and the value of the territory bordering on the Mississippi, the speaker proceeds.]

Having now considered in its various relations, the importance of these provinces, the way is open to estimate our chance of obtaining them by negotiation. Let me ask on what ground you mean to treat. Do you expect to persuade? Do you hope to intimidate? If to persuade, what are your means of persuasion ? Every gentleman admits the importance of this country. Think you the First Consul, whose capacious mind embraces the globe, is alone ignorant of its value? Is he a child, whom you may win by a rattle to comply with your wishes ? Will you, like a nurse, sing to him a lullaby? If you have no hope from fondling attentions and soothing sounds, what have you to offer in exchange? Have you any. thing to give which he will take ? He wants power : you have no power. He wants dominion : you have no dominion—at least none that you can grant. He wants influence in Europe. And have you any influence in Europe? What, in the name of Heaven, are the means by which you would render this negotiation successful? Is it by some secret spell ? Have you any magic power? Will you draw a circle and conjure up devils to assist you ? Or do you rely on the charms of those beautiful girls with whom, the gentleman near me says, the French grenadiers are to incorporate ? If so, why do you not send an embassy of women ?

Gentlemen talk of the principles of our government, as if they could obtain for us the desired boon. But what will these principles avail? When you inquire as to the force of France, Austria, or Russia, do you ask whether they have a habeas corpus act, or a trial by jury? Do you estimate their power, discuss their interior police? No! The question is, How many battalions have they? What train of artillery can they bring into the field ? How many ships can they send to sea ? These are the important circumstances which command respect and facilitate negotiation. Can you display these powerful motives ? Alas! Alas! To



all these questions you answer by one poor word-confidence confidence -confidence-yea, verily, we have confidence. We have faith and hope: aye, and we have charity, too. Well-go to market with these Christian virtues, and what will you get for them? Just nothing. .

Look at the conduct of America in her infant years. When there was no actual invasion of right, but only a claim to invade, she resisted the claim ; she spurned the insult. Did we then hesitate? Did we then wait for foreign alliance ? No! animated with the spirit, warmed with the soul, of freedom, we threw our oaths of allegiance in the face of our sovereign, and committed our fortunes and our fate to the God of battles. We then were subjects. We had not then attained to the dignity of an independent republic. We then had no rank among the nations of the earth. But we had the spirit which deserved that elevated station. And now that we have gained it, shall we fall from our honor ?

Sir, I repeat to you that I wish for peace: real, lasting, honorable peace. To obtain and secure this blessing, let us, by a bold and decisive conduct, convince the powers of Europe that we are determined to defend our rights; that we will not submit to insult; that we will not bear degradation. This is the conduct which becomes a generous people. This conduct will command the respect of the world. Nay, sir, it may rouse all Europe to a proper sense of their situation. They see that the balance of power, on which their liberties depend, is, if not destroyed, in extreme danger. They know that the dominion of France has been extended by the sword over millions who groan in the servitude of their new masters, These unwilling subjects are ripe for revolt. The empire of the Gauls is not, like that of Rome, secured by political institutions. It may yet be broken. But whatever may be the conduct of others, let us act as becomes ourselves. I cannot believe, with my honorable colleague, that threefourths of America are opposed to vigorous measures. I cannot believe that they will meanly refuse to pay the sums needful to vindicate their honor and support their independence. Sir, this is a libel on the people of America. They will disdain submission to the proudest sovereign on earth. They have not lost the spirit of '76. But, sir, if they are so base as to barter their rights for gold, if they are so vile that they will not defend their honor, they are unworthy of the rank they enjoy, and it is no matter how soon they are parcelled out among better masters.

JOHN MARSHALL (1751-1831)



HERE important careers are rarely embraced in the life of a single

man, yet in John Marshall we find ourselves in the presence

at once of a brave soldier, an able statesman, and an eminent jurist. Born in Virginia, the foster-home of statesmen, Marshall was a soldier in the Revolution, taking part in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth and enduring the terrible winter at Valley Forge. His duties as a statesman began in the Virginia Convention called to ratify the Constitution, where he ably supported Madison. He served afterward in the Virginia Legislature and for a term in Congress, also for a brief period as Secretary of State under President Adams. In his profession, that of the law, he manifested unusual ability, and in time won such wide recognition that on the resignation of Chief-Justice Ellsworth in 1801 he was appointed to the high position of Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. For thirty-four years, until his death, he performed the duties of this office with a learning, wisdom, and brilliancy as a jurist and expounder of the Constitution which have never been equalled. Judge Story thus speaks of his able decisions on Constitutional law : "If all others of the Chief Justice's judicial arguments had perished, his luminous judgments upon these occasions would have given an enviable immortality to his name.”

THE DEFENCE OF NASH [Of the examples of Marshall's powers of oratory, the most famous is the tlogical argument which he made in Congress on March 4, 1800, defending President.+ Adams for the surrender of a sailor named Thomas Nash, who was claimed by the British governmeut as a fugitive from justice. This speech settled for all time the question whether such cases should be decided by the executive or the judiciary. Griswold says, in his “Prose Writers of America," "That argument deserves to be

[blocks in formation]

ranked among the most dignified displays of the human intellect.” As a close judicial study and decision, resembling those for which Marshall afterward became famous, its strength and balance could be shown only by giving it in full. While this cannot be done here, its character will be indicated by our extracts.]

The case stated is, that Thomas Nash, having committed a murder on board of a British frigate, navigating the high seas under a commission from His Britannic Majesty, had sought an asylum within the United States, and on this case his delivery was demanded by the minister of the King of Great Britain.

It is manifest that the case stated, if supported by proof, is within the letter of the article, provided a murder committed in a British frigate, on the high seas, be committed within the jurisdiction of that nation.

That such a murder is within their jurisdiction, has been fully shown by the gentleman from Delaware. The principle is, that the jurisdiction of a nation extends to the whole of its territory, and to its own citizens in every part of the world. The laws of a nation are rightfully obligatory on its own citizens in every situation, where those laws are really extended to them. This principle is founded on the nature of civil union. It is supported everywhere by public opinion, and is recognized by writers on the law of nations. Rutherforth, in his second volume, p. 180, says: “The jurisdiction which a civil society has over the persons of its members, affects them immediately, whether they are within its territories or not.”

This general principle is especially true, and is particularly recognized, with respect to the fleets of a nation on the high seas. To punish offences committed in its fleet is the practice of every nation in the universe; and consequently the opinion of the world is that a fleet at sea is within the jurisdiction of the nation to which it belongs. Rutherforth, volume 2, p. 491, says : “There can be no doubt about the jurisdiction of a nation over the persons which compose its fleets, when they are out at sea, whether they are sailing upon it or are stationed in any particular part of it."

The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gallatin), though he has not directly controverted this doctrine, has sought to weaken it by observing that the jurisdiction of a nation at sea could not be complete even in its own vessels ; and, in support of this position, he urged the admitted practice of submitting to search for contraband-a practice not tolerated on land, within the territory of a neutral power. The rule is as stated; but is founded on a principle which does not affect the jurisdiction of a nation over its citizens or subjects in its ships. The principle is, that in the sea itself no nation has any jurisdiction. All may equally exercise their rights, and consequently the right of a belligerent power to prevent aid

[blocks in formation]

being given to his enemy is not restrained by any superior right of a neutral in the place. But if this argument possessed any force, it would not apply to national ships of war, since the usage of nations does not permit them to be searched.

According to the practice of the world, then, and the opinions of writers on the law of nations, the murder committed on board of a British frigate navigating the high seas was a murder committed within the jurisdiction of the British nation. .

Gentlemen have considered it as an offence against judicial authority, and a violation of judicial rights, to withdraw from their sentence a criminal against whom a prosecution had been commenced. They have treated the subject as if it were the privilege of courts to condemn to death the guilty wretch arraigned at their bar, and that to intercept the judgment was to violate the privilege. Nothing can be more incorrect than this view of the case. It is not the privilege, it is the sad duty, of courts to administer criminal judgment. It is a duty to be performed at the demand of the nation, and with which the nation has a riglit to dispense. If judgment of death is to be pronounced, it must be at the prosecution of the nation, and the nation may at will stop that prosecution. In this respect the President expresses constitutionally the will of the nation; and may rightfully enter a nolle prosequi, or direct that the criminal be prosecuted no further. This is no interference with judicial decisions, nor any invasion of the province of a court. It is the exercise of an indubitable and a constitutional power. . .

After trespassing so long on the patience of the House, in arguing what has appeared to me to be the material points growing out of the resolutions, I regret the necessity of detaining you still longer for the purpose of noticing an observation which appears not to be considered by the gentleman who made it as belonging to the argument.

The subject introduced by this observation, however, is so calculated to interest the public feelings, that I must be excused for stating my opinion on it.

The gentleman from Pennsylvania has said, that an impressed American seaman, who should commit homicide for the purpose of liberating himself from the vessel in which he is confined, ought not to be given up as a murderer. In this, I concur entirely with the gentleman. I believe the opinion to be unquestionably correct, as were the reasons that gentleman has given in support of it. I have never heard any American avow a contrary sentiment, nor do I believe a contrary sentiment could find a place in the bosom of any American. I cannot pretend, and do not pretend, to know the opinion of the executive on the subject, because I

« PreviousContinue »