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Berlin and Milan. And it affords a subject of sincere congratulation to be informed, through the special organs of the Government, that those decrees are, so far at least as our rights are concerned, equally and practically at an end.
It was confidently expected that this act on the part of France would have been immediately followed by a revocation on the part of Great Britain of her orders in council. If our reliance on her justice had been impaired by the wrongs she had inflicted, yet when she had plighted her faith to the world that the sole motive of her aggressions on neutral commerce was to be found in the Berlin and Milan decrees, we looked forward to the extinction of those decrees as the period when the freedom of the seas would be again restored.
In this reasonable expectation we have, however, been disappointed. A year has elapsed since the French decrees were rescinded, and yet Great Britain, instead of retracing pari passu that course of unjustifiable attack on neutral rights in which she professed to be only the reluctant follower of France, has advanced with bolder and continually increasing strides. To the categorical demands lately made by our Government for the repeal of her orders in council she has affected to deny the practical extinction of the French decrees, and she has, moreover, advanced a new and unexpected demand, increasing in hostility the orders themselves. She has insisted, through her accredited minister at this place, that the repeal of the orders in council must be preceded not only by the practical abandonment of the decrees of Berlin and Milan, so far as they infringe the neutral rights of the United States, but by the renunciation on the part of France of the whole of her system of commercial warfare against Great Britain, of which those decrees originally formed a part.
This system is understood to consist in a course of measures adopted by France and the other powers on the Continent subject to or in alliance with her calculated to prevent the introduction into their territories of the products and manufactures of Great Britain and her colonies and to annihilate her trade with them. However hostile these relations may be on the part of France toward Great Britain, or however sensibly the latter may feel their effects, they are, nevertheless, to be regarded only as the expedients of one enemy against another, for which the United States, as a neutral power, can in no respect be responsible; they are, too, in exact conformity with those which Great Britain has herself adopted and acted upon in time of peace as well as war. And it is not to be presumed that France would yield to the unauthorized demand of America that which she seems to have considered as one of the most powerful engines of her present war.
Such are the pretensions upon which Great Britain founds the violation of the maritime rights of the United States-pretensions not theoretical merely, but followed up by a desolating war upon our unprotected commerce. The ships of the United States, laden with the products of our own soil and labor, navigated by our own citizens, and peaceably pursuing a lawful trade, are seized on our own coasts, at the very mouths of our harbors, and condemned and confiscated.
Your committee are not, however, of that sect whose worship is at the shrine of a calculating avarice. And while we are laying before you the just complaints of our merchants against the plunder of their ships and cargoes, we can not refrain from presenting to the justice and humanity of our country the unhappy case of our impressed seamen. Although the groans of these victims of barbarity for the
loss of what should be dearer to Americans than life-their liberty; although the cries of their wives and children in the privation of protectors and parents have of late been drowned in the louder clamors at the loss of property, yet is the practice of forcing our mariners into the British navy, in violation of the rights of our flag, carried on with unabated rigor and severity. If it be our duty to encourage the fair and legitimate commerce of this country by protecting the property of the merchant, then, indeed, by as much as life and liberty are more estimable than ships and goods, so much more impressive is the duty to shield the persons of our seamen, whose hard and honest services are employed, equally with those of the merchants, in advancing, under the mantle of its laws, the interests of their country.
To sum up in a word the great causes of complaint against Great Britain, your committee need only say that the United States as a sovereign and independent power claim the right to use the ocean, which is the common and acknowledged highway of nations, for the purposes of transporting in their own vessels the produce of their own soil and the acquisitions of their own industry to a market in the ports of friendly nations, and to bring home in return such articles as their necessity or convenience may require, always regarding the rights of belligerents as defined by the established law of nations. Great Britain, in defiance of this incontestable right, captures every American vessel bound to or returning from a port where her commerce is not favored, enslaves our seamen, and in spite of our remonstrances perseveres in these aggressions.
To wrongs so daring in character and so disgraceful in their execution it is impossible that the people of the United States should remain indifferent. We must now calmly and tamely submit, or we must resist by those means which God has placed within our reach.
Your committee would not cast a shade over the American name by the expression of a doubt which branch of this alternative will be embraced. The occasion is now presented when the national character, misunderstood and traduced for a time by foreign and domestic enemies, should be vindicated.
If we have not rushed to the field of battle like the nations who are led by the mad ambition of a single chief or the avarice of a corrupted court, it has not proceeded from a fear of war, but from a love of justice and humanity. That proud spirit of liberty and independence which sustained our fathers in the successful assertion of their rights against foreign aggression is not yet sunk. The patriotic fire of the Revolution still burns in the American breast with a holy and unextinguishable flame, and will conduct this nation to those high destinies which are not less the reward of a dignified moderation than of exalted valor.
But we have borne with injury until forbearance has ceased to be a virtue. The sovereignty and independence of these States, purchased and sanctified by the blood of our fathers from whom we received them, not for ourselves only, but as the inheritance of our posterity, are deliberately and systematically violated. And the period has arrived when in the opinion of your committee it is the sacred duty of Congress to call forth the patriotism and resources of the country. By the aid of these, and with the blessing of God, we confidently trust that we shall be enabled to procure that redress which has been sought for by justice, by remonstrance, and forbearance in vain.
Your committee, reserving for a future report those ulterior measures which in their opinion ought to be pursued, would at this time earnestly recommend, in the words of the President, “That the United States be immediately put into an armor and attitude demanded by the crisis, and corresponding with the national spirit and expectations." And to this end they beg to submit for the adoption of the House the following resolutions:
1. Resolved, That the military establishment as authorized by existing laws ought to be immediately completed by filling up the ranks and prolonging the enlistments of the troops; and that to encourage enlistments a bounty in lands ought to be given, in addition to pay and bounty now allowed by law.
2. That an additional force of ten thousand regular troops ought to be immediately raised to serve for three years; and that a bounty in lands ought to be given to encourage enlistments.
3. That it is expedient to authorize the President, under proper regulations, to accept the service of any number of volunteers, not exceeding fifty thousand, to be organized, trained, and held in readiness to act on such service as the exigencies of the Government may require.
4. That the President be authorized to order out from time to time such detach. ments of the militia as in his opinion the public service may require.
5. That all the vessels not now in service belonging to the Navy and worthy of repair be immediately fitted up and put in commission.
6. That it is expedient to permit our merchant vessels, owned exclusively by resident citizens, and navigated solely by citizens, to arm under proper regulations to be prescribed by law, in self-defence, against all unlawful proceedings against them on the high seas.
(Annals, 12th Cong., 1st sess., 18; Am. St. Pap., vol. 3, p. 537; Leg. Jour., pp. 8–16.)
[See pp. 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 31, 77, 196.]
June 12, 1812.
Mr. Anderson, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the bill from the House of Representatives entitled “An act declaring war between Great Britain and her dependencies and the United States and their Territories,” made the following report:
After giving the subject the careful consideration which its gravity demands, your committee beg to report the bill with the following amendments:
After the word “subjects,” in the seventh line thereof, strike out the words “and of all persons inhabiting within any of its territories or possessions."
After the word “Britain,” in the same line, insert the word “and;” and to recommend that the bill pass as amended.
(Leg. Jour., pp. 153, 154.)
[See as above.)
June 24, 1812.
On the resolution of the House of Representatives authorizing the President of the United States to issue a proclamation justifying the invasion of Canada, Mr. Anderson reported as follows:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in case it shall be deemed necessary, in order to vindicate the just rights or to secure the safety of the United States, to invade the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, or either of them, the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized and empowered to issue a proclamation addressed to the inhabitants of said provinces, assuring them in the name of the people of these States that in case the said provinces, or any of them, shall come into the possession of this Government, the inhabitants of such province or provinces shall be secured and protected in the full enjoyment of their lives, liberty, property, and religion, in as full and ample manner as are secured to the people of the United States by their constitutions; that the said proclamation be promulgated and circulated in the manner which, in the opinion of the President, shall be best calculated to give it general publicity.
(Ex. Jour., vol. 2, pp. 290, 291.)
[See pp. 11, 25, 32, 119, 120, 199, 276.]
June 30, 1812.
On an act authorizing the President to take possession of a tract of country lying south of the Mississippi Territory and of the State of Georgia, and for other purposes, Mr. Tait reported as follows:
That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to occupy and hold the whole or any part of east Florida, including Amelia Island, and also parts of west Florida which are now in the possession and under the jurisdiction of the United States.
SEC. 2. That for the purpose of occupying and holding the country aforesaid, and of affording protection to the inhabitants under the authority of the United States, the President may employ such parts of the military and naval force of the United States as he may deem necessary.
SEC. 3. That for defraying the necessary expenses, one hundred thousand dollars are hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to be applied for the purposes aforesaid under the direction of the President.
SEC. 4. That until further provision shall be made by Congress, the President shall be, and he hereby is, empowered to establish, within the country he may acquire by this act, a temporary government, the civil and military authorities of which shall be vested in such person and persons as he may appoint and be exercised in such manner as he may direct: Provided, That he shall take due care for the preservation of social order and for securing to the inhabitants the enjoyment of their personal rights, their religion, and their property: And provided also, That the section of country herein designated, that is situated to the eastward of the river Perdido, may be the subject of further negotiation.
(Ex. Jour., vol. 2, pp. 292, 293.)
(See as above.]
January 19, 1813. As to expediency of taking possession of east Florida, Mr. Anderson reported the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the President be, and he hereby is, authorized to occupy and hold all that tract of country called west Florida which
lies west of the river Perdido not now in the possession of the United States.
SEC. 2. That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to occupy and hold all that part of west Florida east of the Perdido, and the whole or any part of east Florida, including Amelia Island.
SEC. 3. That for the purpose of occupying and holding the country aforesaid and of affording protection to the inhabitants thereof, under the authority of the United States, the President may employ such parts of the military and naval force of the United States as he may deem necessary. SEC. 4. That for defraying the necessary expenses
dollars are hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to be applied for the purposes aforesaid, under the direction of the President.
SEC. 5. That until further provision shall be made by Congress the President shall be, and hereby is, empowered to establish within the country he may acquire by this act a temporary government, the civil and military authorities of which shall be vested in such person and persons as he may appoint and be exercised in such manner as he may direct: Provided, That he shall take due care for the preservation of social order and for securing to the inhabitants the enjoyment of their personal rights, their religion, and their property: And provided also, That the section of country herein designated that is situated east of the river Perdido may be the subject of future negotiation.
(Ex. Jour., vol. 2, pp. 336, 337, 338.)
[See pp. 5, 15, 18, 19.]
February 2, 1813. On the message from the President as to relations with foreign powers, Mr. Campbell, of Tennessee, reported as follows: A BILL vesting in the President the power of retaliation in the cases therein
specified. That if any citizen of the United States in the military service of the United States or of any individual State, or serving on board any public ship of war or any private armed vessel commissioned for war, has been or shall be subjected to capital or other punishment by order of the British Government or of any court, officer, or agent acting under its authority, on the pretense of his having been born within the British Dominions, or on any pretense whatever not warranted by the laws and usages of war among civilized nations, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, and he is hereby empowered and required, in every such case to cause retaliation by a like punishment to be executed on some person taken in arms in the service of Great Britain against the United States, designating for that purpose, on the first instance, a prisoner who, having been born within the United States and having been a citizen thereof, shall have been taken while voluntarily bearing arms in the service of Great Britain against the United States; or, if there shall be no prisoner of that description, such other prisoner, being a native of some one of the British colonies, now the United States, as may not have been a citizen of the United States; and in case there shall be no prisoner of
S. Doc. 231, pt 6-2