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she was at war with these states, and they had an unquestionable right to attack her in any of her territories; and especially she was asked, how she could expect good offices from us, on this occasion, since she fully understood our opinion to be, that she was persisting in the war without, or beyond, all reason, and with a sort of desperation. This was the appeal made to the good sense of Spain, through Russia. But, soon afterwards, having reason to suspect that Colombia and Mexico were actually preparing to attack Cuba, and knowing that such an event would most seriously affect us, our government remonstrated against such meditated attack, and to the present time it has not been made. In all this, who sees anything either improper or inconsistent? For myself, I think the course pursued showed a watchful regard to our own interest, and is wholly free from any imputation, either of impropriety, or inconsistency.
There are other subjects, sir, in the President's message, which have been discussed in the debate, but on which I shall not detain the Committee.
It cannot be denied, that from the commencement of our government, it has been its object to improve and simplify the principles of national intercourse. It may well be thought a fit occasion to urge these improved principles, at a moment when so many new States are coming into existence, untrammeled, of course, with previous and long established connexions or habits. Some hopes of benefit, connected with these topics, are suggested in the message. The abolition of private war on the ocean,
the subjects of possible consideration. This is not the first time that that subject has been mentioned. The late President took occasion to enforce the considerations which he thought recommended it. For one, I am not prepared to say how far such abolition may be practicable, or how far it ought to be pursued; but there are views belonging to the subject, which have not been, in any degree, answered or considered, in this discussion.
Sir, it is not always the party that has the power of employing the largest military marine, that enjoys the advantage by authorising privateers in wạr. It is not enough that there are brave and gallant captors; there must be something to be captured. Suppose, sir, a war between ourselves and any one of the new States of South America were now existing, who would lose most, by the practice of privateering, in such a war? There would be nothing for us to attack; while the means of attacking us would flow to our enemies from every part of the world. Capital, ships, and men, would be abundant in all their ports, and our commerce, spread over every sea, would be the destined prey. So, again, if war should unhappily spring up among those States themselves, might it not be for our interest, as being likely to be much connected by intercourse with all parties, that our commerce should be free from the visitation and search of private armed ships; one of the greatest vexations to neutral commerce in time of war? These, sir, are some of the considerations belonging to this subject. I have mentioned them only to show that they well deserve serious attention.
I have not intended to reply to the many observations which have been submitted to us, on the message of the President to this House,
or that to the Senate. Certainly I am of opinion, that some of those observations merited an answer, and they have been answered by others. On two points only will I make a remark. It has been said, and often repeated, that the President in his message to the Senate, has spoken of his own power in regard to missions, in terms which the Constitution does not warrant. If gentlemen will turn to the message of President Washington, relative to the mission to Lisbon, in the 10th vol. of State Papers, they will see almost the exact form of expression used in this case. The other point, on which I would make a remark, is the allegation, that an unfair use has been made in the argument of the message, of General Washington's Farewell Address. There would be no end, sir, to comments and criticisms, of this sort, if they were to be pursued. I only observe, that, as it appears to me, the argument of the message, and its use of the Farewell Address, are not fairly understood. It is not attempted to be inferred from the Farewell Address, that, according to the opinion of Washington, we ought now to have alliances with foreign States. No such thing. The Farewell Address recommends to us, to abstain as much as possible from all sorts of political connexion with the States of Europe, alleging, as the reason for this advice, that Europe has a set of primary interests of her own, separate from ours, and with which we have no natural connexion. Now the message argues, and argues truly, that the new South American States, not having a set of interests of their own growing out of the balance of power, family alliances, &c., separate from ours, in the same manner, and to the same degree, as the primary interests of Europe were represented to be; this part of the Farewell Address, aimed at those separate interests expressly, did not apply in this case. But does the message infer from this the propriety of alliances with these new States? Far from it.
It infers no such thing. On the contrary, it disclaims all such purpose.
There is one other point, sir, on which common justice requires a word to be said. It has been alleged that there are material differences, as to the papers sent respectively to the two Houses. All this, as it seems to me, may be easily and satisfactorily explained. In the first place, the instructions of May, 1823, which, it is said, were not sent to the Senate, were instructions on which a treaty had been already negotiated; which treaty had been subsequently ratified by the Senate. It may be presumed, that when the treaty was sent to the Senate, the instructions accompanied it; and if so, they were actually already before the Senate; and this accounts for one of the alleged differences. In the next place, the letter to Mr. Middleton, in Russia, not sent to the House, but now published by the Senate, is such a paper as possibly the President might not think proper to make public. There is evident reason for such an inference. And, lastly, the correspondence of Mr. Brown, sent here, but not to the Senate, appears, from its date, to have been received after the communication to the Senate. Probably when sent to us, it was also sent, by another message, to that body.
These observations, sir, are tedious and uninteresting. I am glad to be through with them. And here I might terminate my remarks,
and relieve the patience, now long and heavily taxed, of the Committee. But there is one part of the discussion, on which I must ask to be indulged with a few observations.
Pains, sir, have been taken by the honorable member from Virginia, to prove that the measure now in contemplation, and, indeed, the whole policy of the government respecting South America, is the unhappy result of the influence of a gentleman formerly filling the chair of this House. To make out this, he has referred to certain speeches of that gentleman delivered here. He charges him with having become himself affected at an early day with what he is pleased to call the South American fever; and with having infused its baneful influence into the whole councils of the country.
If, sir, it be true, that that gentleman, prompted by an ardent love of civil liberty, felt earlier than others, a proper sympathy for the struggling colonies of South America; or that, acting on the maxim, that revolutions do not go backward, he had the sagacity to foresee, earlier than others, the successful termination of those struggles; if, thus feeling, and thus perceiving, it fell to him to lead the willing or unwilling councils of his country, in her manifestations of kindness to the new governments, and in her seasonable recognition of their independence; if it be this which the honorable member imputes to him; if it be by this course of public conduct that he has identified his name with the cause of South American liberty, he ought to be esteemed one of the most fortunate men of the age. If all this be, as is now represented, he has acquired fame enough. It is enough for any man, thus to have connected himself with the greatest events of the age in which he lives, and to have been foremost in measures which reflect high honor on his country, in the judgment of mankind. Sir, it is always with great reluctance that I am drawn to speak, in my place here, of individuals; but I could not forbear what I have now said, when I hear, in the House of Representatives, and in this land of free spirits, that it is made matter of imputation and of reproach, to have been first to reach forth the hand of welcome and of succour to new-born nations, struggling to obtain, and to enjoy, the blessings of liberty.
We are told that the country is deluded and deceived by cabalistic words. Cabalistic words! If we express an emotion of pleasure at the results of this great action of the spirit of political liberty; if we rejoice at the birth of new Republican nations, and express our joy by the common terms of regard and sympathy; if we feel and signify high gratification that, throughout this whole continent, men are now likely to be blessed by free and popular institutions; and if, in the uttering of these sentiments, we happen to speak of sister Republics; of the great American family of nations; or of the political system and forms of government of this hemisphere, then indeed, it seems, we deal in senseless jargon, or impose on the judgment and feeling of the community by cabalistic words! Sir, what is meant by this? Is it intended that the People of the United States ought to be totally indifferent to the fortunes of these new neighbours? Is no change, in the lights in which we are to view them, to be wrought, by their having thrown off foreign dominion, establish
ed independence, and instituted, on our very borders, republican governments, essentially after our own example?
Sir, I do not wish to overrate, I do not overrate, the progress of these new States in the great work of establishing a well-secured popular liberty. I know that to be a great attainment, and I know they are but pupils in the school. But, thank God, they are in the school. They are called to meet difficulties, such as neither we nor our fathers encountered. For these, we ought to make large allowances. What have we ever known like the colonial vassalage of these States? When did we or our ancestors, feel, like them, the weight of a political despotism that presses men to the earth, or of that religious intolerance which would shut up heaven to all but the bigoted? Sir, we sprung from another stock. We belong to another race. We have known nothing—we have felt nothing of the political despotism of Spain, nor of the heat of her fires of intolerance. No rational man expects that the South can run the same rapid career as the North; or that an insurgent province of Spain is in the same condition as the English colonies, when they first asserted their independence. There is, doubtless, much more to be done, in the first than in the last case. But on that account the honor of the attempt is not less; and if all difficulties shall be in time surmounted, it will be greater. The work may be more arduous—it is not less noble, because there may be more of ignorance to enlighten; more of bigotry to subdue; more of prejudice to eradicate. If it be a weakness to feel a strong interest in the success of these great revolutions, I confess myself guilty of that weakness. If it be weak to feel that I am an American, to think that recent events have not only opened new modes of intercourse, but have created also new grounds of regard and sympathy between ourselves and our neighbours; if it be weak to feel that the South, in her present state, is somewhat more emphatically a part of America, than when she lay obscure, oppressed, and unknown, under the grinding bondage of a foreign power; if it be weak to rejoice, when, even in any corner of the earth, human beings are able to get up from beneath oppression, to erect themselves, and to enjoy the proper happiness of their intelligent nature; if this be weak, it is a weakness from which I claim no exemption.
A day of solemn retribution now visits the once proud monarchy of Spain. The prediction is fulfilled. The spirit of Montezuma and of the Incas might now well say,
“ Art thou, too, fallen, Iberia? Do we see
The robber and the murderer weak as we ?
Low in the pit thine avarice has made.” Mr. Chairman: I will detain you only with one more reflection on this subject. We cannot be so blind--we cannot so shut up our senses, and smother our faculties, as not to see, that in the progress and the establishment of South American liberty, our own example has been among the most stimulating causes.
In their emergen
cies, they have looked to our experience; in their political institutions, they have followed our models; in their deliberations, they have invoked the presiding spirit of our own liberty. They have looked steadily, in every adversity, to the GREAT NORTHERN LIGHT. In the hour of bloody conflict, they have remembered the fields which have been consecrated by the blood of our own fathers; and when they have fallen, they have wished only to be remembered, with them, as men who had acted their parts bravely, for the cause of liberty in the Western World.
Sir, I have done. If it be weakness to feel the sympathy of one's nature excited for such men, in such a cause, I am guilty of that weakness. If it be prudence to meet their proffered civility, not with reciprocal kindness, but with coldness or with insult, I choose still to follow where natural impulse leads, and to give up that false and mistaken prudence, for the voluntary sentiments of my heart.