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the two most powerful belligerents in the world, unfortunately aided, I fear, too, sir, by a host of domestic sappers and miners, and underminers, into the bargain. I am sure, sir, the gentleman will not take upon himself such a character. The gentleman, however, did not withhold from us an intimation, at least, of his substitute-an intimation which could not be mistaken. It was war with France. The question, therefore, as to him, is at an end upon this point. War is his substitute.
But the gentleman from Connecticut, (Mr. Hillhouse,) after protesting against furnishing any substitute, intimates merely, that he is in favor of an armed commerce. Why, sir, do gentlemen in the opposition manifest such a reluctance in producing a substitute, if they have one ? They seem to be laboring under an impression, that this is a mere question between themselves and the administration; an unimportant question of ins and outs. The question is certainly of a very different description. It is a question between this nation and foreign nations. It is a question involving our national existence and independence, and the dearest rights of the people.
Let me tell these gentlemen, sir, that the people have a right to demand a substitute from them, if they have one; not merely a vague insinuation to fill up a chasm in a defective argument, but a written proposition, reduced to form, presented for serious consideration; that every word may be strictly examined, and all its bearings seen: then, sir, we should be in a state of preparation to make a choice between such substitute and the measures of the administration.
Besides, sir, if this obligation were disregarded, every rule of criticism, every principle of common sense, would require a substitute. If you criticise upon a sentence in writing, the criticism is incomplete until you show a better. In law pleadings, if you object to a plea, as defective, you are bound to show a better. Ånd certainly, sir, the magnitude of the ques
tion does not lessen the obligation imposed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Again, sir, I could hardly have supposed, that gentlemen of such lofty pretensions to wisdom and talents, woull have contented themselves with the humble office of finding fault, without furnishing the proper correction. This inactive conduct, this doing nothing for the people, in these dangerous and critical times, can furnish but a poor claim to the people's gratitude and applause.
But, sir, I will consider the gentleman's substitute, even with the glimmering views of it which he has presented. His substitute is an armed commerce. Would he extend it to acts of reprisal? If so, it is immediate war. Would he stop short of that? It would still be war; but of a more inefficient kind. If our vessels are to arm, I presume their arms are to be used in self-defence; they would be used against both the belligerents. In the present temper of Great Britain, the first gun, fired in a spirit of hostility, even with a blank cartridge, or if it were a popgun, would be instant war. It would be the signal to her navy to seize upon the whole of our commerce, which would be spread upon the ocean the moment of raising the embargo. The gentleman's substitute, I therefore believe to be war, and war of the most inefficient kind. A repeal of the embargo, without a substitute, is submission. Submission to what? To colonization, to taxation, to tribute.
That this is the true character of the British orders and acts of parliament, we not only know from the measures themselves, but we know it was so understood in the British parliament, at the time of their adoption. As an evidence of this fact, let me call your most serious attention, sir, to some of the observations made in parliament, at the time of their adoption, particularly the observations of lord Grenville, in the house of lords.
His lordship said, “ as to the duties proposed to be levied under these orders of council, he should only say,
that when the peace of 1782 took place, he never thought that he should have lived, or that the British parliament should have lived to see the day when a proposition should be made to tax America !” And when a similar suggestion was made in the house of commons, what was Mr. Canning's reply? Did he deny the object ? No, sir: but begged the gentlemen in the opposition not to tell the secret to the Americans! Hush, gentlemen, was, in substance, his reply. Thus adding indignity and insult to the arrogant pretension. Upon this part of the subject, I shall make no comment! It is impossible to improve the eloquence of this parliamentary language!' It must strike deep into the heart of every true American!
The gentleman from Connecticut, (Mr. Hillhouse,) says, no tribute will be paid, because there will be no inducement to pay it. France will not receive vessels into her ports, which have submitted to such a disgrace. It is admitted that the tribute is imposed; and to avoid the payment of it, we are to look to France: to give up our national character and our national honor to the safe keeping of the French emperor. [The gentleman rose to explain. He protested against making any such inference.] This was admitted. He only stated the facts, and I supplied the inference. The inference from the facts I deem irresistible. I despise, sir, this miserable subterfuge. Let us act like a nation of freemen. Let us be the conservators of our own honor and character. We should be the gainers by it upon the most economical calculation, in pounds, shillings and pence. Our national character is now worth more than the delusive gains held out by this miserable commerce, and would sell for more in every market: submit to this disgraceful tribute, it would not be worth a cent, and would not sell for it in any market.
The gentleman from Connecticut, (Mr. Hillhouse,) says, that the embargo is submission to the mandates of both France and Great Britain, and therefore dis
honorable. He makes this statement. France says, you shall not trade with Great Britain; Great Britain says, you shall not trade with France; and we say, we will not trade with either, and, therefore, gratify both. The fallacy of this argument consists in the misstatement. France says, you may trade with me, and I am anxious you should do so, but you shall not trade with Great Britain; we say, we will not trade with you, nor with Great Britain. Now, sir, is this yielding to the mandate, or gratifying the wish of France? Certainly not.
Great Britain uses the same language, and meets with the same reply. Now I contend, that we have neither yielded submission, nor gratified the wish of either ; but have resisted the wishes and mandates of both; and I have no doubt that both are astonished at the honorable and dignified attitude we have assumed and hitherto persisted in.
But, sir, the gentleman intimates, that the government of the United States, has suspended a rod over the head of Great Britain, and asks, whether any American would negociate with a rod suspended over his head? Let me ask in turn, sir, if the gentleman's proposition, is not submission; not indeed, while the rod is suspended over our heads; but while it is applied, with the most unrelenting severity, to our backs? I was really hurt, sir, to see that any gentleman could make an observation which would bear the most distant tint of an apology for Great Britain; and I cannot conceive how any gentleman can reconcile it to himself, when he reflects upon the many outrages committed by Great Britain against the United States, before even any attempt was made to do ourselves justice—and that these outrages were increased, in proportion to our patience under them.
The gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Lloyd,) expresses his fears of some design for the destruction of commerce. He tells us, our commerce has grown to an enormous size, and warns us, that it is not to be trifled with. The gentleman from Connecticut, too.
tells us, that the avowed, was not the real object of the embargo laws, and that he so prophesied at the time of passing them; that their real object was to encourage manufactures, at the expense of commerce. This charge of insincerity is a serious one.
It is of a nature to impose a restraint upon the feelings, against making the merited reply. It has excited my surprise more than any thing I ever heard fall from that gentleman; and the only apology, I can find for it, is, that he unfortunately prophesied it. It is a painful effort of the mind to admit ourselves false prophets. By this time, it is impossible, but the gentleman must be convinced, that this was a false prophecy. He reminds me of two lines in Hudibras:
“ A man convinc'd against his will,
Is of the same opinion still." The gentleman must be convinced, but retains the same opinion. Sir, whether it be a suspicion, or a jealousy, or whatever delusion the gentleman is laboring under, I peremptorily deny the existence of the fact he has insinuated. How has it happened, that the commerce of the United States has become so enormous, but from the fostering and protecting influence of the federal government ?
What act of hostility against commerce, has ever been shown by the government? I challenge the gentleman to name one, or a single act from the southern members unfavorable to our commercial prosperity. On the other hand, have we not always concurred in the stimuli given to commerce by discriminating duties, both on tonnage and merchandize, by the drawback system, and many other acts not material now to mention? It has been from these causes, added to the enterprize of our people, that commerce has arrived to such a pitch of prosperity. They certainly do not warrant the charge brought against the government.
But what has excited my surprise, more than any thing else, respecting this suggestion, is, that the de