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from Virginia, it is competent for a defensive, but not an offensive war. It is not necessary for me to expose the error of this opinion. Why make the distinction in this instance? Will he pretend to say, that this is an offensive war; a war of conquest? Yes, the gentleman has dared to make this assertion, and for reasons no less extraordinary than the assertion itself. He says, our rights are violated on the ocean, and that these violations affect our shipping and commercial rights, to which the Canadas have no relation. The doctrine of retaliation has been much abused of late by an unnatural extension; we have now to witness a new abuse. The gentleman from Virginia has limited it down to a point. By his system, if you receive a blow on the breast, you dare not return it on the head; you are obliged to measure and return it on the precise point on which it was received. If you do not proceed with this mathematical accuracy, it ceases to be just self-defence; it becomes an unprovoked attack.
In speaking of Canada, the gentleman from Virginia introduced the name of Montgomery with much feeling and interest. Sir, there is danger in that name to the gentleman's argument. It is sacred to heroism ! It is indignant of submission! This calls my memory back to the time of our revolution; to the Congress of °74 and '75. Suppose a speaker of that day had risen and urged all the arguments which we have heard on on this subject; had told that Congress, “ your contest is about the right of laying a tax; the attempt on Canada has nothing to do with it; the war will be expensive ; danger and devastation will overspread our country, and the power of Great Britain is irresistible ?" With what sentiment, think you, would such doctrines have been then received? Happy for us, they had no force at that period of our country's glory. Had they been then acted on, this hall would never have witnessed a great nation convened to deliberate for the general good; a mighty empire, with prouder prospects than any nation
the sun ever shone on, would not have risen in the west. No; we would have been vile, subjected colonies; governed by that imperious rod which Britain holds over her distant provinces. Sir, the gentleman from Virginia attributes the preparation for war to every thing but its true cause. He endeavored to find it in the probable rise of the price of hemp. He represents the people of the western states as willing to plunge our country into war, for such base and precarious motives. I will not reason on this point. I see the cause of their ardor, not in such base motives, but in their known patriotism and disinterestedness. No less mercenary is the reason which he attributes to the southern states. He says, that the non-importation act has reduced cotton to nothing, which has produced a feverish impatience. Sir, I acknowledge the cotton of our farms is worth but little; but not for the cause assigned by the gentleman from Virginia. The people of that section do not reason as he does; they do not attribute it to the efforts of their government to maintain the peace and independence of their country; they see in the low price of their produce, the hand of foreign injustice; they know well, without the market of the continent, the deep and steady current of supply will glut that of Great Britain; they are not prepared for the colonial state to which again that power is endeavoring to reduce us. The manly spirit of that section of our country will not submit to be regulated by any foreign power.
The love of France and the hatred of England, has also been assigned as the cause of the present measures. France has not done us justice, says the gentleman from Virginia, and how can we, without partiality, resist the aggressions of England. I know, sir, we have still causes of complaint against France; but it is of a different character from those against England. She professes now to respect our rights, and there cannot be a reasonable doubt, but that the most objectionable parts of her decrees, as far as they respect us, are
repealed. We have already formally acknowledged this to be a fact. I, however, protest against the whole of the principles on which this doctrine is founded. It is a novel doctrine, and nowhere to be found out of this House, that you cannot select your antagonist without being guilty of partiality. Sir, when two invade your rights, you may resist both, or either, at your pleasure. It is regulated by prudence, and not by right. The stale imputation of partiality to France, is better calculated for the columns of a newspaper, than for the walls of this House. I ask, in this particular, of the gentleman from Virginia, but for the same measure which he claims for himself
. That gentleman is at a loss to account for, what he calls, our hatred to England. He asks, how can we hate the country of Locke, of Newton, Hampden and Chatham; a country having the same language and customs with ourselves, and descending from a common ancestry. Sir, the laws of human affections are uni. form. If we have so much to attach us to that country, powerful, indeed, must be the cause which has over
Yes, sir, there is a cause strong enough. Not that occult, courtly affection, which he has supposed to be entertained for France; but it is to be found in continued and unprovoked insult and injury. A cause so manifest, that the gentleman from Virginia had to exert much ingenuity to overlook it. But, sir, here I think the gentleman, in his eager admiration of that country, has not been sufficiently guarded in his argument. Has he reflected on the cause of that admiration? Has he examined the reasons of our high regard for her Chatham ? It is his ardent patriotism ; the heroic courage of his mind, that could not brook the least insult or injury offered to his country, but thought that her interest and honor ought to be vindicated at every hazard and expense. I hope, when we are called on to admire, we shall also be asked to imitate. I hope the gentleman does not wish a monopoly
of those great virtues to remain to that nation. The balance of power has also been introduced as an argument for submission. England is said to be a barrier against the military despotism of France. There is, sir, one great error in our legislation. We are ready enough to protect the interest of the states; and it should seem, from this argument, to watch over those of a foreign nation, while we grossly neglect our own immediate concerns. This argument of the balance of power is well calculated for the British parliament, but not at all fitted to the American Congress. Tell them, that they have to contend with a mighty power, and that if they persist in insult and injury to the American people, they will compel them to throw the whole weight of their force into the scale of their enemy. Paint the danger to them, and if they will desist from injury, we, I answer for it, will not disturb the balance. But it is absurd for us to talk of the balance of power, while they, by their conduct, smile with contempt at our simple, good-natured policy. If, however, in the contest, it should be found, that they underrate us, which I hope and believe, and that we can effect the balance of power, it will not be difficult for us to obtain such terms as our rights demand. I, sir, will now conclude by adverting to an argument of the gentleman from Virginia, used in debate on a preceding day. He asked, why not declare war immediately. The answer is obvious; because we are not yet prepared. But, says the gentleman, such language, as is here held, will provoke Great Britain to commence hostilities. I have no such fears. She knows well, that such a course would unite all parties here; a thing, which, above all others, she most dreads. Besides, such has been our past conduct, that she will still calculate on our patience and submission, till war is actually commenced.
HIS MOTION TO AMEND THE FOLLOWING RESOLU.
DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
FEBRUARY 14, 1809;
Resolved, That the several laws laying an embargo on all ships and
vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, be repealed on the 4th day of March next, ercept as to Great Britain and France and their dependencies; and that provision be made by law for prohibiting all commercial intercourse with those nations and their dependencies, and the importation of any article into the United States, the growth, produce or manufacture of either of the said nations, or of the dominions of either of them.
It will be perceived, Mr. President, by the motion which I have made to amend the resolution, offered by the honorable gentleman from Virginia, that I do not approve of the course, which it seems the government have determined at length to pursue. The honorable gentleman has told us, it is not his plan, and I give him credit for the fairness and candor with which he has avowed the measure to which he would have resorted. He would have raised the embargo and declared war against England. Being opposed, in this scheme by a majority of his friends, his next proposition was to issue letters of marque and reprisal; finding, however, that the other House had refused to go even so far, he had, on the principle of concession and conciliation with his friends, agreed to take the course proposed in the resolution, in hopes, that our vessels, going upon the ocean and being captured under the orders in council, would drag the nation into a war: when he