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cular trade, which their respective edicts proscribe, but lest the ingenuity of our merchants should enable them to evade their operation, to make submission doubly sure, the American government virtually reenact the edicts of the belligerents and abandon all the trade, which, notwithstanding the practical effects of their edicts, remain to us. The same conclusion will result if we consider our embargo in relation to the objects of this belligerent policy. France, by her edicts, would oppress Great Britain, by destroying her commerce and cutting off her supplies. All the continent of Europe, in the hand of Bonaparte, is made subservient to this policy. The embargo law of the United States, in its operation, is a union with this continental coalition against British commerce, at the very moment most auspicious to its success.
Can any thing be more in direct subserviency to the views of the French emperor? If we consider the orders of Great Britain, the result will be the same. I proceed, at present, on the supposition of a perfect impartiality in our administration towards both belligerents, so far as relates to the embargo law. Great Britain had two objects in view in issuing her orders. First, to excite discontent in the people of the continent, by depriving them of their accustomed colonial supplies. Second, to secure to herself that commerce of which she deprived neutrals. Our embargo co-operates with the British views in both respects. By our dereliction of the ocean, the continent is much more deprived of the advantages of commerce, than it would be possible for the British navy to effect; and by removing our competition, all the commerce of the continent which can be forced, is wholly left to be reaped by Great Britain. The language of each sovereign is in direct conformity to these ideas. Napoleon tells the American minister virtually, that we are very good Americans; that although he will not allow the property he has in his hands to escape him, nor desist from burning and capturing our vessels on every occasion, yet that he is, thus far, satisfied with our co-operation. And what is the language of George the third, when our minister presents to his consideration the embargo laws. Is it Le Roy s'avisera? The king will reflect upon them. No, it is the pure language of royal approbation, Le Roy le veut. The king wills it. Were you colonies, he could expect no more. His subjects as inevitably get that commerce which you abandon, as the water will certainly run into the only channel which remains after all the others are obstructed. In whatever point of view we consider these embargo laws in relation to those edicts and decrees, we shall find them co-operating with each belligerent in its policy. In this way, I grant, our conduct may be impartial; but what has become of our American right to navigate the ocean? It is abandoned in strict conformity to the decrees of both belligerents. This resolution declares, that we will no longer submit to such degrading humiliation. Little as I relish, I will take it, as the harbinger of a new day; the pledge of a new system of measures.
Perhaps, here, in strictness, I ought to close my observations. But the report of the committee, contrary to what I deem the principle of the resolution, unquestionably recommends the continuance of the embargo laws. And such is the state of the nation, and in particular that portion of it, which in part I represent, under their oppression, that I cannot refrain from submitting some considerations on that subject.
When I enter on the subject of the embargo, I am struck with wonder at the very threshold. I know not with what words to express my astonishment. At the time I departed from Massachusetts, if there was an impression, which I thought universal, it was, that, at the commencement of this session, an end would be put to this measure. The opinion was not so much, that it would be terminated, as that it was then at an end. Sir, the prevailing sentiment, according to my apprehension, was stronger than this--even that the pressure was so great, that it could not possibly be endured; that it would soon be absolutely insupportable. And this opinion, as I then had reason to believe, was not confined to any one class or description, or party; that even those, who were friends of the existing administration, and unwilling to abandon it, were yet satisfied, that a sufficient trial had been given to this measure. With these impressions, I arrive in this city. I hear the incantations of the great enchanter. I feel his spell. I see the legislative machinery begin to move. The scene opens. And I am commanded to forget all my recollections, to disbelieve the evidence of my senses, to contradict what I have seen, and heard, and felt. I hear, that all this discontent is mere party clamor-electioneering artifice; that the people of New England are able and willing to endure this embargo for an indefinite, unlimited period; some say for six months ; some a year; some two years. The gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. Macon,) told us, that he preferred three years of embargo to a war. And the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Člopton,) said expressly, that he hoped we should never allow our vessels to go upon the ocean again, until the orders and decrees of the belligerents were rescinded. In plain English, until France and Great Britain should, in their great condescention permit. Good heavens! Mr. Chairman, are men mad? Is this House touched with that insanity, which is the never failing precursor of the intention of heaven to destroy? The people of New England, after eleven months' deprivation of the ocean, to be commanded still longer to abandon it, for an undefined period; to hold their unalienable rights, at the tenure of the will of Britain or of Bonaparte! A people, commercial in all aspects, in all their relations, in all their hopes, in all their recollections of the past, in all their prospects of the future; a people, whose first love was the ocean, the choice of their childhood, the approbation
of their manly years, the most precious inheritance of their fathers, in the midst of their success, in the moment of the most exquisite perception of commercial prosperity, to be commanded to abandon it, not for a time limited, but for a time unlimited; not until they can be prepared to defend themselves there, (for that is not pretended,) but until their rivals recede from it; not until their necessities require, but until foreign nations permit! I am lost in astonishment, Mr. Chairman. I have not words to express the matchless absurdity of this attempt. I have no tongue to express the swift and headlong destruction, which a blind perseverance in such a system, must bring upon this nation.
But men from New England, representatives on this floor, equally with myself the constitutional guardians of her interests, differ from me in these opinions. honorable colleague, (Mr. Bacon,) took occasion, in secret session, to deny that there did exist all that discontent and distress, which I had attempted, in a humble way, to describe. He told us he had travelled in Massachusetts, that the people were not thus dissatisfied, that the embargo had not produced any such tragical effects. Really, sir, my honorable colleague has travelled—all the way from Stockbridge to Hudson; from Berkshire to Boston; from inn to inn; from county court to county court; and doubtless he collected all that important information, which an acute intelligence never fails to retain on such occasions. He found tea, sugar, salt, West India rum and molasses dearer; beef, pork, butter and cheese cheaper. Reflection enabled him to arrive at this difficult result, that in this way the evil and the good of the embargo equalize one another. But has my honorable colleague travelled on the sea-board ? Has he witnessed the state of our cities? Has he seen our ships rotting at our wharves, our wharves deserted, our stores tenantless, our streets bereft of active business ; industry forsaking her beloved haunts, and hope fled away from places where she had from earliest time been accustomed to make and to fulfil her most precious promises ? Has he conversed with the merchant, and heard the tale of his embarrassments-his capital arrested in his hands, forbidden by your laws to resort to a market, with property four times sufficient to discharge all his engagements, necessitated to hang on the precarious mercy of monied institutions for that indulgence, which preserves him from stopping payment, the first step towards bankruptcy ? Has he conversed with our mechanics ? That mechanic, who the day before this embargo passed, the very day that you took this bit, and rolled it like a sweet morsel under your tongue, had more business than he had hands, or time or thought to employ in it, now soliciting, at reduced prices, that employment which the rich, owing to the uncertainty in which your laws have involved their capital, cannot afford ? I could heighten this picture. I could show you laboring poor in the almshouse, and willing industry dependent upon charity. But I confine myself to particulars, which have fallen under my own observation, and of which ten thousand suffering individuals on the sea-board of New England, are living witnesses that here is nothing fictitious.
Mr. Chairman, other gentlemen must take their responsibilities; I shall take mine. This embargo must be repealed. You cannot enforce it for any important period of time longer. When I speak of your inability to enforce this law, let not gentlemen misunderstand me.
I mean not to intimate insurrections or open defiances of them. Although it is impossible to foresee in what acts, that “oppression” will finally terminate, which, we are told, “ makes wise men mad." I speak of an inability resulting from very different causes The gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. Macon,) exclaimed the other day in a strain of patriotic ardor, 65 What! shall not our laws be executed ? Shall their authority be defied? I am for enforcing them at every hazard." I honor that gentleman's zeal; and I mean no