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terest of the merchant to pay such duty, for the purpose of going to certain destruction, have not you full powers over this matter? Cannot you, by pains and penalties, prohibit the merchant from the payment of such a duty? No man will obstruct you. There is, as I believe, but one opinion upon this subject. I hope, therefore, that gentlemen will cease this outcry about
However, suppose that the payment of this duty is inevitable, which it certainly is not, let me ask-is enbargo independence ? Deceive not yourselves. It is palpable submission. Gentlemen exclaim, Great Britain smites us on one cheek.” And what does administration ? " It turns the other also.” Gentlemen say, Great Britain is a robber, she “ takes our cloak.” And what say administration ? " Let her take our coat also.” France and Great Britain require you to relinquish a part of your commerce, and you yield it entirely. Sir, this conduct may be the way to dignity and honor in another world, but it will never secure safety and independence in this.
At every corner of this great city, we meet some gentlemen of the majority, wringing their hands and exclaiming—“ What shall we do? Nothing but embargo will save us.
Remove it, and what shall we do?” Sir, it is not for me, an humble and uninfluential individual, (at an awful distance from the predominant influences, to suggest plans of government. But to my eye, the path of our duty is as distinct as the milky way; all studded with living sapphires; glowing with cumulating light. It is the path of active preparation; of dig. nified energy. It is the path of 1776. It consists, not in abandoning our rights, but in supporting them, as they exist, and where they exist on the ocean, as well as on the land. It consists, in taking the nature of things, as the measure of the rights of your citizens; not the orders and decrees of imperious foreigners. Give what protection you can. Take no counsel of
fear. Your strength will increase with the “rial, and prove greater than you are now aware.
But I shall be told, “ this may lead to war." " are we now at peace?” Certainly not, unless retiring from insult be peace; unless shrinking under the lash be peace. The surest way to prevent war is not to fear it. The idea, that nothing on earth is so dreadful as war, is inculcated too studiously among us. Disgrace is worse. Abandonment of essential rights is worse. +
Sir, I could not refrain from seizing the first opportunity of spreading before this House the sufferings and exigencies of New England, under this embargo. Some gentlemen may deem it not strictly before us.
my opinion, it is necessarily. For, if the idea of the committee be correct, and embargo is resistance, then this resolution sanctions its continuance. If, on the contrary, as I contend, embargo is submission, then this resolution is a pledge of its repeal,
SPEECH OF WILLIAM B. GILES,
THE "SENATE OF THE
On the following resolution : Resolved, That it is expedient that an
act, entitled “ An act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, and the several acts supplementary thereto," be repealed, and that a committee be appointed to prepare and report a bill for that purpose.
MR. PRESIDENT, * PERMIT me now, sir, to make some observations upon the general character of this measure, as well as replies to some of the more general objections brought against it. I have said, sir, that there are no substitutes for the embargo, but war or submission. I will now proceed to prove this position—a repeal of the embargo without a substitute, is submission; if with a substitute, it is war. Gentlemen in the opposition, seem fully sensible of the delicacy and urgency of this part of the question. When pressed for their substitute, they manifest vast reluctance to producing it.
The gentleman from Delaware, indeed, told us, he was not the pioneer of the administration. I never knew that he was called upon to act in that character; but I hope he will not voluntarily act as the sapper, nor the miner of the administration, especially when he must behold the administration assailed by 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.
* In the first part of Mr. Giles' speech, which is here omitted, he described the situation of the country at the time of the adoption of the embargo, and pointed out the objects it was designed to accom: plish. He replied to the objections which had been urged against it as a measure injurious to commerce, agriculture and other branches of industry. He then proceeded to point out the actual effects which it had produced upon France and Great Britain, and what causes had prevented its complete success.
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. And certainly, sir, the magnitude of the question 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, would 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,