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then raise a small regular force for a country, where the militia could not act, to defend our own territory; now, we are willing to levy a great army, for great it must be to accomplish the proposed object, for a war of conquest and ambition, and this, too, at the very entrance of the northern hive,” of the strongest part of the union.
An insinuation has fallen from the gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. Grundy,) that the late massacre
of our brethren on the Wabash was instigated by the British government. Has the President given any such information? Is it so believed by the administration? I have cause to believe the contrary to be the fact; that such is not their opinion. This insinuation is of the grossest kind-a presumption the most rash; the most unjustifiable. Show but good ground for it, I will
the question at the threshold. I will be ready to march to Canada. It is, indeed, well calculated to excite the feelings of the western people particularly, who are not quite so tenderly attached to our red brethren as some of our modern philosophers; but it is destitute of any foundation, beyond mere surmise and
suspicion. What would be thought, if, without any proof whatsoever, a member should rise in his place and tell us, that the massacre in Savannah-a massacre perpetrated by civilized savages with French commissions in their pockets, was excited by the French government? There is an easy and natural solution of the late transaction on the Wabash, in the well known character of the aboriginal savage of North America, without resorting to any such mere conjectural estimate. I am sorry to say, that, for this signal calamity and disgrace, the House is, in part, at least, answerable. Session after session, our table has been piled up with Indian treaties, for which the appropriations have been voted as a matter of course, without examination. Advantage has been taken of the spirit of the Indians, broken by the war which ended in the treaty of Grenville. Under the ascendency then acquired over them,
they have been pent up, by subsequent treaties, into nooks; straitened in their quarters by a blind cupidity, seeking to extinguish their title to immense wildernesses for which, (possessing, as we do already, more land than we can sell or use,) we shall not have occasion, for half a century to come. It is our own thirst for territory, our own want of moderation, that has driven these sons of nature to desperation, of which we feel the effects. Although not personally acquainted with the late Col. Daveiss, I feel, I am persuaded, as deep and serious regret for his loss as the gentleman from Tennessee himself
. I know him only through the representation of a friend of the deceased, (Mr. Rowan,) sometime a member of this House: a man, who, for native force of intellect, manliness of character, and high sense of honor, is not inferior to any that have ever set here. With him Isympathize in the severest calamity that could befal a man of his cast of character. Would to God, they were both now on this floor. From my personal knowledge of the one, I feel confident that I should have his support-and I believe (judging of him from the representation of our common friend,) of the other also.
I cannot refrain from smiling at the liberality of the gentleman, in giving Canada to New York, in order to strengthen the northern balance of power; while, at the same time, he forewarns her, that the western scale must preponderate. I can almost fancy that I see the capitol in motion towards the falls of Ohio; after a short sojourn, taking its flight to the Mississippi, and finally alighting on Darien; which, when the gentleman's dreams are realized, will be a most eligible seat of government for the new republic, (or empire,) of the two Americas! But it seems, that “in 1808 we talked and acted foolishly,” and to give some color of consistency to that folly, we must now commit a greater. Really I cannot conceive of a weaker reason, offered in support of a present measure, than the justification of a former folly. I hope we shall act a wise
part; take warning by our follies, since we have become sensible of them, and resolve to talk and act foolishly no more. It is, indeed, high time to give over such preposterous language and proceedings. This war of conquest, a war for the acquisition of territory and subjects, is to be a new commentary on the doctrine, that republicans are destitute of ambition ; that they are addicted to peace, wedded to the happiness and safety of the great body of their people. But it seems, this is to be a holiday campaign: there is to be no expense of blood, or treasure, on our part; Canada is to conquer herself; she is to be subdued by the principles of fraternity! The people of that country are first to be seduced from their allegiance, and converted into traitors, as preparatory to making them good citizens! Although I must acknowledge, that some of our flaming patriots were thus manufactured, I do not think the process would hold good with a whole community. It is a dangerous experiment. We are to succeed in the French mode, by the system of fraternization—all is French! But how dreadfully it might be retorted on the southern and western slaveholding states. I detest this subornation of treason. No; if we must have them, let them fall by the valor of our arms; by fair, legitimate conquest; not become the victims of treacherous seduction.
I am not surprised at the war-spirit which is manifesting itself in gentlemen from the south. In the year 1805–6, in a struggle for the carrying trade of belligerent-colonial produce, this country was most unwisely brought into collision with the great powers of Europe. By a series of most impolitic and ruinous measures, utterly incomprehensible to every rational, sober minded man, the southern planters, by their own votes, have succeeded in knocking down the price of cotton to seven cents, and of tobacco, (a few choice crops excepted,) to nothing; and in raising the price of blankets, (of which a few would not be amiss in a Canadian campaign,) coarse woollens, and every arti- .
cle of first necessity, three or four hundred per centum. And now, that by our own acts, we have brought ourselves into this unprecedented condition, we must get out of it in any way, but by an acknowledgment of our own want of wisdom and forecast. But is war the true remedy? Who will profit by it? Speculators; a few lucky merchants, who draw prizes in the lottery; commissaries and contractors. Who must suffer by it? The people. It is their blood, their taxes, that must flow to support it. )
But gentlemen avowed, that they would not go to war for the carrying trade; that is, for any other but the direct export and import trade; that which carries our native products abroad, and brings back the return cargo; and yet they stickle for our commercial rights, and will go to war for them! I wish to know, in point of principle, what difference gentlemen can point out between the abandonment of this or of that maritime right? Do gentlemen assume the lofty port and tone of chivalrous redressers of maritime wrongs, and declare their readiness to surrender every other maritime right, provided they may remain unmolested in the exercise of the humble privilege of carrying their own produce abroad, and bringing back a return cargo? Do you make this declaration to the enemy at the outset ? Do you state the minimum with which you will be contented, and put it in their power to close with your proposals at their option; give her the basis of a treaty ruinous and disgraceful beyond example and expression ?. And this too, after having turned up your noses in disdain at the treaties of Mr. Jay and Mr. Monroe! Will you say to England, “ end the war when you please give us the direct trade in our own produce, we are content?” But what will the merchants of Salem, and Boston, and New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore, the men of Marblehead and Cape Cod, say to this? Will they join in a war, professing to have for its object, what they would consider, and justly too,) as the sacrifice of their
maritime rights, yet affecting to be a war for the protection of commerce?
I am gratified to find gentlemen acknowledging the demoralizing and destructive consequences of the 'nonimportation law; confessing the truth of all that its opponents foretold, when it was enacted. And will you plunge yourselves in war, because you have passed a foolish and ruinous law, and are ashamed to repeal it? “But our good friend, the French emperor, stands in the way of its repeal, and as we cannot go too far in making sacrifices to him, who has given such demonstration of his love for the Americans, we must, in point of fact, become parties to his war.
Who can be so cruel as to refuse him that favor?” My imagination shrinks from the miseries of such a connexion. I call upon the House to reflect, whether they are not about to abandon all reclamation for the unparalleled outrages, “ insults and injuries” of the French government; to give up our claim for plundered millions, and I ask what reparation or atonement they can expect to obtain in hours of future dalliance, after they shall have made a tender of their person to this great deflowerer of the virginity of republics? We have by our own wise (I will not say wiseacre) measures, so increased the trade and wealth of Montreal and Quebec, that at last we begin to cast a wishful eye at Canada. Having done so much towards its improvement, by the exercise of our restrictive energies,” we begin to think the laborer worthy of his hire, and to put in claim for our portion. Suppose it ours, are we any nearer to our point? ) As his minister said to the king of Epirus, “ may we not as well take our bottle of wine before as after this exploit ? Go! march to Çanada! leave the broad bosom of the Chesapeake and her hundred tributary rivers; the whole line of seacoast from Machias to St. Mary's, unprotected! You have taken Quebec-have you conquered England? Will you seek for the deep foundations of her power in the frozen deserts of Labrador?