Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

acter, when we shall be silent in regard to British outrages, and avenge ourselves by punishing the weaker powers instead of grappling with the stronger. I never did fancy that policy nor admire that chivalry which induced a man, when insulted by a strong man of his own size, to say that he would whip the first boy he found in the street in order to vindicate his honor, or, as is suggested by a gentleman behind me, that he would go home and whip his wife [laughter] in order to show his courage, inasmuch as he was afraid to tackle the full-grown man who had committed the aggression. Sir, these outrages can not be concealed; they can not have the go-by; we must meet them face to face. Now is the time when England must give up her claim to search American vessels, or we must be silent in our protests, and resolutions, and valorous speeches against that claim. It will not do to raise a navy for the Chinese seas, nor for Puget's Sound, nor for Mexico, nor for the South American republics. It may be used for those purposes, but England must first be dealt with. Sir, we shall be looked upon as showing the white feather if we strike a blow at any feeble power until these English aggressions and insults are first punished, and security is obtained that they are not to be repeated.”

After referring to the unanimous action of Congress in 1839 investing Mr. Van Buren with power and means to resist aggressions during the controversy respecting the northeastern boundary, he said:

“The vote in the Senate was unanimous, and in the House of Representatives it was one hundred and ninety-seven against six. This unanimity among the American people, as manifested by their representatives, saved the two countries from war, and preserved peace between England and the United States upon that question. If the Senate had been nearly equally divided in 1839, if there had been but half a dozen majority for the passage of the measure, if the vote had been nearly divided in the House of Representatives, England would have taken courage from the divisions in our own councils, she would have pressed her claim to a point that would have been utterly inadmissible and incompatible with our honor, and war would have been the inevitable consequence.

“I tell you, sir, the true peace measure is that which resents the insult and redresses the wrong promptly upon the spot, with a unanimity that shows the nation can not be divided.”

He thus closed his remarks:

“Besides, sir, as has been intimated by the senator from Massachusetts, England has given pledges for her good behavior on this continent. She is bound over to keep the peace. She has large possessions upon this continent of which she could be deprived in ninety days after war existed; and she knows that, the moment she engages in war with us, that moment her power upon the American continent and upon the adjacent islands ceases to exist. While I am opposed to war—while I have no idea of any breach of the peace with England, yet I confess to you, sir, if war should come by her act and not ours—by her invasion of our right and our vindication of the same, I would administer to every citizen and every child Hannibal's oath of eternal hostility as long as the English flag waved or their government claimed a foot of land upon the American continent or the adjacent islands. Sir, I would make it a war that would settle our disputes forever, not only of the right of search upon the seas, but the right to tread with a hostile foot upon the soil of the American continent or its appendages. England sees that these consequences would result. Her statesmen understand these results as well as we, and much better. Her statesmen have more respect for us in this particular than we have for ourselves. They will never push this question to the point of war. They will look you in the eye, march to you steadily, as long as they find it is prudent. If you cast the eye down she will rush upon you. If you look her in the eye steadily, she will shake hands with you as friends, and have respect for you. “Mr. Hammond. Suppose she does not? “Mr. Douglas. Suppose she does not, my friend from South Carolina asks me. If she does not, then we will appeal to the God of battles—we will arouse the patriotism of the American nation—we will blot out all distinctions of party, the voice of faction will be hushed, the American people will be a unit; none but the voice of patriotism will be heard, and from the north and the south, from the east and the west, we will come up as a band of brothers, animated by a common spirit and a common patriotism, as were our fathers of the Revolution, to repel the foreign enemy, and afterward differ as we please, and discuss at our leisure matters of domestic dispute. Sir, I am willing to suppose the case which is suggested by the senator from South Carolina: suppose England does not respect our rights? To fight her now— “Mr. Hammond. I said, suppose England would not submit to be bullied. “Mr. Douglas. Who proposes to bully England? “Mr. Hammond. I understood the senator to say that if we looked down she would rush on us, but if we looked up she would give way. I consider that bullying. “Mr. Douglas. Precisely; that is the case of a bully always. He will fix his eye on his antagonist's, and see if it is steady. If it is not, he will approach a little nearer. If it is, he stops; but if his eye sinks, he rushes on him; and that is the parallel in which I put England, playing the bully with us. The question is, whether we will look her steadily in the eye, and maintain our rights against her aggressions. We do not wish to bully England. She is resisting no claim of ours. She sets up the claim to search our vessels, stop them on the high seas, invade our rights, and we say to her that we will not submit to that aggression. I would ask to have the United States act upon the defensive in all things—make no threat, indulge in no bullying, but simply assert our right; then maintain the assertion with whatever power may be necessary, and the God of our fathers may have imparted to us for maintaining it—that is all. I believe that is the true course to peace. I repeat that, if war with England comes, it will result from our vacillation, our division, our hesitation, our apprehensions lest we might be whipped in the fight. Perhaps we might. I do not believe it. I believe the moment England declares war against the United States, the prestige of her power is gone. It will unite our own people; it will give us the sympathy of the world; it will destroy her commerce and her manufactures, while it will extend our own. It will sink her to a second-rate power upon the face of the globe, and leave us without a rival who can dispute our supremacy. We shall, however, come to that point early through the paths of peace. Such is the tendency of things now. I would rather approach it by peaceable, quiet means, by the arts and sciences, by agriculture, by commerce, by immigration, by matural growth and expansion, than by warfare. But if England is impatient of our rising power, if she desires to hasten it, and should force war upon us, she will seal her doom now; whereas Providence might extend to her, if not a pardon, at least a reprieve for a few short years to come.”

FILIBUSTERISM. On the 7th of January, 1858, President Buchanan communicated to the Senate, in obedience to a resolution of that body,

[ocr errors]

copies of the orders, instructions, and correspondence with ref. erence to the arrest of William Walker on the coast of Central America. On the motion to refer these documents, a debate took place involving the propriety of Commodore Paulding's conduct, and the course of the President in relation thereto, and also as to the views expressed by him in his communication accompanying the papers. In this debate, Messrs. Davis and Brown of Mississippi, Pugh of Ohio, and Toombs of Georgia, sharply criticised the message, and repudiated the existence of the power claimed by the President in his message. The President was ably defended, and with much warmth, by Mr. Seward, and by Mr. Doolittle of Wisconsin. During this debate Mr. Douglas expressed his views upon the affair, and upon filibusterism generally, in the following terms:

Mr. Douglas. I do not rise to prolong the debate, but to return the compliment which my friend from Mississippi [Mr. Brown] paid me when he said he admired my pluck in speaking my sentiments freely, without fear, when I differed from the President of the United States. He has shown his pluck, and various others have shown theirs, on the present occasion. According to the doctrine announced the other day, each senator who has done so has read himself out of the party. I find that I am getting into good company; I have numerous associates; I am beating up recruits a little faster than General Walker is at this time. [Laughter.] I think, however, it will be found, after a while, that we are all in the party, intending to do our duty, expressing our opinions freely and fearlessly, without any apprehension of being excommunicated, or having any penalties inflicted on us for thinking and speaking as we choose. If my friend from Louisiana [Mr. Slidell] were in his seat, I should say to him, inasmuch as he declared in his Tammany Hall letter that he was going to fill by recruits from the Republicans all the vacancies caused by desertions in the Democratic party on account of differences with the President in opinion, that he seems to have been very successful to-day in getting leading Republicans on his side, and recruiting his ranks just about as rapidly as there are desertions on this side of the house. [Laughter.] The senator from New York, I believe, has the command of the new recruits. Well, sir, strange things occur in these days. Men rapidly find themselves in line and out of line, in the party and out of the party. Mr. Seward. Will the honorable senator allow me to interrupt him? Mr. Douglas. Certainly. Mr. Seward. I have an inducement on this occasion which is new and peculiarly gratifying to me, which will excuse me for being found on the side of the administration. The message announces that, in the judgment of the President, this expedition of Mr. Walker was in violation of the laws of the land, and therefore to be condemned. So far I agree with him; but he goes further, and pronounces it to be in violation of “the higher law;” and I am sure I should be recreant to my sense of “the higher law” itself if I did not come to his support on such an occasion. [Laughter.] Mr. Douglas. I perceive the consistency of the senator from New York in the ground on which he bases his support of this message. Now, sir, so far as the President pronounces this arrest of General Walker to have been a violation of the law of the land, I concur with him. As to the allusion to “the higher law,” I think that is well enough in its place, but it is not exactly appropriate in the execution of the neutrality laws of the United States. I would rather look into the statutes of the United States for the authority of the President to use the army and navy in enforcing the neutrality laws. By the statute of 1818 he has ample authority within the jurisdiction of the United States, and that jurisdiction is defined to extend as far as one marine league from the coast. If an arrest be made within that distance, the courts of the United States have jurisdiction, but there is no authority to arrest beyond that distance. The authority given in the eighth section of the act, to which reference is made, but which is not quoted in the message, is confined in terms to cases within the jurisdiction of the United States as defined in the act. How defined? Defined in the previous sections as being within one marine league of the coast. It thus appears that the whole extent of the President's power to use the army and navy under the act of 1818 is within our own waters, and one marine league from the coast. I did suppose that the President himself put that construction on his authority, for I understood him to ask for further and additional authority from Congress to enable him to put down filibustering expeditions. What further authority could he want, if the existing laws allowed him to roam over the high seas, and sail around the world, and go within one marine league of every nation on the earth? It might be supposed that his authority was extensive enough to employ his entire navy, and that, certainly, he would not ask for power to invade other nations. For these reasons I supposed that the President, on reflection and examination, had come to the conclusion that his authority was full and ample within one marine league of our coast, and ceased the moment you passed beyond that on the high seas. That has been my construction of the neutrality laws. I believe it is the fair construction. I am in favor of giving those neutrality laws a fair, faithful, and vigorous execution. I believe the laws of the land should be vigorously and faithfully executed. There may be public sentiment in certain localities unfavorable to the operation of the law, but prejudice should not be allowed to deter us from its execution. This is a government of law. Let us stand by the laws so long as they stand upon the statute-book, and execute them faithfully, whether we like or dislike them. Sir, I have no fancy for this system of filibustering. I believe its tendency is to defeat the very object they have in view, to wit, the extension of the area of freedom and the American flag. The President avows that his opposition to it is because it prevents him from carrying out a line of policy that would absorb Nicaragua and the countries against which these expeditions are fitted out. I do not know that I should dissent from the President in that object. I would like to see the boundaries of this republic extended gradually and steadily, as fast as we can Americanize the countries we acquire, and make their inhabitants loyal American citizens when we get them. Faster than that I would not desire to go. My opposition to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, which pledges the faith of this nation never to annex Central America, or colonize it, or exercise dominion over it, was not based on the ground that I desired then to acquire the country; but inasmuch as I saw that the time might come when Nicaragua would not be too far off to be embraced within our republic, being just half way to California, and on the main road there, I was unwilling to pledge the faith of this nation that in all time we never would do that which I believed our interest and our safety would compel us to do. I have no objection to this gradual and steady expansion as fast as we can Americanize the countries. I believe the interests of commerce, of civilization, every interest which civilized nations hold dear, would be benefited by expansion; but still I desire to see it done regularly and lawfully, and I apprehend that these expeditions have a tendency to check it. To

that extent I have sympathized with the reasons which the President has assigned in his message for his opposition to them; but I desire that his opposition shall be conducted lawfully; for I am no more willing to allow him unlawfully to break them up than I am to permit them unlawfully to fit them out. I am not willing to send out naval officers with vague instructions, and set them to filibustering all over the high seas and in the ports of foreign countries under the pretext of putting down filibustering. Let us hold the navy clearly within the law. Let the instructions that are given to our of ficers be clear and specific ; and if they do not obey the law, cashier them, or, by other punishment, reduce them to obedience to the law. But in this case it is a very strange fact that Captain Chatard is degraded and brought home for not arresting Walker on the identical spot where Commodore Paulding did arrest him. Paulding and Chatard are thus placed in a peculiar position. Paulding arrests him, we are told, in violation of law. Chatard is degraded for not arresting him in violation of law. This shows that the moment we depart from the path of duty, as defined by law, we get into difficulty every step we take. All the difficulties and embarrassments connected with the conduct of Paulding and Chatard arise from the fact that in our anxiety to preserve the good opinion of other nations, by putting a stop to filibustering, we have gone beyond the authority of law. I think it will be better for us to confine ourselves to the faithful execution of the neutrality laws as they stand, and stop these expeditions, if we can, before they are fitted out. If, notwithstanding our efforts, they escape, we are not responsible for them. I do not hold that every three men that leave this country with guns upon their shoulders are necessarily fitting out a military expedition against countries with which we are at peace. Each citizen of the United States has the same right under the Constitution to expatriate himself that a man of foreign birth has to naturalize himself under our laws. When the Constitution of the United States declares that foreigners coming here may be naturalized, it recognizes the universal principle that all men have a right to expatriate themselves and become naturalized in other countries. Walker had a right, under the Constitution of the United States, to become a naturalized citizen of Nicaragua. Nicaragua had the same right to make him a citizen of that country that we have to make a German or an Irishman a citizen of this. When Walker went from California, on his first expedition to Nicaragua, and became naturalized there, he was from that moment a citizen of Nicaragua, and not a citizen of the United States. You have no more right to treat Walker as a citizen of the United States than Great Britain has to follow an Irishman to this country, and claim that he is a British subject after he has been naturalized here. You have no more right to put your hands on Walker, after his naturalization by Nicaragua, than Austria or Prussia has to follow their former subjects here and arrest them on the ground that they were once Germans, Walker is a Nicaraguan, and not an American. Since he has been President of that republic, recognized as such, it is too late for us to deny that he is a citizen of that country, or to claim that he is an American citizen. We are not responsible for his action when he is once beyond our jurisdiction. If he violated our laws here, we can punish him ; but we have no right to punish him for any violation of the laws of Nicaragua. If he invites men to join him, and they get their necks in the halter, they must not call upon us to untie the noose after they have expatriated themselves. It is a modern doctrine that no citizen can leave our shores to engage in a foreign war. We filled the Russian regiments, during the Crimean war, with American surgeons, and only lately the Emperor of Russia has been delivering medals and acknowledgments of knighthood to these very men. We also allowed our men to go and join the Turks, the English, and the French, and

« ZurückWeiter »