Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Of the several interests composing those of the United States, that of manufactures would of course prefer to war a state of nonintercourse, so favorable to their rapid growth and prosperity. Agriculture, although sensibly feeling the loss of market for its produce, would find many aggravations in a state of war. Commerce and navigation, or that portion which is foreign, in the inactivity to which they are reduced by the present state of things, certainly experience their full share in the general inconvenience; but whether war would to them be a preferable alternative, is a question their patriotism would never hastily propose. It is to be regretted, however, that overlooking the real sources of their sufferings, the British and French edicts, which constitute the actual blockade of our foreign commerce and navigation, they have, with too little reflection, imputed them to laws which have saved them from greater, and have preserved for our own use our vessels, property and seamen, instead of adding them to the strength of those with whom we might eventually have to contend.

The embargo, giving time to the belligerent powers to revise their unjust proceedings, and to listen to the dictates of justice, of interest and reputation, which equally urge the correction of their wrongs, has availed our country of the only honorable expedient for avoiding war; and should a repeal of these edicts supersede the cause for it, our commercial brethren will become sensible that it has consulted their interests, however against their own will. It will be unfortunate for their country if, in the meantime, these their expressions of impatience should have the effect of prolonging the very sufferings which have produced them, by exciting a fallacious hope that we may, under any pressure, relinquish our equal right of navigating the ocean, go to such ports only as others may prescribe, and there pay the tributary exactions they may impose ; an abandonment of national independence and of essential rights, revolting to every manly sentiment. While these edicts are in force, no American can ever consent to a return of peaceable intercourse with those who maintain them.

I am happy, in the approach of the period when the feelings

and the wisdom of the nation will be collected in their representatives assembled together. To them are committed our rights, to them our wrongs are known, and they will pronounce the remedy they call for; and I hear with pleasure from all, as well those who approve, as who disapprove of the present measures, assurances of an implicit acquiescence in their enunciation of the general will.

I beg leave through you to communicate this answer to the address on which your signature held the first place, and to add the assurances of my respect.

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE BALTIMORE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.

October 17, 1808. I receive with great pleasure the friendly address of the Baltimore Baptist Association, and am sensible how much I am indebted to the kind dispositions which dictated it.

In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object. All men felt the right, and a just animation to obtain it was exhibited by all. I was one only among the many who befriended its establishment, and am entitled but in common with others to a portion of that approbation which follows the fulfilment of a duty.

Excited by wrongs to reject a foreign government which directed our concerns according to its own interests, and not to ours, the principles which justified us were obvious to all understandings, they were imprinted in the breast of every human being; and Providence ever pleases to direct the issue of our contest in favor of that side where justice was. Since this happy separation, our nation has wisely avoided entangling itself in the system of European interests, has taken no side between its rival powers, attached itself to none of its ever-changing confederacies. Their peace is desirable ; and you do me justice in saying that to preserve and secure this, has been the constant aim of my administration. The difficulties which involve it, however, are now at their ultimate term, and what will be their issue, time

alone will disclose. But be it what it may, a recollection of our former vassalage in religion and civil government, will unite the zeal of every heart, and the energy of every hand, to preserve that independence in both which, under the favor of heaven, a disinterested devotion to the public cause first achieved, and a disinterested sacrifice of private interests will now maintain.

I am happy in your approbation of my reasons for determining to retire from a station, in which the favor of my fellow citizens has so long continued and supported me: I return your kind prayers with supplications to the same almighty Being for your future welfare and that of our beloved country.

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE KETOCTON BAPTIST ASSOCIATION.

October 18, 1808. I received with great pleasure the affectionate address of the Ketocton Baptist Association, and am sensible how much I am indebted to the kind dispositions which dictated it.

In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object. All men felt the right, and a just animation to obtain it was excited in all. And although your favor selected me as the organ of your petition to abolish the religious denomination of a privileged church, yet I was but one of the many who befriended its object, and am entitled but in common with them to a portion of that approbation which follows the fulfilment of a duty.

The views you express of the conduct of the belligerent powers are as correct as they are afflicting to the lovers of justice and humanity. Those moral principles and conventional usages which have heretofore been the bond of civilized nations, which have so often preserved their peace by furnishing common rules for the measure of their rights, have now given way to force, the law of Barbarians, and the nineteenth century dawns with the Vandalism of the fifth. Nothing has been spared on our part to preserve the peace of our country, during this distempered state of the world. But the difficulties which involve it are now at their

ultimate term, and what will be their issue, time alone will disclose. But be that what it may, a recollection of our former vassalage in religion and civil government will unite the zeal of every heart, and the energy of every hand, to preserve that independence in both, which, under the favor of heaven, a disinterested devotion to the public cause first achieved, and a disinterested sacrifice of private interests will now maintain.

I am happy in your approbation of my reasons for determining to retire from a station in which the favor of my fellow citizens has so long continued and supported me; and I return your kind prayers by supplications to the same Almighty being for your future welfare, and that of our beloved country.

TO THE GENERAL MEETING OF CORRESPONDENCE OF THE SIX BAPTIST ASSOCIATIONS REPRESENTED AT CHESTERFIELD, VIRGINIA.

November 21, 1808. Thank you, fellow citizens, for your affectionate address, and I receive with satisfaction your approbation of my motives for retirement. In reviewing the history of the times through which we have past, no portion of it gives greater satisfaction, on reflection, than that which presents the efforts of the friends of religious freedom, and the success with which they were crowned. We have solved by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government, and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason, and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

It is a source of great contentment to me to learn that the measures which have been pursued in the administration of your affairs have met your approbation. Too often we have had but a choice among difficulties; and this situation characterizes remarkably the present moment. But, fellow citizens, if we are faithful to our country, if we acquiesce, with good will, in the

decisions of the majority, and the nation moves in mass in the same direction, although it may not be that which every individual thinks best, we have nothing to fear from any quarter.

I thank you sincerely for your kind wishes for my welfare, and with equal sincerity implore the favor of a protecting Providence for yourselves.

TO TABER FITCH, ESQ., CHAIRMAN.

WASHINGTON, November 21, 1808. SIR, I have received with great pleasure the address of the republicans of the State of Connecticut, and am particularly sensible of the kindness with which they have viewed my conduct in the direction of their affairs. Having myself highly approved the example of an illustrious predecessor, in voluntarily retiring from a trust, which, if too long continued in the same hands, might become a subject of reasonable uneasiness and apprehension, I could not mistake my own duty when placed in a similar situation.

Our experience so far, has satisfactorily manifested the competence of a republican government to maintain and promote the best interests of its citizens; and every future year, I doubt not, will contribute to settle a question on which reason, and a knowledge of the character and circumstances of our fellow citizens, could never admit a doubt, and much less condemn them as fit subjects to be consigned to the dominion of wealth and force. Although under the pressure of serious evils at this moment, the governments of the other hemisphere cannot boast a more favorable situation. We certainly do not wish to exchange our dilliculties for the sanguinary distresses of our fellow men beyond the water. In a state of the world unparalleled in times past, and never again to be expected, according to human probabilities, no form of government has, so far, better shielded its citizens from the prevailing afflictions. By withdrawing awhile from the ocean we have suffered some loss; but we have gathered home our immense capital. Exposed to foreign depredation, we

« ZurückWeiter »