Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

thentic accounts, we have every reason to believe, that that state and the Indiana Territory are entirely satisfied with the position our government has taken. The infant state of Ohio has presented us with an address, couched in the warmest terms of affectionate attachment, equally honorable to her and to us; and her recent elections have manifested the same decided spirit: out of forty-five members, returned to her first legislature, there are only five to be found in the opposition. Pennsylvania is the only remaining state which possesses any western territory; and I need only refer you to her elections, to demonstrate the extraordinary attachment to the government, which prevails in that great and respectable state. In the next Congress, there will not be a single member in opposition from Pennsylvania, and her state elections have been attended with nearly the same distinguished unanimity. Under the influence of such honorable principles, and under the auspices of the great character, who so deservedly holds the reins of her government, and so extensively possesses the confidence of his fellow-citizens, we have nothing to apprehend, on her part, from the evils with which we have been so liberally menaced. Delaware, who has no western country, who carries on little or no trade with the western states, and who has no immediate interest in the present question, has indeed lifted up her voice against the measures of the general administration, and has demanded a more energetic course. I shall be the last man to speak disrespectfully of any of the state governments; I mean not to disparage the conduct of Delaware, and I trust I do not, when I say that New York, which has a greater interest in the Spanish infraction than any of the Atlantic states, is entitled to equal attention; and she has, through her legislature and executive, declared her warmest approbation of the course pursued by the general government on this interesting occasion.

It is equally in vain for the honorable mover to declare, that the seizure of New Orleans will facilitate

31

VOL. II.

negociation, and avert war; that we will lose our character if we do not; that delay will give Spain time to prepare ; that our executive has taken no course that we know of, and that the opposition will lend us their aid if we follow their advice. In opposition to these suggestions, we say that the seizure of New Orleans is war in fact, and will shut out negociation; that character is to be lost, not by firm and honorable moderation, but by rash and boyish precipitation; that delay is an evil that cannot be avoided, if we pursue the path of negociation, which is the course our government has taken, and that if it gives our adversary time for preparation, it will also furnish us with the same advantage; that however desirable it may be to produce an union of sentiment and action among our fellow-citizens, we are certain that it will not result from the adoption of the present measure; that the great body of the people will consider it rash and unjust ; and that, in gaining the transient and doubtful support of a small minority, we will alienate

a the affections, and lose the confidence of our best friends, who will certainly desert us, when we desert the laudable principles which ought alone to entitle us to their esteem and attachment.

If negociation shall prove successful, and of this I have no doubt, all the evils resulting from war will be averted. If, on the contrary, it shall eventuate unfortunately, and we shall be compelled to face all consequences, and risk all dangers in the maintenance of our national honor and national rights, great and abundant advantages will still result from the pursuit of this course, and we will be enabled to appeal to the sword with a full conviction of the justice of our conduct, with the unanimous suffrage of our country, and to the perfect satisfaction of the world. In the mean time, we can form some necessary preparations, and we can ascertain the feelings and bearings of foreign governments. Every day of procrastination will find us better prepared, and will give us more people, more resources, more treasure, more force, with less debt. Our national character will stand high for moderation and justice; our own citizens, and foreign nations, will entertain but one opinion on the subject; and we can then confidently appeal to that great and good Being, who holds in his hands the destiny of nations, to smile upon our cause: but, if in the inscrutable decrees of his providence, it is ordained that we must perish, we will at least fall with dignity, and maintain our character, when we lose our existence.

1

SPEECH OF JAMES ROSS,

ON

HIS RESOLUTIONS RELATIVE TO THE FREE NAVIGA

TION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,*

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

MR. PRESIDENT, The propriety of introducing these resolutions becomes every day more apparent. Since they have been laid on the table, our national councils have taken a new direction, and assumed a much more promising aspect. Until these resolutions were brought forward, there has been no military preparation; no proposal to detach militia; to build arsenals on the western waters; to provide armed boats for the protection of our trade on the Mississippi. I am happy in seeing gentlemen on the opposite side, pursuing a more vigorous course than they were at first inclined to adopt; and I hope they will, before long, consent to take stronger and more effectual measures for the security of what is in hazard.

As I have, on a late occasion, stated at large my reasons for presenting these resolutions, I will not detain the senate with a repetition of them, except where they have been misrepresented or distorted during the debate. I cannot suppose that any gentleman would intentionally misstate what has been said; but it is

* See page 236.

very certain, that sentiments and assertions have been ascribed to me, in the course of the discussion, not warranted by any thing I have advanced.

Every gentleman, who has spoken in this debate, excepting the honorable gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Wright,) admits, that the United States have an indisputable right to the free navigation of the river Mississippi, and to a place of deposit in the island of New Orleans. All agree, that this right is of immense magnitude and importance to the western country. All agree, that it has been grossly and wantonly violated—and all agree, that unless the right be restored and secured, we must and will go to war. Upon what, then, do we really differ? Upon nothing but the time of acting-whether we shall take measures for immediate restoration and security, or whether we shall abstain from all military preparation, and wait the issue of negociation. There is no disagreement but upon this point; for if negociation fails, every man, who has spoken, has pledged himself to declare war.

A number of the objections, made against the adoption of measures we have proposed, deserve to be noticed.

The honorable gentleman from New York, (Mr. Clinton,) when composing his speech, has made an elaborate research into ancient and modern history, for the purpose of showing what had been the practice of nations. He has collected all the objections together and classed them under three heads. Other gentlemen, who have spoken in opposition, have taken nearly the same ground, and made, in substance, the same objection: I will, therefore, follow the arrangement made by the honorable gentleman, (Mr. Clinton,) and I am persuaded, that it will be easy to show, he has, in many instances, mistaken the most material features of the authorities he has adduced, and more than once misstated the positions which I undertook to refute. He has, however, admitted the magnitude of the right, that it has been violated, and that if ne

« ZurückWeiter »