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forbearing temper upon the subject of the Mississippi. It must be in the recollection of that gentleman, that M. Genet sent emissaries into Kentucky, distributed commissions there for enlisting men, and raising an army to take New Orleans, and open the navigation of the Mississippi to the western people. A very gallant and able officer accepted the commission of general on this expedition; and would undoubtedly have executed it, had not the recal of the French minister, and the failure of the promised resources defeated the enterprize. What reason was there to suppose they would be more forbearing now? That officer is still alive, and if he were to erect his standard, the consequences would not be very doubtful.
The honorable gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. Jackson,) agrees with us in every thing except as to the time of acting. He wishes to make an experiment at negociation, but admits the magnitude of the dispute, and that it involves the very existence of Georgia and the southern states. If the late events had happened upon St. Mary's, or if the Savannah had been shut up by the Spaniards, there would have been little doubt of the course that gentleman would have pursued. The news of the aggression and of the aggressors' graves would have reached the seat of government by the same mail. He would not have waited to inquire by whose orders they came there, or whether they could be negociated out of Georgia. Although the honorable gentleman disagrees with us as to the time of acting, yet he has very honorably pledged himself for the ultimate result, should negociation fail: and while it is impossible to agree with what he has said respecting the ordinary force of the country driving the new occupants from their fastnesses and forts in the marshes of Florida or New Orleans, yet, sir, there can be no doubt that the spirit, which disdains to think of the hazard of such an enterprize, is of the utmost value to our country. For my own part, I have a pleasure in declaring my wish, that the gentleman now lived on the Mis. sissippi, and that he had authority from this government to act. I should have no doubt of the result, nor of the confidence and universal consent with which he would be supported. But he is certainly too much a soldier not to discern, that previous possession by a powerful enemy will require the labors and blood of a disciplined army, and the delay and skill requisite for the attack of a fortified country.
We come now to consider the resolutions offered as a substitute*. It is highly gratifying to find that the gentlemen are at last inclined to act; to do something like defending the rights of our country. Is there any new shape given to this business by the proposed substitute? We propose fifty thousand militia, they substitute eighty thousand. To do what? Will gentlemen tell us the difference? It is said ours are absolutely imperative; if so, alter them, and give an unqualified discretion. We will agree to it. My own opinion is, that they should be immediately acted upon. If the majority wish for a bare discretionary power,
I assent to it. There is no difference, except that one set of
* The following resolutions had been proposed by Mr. Breckenridge, as a substitute for those brought forward by Mr. Ross.
Resolved, That the President of the United States, be, and he is hereby authorized, whenever he shall judge it expedient, to require of the executives of the several states to take effectual measures to organize, arm and equip, according to law, and hold in readiness to march at a moment's warning, 80,000 effective militia, officers included,
Resolved, That the President may, if he judge it expedient, authorize the executives of the several states to accept, as a part of the detachment aforesaid, any corps of volunteers, who shall continue in service for such time not exceeding months, and perform such services as shall be prescribed by law.
Resolved, That dollars be appropriated for paying and subsisting such part of the troops aforesaid, whose actual service may be wanted, and for defraying such other expenses as, during the recess of Congress, the President may deem necessary for the security of the territory of the United States.
Resolved, That dollars be appropriated for erecting, at such place or places on the western waters, as the President may judge most proper, one or more arsenals.
resolutions puts greater power into the hands of the President than the other. Are gentlemen on the other side afraid to trust the President? Do they think he will abuse this power? Will it hurt the negociation ? Instead of hurting it, our minister ought to carry this act to Europe with him. He is not yet gone, and it may be sent with him; he would then have more means and more forcible arguments to urge in his negociation.
This whole subject was known at the meeting of Congress; yet no step taken till our resolutions were proposed. Now gentlemen are willing to do something. They seem willing to give means to a certain extent. Why not amend our resolutions, when their own are but a qualification of ours? We have but seven days to the end of this session. Why dispute about a substitute, when amendments may be made to meet gentlemen's wishes ? They agree to go a certain length; then say so, and strike out the rest. Certainly we will go with you as far as you propose, for we have offered to go further.
But gentlemen say they have full confidence in the negociation. Be it so; I cannot doubt the assertion of the gentleman, although I draw a different conclusion from the same facts. But let me present this question in a new shape, not yet offered in this House. We are not deliberating about the right of deposit in New Orleans merely, nor about the island of New Orleans; we are told that we are to look for new and powerful neighbors in Louisiana. What right has Spain to give us these neighbors without consulting us ? To change our present security into hazard and uncertainty ? | do not believe that Spain has any right to do so. What are the limits of Louisiana ? It extends three thousand miles upon your frontier. New Orleans is ceded with it. Then the province of Louisiana and New Orleans lie between the Floridas and the other Spanish dominions on this continent. It is not difficult to pronounce who will command and own the Floridas. They must belong to the master of Louisiana and New Orleans. Then the owners possess the lock and key of the whole western country. There is no entrance or egress but by their leave. They have, not only three thousand miles on your frontier in the interior country, but they have the command of your outlet to the ocean, and seven hundred miles of seacoast embracing the finest harbors in North America. This makes them, in fact, masters of the western world. What will you give them for this enviable dominion ? Not territory, for you have none to spare, and they want none. Not commercial privileges ; they will not want them, for they will then have enough and to spare. What equivalent have you? What can you offer to men who know the value of such a country? What would this senate take for the surrender of such an establishment were it ours ? Let every senator ask himself the question and declare, by what rule of estimation his answer would be dictated.
But I know it has been said, and will be said again, that the new French owners will confirm or permit our right of deposit and free navigation of the Mississippi; they will open a free port and give us all we desire. Yes, sir, this would be the unkindest cut of all. I fear much less the enmity of the present possessors, than such neighbors. We shall hold by their courtesy, not by the protection of our government. They will permit, but you cannot enforce. They will give us all the advantages we now have, and more: but will it be for nothing? Will they ask no return? Have they no ulterior views? During this insidious interval they will be driving rivet after rivet into the iron yoke which is to gall us and our children. We must go to market through a line of batteries manned by veterans; and return home with our money through a fortified camp. This privilege will be held at their will, and may be withheld whenever their Intendant forbids its further continuance.
No doubt my earnestness may have betrayed me
into expressions which were not intended. Every honorable gentleman will, therefore, consider me as addressing his reason and judgment merely, without meaning to give cause of offence. But I cannot conclude without addressing myself particularly to those senators who represent the western states. I entreat them to remember, that these resolutions are intended to vest a power which may or may not be used as events arise. If events should show, in the recess, that negociation must fail, what is the President to do? He must call Congress. This will consume time, and the enemy gains immense advantages. Why not put a force at his disposal with which he can strikewith which he can have a pledge for your future wellbeing. When the Atlantic coast is willing, shall this security be lost by your votes ? Are you sure that you will ever again find the same disposition? Can you recall, the decisive moment that may happen in a month after our adjournment? Certainly the country may be in such a state, that at the next session you will have no such offer as at the present moment. There may be a pressure which would forbid it. Heretofore you have distrusted the Atlantic states; and now, when they offer to pledge themselves, meet them and close with the proposal. If the resolutions are too strong, remodel them. If the means are not adequate, propose other and more effectual measures. But as you value the best interests of the western country, and the union with the Atlantic coast, seize the present occasion of securing it forever. For the present is only a question of how much power the executive shall have for the attainment of this great end; and no man, desirous of the end, ought to refuse the necessary means for attaining it. Your voice decides the direction this senate will take, and I devoutly wish it may be one we shall never repent.