Slike strani
PDF
ePub

over to the suffering merchants to whom it belonged.

It strikes me as something strange indeed, that gentlemen should assert that Spain has no government; and yet in the same breath assert that she is in strict alliance with Great Britain. Is she incapable of maintaining the relations of peace and amity, and yet in strict alliance with another nation? Has she not, lately, likewise formed a treaty with Russia, who has acknowledged her independence? Has she not, lately, issued a declaration of neutrality, in regard to this country and our present war? If Spain has no government, she has no colonies-no jurisdiction over them-they are separated from the mother, or metropolitan country-they become, as to her, foreign, independent countries; as such, their rights ought to be by us respected. We have no right to avenge ourselves for Spanish wrongs on countries not Spanish.

|

|

Sir, the experience of all ages proves that it is idle to debate upon the theories of a constitution in relation to the observance of treaties. If a fair and rational treaty be made so that it is the mutual interest of parties to observe it, you have obtained the true security and only wise dependence for the continuance of peace. Treaties made by a government when under one form of internal constitution, are still binding, though that form may be changed. We have acted on and recognized this principle. Do we know of any King of Spain but Ferdinand? It is admitted he has been announced to us. Has the pretended claim of Joseph Bonaparte to the crown of Spain, its territories and colonies, ever been made known in a formal and official manner to this government? Have we ever acknowledged it? Have we had any legal or even constructive notice of his arrogant pretensions? If so, where is the correspondence? Who is his minister? Do we mean to take possession of this country under color of that title? Have we bargained, in the treaty of limits negotiated by Mr. Barlow, for the cession of this country to us? What was the consideration of that bargain? What were its terms? Is it indeed true, that the offered compensation for the robberies committed on us by France, is to be an issue of a batch of licenses and a cession of East-Florida? A reparation of ill faith, by permitting us again to be exposed to its treachery-a restitution for plunder, by authorizing us to plunder.

On a former occasion, when we were about to take a territory confessedly ours by treaty and purchase-we were told by France to stay our hand; did we not obey her? Was not even at that time the magnanimity (as it was called) of France a theme of eulogy in this country? Was not the answer of Talleyrand to our minister, (I think Mr. Livingston,) a plain, and if the phrase can be applied to him, an honest one? If you go to war with Spain, France will take the part of Spain; and did we not in consequence desist? You either have or have not got the assent of France to this seizure; if you

| have got it, it is by private, covert negotiation, a mean acceptance of illegal plunder from a power whose ten thousand wrongs, injuries and insults, are unredressed, uncompensated, unrevenged.

If we have not got her assent, we act inconsistently-and encounter the very danger, that of a contested title, which we affect to be solicitous to avoid; and in case, which God forbid! France should be victorious in her attempt to overthrow the liberties of mankind, we should have to restore it at her bidding. She will convert us into a mere trustee of her own appointment, for her own benefit. She will have a cession from Spain, previous to our conquest.

Every thing in relation to the claim or right of France seems to be evaded; but gently touched, hinted at with the utmost delicacy and caution; traced, as it were, in doubtful characters, in chemical ink, which the heat of some future occasion is to bring out. We know our Spanish concerns are closely linked with our French concerns; but how, to what extent, we are not permitted to know. We are too scrupulous to treat with Spain as the ally of England, because we deem it beneath our dignity to treat otherwise than with an independent and co-equal power. Yet is it not true, that when Spain was in a state of vassalage to France, this was deemed no objection to frequent negotiations? We asserted her nominal independence, and treated with the vassal by permission of the Lord, and for his benefit.

Does the gentleman mean to say we ought to take possession of St. Augustine, because the Spanish local authorities are opposed by conspirators, traitors to their own country; no, they have no country-by renegadoes-a banditti; or to state this in terms as little inoffensive as possible to the feelings of gentlemen, because there is a Jacobin, revolutionary movement in that country? Does a really deep, honest, spontaneous, revolutionary movement exist there? Is it not, on the contrary, an artificial, concerted, contrived, petty, patchedup miserable treason, paid for by our money, fomented by our people? Who caused that movement? was it not solely occasioned by American interference? by American instigation? When the names were read, from Matthews' communication and the other papers, could the gravest among us forbear to smile, at the paucity of Spanish names, among the conspirators? There was here and there a Don Juan, and a Don Gomez, in a long list of wellknown American names and characters.

I ask gentlemen, did we find a Revolution there, or did we create it? And shall we, in violation of the principle which protects us, and every civilized Society, from hateful, corrupt, foreign interference, in shameful inconsistency with all we said and did in Henry's affair, take advantage of our own wrong, and with an hypocrisy unrivalled but by Bonaparte himself, practise the very arts, against an innocent, un

offending people, against which we were justly But sir, I recollect there is an argument which indignant, when we had even a distant suspi- has been distinctly announced, and was strencion, that they might be used against our honor,uously urged by the honorable gentleman from Tennessee, on my right, which is worthy of examination, though I humbly conceive susceptible of easy refutation. He denies this will be war. As this argument comes from so respectable a quarter, I will endeavor to obviate it, not by reasonings of my own, but by the most complimentary course I can adopt, by the quotation of respectable and conclusive authority. We will appeal to the writers on the law of nations, and to Vattel, as the most authoritative and judicious of all those writers.

Here Mr. Hunter quoted Vattel.

Leaning then, sir, upon this staff of authority, I say this is not only war, but an offensive war; not only an offensive, but an unjust war; not only unjust, but I am, for the honor of my country, deeply apprehensive, that in the minds of foreign nations, in the minds of a majority of this nation, whose moral sense it will offend-it is liable to the odious epithet contained in the last sentence I have quoted. It is a wicked war; it is robbery.

If this is not war, but something done only in reference to and for the security of an indemnity -a reducing of a legal lien into possession-a process to confirm peace-an instrument of negotiation-it is a measure the President already has in his power. It is the treaty-making power; he can act without our aid.

our integrity, our independence? But, sir, I will not further, at present, pursue this topic; my object is not to excite adverse feeling, but merely to awaken a strict attention, and direct a temperate investigation, to the proposition before us. What is that proposition? what is the statement of the case, as presented us by the honorable chairman of the committee?

It is to seize a province, belonging to Spain -to seize and occupy it by the armies of the United States-to besiege an important and formidable fortress-to use force against a present, friendly, neutral power. That is, in short, to wage war against Spain. What are the avowed reasons, or rather pretexts? I say pretexts, because it is historically and proverbially true, that those who are determined on war, who are greedy for conquest, can always find pretexts, and dignify them with the name of reasons. War indeed is the "ultima ratio regum;" and when we read the manifestoes of kings determined to make war, it is more that literary curiosity may be gratified, than that our consciences may be enlightened, or our understandings convinced. We may occasionally be delighted with the speciousness of statement, and dexterity of argument-we may be momentarily dazzled with the splendid colors with which ingenuity may deck the robe of fraud, but the inherent deformity of the design it is impossible to conceal.

Imbecile indeed must be the understanding, disingenuous indeed the moral nature of that man, who does not instantly detect and despise, the miserable though elaborate sophistry which justifies invasion, and instigates to plunder, and in wretched inconsistency, seeks a confirmation of independence and a guarantee of the integrity of empire, in the subjugation of an innocent neighbor, and in propagating as the precursor of arms, the holy doctrines of insurrection, treason, and rebellion. I own that I rejoice, that so much pains has been taken to apologize for this measure. It shows that we still retain some sense of shame; that we do not surrender our innocence without some decent struggles to save appearances. We have not as yet acquired the unblushing hardihood of our great prototypes and models. Though unjust in our design, we pay some homage to justice; we dare not openly despise what mankind have hitherto deemed most sacred. We acknowledge, that flagrant injustice ought to arouse indignation. The invasions that have been carried on by other nations the different partitions of Po-say justly describes, impressment, as an assump land-the capture of the Danish fleet-we agree tion of self-redress-a substitution of force which were atrocious acts. But our occupation of falls within the definition of war. Do we preEast-Florida, partly by force of arms, and partly tend that we can invest fortresses, circumvallate by subornation of treason, is a different affair; cities, raise fleets and armies, and move them our pretext is indemnity. It has long ago been against a foreign nation, have all the pride, elegantly said, that when a lamb is to be devo-pomp, and circumstance of war, and yet prevent ted, any thicket in which it may happen to stray, this from being war, by asseverating it is not will furnish the fuel necessary for its sacrifice.

But, sir, can there be any doubt that this act will be war against Spain? If we reject Vattel's definition, shall we adopt that of Mr. Jefferson? Is it not an effort to do, in this instance, as much harm as we can? Is it not an attempt to reduce the people of East Florida to a foreign yoke? Are gentlemen discontented at the expression-let them examine it-it is strictly correct. Their independence of us, is to be presumed as valuable to them as our independence of them is valuable to us. They have an equal right to self-government. Their peculiar habits, usages and institutions, their very prejudices and errors, are as dear to them as ours are to us. Do we affect to pity them, and compassionate their real or imaginary sufferings, under what Mr. Monroe calls a tottering and irresolute government? They deeply recipro cate your commiseration, and congratulate themselves, that they are not as we are, protestants, republicans, and sinners.

Shall we adopt Mr. Madison's definition of war? He describes, and a majority here must

war?

Sir, I cannot for a moment hesitate to believe it will be war in fact-so deemed by Spain and her allies so deemed by the people of the United States-it is, at least, the contemplated, apprehended, inevitable consequence of our act. Why not, then, declare it directly, unequivocally, and without evasion? The rule of common law, is, in this respect, the rule of common sense, and of universal equity. What you ought not to do directly, you ought not to do indirectly. Intending war, at least calculating that the inevitable consequence of your proceedings will be war, why do we not frankly, manfully, magnanimously declare it? Let the people of this country understand it. Let us have an open war for an avowed object. Why should we shroud our intention in dastardly ambiguity? This evasive course, this doing a thing "per obliquum, per fraudem," is what our constitution, springing as it does from our republican habits, from our inborn love of justice, from our moral aversion to conquest, and our physical inaptitude for it, from our love of peace, from our well-founded apprehensions that our extent of territory is already dangerously excessive; this evasive course, this obliquity of conduct, is what our constitution, influenced by these considerations-prohibits, deprecates, and disdains.

Though I am afraid, sir, this argument, in reference to the constitutionality of our course, according to the fashion of the day, will be deemed a point of little consequence, yet, sir, I deem it proper to suggest and enforce it. By our constitution there can be no merely constructive declaration of an offensive war. It must be a direct one. As a Legislature, we have the power, not of making war, but of declaring war. Congress shall have power to "declare war." This clause, so worded, most evidently settles the old litigated question raised by many writers on the law of nations, viz., Whether a declaration should not always precede an offensive war? We are to declare it, to announce it in plain terms to our people, and to the enemy. It is intended we should refer them to a plain declaration of the change of our condition, not draw them into it by an act circuitously leading to this result, and involving this as an inevitable consequence.

In interpreting our constitution, when it refers to the topics treated of, and the terms used in the law of nations, our construction ought to be in conformity to the law of nations; as much as when it adopts the principles and terms of the common law, we must refer to them, by them elicit its meaning, and modify its construction. War has a technical meaning in the law of nations. To declare war, is a precise, technical, appropriate, unambiguous, undeceiving phrase. It is the peculiar idiom of a just and wise nation. The declaration, with us, must always precede the act;-of course, I refer to offensive war:-defensive war explains and declares itself. The framers of our constitution intended that our offensive

wars should be few indeed;-never, except in a case of terrible necessity. They intended they should be lawful wars, in due form-the justa bella of Grotius. There must be a denunciatio belli. This is one of the restraints imposed, and intended by the constitution, as a check, against the sudden or frequent breaking out of this pestilence of the human race.

Sir, if you pass this law, to take possession of the colony of a foreign, friendly, European power, you make no previous declaration of war. But by the concession of all, it is war. It is absurd to say, you can shatter my arm, and cut off my limbs, and pretend it is not war upon my person. To say nothing of the unfairness and injustice of this course, towards the foreign nation who has thus no chance of making you voluntary reparation for real or imaginary wrong, what is your conduct towards your own citizens? what is their miserable, because uncertain condition? Would it be treason, to-morrow, for American citizens to give information to the Government of St. Augustine, to supply their settlement with arms and provisions? Would it be treason to supply the European mother country with grain? Sir, there are no means of a nation carrying into effect an extra-territorial law, against a foreign resisting nation, but by force, but by war. Ought you not to apprise your own citizens? are they to be endangered and entrapped? If they can supply without treason, they certainly can without misdemeanor. For this act is included in the definition of treason, and all mere misdemeanors are merged. The people of St. Augustine become your enemies;-can you carry them succor? will you venture to indict for treason those who supply them? or will you, most inconsistently and absurdly, permit your own citizens to counteract your purpose, and frustrate your object? Will you place yourselves in the undignified, embarrassing attitude, of seeing them violate your laws, and yet be dispunishable?

Sir, there is something in this proceeding at which the genius of our constitution revolts; it violates all our fundamental maxims of international intercourse and constitutional construction; it inverts all our theories, it overthrows all our precedents.

What, sir, are the justificatory causes of this war, as understood by General Pinckney?-not that he approves them; he seems anxious to explain to the government, that he acts as a soldier in obedience to commands-he accepts with reluctance his compound character, half military, half diplomatic, and industriously collects apologies for the act he is compelled to execute, from his correspondence with the gov ernment. He enumerates six distinct grounds, on which he understands he is to justify his occupation of the Province of East Florida. 1st. Indemnity for the spoliations committed by Spain. 2d. Refusal to grant an amnesty to the Spanish revolutionary patriots. 3d. The pretendedly illegal attack upon the troops at

Moosa, during the negotiation. 4th. Excite- | dividuals, in consequence of her own spoliations ment of the Indians. 5th. Seduction of negroes on our commerce. into the service of the Spaniards. 6th. The apprehension of the use that may be made of the country, by our present enemy, Great Britain. They may be all included in the convenient and comprehensive phrase of Mr. Pitt, the splendid apology of years of protracted war,-indemnity for the past, security for the future; but, above all, satisfaction for our honor.

By the treaty of 1795, concluded by General Thomas Pinckney, our merchants received not only adequate indemnity, but even a lucrative compensation for their losses. In opening the negotiation of 1802, Mr. Charles Pinckney refers to this fact, and eulogizes in a style of more than ordinary diplomatic courtesy, the integrity, the good faith, and the magnanimity of the Spanish government. Spain had become strictly allied to France, and through the pusillanimity, perhaps corruption, of the favorite, the Prince of Peace, had also become meanly subordinate to her designs, a partaker in her crimes and follies, though not in her spoils. She was at once the dupe of her councils and the prey of her rapacity. At the instigation of France she depredated upon our commerce. She grounded her proceedings upon French decrees. But these were wrongs, as I have before said, unintentionally committed, and which she was solicitous to repair. But few difficulties, and no great delay occurred in the settlement of the convention of 11th August, 1802. The principal difficulty arose from the attempt on the part of our negotiators, to have included in the treaty, compensation as well for Spanish wrongs as for those inflicted by France in Spanish territories. This was resisted-certainly with some show of reason and equity on the part of Spain. But Count Cevallos, the Spanish Minister, offered to include even these, in a certain way. That is, he was willing that the general question, how far Spain ought to be liable for French aggressions in her territories, on American property, should be left to the commissioners, who were to be appointed, according to an article of the convention. He was willing to leave it on the grounds of equity and justice, and the circumstances of the case, for them to determine. A proposition, in a transaction of this nature, certainly importing uncommon fairness and integrity; especially when we consider that the commissioners were to be mutually appointed-Mr. Pinckney, either from error of judgment or the strictness of his instructions, rejected this proposition, and insisted on and obtained an article holding in reserve and unextinguished our claims for French depredations, as matter for future negotiation. This convention, as has been explained by the hon. orable gentleman from Vermont, rested for a length of time, session after session, before the Senate. It was at length ultimately approved, and ratified here. Before, however, it was returned to Spain, the transfer of Louisiana by France to the United States took place—an event which was, as Mr. Jefferson informs us, as unexpected as disagreeable to Spain-an act which she bitterly regretted, against which she sol

Ungenerous indeed must be his nature, who would press even his legal claim with the same stubborn and indiscriminate pertinacity against an individual struggling with adversity, and oppressed by misfortunes, as against one who was thriving and prosperous, and who resisted justice from the pride of power, and the arrogance of wealth. But, sir, I will not rest this point upon an appeal to our generosity, estimable as that feeling is, and prevalent as it is in this na-emnly but unavailingly protested. But our tion and this assembly. The facts,-evidence, convention with France in respect to Louisiana, justice bear me out in the assertion, that Spain including as that did a settlement of all our has not refused, does not refuse compensation; claims for all French spoliations and depredaa fair reparation for all losses sustained by in- tions. had now materially and rightfully chang

The first general ground, indemnity for the past, consists in an assertion that injuries have been committed against us by Spain, and that reparation has been and is refused. The second general ground, resolves itself into necessity. This but too frequently is the tyrant's plea, but in the present case it is asserted to be an honest necessity, justifying on military maxims this measure as the dictate of self-defence.

That Spain, unregenerated, unrevolutionized, ancient Spain, as the ally of France and as instigated by France, committed unwarrantable spoliations on our commerce, is true; but that she has ever denied reparation and indemnity, I conceive that every step taken in the various negotiations with her will disprove. It can hardly be expected that I shall enter into a minute and elaborate discussion of these negotiations-the mere perusal of documents, published and unpublished, would occupy more of the precious time of the Senate than I feel myself authorized to consume. But, sir, I have felt it my incumbent duty to peruse these documents -to consider them with all the attention the importance of the subject demanded, and I have perused them with that eagerness of curiosity and that spirit of impartial inquiry which a young and unhacknied politician-who avows himself free from prejudices and prepossessions, in common liberality I hope may be presumed

|

to feel.

Sir, the honest and sincere conviction of my mind is, that Spain is not only guiltless of unwillingness of reparation, and of reluctance to indemnity, but that with such guilt our government never charged her, until circumstances rendered it as difficult for Spain to consummate reparation as it was unfair and improper for our government to urge, or to expect it. A nation as well as an individual has claims upon our compassion and humanity.

|

ed our relative situation with Spain. She no longer assented to that clause of the treaty, which kept alive against her, claims for French spoliations. As has been explained by the honorable gentleman from Vermont, she denied our right to a double satisfaction for the same injuries; a double payment of the same debt. She contended she was virtually released; and in this she was supported by the express declaration of France, and by the opinion of the most celebrated lawyers and civilians of this country-some of them officers of the government. But she never refused compensation for her own spoliations. Fruitless negotiations on this and other topics still continued. And by the message of Mr. Jefferson, in 1808, we are informed, that "The important negotiation with Spain, which had been alternately suspended and resumed, necessarily experiences a pause, under the extraordinary and interesting crisis, which distinguishes her internal situation."

pledge of that good-will towards us, which a newly emancipated people felt towards one happily already free and independent. What was the further effect, when the government was in some degree settled, and had leisure to attend to its foreign concerns? a mission to this country, in the person of Chevalier Onis Why, sir, is there this dexterous evasion, this strenuous effort on the part of the Administration, to keep from the sight of the people, from the sight of the Senate, a co-ordinate branch of the treaty-making power, the correspondence of Don Onis, or rather his attempts at correspondence. Why cannot this nation be authentically informed of the fact, whether he made a formal and express offer, to place in the hands of our government in advance, a sum in specie sufficient to satisfy all the claims for captures, and for injuries sustained, through the withholding the permission of deposit at New Orleans. That he likewise offered to adjust the subject of the boundaries of Louisiana, in a manner sat

That crisis has not yet subsided. This, sir, is a very concise, and I hope not uncandid his-isfactory to ourselves? That he offered subtory of our negotiation with Spain. I refer stantially to do all this, I am convinced. It has with confidence to the documents. They are been published in Spain, under the eye of the in the hands of gentlemen, who can detect any Cortes; it has been published, over and over involuntary error. If I have committed one, I again, in this country. It has never been conassure them it is involuntary. I said, sir, that tradicted. It has been made the ground of the interesting and extraordinary crisis, to ministerial assertion in England, to evince the which Mr. Jefferson referred, as distinguishing nature of French influence in the United States; the internal situation of Spain, had not subsid- it has been made the ground of reasoning, in ed. What was that crisis? A mighty effort the discussion of the French Moniteurs, to by the great mass of the people abandoned by evince to the Spaniards, how much safer they their king, deserted by their nobles, rising up were under French protection than that of the in their might to expel a foreign invader and patriots. France, say they, protected you usurper, from their dear native soil. Examine against the arrogant and enormous claims of the history of all previous revolutions--that those trans-Atlantic, shop-keeping democrats. which expelled Austria from Switzerland, Spain She gave you the means of restraining their from Holland, the Stuarts from England, and rapacity, or participating in their ill-got profits. England from this country, and you will dis- She was a guarantee to you against their ambicover none of them to be the effect of a more tious intentions, hostile to your valuable but genuine deep-felt popular emotion, than the unprotected colonies. But your patriotic govrevolution achieved by the patriots of Spain. ernment yields to these insolent demands, and Yes, sir, that people are engaged in a war of seems to favor their projects. It offers them defence of their native soil, their firesides, their the treasures, of which you are in want. It altars, against a foreign invader;-in a war of opens the protective barriers of your colonies, that kind, that does and ought to excite the and endangers the mines of Mexico-the source most sensitive interest, the most affectionate of your opulence, and the basis of your national sympathy, in the bosoms of a free people, grandeur. especially of a people themselves but recently independent, and who had to fight for their Independence. Strange indeed it is, that the wars of Greece against Persia should retain an unfading interest in our memories, and excite, even at this day, sublime and pious emotions; and that the wars of the Spanish patriots should be forgotten. Strange indeed, that we remember Marathon, and forget Saragossa.

Sir, we have served a notice on the President, to produce the correspondence, to detail the verbal offers of Don Onis-not being produced, we have a right to state what we justly suppose to be their substance. Our divinations, conjectures, if they be conjectures, can be put down at once; falsified by the production of the papers-but by nothing else. This again, sir, is a rule of common law, and common sense. Circumstances, the absence of all contrary proof

Sir, what was the first effect of this revolution in Spain, in regard to this country?-a-the cantious forbearance of all denial-the restoration, in mass, of all the vessels and pro- non-production of papers, when called for by perty belonging to American citizens. An friends, the gratuitous assumption of limiting order, to their Court of Prizes, to act no more the intentions of the Senate, in their call of on the French decrees. An observance of all papers, to those which had occurred since the the articles of the treaty with us. This they last session; all this tends convincingly to prove, did voluntarily, as an act of justice, and as a that this offer of indemnity, on the part of the

« PrejšnjaNaprej »