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as this, for an inducing motive to repeal those provisions of American law against filibusterism, which have, during the late Fenian raid, proved our best protection against the designs of turbulent and fanatical Irishmen, and whose biting and efficacious terms have constituted such a study of their leaders, lest the demonstration of the executive will at Washington should at any moment stamp out their reckless incendiarism ? "
666 Unchristian and uncivilized to enlarge the power of belligerents,' says General Banks. And yet, in the same moment, he strikes hands with Roberts and Sweeney to get up an invasion of our borders and carry on as unjustifiable a war against our peaceful, neutral province as was ever waged by an uncivilized nation or a barbarous people.'
Has the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs ever held up these sentiments of his Report to his own consideration from the Canadian point of view? And would he venture to say, if he himself were one of these Canadian dwellers, that he could approve his own logic any more than his own law ?
I leave this topic of Fenianism here ; sure that the manifest injustice and injury to be wrought through its protection and encouragement by the new congressional movement, as tested in the case of provincial Canada alone, supposing no other friendly neutral country is to be affected by it, are such as to leave no doubt of the inexpediency of the United States' embarking in the new scheme inaugurated under General Banks's auspices.
But possibly there has not been as much legislative harm as yet consummated by the new project, supposing it in its present shape to ultimately pass the Senate and become a law, as our Canadian and British friends have been led to imagine and deprecate. This leads me to consider the amount of repeal or modification of existing statutory law actually involved in the adoption of General Banks's project, as amended by the House of Representatives, and how far the aim and animus of the new movement are thereby expressed and put into legislative shape.
DEFECTIVE EXECUTION OF THE ATTEMPT TO DE
TERIORATE (" SCALE”) THE NEUTRALITY LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.
The new project does not propose the immediate repeal, but only a temporary
revision or “scaling”-down, of the neutrality code. - So much of the old law retained as hardly to excite notice of any change; not enough of repeal to quite come up to the programme of the Report, yet so much that it deserves grave attention. — The inquiry how much has actually been repealed, sheds important light upon the whole subject. — The scheme is to take the old statute into a new draft, leaving out the obnoxious clauses, and then amending. — Seven sections retained almost identical with those of law of 1794; five sections left out, and a formula of repeal adopted that all provisions and penalties, “inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed.” - What provisions and penalties are inconsistent ? - Not the provisions against setting on foot a military expedition, nor that giving the President power to use the army and navy to suppress it. Nor the “bonding clauses. — In general, most of the provisions supposed to interfere with Fenianism hold their place. — No thanks, however, to the good-will of the House, which was earnestly bent on their repeal. — This illustrated by the repeal of the clause giving half penalties to informers. — Particulars of the congressional debate on that head. Mr. Jenckes's motion to give the whole penalty to the United States. — Mr. Thaddeus Stevens's suggestion that that would prove fatal to any further prosecution. — General Banks's silence. His statement refuted, that there is no such provision in the British act as that of the Ameri
The British act gives informer half penalties, if not half forfeitures. — Note canvassing the distinction. — It seems that the British act meant, at least, to correspond to the American. Are bounties to informers necessary ? If so, did General Banks mean to strip the law of all its efficiency? - Doubtless, the new scheme substitutes “and” for “or” in the clause relating to fitting out ships of war. — Nugatory amendments. — The provision against masters of vessels carrying away enlisted recruits contains no scienter. – Hence
a Cunard steamer might be innocently subjected to forfeiture. - The same clause has no grammatical consistency, unless one
person” is made“ to take on board” another“ person” puss-back. — The same defect exists as to aug. menting the force of a ship of war, unless by a chaise-a-porteur process. — Clause as to punishing offences without United-States jurisdiction noticed ; a punishment without a crime. — The new important provision as to the right of trading in ships of war also fails altogether of its appropriate expression. — This provision dwelt on to secure its better enactment. — Ludicrous mistake of Mr. Jenckes, of Rhode Island, as to Hamilton's use of the term complaints," in § 7 of present law. — Illustrated by the legislative anecdote of mistaking “heath-hen” for “heathen." - General Banks's Bill “
to preserve the neutral relations of the United States ” quite on a par with this.
ACCORDING to the new project (as has already been in part suggested, in noticing General Banks's Report), the Committee on Foreign Affairs do not purpose the entire, immediate repeal of the existing neutral code of the United States ; but, after recommending "a thorough revision of the statutes affecting our neutral relations” hereafter, content themselves for the present with reporting in their new Bill a law which omits certain of the most obnoxious provisions of the existing statute, and which then takes the remainder of the statute, with three or four additional and amendatory sections, into a new draft. In this sense, the committee's Bill retains so much of the existing law, in the new draft, that the casual reader of it would hardly suppose that any thing had been disturbed, and that the statutory project did not at all answer to the revolutionary designs broached in the chairman's Report.
Personally, I must confess to sharing myself in this feeling of disappointment, at contrasting the project of the law actually recommended with the revolutionary changes and fundamental reconstruction implied in General Banks's Report; yet, on more careful examination, it will be found, I think, that more repeal has been attempted than meets the eye, and, has already been suggested, than is indicated and explained in the preliminary Report itself. As a whole, however, the new legislative scheme cannot, it seems to me, be thought to quite come up to the programme of that great movement forward in the path of national destiny, which, according to the chairman's idea, has already reached the hour of its inauguration ; but, on the contrary, it resolves itself into little better than a temporary political manifesto, intended to express congressional resentment for British unfriendliness, and congressional sympathy for the cause of Irish independence.
But, if the reader cares to follow the unanimous action of the American House of Representatives upon this important subject, I will endeavor to very briefly point out how far the new legislation succeeds in expressing the views of its promoters. I believe the inquiry will help shed important light upon the subjects hitherto discussed, particularly upon the disparagement of the Foreign-Enlistment Act, and the promotion of Fenianism.
As has just been suggested, a large portion of the existing law finds its place in the new draft.1
Seven sections of that law (there being thirteen in all) are retained in the committee's project nearly verbatim, with a slight modification only of penalties, as already noticed. These are Sections One, Two, Three (with a slight addition, hereafter commented on), Five (with a similar addition), Seven, a part of Eight, and Nine. These seven sections are almost identical with the original legislation of 1794, of Hamilton's proposing; and, so far, the first part of General Banks's reply to Mr. Jenckes is borne out, in which he says : —
“ The Bill reported, I will say, in answer to the inquiry of the gentleman from Rhode Island, is identical with that adopted during Washington's administration, and from which we have since departed.”
Whether the identity is retained in the remaining sections, and who it is that departs from it, I leave to the reader to infer from what has already been said about the history and analysis of the existing statute, and from what follows as to attempted repeals.
Then, for the purposes of repeal, five sections or parts of sections of the existing law are left out in the new draft. These are Section Four (the clause forbidding the fitting-out of privateers in foreign ports to cruise against American commerce,
1 For the reader's convenience, I subjoin, in the Appendix, the new act, as it has passed the House, and now awaits the action of the Senate.