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nowhere brought out more prejudicially, and, as it seems to me, more unfairly, than in a passage in his closing speech in debate, which I will quote in full for the sake of avoiding all possible misrepresentation.
Says General Banks, in that speech ("Globe," July 30), —
"The acts of 1797, 1817, and 1818 were departures from the policy of the Government, the principles of international law, and the legislation of every other Government. This Bill [the Committee's project] strikes from the statutes enacted since 1794 the unnecessary, unusual, and onerous restrictions and prohibitions upon the commerce of the country and the power of its people.
"I do not like to say much about the history of this legislation, because it is not an agreeable subject; but it appears distinctly in the history of the periods to which I have referred, that the changes in the neutrality law of 1794 were made to correspond, not with the wishes of the people or Government, or with a view to its interest or prosperity, but at the solicitation, and I might say at the demand almost, of foreign governments, and especially of Portugal and Spain, supported by Great Britain. We made our laws to correspond with their interests and wishes, rather than our own, because we were in a condition not to resist that which they pressed upon us. But it was distinctly stated by John Adams as President, by John Quincy Adams as Secretary of State, and more recently by Mr. Adams, representing our Government at the Court of St. James, that the legislation and policy of that day were adopted with a full comprehension that the time would come when the people of this country would be able to assert their own right, upon the judgment of the people alone, rather than at the dictation, or upon the representations, of representatives of foreign governments. The question for this House to determine is, whether that time has come. Sir, I think it has come."
Now, I take the fair import of this extract to be, that our neutrality laws have all been temporary make-shifts, which the three Adamses (at least) have concurred in saying should be relaxed or done away with as soon as our growing national strength would enable us to do so. In that sense, I conceive that no paragraph could hardly more unjustly represent the country and the historic family quoted than that. I contend that the Adams family always have been and still are identified
with American neutral policy; and that they have been the consistent advocates of a permanent and well-established legislation, defining and enforcing that policy.
It is very true, that Hamilton's act, being at first limited to two years' duration, was adopted by the casting-vote of VicePresident John Adams, who then presided over the Senate, where opinions were equally divided in regard to it (Ann. Cong. March 12, 1794, p. 67). But the clause limiting its continuance to two years was an amendment to Hamilton's original proposition (Ann. Cong. 1793-5, pp. 66-7), and was doubtless adopted on account of the expected speedy termination of the French Revolution, or else to give an opportunity to the opponents of the act to watch its working in practice. I have no doubt, however, that Vice-President Adams would have voted for its perpetuity at once, if the opportunity had offered, since he sided throughout with the views of Hamilton; voting (among other things) for the clause prohibiting the sale of prizes, which the House afterwards struck out, and which was not finally made part of the act, as Hamilton earnestly desired.
The extension of the act of 1794 for two years beyond the period limited for its duration did not give rise to any debate or division in the Senate; so that I have no opportunity to quote Mr. Adams the elder again, on his legislative record in that connection. The extending act (which was again limited to two years' duration and "the end of the next session," at Mr. Gallatin's motion in the House of Representatives) was signed by President Washington on the second day of March, 1797. Two days later, viz., on the 4th of March, Mr. Adams, then having become President of the United States, expressed himself on the subject of maintaining neutrality, in his inaugural speech, as follows:
"If an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, AND THAT SYSTEM OF NEUTRALITY AND IMPARTIALITY among [towards] the belligerent powers of Europe which has been adopted by this Government, and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress and applauded by the legislatures of the States and public opinion, UNTIL IT SHALL BE OTHERWISE ORDAINED BY CON
GRESS" [cau bespeak the sentiments of my future administration, then Congress will find me acting up to that determination], &c. (Am. State Pap., p. 39.)
It was President John Adams who recommended (in his speech to Congress of May 16, 1797) the adoption of further legislation to prevent American citizens from fitting out privateers in foreign ports to cruise against our own commerce, and who afterwards approved the act of June 14, 1797, covering that subject, and extending protection to English commerce from similar depredations, as already noticed. This act, as General Banks himself observes, though conformable to English wishes, was not temporary, but " made permanent" at the outset. Finally, it was the same President John Adams who, on the twenty-fourth day of April, 1800, gave his official approval to the act by which Hamilton's neutrality statute became the permanent law of the land, and has remained such, in effect, to the present moment.
Surely this John Adams, with this legislative record, and the same John Adams into whose mouth Mr. Webster, in his eulogy, puts the speech in character, as he affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence, "Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart for this vote,' cannot have been the Adams who, according to General Banks, was yielding up his country's interests and the rights of all neutral nations to foreign dictation, and who meant to disavow all his acts of that description as soon as his country's circumstances would permit him to do so.
The neutral record of John Quincy Adams is even more pronounced in favor of the American system than that of his father. The part played by Vice-President John Adams, and afterwards by John Adams as President, in carrying out Washington's ideas of neutral policy, were, to a certain extent, only subordinate. But it fell to John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State under President Monroe, to be the master-spirit of administering and enforcing American neutrality during nearly all the trying period of the South-American contests, when the relations of the United States towards the South-American
republics on the one hand, and towards Spain and Portugal on the other, were widely different from what they had been towards the European contest of France and England in 1793, and down to the close of the eighteenth century.
It is quite aside from my purpose, and I fear it would be tedious to the reader, for me in this connection to enter upon any extended examination of Mr. Secretary Adams's opinions and official measures as to the neutrality observed by the United States from 1817 to 1825. Suffice it to say that Mr. Adams entered upon the policy initiated by President Madison and by Mr. Secretary Monroe, and carried out that policy with as courageous a vindication of the principles of Washington and Hamilton as any American statesman who has succeeded those illustrious founders of our system that can be named. I am well aware that Earl Russell supposes that he has found in Mr. Secretary Adams's State-papers dicta which make against our recent neutral demands upon England; but, for one, I am willing, as an American citizen, to abide by any thing which those dicta afford, and am quite satisfied with the explanation put upon them by his son and competent interpreter, who is at the same time his father's successor in the office of American representative at the British Court. Possibly had Mr. Charles Francis Adams's numerous and oppressive diplomatic duties permitted a more extended review of his father's Secretary-of-Stateship, or, rather, if possibly his personal relations to his father had not prevented his developing the whole of the elder Mr. Adams's merits in that important office at that important epoch, a yet more thorough vindication and illustration of Mr. John Quincy Adams's foreign neutral policy would have been produced.
As it is, it will be quite enough for me, in reply to General Banks, to show, that, though the second Adams inaugurated the Monroe doctrine, Mr. Monroe and himself were both staunch advocates for upholding and carrying forward, not backward, American neutrality; and that their policy in this particular was but a continuation of and improvement upon the measures of the previous administration.
Monroe and Madison, as appears by the congressional records, were both of them originally opposed to the adoption of
the law of 1794, -Monroe in the Senate, and Madison in the House of Representatives (Ann. Cong. 1793-5, pp. 67 and 757). Indeed, Mr. Madison, in the House, was its chief opponent. Perhaps this would indicate Mr. Jefferson's hostility to the measure, as both Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe were his well-known adherents and exponents. Certainly, however, all three shortly after changed their views; as all three, when they successively became Presidents, gave in their adherence to the neutral doctrines of Washington, and, it may be added, carried them out in good faith.
Passing at once to the period of the South-American revolt, it was President Madison, in September, 1815, who issued the proclamation of neutrality, forbidding citizens of the United States from setting on foot any military enterprises within neutral territory in aid of hostilities against Spain (4 Am. State Papers, p. 1). It was President Madison who, just before retiring from office, in his last annual message to Congress in December, 1816, recommended the adoption of "such further legislative provisions as may be requisite for detaining vessels actually equipped, or in a course of equipment, with a warlike force, within the jurisdiction of the United States," &c., - the obnoxious "bonding" measures of General Banks's aversion (4 Am. State Pap., p. 103). It was Secretary Monroe, on behalf of the State Department, who laid before the House of Representatives, in January, 1817, in furtherance of President Madison's reccmmendation, the particulars in which additional legislation was needed to enable the Executive to fulfil the neutral duties of the country (4 Am. State Pap., pp. 103-4). It was President Madison who, on the third day of March, 1817, put his signature to the law of 1817, chap. 59, containing those provisions "so criminally restraining the rights of nations at peace for the benefit of those at war," which are duly reprobated in General Banks's Report. It was President Monroe, the socalled author of the "Monroe" doctrine, who approved the act of 1818, chap. 88, on which the Chairman of the House Committee pours out his seven vials of wrath; and it was finally the same President Monroe, who, with John Quincy Adams for his Secretary of State, recommended to Congress in his annual