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allied to marine power. Neglect to provide the one, and you must abandon the other. Suppose the expected war with England is commenced, you enter and subjugale Canada, and she still refuses to do you justice; what other possible mode will remain to operate on the enemy, but upon that element where alone you can then come in contact with him ? And if you do not prepare to protect there your own commerce, and to assail his, will he not sweep from the ocean every vessel bearing your flag, and destroy even the coasting trade? But, from the arguments of gentlemen, it would seem to be questioned, if foreign commerce is worth the kind of protection insisted upon. What is this foreign commerce, that has suddenly become so inconsiderable? It has, with very trifling aid from other sources, defrayed the expenses of government, ever since the adoption of the present constitution; maintained an expensive and successful war with the Indians; a war with the Barbary powers; a quasi war with France; sustained the charges of suppressing two insurrections, and extinguishing upwards of forty-six millions of the public debt. In revenue, it has, since the year 1789, yielded one hundred and ninety-one millions of dollars. During the first four years after the commencement of the present government, the revenue averaged only about two millions annually; during a subsequent period, of four years, it rose to an average of fifteen millions, annually, or became equivalent to a capital of two hundred and fifty millions of dollars, at an interest of six per centum per annum. And if our commerce is reëstablished, it will, in the course of time, net a sum for which we are scarcely furnished with figures, in arithmetic. Taking the average of the last nine years, (comprehending, of course, the season of the embargo,) our exports average upwards of thirtyseven millions of dollars, which is equivalent to a capital of more than six hundred millions of dollars, at six per centum interest; all of which must be lost in the event of a destruction of foreign commerce. In the abandonment of that commerce, is also involved the sacrifice of our brave tars, who have engaged in the pursuit, from which they derive subsistence and support, under the confidence that government would afford them that just protection which is due to all. They will be driven into foreign employment, for it is vain to expect that they will renounce their habits of life.
The spirit of commercial enterprise, so strongly depicted by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Mitchel), is diffused throughout the country. It is a passion as unconquerable as any with which nature has endowed us. You may attempt, indeed, to regulate, but you cannot destroy it. It exhibits itself as well on the waters of the western country, as on the waters and shores of the Atlantic. Mr. Clay had heard of a vessel, built at Pittsburg, having crossed the Atlantic and entered an European port (he believed that of Leghorn). The master of the vessel laid his papers before the proper custom-house officer, which, of course, stated the place of her departure. The officer boldly denied the existence of any such American port as Pittsburg, and threatened a seizure of the vessel, as being furnished with forged papers. The affrighted master procured a map of the United States, and, pointing out the Gulf of Mexico, took the officer to the mouth of the Mississippi, traced the course of the Mississippi more than a thousand miles, to the mouth of the Ohio, and conducting him still a thousand miles higher, to the junction of the Allegany and Monongahela, there, he exclaimed, stands Pittsburg, the port from which I sailed! The custom-house officer, prior to the production of this evidence, would have as soon believed that the vessel had performed a voyage from ihe moon.
In delivering the sentiments he had expressed, Mr. Clay considered himself as conforming to a sacred constitutional duty. When the power to provide a navy was confided to congress, it must have been the intention of the convention to subinit only to the discretion of that body, the period when that power should be exercised. That period had, in his opinion, arrived, at least for making a respectable beginning. And whilst he thus discharged what he conceived to be his duty, he derived great pleasure from the reflection, that he was supporting a measure calculated to impart additional strength to our happy union. Diversified as are the interests of its various parts, how admirably do they harmonize and blend together! We have only to make a proper use of the bounties spread before us, to render us prosperous and powerful. Such a navy as he had contended for, will form a new bond of connection between the states, concentrating their hopes, their interests, and their affections.
ON THE NEW ARMY BILL.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 8, 1813.
TOn the eighteenth of June, 1812, war was declared by congress against Great Britain, and the next session of congress commenced in November, 1812, when the president, in his annual message to ihe two houses, gave a sketch of the events which had transpired during the recess. The military operations on the frontier had resulted, at first, in a series of unexpected and disgraceful disasters to our arms. Amidst all discouragements, Mr. Clay was the leader, and the life and soul of the administration party in the house. His parly biographer says of him: he moved in majesty, for he moved in strength. No difficulties could weary or withstand his energies. Like the Carthagenian chief in the passage of the Alps, he kept his place in front of his comrades, putting aside, with a giant effort, every obstacle that opposed his progress, applauding the foremost of his followers, and rousing those who lingered, by words of encouragement or reproach, till he succeeded in putting them upon a moral eminence, from which they could look down upon the region where their prowess was to meet with its long expected reward.'
Among the first measures proposed at this session of congress, to raise the spirit of the nation, and retrieve the fortunes of war, made gloomy by the disasters upon the frontier, was a bill to increase the army, by raising twenty additional regiments. In support of this bill, and on the merits of the war, as well as in reply to the arguments of the opposition members, Mr. Clay addressed the committee of the whole house, in the following speech.)
Mr. Clay (the speaker) said he was gratified yesterday by the recommitment of this bill to a committee of the whole house, from two considerations; one, since it afforded him a slight relaxation from a most fatiguing situation; and the other, because it furnished him with an opportunity of presenting to the committee his sentiments, upon the important topics which had been mingled in the debate. He regretted, however, that the necessity under which the chairman had been placed, of putting the question,* precluded the opportunity he had wished to enjoy, of rendering more acceptable to the committee any thing he might have to offer on the interesting points, on which it was his duty to touch. Unprepared, however, as he was, to speak on this day, of which he was the more sensible from the ill state of his health, he would solicit the attention of the committee for a few moments.
I was a little astonished, I confess, said Mr. Clay, when I found this bill perınitted to pass silently through the committee of the whole, and not selected until the moment when the question was to be put for its third reading, as the subject on which gentlemen in the opposition chose to lay before the house their views of the interesting attitude in which the nation stands. It did appear to me, that the loan bill, which will soon come before us, would have afforded a much more proper occasion, it being more essential, as providing the ways and means for the prosecution of the war. But the gentlemen had the right of selection, and having exercised it, no matter how improperly, I am gratified, whatever I may think of the character of some part of the debate, at the latitude in which, for once, they have been indulged. I claim only, in return, of gentlemen on the other side of the house, and of the committee, a like indulgence in expressing my sentiments, with the same unrestrained freedom. Perhaps, in the course of the remarks, wbich I may feel myself called upon to make, gentlemen may apprehend, that they assume too harsh an aspect; but I have only now to say, that I shall speak of parties, measures, and things, as they strike my moral sense, protesting against the imputation of any intention, on my part, to wound the feelings of any gentlemen.
* The chairman had risen to put the question, which would have cut Mr. Clay off from the opportunity of speaking, by carrying the bill to the house.— Editor.
Considering the situation in which this country is now placed a state of actual war with one of the most powerful nations on the earth — it may not be useless to take a view of the past, and of the various parties which have at different times appeared in this country, and to attend to the manner by which we have been driven from a peaceful posture, to our present warlike attitude. Such an inquiry may assist in guiding us to that result, an honwhich must be the sincere desire of every
friend to America. The course of that opposition, by which the administration of the government had been unremittingly impeded for the last twelve years, was singular, and, I believe, unexampled in the history of any country. It has been alike the duty and the interest of the administration to preserve peace. It was their duty, because it is necessary to the growth of an infant people, to their genius, and to their habits. It was their interest, because a change of the condition of the nation, brings along with it a danger of the loss of the affections of the people. The administration has not been forgetful of these solemn obligations. No art has been left unessayed, no experiment, promising a favorable result, left untried, to maintain the peaceful relations of the country. When, some six or seven years ago, the affairs of the nation assumed a threatening aspect, a partial non-importation was adopted. As they grew more alarming, an embargo was imposed. It would have accomplished its purpose, but it was sacrificed upon the altar of conciliation. Vain and fruitless attempt to propitiate! Then came along non-intercourse; and a general non-importation followed in the train. the mean time, any indications of a return to the public law and the path of justice, on the part of either belligerent, are seized upon VOL. I.
with avidity by the administration. The arrangement with Mr. Erskine is concluded. It is first applauded, and ihen censured by the opposition. No matter with what unleigned sincerity, with what real effort, the administration cultivates peace, the opposition insists, that it alone is culpable for every breach that is made between the two countries. Because the president thought proper, in accepting the proffered reparation for the attack on a national vessel, to intimate, that it would have better comported with the justice of the king (and who does not think so?) to punish the offending officer, the opposition, entering into the royal feelings, sees, in that imaginary insult, abundant cause for rejecting Mr. Erskine's arrangement. On another occasion, you cannot have forgotten the hypocritical ingenuity which they displayed, to divest Mr. Jackson's correspondence of a premeditated insult to this country. tlemen would only reserve for their own government, half the sensibility which is indulged for that of Great Britain, they would find much less to condemn. Restriction after restriction has been tried; negotiation has been resorted to, until further negotiation would have been disgraceful. Whilst these peaceful experiments are undergoing a trial, what is the conduct of the opposition ? They are the champions of war — the proud — the spirited— the sole repository of the nation's honor— the men of exclusive vigor and energy. The administration, on the contrary, is weak, feeble, and pusillanimous—'incapable of being kicked into a war. The maxim, ‘not a cent for tribute, millions for desence,' is loudly proclaimed. Is the administration for negotiation? The opposition is tired, sick, disgusted with negotiation. They want to draw the sword, and avenge the nation's wrongs. When, however, foreign nations, perhaps emboldened by the very opposition here made, refuse to listen to the amicable appeals, which have been repeated and reiterated by the administration, to their justice and to their interest —when, in fact, war with one of them has become identified with our independence and our sovereignty, and to abstain from it was no longer possible, behold the opposition veering round and becoming the friends of peace and commerce. They tell you of the calamities of war, its tragical events, the squandering away of your resources, the waste of the public treasure, and the spilling of innocent blood. Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire.' They tell you, that honor is an illusion! Now, we see them exhibiting the terrific forms of the roaring king of the forest. Now, the meekness and humility of the lamb! They are for war and no restrictions, when the administration is for peace. They are for peace and restrictions, when the administration is for war. You find them, sir, tacking with every gale, displaying the colors of every party, and of all nations, steady only in one unalterable purpose - to steer, if possible, into the haven of power.
During all this time, the parasites of opposition do not fail, by