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subjects. That small affair being settled, he is further authorized to arrange as to the revocation of the laws which interdict the commerce and ships of war of his majesty from the harbors and waters of the United States. This messenger of peace comes with one qualified concession in his pocket, not made to the justice of our demands, and is fully empowered to receive our homage, a contrite retraction of all our measures adopted against his master! And, in default, he does not fail to assure us, the orders in council are to be forthwith revived. The adrninistration, still anxious to terminate the war, suppresses the indignation which such a proposal ought to have created, and, in its answer, concludes by informing admiral Warren, that if there be no objection to an accommodation of the difference relating to impressment, in the mode proposed, other than the suspension of the British claim to iinpressment during the armistice, there can be none to proceeding, without the armistice, to an immediate discussion and arrangement of an article on that subject.' Thus it has left the door of negotiation unclosed, and it remains to be seen, if the enemy will accept the invitation tendered to him. The honorable gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Pearson) supposes, that if congress would pass a law, prohibiting the employment of British seamen in our service, upon condition of a like prohibition on their part, and repeal the act of non-importation, peace would immediately follow. Sir, I have no doubt, if such a law were to pass, with all the requisite solemnities, and the repeal to take place, lord Castlereagh would laugh at our simplicity. No, sir, the administration has erred in the steps which it has taken to restore peace, but its error has been, not in doing too little, but in betraying too great a solicitude for that event. An honorable peace is attainable only by an efficient war. My plan would be, to call out the ample resources of the country, give them a judicious direction, prosecute the war with the utmost vigor, strike wherever we can reach the enemy, at sea or on land, and negotiate the terms of a peace at Quebec or at Halifax. We are told, that England is a proud and lofty nation, which, disdaining to wait for danger, meets it half way. Haughty as she is, we once triumphed over her, and, if we do not listen to ihe counsels of timidity and despair, we shall again prevail. In such a cause, with the aid of Providence, we must come out crowned with success; but if we fail, let us fail like men, lash ourselves to our gallant tars, and expire together in one common struggle, fighting for free TRADE AND SEAMEN'S RIGHTS.
ON HIS RETURN FROM GHENT.
AT LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, OCTOBER 7, 1815.
[In the following brief speech, delivered at a public dinner, given to him by his fellow-citizens of Lexington, Kentucky, after his return from the negotiation of a treaty of peace, at Ghent, Mr. Clay takes a summary view of the results of the war with Great Britain, and the benefits which the United States, as a nation, had gained by that contest with a gigantic foe, triumphant at last in all her European wars. His allusions to the discussions at Ghent, and the proud and dignified attitude assumed and maintained by our commissioners, on that occasion, will be read with interest, while his views of the bright prospects opened to our country by the peace, have been verified by subsequent national prosperity, particularly when the measures of public policy advocated and recommended by Mr. Clay have been adopted. The sixth toast was:
Our able negotiators at Ghent Their talents for diplomacy have kept pace with the valor of our arms, in demonstrating to the enemy, that these states will be free.'
This toast was received with loud and repeated cheering. After it had subsided, Mr. Clay addressed the assembly as follows.)
I FEEL myself called on, by the sentiment just expressed, to return my thanks, in behalf of my colleagues and myself. I do not, and am quite sure they do not, feel, that, in the service alluded to, they are at all entitled to the compliment which has been paid them. could not do otherwise than reject the demand made by the other party; and if our labors finally terminated in an honorable peace, it was owing to causes on this side of the Atlantic, and not to any exertion of ours. Whatever diversity of opinion may have existed as to the declaration of the war, there are some points on which all may look back with proud satisfaction. The first relates to the time of the conclusion of the peace. Had it been made immediately after the treaty of Paris, we should have retired humiliated from the contest, believing that we had escaped the severe chastisement with which we were threatened, and that we owed to the generosity and magnanimity of the enemy, what we were incapable of commanding by our arms. That magnanimity would have been the theme of every tongue, and of every press, abroad and at home. We should have retired, unconscious of our own strength, and unconscious of the utter inability of the enemy, with his whole undivided force, to make any serious impression upon us.
Qur military character, then in the lowest state of degradation, would have been unretrieved. Fortunately for us, Great Britain chose to try the issue of the last campaign. And the issue of the last campaign has demonstrated, in the repulse before Baltimore, the retreat from Plattsburgh, the hard-fought action on the Niagara frontier, and in that most glorious day, the eighth of January, that we have always possessed the finest elements of military composition, and that a proper use of them, only, was necessary, to insure for the army and militia a fame as imperishable as that which the navy had previously acquired.
Another point which appears to me to afford the highest consolation is, that we fought the most powerful nation, perhaps, in existence, single-handed and alone, without any sort of alliance. More than thirty years has Great Britain been maturing her physical means, which she had rendered as efficacious as possible, by skill, by discipline, and by actual service. Proudly boasting of the conquest of Europe, she vainly flattered herself with the easy conquest of America also. Her veterans were put to flight or defeated, while all Europe - I mean the governments of Europe — was gazing with cold indifference, or sentiments of positive hatred of us, upon the arduous contest. Hereafter no monarch can assert claims of gratitude upon us, for assistance rendered in the hour of danger.
There is another view of which the subject of the war is fairly susceptible. From the moment that Great Britain came forward at Ghent with her extravagant demands, the war totally changed its character. It became, as it were, a new war. It was no longer an American war, prosecuted for redress of British aggressions upon American rights, but became a British war, prosecuted for objects of British ambition, to be accompanied by American sacrifices. And what were those demands? Here, in the immediate neighborhood of a sister state and territories, which were to be made in part the victims, they must have been felt, and their enormity justly appreciated. They consisted of the crection of a barrier between Canada and the United States, to be formed by cutting off from Ohio and some of the territories a country more extensive than Great Britain, containing thousands of freemen, who were to be abandoned to their fate, and creating a new power, totally unknown upon the continent of America; of the dismantling of our fortresses, and naval power on the lakes, with the surrender of the military occupation of those waters to the enemy, and of an arrondissement for two British provinces. These demands, boldly asserted, and one of them declared to be a sine qua non, were finally relinquished. Taking this view of the subject, if there be loss of reputation by either party, in the terms of peace, who has sustained it?
The effects of the war are highly satisfactory. Abroad, our character, which at the time of its declaration was in the lowest state of degradation, is raised to the highest point of elevation.
is impossible for any American to visit Europe, without being sensible of this agreeable change, in the personal attentions which he receives, in the praises which are bestowed on our past exertions, and the predictions which are made as to our future prospects. At home, a government, which, at its formation, was apprehended by its best friends, and pronounced by its enemies to be incapable of standing the shock, is found to answer all the purposes of its institution. In spite of the errors which have been committed (and errors have undoubtedly been committed), aided by the spirit and patriotism of the people, it is demonstrated to be as competent to the objects of effective war, as it has been before proved to be to the concerns of a season of peace. Government has thus acquired strength and confidence. Our prospects for the future, are of the brightest kind. With every reason to count on the permanence of peace, it remains only for the government to determine upon military and naval establishments adapted to the growth and extension of our country and its rising importance, keeping in view a gradual but not burdensome increase of the navy; to provide for the payment of the interest, and the redemption of the public debt, and for the current expenses of government. For all these objects, the existing sources of the revenue promise not only to be abundantly sufficient, but will probably leave ample scope to the exercise of the judgment of congress, in selecting for repeal, modification, or abolition, those which may be found most oppressive, inconvenient, or unproductive.
(The eighteenth and last toast was, 'our guest, HENRY CLAY. We welcome his return to that country, whose rights and interests he has so ably maintained, at home and abroad.')
My friends, I must again thank you for your kind and affectionate attention. My reception has been more like that of a brother, than a common friend or acquaintance, and I am utterly incapable of finding words to express my gratitude. My situation is like that of a Swedish gentleman, at a dinner given in England, by the Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress. A toast having been given complimentary to his country, it was expected, as is usual on such occasions, that he would rise and address the company. The gentleman, not understanding the English language, rose under great embarrassment, and said, sir, I wish you to consider me A Foreigner in Distress. I wish you, gentlemen, to consider me a Friend in distress.
ON THE UNITED STATES BANK QUESTION.
ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS AT LEXINGTON, JUNE 3, 1816.
[ Mr. Clay here explains to the electors of the congressional district of Kentucky which he represented, the grounds of his change of opinion on the subject of a national bank. We have seen, by his speech delivered in the senate of the United States, in 1811, that he had opposed the renewal of the charter of the first bank of the United States, and now, in 1816, he had advocated the bill brought in by Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, for incorporating a similar institution, which bill passed both houses of congress, and received the signature of president Madison.* sal of the following address will, it is, believed, satisfy all candid persons of the sincerity and patriotism of Mr. Clay, on both occasions. As one of his biographers remarks, there is no other instance, in the whole history of his life, where he has changed his opinions, on an important subject. His ingenuousness is evinced by his having changed once, but his firmness by his having done so but once. And what was it that wrought this single revolution in his sentiments ? A mighty event, whose consequences could be learned only from experience - the occurrence of a war with Great Britain, which changed, 'not only his views of the policy of a bank, but those of almost every other leading politician in the country.')
On one subject, that of the bank of the United States, to which at the late session of congress he gave his humble support, Mr. Clay felt particularly anxious to explain the grounds on which he had acted. This explanation, if not due to his own character, the state, and the district to which he belonged, had a right to demand. It would have been unnecessary, if his observations, addressed to the house of representatives, pending the measure, had been published; but they were not published, and why they were not published he was unadvised.
When he was a member of the senate of the United States, he was induced to oppose the renewal of the charter to the old bank of the United States by three general considerations. The first was, that he was instructed to oppose it by the legislature of the state. What were the reasons that operated with the legislature, in giving the instruction, he did not know. He has understood from members of that body, at the time it was given, that a clause, declaring that congress had no power to grant the charter, was stricken out; from which it might be inferred, either that the legis
* This sperch was never published.