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the alarming doctrine of unlimited discretion in our military commanders when applied even to prisoners of war, I must enter my protest. It begins upon them; it will end on us. I hope our happy form of government is to be perpetual. But, if it is to be preserved, it must be by the practice of virtue, by justice, by moderation, by magnanimity, by greatness of soul, by keeping a watchful and steady eye on the executive; and, above all, by holding to a strict accountability the military branch of the public force.
We are fighting a great moral battle, for the benefit not only of our country, but of all mankind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed aitention upon us. One, and the largest portion of it, is gazing with contempt, with jealousy, and with envy; the other portion, with hope, with confidence, and with affection. Everywhere the black cloud of legitimacy is suspended over the world, save only one bright spot, which breaks out from the political hemisphere of the west, to enlighten, and animate, and gladden the human heart. Obscure that, by the downfall of liberty here, and all mankind arc enshrouded in a pall of universal darkness. To you, Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege of transmitting, unimpaired, to posterity, the fair character and liberty of our country. Do you expect to execute this high trust, by trampling, or suffering to be trampled down, law, justice, the constitution, and the rights of the people ? by exhibiting examples of inhumanity, and cruelty, and ambition ? When the minions of despotism heard, in Europe, of the seizure of Pensacola, how did they chuckle, and chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingly pointing to the demonstration of a spirit of injustice and aggrandizement made by our country, in the midst of an amicable negotiation. Behold, said they, the conduct of those who are constantly reproaching kings. You saw how those admirers were astounded and hung their heads. You saw, too, when that illustrious man, who presides over us, adopted his pacific, moderate, and just course, how they once more lifted up their heads with exultation and delight bearing in their countenances. And you saw how those minions themselves were finally compelled to unite in the general praises bestowed upon our government. Beware how you forfeit this exalted character. Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our republic, scarcely yet two score years old, to military insubordination. Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Cæsar, England her Cromwell, France her Bonaparte, and that if we would escape the rock on which they split, we must avoid their errors.
How different has been the treatment of general Jackson, and that modest, but heroic young man, a native of one of the smallest states in the union, who achieved for his country, on lake Erie, one of the most glorious victories of the late war. In a moment
of passion, he forgot himself, and offered an act of violence which was repented of as as perpetrated. He was tried, and suffered the judgment to be pronounced by his peers. Public justice was thought not even then to be satisfied. The press and congress took up the subject. My honorable friend from Virginia (Mr. Johnson), the faithful and consistent sentinel of the law and of the constitution, disapproved in that instance, as he does in this, and moved an inquiry. The public mind remained agitated and unappeased, until the recent atonement so honorably made by the gallant commodore. And is there to be a distinction between the officers of the two branches of the public service? Are former services, however eminent, to preclude even inquiry into recent misconduct? Is there to be no limit, no prudential bounds to the national gratitude ? I am not disposed to censure the president for not ordering a court of inquiry, or a general court-martial. Perhaps, impelled by a sense of gratitude, he determined, by anticipation, to extend to the general that pardon which he had the undoubted right to grant after sentence. Let us not shrink from our duty. Let us assert our constitutional powers, and vindicate the instrument from military violation.
I hope gentlemen will deliberately survey the awful isthmus on which we stand. They may bear down all opposition; they may even vote the general the public thanks; they may carry him triumphantly through this house. But, if they do, in my humble judgment, it will be a triumph of the principle of insubordination, a triumph of the military over the civil authority, a triumph over the powers of this house, a triumph over the constitution of the land. And I pray most devoutly to Heaven, that it may not prove, in its ultimate effects and consequences, a triumph over the liberties
of the people.
ON SOUTH AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEBRUARY 9, 1819.
[The house being in committee of the whole, on the bill to increase the salaries of certain officers of government, Mr. Clay rose and said :}
It had been his settled intention to renew, pending this bill, the proposition which he had the honor of submitting at the last session, having for its object the recognition of the independence of the United Provinces of South America. He was restrained from executing that intention, by two considerations; one was his personal indisposition, but another and more important one, was, the small portion of the session yet remaining, to transact the public business. Whilst he was up, he would say, that so far from his opinions, expressed on the former occasion, having undergone any change, they had been strengthened and confirmed, by all the occurrences which had subsequently taken place. He had been anxious, if time bad permitted, to examine what appeared to him very exceptionable reasons assigned for declining to recognise our sister republic, in a paper entitled to the most profound respect, the message of the president at the opening of congress. He was desirous, also, of noticing the still more exceptionable grounds taken in a paper recently transmitted to the house, from the department of state (it ought to be laid on our table; why it was not
, he did not know; he hoped our worthy clerk would, in his future contract for the public printing, guard against the delay to which we have so often been subjected). From that paper it appeared, that even a consul could not be received from the southern republic, because the grant of an exequator implied recognition! We receive her flag, we admit her commerce, and yet refuse the consular protection which that flag and commerce necessarily drew with them! But to submit his proposition, would be to occasion, perhaps, a protracted debate. And considering the few days yet left us, the pressing and urgent, though not more important business yet to be done, he should not hold himself excusable to the house and to the country, after having himself so materially contributed to the consumption of time in debate, if he were even the unintentional instrument of preventing the passage of what might be thought essential laws. He would like exceedingly to contrast the objections urged against the reception of the Venezuelean minister, with the more forcible and stronger personal ones that lay to the present Spanish minister. But deep as the interest which he heretofore had felt and still felt, in the success of that great struggle to the south, he must, for the reasons assigned, forbear to press any proposition upon the house, at present. Should it be necessary at another session, and should he have the honor of a seat on this floor then, he pledged himself to bring up the subject, unless adverse causes should render it highly inexpedient.
ON THE SPANISH TREATY.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, APRIL 3, 1820.
(A PERUSAL of this speech will be always gratifying and instructive, to all who would wish to be well informed in the political history of the United States. While it shows, in a striking manner, the foresight and sagacity of Mr. Clay. as an American statesman, it contains facts of much importance with regard to the settlement of the southern boundaries of the United States and the acquisition of Florida. It will be seen, that Mr. Clay disapproved of the treaty between this country and Spain, made in 1819, by the administration of Mr. Munroe, for reasons stated in this speech, which was made before the treaty was ratified by Spain. His principal objection to the · treaty appears to have been, that it relinquished our claim to Texas, which territory Mr. Clay considered of much greater value to us than Florida. The settlement of these questions, by the subsequent ratification of the treaty, in October, 1820, by which we relinquished Texas and acquired Florida, does not diminish the value of this record of Mr. Clay's views on a subject, which has increased in importance since the independence of both Mexico and Texas has been established.]
The house having resolved itself into a committee of the whole, on the state of the union, and the following resolutions, submitted some days ago by Mr. Clay (the speaker) being under consideration:
First, resolved, that the constitution of the United States vests in congress the power to dispose of the territory belonging to them; and that no treaty, purporting to alienate any portion thereof, is valid without the concurrence of congress :
Second, resolved, that the equivalent proposed to be given by Spain to the United States in the treaty concluded between them, on the twenty-second of February, 1819, for that part of Louisiana lying west of the Sabine, was inadequate; and that it would be inexpedient to make a transfer thereof to any foreign power, or to renew the aforesaid treaty :
Mr. Clay said, that, whilst he felt very grateful to the house for the prompt and respectful manner in which they had allowed him to enter upon the discussion of the resolutions which he had the honor of submitting to their notice, he must at the same time frankly say, that he thought their character and consideration, in the councils of this country, were concerned in not letting the present session pass off without deliberating upon our affairs with