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Spain. In coming to the present session of congress, it had been his anxious wish to be able to concur with the executive branch of the government in the measures which it might conceive itself called upon to recommend on that subject, for two reasons, of which the first, relating personally to himself, he would not trouble the committee with further noticing. The other was, that it appeared to him to be always desirable, in respect to the foreign action of this governinent, that there should be a perfect coincidence in opinion between its several coördinate branches. In time of peace, however, it might be allowable, to those who are charged with the public interests, to entertain and express their respective views, although there might be some discordance between them. In a season of war there should be no division in the public councils; but a united and vigorous exertion to bring the war to an honorable conclusion. For his part, whenever that calamity may befall his country, he would entertain but one wish, and that is, that success might crown our struggle, and the war be honorably and gloriously terminated. He would never refuse to share in the joys incident to the victory of our arms, nor to participate in the griefs of defeat and discomfiture. He conceded entirely in the sentiment once expressed by that illustrious hero, whose recent melancholy fall we all so sincerely deplore, that fortune may attend our country in whatever war it may be involved.
There are two systems of policy, he said, of which our government had had the choice. The first was, by appealing to the justice and affections of Spain, to employ all those persuasives which could arise out of our abstinence from any
direct countenance to the cause of South America, and the observance of a strict neutrality. The other was, by appealing to her justice also, and 10 her fears, to prevail upon her to redress the injuries of which we complain — her fears by a recognition of the independent governments of South America, and leaving her in a stale of uncertainty as to the further step we might take in respect to those governments. The unratified treaty was the result of the first system. It could not be positively affirmed, what effect the other system would have produced; but he verily believed ibat, whilst it rendered justice to those governments, and would have better comported with that magnanimous policy which ought to have characterized our own, it would have more successfully tended to an amicable and satisfactory arrangement of our differences with Spain.
The first system has so far failed. At the commencement of the session, the president recommended an enforcement of the provisions of the treaty. After three months' deliberation, the committee of foreign affairs, not being able to concur with him, has made us a report, recommending the seizure of Florida in the nature of a reprisal. Now the president recommends our postponement of the subject until the next session. It had been his intention, whenever
the committee of foreign affairs should engage the house to act upon their bill, to offer, as a substitute for it, the system which he thought it became this country to adopt, of which the occupation of Texas, as our own, would have been a part, and the recognition of ihe independent governments of South America another. I he did not now bring forward this system, it was because the commitee proposed to withdraw their bill, and because he knew too much of the temper of the house and of the executive, to think that it was advisable to bring it forward. He hoped that some suitable opportunity might occur during the session, for considering the propriety of recognising the independent governments of South America.
Whatever he might think of the discretion which was evinced in recommending the postponement of the bill of the committee of foreign relations, he could not think that the reasons, assigned by the president for that recommendation, were entitled to the weight which he had given them. He thought the house was called upon, by a high sense of duty, seriously to animadvert upon some of those reasons. He believed it was the first example, in the annals of the country, in which a course of policy, respecting one foreign power, which we must suppose had been deliberately considered, has been recommended to be abandoned, in a domestic communication from one to another coördinate branch of the government, upon the avowed ground of the interposition of foreign powers. And what is the nature of this interposition? It is evinced by a cargo of scraps, gathered up from this chargé d'affaires, and that; of loose conversations held with this foreign minister, and that — perhaps mere levee conversations, without a commitment in writing, in a solitary instance, of any of the foreign parties concerned, except only in the case of his imperial majesty; and what was the character of his commitment we shall presently see. But, he must enter his solemn protest against this and every other species of foreign interference in our matters with Spain. What have they to do with them? Would they not repel as officious and insulting intrusion, any interference on our part in their concerns with foreign states? Would bis imperial majesty have listened with complacency, to our remonstrances against the vast acquisitions which he has recently made? He has lately crammed his enormous maw with Finland, and with the spoils of Poland, and, whilst the difficult process of digestion' is going on, he throws himself upon a couch, and cries out, don't, don't disturb my repose.
He charges his minister here to plead the cause of peace and concord! The American government is too enlightened' (ah! sir, how sweet this unction is, which is poured down our backs.) to take hasty steps. And his imperial majesty's minister here is required to engage (Mr. Clay said, he hoped the original expression
was less strong, but he believed the French word engager bore the same meaning, the American government,' &c. Nevertheless, the emperor does not interpose in this discussion. No! not he. He makes above all 'no pretension to exercise influence in the councils of a foreign power. Not the slightest. And yet, at the very instant when he is protesting against the imputation of this influence, his interposition is proving effectual! His imperial majesty has at least manisested so far, in this particular, his capacity to govern his empire, by the selection of a sagacious minister. For if count Nesselrode had never written another paragraph, the extract from his despatch to Mr. Poletica, which has been transmitted to this house, will demonstrate that he merited the confidence of his master. It is quite refreshing to read such state papers, after perusing those (he was sorry to say it, he wished there was a veil broad and thick enough to conceal them for ever,) which this treaty had produced on the part of our government.
Conversations between my lord Castlereagh and our minister at London had also been communicated to this house. Nothing from the hand of his lordship is produced; no! he does not commit himself in that way. The sense in which our minister understood him, and the purport of certain parts of despatches from the British government to its ininister at Madrid, which he deigned to read to our minister, are alone communicated to us. Now we know very well how diplomatists, when it is their pleasure to do so, can wrap themselves up in mystery. No man more than my lord Castlereagh, who is also an able minister, possessing much greater talents than are allowed to him generally in this country, can successfully express himself in ambiguous language, when he chooses to employ it. He recollected himself once to have witnessed this facility, on the part of his lordship. The case was this. When Bonaparte made his escape from Elba, and invaded France, a great part of Europe believed it was with the connivance of the British ministry. The opposition charged them, in parliament, with it, and they were interrogated, to know what measures of precaution they had taken against such an event. Lord Castlereagh replied by stating, that there was an understanding with a certain naval officer of high rank, commanding in the adjacent seas, that he was to act on certain contingences. Now, Mr. Chairman, if you can make any thing intelligible out of this reply, you will have much more success than the English opposition had.
The allowance of interference by foreign powers in the affairs of our government, not pertaining to themselves, is against the councils of all our wisest politicians -- those of Washington, Jefferson, and he would also add those of the present chief magistrate; for, pending this very Spanish negotiation, the offer of the mediation of foreign states was declined, upon the true ground, that Europe had her system, and we ours; and that it was not compatible with our policy to entangle ourselves in the labyrinis of hers. But a mediation is far preferable to the species of interference on which it had been his reluctant duty to comment. The mediator is a judge, placed on high; bis conscience his guide, the world his spectators, and posterily his judge. His position is one, therefore, of the greatest responsibility. But what responsibility is attached to this sort of irregular, drawing-room, intriguing interposition? Ile could see no motive for governing or incueneing our policy, in regard to Spain, furnished in any of the coinmunications which respected the disposition of foreign powers He regretted, for his part, that they had at all been consuled. There was nothing in the character of the power of Spain, nothing in the beneficial nature of the stipulations of the treaty 10 us, which warranted us in seeking the aid of foreign powers, if in any case whatever that aid were desirable. He was far from saying that, in the foreign action of this government, it might not be prudent to keep a watchful eye upon the probable conduct of foreign powers. That might be a material circumstance to be taken into consideration. But he never would avow to our own people, nerer promulgate to foreign powers, that their wishes and interference were the controlling cause of our policy. Such promulgation would lead to the most alarming consequences. It was to inrile. further interposition. It might, in process of time, create in the bosom of our country a Russian faction, a British faction, a French faction. Every nation ought to be jealous of this species of inter: ference, whatever was its form of government. But of all forms of government, the united testimony of all history, admonished a republic to be most guarded against it. From the moment Philip intermeddled with the affairs of Greece, the liberty of Greece was doomed to inevitable destruction.
Suppose, said Mr. Clay, we could see the communications which have.passed between his imperial majesty and the British gorerdiment, respectively, and Spain, in regard 10 1he United States; what do you
imagine would be their character ? Do you suppose the same language has been held to Spain and to us? Do you not, on the contrary, believe that sentiments have been expressed to her, consoling to her pride? That we have been represented, perhaps as an ainbitious republic, seeking to aggrandize ourselves at her expense?
In the other ground taken by the president, the present distressed condition of Spain, for his recommendation of forbearance 10 aet during the present session, he was also sorry to say, that it did not appear to him to be solid. He could well conceive, how the weakness of your aggressor might, when he was withholding from you justice, form a motive for your pressing your equitable demands upon him; but he could not accord in the wisdoin of that policy which would wait his recovery of strength, so as to enable him
successfully to resist those demands. Nor would it comport with the practice of our government heretofore. Did we not, in 1811, when the present monarch of Spain was an ignoble captive, and the people of the peninsula were contending for the inestimable privilege of self-government, seize and occupy that part of Louisjana which is situated between the Mississippi and the Perdido? What must the people of Spain think of that policy which would not spare them, and which commiserates alone an unworthy prince, who ignominiously surrendered himself to his enemy; a vile despot, of whom I cannot speak in appropriate language, without departing from the respect due to this house or to inyself? What must the people of South America think of this sympathy for Ferdinand, at a moment when they, as well as the people of the peninsula, themselves, (if we are to believe the late accounts, and God send that they may be true,) are struggling for liberty ?
Again: when we declared our late just war against Great Britain, did we wait for a moment when she was free from embarrassment or distress; or did we not rather wisely select a period when there was the greatest probability of giving success to our arms ? What was the complaint in England; what the language of faction here? Was it not, that we had cruelly proclaimed the war at a time when she was struggling for the liberties of the world? How truly, let the sequel and the voice of impartial history tell.
Whilst he could not, therefore, persuade himself, that the reasons assigned by the president for postponing the subject of our Spanish aflairs until another session, were entitled to all the weight which he seemed to think belonged to them, he did not, nevertheless, regret that the particular project recommended by the committee of foreign relations was thus to be disposed of; for it was war — war, attempted to be disguised. And if we went to war, he thought it should have no other limit than indemnity for the past, and security for the future. He had no idea of the wisdom of that measure of hostility which would bind us, whilst the other party is lest free.
Before he proceeded to consider the particular propositions which the resolutions contained, which he had bad the honor of submitting, it was inaterial to determine the actual posture of our relations 10 Spain. He considered it too clear to need discussion, that the treaty was at an end; that it contained, in its present state, no obligation whatever upon us, and no obligation whatever on the part of Spain. It was, as if it had never been. We are remitted back to the state of our rights and our demands which existed prior to the conclusion of the treaty, with this only difference, that, instead of being merged in, or weakened by the treaty, they had acquired all the additional force which the intervening time, and the faithlessness of Spain, can communicate to them. Standing