페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

indifference to the fate of our fellow men, is unworthy of us. We sympathised with the Spaniards when lawlessly invaded by France; we sympathised with Russia; we now sympathise with France; and have we no feeling for our brethren of the South ?— Those who inculcate this apathy tell us, that since we are happy and contented, we ought to be indifferent to all the rest of the human race! If this sentiment is really serious, and not a mere concealment of enmity to the patriots, it is despicable—it is unworthy of any one who wears the form of man. According to these, a wise nation ought to stifle all the finer feelings of human nature— it ought to have no charity but for itself; base selfishness should be every thing; and generosity, patriotism, liberty, independence, empty and ridiculous words. Such sentiments may become the wretch who will not spare, from his superabundant store, a mite to prevent his neighbor from perishing; but there are but few Americans, I believe, who harbour meanness like this. It does not follow that, because these sentiments are indulged, we must become Quixotic, and involve ourselves in war on account of mere religious or political opinions. I am no advocate of French fraternization; but I am not therefore to condemn every generous feeling that glows in the bosoms of those who wish well to the patriot cause. I would wish to see our conquests the conquests of reason and benevolence, and not of arms. There is nothing to

subjected to the peevishness or oppression of the parent state, if they thought themselves exposed to such treatment, they might renounce their allegiance, claim independence, and apply to any foreign commonwealth for aid." These are the very words of one of the ablest and most strenuous advocates for Great Britain. It entered the head of no one, at the time, to argue, that nothing wouldjustify the revolt of the colony. Our declaration of independence begins with laying down principles, which were universally agreed to as self-evident. From the nature of the case, the colony must be pemitted to judge whether it has been abused or not; it would be ridiculous to allow nothing more than an appeal to the oppressor. When all hope of redress has vanished, they may lawfully take up arms,and any nation, according to Vatel, may lawfully assist them; although it would not be lawful to assist a revolted province, the colony may" appeal to the world for the rectitude of its intentions." It would be insulting to any man of common sense, toattempt to prove that the American colonies have not ample cause of complaint. It has never been denied; Spain has never condescended to say more than that these are her subjects, her slaves, and that she has aright to oppress or murder them according to her pleasure. It was also admitted, that when the parent state could not protect itself, but was obliged to abandon the colonies to themselves for a time, it could never regain its authority without the consent of the colonies. Never was there a more complete dereliction, than that of the Spanish colonies for at least three years. The existing governments were every where mere usurpations; for the source from which their power was derived, had been dried up, and their responsibility had entirely ceased.

forbid our feeling a generous sympathy with the patriots of South America; a contemptuous indifference on our part, would be regarded by them as reproachful to our national character, and would lay the foundation of lasting hatred.

It does not follow, I repeat, that we should make a common cause with them, and go to war with Spain on their account; this might injure us both. Although I should not fear the result, it might be more prudent to leave the colonies to contend with Spain without interference; and I am convinced no European nation will interfere in her favor. This country has no reason to be afraid of a war, but at the same time none to desire it; peace is our true policy, though not carried so far as to render our steps timid and cowardly. We ought not to be prevented from doing what may be agreeable to us and to our interest, by apprehension of unjust and unlawful violence from the universe; we are now strong enough to pursue any just and reasonable deportment as respects ourselves and others, without dread of consequences. What then ought we to do? I say at once, to establish official relations with the republics of La Plata and Chili. No nation will have any just right to be offended with this. Our own practice, as well as the practice of every other country, considers the existence of a government defacto as sufficient for all purposes of official communications. We never hesitated to establish relations with the revolutionary governments of France, neither did any of the European powers. In the great commonwealth of nations, each one has a right to choose the government or governments with which to establish such relations; other nations have no more right to take offence at this, than one citizen has with another for the choice of his associate. The recognition of the republic of La Plata does not imply that we must make war against Spain, or aid the republic in case it should be invaded. It is not inconsistent with the strictest neutrality; most certainly it is no act of hostility. There is not the least danger that Spain will seriously consider it a cause of war s she may bluster, but she holds too deep a stake to think of striking the first blow. As long as she possesses colonies in America, if there is ever a war between us, it must commence on our side.

It is, as respects ourselves, that we should have any hesitation in acknowledging the independence of La Plata, and not because we should infringe any rights of Spain. There is nothing in the laws of nations to forbid it; and she can lay but poor claim to our friendship. The questions we should ask in this affair, are these: Are the republics just mentioned of such a character as that we should let ourselves down by a treaty of amity with them? What is the extent of their territory—the number of their population—the nature of their governments? Are they capable of defending themselves? Is Spain in possession of any part of their territory? These and other questions might be put to satisfy ourselves before we venture to take them by the hand as friends. This course will be found to accord perfectly with our principles and practice. What, for instance, was our conduct to Spain herself? Where there happens to be at the same time, in the same empire, two or more governments, we may treat with all, or any one, or none; but this is a matter which concerns only ourselves. To treat with all would subject us to great inconvenience; to treat with any one would have the appearance of partiality ; for our own sake, therefore, the best course would be to acknowledge none of them. Thus, when the whole Spanish monarchy was actually split into three parts, King Joseph on the throne, the Cortes endeavouring to expel him, and the colonies setting up for themselves, our government declined acknowledging any of these parties. When the Cortes prevailed, we received the minister of Ferdinand, and acknowledged the government de facto; but we declined receiving the minister of the colonies for two reasons; first, because the contest was not yet properly at an end, therefore, from motives of prudence, we could not think of forming a compact which might prove to be ineffectual; secondly, because the existing governments might not have been of such respectability as that we could place ourselves on a footing with them consistently with the respect due to ourselves. But when these causes ceased, the reasons for our not establishing relations would cease also, if we should regard them as not disreputable to us. The different provinces of South America have not made a common cause, and from their distance it is impossible they could act together. Mexico, Granada, Venezuela, La Plata, Chili, have all declared themselves in the most formal manner separate and independent governments; should any of them, therefore, succeed in expelling the Spanish authorities, and in establishing governments de facto, in pursuance of our own practice and principles, we may venture to establish relations with them, provided we are satisfied that there is a sufficient character and stability to justify us in doing so consistently with prudence.

A revolted province notoriously incapable of maintaining itself ought not to be treated with; but an independent nation notoriously capable of maintaining itself, ought to be respected. Yet we have a right to receive and hear the mission even of a revolted province without violating the laws of nations. What more common than for the revolted subjects, or the deposed prince of one nation, to fly to another and to be openly and publicly received? Who ever heard of a sovereign forbidding all nations from holding any intercourse with his revolted subjects on pain of violating the laws of nations? The strictest neutrality is not violated by affording shelter and protection, much less from the exchange of civilities or the establishment of official relations, for the convenience of commercial intercourse. Is all intercourse or relation forbidden, or some particular kind only? For instance, no one ever thought that the mere trading with a revolted colony or province was an offence, or that this would be good cause of capture t and if it be .awful to trade, is it not lawful to establish such understanding with the temporary or local authorities as may be necessary for the regulation of such trade? May we not have resident agents for this purpose? May we not receive theirs in turn; and may we not, if we think it advisable, enter into verbal or written stipulations to regulate this intercourse? Whether such agents should be called consuls, or ministers, or commissioners; whether they enter into stipulations or treaties of amity and commerce or not, is of no importance:

Are there any of the American republics with which we can with safety enter into official relations, or form treaties of amity and commerce? The United Provinces of La Plata are undoubtedly such. For seven years they have had complete and undisturbed possession of their country—no attempt has been made or is likely to be made to subdue them, and after this lapse of time, if Spain were to attempt it, she could be considered in no other light than as an invader. We look only to the government defacto; the maxim of Spain—once a colony always a colony, is one which she must settle with the colonies as well as she can; for us it is enough that there is in La Plata a complete expulsion of the Spanish authorities, and an existing government. It will not be pretended by the most extravagant advocates of Spain, that because she has revolted colonies elsewhere, which she is trying to subdue, that those which she is too weak to attempt ought to be regarded as connected with the rest, and that all other nations must wait until she announces, in a formal manner, that she can no longer hope to subjugate any of them. According to this reasoning, while Spain continues to hold a single inch of land in America, the colonies must still be considered in a state of revolt.

Consistently therefore with the strictest neutrality, we may acknowledge La Plata, at least, as an independent state. By this simple act we shall ensure to ourselves the lasting friendship of all the patriots of South America, whose feelings must be in unison with their brethren of La Plata. It will inspire confidence in all who are engaged in the contest, it will animate every patriot with a new zeal, it will bestow a respectability upon the cause in their

own eyes, which will cheerfully unite all hearts in support of their independence. Such was the feeling which the recognition of our independence produced. As the natural head of America, it will instantly increase our importance in the eyes of the world. Spain may be induced at last to put a stop to the horrid effusion of human blood, and renounce an undertaking in which she never can prevail. An understanding with the patriot governments of South America will also enable us to make such arrangements as may put a stop to many practices and abuses, in which our character as a nation is deeply interested.

I have thus, Sir, taken a rapid glance at a subject highly important to the present and future interests of this country. In common with my fellow-citizens, I give my warmest wishes for the success of the patriot cause, but at the same time value too highly the real happiness of my country to put it to hazard by rash and inconsiderate measures. Scarcely any period of our history ever called for a more wise and deliberate judgment and enlightened foresight than the one now fast approaching. Happily for us there prevails at this juncture a degree of harmony among our citizens on political subjects, much greater than at any period since the establishment of our constitution, and we have a wise and upright statesman at the helm. It was given to our immortal Washington to achieve the independence of one half of America, and I most sincerely hope it may be yours to acknowledge the independence of the other.

POSTSCRIPT.

The following extract from "Bell's Weekly Messenger," appeared in our newspapers after the foregoing had gone to press. It coincides so completely with many ideas I have expressed, that I have resolved to avail myself of it as adding weight to them. I have little doubt it speaks the sentiments of the British government; if so, England will not remain quiet and permit Russia to interfere in behalf of Spain; she has too much to gain by teaching the people of South America to make use of her manufactures. There is immense wealth in South America; and if there were a free communication with England, the inhabitants would be able to purchase much more than the United States. It is a fact, that a!l goods of European manufacture sell in South America for at least four times the prices of the United States, and in many places for much more. In the extract, the evils arising from the monopoly of the colonial commerce are extremely well expressed in few words. The fate of Mexico is what I most fear: the last effort*

« 이전계속 »