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once fix the irresolution of the government. Where are the addresses, the resolutions, the voluntary enrolments, the unsolicited contributions which would certainly precede any war, in which the people were cordially disposed to engage, or from which they were not decidedly averse?
The fact is, that every reflecting, honest mind must stagger under the prospect, of a wanton exchange of the peaceful blessings we have so loDg enjoyed, for a participation in those horrors of discord and slaughter, in which Europe is plunged. A religious and philosophical mind will shrink too at the idea, of seeing our moral and political world convulsed in all its parts, without unavoidable necessity, at a time when the physical seems to be menaced with another chaos;—when the elements are combining to spread desolation and ruin over the land.—This topic was eloquently and rationally amplified by Mr. Randolph, in the House of representatives, and deserved more attention than it received from his boisterous and presumptuous antagonists. Such was, under similar circumstances, the sound, innate philosophy of one, who was no less venerable as a moralist, than admirable as a poet,
"Fires from beneath, and meteors from above
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained,
Have kindled beacons; and the old
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and forgone her usual rest.
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props
And pillars of our planet seem to fail!" Covipcr.
The course to be pursued, by those who do not wish to lend a sanction to the ruin of their country, seems to us to be plainly marked out by circumstances. Let them unite to exorcise as it were, the Federal government, which may truly be said to be possessed by evil and unclean spirits. Let them unite to rid the nation, at all events, of her present rulers, than whom it would be impossible to select any set of men, more ridiculous for their incapacity, more dangerous from their designs, more disgraceful in their character and conduct. To secure the accomplishment of this primary end, all party distinctions should be exploded,—for the moment, at least,—and the patriotic and the honest rallied under the banners of some one individual likely to conciliate the greatest number of suffrages, and fitted by his faculties and opinions, to redeem the dignity and legitimate influence of the chief magistracy, and to reform the tone of the public councils. We care not whether he be from the North, or the South, or what party-badge he may have worn, provided his situation and character correspond to the description we have just given. No change either of men or of policy, could, we repeat it, be for the worse, and some change of the kind, must be effected, or the Union will be lost, without such a special interposition of Divine Providence, or such a course of accident and anomaly, as no rational politician can venture to count upon. We have in this country, a high trust devolved upon us;—something, we would say, of more importance even, than the Union itself, were not the one inseparably connected with the other;—we have the cause of republican liberty in our hands. Should we finally dishonour this cause, or suffer it to perish, we shall in a manner justify all the accusations, preferred against republican institutions by the spirit of tyranny, and, perhaps, for ever confirm, throughout the world, under some shape or other, the military despotism, which is now, in Europe, waging a systematic war against all freedom, of whatever complexion.
Message from the President of the United States, to both Houses of Congress, at the commencement of the first Session of the Twelfth Congress.
Fellow Citizens of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives.
IN calling- you together, sooner than a separation from your homes would otherwise have been required, I yielded to considerations drawn from the posture of our foreign affairs; and in fixing the present, for the time of your meeting, regard was had to the probability of further developments of the policy of the belligerent powers towards this country, which might the more unite the national councils, in the measures to be pursued.
At the close of the last session of Congress, it was hoped that the successive confirmations of the extinction of the French decrees, so far as they violated our neutral commerce, would have induced the government of Great Britain to repeal its orders in council; and thereby authorize a removal of the existing obstructions to her commerce with the United States.
Instead of this reasonable step towards satisfaction and friendship between the two nations, the orders were, at a moment when least to have been expected, put into more rigorous execution; and it was communicated through the British envoy just arrived, that, whilst the revocation of the edicts of France, as officially made known to the British government, was denied to have taken place; it was an indispensable condition of the repeal of the British orders, that commerce should be restored to a footing that would admit the productions and manufactures of Great Britain, when owned by neutrals, into markets shut against them by her enemy: the United States being given to understand that, in the mean time, a continuance of their non-importation act would lead to measures of retaliation.
At a later date, it has indeed appeared, that a communication to the British government, of fresh evidence of the repeal of the French Vol. III. Arr. + A
decrees against our neutral trade, was followed by an intimation, that it had been transmitted to the British plenipotentiary herc,inorder that it might receive full consideration in the depending discussions. This communication appears not to have been received: But the transmission of it hither, instead of founding on it an actual repeal of the orders, or assurances that the repeal would ensue, will not permit us to rely on any effective change in the British cabinet. To be ready to meet with cordiality satisfactory proofs of such a change, and to proceed, in the mean time, in adapting our measures to the views which have been disclosed through that minister, will best consult our whole duty.
In the unfriendly spirit of those disclosures, indemnity and redress for other wrongs, have continued to be withheld; and our coasts, and the mouths of our harbors, have again witnessed scenes, not less derogatory to the dearest of our national rights, than vexatious to the regular course of our trade.
Among the occurrences produced by the conduct of British ships of war hovering on our coasts, was an encounter between one of them, and the American frigate, commanded by captain Rodgers, rendered unavoidable on the part of the latter, by a fire, commenced without cause, by the former; whose commander is, therefore, alone chargeable with the blood unfortunately shed in maintaining the honour of the American flag. The proceedings of a court of inquiry, requested by captain Rodgers, are communicated; together with the correspondence relating to the occurrence, between the secretary of state and his Britannic majesty's envoy. To these are added, the several correspondences which have passed on the subject of the British orders in council; and to both, the correspondence relating to the Floridas, in which Congress will be made acquainted with the interposition which the government of Great Britain has thought proper to make against the proceedings of the United States.
The justice and fairness which have been evinced on the part of the United States, towards France, both before and since the revo. cation of her decrees, authorized an expectation that her government would have followed up that measure, by all such others as were due to our reasonable claims, as well as dictated by its amicable professions. No proof, however, is yet given, of an intention to repair the other wrongs done to the United States; and particularly to restore the great amount of American property seized and condemned under the edicts, which, though not affecting our neutral relations, and therefore not entering into questions between the United States and other belligerents, were nevertheless founded in such unjust principles, that the reparation ought to have been prompt and ample.
In addition to this, and other demands of strict right, on that nation, the United States have much reason to be dissatisfied with the rigorous and unexpected restrictions, to which their trade with the French dominions has been subjected; and which, if not disconunued, will require at least corresponding restrictions on importations from France into the United States.
On all those subjects, our minister plenipotentiary, lately sent to Paris, has carried with him the necessary instructions; the result of .which, will be communicated to you, and by ascertaining the ulterior policy of the Frenoh government towards the United States, vrill enable you to adapt to it, that of the United States towards France.
Our other foreign relations, remain without unfavourable changes. With Russia, they are on the best footing of friendship. The ports of Sweden have afforded proofs of friendly dispositions towards our commerce, in the councils of that nation also. And the information from our special minister to Denmark, shows that the mission had been attended with valuable effects to our citizens, whose property had been so extensively violated and endangered by cruizers under the Danish flag.
Under the ominous indications which commanded attention, it became a duty to exert the means committed to the executive department, in providing for the general security. The works of defence on our maritime frontier have accordingly been prosecated, with an activity leaving little to be added for the completion of the most important ones; and, as particularly suited for co-operation in emergencies, a portion of the gun-boats have, in particular harbours, been ordered into use. The ships of war before in commission, with the addition of a frigate, have been chiefly employed as a cruizing guard to the rights of our coasts. And such a disposition has been made of our land forces, as was thought to promise the services most appropriate and important. In this disposition is included a force, consisting of regulars and militia, embodied in the Indiana territory, and marched towards our North Western frontier. This measure was made requisite by several murders and depredations committed by Indians; but more especially by the menacing preparations and aspect of a combination of them on the Wabash under the influence and direction of a fanatic of the Shawanese tribe. With these exceptions the Indian tribes retain their peaceable dispositions towards us, and their usual pursuits.
I must now add, that the period is arrived, which claims from the legislative guardians of the national rights a system of more ample provisions for maintaining them. Notwithstanding the scrupulous justice, the protracted moderation, and the multiplied efforts on the part of the United States, to substitute, for the accumulating dangers to the peace of the two countries, all the mutual advantages of re-established friendship and confidence; we have seen that the British cabinet perseveres, not only in withholding a remedy for other wrongs, so long and so loudly calling for it; but in the execution, brought home to the threshhold of our territory, of measures which, under existing circumstances, have the character, as well us the effect, of war on our lawful commerce. With this evidence of hostile inflexibility, in trampling on rights