« PrécédentContinuer »
Art. I. The Orders in Council, and the American Embargo,
beneficial to the Political and Commercial Interests of Great
Britain. By Lord Sheffield. 1809. Message of the President of the United States, communicated to
Congress 5th Nov. 1811. Report in part of the Committee, to whom was referred that part
of the President's Message which relates to Foreign Affairs. A View of the State of Parties in the United States of America ;
being an Attempt to account for the present Ascendancy of the French or Democratic Party in that Country, in two Letters
to a Friend. Edinburgh, Ballantyne. 1812. IN N the message of the President of the United States, communi
cated to Congress on the 5th November last, Mr. Madison concludes a long string of complaints against Great Britain, with a recommendation that they should assume an armour and an attitude demanded by the crisis. Whether any or all of these complaints are well or ill grounded, one thing at least must be quite obvious to those who have paid any attention to the proceedings of the American government, namely, that, ever since the accession of that stout republican and stern philosopher of the new school, Thomas Jefferson, there has existed a strong disposition on the part of the American executive to quarrel with Great Britain ; to seize every occasion of exciting a hostile feeling between two nations, whom their relation to each other in point of origin, of language, and of habits, to say nothing of ommon interest, ought to predispose to amicable intercourse, and mutual good will; and whom it is equally obvious that it is the interest of France to disunite and to array against each other.
Of the origin of this spirit in the American government, we shall say a few words hereafter. At present it will be our business to examine into the truth of the allegations of the President's message, and the object of those menaces held forth in the report of the committee, to whom that part of it relating to foreign affairs was referred. Setting aside some points of minor importance, VOL. VII. NO, XIII.
the wrongs complained of by Mr. Madison may, we conceive, be comprehended under the three following heads :
1. The assumption of new principles of blockade, and, on the part of Great Britain, the rigorous execution of certain orders in council, in violation of neutral commerce and neutral rights.
2. The right of search claimed by Great Britain, and the wrongs sustained by America in the execution of it.
3. The impressment of American seamen.
The first point, however, it would seem, embraces the heaviest of their grievances. The member of the senate who brings up the Report of the committee, is stated to say that, in the opinion of the committee, the orders in council were of themselves a sufficient cause of war;' that · British encroachments were such as to demand war, as the only alternative to obtain justice;' and that it was the determination of the committee to recommend open war to the utmost energies of the nation. The report, to be sure, is sufficiently warlike. It states that · France, availing herself of the proffers made equally to her and her enemy by the non-importation law of May, 1810, announced the repeal, on the 1st of the following November, of the decrees of Berlin and Milan ;' and that in consequence thereof, 'it was confidently expected that this act, on the part of France, would have been immediately followed by a revocation on the part of Great Britain of her orders in council;' but that, “in this reasonable expectation, however, the committee had been disappointed;' and it goes on to say, it affords a subject of sincere congratulation to be informed, through the official organs of the government, that those decrees are, so far at least as our rights are concerned, really and practically at an end.'. The Pre sident, however, in his message, not venturing to go the whole length of this assertion, expresses only a ' hope that the guccessive contirmations of the extinction of the French decrees, so far as they violated the neutral commerce of the United States, would have induced the government of Great Britain to repeal her orders in council.'
The “hope' and the expectation' held out by the President and his committee, would have been reasonable' enough provided the grounds of them had been true. But Mr. Madison knew perfectly well, and his committee also knew, if they knew any thing of the subject, that during the whole of last summer, French privateers, in the Baltic and Mediterranean, took every American vessel they fell in with, and carried them for condemnation into the ports of Italy, Dantzig, and Copenhagen. He knew that every week American ships and cargoes had suffered sequestration in the ports of France, which woeful experience had taught him to consider as pretty nearly the same thing with confiscution. Nay, at the very