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tion with great promptitude and energy. On the 3d of June, the committee reported, through Mr. Calhoun, their chairman, setting forth the reasons and causes for war with Great Britain. We regret that the length of thii able paper prevents our giving it in full upon our pages: in substance, it declared, that the encroachments and insults of England had been already borne with much too long, and that the impressment of our seamen, the British doctrine and system of blockade, the persistence in the orders of council, the exciting the Indians to hostilities and the like, absolutely demanded that the United States should seek redress by an appeal to arms, so that the world might know, that "we have not only inherited the liberty our fathers gave us, but also the will and power to maintain it."
Congress, during its deliberations on the subject of war, sat with closed doors; and notwithstanding the force and urgency of the committee's report, and the able advocacy of many of the members of the House, it was for a time doubtful, whether a majority would agree to an immediate declaration of war: the federalists warmly opposed it, and a portion of the democratic members agreed with them in opinion and action on this point. The bill was, however, carried in the House, on the 4th of June, by a vote of seventy-nine to forty-nine. It was immediately sent to the Senate, where it met with very strong opposition, and the debate was carried on hotly and energetically for nearly two weeks. On the l7th of June, having undergone some amend
ments, the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of nineteen to thirteen.* The next day, the House having agreed to the amendments, the bill was sent to the president, who immediately signified his approval.
The act declaring war against Great Britain, was terse and briefly expressed. It was drawn up by Mr. Pinkney, the attorney-general, and was in the following terms:—
"An act declaring war between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dependencies thereof^ and the United States of America and their territories.
"Be it enacted, etc. That Wak be, and the same is hereby declared to exist between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dependencies thereof, and the United States of America and their territories; and that the president of the United States be and is hereby authorized to use the whole land and naval force of the United States to carrv the
same into effect, and to issue to private armed vessels of the United States commissions or letters of marque and general reprisal, in such form as he shall think proper, and under the seal of the United States, against the ves
* Of the seventy-nine members of the House who voted for the declaration of war, forty-six resided south, and thirty-three north of the Delaware; of tho nineteen Senators who voted for the war, fourteen resided south and five north of the Delaware. New England opposed the war; Massachusetts, (including Maine) New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, with a largo part of New York, and the majority of New Jersey, deprecated hostilities; the west and south, with the large central states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, warmly supported the declaration; Vermont was the only Now England state in favor of the war.
sels, goods, and effects of the government of the same United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the subjects thereof."
On the 19th of June, the president issued his proclamation, announcing the fact that war now existed, and calling upon the authorities, and upon all good citizens, to sustain their country in the measures just adopted to secure her rights and privileges.
Directly after the act declaring war had been passed by Congress, the federalist members of the House determined to publish an address to their constituents on this subject. A long and able review of the war measures was accordingly prepared and issued, in which were given many, and, as they were deemed, very cogent reasons for opposing war at that date. For some extracts from this address, see Appendix at the end of the present chapter.
Congress, on the 26th of June, passed an act respecting letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods; and it was confidently expected, from the activity and enterprise of our countrymen, that they would be able to inflict very serious injury upon the commerce of the enemy. A number of other acts were passed by Congress during the session, among which may be noted, that which related to the apportionment of members of the House of Representatives, in accordance with the third census. After a good deal of debate and difference between the House and the Senate, the ratio finally adopted was thirty-five thousand; by which the number of members of the House was increased from one hundred and
forty-two to one hundred and eightythree. As a fitting termination to its labors, Congress, by a resolution, requested the president to recommend to the people the observance of a day of fasting and prayer, in view of the position of public affairs, an4 the need of divine assistance and support amid the many trials to which they were now especially exposed. On the 6th of July, this long and unusually protracted session of the national legislature was brought to its close.*
On the 9th of July, the president issued his proclamation, recommending the third Thursday in August to be set apart as "a day of public humiliation and prayer, to be observed by the people of the United States, in offering up supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of the states, his blessing on their arms, and the speedy restoration of peace." It is worthy of note, as evidencing the convictions of the majority of Americans on the subject of God's providential guidance and direction in human affairs, that this day was very generally observed throughout nearly the whole country.
* John Adams, writing to a friend on the very day Congress adjourned, gave his opinion as to the declaration of war in plain terms: "It was with surprise that I hear it pronounced, not only by newspapers, but by persons in authority, ecclesiastical and civil, and political and military, that it is an unjust and unnecessary war, that the declaration of it was altogether unexpected, etc. How it is possible that a rational, a social, or a moral creature can say that the war is unjust, is to me utterly incomprehensible. How it can be said to be unnecessary is very mysterious. I have thought it both just and necessary for five or six years. How it can be said to bo unexpected, is another wonder; I have expected it for more than five-aud-twenty years, and have had great reason to be thankful that it has been postponed so long."
Ch. VII.] ADDRESS OF THE MINORITY IN CONGRESS. 149
ADDRESS OF THE MINORITY IN CONGRESS. The undersigned, Members of the Mouse of Representatives, to their respective constituents.
A Republic has for its basis the capacity and right of the people to govern themselves. A main principle of a representative republic is the responsibility of the representatives to their constituents. Freedom and publicity of debate are essential to the preservation of such forms of government. Every arbitrary abridgement of the right of speech in representatives, is a direct infringement of the liberty of the people. Every unnecessary concealment of their proceedings an approximation towards tyranny. When, by systematic rules, a majority takes to itself the right, at its pleasure, of limiting speech, or denying it altogether; when secret sessions multiply, and in proportion to the importance of questions, is the studious concealment of debate, a people may be assured that, such practices continuing, their freedom is but short-lived.
Reflections, such as these, have been forced up. on the attention of the undersigned, members of the House of Representatives of the United States, by the events of the present session of Congress. They have witnessed a principle, adopted as the law of the House, by which, under a novel application of the previous question, a power is assumed by the majority to deny the privilege of speech, at any stage, and under any circumstances of debate. And recently, by an unprecedented assumption, the right to give reasons for an original motion, ha3 been made to depend upon the will of the majority.
Principles more hostile than these to the existence of representative liberty, cannot easily be conceived. It is not, however, on these accounts, weighty as they are, that the undersigned have undertaken this address. A subject of higher and more immediate importance impels them to the present duty.
The momentous question of war with Great
Britain is decided. On this topic, so vital to your interests, the right of public debate, in the face of the world, and especially of their constituents, has been denied to your Representatives. They have been called into secret sessions, on this most interesting of all your public relations, although the circumstances of the time and of the nation, afforded no one reason for secrecy, unless it be found in the apprehension of the effect of public debate on public opinion; or of public opinion on the result of the vote.
Except the message of the President of the United States, which is now before the public, nothing confidential was communicated. That message contained no fact not previously known. No one reason for war was intimated but such as was of a nature public and notorious. Tho intention to wage war and invade Canada, had been long since openly avowed. The object of hostile menace had been ostentatiously announced. The inadequacy of both our army and navy for successful invasion, and the insufficiency of the fortifications for the security of our seaboard, were everywhere known. Yet the doors of Congress were shut upon the people. They have been carefully kept in ignorance of the progress of measures, until the purposes of the administration were consummated, and the fate of the country sealed. In a situation so extraordinary, the undersigned have deemed it their duty, by no act of theirs to sanction a proceeding so novel and arbitrary. On the contrary, they made every at tempt in their power to attain publicity for their proceedings. All such attempts were vain. When this momentous subject was stated, as for debate, they demanded that the doors should be opened.
This being refused, they declined discussion; being perfectly convinced, from indications too plain to be misunderstood, that, in the House, all argument with closed doors was hopeless; and that any act, giving implied validity to so flagrant an abuse of power, would be little less than treachery to the essential rights of a free people. In the situation, to which the undersigned have thus been reduced, they are compelled, reluctantly, to resort to this public declaration of such views of the state and relations of the country, as determined their judgment and vote upon the question of war. A measure of this kind lias appeared to the undersigned to be more imperiously demanded, by the circumstance of a message and manifesto being prepared, and circulated at public expense, in which the causes for war were enumerated, and the motives for it concentrated, in a manner suited to agitate and influence the public mind. In executing this task, it will be the study of the undersigned to reconcile the great duty they owe to the people, with that constitutional respect, which is due to the administrators of public concerns.
In commencing this view of our affairs, the undersigned would fail in duty to themselves, did they refrain from recurring to the course, in relation to public measures, which they adopted and have undeviatingly pursued from the commencement of this long and eventful session; in which they deliberately sacrificed every minor consideration, to what they deemed the best interest of the country.
For a succession of years the undersigned have from principle disapproved a series of restrictions upon commerce, according to their estimation, inefficient as respected foreign nations, and injurious chiefly to ourselves. Success in the system had become identified with the pride, the character, and the hope of our cabinet. As is natural with men who have a great stake on the success of a favorite theory, pertinacity seemed to increase as its hopelessness became apparent. As the inefficiency of this system could not be admitted by its advocates, without insuring its abandonment, ill success was carefully attributed to the influence of opposition.
To this cause the people were taught to charge its successive failures, and not to its intrinsic imbecility. In this state of things, the undersigned deemed it proper to take away all apology for adherence to this oppressive system. Thoy were desirous, at a period so critical in public affairs, as far as was consistent with the independence of opinion, to contribute to the restoration of harmony in the public councils, and concord among
the people. And if any advantage could be thus obtained in our foreign relations, the undersigned, being engaged in no purpose of personal or party advancement, would rejoice in such an occurrence.
The course of public measures, also, at the opening of the session, gave hope that an enlarged and enlightened system of defence, with provision for security of our maritime rights, was about to be commenced; a purpose which, wherever found, they deemed it their duty to foster, by giving, to any system of measures, thus comprehensive, as unobstructed a course as was consistent with their general sense of public duty. After a course of policy thus liberal and conciliatory, it was cause of regret, that a communication should have been purchased by an unprecedented expenditure of secret-service money; and used by the chief magistrate, to disseminate suspicion and jealousy, and excite resentment among the citizens, by suggesting imputations against a portion of them, as unmerited by their patriotism, as unwarranted by evidence.
It has always been the opinion of the undersigned, that a system of peace was the policy which most comported with the character, condition, and interest of the United States; that their remoteness from the theatre of contest, in Europe, was their peculiar felicity; and that nothing but a necessity absolutely imperious, should induce them to enter as parties into wars, in which every consideration of virtue and policy seems to be forgotten, under the overbearing sway of rapacity and ambition. There is a new era in human affairs. The European world is convulsed. The advantages of our situation are peculiar. "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground 1 Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice V
In addition to the many moral and prudential considerations which should deter thoughtful men from hastening into the perils of such a war, there were some peculiar tc the United States, resulting from the texture of the goverment, in no small degree experimental, composed of powerful and independent sovereignties, associated in relations some" of which a-e critical as well as novel, why Ch. VII.]
they should not be hastily precipitated into situations calculated to put to trial the strength of the moral bond by which they are united. Of all states, that of war is most likely to call into activity the passions which are hostile and dangerous to such a form of government. Time is yet important to our country, to settle and mature its recent institutions. Above all, it appeared to the undersigned, from signs not to bo mistaken, that if we entered upon this war, we did it as a divided people; not only from a sense of the inadequacy of our means to success, but from moral and political objections of great weight and general influence.
It appears to the undersigned, that the wrongs of which the United States have to complain, although in some aspects very grievous to our interests, and in many humiliating to our pride, were yet of a nature which, in the present state of the world, either would not justify war, or which war would not remedy. Thus, for instance, the hovering of British vessels on our coasts, and the occasional insults to our ports, imperiously demanded such a systematic application of harbor and seacoast defence, as would repel such aggressions, but in no light can they be considered as making a resort to war, at the present time, on the part of the United States, either necessary or expedient. So also, with respect to the Indian war, of the origin of which but very imperfect information has as yet beeii given to the public. Without any express act of Congress, an expedition was, last year, set on foot, and prosecuted into the Indiau territory, which had been relinquished by treaty, on the part of the United States. And now we are told about the agency of British traders, as to Indian aostilities. It deserves consideration, whether there has been such provident attention, as would have been proper to remove any cause of complaint, either real or imaginary, which the Indians might allege, and to secure their friendship. With all the sympathy and anxiety excited by the state of that frontier, important as it may be to apply adequate means of protection against the Indians, how is it safely insured by a declaration of war which adds the British to the number of enemies 1
As "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" has not induced the two Ilouses of Congress
After a lengthened consideration of these topics, from the federalist point of view, the Address of the Minority concludes in the following terms:
A nation, like the United States, happy in its great local relations; removed from the bloody theatre of Europe; with a maritime border opening vast fields for enterprise; with territorial possessions exceeding every real want; its firesides safe; its altars undefiled; from invasion nothing to fear; from acquisition nothing to hope; how shall such a nation look to heaven for its smiles, while throwing away, as though they were worthless, all the blessings and joys which peace and such a distinguished lot include 1 W ith what prayers can it address the Most High, when it prepares to pour forth its youthful rage upon a neighboring people, from whose strength it has nothing to dread, from whose devastation it has nothing to gain 1
If our ills were of a nature that war would remedy, if war would compensate any of our losses, or remove any of our complaints, there might be some alleviation of the suffering in the charm of the prospect. But how will war upon the land protect commerce upon the ocean 1 What balm has Canada for wounded honor 1 How are our mariners benefited by a war which exposes those who are free, without promising release to those who are impressed 1
But it is said that war is demanded by honor. Is national honor a principle which thirsts after vengeance, and is appeased only by blood, which, trampling on the hopes of man, and spurning the law of God, untaught by what is past, and careless of what is to come, precipitates itself into any folly or madness to gratify a selfish vanity, or to satiate some unhallowed rage' If honor demands a war with England, what opiate lulls
ADDRESS OF THE MINORITY IN CONGRESS.