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Extract from a Speech on the British Treaty.
It is painful, I hope it is superfluous, to make even the supposition that America should furnish the occasion of this opprobrium. No, let me not even imagine that a republican government, sprung, as our own is, from a people enlightened and uncorrupted, -- a government whose origin is right, and whose daily discipline is duty, -can, upon solemn debate, make its option to be faithless; can dare to act what despots dare not avow, what our own example evinces the states of Barbary are unsuspected of. No, let me rather make the supposition that Great Britain refuses to execute the treaty, after we have done every thing to carry it into effect. Is there any language of reproach pungent enough to express your commentary on the fact? What would you say? or, rather, what would you not say ? Would you not tell them, wherever an Englishman might travel, shame would stick to him: he would disown his country. You would exclaim, “ England, proud of your wealth, and arrogant in the possession of power, blush for these distinctions, which become the vehicles of your dishonor !” Such a nation might truly say “ to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister.” We should say of such a race of men, " Their name is a heavier burden than their debt."
I can scarcely persuade myself to believe that the consideration I have suggested requires the aid of any auxiliary ; but, unfortunately, auxiliary arguments are at hand. Five millions of dollars, and probably more, on the score of spoliations committed on our commerce, depend upon the treaty : the treaty offers the only prospect of indemnity. Such redress is promised as the merchants place some confidence in. Will you interpose and frustrate that hope, leaving to inany families nothing but beggary and despair? It is a smooth proceeding to take a vote in this body: it takes less than half an hour to call the yeas and nays, and reject the treaty. But what is the effect of it? What but this: the very men, formerly so loud for redress, such fierce champions, that even to ask for justice was too mean and too slow, now turn their capricious fury upon the sufferers, and say, by their vote, to them and their families, “ No longer eat bread. Petitioners go home and starve: we cannot satisfy your wrongs and our resentments.”
Will you pay the sufferers out of the treasury? No. The answer was given two years ago, and appears on our journals. Will you give them letters of marque and reprisal, to pay themselves by force? No. That is war. Besides, it would be an opportunity for those who have already lost much to lose more.
Will you go to war to avenge their injury? If you do, the war will leave you no money to indemnify them. If it should be unsuccessful, you will aggravate existing evils: if successful, your enemy will have no treasure left to give our merchants: the first losses will be confounded with much greater, and be forgotten. At the end of a war there must be a negotiation, which is the very point we have already gained : and why relinquish it? And who will be confident that the terms of the negotiation, after a desolating war, would be more acceptable to another house of representatives than the treaty before us? Members and opinions may be so changed, that the treaty would then be rejected for being what the present majority say it should be. Whether we shall go on making treaties and refusing to execute them, I know not. Of this I am certain; it will be very difficult to exercise the treaty-making power, on the new principle, with much reputation or advantage to the country.
Will the tendency to Indian hostilities be contested by any one? Experience gives the answer. The frontiers were scourged with war until the negotiation with Great Britain was far advanced; and then the state of hostility ceased.
Perhaps the public agents of both nations are innocent of fomenting the Indian war, and perhaps they are not. We ought not, however, to expect that neighboring nations, highly irritated against each other, will neglect the friendship of the savages. The traders will gain an influence and will abuse it; and who is ignorant that their passions are easily raised and hardly restrained from violence? Their situation will oblige them to choose between this country and Great Britain, in case the treaty should be rejected: they will not be our friends, and at the same time the friends of our enemies.
But am I reduced to the necessity of proving this point ? Certainly the very men who charged the Indian war on the detention of the posts, will call for no other proof than the recital of their own speeches. It is remembered with what emphasis, with what acrimony, they expatiated on the burden of taxes, and the drain of blood and treasure into the western country, in consequence of Britain's holding the posts. “ Until the posts are restored,” they exclaimed, “the treasury and the frontiers must bleed.”
If any, against all these proofs, should maintain, that the peace with the Indians will be stable without the posts, to them I will urge another reply. From arguments calculated to produce conviction, I will appeal directly to the hearts of those who hear me, and ask whether it is not already planted there? I resort especially to the convictions of the western gentlemen, whether, supposing no posts and no treaty, the settlers will remain in security. Can they take it upon them to say, that an Indian peace, under these circumstances, will prove firm ? No, sir, it will not be peace, but a sword; it will be no better than a lure to draw victims within the reach of the tomahawk.
On this theme my emotions are unutterable. If I could find words for them, if my powers bore any proportion to my zeal, I would swell my voice to such a note of remonstrance, it should reach every log-house beyond the mountains. I would say to the inhabitants, Wake from your false security : your cruel dangers, your more cruel apprehensions, are soon to be renewed: the wounds, yet unhealed, are to be torn open again : in the daytime, your path through the woods will be ambushed; the darkness of midnight will glitter with the blaze of your dwellings. You are a father the blood of your sons shall fatten your cornfield : you are a mother the war-whoop shall wakė the sleep of the cradle.
On this subject you need not suspect any deception on your feelings : it is a spectacle of horror, which cannot be overdrawn. If you have nature in your hearts, they will speak a language, compared with which all I have said or can say will be
and frigid. Will it be whispered that the treaty has made me a new champion for the protection of the frontiers? It is known that my voice, as well as vote, has been uniformly given in conformity with the ideas I have expressed. Protection is the right of the frontiers ; it is our duty to give it.
Who will accuse me of wandering out of the subject? Who will say that I exaggerate the tendencies of our measures? Will any one answer, by a sneer, that all this is idle preaching? Will any one deny that we are bound, and I would hope to good purpose, by the most solemn sanctions of duty, for the vote we give ? Are despots alone to be reproached for unfeeling indifference to the tears and blood of their subjects? Are republicans unresponsible? Have the principles, on which you ground the reproach upon cabinets and kings, no practical influence, no binding force ? Are they merely themes of idle declamation, introduced to decorate the morality of a newspaper essay, or to furnish pretty topics of harangue from the windows of that statehouse? I trust it is neither too presumptuous nor too late to ask — Can you put the dearest interest of society at risk, without guilt, and without remorse ?
It is vain to offer, as an excuse, that public men are not to be reproached for the evils that may happen to ensue from
their measures. This is very true, where they are unforeseen or inevitable. Those I have depicted are not unforeseen: they are so far from inevitable, we are going to bring them into being by our vote : we choose the consequences, and become as justly answerable for them as for the measure that we know will produce them.
By rejecting the posts, we light the savage fires, we bind the victims. This day we undertake to render account to the widows and orphans whom our decision will make, to the wretches that will be roasted at the stake, to our country, and I do not deem it too serious to say, to conscience and to God. We are answerable ; and if duty be any thing more than a word of imposture, if conscience be not a bugbear, we are preparing to make ourselves as wretched as country.
There is no mistake in this case; there can be none : experience has already been the prophet of events, and the cries of our future victims have already reached us. The western inhabitants are not a silent and uncomplaining sacrifice. The voice of humanity issues from the shade of the wilderness : it exclaims, that while one hand is held up to reject this treaty, the other grasps a tomahawk. It summons our imagination to the scenes that will open. It is no great effort of the imagination to conceive that events so near are already begun. I can fancy that I listen to the yells of savage vengeance and the shrieks of torture : already they seem to sigh in the western wind; already they mingle with every echo from the mountains.
Character of Leverett Saltonstall.
STEPHEN C. PHILLIPS.
In the offices of private friendship, Mr. Saltonstall exhibited his character in all its charms. Inquire of the few who