« ElőzőTovább »
out hazarding a single original reflection, or suffering his own opinion to be discovered, excepting by some oversight in expression. It is extremely ludicrous, however, in the impending dangers with which our country was threatened at that extraordinary session of Congress, to observe the efforts of an overweening economy pervade all their resolves. Thus the naval establishment was to be enlarged, as war with G. Britain was thought almost inevitable ; and its augmentation is thus related by our author : . On the 20th of November a committee of the senate had proceeded so far as to present to that body a bill for defraying the expence of building an additional number of gun-boats. The government had previously notified them that near two hundred and sixty gun boats would be necessary, of which about seventy were already provided. In distributing them, the greatest number, about fifty, was said to be required at New-York. The building of a gun-boat is said to cost about five thousand dollars, so that deducting those already built, and the stores already provided, a sum of eight hundred thousand dollars was said to be required to raise this species of navy to the force above mentioned. All these topicks of controversy soon became . merged in the great question of the embargo, which was soon after recommended by the President to congress. Innocent of all opinion on this subject, however, our author leaves it to his readers to understand whether government were precipitate in the adoption of that measure, whether it was beneficial to us or not, and whether it was calculated to produce the consequences on foreign nations, to which our administration with more confidence than judgment, looked forward as being so very conciliatory as to end all our commercial difficulties and place us again upon the footing of the most favoured nation. Our author merely relates the arguments of opposition and the replications on the part of the supporters of the administration ; but does not advert to any real and intrinsick advantages which resulted from the measure, nor to the overwhelming distress in which the people of the eastern states had been plunged. For our own part we are apt to believe, there never was a great measure adopted by a nation, which on the whole, has operated so little to the detriment of other powers, and which more completely disappointed the expectations of its advocates, than the American embargo. Let us take for example the British West-India interest, which it was said the embargo would entirely destroy. It appears by a report of the committee of the West-Indian Docks, in Lon. don, that during the operation of our embargo, many more vessels were uploaded than ever were discharged in any year since the estab. lishment of the institution. The article of sugar too, which before the embargo was established was so low in England, that the price would not pay the cost of cultivation and carrying to market, has risen so high as to afford a large profit, notwithstanding the additional quantity bronight in the increased number of ships One hundred and seventy
four large West-India vessels have unloaded at the West India Docks this season," over and above the average number for the last five years.* The arguments against the embargo have strengthened by time ; its advocates have been driven from every ground of controversy, till at Jength they have been obliged to desert it altogether.
In the IXth chapter the author enters upon the mission of Mr. Rose, relative to the Chesapeak disaster, which it was very probable would be impeded at the outset, by the intervention of two important circumstances. The nature and extent of the satisfaction demanded by our government, which had been dispatched to Mr. Munroe, were not the least impediment to an amicable issue. This atonement was a formal disavowal of the deed, and restoration of the four seamen to the ship from which they were taken. As a security for the future, an entire abolition of impressments from vessels under the flag of the United States, if not already arranged, is also to make an indispensable part of the satisfaction.'t A compliance with the first demand, as the author well observes, had been rendered impossible by the execution of Jenkin Ratford, at Halifax. The British proclamation of the 16th of October, 1807, with regard to deserters, presented a formidable obstacle to à compliance with the entire abolition of impressinents, which was stated as an indispensible' part of the satisfaction, to be demanded.
These objections to a reconciliation were increased by the opinion of the British Government, that the repeal of the proclamation of the President was a necessary preliminary to any negociation on the subject. Mr. Rose, on his arrival, found insuperable difficulties to encounter. The mingling of the Chesapeak attack with the general claini as to impressments, was manifestly unjust, because seamen in merchant ships, are in every respect differently situated from those on board ships of war. In one case, in addition to the seamen being considered on the national territory of the neutral country, there is a presumption that the government of such a nation will not knowingly retain foreign deserters in her service. In the case of merchant ships no such presumption exists, since it is not understood that a neutral government makes itself a party to the private contracts of individuals, which nevertheless máy interfere with the interests and rights of the belligerent. The claim therefore of the universal immunity of the American
From this report it appears, that fixty-eight more ships unloaded at the docks than the preceding season, and one hundred and seventy-four ships more than the average number of the five preceding years. Four hundred and sixty ships were unloaded with the following articles: 159,800 högsheads and tierces of sugar, 26,900 puncheons and hogsheads of rum, 31,600 hogsheads and tierces and 150,400 bags of coffee, and 13,000 bags cotton--Literary Panorama for February.]
Letters from Mr. Madison to Mr. Manroe, July 6, 1807.
fag in merchant ships, it was clear could never be conceded to us; and as Mr. Madisoo had made this an indispensable'item in the amount of reparation due for the insult on the national character, it was manifest that all hopes of Mr. Rose, to adjust the differences which had unfortu. nately been produced, must have rested on a very slender foundation.
Our author in the three last chapters IX. X. and XI. confines himself to the controversy between Mr. Rose and Mr. Madison, in which he gives a faithful abstract of the arguments advanced on both sides. When he speaks of the early, unequivocal and unsolicited disavowal of an act not authorized,' on the part of the British minister, he express, es his feelings, in our opinion, rather too warmly. He says " it cannot but occur that the merit ascribed to the British government, of a prompt, unequivocal and unsolicited disavowal of this act, and of the right of searching national ships, and the offer of atonement is quite imaginary. It was by no means prompt and unsolicited, he observés, because it was wrung from Mr. Capning by the earnest remonstrances of Mr. Munroe ;' and ' would be quite inconsistent with the caution and craft always to be expected from ministers of state. It is evident that our author, in reasoning in this manner, considers the first note of Mr. Canning to Mr. Munroe before he knew any thing of the transaction off the Capes of Virginia, as nugatory, and as not amounting to any disavowal of the act of Admiral Berkley. As we have already had occasion to notice this very idea* in a previous part of this review, we shall now merely refer our readers to that passage, and confirm the sentiments which we there expressed.
• That the acknowledgment was far from unequivocal,' says our author, “is evident from the causes in which the letter written in pursuance of a second remonstrance of the American ambassadour, in which the right of searching ships of war is virtually maintained; but only the execution of it, through the impulse of convenience foreborne. Now the declaration of Mr. Canning to Mr. Munroe was, that his majesty's principles of justice and moderation had not permitted him to hesitate,' in commanding Mr. Canning to assure Mr. Munroe, that his majesty neither does nor has at any time maintained the pretension of a right of searching ships of war in the national service of any state for deserters.' So far was this avowal from being extorted, as our author suggests, that it is made in consequence of a note sent to Mr. Canning from Mr. Munroe, before that minister had had authority from his govcrnment to treat upon the subject, and even before any statement of the facts attending it, had been precisely known. We are of opinion therefore, that Mr. Rose's declaration as to the early, unequivocal, and unsolicited disavowal of the unauthorised act of Admiral Berkley, was agreeable to truth and the spirit of amicable accommodation.
* Ordeal, page 242, 243.
The question as to the repeal of the proclamation was a mere ques. tion of etiquette. The British demanded it on the ground of its being a measure of retaliation for an injury sustained ; if, therefore, that nation had determined to make full and ample reparation for an unauthor. ized act of its officers, the continuance of the proclamation would necessarily be a bar to the adjustment of the wrong, io so far as it was a self-assumed satisfaction on the part of the American government. Mr. Rose was therefore commissioned to make the repeal of this edict a necessary preliminary, to his offering the full and ample reparation, with which he was empowered. Mr. Madison affected to consider the proclamation as a measure of precaution against future repetitions of the like enormity; and declares the proclamation not to have been die rected against the British nation for one particular aggression, but in consequence of a series of injuries and insults, terminating in the violent outrage of the attack upon the Chesapeak. Yet it was clear from the instructions which Mr. Munroe had received from Mr. Madison, that these previous occurrences were not considered urgent arguments in the case ; they are merely alluded to by the secretary, and Mr. Munroe does not even allude to them or the proclamation in his remonstrance to the British minister. The' proclamation, however it might have been justified in consequence of the flagrant attack on a national ship, was not called for on account of any previous aggressions, particularly as they formerly had been made separate subjects of negociation. The British Order of the 16th October contained a concession in respect to the attack, which might reasonably have removed all future apprehensions, especially if the violent opposition to it in England be taken into account.
The attack on the Chesapeak was made in the open sea ; now, how the President's proclamation could, by prohibiting the ingress of British vessels of war in the ports of the United States, so operate as a precaution, as to prevent the search of national vessels on the ocean, it is difficult to conceive. Yet precaution was the avowed motive for this self-assumed redress, precaution against future injuries of a like nature ; when the principal, in fact the real cause which produced it, was an aggression on the ocean. These were obvious considerations, which should have induced the president to have abandoned the proclamation, when enforced by the multiplied assurances on the part. of the British government. First, Mr. Canning's disavowal of the pretension which the act implied; then the British proclamation for de serters, which is another concession; the improper acts of the American recruiting officer, which occasioned the attack, and afterwards the sending a special messenger to treat upon the subject ; and repeated assurances given both by Mr. Rose and Mr.Canning of their willingness to offer reparation. The proclamation, however, was adhered to, and the mission failed. The consequences have been, that the country has been nearly ruined by an embargo for more than a year, and produced in part by a too rigid adherence to a mere punctilio, which might have been removed without dishonour, and in fact has lately been removed by our act of non-intercourse. So that the government have done voluntarily what they refused to do by request eighteen months ago. By the non-intercourse act, both the French and English nations are formally placed upon equal ground, and government seem waiting to take the first advantage of a favourable change in either party.
We have now finished our contemplated review of the American Register, and we confess, we entertain some prejudice against the af. fected sensibility and croaking of our author, and indeed against many of his peculiarities of style; but we are much pleased with the publication on the whole. We consider it highly useful in its nature ; it seems unexampled in this country, for industry and general accuracy of information, and though we recommend to our author not to show so evidently the democratick impulses of his feelings, in the historical narrative ; yet we cannot but consider that his book may be rendered an important acquisition to the literature as well as politicks of the country.
THE PROCLAMATION OF PRESIDENT MADISON.
THE exultations of the democrats since the adjustment of the differences which have so long and so uphappily existed between the British government and ours, seem to derive their strongest interest from a presumption that the measures of the embargo and non-intercourse acts have produced important concessions in our favour ; and that of consea quence the wisdom of the administration of Mr. Jefferson, in establishing and continuing the embargo policy, is displayed beyond contradiction or reply. But whilst we participate with our fellow citizens in the general joy. produced by the promulgation of that adjustment, and whilst we are willing to admit that President Madison has acted as he ought to have done on the occasion, we are still far from considering our embargo to have had any effect either in producing the reparation for the attack on the Chesapeak, or the proposal to rescind the Orders in Council of Nov. 1807. As a few considerations on these subjects, may serve to place matters upon a right ground, it will not be amiss to examine the subject at this time.
The attack on the frigate Chesapeak is the first subject which occurs in the correspondence between Mr. Erskine and Mr. Smith ; and an offer is made by the British minister, that in the event of such laws taking place' as would place the relations of Great-Britain with the United States upon an equal footing in all respects with the other belligerent