John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

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and no imn^inable objection to a declaralion of the
f;ict the block-<ide did not exist. The dtdara-
tion would hiive been consistent with her avo\\>d
principles Oi" blockade, nnd would have enabled the
United States to deraund iVom France the pledcTcd re-
peal of her Decrees : either with snccess, iu which
case the wav would have b?e;i opened for a sreneral
repeal of the bellioerent Edicts: or without success,
in which case the Cnited States would have been jus-
titied in turning' their measures exclu>ivelv ni^ainst
France. The British g^overnment w-mld, Iwwever,
neither rescind the blockade nor declare its non-exis-
tence ; nor permit its non-e\i*;tenc3 to be inferred and
affirmed by the American Pienipotentiary. On tl)e
contrarv by representing- the blockade to be compre-
hended in the Orders in Council, the Lnited I^lates
were compelled so to regard it in their subsequent pro-
ceed in £fs.

There was a period when a favorable clian.;e in
the policv of the British cabinet was ju>tlv considered
as established. The muiister Pleuipolentiarv of his
Britannic Majesty here proposed an adjustnient of
the differences more immedirwtely enJaut^'ering the
harmony of the two countries. The proposition was
accepted with a promptitude and cordiality corres-
ponding with the invariable professions of this jTovcrn-
ment. A foundation appeared to he Iviid for a sincere
and lasting reconciliation. — The prospect, however,
quickly vanished. The whole proce^dina: was disa-
vowed by the Brilij^h government without anv exphi-
nation which could at that time repress the beliet", that
the disavowal proceeded from a spirit of hostdity to ^
Uie commercial rights and jMosperitv of the United /
States. And it has since come into proof, that at the
very moment when the public minister w;ls holding
the language of friendship, and inspiring coululencc
in the smcerity of the negociation with which he was
charged, a seci*et agent of his government was em-
ployed in intrigues, having for their object a subver-
sion of our government, and a dismtiuin rm: i^l of our
happy Union.

'<^i mmi&f^

Of THE WJft.

Li ierie w M i ij the Ci W» l wgt of Great-Bnto towaDdf
iWfFHtcd Staie% oar flteotiaa isaec<«ar9f drnnito
die m mtut jtn^ remewed br iIk vtv^e^ on one of oar
I ; a warure wl»di w kaotm to fpare
9^ QorseXy oaa to W ^MtmcvMlMa hy Ma^
tsre« pecmiaHT liirtHrwi^ to lpom> tut. It is diAeoU
to aeeoMt fiir tlie acttritr an4 cjnilnajt ioag wkicfc
lore itr «MMet»ebeefl ifc * i^ t^ m ^immu^ wetmt/mf^
tkt trihe* Ml conaijBt it< t ' go <i n e w:th Briti4i fndtar%
90^ mrwMi, witiboot eoDoeelm^ tli« r ho^Utfwiih
lintffiitenee: a»l witto«t fceonectiatr Hk ^ ''

eated ex-vrjpt^ of «ndi Miterpt^wtiom t««tto€9re fortt-
libeilVf ^«rflkier» aa<i a^eate of tfat |,^t in'i — i< iii .

00^ H ube fOfuctjde of njws aMl vnii^pMlm
wlHeliJbarebeen aeaped on oar eooatrr ; ao^Meblfie
<nMi wkkdk 0U um Ktm^Aid f9rt»«aranee ami eooeib-
atory cf fa ti hare aotbawi aWgto aygtt. Itmflitat
kaft Ikt^e b'bi^ expedUf4, ihf^. ^m entrj^fit^ned nalioo,
if le%< orffiedl W OMra VjMi^ati^m*, or ift^^
hr du^ntioar oatfae pift of flhe Uiifle48faiie», wodtd
iisve f/C2^ rs it« tme intend alon« a toflleieat motire
fOfe«(wetttieyrnste< aad t ln i rtrMM| wi iit t om the lit^
iM!a« ; ik^an "^^f^ttd "ptA^cf t wid save ^inorcd
tint free a«rf ? « !<fq < a tto« of eomm^ee, ra

ivhidi IW Br>«. ^^n r. i/.«o»i W at alffiani inlemiledf aud
-vrhtdi fo ti«M3« of war it tlie he<t allerb^oa of it* ca*
\xm1atA to htnf^U m ^i'^I ^ to o0ier heHft^eroot* ;
aftd iiy^e <^cpe<:«a]fr tint tK<!; JUkiMa c j A nrn t H wooUl
SMfty l««r tfv, jMike o^aprer:;9rio<M a^ ^vrreptftioisi ii»-
fereoonfe wtiSi IvMtfle akauiEelw, l»<(«re perter^ed n %
cj ow ri of fKeMorv!* wbieli necoManly pvit at haaaud
tlieflivalaflMeiiiarlE«t ofa i^eatMHi frowio)^ roaa*
tr«% d»^>o^ t^> mlttiat^ iht mnSnsd atdr?if«Uf^e«of am
active fjmui^^tet,

and coflKilisxtaoa Itn^ hsad t>'. -i*-^. tlnni t

We h t hM otif «#rai>- '<e daiH v .'; -

tfflM of lawleoy %kife^ t Ihe i^#rat cocn-

mo hfgHbwaif of oa^.'^r., itm mp*K */ *^ '


coaaUnr wlttcb ©wcs them pr.*. •— . AVe KiMUl
our vessals 6Ki|;hled with the f >oroiir$«»^ uiA

iadttatiT, or reUirviiug with tiie jHvcixxis v>t" tht~ro,
wresfteti Iroui their lavilul ^^ > - ^* ^^- ' "".fi&calevl bv
priae conrts no loni^^tTthc ^ ic Iav». bni

Ibe inslnimeutii ot" arinlrarv EacU; and th^ir untor-
tttfiate creus ilwijHrseil nnd lo>t.ortorceilor inre'^i-^
id British |K>i-ts iu:o Br.U>h tlects ; whiUt argn-
■MMls im <iMiplnf f d in support of these a^r^^ssiotts,
which hare »o fomuiaLon but la a priiK'ipie tH^nalK
sup|H^rting a clami to iv filiate our txtenud cvmi-
nieree in all cas<^ lihaksoeMf.

We bt'lioUl, 111 tone, on the siiW ot" l»rtdl-Bnt '■". ^
stale ot" \> w a;;\un?it ihe UuileJ Statt^s, auul o<i ;
otthe I'uileil 5?tAtei a state ot" peace lowTunJs C»reAl-

WlKtlHT the United States shall continue ^^.^^irr
untltT these prv^iiTessive usur^visioiK, aiuJ thtse ^ivr.-
iiiuUtui^ uTonvi-s ; or opjKisiUs; loree to tWce \n tU -
fiMK\} ot' their natural n^hts shall ov>mmit ajiislcausr
inia Um hands ot" the Aim i;;ht\ dis,>c\s«r ot

avodliny all eonucvtions \^u«rh m .^ht etUan^

the contests or Tieu^ oi Q\hcr powers, and prt>cr> u. ::

i lilbllslM , . . ^ . . - . ^.. .

tion, uhich the coastitutKHi wisely contidi-^ to IV
lis|fislati>e i\\^ of the ^>vei anient. \i\

■Madiiig \\ to . ,ly ilehl^eratKms, I ;m

ill the assurance that the iK^oisK>n will be Wi>rthy the
■ . v^lic CoiuiciU ofaxirtuvHis a
, > V ation.

ilavuijv i^nsenltxi this view of ih*^ rvlalioiis of tht^
U. States with Cm '' V V ^ \

tive jirvnvMiii- out o

conmuuuoationsUist made tot.\Mii;ussoulhesub)iOtol
our rt»Utioiis \uth K ■ ! }ia>o show; ''

the ix»vov\UKni ol ; ^ as thev >

omitDil n^lits of the I" inttHi Stales, her gvveniuKMii
has rtuthoriMil ilU^^al ,- > - < »,y |js pri\ \ ^ uui
;>ublicsiii|Vs auvl llul V . .,vs hd\e xc


tised OB ow resaels aad cilize&s. It u ill hare been
sees ako, Uut no iodeninity had be^i proritled, or
s^UiClclorilj pledged, for the extens' iations

ijiWHiilTril under the violeat and retro > orders

of Ak French goTemmeat acraiost the propertv ot oar
^rtip**g»« seized withiii the jansdictioo of Praoce. I
dhriaia it tkis time frooi recoanneiiding' io the consid-
eration of Congress dt^nitire measares with respect
to tkd ■alion, itt the expeciaiion. thai the result of uo-
cloatd dtfica»aons between our 3Iioi!^ter Pjenif>otea-
tizrj at Pans and theFreoch goverameot will ^peed-
iIt enable Coogre&s to decide, with greater advan-
tage, on die. coiB'Be doe to the rights the interests,
aad the booor of oar coontrv.

"Washlngtox, Jane Isl, l5l2.

rni or THE CoiL ox FoRtiGX Relations.

Tke eomauUet on Forti^A Relaliom* io mJkom tan re-

Jered tkt Menage of the Preiident of tke Lmied

ataUs rftheUt ofJu»e^ lSi-2.

That aiier the experience wbidi the United SiaieK
fane bad of the greart nQnrfice of the BntiUi govem-
seal toradt tbea^ exesplified \yy to man j acts of

Ti nlrfniad np| i rr iiiiin , rt~ 11 ^" tt ^-^^i* *^j»-

tify to tke ia^iartnl worid thfcir poftieat forbearance,
ikaa Ike ■teasuret to which it baak.beoome riec4bs«arv
to resort, to avenge the wrongs, and vmdicaie the
figbU and honor of tbe nation. Yoor committee are
bappv^ to ofaMTie oo a dtvpsMUooate review of the con-
duct of tbe Cuit/ed Siate% tbattbej see m it no caose

If a long fort^a.rance under injoriet ought erer to
be eoesadered a virtae in any nation, it i» one «h;< h
pccidiari; becomes tisie United f^tate». No people
«v«r bad stroi^er motives to rbcTMh peace — none
bave erer cberif^-cd it with greaier sincerity and 7^i3.

9i li» l«§t «:sr Icdl

^ lite w«r. «Mi ta n a ynin. t» k an

-nji^i^»a^ IT


might give the most deadly wound to our inlerests.
A trade just in itself, which was secured by so many
strong and sacred pledges, was considered safe. —
Our citizens with their usual industry and enterprise
had embarked in it a vast proportion of their ship-
ping, and of their capital, which were at sea, under
110 other protection than the law of nations, and the
confidetice which they reposed in the justice and
friendship of the British nation. At this period the
miexpected blow was given. Many of our vessels
were seized, carried into port and condemned by a
tribunal, which, while it professes to respect the law of
nations, obeys the mandates of its own government.
Hundreds of other vessels were driven from the
ocean, and trade itself in a great measure suppressed.
The effect produced by this attack on the lawful com-
merce of the United States was such as might have
been expected from a virtuous, independent, and
highly injured people. But one sentiment pervaded
the whole American nation. No local interests were
regarded — no sordid motives felt. Without looking
to the parts which suffered most, the invasion of our
rights was considered a common cause, and from
one extremity of our Union to the other, was heard,
the voice of an united people, calling on their gov-
ernment to avenge their wrongs and vindicate the
rights and honor of the country.

From this period the British government has gone
on in a continued encroachment on the rights and in-
terest of the United States, disregarding in its course,
in many instances, obligations which have heretofore
been held sacred by civilized nations.

In May, 1806, the whole coast of the continent,
from the Elbe to Brest inclusive, was declared to be
in a slate of blockade. By this act, the well estab-
lished principles of the law of nations, principles
which have served for ages as guides, and lixed the
boundary between the rights of belligerents and neu-
trals, were violated ; by the law ol nations, as re-
CQguized by Great-Britain herself, no blockade is


lawful, unless it be sustained by the application of an
adequate force, and that an adequate force was ap-
phed to this blockade, in its full extent, ought not
to be pretended. Whether Great-Britain was able to
maintain, leg-ally, so extensive a blockade, consider^
ing the war in which she is engaged, requiring such
extensive naval operations, is a question which is no!
necessary at this time to exanune. It is sufficient to
be known, that such force was not applied, and this is
evident from the terms of the blockade itself, bv
which, comparatively, an inconsiderable portion of
the coast only was declared to be in a state of strict
and rigorous blockade. Tiie objection to the meas-
ure is not diminished by that circumstance. If Ihe
force was not applied, the blockade was unlawful,
from whatever cause the failure might proceed. The
belligerent who institutes the blockade cannot absolve
itself from the obligation to apply the force under
any pretext whatever. For a belligerent to relax a
blockade, which it could not maintain, it would be a
refinement in injustice not less insulting to the under-
standing than repugnant to the law of nations. To
claim merit for the mitigation of an evil, which the
party either had not the power or found it inconveni-
ent to inflict, would be a new mode of encroachino-
on neutral rights. Your committee think it just to
remark, that this act of the British government does
not appear to have been adopted in the sense in which
it has been since construed. On consideration of all
the circumstances attending the measure, and parti-
cularly the character of the distinguished statesman
who announced it, we are persuaded that it was con-
ceived in a spirit of conciliation, and intended to lead
to an accommodation of all differences between the
United States and Great-Britain. His death disap-
pointed that hope, and the act has since become sub-
servient to other purposes. It has been made by his
successors a pretext for that vast system of usurpa-
tion, which has so long oppressed and harrassed our


The next act of the British government which
claims onr attention is the Orders in Council of Jan.
7, 1807, by which neutral powers are prohibited tra-
ding from one port to another of France or her alHes,
or any other country with which Great-Britain might
not freely trade. By this order the pretension of
England, heretofore claimed by every other power, to
prohibit neutrals disposing of parts of their cargoes
at different ports of the same enemy, is revived and
With vast accumulation of injury. Every enemy, howe-
great the number or distance from each other, is con-
sideied one, and the like trade even with powers at
peace with England, who from motives of policy had
excluded or restrained her commerce, was also pro-
hibited. In this act the British government evident-
ly disclaimed all regard for neutral rights. Aware
that the measures authorised by it could find no pre-
text in any belligerent right, none was urged. To
prohibit the sale of our produce, consisting of innocent
articles at any port of a belligerent, not blockaded, to
consider every belligerent as one, and subject neu-
trals to the same restraint with all, as if there was
but one, were held encroachments. But to restrain
or in any manner interfere with our commerce with
neutral nations with whom Great-Britain was at peace,
and against whom she had no justifiable cause of war,
for the sole reason, that they restrained or excluded
from their ports her commerce, was utterly incompat-
ible with the pacific relictions subsisting between the
two countries.

We proceed to bring into view the British Order
in Council of November lllh, 1807, which superced-
ed every other order, and consummated that system
of hostility on the commerce of the United Stales
which has been since so steadily pursued. By this
Order all France and her allies and every other coun-
try at war with Great-Britain, or with which she
was not at war, from which the British fiag was ex-
cluded, and all the colonies of her enemies were sub-
jected to the same restrictions as if they were actuali-


)y blockaded in the most strict and rigorous manner,
and all trade in articles the produce and manufacture
of the said countries and colonies and the vessels en-
gaged in it were subjected to capture and condemna-
tion as lawful prize. To this order certain exceptions
were made which we forbear to notice becaue they
were not adopted from a regard to neutral rights, but
were dictated by policy to promote the commerce of
England, and so far as they related to neutral powers,
were said to emanate from the clemency of the British

It would be superfluous in your committee to state,
that by this order the British government declared
direct and positive war against the United States.
The dominon of the ocean was completely usurped
by it, all commerce forbidden, and every flag driven
from it, or subjected to capture and condemnation,
whichdidnotsubservethepolicy of the British govern-
ment by paying it a tribute and saihng under its sanc-
tion. From this period the United States having in-
curred the heaviest losses and most mortifying humilia-
itons. They have borne the calamities of war with-
out retorting them on its authors.

So far your committee has presented to the view
of the House the aggressions which have been commit-
ted under the authority of the British government on
the commerce of the United States. We will now
proceed to other wrongs which have been still mote
severely felt. Among these is the impressment of
our seamen, a practice which has beew unceasingly
maintained by Great-Britain in the wars to which she
has been a party since our revolution. Your com-
mittee cannot convey in adequate terms the deep sense
which they entertain of the injustice and oppression
of this proceeding. Under the pretext of impressing
British seamen, our fellow citizens are seized in British
ports, on the high seas, and in every other quarter to
which the British power extends, are taken on board
British men of war, and compelled to serve there as
British subjects. In this mode our citizens are wan-


tonly snatched from their country and their families,
deprived of their hberty, and doomed to an ignomin-
ious and slavish bondage, compelled to tight the bat-
tles of a foreign country, and often to perish in them.
Our flag has given them no protection ; it has been
unceasingly violated, and our vessels exposed to dan-
ger by the loss of the men taken from them. Your
committee need not remark that whde the practice is
continued, it is impossible for the United States to
consider themselves an independent nation. Every
new case is a new proof of their degradation. Its
continuance is the more unjustifiable, because the
United States have repeatedly proposed to the British
government an arrangement which would secure to
it the control of its own people. An exemption of
the citizens of the United States from this degrading
oppression, and their flag from violation, is all that
they have sought.

This lawless waste of our trade, and equally unlaw-
ful impressment of our seamen, have been much ag-
gravated by the insults and indignities attending them.
Under the pretext of blockading the harbors of France
and her allies, British squadrons have been stationed on
our own coast, to watch and annoy our own trade.
To give effect to the blockade of European ports,
the ports and harbors of the United States have been
blockaded. In executing these orders of the British
government, or in obeying the spirit which was
known to animate it, the commanders of these squad-
rons have encroached on our jurisdiction, seized our
vessels, and curried into effect impressments within
our limits, and done other acts of great injustice, vio-
lence, and oppression. The United States have seen,
with mingled indignation and surprise, that these
acts, instead of procuring to the perpetrators the pun-
ishment due to unauthorised crimes, have not failed
to recommend them to the favor of their govern-

Whether the British government has contributed
by active measures to excite against us the hostility


of the savage tribes on our frontiers, your committee
are not disposed to occupy much time in investigat-
ing. Certain indications of general notoriety may
supply the place of authentic documents ; though
these have not been wanting to establish the fact in
some instances. It is known that symptoms of Bri-
tish hostility towards the United States, have never
failed to produce corresponding symptoms among
those tribes. It is also well known, that on all such
occasions, abundant supplies of the ordinary muni-
tions of war have been afforded by the agents of Bri-
tish commercial companies, and even from British
garrisons, wherewith they were enabled to commence
that system of savage warfare on our frontiers, which
has been at all times indiscriminate in its effect, on all
ages, sexes and conditions, and so revolting to hu-

Your committee would be much gratified if they
could close here the detail ot" British wrongs — but it
is their duty to lecite another act of still greater ma-
lignity, than any of those which have been already
brouglit to your view. The attempt to dismember
our Union, and overthrow our excellent constitu-
tion, by a secret mission, the object of which was to
foment discontent and excite insurrection against the
constituted authorities and laws of the nation, as lately
disclosed by the agent employed in it, affords full
proof that there is no bound to the hostility of the
British government towards the United Slates — no
act, however unjustifiable, which it would not com-
mit to accomplish their ruin. This attempt excites
the greater horror from the consideration that it was
made while the United Stales and Great-Britain were
at peace, and an amicable negociation was depending
between them for the accommodation of their differ-
ences, through public ministers, regularly authorised
for the purpose.
The United States have beheld, with unexampled for-
bearance, this continued series of hostile encroachment*;
on tlieir rights and interests, in the hope, that, yield-


ing- to the force of friendly remonstrances, often
repeated, the British government might adopt a more
just pohcy towards them ; but that hope no longer
exists. They have also weighed impartially the reai-
sons which have been urged by the British govern-
ment m vindication of these encroachments, and found
in them neither justification or apology.

The British government has alleged in vindication
of the Orders in Council that they were resorted to as
a retaliation on France, for similar aggressions com-
mitted by her on our neutral trade with the British
dominions. But how has this plea been supported ?
The dates of British and French aggressions are
well known to the world. Their origin and progress
have been marked with too wide and destructive a
waste of the property of our fellow-citizens to have
been forgotten. The Decree of Berlin of November
21st. 1806, was the first aggression of France in the
present war. Eighteen months had then elapsed, af-
ter the attack made by Great-Britain on our neutral
trade, with the colonies of France and her allies, and
six months from the date of the proclamation of May,
1800. Even on the 7th Jan. 1807, the date of the
first British Order in Council, so short a term had
elapsed, after the Belin Decree, that it was hardly
posible that the intelligence of it should have reached
the United Slates. A retaliation which is to pro-
duce its etiect, by operating on a neutral power ought
not to be resorted to, till the neutral had justified it by
a culpable acquiescence in the unlawful act of the
other belligerent. It ought to be delayed until after
sufhcient time had been allowed to the neutral tore-
nionstrate against the measure complained of, to re-
ceive an answer, and to act on it, winch had not been
done in the present instance ; and when the Order of
November lUh was issued, it is well known that a
minister of France had declared to the minister plen~
ipoleiitiary of the United, States at Pans, that it was
not intended that the Decree of Berlin should apply
to the United Stales, it is equally well known that


BO American vessel had then been condemned under
it, or seizure been made, with which the British gov-
ernment was acquainted. The facts prove incontesti-
bly, thatthe measures of France, however unjustifiable
in themselves, were nothino^ more than a pretext for
tliose of England. And of the insufficiency of that pre-
text, ample proof has already been afforded by the
British g^overnment itself, and in the most impressive
form. Although it was declared that the Orders in
Council were retaliatory on France for her Decrees, it
was also declared, and in the Orders themselves, that
owing to the superiority of the British navy, by which
the fleets of France and her allies were confined with-
in their own ports, the French Decrees were consider-
ed only as empty threats.

It is no justification of the wrongs of one power,
that the like were committed by another ; nor ought
the fact, if true, to have been urged by either, as it
could afford no proof of its love of justice, of its
magnanimity, or even of its courage. It is more
worthy the government of a great nation, to relieve
than to assail the injured. Nor can a repetition of the
wrongs by another power, repair the violated rights,
or wounded honor, of the injured party. An utter
inability alone to resist, would justify a quiet surren-
der of our rights, and degrading submission to the
will of others. To that condition the United States
are not reduced, nor do they fear it. That they ever
consented to discuss with either the misconduct of the
other, is a proof of their love of peace, of their
moderation, and of the hope which they still indulg-
ed, that friendly appeals to just and generous senti-
ments would not be made to them in vain. But the
motive was mistaken, if their forbearance was im-
puted, either to the want of a just sensibility to their
wrongs, or of a determination, if suitable redress was

Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 8 of 38)