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European commerce, European politics, European thoughts, and European activity, although actually gaining greater force-and European connections, although actually becoming more intimate -will, nevertheless, relatively sink in importance; while the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theatre of events in the world's great hereafter? Who does not see that this movement must effect our own complete emancipation from what remains of European influence and prejudice, and in turn develop the American opinion and influence which shall remould constitutions, laws, and customs, in the land that is first greeted by the rising sun? Sir, although I am no socialist, no dreamer of a suddenly-coming millennium, I nevertheless cannot reject the hope that peace is now to have her sway, and that as war has hitherto defaced and saddened the Atlantic world, the better passions of mankind will soon have their development in the new theatre of human activity.
Commerce is the great agent of this movement. Whatever nation shall put that commerce into full employment, and shall conduct it steadily with adequate expansion, will become necessarily the greatest of existing states ; greater than any that has ever existed. Sir, you will claim that responsibility and that high destiny for our own country. Are you so sure that by assuming the one she will gain the other? They imply nothing less than universal commerce and the supremacy of the seas. We are second to England, indeed, but, nevertheless, how far are we not behind her in commerce and in extent of empire! I pray to know where you will go that you will not meet the flag of England fixed, planted, rooted into the very earth? If you go northward, it waves over half of this Continent of North America, which we call our own. If you go southward, it greets you on the Bermudas, the Bahamas, and the Caribbea Islands. On the Falkland Islands it guards the Straits of Magellan ; on the South Shetland Island it watches the passage round the Horn ; and at Adelaide Island it warns you that you have reached the Antarctic Circle. When you ascend along the south-western coast of America, it is seen at Galopagos, overlooking the Isthmus of Panama ; and having saluted it there, and at Vancouver, you only take leave of it in the far northwest, when you are entering the Arctic Ocean. If you visit Africa, you find the same victorious cross guarding the coast of Gambia and Sierra Leone and St. Helena. It watches you at Cape Town
as you pass into the Indian Ocean; while on the northern passage to that vast sea it demands your recognition from Gibraltar, as you enter the Mediterranean; from Malta, when you pass through the Sicilian Straits ; on the Ionian Islands it waves in protection of Turkey; and at Aden it guards the passage from the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. Wherever western commerce has gained an entrance to the Continent of Asia, there that flag is seen waving over subjugated millions—at Bombay, at Ceylon, at Singapore, at Calcutta, at Lahore, and at Hong Kong; while Australia and nearly all the islands of Polynesia acknowledge its protection.
Sir, I need not tell you that wherever that flag waves, it is supported and cheered by the martial airs of England. But I care not for that. The sword is not the most winning messenger that can be sent abroad; and commerce, like power, upheld by armies and navies, may in time be found to cost too much. But what is to be regarded with more concern is, that England employs the steam engine even more vigorously and more universally than her military force. Steam engines, punctually departing and arriving between every one of her various possessions and her island seat of power, bring in the raw material from every manufacture and supplies for every want. The steam engine plies incessantly there, day and night, cohverting these materials into fabrics of every variety, for the use of man. And again the steam engine forever and without rest moves over the face of the deep, not only distributing these fabrics to every part of the globe, but disseminating also the thoughts, the principles, the language and religion of England. Sir, we are bold indeed to dare competition with such a power. Nevertheless, the resources for it are adequate. We have coal and iron no less than she, while corn, timber, cattle, hemp, wool, cotton, silk, oil, sugar, and the grape, quicksilver, lead, copper, silver, and gold, are all found within our own broad domain in inexhaustible profusion. What energies we have already expended prove that we have in reserve all that are needful. What inventions we have made, prove our equality to any exigency. Our capital increases, while labor scarcely knows the burden of taxation. Our Panama route to China has a decided advantage over that of the Isthmus of Suez, and at the same time vessels leaving that country and coming round the Horn, will reach New York always at least five days sooner than vessels of equal speed
can double the Cape of Good Hope, and make the port of Liverpool.
Mr. President, we now see how conspicuous a part in the great movement of the age, California and Oregon are to sustain, and that, as yet, they are separated from us and isolated. They will adhere to us only so long as our government over them shall be conducted, not for our benefit, but for their own. Their loyalty is great, but it cannot exceed that of the thirteen ancient American colonies to Great Britain ; and yet the neglect and oppression of their commerce undermined that loyalty, and resulted in their independence. I hear often of dangers to the Union, and see lines of threatened separation drawn by passionate men or alarmists, on parallels of latitude; but, in my judgment, there is only one danger of severance—and that is involved in the possibility of criminal neglect of the new communities on the Pacific coast, while the summits of the Rocky Mountains, and of the Snowy Mountains, mark the only possible line of dismemberment. Against that danger I would guard as against the worst calamity that could befall, not only my country, at her most auspicious stage of progress, but mankind also, in the hour of their brightest hopes. I would guard against it by practicing impartial justice toward the new and remote states and territories, whose political power is small, while their wants are great, and by pursuing at the same time, with liberality and constancy, the lofty course which they indicate, of an aspiring yet generous and humane national ambition.
NOTE.—Some very interesting facts connected with the history of the commencement and progress of the Whale Fisheries, are contained in the following letter, dated,
"NEW BEDFORD, 14th Aug:ist, 1862. "Dear Sir,—The commencement of the whale fishery at New Bedford is nearly, if not quite, I believe, coeval with its commencement at Nantucket, in sailing vessels. The first settlers of Nantucket took 'right whales' in open boats, at a very early period; at what period they first ventured farther, in sailing vessels, 1 have not the means at hand of knowing ; but as early as 1764, small sloops of 40 to 60 tons, were fitted out at New Bedford, (then called Dartmouth), by Joseph Russell
, the pioneer of the whale fishery from this port. These vessels ventured out only in the summer months, off the Capes of Virginia and Cape Hatteras, for sperm whales ; taking care to return into port before the equinoctial gales set in. The blubber, as taken from the whales, was brought into port and tried out on shore: this practice was followed for many years. There are now living in New Bedford, two old gentlemen, one aged 91, the other in his 95th year, 'who perfectly well remember seeing, when they were boys, the blubber landed from the vessels, and witnessed its being tried out on shore.
“ I have in my possession the account books of Joseph Russell, dated as far back as 1770, showing that there were, at that time, four of those small vessels employed in the whale fishery on the southern coast, belonging to him; and there were probably others. These account books were kept by double entry, in beautiful hand-writing, and would do credit to any modern book-keeper.
The vessels were increased in size, not long previous to the Revolutionary War, and
their voyages extended to the West India Islands, the Bay of Mexico, Cape de Verd Islands, and coast of Guinea, until 1791, when the ship Rebecca ventured into the Pacific Ocean.
“ Living men have witnessed the progress of the whale fishery, from the time when a few small vessels, with an investment of a few thousand dollars, were fitted out from a little village of a few straggling houses——their voyages limited to our southern coast. These men still live to see the whaling fleet number 662 vessels, averaging 300 tons each, employing a capital of twenty millions of dollars, their voyages limited to no sea or ocean on the face of the globe, and that little village grown up to be the beautiful city of New Bedford, with a population of 20,000 inhabitants, and owning more than half of the whole whaling interest of the United States. “ Believe me, very sincerely and respectfully yours,
WM. T. RUSSELL." “ Hon. Wm. I SEWARD, Washington."
THE AMERICAN FISHERIES.
AUGUST 14, 1852
The message of the President of the United States, transmitting information in regard to the fisheries on the coasts of the British Possessions in North America, being under consideration, Mr. Seward said:
Mr. PRESIDENT: When this debate was suspended on Thursday last, a question had just arisen, whether the executive administration had been censured here for its conduct in regard to this subject.
The honorable Senator from Virginia, (Mr. Mason,] Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, when addressing the Senate, remarked that if the President had done his duty, the whole naval force of the country had been already sent into the northeastern seas to protect the rights of American fishermen against British cannon. The honorable Senator from Maine, [Mr. HamLIN,] the honorable and distinguished Senator from Michigan, [Mr. Cass,) and the honorable Senator from Arkansas, [Mr. BORLAND,] declared that they fully concurred in all that had been said by the honorable Senator from Virginia.
Now, it is quite certain that the whole naval force of the country has not even yet been sent into those seas, and I suppose it equally certain that at that time none had been sent there.
The honorable Senator from Arkansas, Mr. BORLAND,) expressed astonishment and regret that the President had not, without a call, sent here all the information which he possessed. He complained that the Secretary of State had “treated the subject wrongly in what has been called his proclamation,'” that it “cast doubts on the rights of the fishermen.” Alluding to rumored negotiation at Mr. Webster's country residence, he declared his opinion that the place was ill-chosen, and indeed that negotiation