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it would surrender the Bay of Monterey, and perhaps the Bay of San Francisco, on the Pacific coast.
Sir, it seems to me that we have been laboring for the last fortnight under a strange misapprehension : that we have been arguing here the freedom of the seas of open and broad seas—the freedom of great bays, which freedom is not now practically denied, or newly brought in question. It is true that the British government deny our right to enter the great bays, but it is equally true that they have done so for thirty years; and it is equally true, moreover, that, for thirty years, we have practically exercised the right, and that we are exercising it now just as we have done throughout all that period.
Now, how has all this confusion come into the Senate, and how is it that we are alarming, perplexing, and bewildering the country in so idle and cruel a manner? What ground has there been for assuming that the British government had determined to revise the convention of 1818, and to enforce its construction by arms? On what did senators base their apprehensions and build this excitement? The honorable Senator from Michigan, [Mr. Cass] quoted from three newspapers, but neither of them was an organ of the Imperial government, nor even a British newspaper. He quoted from merely provincial journals; and I believe that two of the three journals were anti-ministerial papers. Moreover, such as they were, they did not assume to speak by authority, but only on report, and by way of conjecture. Perhaps with those journals “the wish was father to the thought;" and they thought that their brethren “down South” would soon take a new lesson from the presence of an assumed extraordinary force in the fisheries. My honorable friend from Louisiana based his censure on the administration for possibly negotiating away valuable national rights on what he called a "semi-official announcement" of the fact in the “ Telegraph,” a small newspaper in this city, which is not, as I understand, an organ of this administration, but can pretend to no more than a desire, perhaps, if it should survive, as I fear it may not, to become the
of a future one. The honorable senator, however, most candidly confessed, when called upon to name the paper, that he called the announcement “semiofficial,” not from any official character that the paper bore, but from the authoritative manner which it assumed. A case may be easily made out against the administration, if you will quote from the papers, friendly or otherwise, which make up their articles from telegraph reports.
Now, if provincial newspapers are authority on one side of a case, I am sure that they are equally so on the other. I am very happy to produce such, for the purpose of restoring the equanimity of the Senate. I read from the “New Brunswicker," a provincial paper, of the date of August 3d, 1852 :
" Nearly all the American papers we have seen labor under the erroneous impression that the Imperial government is about to enforce the legal construction given to the convention of 1818 by the crown officers of England, and prevent Americans from fishing, except at the distance of three marine miles outside of lines drawn from headland to headland. We have good authority for asserting that such is not the case. It is quite true that since the opinion of the Attorney General and Advocate General of England was given upon the case submitted by the legislature of Nova Scotia, the government of that colony, upon the urgent request of the fishermen, has evinced a desire to carry out the extreme legal view of that convention; but the Imperial government has steadily refused to take that view of the case, conceiving that American fishermen might properly claim to fish anywhere outside of three miles of any part of the coasts of British North America, even within bays more than six miles wide.
" Acting under this impression, the Imperial government has for some years sent a few sloops of war, or other smaller armed vessels, to cruise during the fishing season along the shores of the colonies, to prevent foreign vessels from fishing within three miles of the land. But these vessels had each such a large extent of coast to watch over, that the duty of keeping foreign fishermen three miles from the land was indifferently performed; and the trespasses and encroachments have consequently increased every year, until they could be borne no longer. The colonies found they must take the affair into their own hands, or else abandon their shore fisheries to the people of the United States, who, by the convention of 1818, renounced forever any liberty theretofore enjoyed or claimed to take, dry, or cure fish, in or within three marine miles of any of the coasts, bays, creeks, or harbors of her Majesty's dominions in America.'
" It was owing to these determined movements on the part of the Colonies, that the Imperial government resolved upon giving efficient assistance to protect the North American fisheries; and this assistance was offered, as our neighbors will soon learn, not with the view of enforcing the rigid legal construction given to the convention, but absolutely to prevent the Colonial cruisers from carrying out that very construction, thereby incurring the risk of unpleasant collisions with the vessels of a foreign but friendly power. It was to insure the continuance of peace, and prevent the possibility of hostile encounters, that the Imperial government had dispatched its vessels to the shores of North America."
Sir, there was a presumption, which it seems to me we ought to have admitted, that would have prevailed against the sounding forth of these idle alarms. For one, I want no evidence that England desires and is determined to maintain her power wherever she can, and to fortify and extend it over the world wherever she may, consistently with the rights of other nations, and, perhaps, without a very careful regard, in all instances, to those rights. But, on the other hand, I want no evidence to satisfy me that England desires peace with the United States.
The vast commerce of the world is practically divided between these two capital maritime powers, and is as yet largely in the hands of England. The British nation is a mercantile one. We also are a mercantile people with whom England deals largely, and we are agents in carrying on a large portion of the commerce of England with other countries. The trade between the two countries employs 10,000 American vessels and 9,000 British vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of three millions of tons. The comfort and welfare and happiness of the British nation depends, as do our own largely, on the preservation of that commerce. War between the two nations would sweep it from the ocean. The ministry that should involve that nation in war with the United States, would be driven from power by public indignation, arising out of universal calamity and distress.
England is a manufacturer. Her imports in all her domains are valued by hundred of millions annually, and her exports are equivalent. She needs raw materials-cotton and wool and other articles, and bread-stuffs and provisions. And to get these, while extending the markets for her manufactures, she bends all the policy of her commercial and fiscal systems. We furnish those indispensable supplies lavishly, and we consume her fabrics of iron, cotton, flax, wool, silver, gold, every thing in preference to manufacturing for ourselves. A war with the United States would close these relations at once, and the artisans and laborers of England would be involved in calamities such as they have never yet known.
England is a creditor nation. We are debtors to her. Heaven knows how much capital is not accumulated in England. It is a capital that has been gathered through a thousand years, by a nation of wonderful and world-searching sagacity, industry, and enterprise. We employ of that capital all that we can obtain, for we have need of it all, to bring at once into sudden development and perfection vast and perpetually-extending regions, which, for near 6,000 years, were, by civilized man, untrodden and unknown. A large portion of our public debt is owned in England. Large masses of our state debts are owned there. In addition to that, our merchants are indebted to England I know not how much; but I have known the time when the whole public and private debt of the United States, owed to British subjects, was not less than $250,000,000. The interest on this debt constitutes the support of a considerable portion of the British community.
England, then, cannot wisely desire, nor safely dare, a war with the United States. She knows all this, and more: that war with the United States, about these fisheries, would find the United States able to surround the British colonies. She would find that the dream of conquest of those colonies, which broke upon us, even in the dawn of the revolution, when we tendered them an invitation to join their fortunes with ours, and followed it with the sword ; that dream, which returned again in 1812, when we attempted to subjugate them by force, would come over us again; and that now, when we have matured the strength to take them, we should find the provinces willingly consenting to captivity. A war about these fisheries would be a war which would result either in the independence of the British provinces, or in their annexation to the United States. I devoutly pray God that that consummation may come; the sooner the better; but I do not desire it at the cost of war, or of injustice. I am content to wait for the ripened fruit which must fall. I know the wisdom of England too well to believe that she would hazard shaking that fruit into our hands, for all that she could hope to gain by insisting on, or enforcing with armed power, her rigorous construction of the convention concerning the colonial fisheries.
Sir, what is the condition of England for a war with the United States at this moment? Her power has been extended over the East, and she employs nearly all her armies in India, and in Africa, to maintain herself against the natives of the one continent and the savages of the other. At this very moment, those who understand her condition best, say that her home defences are inadequate to protect her against an invasion by France. Wise and able statesmen, now representing the ruling and prevailing interest of the country, demand of the Parliament to add to their defences, by extending and reorganizing the militia ; and it is a great party question in that kingdom, whether the safety of England shall be secured by such an increase, or whether it shall be left exposed to an invader.
What is the condition of English power in Canada, and in the British provinces ? England has never, since the war of 1812, had so small a military force in those provinces as now. The Imperial government has maintained heretofore some show of naval defence upon our lakes. But within the last six months it has broken up the whole naval force there, and now none whatever exists.
While thus showing the supposed motives to peace on the part of Great Britain, I confess that peace is no less the interest and the instinct of our own country. The United States might aggrandize themselves by war, but they are sure to be aggrandized by peace. I thank God that the peace of the world is largely subject to the control of these two great powers; and that, while they have common dispositions toward harmony, neither has need of war to establish its character for firmness or for courage. Each has had enough of
“The camp, the bost, the fight, the conqueror's career.”
Some honorable senators have averred that they could not trust this administration, because of its antecedents; that Britain was induced to assume a bold tone on this question, by triumphs which she had obtained in negotiations with this administration. One general remark meets all these objections; and that is, that they are extraneous issues, each one sufficient for a discussion in itself. Any senator, who thinks the interests of the country have been sacrificed can bring it before the Senate and the country, and present it distinctly for examination.
But, sir, what are these charges in regard to Cuba? Why, as I understand, that this administration interposed to prevent an expedition, which it was alleged was fitted out in this country for that island, in violation of our neutrality laws. Was this all? If it was, let senators dissatisfied repeal the neutrality laws if they can, and not censure the President for executing them.
What complaint is made in regard to Mexico ? Why, that the Secretary of State employed a British banker, as an agent, to pay the instalments on the debt of this government, payable in the city of Mexico. I see nothing wrong in that. An agent was necessary, and a foreign one. I believe the money was honestly paid to Mexico, and that she was satisfied. But it is said that British creditors got a portion of the money. I know not what obligations we were under to take measures to defeat British creditors, or any others, or the British government, from obtaining satisfaction of any of their debtors. Indeed, in some of the states, there is a system of remedies founded on the principle that the creditor has a right to attach money belonging to his debtor in transitu.
What has the administration done, or neglected to do, in regard to the Sandwich Islands? It is understood that this imagined shortcoming of the administration consists in the President's not