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great opinion of such transcendentalism of delicacy as this good for winning electoral votes, possibly, but unfitting a man, or a government, for manly and useful action. Sir, New York is ably represented here, by gentlemen of both political parties, and they can answer for her; but I believe she will laugh to scorn the suggestions we hear of out of doors, that any disrespect has been shown or felt for her government or her people, for her judicial learning, or for the temper, feelings, and views of any portion of her widespread community.
In judging on this part of the subject, in this inquiry how far this government has exceeded its powers, invaded State rights, or betrayed indecorous anxiety and haste to save this person from the gallows, I ask you to take one thing into
consideration. Sir, it is no answer at all to England to say,
this is the affair of New York. She knows nothing even of that magnificent Empire State as a separate State.
We do not allow her to know anything of any State, by our Federal Constitution, in that capacity. We do not allow her to have diplomatic access to any. To attempt to make a treaty with any, would be clear ground of war. We inform her that, by our federal Constitution, the foreign relations of New York are reposited here; and if she has any cause of complaint against her, she will please to leave her card at our door. England, of course, all the nations, must hold us to this; and if any State affords her ground of war, it is against us that we ourselves direct her to turn her steel. At the same time therefore, that our federal relations to New York hindered us from doing much, our obligation on the laws of nations to England to do everything was not in the least degree lessened by them. The clear course of the government, therefore, was to do what it did, — to apprise that patriotic and noble State of our opinions on the justice of the demand of England; to do what we decorously could to avert so senseless and fatal an act as the execution of the prisoner; to have his case fairly tried, and, if needful, to have his case brought into the national tribunals; to explain to England why we could go no farther, and then abide the result. Anything, everything were better than a war on such a ground, that no man could hear of a defeat or a victory without tears of bitterest humiliation for America.
Mr. President, I have one duty here to perform, not so much to the Secretary of State as to my own feelings; and then I shall have done. I have said that it was the business of the government, after, as far as was practicable, clearing itself of fault in the matter of McLeod, to demand satisfaction, withholden and slept upon by England under the last Administration for three years, for the destruction of The Caroline. Gentlemen will do the Secretary of State the justice to remember that far the larger part of the letter to Mr. Fox is devoted to the performance of what he must have felt, as we feel it to be, his most agreeable duty. They will concede, too, that this part of his work is eminently well done. I should but degrade the seat which I hold in this high place by public adulation of any man, even of him. That he is my strong and constant friend would be no apology at all. Yet I will say that the ability and spirit with which this paper is written will give it a high place among the ablest diplomatic compositions, which enrich the archives of even the Department of State. He has vindicated the government of his country under all administrations, making no narrow, unnational discriminations between them, from every shadow of blame in reference to the Canadian border troubles ; has proved that, so far from permitting or conniving at any participation in them by our people, we have set an example to the world; we have been the first nation in the world to prohibit our citizens from making any form of war on a country with whose government our own government was at peace; has proved that England had no right to make so rash and fatal an invasion on this. Sir, with this letter unrecalled, I think no English minister will tell us again, at the end of three more years, that he understood our claim for satisfaction had been withdrawn.
That this argument is ably conducted you all admit. But the course of the distinguished Senator's observations makes it more immediately due to Mr. Webster, to remind you that the argument is so conducted as not only to inform the public judgment about this wrong, but to excite just sensibilities in relation to it. It is so conducted as not only to enlighten the understanding, but to lift up the spirit of the country. He has not stooped to pick up and bluster about what is called the
language of threat, bút he has met the whole claim and the whole case of England with a composed and firm dignity, and with a manly decision ; in the temper of a statesman, he holds the peace and glory of his country in his hands.
The Senator from Virginia [Mr. Rives) last evening read to us a portion of this paper. Let me enable its distinguished author, now no more among you, again, though absent from this scene of his long and splendid series of patriotic service, to speak for himself.
“Under these circumstances, and under those immediately connected with the transaction itself, it will be for her Majesty's government to show upon what state of facts, and what rules of national law, the destruction of The Caroline is to be defended. It will be for that government to show a necessity of self-defence, ivstant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation. It will be for it to show, also, that the local authorities of Canada, even supposing the necessity of the moment authorized them to enter the territories of the United States at all, did nothing unreasonable or excessive; since the act, justified by the necessity of selfdefence, must be limited by that necessity, and keep clearly within it.
“It must be shown that admonition or remonstrance to the persons on board The Caroline, was impracticable, or would have been unavailing ; it must be shown that daylight could not be waited for, that there could be no attempt at discrimination between the innocent and the guilty ; that it would not have been enough to seize and detain the vessel ; but that there was a necessity, present and inevitable, for attacking her in the darkness of the night, while moored to the shore, and while unarmed men were asleep on board, killing some and wounding others, and then drawing her into the current, above the cataract, setting her on fire, and, careless to know whether there might not be in her the innocent with the guilty, or the living with the dead, committing her to a fate which fills the imagination with terror. A necessity for all this, the government of the United States cannot believe to have existed.'
To these hands, for one, I am willing to intrust the rights and the fame of my country.
Mr. President, I concur entirely with both the Senators
who have preceded me that there need be felt no apprehension of a war with England. Like them, I neither expect nor desire it. Heaven forbid! I know of nothing between the governments that ought not to be and may not be easily and honorably composed. But whatever may befall, I claim it as the praise of this administration, that it has had the manliness to seek peace by justice; and that if war shall come, it has done all that man can do to enable us so to go into it that we may have the approval of our own consciences, self-respect, the moral judgments of the world, and may I not add, the God of our fathers with us in the conflict.
SPEECH ON THE BILL TO PROVIDE FURTHER REMEDIAL JUSTICE IN THE COURTS OF THE UNITED STATES, BY AN EXTENSION OF THEIR POWERS.
DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, MAY 10, 1842.
I concur with the Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr. Buchanan) in regarding this as an important bill. All legislation is so which involves a question of the Constitution ; but this, which no doubt approaches, although it does not touch, the impassable line that separates State and national jurisdiction, and which has for its object to secure the national peace and honor, by retaining the conduct of our foreign intercourse in the nation's hands, possesses a peculiar importance. It was for this reason that I expressed a desire last evening to trespass for a short time on your indulgence.
I have nothing to say to any part of the bill except that which gives qualified jurisdiction to the national courts in cases arising upon the laws of nations, and affecting the subjects of foreign governments domiciled abroad. All the rest of the bill, in so far as any constitutional principle is involved, is as old as the judiciary act; as old as the Constitution. Always we have exercised a superintending appellate control over the criminal jurisdiction of the States, after judgment, in cases arising under the Constitution, the laws, or the treaties of the United States. Always we have asserted the great conservative principle, that the determinations of the national courts in these cases are the supreme law; and that those courts are our tribunals of the last resort. This great principle we have
1 The object of this bill was to meet any of the States and the United States. such cases as that of McLeod; and to it passed, with some amendments, July prevent a conflict of authority between 7, 1842.