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sumption of that merchandize afforded a revenue to our treasury of more than three hundred thousand dollars. The sale of western public lands was counted upon as producing half a million of dollars annually. Large arrearages of internal taxes were due from that country. The people had just emerged from an Indian war. They had overcome the most frightful obstructions which ever presented themselves in the settlement of a new country, and although yet in their infancy, we might promise ourselves an honorable and a vigorous manhood, if they were protected, as we had led them to expect....after a little while their strength and faculty of self preservation would be complete. Certainly they yet needed the kind fostering hand of their parent states. But if that be now withdrawn, where is the revenue on which to calculate? How can they pay
lands? How can they discharge the arrearages of taxes? How can they pay your merchants in Baltimore or Philadelphia? They cannot go to market.... They have no resources but the produce of their farms. You suffer the Spaniards to lock them
up. You tell them that their crops may, nay must rot on their hands, and yet they must pay you their debts and taxes....... Is this justice? Will it be submitted to ? These men bought your lands in confidence that the Spanish treaty would be maintained....all sales since the date of the treaty.... now you suffer wanton violation of it without making an effort to remove the obstruction, and yet tell them they must pay you! This cannot be expected. It would not be the rule between honest individuals, for the seller of an estate suffering an eviction of the purchaser when he might and could prevent it, would not be permitted to recover the purchase money,
If it comports with your calculation of interest or convenience, to submit tamely to this outrage, and to witness the ruin of one part of your country for the sake of peace in the residue, surely your ideas of peace will compel you to absolve the western people from all obligation to repay what it would ruin them to advance. Will you prosecute them in your courts? Will you sell their little all by your public officers ? Will you not be content with the loss of all the lively hopes that they had entertained of gaining a new fortune, and another
name in the wild but auspicious new countries of the west? Is it not enough that their day is darkening and closing at noon? Surely it cannot he thought reasonable to exact an impossibility. It is undeniable that in their ruin, many of your merchants on the Atlantic coast will be inevi. tably involved. Great as this evil may be, (and certainly it is of immense magnitude,) yet the loss of the affections of a whole people, the destruction of an enterprize of hope, and of industry, through all the western world, is infinitely greater.
be said that this is an overcharged description of the evil side of our affairs, without offering any remedy.
Mr. R. said, that was far from his intention, and he would now examine that subject, because to his mind the remedy was obvious.
The experience of all time has proved that with nations, as well as with individuals, submission to aggression and insult, uniformly invites a repetition and aggravation of the mischief. To repel at the onset is more easy, as well as more honorable to the injured party.
Fortunately for this country, there could be no doubt in the present case....our national right had been acknowleged, and solemnly secured by treaty. The treaty had been long in a state of execution. It was violated and denied with out provocation or apology. The treaty then was no security. This evident right was one, the security of which ought not to be precarious ; it was indispensible that the enjoyment of it should be placed beyond all doubt. He declared it therefore to be his firm and mature opinion, that so important a right would never be secure, while the mouth of the Mississippi was exclusively in the hands of the Spaniards. Caprice and enmity occasion constant interruption. From the very position of our country, from its geographical shape, from motives of complete independence, the command of the navigation of the river ought to be in our hands.
We are now wantonly provoked to take it. Hostility in its most offensive shape has been offered by those who disclaim all right to the soil and the sovereignty that country....an hostiiity fatal to the happiness of the western world....why not seize then what is su essential to us as a nation? Why not expel the wrongdoers? Wrongdoers by their own confession, to whom by a seizure we are doing no injury. Paper contracts or treaties, have proved too feeble. Plant yourselves on the river, fortify the banks, invite those who have an interest at stake to defend it....do justice to yourselves when your adversaries deny it....and leave the event to him who controls the fate of nations.
Why submit to a tardy, uncertain negociation, as the only means of regaining what you have lost....a negociation with those who have wronged you....with those who declare they have no right, at the moment they deprive you of yours? When in possession, you will negociate with more advantage. You will then be in a condition to keep others out. You will be in the actual exercise of jurisdiction over all your claims ..... Your people will have the benefits of a lawful commerce. When
your determination is known, you will make an easy and an honorable accommodation with any other claimant. The present possessors have no pretence to complain, for they have no right to the country by their own confession. The western people will discover that you are making every effort they could desire for their protection. They will ardertly support you in the contest, if a contest becomes ne. cessary.
Their all will be at stake, and neither their zeal nor their courage need be doubted.
Look at the memorial from the legislature of the Mis. sissippi territory, now on your table.... That speaks a language and displays a spirit not to be mistaken. "Their lives and fortunes are pledged to support you. The same may with equal truth be asserted of Kentucky, Tennessee, and the western people of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Is this a spirit to be repressed or put asleep by negociation? If you suffer it to be extinguished, can you recal it in the hour of distress when you want it? After negociation shall have failed, after a powerful, ambitious nation shall have taken possession of the key of your western country, and fortified it....after the garrisons are filled by the veterans who have conquered the east, will you have it in your power to awake the
generous spirit of that country and dispossess them. No .... Their confidence in such rules will be gone.... They will be disheartened, divided, and will place no further dependence upon you. They must abandon those who lost the precious moment of seizing, and forever securing their sole hope of subsistence and prosperity....they must then from necessity, make the best bargain they can with the conquerer.
It may be added, that the possession of the country on the east bank of the Mississippi, will give compactness, and irresistible strength to the United States ; and in all future European wars, we shall be more courted and respected, than we can ever hope to be without it....on that score therefore, our security will be increased by this measure.
Suppose that this course be not now pursued. Let me warn gentlemen how they trifle with the feelings, the hopes and the fears of such a body of men, who inhabit the western waters. Let every honorable man put the question to himself; how would half a million round him be affected by such a calamity, and no prompt measures taken by the government to redress it.... These men have arms in their hands; the same arms with which they proved victorious over their savage neighbors. They have a daring spirit.... they have ample means of subsistence; and they have men disposed to lead them on to revenge their wrongs. Are you certain that they will wait the end of negociation ? When they hear that nothing has been done for their immediate relief, they will probably take their resolution and act. Indeed, from all we have heard, there is great reason to believe that they will, or that they may have already taken that resolution,
They know the nature of the obstruction....they know the weakness of the country. They are sure of present sucCESS....and they have a bold river to bear them forward to the place of action. They only want a leader to conduct them, and it would be strange, if with such means and such a spirit, a leader should not soon present himself.
Suppose they do go, and do chase away the present oppressors, and that in the end, they are overpowered and defeated by a stronger foe than the present feeble possessors. They will never return to you, for you cannot protect them. They will make the best compromise they can with the power commanding the mouth of the river, who in effect, has thereby the command of their fortunes. Will such a bargain be of light or trivial moment to the Atlantic states, Bonaparte will then say to you, my French West India colonies, and those of my allies, can be supplied from my colony of Louisiana, with flour, pork, beef, lumber, and any other necessary. These articles can be carried by my own ships, navigated by my own sailors. If you, on the Atlantic coast wish to trade with my colonies in those articles, you must pay fifteen or twenty per cent. of an impost. We want 1:0 further supplies from you, and revenue to France must be the condition of all future intercourse.
What will you say to this? It will be vain to address your western brethren, and complain your commerce is ruined, your revenue dwindles, and your condition is desperate They will reply that you came not to their assistance in the only moment you could have saved them....that you balanced between national honor and sordid interest, and suffered them to be borne down and subdued, at a time when for a trifle you could have secured the Mississippi ; that now their interest must be consulted, and it forbade any assistance to you, when following in the same train of ruin which had overwhelmed them. If the evil does not immediately proceed the full length of disunion, yet the strength, the unity of exertion, the union of interest will be gone. We are no longer one people, and representatives from that part of the country in our public councils, will partake of the spirit and breathe the sentiments of a distinct nation ; they will rob you
your public lands; they will not submit to taxes; they will form a girdle round the southern states, which may be denominated a foreign yoke, and render the situation of that country very precarious as to its peace and past connexions. Indeed, every aspect of such a state of things is gloomy, and alarming to men who take the trouble of reflecting upon it,
But sir, said Mr. R. I have heard it suggested that another mode has been contemplated for getting rid of this crisis in our affairs. If we remain perfectly quiet and passive, shew no symptoms of uneasiness or discontent; if we give no offence to the new and probable masters of the Mississippi ; may be they will sell!! To me it is utterly incredible, that such an effect would low from such a conduct. They might possibly sell if they found us armed ; in possession, and resolved to maintain it. They would see that even conquest would be a hard bargain, of so distant a country: our possession would be evidences of a fixed reso. lution....But when we have no army, no military preparation, no semblance of resistance, what would induce them to 'sell? Sell, sir ! for how much? Why sir, although there is no information before this house, of any terms, yet I have seen it stated in the newspapers, that those who now pretend to claim that country may be persuaded to sell, by giving two million of dollars to certain influential persons about the court
Here Mr. WriGĦT, of Maryland, called Mr. Ross to order, and said that he thought it improper to debate upon confidential information which, in his opinion, should be kept secret. *
* Resolution of Senate, 22d Dec. 1800.- -Resolved, That all confi dential communications made by the President of the United States to the