Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rektory has be." This bep deem it prohim from Froduced t

fcarcely consider this charge as serious, and has ever cherished the hope, that a candid review of its conduct, founded on the documents, and aided by the arguments with which the Executive Directory has been furnished, would have rescued it from the injurious fufpicion. This hope seems not to have been realized, The underligned, therefore, deem it proper to precede their application for that justice which they claim from France, by an effort to remove the cause, which is alleged to have produced the injuries of which they complain. With this view, they pray the attention of the Executive Directory to a serious and candid reconsideration of the leading measures adopted by the government of the United States, and they persuade themselves, that, however various and multiplied the channels may be through which misinformation, concerning the dispositions of that government, may have been received, yet this reconsideration, must remove unfounded prejudices, and entirely exculpate the American nation from an accusation it knows to be unfounded, and believes to be supported by no single fact

When that war which has been waged with such unparalleled fury, which, in its vast vicissitudes of fortune, has alternately threatened the very existence of the conflicting parties, but which, in its progress, has surrounded France with such splendout, and added still inore to her glory than her territory_when that war first involved those nations with whoin the United States were in habits of friendly intercourse, it became incumbent on their government to examine their situations, their connexions, and their duties. America found herself at peace with all of the belligerent powers. She was connected with some of them by treaties of amity and commerce, and France by a treaty of alliance also. These several treaties were confidered with the most serious attention, and with a sincere with to determine, by fair construction, the obligations which they really imposed. The result of this inquiry was a full convi&ion, that her engagements by no means bound her to take part in the war, but left her so far the mistress of her own conduct, as to be at perfect libůty to observe a syltem of real neutrality. It is deemed unnecessary to analyse those treaties in order to support the propriety of this decision, because it is not recollected ever to have been questioned, and is believed not to admit of doubt.

Being bound by no duty to enter into the war, the government of the United States conceived itself bound by duties the most sacred to abstain from it. Contemplating man, even in a different society, as the friend of man, a state of peace, though unftipulated by treaty, was considered as imposing obligations not to be wantonly violated. These obligations, created by the laws of nature, were in some

instances

instances strengthened by solemn existing engagements, of which good faith required a religious observance.

To a sense of moral right, other considerations of the greatest magnitude were added, which forbade the government of the United States to plunge them unnecessarily into the miseries of the bloody conflict' then commencing. The great nations of Europe, either impelled by ambition, or by existing or supposed political interests, peculiar to themselves, have consumed more than a third of the present century in wars. Whatever causes may have produced so affecting an evil, they cannot be supposed to have been entirely extinguished, and humanity can scarcely indulge the hope, that the temper or condition of man is fo altered as to exempt the next century from the ills of the past. Strong fortifications, powerful navies, immense armies, the accumulated wealth of ages, and a full population, enable the nations of Europe to support those wars in which they are induced to engage, by motives which they deem adequate, and by interests inclus fively their own. In all respects different is the situation of the United States; possessed of an extensive unsettled territory, on which bountiful Nature has bestowed with a lavish hand all the capacities for future legitimate greatness, they indulge no thirst for conquest, no ambition for the extension of their limits. Encircled by no dangerous powers, they neither fear nor are jealous of their neighbours, and are not, on that account, obliged to arm for their own safety. Separated from Europe by a vast and friendly ocean, they are but remotely, if at all, affected by those interests which agitate and influence this portion of the globe. Thus circumstanced, they have no motive for a voluntary war. On the contrary, the inost powerful considerations urge them to avoid it. An extensive and undefended commerce, peculiarly necefTary to a nation which does not manufacture for itself, which is, and for a long time to come will be, almost exclusively agricultural, would have been its immediate and certain vi&im. The surplus produce of their labour must have perished on their hands, and that increase of population so essential to a young country, muft, with their prosperity, have sustained a serious check. Their exertions, too, would not have been considerable, unless the war had been transferred to their own bosoms.

Great as are the means and resources of the United States for felf-defence, it is only in self-defence that those resources can be completely difplayed. Neither the genius of the nation, nor the ftate of its finances, admit of calling its citizens from the plough, but to defend their own liberty and their own fire-fides. How criminal must have been that government, which could have plunged its conflituents in a war, to which they were neither impelled by duty or solicited by interest; in which they committed

[ocr errors]

poffible ,e governmtul than the repell

so much to hazard; in which they must suffer in order to act effi, ciently, and could only display their energy too in repelling invafion? But motives' ftill more powerful than the calamities of the moment have influenced the government of the United States.

It was perhaps impossible to have engaged voluntarily in the existing conflia, without launching into the almost boundless ocean of European politics, without contracting habits of national conduct, and forming close political connexions, which must have compromitted the future peace of the nation, and have involved it in all the future quarrels of Europe.' A long train of armies, debts, and taxes, checking the growth, diminishing the happiness, and endangering the liberty of the United States, must have followed the adoption of such a system. And for what pura pose should it have been adopted ? For what purpose should America thus burden herself with the conflicts of Europe?- Not to comply with any engagements she has formed, not to promote her own views, her own objects, her own happiness, or her own lafety, but to move as a satellite around some greater planet, whose laws she must of necessity obey. In addition to these weighty considerations, it was believed that France would derive more benefit from the neutrality of America, than from her becoming a party in the war.

The determination then of the government of the United States to preserve that neutral station in which the war found them, far from manifesting a partiality for the enemies of France, was only a measure of justice to itself and others, and did not even derogate from that predilection for this republic, which it has so repeatedly expresled and displayed. Having avowed this determination, increased motives of honour and of duty commanded its faithful observance. It is not a principle which remains now to be settled, that a fraudulent neutrality is no neutrality at all; and that the nation which would be admitted to its privileges must also perform the duties it enjoins. Had the government of the United States, declaring itself neutral, indulged its partialities by granting favours unstipulated by treaty, to one of the belli. gerent powers, which it refused to another, it could no longer have claimed the immunities of a situation of which the obligations were forgotten; it would have become a party to the war as certainly as if war had been openly and formally declared ; and it would have added to the madness of wantonly engaging in such hazardous conflict, the dishonour of insincere and fraudulent conduct; it would have attained circuitously an object which it could not plainly avow or directly pursue, and would have tricked the United States into a war which it could not venture openly to declare.

It was a matter of real delight to the government and the people VOL. VI.

[ocr errors]

of America to be informed, that France did not wish to interrupt the peace they enjoyed.

The undersigned have been induced to reft upon this first neceffary and decisive step taken by their government, although its propriety may not be controverted, from a conviction, that, if the right of the United States to observe a fair and honest neutrality be established, the general charges of an unfriendly difpofition made against thein by France must be relinquished, becaufe the facts by which those charges are supported will be found to have grown inevitably out of that situation.

This measure was accompanied by another, which, in repelling fu astonishing a charge as partiality for the enemies of France, deferves to be noticed. Soon after the government of the United States had noticed to its citizens the duties which its neutrality enjoired, Mr. Genet, the first minister from this republic, arrived at Philadelphia: although his conduct had been such as to give cause for serious alarm; although, before he was even acknowledged as a minister, or had reached the authority which could inspect his credentials, he had assumed the functions of the government to which he was deputed; yet the government was resolved to fee in him only the representative of a republic to which it was sincerely attached, gave him the same warm and cordial reception which he had experienced from its citizens, without a fingle exception, from Charleston to Philadelphia. The then situation of France deserves to be remembered.

While the recollection adds, Citizen Minister, to the glory with which your nation is encircled, it cítablishes the sincerity of the United States.

The most formidable combination that the world had ever seen threatened the extermination of this republic. Auftria, Germany, Prussia, Britain, Spain, Holland, and Sardinia, were in arms against France, and Rullia was leagued in the coalition. Nor was this all : the republic, distracted by internal divisions, contained numerous enemics within its own bofom, and a confidera. bie portion of its proper force was arrayed against itfelf. In such a state of things the most fanguine might fear and the moft ardent hesitate. Confident in their ítrength, and relying on success, the coalesced powers fought to arm in their cause the refidue of the world, and deemed it criminal to acknowledge the sovereignty of the republic. The nations of Europe, even those who had not entered into the contest, were either of themselves unwilling to acknowledge this sovereignty, or were deterred by fear from doing so. Had the partialities of America been against France, this example would have been followed. According to the rules of ordinary calculation the measure would have been safe, and consequently a government feeling the attachments now so unjustly

poris private at perom thes of Amed the importaercise, 'when Shry, and xerciting to cruise fitting op

recinderfigreigning their their jurice te mere

- attributed to that of the United States, would have indicated those attachments by its adoption. Far from pursuing such a systein, the United States, unawed by the strength of the coalition, received with open arms the minister of this republic, acknowledged with enthusiasm the government which had deputed him, overlooked his extraurdinary attacks on their sovereignty, and manifested a cordial friendship for his nation and a sincere with for its success.

Scarcely were the first ceremonies of his reception over, when Mr. Genet displayed a disposition to usurp and exercise, within the United States, the choicest and most important duties and powers of sovereignty. He claimed the privileges of arming and embodying the citizens of America within their own territory, to carry on from thence expeditions against nations with whom they are at peace, of fitting out and equipping within their limits privateers, to cruise on a commerce destined for their ports, of exercising within their jurisdiction an independent judi. ciary, and arraigning their government at the bar of the people. The undersigned will not afk, in what manner France would have treated any foreign minister who should have dared so to conduct himself towards this republic?-But in what manner would the American government have treated such a minister, if the representative of a nation it viewed with coldness or even indifference? In what manner would it have treated him, had he been the representative of any other nation than France? No man acquainted with that government can doubt how these inquiries ought to be answered. From the minister of France alone could this extraordinary conduct be borne with temper. To have continued to have borne is, without perceiving and feeling its extreme impropriety, would have been to have merited the contempt as well of France as of the powers of the earth. The government of the United States did feel it ; but far from transferring to his nation that resentment, which such conduct could not fail to excite, it distinguished strongly between the government and its minister; and the representations it made were in the language of a friend afflicted but not irritated by the injuries it complained of. The recall of that minister was received with universal joy, as a confirmation that his whole system of conduct was attributable only to himself; and not even the publication of his private instructions could persuade the American government to ascribe aný part of it to this republic.

At the same time the exertions of the United States to pay up the arrearages of their debt to France, which had been unavoidably permitted to accumulate ; to make disinterested and liberal advances to the sufferers of St. Domingo, thrown suddenly upon them, without provisions or money, whose recommendation was, that they were Frenchmen and unfortunate; the perseverance Gg2

with

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »