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not know that if the enemy had once entered within the city, all would have been lost? His fires would have been seen blazing from every steeple, and his artillery would have battered down every public and private building. Then might you have realized the full import of their watchword, in the screams of American wives and daughters, under the rude grasp of a licentious British soldiery. Sir, I repeat it: if ever the enemy had once entered within the city, all would have been lost. Your heroic General and his brave officers would have been slain; your noble army would have been captured or dispersed;
your city would have been sacked and burnt, and the then · young, but rising, and now mighty West, would have been
ruined. Sir, I love the West. It is the land of my youth, and the home of my manhood. I love her lofty mountains, her wide luxuriant valleys, her deep majestic rivers. Need I say that I love, and honor, and cherish in my heart of hearts, that immortal man who saved and preserved them all! To guard against a great and mighty calamity like this, he proclaimed martial law. Let me read to you his own eloquent exposition of the motives which impelled him to the act. It is to be found in his defence before an inexorable Judge, sitting in the very city he had just saved, and before he had left the scene of his triumph and glory :
“ In this crisis, and under a firm persuasion that none of these objects could be effected by the exercise of the ordinary powers confided to him ; under a solemn conviction that the country committed to his care could be saved by that measure only from utter ruin ; under a religious belief that he was performing the most important and sacred duty,—respondent proclaimed martial law. He intended, by that measure, to supersede such civil powers as in their operation interfered with those he was obliged to exercise. He thought that, in such a moment, constitutional forms must be suspended for the permanent preservation of constitutional rights, and that there could be no question whether it were best to depart for a moment from the exercise of our dearest privileges, or have them wrested from us forever.
He knew that, if the civil magistrate were permitted to exercise his usual functions, none of the measures necessary to avert the awful fate that threatened us,
could be expected. Personal liberty cannot exist at a time when every man is required to become a soldier. Private property cannot be secured, when its use is indispensable for the public safety. Unlimited the press is the more dangerous, when it is made the vehicle of conveying intelligence to the enemy, or exciting mutiny among the soldiery. To have suffered the uncontrolled enjoyment of any one of those rights during the time of the late invasion, would have been to abandon the defence of the country. The civil magistrate is the guardian of those rights; and the proclamation of martial law was therefore intended to supersede the exercise of his authority, so far as it interfered with the necessary restriction of those rights, but no farther.”
Here, sir, is his own exposition of the pure and patriotic motives—an exposition that ought to have softened down the heart of that “ British inebriate," though that heart had been made of stone. Nothing, however, could move the inexorable Judge: he spurned the defence from the record, and the enormous fine of one thousand dollars was imposed on the saviuor of the city. It was excessive—it was enormous; so excessive, so enormous, that it ought to be remitted. Here is common ground where all can stand. Here the gentleman from New York, from Massachusetts, from Kentucky, might stand ; common ground, where both my colleagues (Messrs. Peyton and Dickinson) might have stood, both in their speeches and their votes--the enormity of this fine. It equalled the net income of one whole year of General Jackson's resources. Whatever any man may think of his power to declare martial law, no man can doubt the purity of his motives. That purity should have disarmed the law of its vengeance, and wrapped its victim in the mantle of mercy, gratitude and honor.
Mr. Chairman: I fear that much of the reluctance of gentlemen to the passage of this bill is to be found in the fact that this was a pecuniary punishment. Suppose, instead of a fine your Commanding General had been cast into the prisons of Louisiana. Suppose the same mail that brought you the news of that unparalleled victory had brought the news that your General was in a dungeon ; that whilst the brave army which he had commanded had returned home in safety and honor, its heroic commander was pining in prison for the very act which had closed the second war of Independence in a blaze of glory! How long, think you, would Mr. Madison, then President of the United States, have permitted him to remain unpardoned and unliberated from that loathsome condition. How States, then in session, would have interceded, if necessary, in his behalf? Sir, that whole Congress would have rushed from both ends of the Capitol, and gone in solemn procession to implore his instant liberation. Would the gentleman from New York (Mr. BARNARD] have deserted from the lines of that procession, and exclaimed, as he has now done, “We have a Constitution to preserve," and therefore let him rot in jail? Would the gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. GRIDER,] then have said, let him pine in his dungeon, because he and his constituents were entitled to their share of the glory of his achievements? Would my colleague, [Mr. Peyton] have travelled onward in a procession whose object, if obtained, would strike down the noblest monument of his glory, pluck the proudest feather from his war-plume, and dim the lustre of the brightest jewel that glitters in the coronet of his fame? Would the venerable gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Adams] have been seen then lingering far behind in that procession, and refusing to ask for the liberation of the man by whose defence on a previous occasion he had secured his warmest lodgement in the hearts of his countrymen? No, sir; there would have been no halting and hesitating in such a case in the Congress of 1815. All men of all parties-save only those who loved England, whose proud myrimdons he had conquered, more than they loved their own country-would have rushed to the Executive mansion, and implored the liberation of General Jackson. His punishment by fine stands on the same principle as his pun. ishment by imprisonment. With the same patriotic ardor that the Congress of 1815 would have implored the remission of the one, the Congress of 1844 ought to remit the other.
But the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. SCHENCK] has just told us that this was not the right time; that, if done at all, it should have been done on the day when the fine was imposed. I fear, sir, the right time will never come with him and his party friends, who evince such a never-dying opposition to this bill. Thirty years have now rolled over the memorable scenes of New Orleans; but they have neither dimmed the gratitude of his country, nor softened down the malevolence of his enemies. This is the 8th of January, the day which he has rendered ever mem
this cruel and unjust judgment should be reversed—when this excessive and enormous fine should be remitted. He has rendered it illustrious by the noblest victory on record; let us render it, if possible, still more illustrious, by a great act of national justice and honor.
On the Correspondence of Mr. Webster with the British Minis
ter, in relation to the surrender of Alexander McLeod. Delivered in the House of Representatives, July 9th and 10th, 1841.
The following resolution being under consideration in the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union :
Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to inform this House, if not incompatible with the public service, whether any officer of the army, or the Attorney General of the United States, has, since the 4th of March last, been directed to visit the State of New York for any purpose connected with the imprisonment or trial of Alexander McLeod; and whether, by any Executive measures or correspondence, the British Gov. ernment has been given to understand that Mr. McLeod will be released or surrendered; and, if so, to communicate to this House copies of the instructions to, and report of, such officer.
Mr. A. V. BROWN, of Tennessee, addressed the House as follows :
Mr. SPEAKER: I offer no apology for further discussion of this subject. It has not been discussed enough yet. It was not discussed enough last winter, when the British Government half confessed that she had invaded our soil, burnt our property, and murdered our people. She so nearly confessed it, that when her minister's letter was received, containing the impudent avowal “that the destruction of the Caroline was the public act of persons in her Majesty's service, obeying the orders of their superior authorities,” this hall rung with indignation from one side of it to the other.
The now chairman of the Ways and Means, and the present Postmaster General, both coming from the region of country where this outrage was perpetrated, made the most animated appeals to our sympathies and patriotism.
But the cold suggestion was made then, as now, that the