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It is not the disorder, but the physician ; it is not a casual concurrence of calamitous circumstances ; it is the pernicious hand of government, which alone can make a whole people desperate.
REVIEW of Mr. Giles's first Speech in the Senate of the United States,
on the Resolution of Mr. Hillhouse to repeal the Embargo Laws.
The numerous questions which the Embargo laws have occasioned, have excited general attention by stronger appeals to interest in the discussion, than can probably be found in the elements of any other controversy, except that of the adoption of the constitution, that has ever been agitated in the United States. It may now, perhaps, be too late. to enter at large into the merits of the principal topicks involved in the consideration of that measure: but the importance which has been attached by the democratick party to the SPEECH of MR. GILES, under review, seems to demand an exposition of its visionary and im. practicable fancies, and a refutation of the assumed arguments by which the advocates of the embargo justify a continuance of the policy, upon which it was originally founded.
As the views of this most ingenious gentlemen, are chiefly relied upon by his party, and as his ambition we understand is to be considered the champion of that party,' we are willing to enter into his reasonings somewhat at large; and shall first offer a faithful abstract of his arguments in defence of the administration, which is contained in this attempt, and afterwards produce such remarks as hare occurred to us upon the momentous question, which it is its intention to discuss.
He begins with a great deal of declamation about his retirement from the political world, and his astonishment that the embargo laws should have met with any opposition, since, from the opportunities he had had of observing thereupon, he thought he knew something of the general objects of those laws ; though he at the same time confessed he felt a real want of information on the subject. From this avowal at the outset we were not at all surprised to discover numerous other contradictions in the inferences which he draws, from more important points than the consequence which results from either his knowledge of the embargo laws, or his want of information on the subject.
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Mr. Giles in the first place understands the intention of the embargo laws to be two fold; a precautionary, operating upon ourselves, and a coercive intention, operating upon the aggressing belligerents. And as the only fair estimate of the measure to be obtained must be by considering our situation at the time of its adoption, he proceeds to inform us that the government had a tolerably correct account of it. He says we had merchandise and vessels actually afloat to the value of 100 millions of dollars ; that merchandise and vessels to the amount of 50
millions more were expected shortly to ibe set afloat ; and that 50,000 seamen would be required to navigate the property. In this state of things France had issued her hostile edicts, and government were informed of an intention on the part of Great Britain to issue her Orders in Council, “ the character and object of which were known." Here Mr. Giles pauses in his argument to offer a panegyrick on Mr. Jefferson for saving all this property and all these seamen, and then proceeds to admit that they had gone voluntarily into that very " hard and ignominious service," to prevent which has been the principal occasion of the difficulties under which we labour. First, he says the fact of their enlistment in foreign service is greatly exaggerated, then he endearours to excuse the President for driving them out of the country, and afterward affirms that they have not gone away. Thus it is that the warm and sincere advocate of Mr. Jefferson runs away with discretion, and debases his talents by contradiction.
After taking for granted, however, that the precautionary part of the embargo policy, has been attained, one principal object of which he admits was the security of our seamen, he proceeds to prove its coercion on foreign nations. But he is stopped at the threshold by the consideration of its injuring ourselves more than our enemy, and he might have added of our friends as well as our enemies. He remarks however, very jocosely, that the ships of the merchant are only twelve months older now than they were twelve months ago, which reminds us of Touchstone's account of the progress
And thereby hangs a tale The concluding part of the quotation, “ rot and rot," has so strong an application to our ships, that we cannot help thinking the exclamation of Hamlet, “ that's worm-wood!" may have a literal as i well as metaphorical signification in the apprehension of Mr. Giles. The merchant, however, he says, must comfort himself with the satisfaction that he has any ships left to rot, for had it not been for the embargo he would have lost them all, and the enemy would then have derived the benefit of their capture. He wishes the merchant to suck
comfort from melancholy :' But the farmer, he remarks, so far from being in a deplorable, is in an enviable situation. Hear this, ye farmers of New-England,
“ You have mistook your interest all this while,
Yourselves to be in marvellous in good case.” He says (the merchant having of late paid double taxes) the farmer sees fourteen millions of dollars in the treasury, of course there are no taxes; but he admits the great depreciation not to say destruction of his produce. Yet he has enough to eat and drink, let him be thankful for that; let him remember, that though his surplus produce is not worth any thing now, it would have been just as bad if the en:bargo had not been put on, for the merchant would have lost all his vessels by capture, and would of course have been unable to pay for it. In addition to th the farmer has hitherto raised too large crops, he has injured his land in order to get rich too fast. The embargo will teach him his interest in this respect. The farmer, therefore, should make a just estimate of hiss enviable situation," and pray to God in future to give him small crops, and thank the good government of his country for teaching him to discover the smiles of prosperity through the tears of
Mr. Giles then launches forth into the wide sea of panegyrick, fills the sail of domestick manufacture, and wafts her into the haven of success. No storms can threaten it when sheltered by the high lands of the embargo system ; but from the operation of a mild and serene atmosphere, it will widen its roots and scatter its seeds so far, that the remotest .corpers of this happy, happy nation shall repose gratefully under its shade, and its final eradication can then never take place, unless occasioned by some concussion of the elements, fatal to the existence of the empire. He now comes to consider what he sat out upon, the effects of the embargo laws in coercing foreign powers, And first, he admits that they have not had their complete effect. This leads him into a double consideration : of their operation on the aggressing belligerents, and the causes by which somplete success has been frustrated. Notwithstanding the embargo, he admits that the orders in council and imperial decrees continue ; but for all this it has raised the price of flour in the West-Indies, and operating with the expectation
of a small crop in England, has raised it there also; and the prices of cotton, tobacco, and naval stores are considerably enhanced, according to Liverpool price currents. But the greatest coer cion of all is, that we have lessened the inducements of belligerents to go to war with us. A coercion of this kind is a novel principle, we believe, in the code of national resentments, and as it is altogether so dignified, magnanimous, and energetick, we give Mr. Jefferson full credit for having originated the idea, and Mr. Giles equal praise for enforcing it so ably,
The next effect of the embargo upon Great Britain, he proceeds to state, is its deducting from her revenue annually 600,000 dollars ; that being the amount of the duty of 4 per cent. on the manufacturés sent to the United States. He next considers the consequences of drawing out of employ 50,000 manufacturers ; which he affirms can be nothing less than a heavy charge upon that-nation : which, oppressed as they are already with taxes, must be viewed as a dreadful calamity. Mr. Giles then remarks, with singular ingenuity and quaintness, that " all these considerations must present strong inducements to Great-Britain to revoke her hostile-orders'; but she has hitherto refused so ta do." This: leads him into an examination of the causes of this refusal ; which he principally attributes to our internal discontents, exaggerated through the medium of opposition papers ; but he considers it may in some measure be caused by the revolution in Spain. However, this latter idea loses its force, when he considers Mr. Cannirg's conduct after he had heard of our own dissentions.
He then views the consequences of the embargo as respects France, and though he considers that she is not coerced by it nearly so much as Great Britain, yet he undertakes to say she is affected a great deal. He speaks of the blockade of the West-India islands and their want of pro. visions in consequence of it ; touches lightiy upon its effects upon Spain and Holland, at the time of its adoption in alliance with France, and throws out a sly insinuation that it might have had some operation in the evacuation of Portugal by the French army. Which latter cir cumstance, we think, produces an argument in favour of coercing Great-Britain of wonderful efficacy and ingenuity.
He defends the French Emperor from the suggestion which he is said to have made in favour of this measure, by saying that he viewed it as all politicians throughout Europe considered it, that is, with sin gular complacency. Which idea of Napoleon, he does not seem to imagine, places any obstacle to the fact of its injuring him all the time he is praising it.
He concludes this branch of the discussion by the following result:
That the embargo laws have not been without materially beneficial effects upon both the belligerents ; that they have presented strong appeals to the interests of both; but that these appeals have not produced their complete effect.” And this effect, he further observes, has only failed from extraordinary events, which could not possibly have been foreseen at the adoption of the measure.
The close of his speech is made up of replies to Messrs. Hillhouse, Lloyd, and others; but with them, we at present have nothing to do. What we have abstracted is the sum and substance of Mr. Giles' defence of the embargo policy. It appears plainly from the whole of his vindication, that Mr. Giles rests his defence of the measure, upon the two broad grounds assumed by the administration ; vizo
it. That it operated as a precaution, in saving our' merchandize, ships and seamen from the gripe of aggressing belligerents ; and
bad. That, presenting most powerful appeals to the interests of our eneniies, it was a measure of coercion, calculated to produce great national concessions in our favour.:
We shall not here attempt to close the argument of Mr. Giles by blocking it with a question of conscitutional right; nor notice in particular the insolence of his reasonings on a question of continuance, whichi properly applied to the question of adoption; considering that at the time of adoption it was hurried through without either reason or decorum, We are willing to contemplate the subject on the grounds he has assumed, and our inquiries, we fear, will not lead us to any very satisfactory conclusion.
We are willing to admit that indications were evident, at the time this measure was passed, on the part of Great-Britain that she was about to retaliate on France for the Berlin decree of Nov, 21 ; bụt govern: ment, not having any official account of them, the British orders in council did in fact make no part of the reasons for determining in favour of the embargo. We are willing also to admit the measure to have been wise, so far as it conduced to calling in our ships, and give ing us time to prepare a more efficient system of defence ; but no further. The time at which its benefits accrued has long ago expired.; and when Mr. Giles offers as a present argument for the continuance of the policy, what was only good twelve months ago, we oppose him at the very outset of the discussion. If the embargo did then operate as a precaution ; at present it has a contrary effect, and the longer it continues, that effect is likely to be increased. The objects of precaution were merchandize, vessels and seamen. Mr. Giles admits the seamen to have departed from the country, but in limited numbers; and we know they left it in consequence of the continuance of the embargo. The operation of precaution, in respect to them, is now directly reversed; and as the length of its duration is admitted to increase the temptation to depart into other countries, the embargo now has evidently an opposite effect to that calculated upon at the period when it was laid. The importance of our seamen need not here be amplified to convince the present administration ; since it has been their constant endeavour to make them the principal subject of difficulty in all our negociations with Great-Britain. And we venture to affirm, without much risk of contradiction, that but for them and the ridiculous discussions of Mr. Madison about British deserters, our commerce would now have been unshackled by restrictions. Our merchandize and ships are the only objects of precaution then, to which the enabargo can now have any application. And here Mr. Giles is obliged to confess that many of our merchants have been rnined in consequence of the fate of our ships and the extravagant duties they have been obliged to pay upon an enormous amount of inactive merchandize. Our domestick produce is