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to the


on the utility and justice of restrictions upon
foreign commerce



in general, and the future prospects of america.

John Binns, printer.

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I HAVE endeavored, in the following pages, to
trace the present differences between Europe and
America to their true source, and to place the contro-
versy between them on its true basis. I have exa-
mined the question concerning the policy or justice
of the Embargo, as it stood when the law was first
passed. I have explained the state of the controver-
sy at the present moment. I have given some re-
flections to the scheme, which some have imputed to
the government, of destroying the commercial inter-
course between this nation and all foreign ones; and
have endeavored to shew that all restrictions upon fo-
reign commerce, whether as a precaution against the
future violences of foreign states; or as a mode of
revenge and punishment for those already committed;
or as a method of dissolving our connection with
them altogether, are not warranted by justice, policy
or honor.

The exact quantity of injury incurred by Great
Britain and America, from an effectual suspension of
the intercourse between them is a point which every
vulgar politician, every mercantile theorist under-
takes to compute. He will give us volumes of facts
and of figures, and the pliant reader is apt to believe
there must be some solidity in conclusions maintain-
tained with so much confidence, and set forth with
such pomp of circumstances. He presently finds the
same appearance of conviction, and champions of
equal learning and disinterestedness, on the other side.

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These proofs of the natural intricacy of the subject,
leads him to doubt the infallibility of any guide. And
when he turns his eye upon the government, and ob-
serves what influence these learned volumes have up-
on their proceedings, he begins to suspect that nations
are impelled by motives very different from any cal-
culations of interest.

Why did France and Great Britain renew the
present war, for the sake, one of getting and the other
of keeping Malta? Why did Spain and Great Bri-
tain exert their whole force in a contest for the pos-
session of Gibraltar? Not in consequence of enquir-
ing into the effects of loss or acquisition on the lives,
liberties, and properties of the individuals of which
either nation was composed.

Why did Great Britain carry on a seven years
war with her American colonies? Why did Ame-
rica make such a desperate and ruinous resistance?
Was either side impelled by considerations flowing
from the value of life, personal liberty or property.
No. These considerations were trampled under foot.
The impulse was a movement of the imagination,
which annexed a value, on one side, to the idea of poli-
tical control over certain regions in North America,
and on the other, to exemption from that control. No
matter how faint the connection had been between
them, how modified the authority claimed or exert-
ed might be; to abolish it on the one hand, and
maintain it on the other, a whole generation was wil-
ling to perish: To incur every evil to which proper-
ty, liberty and life can be exposed. This spirit is un-
decayed. The bulk of every nation must be ever
swayed by it. All calculations, therefore, built upon
the value of individual life, liberty, or property with a
view of influencing the conduct of states to each other,
are idle and useless.

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There are two other considerations, which may
serve to lessen the importance of any estimates of this
kind, in relation to the present state of affairs between
Europe and America.

First; They are built upon the actual state of
nations, and this is in constant fluctuation and change.
Witness the events of the last twelve months.

Secondly; They are built upon the supposition
that an Embargo, or a law for suspending commer-
cial intercourse, can be effectually executed; which is
quite impossible. The degree too, in which it will
remain unexecuted, can never be known or comput-
ed with any exactness.

For these reasons, I have, in the ensuing pages,
avoided all particular enquiries, as to the actual pro-
fits and loss arising from our present measures, ei-
ther to ourselves or foreigners, and have only confin-
ed myself to an examination of the pleas or claims
derived from a seuse of right, justice and honor, and
the aptitude of our means to our ends. Since we
have an end to gain, I have examined our claims to
success, as growing out of right, and the efficacy of
the means which we may exert to attain it.

I have likewise avoided encroaching on the func-
tions of a prophet. I have not foretold the subver-
sion of the federal Constitution, or the division of the
nation into two independent governments, in conse-
quence of obstinate restrictions upon commerce, or a
war with England. I have not even ventured to pre-
dict that our present measures will bring upon our
backs, without any delay, the bullets and bombs of
the British navy. I should not, indeed, be greatly sur-
prised if both should happen; but I frankly confess, I
have no such distinct vision of these events, as many
others have the misfortune to enjoy.

My foresight, however, is very keen with respect
to the fate of this production. As I have not humor-

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ed the personal antipathies and national biasses of ei-
ther party; as I have arraigned and condemn the views
of both of them, in relation to foreign states; as I
deal out censure on those who deserve it, without
considering the side of the channel or even of the
ocean on which they live; I expect to be condemn-
ed and disclaimed by all. And yet I should not be
surprised, if the indignation of the few that read my
lucubrations, were a little softened, on one side, by
the earnestness with which I argue against the embar-
go, and all commercial restrictions, and on the other,
by the hearty censure I bestow upon Great Britain.

I have shewn so little reverence for the science of
public or maritime law, whose birth, parentage, and
bringing up, I have attempted to give, that I expect
little tenderness from those among my score of rea-
ders, if I should have so many, who have delivered up
their days and nights to the study of its distinctions
and authorities. At their bar I must stand mute. I
can urge no plea why sentence of combustion should
not be passed upon me.

There are others who will pass me by as a vision-
ary: And some, observing the city where I thus
make my appearance, may think my pacific doctrine,
my system of rational forbearance and forgiveness car-
ried to a pitch of Quaker extravagance. The truth
is, I am no better than an outcast of that unwarlike
sect, but cannot rid myself of reverence for most of
its practical and political maxims. I feel a strong in-
clination to admit to an equality of rights and merits,
men of all nations and religions; to pass the same
sentence on the same conduct, even though the men
who practice it bear, at one time, the name of French,
at another of English, and at another of American:
Sometimes that of federalists, and sometimes that of

If any think it of moment to enquire to what party

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I belong, I answer confidently, that I pertain to none.
As I believe in the justice and policy of peace and un-
restricted trade in our present circumstances, I can
claim no kindred with one party. As I believe that
the merits and demerits of Great Britain and France,
in relation to us, are exactly equal, and that the con-
duct of both is dictated by no principle but ambition,
and measured by no rule, but power, I must be ex-
cluded from the other. As I believe our own con-
duct, to flow purely from the same principles; that
our right to navigate the ocean, and the right of
England to exclude us from it, are rights precisely of
the same nature, sources and validity; that the claims
of the two nations are merely grounded in the interest,
exclusive and incompatible of each, and which each is
bound, by the principles of human nature, to regard
as sacred, and diligently to promote, without regard
to the clashing interests, or even to the actual detri-
ment of the other, I expect to be, with equal indigna-
tion, renounced by both parties.

If there be any class of readers whose affection for
their country is not clouded and distorted by ground-
less hatreds and insane attachments to foreign states,
and whose endeavors for its solid and permanent ad-
vantage are not shackled or precipitated by zeal for
imaginary rights, or revenge for chimerical wrongs;
I may hope for a refuge in their ranks, and should re-
joice to know that their ranks had, in any degree,
been augmented by my means.

While I disapprove the measures at present pur-
sued, I entertain an high opinion of the wisdom and
patriotism of those by whom they are embraced. In
distinguishing the true path, I arrogate more praise
than others, because, unlike them, I think it very hard
to distinguish the right from the wrong, and can al-
low to those, who mistake it, virtue and sagacity, in
general, at least equal to their adversaries.

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While I disapprove the present measures, I have
less violence in my rage and fear, because I believe
the unavoidable course of events will rescue us from
most of the evils they are calculated to produce. We
shall escape war, and our commerce will escape its
present shackles, in spite of an hostile disposition in
our rulers, by means of those revolutions in foreign
states which are hourly occurring, and which change
fundamentally, the relations in which we stand to
them. All my prayers are to gain time; to put off the
for time, in this case, cannot but confer
the most friendly and essential benefits.

C. B. B.

Philadelphia, January 3, 1809.

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to the


MUCH argument and eloquence have you expended
in canvassing the faults and virtues of the embargo, and in
pointing out the eligible mode of conducting ourselves in rela-
tion to foreign powers. With an infatuation, natural to poli-
tical disputants, each set of you have been more zealous and
industrious in scrutinizing the motives of your adversaries,
than in weighing their assertions and their inferences.

It has been a great exploit with one party to discover that
their opponents are desirous of re-establishing the dominion of
Great Britain, over her hitherto rebellious and refractory colo-
lonies, and make war, for that reason, against all measures
which tend to punish her insolence and tyranny, or circum-
scribe it; that the inefficacy of these measures; or the small
degree of efficacy which has hitherto attended them; or the
obstinacy with which their influence has been endured and com-
batted, is owing to those malignant and traitorous efforts of
their antagonists, to cause discontent and opposition in the
people to the measures of their government.

Great Britain, say they, is not subdued by the embargo.
Great are the evils which it inflicts, and greater still does the
British government clearly perceive, they will hereafter in-
cur. It is the source of growing and accumulating sufferings,
which their prudence would not hesitate a moment to prevent,
by the repeal of lawless and tyrannical edicts, if they did not
flatter themselves, that America would be compelled to tread
back her steps, by the clamors, and even the insurrections
of her own people. They therefore, who stir up these dis-

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contents, and instigate these insurrections, have occasioned
the inefficacy of that measure of which they complain, and
which they urge as a reason for its abrogation. They tell us
it has not produced the effect intended; though by persuad-
ing England, that we shall be forced very soon to repeal it by
our own people, this effect is prevented from appearing. The
very objection they make, so far as it has any foundation, has
been supplied with this foundation by themselves.

Such is the wisdom of one party among you: nor has the
moderation and discernment of the adverse party been less me-
morable. They inform us, that the layers-on of the embargo,
the prohibitors of trade and intercourse with Europe, are
agents, the pensioners, the abject devotees of France, and the
magnificent Napoleon. That this measure, tending solely to
the injury of Great Britain, was recommended solely by that
tendency to men, who were swayed by the joint influence of
an unnatural aversion to Great Britain, and a pernicious and
blind attachment to France, who were anxious to establish
the power of the great nation in the bosom of their own coun-
try, and to whom no sacrifice of national dignity and inde-
pendence was too great for that laudable end.

Thus are we fortunate enough to have the motives of our
rulers clearly displayed to our view. The candor and good
nature of their adversaries inform us, that each party are aliens
and enemies to their native country. That they are strangers
to a feeling, which some silly moralists have fancied, is wo-
ven into the very texture and substance of the human heart;
an exclusive attachment to the country of their birth: this feel-
ing has not always been extolled as a virtue: as always con-
sistent with benevolence, or enjoined by justice. It has some-
times been thought worthy of allowance as useful on the
whole, and entitled to forgiveness as a natural, an universal, an
incurable sentiment. We must bear with those who love
their own country more than another, worthy of the preference
of a rational being, because, say they, it is a passion inherent
in the intellectual constitution of that social animal called

These moralists, however, admit some exceptions to this, as
to all other general rules. The attachment to our country,
they think, may sometimes be stiffled by motives and induce-
ments, connected with our individual interest. There are par-
tial and occasional examples to be found of those who will im-

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poverish their country to fill their own purse, and enslave it to
a foreign state, on condition of being the Viceroys. But the
moralists in Congress, and in newspapers, have detected the
errors of this system. They have found that the party ad-
verse to themselves, though it comprehends in one case,
three-eighths, and in the other, five-eighths of the people, and
all governed by a preference of a foreign nation to their own,
and have totally extinguished, in their hearts, a regard for
their native country.

It is but justice, however, to acknowledge that some are
now and then found, who have the candor to allow the possi-
bility, that a few of their adversaries, weak men but honest,
have really the interest of their country at heart, and intend
by the measures they adopt, erroneous as they are, to promote
that interest. And thus the closet system is totally revers-
ed by these sages. Hostility to his own country, is natural
to man. This is the general rule. Patriotism is only the
exception, a mere and absolute exception in the eyes of those
who compose a minority, but an exception that may some-
times, very accommodatingly, lose its nature, and absolutely
comprehend the greater number, when they become the ma-

It may be suggested by some, that this strange theory,
though generally avowed by you, is rather to be sought for in
your speeches, than in your hearts. That when you brand
your antagonists as pensioners, hirelings, secret agents; stran-
gers to the patriotic feeling, you do not mean as you say.

This representation can hardly be allowed. It is too se-
vere and extravagant an imputation on your prudence. What-
ever be your general claims to wisdom and integrity, we must
suppose that those who debate so long and so earnestly desire
to succeed; to establish their point by a majority of voices.
—But how is this to be done? By reviling your oppo-
nent? By questioning the rectitude of his motives? By
calling him a pensioner, a liar, a slanderer, a public and wil-
ful enemy—a coward? No. It is impossible with a know-
ledge of the world, beyond the nursery, you should imagine
that this is a successful method of making converts. That
men are encouraged even to listen, much less to be convinc-
ed, by having their sagacity denied and their integrity ques-
tioned, and your conduct must be considered as the triumph
of zeal over discretion. As the mere effusion of sincerity, in

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which the honest will sometime indulge, though to the des-
truction of the end, for which they most anxiously labor.*

Some may entertain doubts of your sincerity from consider-
ing that, to do you justice, none of you content yourselves
with pure unmixed obloquy. Though you address yourselves
to men, to whom avarice, or revenge, or cowardice, or a foreign
passion, give ears as deaf as adders to the voice of any true de-
yet you condescend to reason largely on the consequen-
ces of the measures you recommend or censure, you endea-
vor to point out the influence which certain conduct will have up-
on the weal or woe of the community, and really appear as if
you would not be very much surprised should your antago-
nists, depraved as they are, and fortified against a public loss
by a private gain, should come over to your standard, and be
won, by arguments alone, to the cause of the public good.

This inconsistency is certainly a glaring one. Perhaps the
mind of an orator undergoes many revolutions in the course
of a speech. Perhaps he is willing to give every reprobate a
chance of reforming, and is loath, notwithstanding all he says
to the contrary, to account any quite irreclaimable, till his ar-
guments have been fully tried in vain. It is only when he
cannot be convinced that your opponent's delusion or corrup-
tion is made clearly manifest. However, we will dwell no
more upon this subject, than merely to observe, that such
reasoners, as the greater part of you are, are traitors to your
own cause; with one hand you build up, what with the other,
you labor with impotent diligence to pull down; that with
a most unaccountable and preposterous zeal, you address vehe-
ment remonstrances to those whose ears you had first been
careful to shut against conviction, by conjuring up in their
hearts, the demons of anger and contempt.

The great subjects which have engaged your attention, dur-
ing this and the last session, have called forth all the good and
bad rhetoric of which you are masters. The public are deep-
ly interested in the issue of your controversies, nor is the
manner in which you conduct them, of any moment to dis-
tant observers, except as it is favorable or detrimental to the

  * This species of Senatorical eloquence is not peculiar to our own coun-
try. The national convention had its Les Pittistes; Les agens de Pitt et Co-
bourg; des Salaries de Cobourg; La Faction de l'Etranger; Le Comite Autre-
In the British Parliament, these flowers have been rarer; yet the
imagination of Burke, teeming with so many monsters, could at one time,
metamorphose North and Germains into pensioners of France.

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discovery and establishment of truth. Having an interest,
in common with every citizen, in the measures now adopt-
ed, or hereafter to be adopted, with regard to foreign powers.
I have been an anxious observer of your proceedings, and shall
take the liberty of reviewing them and of examining the
grounds on which they rest, and the consequences to which
they tend, and hope my commentary may not prove altogether
unworthy of the notice of your illustrious body.

When the Embargo was first proposed, the public curiosi-
ty, respecting the actual course of the debate concerning it, was
disappointed by the secrecy observed. We are told that its
advocates, satisfied with their own numerical strength, left the
tribune to its enemies; but what were the topics of its ene-
mies, we were left to conjecture. The world was afterwards
supplied with the reasons which influenced the government to
recommend it, through authentic channels; and the public
were abundantly supplied, in conversation and through the
press with the objections to which it was liable. A brief re-
view of these adverse topics, at the time of imposing an em-
bargo, will not be inexpedient in this place.

It was urged, in behalf of a general embargo,* that this re-
straint will keep our property at home, and is the only
way to prevent it from being pillaged by the nations at war.
It will likewise save our ships and sailors from the fangs of
Great Britain, and thus we shall be double gainers, by what
we do not lose, and what our enemies do not gain at our ex-
pense. Such are the domestic and immediate benefits accru-
ing to ourselves, from the suspension of outward trade. We
shall suffer, but we shall escape a greater suffering, by volun-
tarily incurring a less. We shall lose, but our enemies will
not profit by our loss. Such are its recommendations as a
measure of precaution and security, beginning and ending with
ourselves. If these only were its benefits, it would be highly
eligible; but its influence is still more beneficial. It contains
a cure for its own evils. It tends to rectify the mischiefs by
which it is occasioned, and as its inconveniences to us, are aggra-
vated by its duration, its influence on the interests of foreign-
ers, by removing the necessity which enjoined it, will limit its
duration, probably to a very short period.

The principal and most valuable purpose of this measure
was to obtain justice from foreign states. A mere conviction

  * See the National Intelligencer of that period.

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of our rights, would avail us nothing. They must suffer from
our vengeance, before they would grant us what we were en-
titled to demand, on principles of manifest equity. They must
find that the duties of justice coincide with those of policy, and
that they will suffer more by refusing than by granting.

Its effects in this, will be particularly advantageous to us,
with regard to Great Britain. The raw materials of her most
important manufactures, she has hitherto gotten from us, but
will get them no more. Her navy has been supplied to a great
extent with naval stores, from us, or through our means, but
a supply of such infinite importance to her, will now be refus-
ed. Her colonies depend upon us almost wholly for provi-
sions, for the materials of their houses, furniture and imple-
ments, and must irretrievably sink for want of them. Thus
will the embargo operate with respect to Great Britain.

We shall by this means deprive France of many luxuries,
which habit has almost made necessaries, and her colonies will
suffer with still greater severity, since they will be able nei-
ther to receive or import. They will be entirely bereft of the
means of cultivation and subsistence, nor can they dispose of
any produce on hand.

Spain will almost be an equal sufferer with France in her
islands, but at home, the effects of an embargo which will de-
prive her of the bread which her bad husbandry cannot supply,
will be insupportable.

Thus the embargo, which, in its effects is equally formida-
ble and destructive with a successful war, cannot expose us,
justly, to any reprisals. It is an act of territorial or internal
jurisdiction, frequently exercised by maritime states, without
giving offence to others. Since it is general and impartial, no
particular nation can conceive itself aimed at, or justified in re-
senting a measure of domestic precaution.

The answer to these arguments in favor of this measure,
was obvious to some impartial observers of the scene around
them; yet that those arguments are not forcible, that they want
plausibility, it would be arrogance to affirm, for why did they
weigh so heavily with men whose general wisdom and expe-
rience, whose desire of benefiting their country; of rescuing
it from foreign oppression, and avenging its unmeritted inju-
ries, nothing but the insanity of faction can question?

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It was certainly a very flattering scene, viewed in that has-
ty and partial manner, in which it was natural for men to view
it, who had suffered injuries, gross, flagrant and intolerable,
and saw no method of escape or relief but this. When drown-
ing we must catch at a twig. When attacked by a giant in
mail, we lift up a straw to defend us, if there be no more for-
midable weapon in our reach. The embargo is better than a
twig, than a straw; but that it would save us from sinking, or
repell the giant, was denied by many, who argued against it
without waiting, or needing to wait for that test of experi-
ence to which its friends were willing, at least, to refer the
decision of its merits.

In the first place, a material error was committed in the no-
tions formed of the quickness and compleatness with which
the embargo was to operate. It needed no experience surely
to perceive that the effects, whether beneficial or hurtful, of an
embargo depend altogether on the time at which it occurs, or
the duration given to it. Foreign trade is a complex and un-
wieldly machine, whose operations are as extensive as the
world. It moves about, if we may so speak, from sea to sea,
and kingdom to kingdom, and sometimes consumes months
and years, before the great circuit is completed. Its general
progress is not stopped by a winter which shuts up our port
for a quarter of a year, or a pestilence which drives us away
from it, for a whole summer. Even quarantine laws impose
a species of embargo. Temporary obstructions are some-
times even beneficial, by augmenting demand and enhancing
prices. An embargo cannot immediately reach ships that are
abroad. It can never reach those that remain abroad, and a
nation of carriers can sometimes dispense with the return of
their ships for many years, especially when the partial opera-
tion of a law like this, on the ships that chance to be at home,
is highly advantageous to those who may at that time chance
to be absent. But as these circumstances lessen or postpone
its evils to ourselves, they have the same effect, with regard to
its influence on foreign nations. Few likewise, were aware of
the difficulty of enforcing a general embargo, and were only
taught by experience, that many obstacles, which law can sur-
mount, would only be slowly and successively surmounted,
while many would remain altogether insurmountable.

But the domestic evils of the embargo could not be small
though less than its full operation would produce; and unluc-

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kily, the evasions which diminished its mischiefs to ourselves,
would in a much larger proportion, diminish them to foreign-
ers. The fears, perils, mischiefs, dishonest artifices, corrup-
tion and depravity, which these evasions would give birth to
among ourselves, would be an evil uncompensated. The for-
eign state would be no wise incommoded by such consequen-
ces. To them they were sheer advantages.

But if we pass by this consideration and view the subject
more closely, what force can be allowed to the plea, that our
property is kept at home, and thus rescued from enemies?
No pillage to which it could then be exposed, was equal to
the injury of keeping it at home to moulder and perish. With
regard to the safety of our ships and sailors, which this scheme
confers, ships unemployed are worse to the owner than ves-
sels captured or shipwrecked, because they are thus produc-
tive of ceaseless expence and no profit. Some property, in-
deed, decays not with the keeping. Ships, though while at
home, unprofitable and expensive, can sally forth again, when
the obstruction is removed, which they cannot do, if in the
hands of an enemy. Property which cannot be sent abroad,
if perishable in itself, will not perish if it be consumable. It
will go to the home market, disadvantageous indeed, to the ven-
der, but better than none, and proportionably advantageous to
the buyer. Thus the evil will be far short of absolute des-
truction to the ships, unless the embargo be of very long dura-
tion. It will be short of absolute destruction to the property,
even when of a perishable nature: short likewise of total loss,
even to the proprietor, whose exigences cannot wait for the
restoration of trade, and who is consequently obliged to sell it
at an undervalue. In these cases, the embargo is only a very
great evil. In cases where the ships actually decay, where
the property is actually damaged, or perishes in the keeping;
where it cannot, from its own nature, find a buyer, or rather
a consumer, the evil is still greater, and this mass of evils very
far outweighs the losses to which our unrestricted trade could
possibly expose it.

With regard to sailors, for whose safety the embargo so la-
boriously provides, this class of persons cannot subsist with-
out employment. Their maritime habits totally unfit them
for any other kind of occupation, even if any were within their
reach. If they cannot find employment at home, they must go
elsewhere in search of it. All sailors, therefore, are not pre-
served by an embargo. A part of them who cannot find the

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means of escaping, must be contented to remain in beggary
and scorn, but that portion will be small.

If, therefore, our whole trade was abolished by foreign
states; if fleets and squadrons, could be so distributed along
our coasts as to prevent the escape of a single vessel; if do-
mestic regulations could be so enforced as to prevent the en-
trance of any of our ships into a foreign territory, this com-
pulsory embargo would do us no greater mischief, than that
which we have imposed upon ourselves: But it is hardly ne-
cessary to observe, that this has not been done. Many ave-
nues are open to our trade, and must forever remain so. It is
not the interest or policy of all trading nations to forbid our
intercourse with them. The masters of the sea do not inter-
dict all our trade. They permit us at least to visit their own
dominions. Our trade, therefore, can never be wholly at an
end, but by our own act. Nay, an open war with every mari-
time nation, could not entirely abolish it. We should come
and go in defiance of their confederated navies, their chains,
batteries and coasting frigates.

But the embargo, by the evils which it inflicts upon foreign
nations, is, it seems, to compel them to withdraw these re-
straints upon our trade, which we complain of. An unfortu-
nate topic is this. Equally defective is it on every side, on
which we view it. There is no connection between the fact
and the consequence deduced from it. It is not sufficient to
prove, that France and Britain will suffer by our project, be-
cause if they do suffer, still the consequence we wish will not
ensue. But it is easy to prove that they will not suffer essen-
tially or permanently; in that degree which is necessary to in-
fluence their political conduct.

In the first place, the injury which an embargo will inflict,
even if rigorously executed, will not be of great or lasting mo-
ment to Great Britain. Neither in her manufactures, her na-
val strength, or her colonies wlll she be affected in a way be-
neficial to us. We cannot forget that she has a great em-
pire in the East, where commodities the chief we furnish
may be cultivated with the same success. They are further
off, it is true, and we have hitherto supplied her demands at a
cheaper rate. Why does she get any commodity from us?
Not because it is impossible to procure it elsewhere, and even
on terms highly advantageous, but merely because the terms of
her of commerce with us are still more advantageous. If de-

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prived of us, she must go elsewhere. The openings even in
her own dominions are numerous, and will not fail to be look-
ed for, and made use of. And when the new channels begin
to flow, they will never again be shut up. The stream we have
turned away with our own hands, will never come back. This
is the very nature of commerce, even when not seconded by
the policy of governments: and here the newly created stream
will not want any of the walls and embankments which a most
powerful and crafty government can supply.

With regard to the products of colder climates, she pos-
sesses Canada and Nova Scotia, who only want the absence
of their neighbors, to do much in the same field. They are
able to supply our place, in a considerable degree, not only
to the British West India Islands, but even to the British
Islands themselves.

As to the West India Colonies, their dependance on us is
certainly an egregious error. Because they find it conveni-
ent to get so much of what they want from us, we fancy that
it is no where else to be found. Because we save them the
necessity of raising food from their own soil, we think it is
incapable of giving them anything but sugar; but the forests
of Jamaica would supply, with lumber, all the wants of all
the Islands for ages, while its unimproved soil would supply
them as abundantly with cattle and esculents. The worst that
the American embargo can do, will be to compel them to
apply to their own resources, but those of the other British
dominions will allow them to dispense with it.

But no public measure was ever productive of consequen-
ces merely good, or merely evil. No second sight is neces-
sary to assure us, that even at home, many individuals will
bless the embargo and its authors for lifting them from pover-
ty to affluence. Thus, it is to do harm, in certain ways to the
British nation, but as that nation are eminently maritime and
commercial, the total cessation of a trade so enormous as ours,
and of which some portion has been that of carriage, a trade
to supply other wants besides our own and theirs, it is no un-
natural apprehension, that some benefit may likewise accrue
to them. Some advantage to compensate or alleviate the in-
convenience; some good to reconcile them to the evil; to
lighten that burthen which, heavy or not, their pride and re-
venge will enable them to bear.

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I have already observed, that the embargo, if injurious to
foreign nations, is not consequently, conducive to the end we
propose. With regard to Great Britain, open the pages of
her history, and point out the case in which she has bowed to
threats, or sacrificed a point of honor to her pecuniary inter-
ests. When has she given up rights, when able to enforce
them, because the assertion has proved inconvenient. Her
claims with respect to her seamen, she believes it necessary to
maintain, as conducive to her maritime strength. Her re-
strictions on our commerce, she vindicates as just retaliations
on her enemy. Our embargo is a project for forcing a conces-
sion from her in both these respects, but strange, passing
strange would it be, if her pride would allow it to be wrung
from her by punishments of this nature.

Have we any thing better to hope for, from the pliability, the
pusilanimity of France. Will she be better disposed to pur-
chase the benefits of our commerce, by drawing back her steps
than her rival? Judge them both by their own declarations.
Each one pleads a provocation given by his enemy. Re-
venge is the motive he assigns for his conduct. Great
Britain persecutes the commerce of France. France does
her utmost to retort the injury. England thinks only of the
last provocation received. Neither, therefore, will step back,
till the other sets them the example. Each will lay all the
mischiefs that neutrals receive from her conduct at the door
of the enemy. If the neutral begins to play off her battery in
turn upon both, will not the injury done to one, light up
joy in the heart of the other, and reconcile him to sustain his
portion of the blows.

That this measure will hurt both the belligerents, is the
very circumstance that destroys its utility to us. Each will
hate us in proportion as we make him suffer, but he will do
nothing to remove or escape, and as long as his enemy, whom
he charges with being the original cause of our hostile pro-
ceedings, suffers along with him.

But as to the mischief we can do to France, how petty, how
poor our projects. The Emperor moves in a sphere, far above
the meditations of clerks and pedlars. Men are as plenty as
sand, and human life as cheap as water in his eyes. He lives
only to the impulse of glory, and the attainment of power. The
devastation of a province and the murder of thousands in
battle, are every-day occurrences with him. He will not you

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think, deny the affluent among his subjects, the luxuries of
sugar and coffee, or he will be afraid of their murmurs, on
account of such cruel privations, while he drags them daily
from their carpets and couches, and sends them to perish of
wounds and hardships, in the frozen marshes of Poland. This
man is to beg mercy of you, and set an example of repent-
ance to the English, because a few Islands in America, are
extremely incommoded by your embargo!

As to Spain, let the miracle of starving her, be performed
by the embargo. Let all the horrors of famine overspread
that extensive and inoffensive land. Can it be imagined that
the French emperor loves Spain so much that her sufferings
will make him submit to your pleasure? As to any thing
that Spain can do, of herself, or otherwise than as the vassal
of Bonaparte, that she could help conforming to the example
of the French in her edicts, or can escape from the conse-
quences, by any independent exertions of her own—these are
points that admitted not of debate when the embargo was
imposed; most extensive revolutions have since taken place,
but unluckily for us, not a single change has occurred, which
did not defeat the prognostics of the friends of this commer-
cial war.

The authors of this measure, were aware that injuries are
very apt to create resentment, and that pride will enable peo-
ple to bear many heavy inconveniencies. A measure injurious
to Great Britain, and adopted with a view to that injury, can
scarcely fail to be regarded with a jealous and angry eye. A
measure, said by its authors to be occasioned by a conduct in
Great Britain and France, which is stigmatized as a violation
of justice and national law, has surely some tendency to awa-
ken displeasure and resentment in these states, who deem
themselves righteous and just in all their deportment, inas-
much as it religiously conforms to the rule of promoting the
power of their nation, by all the means that conduce to it.

To elude these objections, they plead, that no nation has a
right to complain of acts purely territorial and domestic, such
as a restriction upon trade, and that an embargo has occa-
sionally been laid by every state. It is to be regretted, that
this distinction and this defence have so little weight or vali-
dity, that nations, like private persons, are so very apt to
consider merely consequences, to themselves, to regulate their
treatment of their neighbor, by the benefits or evils which

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their neighbors conduct produces to them. Still more apt are
are they to pay regard to motives. If the embargo be ex-
pressly intended to impair the manufactures and maim the
navy of Great Britain, much gratitude can hardly be expect-
ed to be felt towards a state, actuated by such motives. Can
complacency; can any thing but the bitterest animosity be felt,
say the British government, towards those who aim their
blows at our very vitals? Who would palsy our right arm,
when all its vigor is necessary to preserve us from destruc-
tion, and drain away our hearts blood? And by what means?
Not by open war; by arming and attacking us, because they
know the contest would be hopeless to them. No; they re-
sort to more covert methods; to a species of warfare, less inju-
rious to themselves than an open war, but more hurtful to us.
It is a deadly blow to us, but so masked, that we can have no
pretext for resenting it by open warfare, and hence are they
induced to strike it. They forget that an open avowal of en-
mity, leaves us no necessity for conjectures and inferences. If
the embargo injured us, without your designing it, we should,
nevertheless, take care to remonstrate and complain. If you
design it for our injury, we shall take care to give you all due
credit for your kindness, but shall, for the present, regulate
our conduct towards you, not by your intentions, however
hostile, but your acts. If your embargo incommode us not,
contempt for your powerles malice will be coupled with self-
complacency at the testimony you thus give, of our irresista-
ble power. If it injure us, assure yourselves we shall deem
that hostile, which was intended and avowed to be so, and be-
have ourselves accordingly.

An embargo, like every other measure, is hostile or ami-
cable, warlike or pacific, according to its consequences and
the motives of its authors. When imposed to prevent the
exportation of grain, at a time when the seasons threaten us
with famine, it is quite pacific. This has frequently occur-
red, and though a neighboring state may be incommoded by
its operation it never dreams of complaint, resentment, or

An embargo has been frequently imposed, when the state
suspected the designs of another, and was eager to strike the
first blow, by detaining and making thus liable to seizure, all
her neighbors ships in her ports. This embargo is not of a
very pacific hue. On the contrary, it appears to be an act of

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the deadliest and most provoking hostility, yet like all em-
bargoes, it commences with ourselves, it operates within our
own limits, it is the exertion of a territorial or internal juris-

Embargoes are frequently imposed to prevent the convey-
ance of intelligence to enemies, and to facilitate the arming or
supplying of a fleet, designed for foreign service, and are thus
measures of pure and absolute hostility. In truth from the
nature of the act itself, an embargo can seldom be any other
than an hostile proceeding, and adopted to elude an enemy, or
injure him. It differs indeed, from an actual expedition, as
the levy of an army and the equipping of a fleet, differ from
skirmish and battle. They are all acts of internal and do-
mestic jurisdiction, at which a neighbour state can take no
umbrage, if the levy be made to quell a rebellion at home, or
the equipment to subdue a revolted colony, or the embargo to
preserve the people from starving. If otherwise, if express-
ly intended, as the American embargo, to diminish the income
of a foreign state, and enfeeble its navy, it will be regarded
as it is, purely hostile, and if resentment be forborne, it will
be from considerations wholly disconnected from the nature
of the act.

That embargoes are generally hostile in their motives and
tendencies, receives a striking proof from our own experience.
Prosperous and commercial as this nation has been, and ex-
tensive as has been its intercourse with foreign states, twenty-
four years has elapsed with but two embargoes, and those were
imposed with views hostile to foreign states, and originating
in their violence towards us. From apprehensions of scarci-
ty, indeed, the state of our population and the extent of our ter-
ritory, secure us, and it is not easy to assign any other pacific
cause of an embargo.

Notwithstanding these objections to this measure, to which
those whom they did not convince, could not but allow some
force, the embargo was imposed. That the loss of coffee and
sugar, and grain, would be a heavy grievance to France and
her allies; that the want of our flaxseed and cotton would be
still more a harm to Great Britain; that the West India co-
lonies of both states could not dispense with the shingles, staves,
meat, garden stuff and flour, with which we furnished them;
that they could not be procured from Canada or Nova Scotia,
from the British Islands, or the American Provinces of Spain,

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or Portugal; that a law could be made effectually preventing
any exportations from the ports of the United States; and, that,
in consequence, France and England would allow American
trade to pass unmolested, except by such restrictions as the
customs of half a century made familiar—were believed, and
the embargo was imposed.

All eyes were then turned upon the consequences of this
project, and first they looked at home. A great number of
vessels were dismantled. Some of them already loaded, were
unloaded. Goods intended and preparing for foreign mark-
ets, were deposited in warehouses, and merely loaded the
owner with the payment of an additional rent. A vast num-
ber of merchants in towns, most dependant upon foreign trade,
were reduced, by the sudden stop to circulation, to insolvency.
The stream of native products, which had hitherto flowed
thro' the sea ports, stopped wherever the embargo found them;
whether in the barns of the farmer, from whence they had not
yet gone, or in the warehouse of the merchant, whither, fortu-
nate for the farmer, they had previously arrived. All busi-
ness, connected with foreign trade, was at a pause, but that
which arose from the return of vessels abroad, at the time of
the embargo, the number of which was unusually great, a
great many having hurried away at the apprehension of the

Among the merchants, were of course, to be found men who
had genuine capitals. This was the consequence of the re-
cent prosperity of commerce. These, as well as all those who
had money beyond their current expences, were eager as
ever to reap a profit. Foreign trade being shut up, they
turned their attention to domestic enterprizes. They built
houses, they improved farms, they established manufactures;
the rich, disposed to avail themselves of lowered prices, pur-
chased and laid by, against the day of renovated traffic, com-
modities designed for exportation, or the surplus of such as
were intended for consumption at home. And all these ope-
rations were aided by a fortunate abundance of specie, in the
country, which arrived before the embargo, and which that
edict prevented from leaving us.

These effects took place every where, but in different pro-
portions, according to the circumstances of the town or district.
The cities where trade had been recently most flourishing, suf-
fered most from the new restrictions. The farmers who

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depended most on exportation, suffered most from the pause.
New York experienced the evil, with fewer alleviations than
Philadelphia. The traders and farmers of the Eastern States,
were greater sufferers than those of the Middle. The pecu-
liar economy of the Southern planters exposes to greater loss,
from the temporary suspension of foreign trade, but enables
them to bear their losses better. Comparitively of with their
current means of living, the weight is less heavy with the
owners of cotton, tobacco and rice, the lumbermen and fisher-
men of the South, than with the corn, flaxseed, ashes, live stock,
cod and onion-men of the North and East.

With regard to the sailors, and laborers dependant upon
commerce, the calamity was great. These had no hoarded
treasure to resort to, when the call for their daily services had
ceased. They could not turn their hands to mechanic crafts,
to which they had not been trained. How then could they
procure the common necessaries, but by alms, by parochial
charities, by the elemosynary donations of the rich? The re-
sources of men to avoid distress, and the openings which a
complicated system of society affords them, by which to es-
cape from it, are very remarkable. The men, who formerly
maintained persons in building, loading, or navigating ships,
now employed them as laborers in building houses, or agricul-
tural improvements. The public works constructing for the
defence of some harbors, supplied subsistence to great num-
bers. Many retired into the country, and lived upon their
relations, or engaged in rural labors, to which some of them
were accustomed, in their childhood.

As the states do not form an island, and as foreign ships
were allowed to depart, vast numbers of sailors took these
means and opportunities of going into foreign service, and thus
the embargo, intended to rescue that meritorious class of men
from servitude on board of British ships, was found an excel-
lent expedient for reconciling men to that servitude, and drove
them by hundreds into these detested prisons. While it res-
cued them with one hand from the fangs of a pressing lieute-
nant, it conveyed them into his power with the other. A
sailor who cannot live but on shipboard, very wisely preferred
the less restraints and higher wages of American ships, while
attainable, but when these advantages were placed out of his
reach, he, with equal wisdom, took the second best, and
chose the long cruize and the rigid discipline before the land

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life, and went. The British proclamation of recal to their sea-
men was published in vain, but when seconded by this em-
bargo, it lodged in his majesty's ships, not only his majesty's
natural born subjects, but even the natural born subjects of a
neutral country.

The absolute pause created by the embargo was of short du-
ration. Men, with their ingenuity sharpened by need on the
one hand, and by the expectation of inordinate profits on the
other, began to devise means for evading these restrictions.
Rivers could not be completely shut up. Every inlet of the
ocean could not be watched and guarded by officers of the re-
venue. The restrictions were intended to affect the foreign,
and not the domestic commerce of the country, and conse-
quently vessels were permitted to sail from one port of the U.
States to another. The officers of the revenue could not be
deemed inaccessible to bribery, or incapable of mistake, ne-
gligence or remissness. Hence, the difficulty of enforcing
such a prohibition was immediately evident.

Vessels cleared out from one port to another of the United
States, but they sailed to foreign countries, and either paid
the forfeiture incurred, which the profits of their voyage ena-
bled them to do with advantage, or they pleaded distress of
weather, or by connivance with foreign ships of war they were
captured with an appearance of regularity, and taken to ports
where they were compelled to grow rich by the sale or pre-
tended forfeiture of their cargoes. Many boldly went to sea
without permission from the custom-house; many loaded and
departed in unfrequented rivers and bays, while others took in
their cargoes at sea, and without the limits of territorial juris-
diction. As our territory borders on the north on the do-
minions of the English, it was still more difficult to prevent
all commercial intercourse with strangers by land, and there
the evasions of the law were still more numerous and daring.

In vain was the first edict reinforced by new regulations: in
vain was the prohibition to sail from one port to another of
America, without bonds and sureties, extended from register-
ed or sea-letter vessels to those licensed for the coasting
trade, to fishermen and whalers, and even to the craft usually
confined to single rivers, bays or sounds. In vain were
forfeitures, fines and disabilities multiplied on those who ven-
tured to sea without a clearance, or who, when at sea, shifted
their cargoes to other vessels: in vain were the privileges of

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armed and foreign vessels circumscribed and narrowed: in
vain were all vessels absolutely and unconditionally prohibited
from going to any port, even of the United States adjacent to a
foreign territory: in vain were the armed vessels of the States
employed in arresting all vessels liable to suspicion, even after
having gained the sea. New obstacles only gave birth to new
frauds and new violences in evading or surmounting them, and
in spite of the utmost ingenuity in legislators and diligence in
officers, vast exportations were actually made.

The experience of a year has manifested that all former re-
gulations were insufficient. Such is the complicated folly of an
unlimited embargo, that it perpetually counteracts and poisons
itself. The more rigorously executed it is, the scantier is the
exportation, and the prices in foreign markets are consequent-
ly raised. This heightens the temptation to evade or infringe
it. The inducements to commit the crime keep pace exactly
with the punishments denouneed against it. Hitherto the pu-
nishment is forfeiture, fine, and, contingently, imprisonment.
Fraud and perjury will enable men to escape them; fraud has
been practised, therefore, to a lamentable extent. Increase
the penalties, and the guilty means of evading it will only be
practised still more. What remains? Shall we interdict all
intercourse whatever between the ports of the United States?
Shall we abolish all internal navigation whatever? Make it
criminal even to cross rivers, or bring produce to cities and
towns, from the adjacent country by water? This is a fright-
ful alternative. The imagination cannot trust itself with the
scrutiny. Shall we heap one penalty, one degree of forfeiture
on another, and abolish all conditions or exceptions, flowing
from stress of weather, and finding this inefficacious, shall we
resort to capital punishments, and combat this new kind of
smuggling with the axe and the halter?

What future rigors will be able to accomplish we know not.
Those hitherto adopted, we know to have been effectual only
in a certain degree. The embargo has not been fully execut-
ed. The consequences of an embargo, good and bad, foreign
and domestic, are of course proportioned to the degree in
which it has been executed. All the lights, therefore, that
were expected from experience, have been obscure and im-
perfect. Does one party say that the embargo has not pro-
duced the evils, at home, predicted to arise from it by its
enemies. The answer is, that it has been only partially ex-

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ecuted. Does another exclaim, that it has not produced that
effect upon foreign powers, by which it was recommended
to us. The answer is, that it has not been fully executed.

What have exactly been the effects of the embargo on our do-
mestic welfare, no body can tell. We must first ascertain how
far there has been an embargo, to what extent it has been exe-
cuted; but though it is common to form some estimates of the
amount of fraudulent and clandestine exportations since that
period, they are necessarily uncertain. We know them to be
great, but we likewise know them to bear a very small propor-
tion to the exportations of a free time. We must not try to
discover the effects of the embargo, by counting up the value
of goods, designed and fit only for exportation, in the ware-
house, or by enumerating the ships that lie dismantled in our
harbors, because this law preceded or accompanied those
edicts of the British government, by which all intercourse
with any but the British dominions, or those of her allies, ex-
cept under certain restrictions, was prohibited. The number
of unemployed ships, and the amount of goods unexported,
had there been no embargo, would have been proportioned to
the trade abolished by these edicts, and would not have been
small. The exact amount it is not necessary for me at pre-
sent to inquire, nor to enter into computations of how much we
could still export to the British dominions, or how much to
other places, by complying with the conditions prescribed by
that government. People differ very widely as to this
amount, but it is universally agreed that a vast number of
ships would now be abroad, and vast property be exported
which are detained at home by the embargo.

The momentous object of inquiry is the influence of this
law upon foreign states. How much they suffer by it, is of
no importance in relation to ourselves, but only the influence
of these sufferings on their conduct towards us. Now on
this head, there is no dispute, no uncertainty. We may dis-
pute without end on the amount of their sufferings by our
means. If it be small, we may shew our ingenuity by ex-
plaining why it is so: we may reckon up the extensions of
British commerce by the revolutions in Spain; by the con-
quest of Portugal; by the revolutions in South America. We
may compute the evasions of the embargo, the influence of
our domestic quarrels and clamors, in inspiring foreign states
with an hope of a sudden death to this law. On all these
points we shall differ, and find ample room for recrimina-

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tion, but that foreign governments have not repealed their laws,
is certain, and consequently that the embargo has not effected
its purpose.

That this purpose was merely to compel France or England,
or both, to re-establish trade on its ancient footing, may be de-
nied by those who are obliged to make long speeches, and
who take refuge in verbal distinctions, but it needs no formal
proof. Ships going to France were liable to be captured or
sent back by the British. To keep them at home was there-
fore a precaution, but the embargo does not merely forbid ves-
sels to go to France or her allies; it prohibits them from sail-
ing any where.

Great Britain does not threaten to seize our ships if going
to her own ports, or those of her allies. To prohibit them
from going thither is therefore not precautionary. What dan-
ger does it provide against? No danger to be dreaded from
Great Britain. France, indeed, forbids us to go to England,
but she cannot prevent it. We may be angry at her insolence.
We may even go to war with her; or we may aim to punish
her by prohibiting our trade to France; but by interdicting
that to England, likewise, we use no precaution against
French violence. At least no violence to be dreaded at sea.

France may have secretly menaced us with war, or some
other great mischief, unless we stop our commerce with
England. In that case, the prohibition might be deemed a
measure of precaution. But such menaces are not avowed.
The public are not acquainted with them. They are not as-
signed as the reasons for extending the embargo to Great Bri-
tain. A partial embargo might possibly be construed into a
precaution, but a general embargo cannot.

Our curiosity is naturally attracted to the manner in which
our ministers communicate notice of this law to the foreign
governments concerned in it. Each one is told, that in conse-
quence of his unjust edicts, by which the commerce of Ame-
rica is endangered, all our shipping is confined at home, and
that he cannot justly take offence at a measure dictated purely
by caution, but that if he will annul his edicts, the embargo
shall be removed with regard to him.

In what light can such proffers be held by the French go-
vernment? “Your embargo,” they say, “can do us no injury:
we value not your trade, but if we did value it, the British
power at sea has now deprived us of it as effectually as any re-

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strictions you are able to lay upon it at home. The abroga-
tion of your law will not enable you to reach our empire, and
therefore, we will take no offence at your embargo. You are
right in prohibiting your ships to sail for France, since the
English will inevitably take them, or if they merely examine
them, and pass, we will seize them when they arrive, because
you suffered their visits.

You fancy indeed, that your ships will find their way to
France, notwithstanding the British edicts, unless you chain
them to your quays, and that the loss of your trade, will be a
great grievance to us; so great a one, that we will repeal our
laws, in order to regain it. Away you scoundrel pedlars, and
learn that the motions of the great Napoleon, are not to be in-
fluenced by such frivolous considerations. My people, he
will say, shall do without coffee and sugar, for the present.

Your folly and your insolence go much farther. You dream
that you can frighten him into these concessions. He will
wince, you think, under the rod you hold over him. What
warlike armies and confederated kings are unable to perform,
you think you can accomplish by your pitiful embargo. You
will pinch his vassals and his colonies, with famine, and then
you imagine he will tamely tread back his own steps, he will
truckle to his deadly and irreconcileable enemies. For that
thought you deserve his eternal vengeance and his ineffable

If you want a pretext for raising your embargo, go to Eng-
land first. Let her trace back her own flagitious career, be-
fore you call for our revocation. Look at the fountain head
for the secret of your grievances. It was her injustice that
provoked the edicts you complain of, and they shall stand as
long as that injustice continues.

If your commerce were of any value me, and if it were my
custom to regulate my conduct by fear, and if the mere repeal
of your law would give me back your trade, you might have
some hopes of me, but your restrictions operate against Eng-
land also. If they are precautionary with respect to me, far
different are they as to her. As to me, your restriction is a
name. It existed before your law and will exist after; but
not so to her. There it is to the fatal, the deadly war, which
I have been long laboring to excite against her. Open war
with England, I ask not from you, because she would be the
gainer, and you a sufferer for her advantage, and not mine.

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What I want from you, is a suspension of commerce with her,
and that has taken place, and I am satisfied. And have you
the folly to suppose, that I can be induced to remove a slight
inconvenience to myself, not only at the price of dignity and
honor, but with the removal of a much heavier evil from my

You hint to me, that by repealing my decree, and thereby
occasioning the removal of your embargo, as to me, I shall
oblige the English to follow my example, and thereby restore
all your trade with me, with all its marvellous advantages, or
occasion a war between them and you. You think then that
after so signal a proof of the value of your commerce to me,
they will kindly give it me back; that their impertinent so-
phistry about retaliation has any weight with them who know
that they began this career.

But if I revoke, and they do not follow my example, what
have I gained but humiliation and disgrace, and a war between
you and her, when peace with an embargo is all I want from
you. A war with England is far better to England, than peace
with a perpetual embargo. If she follow my example, I shall
gain, you say, your trade, which the whole course of my con-
duct, for the last two years, might have shewn you, that I car-
ed not for, and shall restore it at the same time to England, to
whom I think it of infinite importance. Excuse me if I treat
the offer with silent contempt.”

France did not say this to the American minister. She sa-
tisfied herself with thinking it. To him she merely said no-
thing, or he wisely forbore to make the proffer, I am not cer-
tain which. The case was different with Great Britain. There
was a formal correspondence on the subject, and the rhetoric
employed on both sides was, of necessity, somewhat more
circuitous and artful.

The British government was likewise told that the embar-
go was a measure of precaution, impartially extended to
both the belligerents, because danger was dreaded from both.
It was requisite to go a step further. It was in truth, in pur-
pose, in design, openly avowed within our own walls, a mode
of warfare, applauded for, at once, its safety and its efficacy.
It was a whip applied to the backs of the two belligerents, to
compel them to recall their edicts; if their edicts were recall-
ed, therefore, the embargo having answered the end of its crea-
tion, might perish. To him, that should first repent, freedom

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should be granted, while the refractory should still be lashed.
It was impossible, therefore, to elude the inconsistency of
forestalling revenge, by pleading that the act meant nothing be-
yond ourselves, and of making it effectual as a punishment, by
promising relief from it, if the offender would repent and re-
form. It was likewise hinted to them, that by recalling their
decrees, while those of the enemy remained in force, the em-
bargo, continuing in relation to the enemy, would do no more
than the decrees themselves, if unrevoked, could possibly do.
The end of these decrees being to destroy the American trade
with France, an embargo will effect that purpose, and thus
you will gain your ends without quarrelling with us.

“True,” said the Englishmen, “but since our decrees will
do nearly all we wish, why should we hold our hand, and refer
the business to your discretion. We have duties of dignity
and glory to perform as well as you, and it is incumbent on us
to vindicate our own rights, by our own strength. We are
able to deprive France of all foreign trade, in defiance of all
her own efforts: her threat of an airy and impossible bloc-
kade, we can retort with a real and substantial one, and this
we can do, in defiance not only of her own efforts, but of yours.
Your embargo seized the critical moment, and seconded her
blows with a vigor that made us hesitate and falter for a
moment, but now we are at ease again. We can see that you
can do as little harm as your confederate.

You call your law a measure of precaution. So it is with
regard to your trade to France, and her allies, since none of
your vessels henceforth could attempt to visit their dominions
with impunity. But you must find out some new species of
rhetoric, hitherto unpractised among men, by which to con-
vince us that your refusal to trade with us is a precaution.
That you dread no interruption from the French is certain,
since her total impotence at sea is as evident to you as to us.
You may come to London, to Liverpool, to Madras, to Cal-
cutta, to Kingston, to Malta, without any apprehension of
being seized as you are about to enter by a French frigate.
Nay, your intercourse with parts of the European continent,
with Spain and Portugal, since these countries have revolted
or been conquered from the French, will not be molested.

No, you come with precaution in your mouths, but vengeance
and malignity at your hearts. Your precaution is of a kind
practised by the Hindoos, who stab themselves on the threshold

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of their enemy, that their blood, falling there, may entail dis-
aster, on the tenant of the mansion. But you are more
in the right than you imagine. Your system, though you in-
tended a fatal warfare upon us, is, indeed, no more than an
innocent precaution. In vain did you meditate to involve our
colonies in misery and famine; to diffuse distress, discontent,
riot, and rebellion, in the very vitals of our empire, to bank-
rupt our merchants, and manufacturers, and pinch, still more
cruelly, our laborers. In vain you aim with a malignity still
less entitled to forgiveness, to despoil us of that maritime
strength which is necessary, not merely to extend our empire,
but to baffle the efforts of a foe, who languishes to take away
our very name and nation. All this, you flattered ourselves,
would be accomplished by your embargo,—for what end? We
will not dispute with you about the end, except for form sake.
You cannot but regard every subject in relation to your own
exclusive interest. Neither can we. You cannot compre-
hend how your intentions and acts, when mischievous to us,
should appear to us as provocations. You may say in like
manner, if you please, that we are deaf to justice when it cries
aloud in your favor. But thus it must ever be. We must
both consider it a sacred duty, to vindicate the safety, dig-
nity and power of our native country, and to resist our ene-
my, by all means within our reach; as well as by the means
he uses for our annoyance. If neutrals be incommoded by our
laudable efforts at revenge and self-preservation, let them look
at the original offender. On his head be the consequences of
his own iniquity. Let him revoke, and then we will see what
we are to do.

Though the true scope and purpose of your embargo be to
afflict and distress us, and you are willing to suffer yourselves,
for the sake of the greater suffering which we shall incur, by
the same means, and thus furnish us with unquestionable proofs
of your enmity to us, we shall not, at present, treat you open-
ly as enemies, because your efforts to hurt us, have been inef-
fectual. You have given us ample cause of revenge and of
war, but it becomes our pride and dignity to consider, rather
what you have done, than what you designed to do. Now,
with all your malice, you have done nothing. Look at our
colonies; our fleets; our revenues, and internal situation.
Where is the desolation with which you kindly aimed at cov-
ering our Islands? Where are the ships which are detained

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within our harbors for the want of spars and of rigging, which
you have generously refused to supply? Where are the mur-
murs and tumults with which our inland cities were to be dis-
tracted, for want of their usual means of occupation? If
all these evils had happened, your folly imagines that we
should be employed, rather in entreaty and compliance, than
in taking the vengeance you would so justly have incurred.
You may rejoice, that we are not obliged to repay your pacific
efforts to destroy us, with battle and invasion; that the evils
to which you have condemned yourselves, are not aggravated
by those of an open war with us. Your impotence has made
you safe.”

This was not the language of the British minister to ours.
That false and hollow politeness which prevails in the inter-
course of polished nations, forbade it. As we were obliged,
by diplomatic etiquette, to call our warlike expedient, a paci-
fic one, and our project for ruining Great Britain, a mere do-
mestic regulation for our own convenience, those civilities re-
strained them from giving us openly the lie. They still
thought it but decent to revive the sophistry of retaliation;
to urge the groundless plea, that the French, in their Berlin
decree, were the first aggressors; that they, therefore, were
alone responsible for all the injuries accruing to neutral com-
merce; that revocation must first come from them; that the
embargo, therefore, if an act of vengeance for these injuries,
ought to be confined to the first and sole offender; and if a pri-
vate municipal act, foreign states have no concern with it. The
opportunity was too seductive, however, to be wholly lost by
Mr. Canning, to deal out a little cautious and grave irony on
the contradiction between our diplomatic professions of impar-
tial and benevolent purposes, with regard to the two belliger-
ents, and the manifest and unambiguous tendencies of our pro-
jects, and there the subject was left.

A year has passed away since our embargo was imposed. It
has done nothing but evil. The good we expected, always
in the opinion of some unattainable, must now be hopeless to
all. This is some cause of disappointment and humiliation.
That all our sufferings should have been incurred for nothing;
that the only species of warfare which the distance of one of our
enemies, and the irresistible power of another, allow us to em-
ploy is wholly ineffectual. They are as proud, insolent, re-
fractory as ever.

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But perhaps our measures have been ineffectual, because im-
perfectly executed. Some exportations have taken place in spite
of interdicts and penalties. Alas! this is cold, poor, wretched
consolation. It shews us the insuperable difficulties of lock-
ing up the wheels of commerce. It shews us that the only
mode of war, which we thought within our reach, is beyond
it; that we can neither annoy or subdue our enemy, by arms
and expeditions, nor even by refusing any intercourse of bar-
ter and exchange with him.

In this gloomy and disastrous state of things, the legislature
of the nation is again assembled. Our injuries remaining un-
redressed and even aggravated; our past efforts to bring the
belligerents to reason proving ineffectual, what is to be done?
Are we to sit down in powerless despondency, and do no-
thing? Or are we to relinquish schemes, that experience has
shewn to have answered no end, but that of heaping confu-
sion and distress upon our own heads? Or are we to keep
our pride from being wholly overpowered by defeat and dis-
grace, by cherishing the notion that the embargo has not done
what it promised us, because it has been so extensively violat-
ed, and therefore set ourselves to devise new rigors, new pe-
nalties, new forfeitures against its violators? Or, since our
restrictions upon exportation have done little or nothing, shall
we prohibit importation also, and cut off all intercourse whate-
ver, with the disturbers of our trade?

You have met, and what has been the consequence? One
party among you has come to the field of contest with fresh
spirit and vigor. Their arsenals, both of argument and ob-
loquy, are better stored and flow more liberally than ever.
Of your petty, frivolous and useless altercations and recrimi-
nations, I have said enough. Let me lend a moment's atten-
tion to your arguments, and endeavor to detect and explain
the true state of the controversy.

It will be unnecessary to pursue one of the parties minutely
through all the mazes of their rhetoric; to recount their ef-
forts to shew the extent of the evils which the nation has in-
curred from the embargo; the impossibility of making it effec-
tual by any augmentation of vigilance or rigor in the execu-
tion of it; the danger that its continuance and the increase of
its rigor will drive the people into insurrection and civil war;
the advantages which the liberty of trade would still allow us,
notwithstanding the restrictions of foreign states; the partia-

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lity of our conduct towards one of the belligerents, whom
our embargo is adapted to injure most though the provoca-
tion he has given us is least, and the inefficacy of this law
with respect to foreign powers, by reason of the extent and
sufficiency of their own resources.

The zeal of disputation could not fail to make the reasoners
on this side guilty of numerous mistakes and exaggerations.
The temptation therefore to their adversaries was irresisti-
ble. Though the domestic evils produced by the embargo
were great, it was easy for them to shew in what respect it
was not so great as the adverse party had described it. It
was their province likewise to enlarge upon and blazon the in-
ternal benefits which this measure had produced. It was
their task to strip the danger of insurrection and tumult of
those glaring colors in which their antagonists had dressed it,
and in doing this could they fail of descending as much below
the truth, with respect to the sufferings and aversion of the
people, as their opponents had mounted above it.

With respect to foreign powers, it was no less easy to dis-
pute without end on the exact measure of their sufferings, and
the exact extent of their resources, and the exact measure of
their guilt. These are topics intricate and doubtful in them-
selves. Exact intelligence respecting them is beyond our
reach. Those to whom the zeal of disputation has given all
the feelings and views of judicial advocates, view the same
objects through different ends of the telescope, and every thing
is accordingly magnified and diminished: What wonder?

But all this world of disputation is entirely beside the pur-
pose. The exact quantity of mischief which the embargo in-
flicts upon others or ourselves, the exact degree of guilt in fo-
reign nations, or the original aggressor, are not the points of
consequence. All parties agree that we suffer much from the
embargo; all parties agree that we have just cause of complain-
ing against both the rivals; and that the embargo, considered
as a method of obtaining redress, is wholly ineffectual. All
this idle, endless, impertinent bickering about, Who began
first? How much do we suffer at home? How much have fo-
reigners suffered?
What end can it answer but inflame the
passions, and indulge malignity? On these points no two per-
sons can possibly think exactly alike. That your body ap-
pears to be divided between two opinions only, is owing to the
two-fold division which party has made among you; for party

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is as much a source of unanimity among the members of each
division, as of division in the body at large. Leave you at
freedom from this control, and a dispute, on these points,
would not fail to be engendered between every two of you.

The present ground of your proceedings is to be looked for
in the report of your committee.* In this performance, the
justice of our claims to a free navigation of the ocean, and
the injustice of those by whom that privilege is denied, are
maintained. The conduct of France and Great Britain is de-
clared to be purely warlike, and therefore a war on our part
would be just, but considering the power of our enemies, an
open war would be inexpedient. We have therefore no alter-
native but first in absolute submission to their injustice by re-
moving the embargo, and trading on the terms which they
prescribe, or secondly, in rigorously enforcing the embargo,
and even seconding it by cutting of all intercourse whatever
with the nations who persevere in their injustice towards us.
Between these expedients lies, of necessity, one choice.

It seems to be the general or prevalent opinion, that the
present restrictions by foreign states on our commerce are un-
just; that in trading in the way prescribed to us, we submit
to that injustice; that this submission is equivalent to the sur-
render of national independence, and that a suspension of
trade, if not strictly hostile, is an act of dignity, and wholly
inconsistent with submission.

While these sentiments are entertained, what effect can ar-
guments, drawn from the hardships of suspended trade, have
upon generous minds? What ought to be their weight with
those who have an affection for their country think political
independence and self government genuine and valuable
goods, and not mere phantoms and shadows? Who deem it
virtue and honor to lay down their lives, if necessary to at-
tain and secure it? If the positions just mentioned be believ-
ed, he who believes them, and yet submits, chuses indignity
before honor, slavery before liberty, the petty gains of a pre-
carious commerce, before the testimony of a good conscience
and a noble spirit. Who is there so hardy as to recommend

  * Made by Mr. Campbell November 22. This performance explains the
present state of our affairs with a perspicuity, clearness, and energy, and
especially with a purity of style that is rarely to be met with in our public
papers. As to the policy of the conduct recommended by this report, it is
the purpose of this publication to disprove it

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submission rather than war? No such hero has yet been found
in Congress. Tribute is a sound that sets the blood of the
Hillhouses and Randolphs on fire, as well as that of the Giless
and Campbells. Independence is as intimately blended with
the faculty of sailing the ocean, in the minds of one party as
of the other.

Let us then examine a little more closely the validity of
these grounds. If they will bear the fabric you build upon
them, it is well. Perhaps they will bear it; perhaps some
flaw, some fatal weakness may be found at the basis. At all
events a new discussion may be useful. We have indeed, had
plenty of speeches on the subject, and nothing new may possi-
bly occur to the most ingenious. Possibly the subject may be
placed in lights which have never yet shone upon it, and pos-
sibly these lights may be the true ones. Let us try.

And first there is a point of view in which the embargo may
be placed, that will throw some light upon that claim to dig-
nity, honor and justice, which the defenders of maritime
rights of all sects think indisputable. Marvellous illusions of
self-love! What contradictions can you not reconcile! What
mischiefs cannot you convert into virtues! What vices into
benefits! If a new example of their wonder-working power
were wanting, an illustrious one is supplied in the motives
and reasonings of the authors of this project: But not merely
in the authors of this project alone. The charge I am going
to make, is merited alike by its friends and its enemies.

Let us look back a moment on the effects of the embargo,
to be felt by foreign nations; the reality and extent of which
effects were urged as the sole or chief inducements for adopt-
ing it, and which the adversaries of the measure sometimes
denied, and censured the embargo, because it would not pro-
duce. Could we effect our purposes by this means, should
we not provoke a war, or at least a perseverance in the mea-
sures we complained of, by these means, then they were eligi-
ble. Could the evils it was to produce, fall only on the heads
of the French nation and its vassals, then the project, even in
the eyes of the minority was a good one: But they would not
concur in it, either because it injured us, without enormous
injury to others; or because, while it injured others, it would
not injure them so much as to make them bow to our demands;
or because it injured the innocent, and not the guilty state.
You were all of the same mind, as to the equity of inflicting
certain evils on those who molested or forbade your navigation

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of the ocean. And now let us ask what were the evils which
it was the merit of this law to inflict, in the eyes of some, and
its demerit that it did not inflict in the eyes of others.

It was an impartial mischief, it seems. It was to compre-
hend all foreign nations in its direful and comprehensive grasp.
It was even to do some little harm to the remote and inoffen-
sive Chinese, whose manufacturers and merchants were to be
deprived of all the silver we annually sent them, and to have
upon their hands all the tea, silk and cotton stuffs and earthen
ware which they had prepared for our use. But these were
not thought of. France and her allies and vassals, and the
British islands and dominions, were the objects of our annoy-
ing plans.

As to France, she was to be deprived of luxuries. This
has an harmless sound. Who cannot live without sugar or
coffee? It would be a blessing to a nation to be wholly and per
manently weaned from their use. Many articles exported
to France, however, were prime necessaries, but let them all
be classed with luxuries, let them all be reduced to sugar and
coffee for the argument sake. Now sugar and coffee are to
those who consume them nothing indeed but sugar and coffee;
but what are they to those who buy them at the sea ports, not
to eat, but to sell again? What are they to the myriads of
carriers, pedlars and retail dealers scattered over the face of
France, from the ocean to the Rhine, from the Scheld to the
Pyrenees. All calculation of numbers would be vain and de-
ceitful. From the extensive use of these luxuries we know it
must be vast. And what is sugar and coffee to these? They
arevendibles merely: they are bread, clothes, firing and shelter.
And what have the French people done to merit these suffer-
ings at our hands? Their despot, supported by his legions, is-
sues decrees against your commerce. What is your weapon?
One that deprives the merchants and dealers of his empire,
who have no concern in his acts and projects, of their ordi-
nary means of subsistence.

But this distinction you will probably treat with scorn and
derision. In all political eyes, the people and their govern-
ment are the same. The head can only council and direct.
The members must execute. The members only can really
suffer from the folly or defeat of the plans devised by the
head; but they execute these plans, and must endure their
consequence. Let the orthodoxy of this creed be quietly ad-
mitted. Let the French people be one body, if you will with

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their emperor, but what do you say to the countries con-
quered by France: who entertain an immeasurable detes-
tation of her projects and her tyranny, whose houses are
burthened with the maintenance of her ferocious soldiery,
whose young men are torn from their homes, and forced into
the van of her battles to blunt, with their bodies, the edge of
the hostile sword; who are prevented from rising as one man
and exterminating their opranessers only by the presence of
garrisons, whom, for the purpose of their own subjection,
they are obliged to maintain? What say you to the identity
between the Hollanders, the Swiss, the Italians, the Hanoveri-
ans, the people of the Rhine, the Prussians, and the great
Napoleon? Are these the culpable instruments of his ambi-
tion? Are these censurable for the continuance of that injus-
tice and that violence of which they themselves are already the
lamentable victims.

Unfortunately his immediate subjects will suffer less by
your interdicts, than the conquered countries: Foreign or ma-
, commerce, with all its branches, bears a smaller pro-
portion to the other means of national subsistence in France,
than in any other maritime part of Europe. How unspeaka-
bly less than in Holland. How much less than in the coun-
tries on the Rhine and the Baltic? And what end can you
possibly propose by making those suffer? Surely you do not
fancy that an addition to their calamities, will have any influ-
ence on the mind of their conqueror. If your embargo could
deepen the horrors that already brood over them, and make
the darkness of their destinies still darker, what good would
that do you?

You have no objection to purchase an advantage or a right,
(you will call it) by the sufferings of those who, though wholly
innocent with regard to you, may compel, by their murmurs
or supplications, their monarch to comply with your demands.
This is established policy, to which your minds probably ne-
ver conceived the possibility of raising an objection, nor will
I endeavor to convince you, that the sufferings of the unarm-
ed part of the French nation by your means, could have any
other influence, than to waken resentment and vengeance
against you: a resentment which could only be inflamed to an
higher pitch, by your acquainting them, coolly, that their own
government and not you, were to blame. This plea, which
fails not to quiet the upbraidings of every injurer's own
conscience has no such suporific influence on the passions of

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the sufferer. But this plea avails you not, with regard to the
conquered countries. No alchemy can transmute their evil
into your good. With them, you aspire to no glory, but that
of making the heavy arm of the conqueror more heavy. Of
aggravating the calamities of mankind, without the miserable
motive of gaining thereby some advantage, however small, to

But this is a small part of the fuene, into which the embar-
go was to introduce desolation and dismay. I am loath to
look further; I am loath to turn my eyes upon Spain, because
there the embargo was to have a much more tremendous in-
fluence. Spain, over whom the iron sway of the French was
as strong and stable, as over Holland or Hanover, through the
double operation of the religious reverence which the people
bore their monarch, and the cowardice and infatuation of the
monarch: Spain, who has been obliged to wage war against a
state whom they loved, and to give away their armies to a for-
eign power, whom they abhorred with an incurable and here-
ditary hatred: who obeyed the mandates of that power, in
throwing chains upon our commerce, to their own incredible
annoyance, and against their dearest wishes. Spain is to be
punished by our embargo, for the perverseness of Napoleon,
and how punished? Not by the privation of coffee, sugar, and
the healing drugs and consolatory viands of the Western he-
misphere. No:—This is petty, piddling work.

Spain you imagine, has not bread enough of her own growth,
to feed her people at any time, and this regular deficiency is
increased in a dreadful degree by draughts and storms. We
have, at all times, bread enough and to spare. To us, there-
fore, she must be indebted for exemption from that worst of
evils—famine; we have, therefore, her destiny fully in our
hands, and by the embargo, we cut her off from this extreme
resource. We cannot burn her cities, or put her old men and
little ones to the sword. No matter. We can reach them
in the very heart of their peninsula, by the powerful arm of an
embargo. We can destroy their aged, their infant, their help-
less with agonies more cruel, and a pest more certain than fire
and the sword. It is true, we suffer ourselves in the mean
while. We shall be in danger of being poisoned by plenty,
and choaked by abundance. A part of our own people will
suffer a sort of scarcity, but those ills are nothing, compared
with the famine that is to seize upon the millions of Spain, and
that (which ought to be our disgrace) shall be our consola-

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But what is the end in view? To compel the French em-
peror to take away his yoke from the neck of our commerce.
Tell us not that the Spaniards have partaken of his guilt, by
making his edicts current among them. I will not urge, that
this, on any supposition, was not the doing of the people whom
we starve, because we all know that the Spanish government
itself, had no option in this case. We would impoverish the
tradesmen of Holland and Hanover, without the tyrants plea,
necessity, without the motive, as little to be praised, of gain-
ing an ultimate advantage to ourselves; but unhappy Spain,
whose population is double our own, we would not merely be-
reave of luxuries, and aggravate her poverty, but would re-
duce to absolute famine.

The embargo that was to cramp the trade of the North,
and to take away the bread of the South of the French em-
pire, was to fall with a two edged blade, upon the devoted
English. There it was to break the shuttle of the weaver;
to cut off the resources of the merchant; to stop suddenly the
wages of half a million of laborers, on whom a million of wo-
men and children depend for bread; to shake the government
itself with insurrections; to render their formidable navy use-
less for want of bowsprits and mainsails. That Island, which
its auspicious stars have made, for centuries, inaccesable to
war and danger, was to yield in a moment to your potent spell
of an embargo; the work of hostile armies, in firing and pil-
laging, was to be done by an unseen arm. Nay, the sword
was to be drawn, but by Englishmen against themselves: the
poor whom wants, of your creating, should drive into rebel-
lion, were to be butchered by the soldiery. Nay, the barrier
which has hitherto shut out invasion and servitude, was to be
pulled down. The legions of the enemy were to have the door
opened to them, by a law which should dismast and unrigg the
British navy.

But this was not the worst. The sword aimed against
them, had a double edge. It was to do all this, but it was
likewise to deny them bread itself. Great Britain, some of
us suppose, does not raise enough for its own subsistence, and
the deficiency, as in Spain, is increased occasionally by bad
seasons. Fortunately for our enlightened views, a bad sea-
son might occur during the continuance of the embargo, and
thus give force to our arguments, but at all events, the regular
deficiency could only be supplied by us; hence, by holding back

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our hand, we should famish some of them; they would be
pinched into submission, by some degree of scarcity.

But the evil was to pervade every hemisphere. It was to
comprehend America as well as Europe. All the insular co-
lonies of Europe in the West, we fancied indebted to us for
house, tools and provisions. The want of what we were ac-
customed to supply would not merely reduce the profits of
their farms, but take away the immediate necessaries of life.
The want and distress we should have the glory to produce,
by an embargo, would be partial in Europe. In the colonies
it would be absolute. All would be affected by it. All classes
and conditions, the master and the slave, would be pinched to
death by its merciless fingers. Europe, and especially Great
Britain, would suffer by the rebound. The numerous class of
merchants and proprietors, who subsist by the colonial trade,
or draw their income from the islands, would be impoverish-

To all this, a reply, though forestalled, may yet be made.
They may elude the calamities or put a stop to them, by doing
us justice. Need we again ask who is to repent and reform?
The French emperor and the British ministry. Put this mat-
ter in the strongest light, and allow the end to be obtained by
this means; the sufferings must be felt before they can ope-
rate to our advantage. And since concessions, previously re-
fused to our arguments, are now to be extorted from their
sufferings; since their pride and resentment, must be forced
to yield, in a contest with internal danger and distress, it is
quite natural to suppose that their submission will be sullen,
reluctant, slow. That the load will oppress them heavily, be-
fore they incur the humiliation and disgrace of submission to
our will; that they will make violent efforts to escape from it
by other means; and even by a war against us; a war that, if
hopeless with regard to the removal of our interdict, may at
least give them the solace of revenge.

But such an influence is hopeless. We bend not Napoleon to
our will, by the evils we inflict even upon Frenchmen. How
much less then by the sufferings of the vassal Spaniards, and
the enslaved Germans. The project likewise was chimerical
in all its parts. The embargo could not be executed. There
was a radical and fatal defect. This nation, like others, will
feel no scruple in distressing or destroying others, for the

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sake of a remote advantage, and even if they suffer some in-
convenience themelves; but this benevolent self denial has li-
mits. The distant good and the present evil must bear some
proportion to each other. There need be no proportion be-
tween this sought for advantage, and the evils inflicted, in or-
der to gain it, on foreigners. If we could force England to al-
low our trade to Spain, by cutting off half her population by
famine, what good patriot would not rejoice at such a proof of
our power, and be ready with the standard logic: They, who
would not do us justice freely, must be forced to do so, and
themselves are answerable for the consequences; but our own
sufferings are viewed through a different medium. The good
we seek may be valuable, but it is possible to give too much
for it; and so trade, in defiance of all your laws, made or to
be made, will never be totally suspended.

But the project was chimerical, because the drowning of
the western continent, by a second deluge, would not introduce
even a partial famine into England or Spain. No evils which
the embargo could inflict, on any of the parties at war, would
form the smallest inducement with either of the parties to re-
lent in their persecutions. If reasoning could not prove, if sa-
gacity could not foresee this before hand, experience has now
come to our aid, and established it beyond controversy; but
we likewise perceive that while greater evils than these would
not conquer them, these evils are small. This is some conso-
lation to those who thought it unjust to make the people of Eu-
rope and the West India islands suffer for the iniquity of
their rulers and conquerors; but it does not vindicate our in-
tention, though it evinces our folly, in imposing it.

France had previously denied herself and her allies all the
benefits of our commerce. She had previously refused to take
what we, by our embargo, afterwards refused to give, so that
all the sufferings we prepared for her, Europe previously ow-
ed to its own master. This total privation was produced di-
rectly or indirectly by his own decrees. If Spain was starv-
ed, if France and Holland, and Germany and the colonies
were afflicted and impoverished, our justice and humanity
could not congratulate themselves on doing any part of the
mischief. How deplorable! We wanted to starve and impo-
verish the French for hindering our trade with England, but
we could not. They had done as much to that end of their
own accord, as we could do, and left us nothing but the glory

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of intending it, and the wisdom of distressing and impoverish-
ing ourselves as a means to that creditable end.

It may be said that our ultimate end was to restore the bles-
sings of a free trade to all these nations, which end was a lau-
dable and beneficent one. Indeed! I was then greatly mis-
taken. Our aim, I thought, was to force from the sufferings
of France and her allies, a recall of those edicts which prohi-
bited, and merely in name prohibited, our trade with England.
As to their receiving our ships in their own territory, that was
an affair of municipal law, with which we had no right to in-
terfere. Our aim was likewise to force from the sufferings of
England, permission to trade with the French empire, and, in
both cases, the glorious end was to profit ourselves. If any of
them were in want of bread, and had nothing to give for it, I
am afraid we should not be very anxious to supply their
wants. If a famine rages among them, we shall hurry, in-
deed, to their ports, but merely to profit by the high prices
which the famine produces. The evil of others is our good.
Their sufferings are our enjoyments: gladly do we hear of
their calamities, when they can put any thing into our purses.
Great is our joy if they want what we have got, because they
will then pay us the more for it.

This view of the subject will be called visionary. We are
bound, it will be said, to think only of ourselves. The exam-
ple of all ages and nations justify us in preferring the smallest
good of our own to the greatest of other states: in establish-
ing our rights and extending our gains by means, which we
are to choose or reject, merely from their capacity of doing
this. Look at the conduct of the French, and especially at
that of England: wherever the French conquer, does not her
rival immediately aggravate all the honors of that conquest to
the innocent victims, by shutting up their ports with her navy?
Have they not deprived, as far as they were able, Spain and
the northern countries of all commercial intercourse? Even
Portugal, the moment it was usurped by the French, was
blockaded by the British. Had the blockade added pestilence
and famine to the evils which the tyranny of foreigners had
already loaded them, would their innocence, their merits,
their prayers, have gained from the English the smallest re-
lief? And have they not, to perplex their great enemy, or ra-
ther to gratify an empty pride, inflicted on us, who have no
part in the crimes of France, most of the evils of war.

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All this is very true. Europe, Britain has done this: and
alas! those who fancied that the spirit of Europe was rege-
nerated or improved by crossing the Atlantic, are woefully
mistaken. It was indeed quite ridiculous to think that this
branch of the European body was exempted from any of the
vices of those. How should it happen? What is there in our
intellectual constitution that should make us wiser or better
than our kinsmen beyond sea? If any proof were wanting
that our system of political justice is as narrow, selfish, de-
praved, unfeeling, as that of European states, we have only
to consider the purpose of the embargo, the intention of
imposing it: the effects on foreign nations which some of us
rejoiced that it would, and which the rest of us lamented that
it would not produce.

The aptitude of the embargo as a means to our end, was a
point in which only our wisdom was concerned. Whether
there was the same equality between our cunning, and
that of Europe, as there was between their justice and ours,
may be doubted. We have carefully imitatedthem in selecting
ends with no view but to our profit and aggrandisement; we
have had as little regard to those, who are no parties in the
business, in selecting our means; but whether they are equally
adapted and conducive to the end, I am afraid the history of
the embargo will compel us to doubt.

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LET us now hasten to consider the end that we propose to
accomplish, and the foundation of that right, in support of which
we think that even interest may sometimes be laudably sacri-
ficed. Let us weigh the force of those pleas, which are said to
flow from honor and dignity; let us see if there be any thing
but sound, as they are now used, in those magical words Tri-
and Submission. If there be; if forbearance to seek by
force what force will not attain, be dignity; if there be resist-
against those who forbid us to pass along a part of the
road, in refraining from the road altogether; if, when one of
your neighbors prohibits you from visiting another of your
neighbors, you comply with his orders, but decline visiting
him also, there be independence in your conduct; if to suffer
your citizens to trade with England, for their own advantage,
when that intercourse is not forbidden by her, be submission to
England; if to allow your citizens to buy cargoes in Ameri-
ca, and place them voluntarily in British warehouses to moul-
der and rot, be a laying down of your sovereignty; if there
be common sense in refusing them an option which they can
never accept, then God forbid that my voice, feeble and ob-
scure as it is, should not be for embargo and for war.

Shall our arguments be drawn, like those of others, from the
principles of Public Law? What is public law? Before we
refer the matter to a judge, let us examine his credentials.
The history of public maritime law appears to be this—

The occasional edicts of belligerents must be executed
through the medium of judges and tribunals. Ships, when
seized, must be brought into port, and judges must deter-
mine whether the last edict applies to them. All cases, es-
pecially of this kind, have complex circumstances. No two
of them are exactly alike. The captors are instigated by their
interest to bring them within the law, the captured to take
them out. Causes and decisions and reasons for them mul-
tiply, and are recorded, and the authority of precedent is thus
produced. These precedents begin to be volumnious and in-

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tricate. They require to be studied and read. The inter-
ests of the parties supply lucrative inducements for men to
devote themselves to this study. Hence arise advocates and
proctors; some of whom, naturally delighting in what em-
ploys their faculties, begin to digest the chaos into order; into
systems. Where the edict is deficient, they thrust in their own
reason; state possible cases, and tell us how they ought to be
decided; which of two constructions, of the written word,
equally plausible, is most equitable. The written word, how-
ever, they must not pass. They may prance and curvet as
much as they please, within, but they must not leap over this
fence. The king or minister or senate, is continually giving
a new direction, figure and compass to the fence, but the space
within, is still the Doctor's own, be it small or large, and there
his reason is despotic.

If the fence in any part of it, have any degree of perma-
nence, the habit of conforming to it, gives it a kind of sacred-
ness in his eyes independent of the regal or senatorial hand
which built it; and who, as he built it, where and how it is,
to answer the exigence of that moment, to answer views sug-
gested by the actual state of the national balance, will pull it
down and build it elsewhere, when a new state of the balance
requires, without regarding the destruction thereby brought
upon the complex and curiously constituted webs, called sys-
tems, which the meditations of the commentator and digester
had hung upon it. Tribunals must give up, however reluc-
tantly, the closet guide, and submit implicitly to imperial de-
crees, and orders in council, while those whose interests suffer
by the innovation, will still cling desperately to the exploded
system. They will talk of justice, public law, and the sanc-
tity of usage. If they have no sharper weapons than these,
they must employ these with the more eloquence, and their
zeal will at last heat them to such a degree, that they will
really hope to argue the armed man into recantation or for-

If the armed man be silent in his turn, it will be owing to
indifference, and not because he is either puzzled or convinc-
ed. He is not convinced, because all that has been said, was
foreign to the purpose, and in no wise touched the true mo-
tives and reasons of his conduct. He was not puzzled, be-
cause a reply on such occasions, is the cheapest thing in the
world. Recrimination alone will amply furnish him with
matter; and usage, the great test, is the father of such a mot-

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ley particolored brood, is so vague, so versatile, that pleas
drawn from usage itself, can never be wanting to men of the
least research or ingenuity.

Thus, in the first American war, the English resolved to
drive the French from North America. The first step being
theirs, they determined to make it a bold one. They seized
all the French ships in their ports, in a time of peace, before
any warlike declaration. This was a terrible breach of re-
ceived maxims, and France filled all the courts of Europe
with manifestoes on the subject, in which the reasoning ad-
mitted of no good reply, on the principles on which they were
built; but France had her revenge in fact, and England hers
in argument, in the second American war. France thought it
her interest to divide, and therefore weakened her rival. She
assisted, therefore, the colony in shaking off the yoke of the
mother country, and this was as gross a breach of national or
public law, as any writer on it can imagine, yet we, for now
we were a nation, and bound to regard things, not in their ab-
stract nature, but in their relation to our separate interest,
found this conduct to be truly heroic and magnanimous. The
ally was now great and good, though twenty years before
fighting against us, in a war strictly defensive on his side,
each individual Frenchman was worse than an hundred de-
vils. But history is nothing more than a tissue of such cases,
and we have done our all, though hitherto our all has been
but little, to make some figure in this catalogue. If we have
been somewhat more harmless than others, consider we are,
nationally, but children. We shall be more conspicuous as
we grow older and stronger. Meanwhile the motives and
ends of the Embargo may serve to show what we shall do
when we are able.

Since this code appears to have no authority nor use, ex-
cepting as a rule of interpretation; as a guide to the mean-
ing of kings and ministers, when their edicts or treaties are
too hasty or concise to comprehend all the cases that occur,
and obviate all the doubts they suggest. Since it cannot set-
tle the limits of two states, and, in national disputes, offers no
test of truth, which both will acknowledge; and calls upon
no separate or proper force to compel submission; we must
seek the truth through some other channel.

Let us then for a moment, step out of the technical circle,
the world of contraband, blockade, and all the other furniture

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of public law, and examine this subject by the light of histori-
cal truth and unfettered reason. By these we are informed,
that the maritime states of Europe, are enemies and rivals, be-
cause they compose separate political bodies. The water
lies among them and between them, and they have colonies or
provinces, beyond sea. Their business is partly, therefore,
commerce, and the the sea is a medium of this intercourse.
When they are at war, the object of the parties is to injure and
distress each other all possible ways. The sea is the road by
which they invade each other, and it affords immediate objects
of capture and destruction in commercial property afloat on
it. Each one takes the ships of his enemy, armed or unarm-
ed, wherever they are found, but each party at war maintains
its usual communications, as far as it it able, with those of its
neighbors with whom it centinues at peace. As the trade is
advantageous to the fighting state, its enemy would gladly
strip it of this advantage, as well as all others, but it is like-
wise a benefit to the neutral, and to stop it wholly, is there-
fore an injury which may chance to convert the neutral into
an enemy. If the warring nations are not very unequal in
their naval force, and the neutral, by joining one party, would
be formidable to the other, mutual fear and considerations of
interest, compel them to some degree of mutual forbearance.
That part of the trade, between a neutral and fighting nation,
carried on in the vessels and with the property of the fighting
state, is beneficial to the neutral state, as well as that carried
on, on its own bottoms. Their trade is mutually beneficial,
but each places most value on its own ships and goods. The
war, by interrupting the intercourse of the warring states,
makes all the collateral trade more beneficial to both par-

The real law of nations, the sole law which all of them re-
cognize, is that they must enrich and aggrandize themselves,
by all the means in their power. The neutral, therefore, will
not lose any part of a profitable trade with a belligerent, if
he can help it. A belligerent will deprive his enemy of all
the benefits he is able to seize. What they actually do in all
cases, is proportioned to their power. The belligerent en-
croaches as far as he can with safety. The neutral resists as
far as he can with success. To keep what he has, or to gain
more, he goes to war, if he hopes to succeed by that means.

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If war will not answer the purpose, he yields just as far as ne-
cessity obliges him.

The bounds to which each is circumscribed, by sea, or by
land, depend upon the distribution of power. Give any of
them adequate power by land, and neutrality ceases, because
all independent states are conquered and absorbed by one.
Give any of them irresistible power by sea, and the freedom
of the seas, or that possession which is capable to be had of
the sea by more states than one, is, in like manner, at an end.
Armies conquer the land. Fleets conquer the sea.

Land can be occupied permanently, built upon, cultivated;
marked out and defended by walls and fortresses. The sea
can only be fished and traversed, for the sake of trade. The
dominion of the sea, therefore, is an absolute controul over
those who fish in it and traverse it. It is of value only in
connection with the land, but it is of great value as such. The
empire of the land if insular, maritime or commercial, is not
perfectly attained, without that of the sea. A city is of no va-
lue, without the command and the use of the roads that lead
to it. Its comforts and enjoyments very much depend upon
the command of the roads. Its immediate safety sometimes
depends upon it, because the invader may come this way,
but the sea is to trading nations, what their adjacent roads are
to cities.

The westsern parts of Europe have been divided, till late-
ly, among several independent states. Six of them, Eng-
land, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Denmark were
maritime. They had trade, ports and navies. The domi-
nion of the sea was therefore to each an object of ambition,
but a certain equality or fluctuation of power hindered any
one, for a long time, from gaining it. He was obliged to
divide it in the only way in which division was possible, with
others: that is, each one traversed it with his ships, without
molesting those of his neighbor. When they were at peace,
they were of course secured from molestation, because a state
of peace implied this, as the subjects of each were secure
from molestation in the land territories of another, but the sea
being a thing to cross, a kind of vacuity between them which
they were obliged to pass in order to reach each other, it re-
quired the figurative title of the highway of nations.

When two of the states were at war there was an end, of
course, to the quiet possession of the sea, to them. To those

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who continued at peace, things remained by virtue of this
peace, in some respects, on their ancient footing, but the eager-
ness to profit by the new openings for trade, afforded by the
war; the artifices of the fighting nations to conceal their sail-
ing property under a neutral mask; the encroachments made
by one on the customary line, encouraged by occasional supe-
riority at sea; the acquiescences of states at one time in these
encroachments, and their resistance at another, as their strength
or weakness snggested, constitute a scene of perpetual fluctua-
tion; and the efforts of each to preserve or extend his power
over the sea, were the causes of continual bickerings and hos-

We may naturally be curious to discover how ideas of
right; or, at least, how the name arose from this chaos. How
a scene of eternal contest for dominion, by sea and by land,
among contiguous or adjacent nations, should allow of the
growth of any notions meriting that name. We find the solu-
tion in the nature of man, whose fancy always converts posses-
sion into right. We claim as a right what was granted yes-
terday to force or intreaty, or fear, or to any other inducement.

Right grows out of usage, and the more usage the more right.
The longer the tree stands, by so much is it taller and
stouter. No matter how we gained what we held. If we hold,
a right to hold is created in our imagination, and we fight to
keep it, not only with a zeal inspired by our interest or pride,
but by a sense of justice; but justice is only an occasional ally.
If we can plead it is well, we go on in our enterprises. If we
cannot plead it, it is no matter: We go on still. The patri-
otic passion or principle of doing all we can for the glory and
power of our country, is sufficient to sustain us.

As two like events, in the same circumstances, is an ade-
quate scite for usage to be built upon, there have been no
scarcity of usages in the maritime intercourse of Europe.
Some of these similitudes have occurred, more frequently
than others, and the right growing out of these similitudes or
usages, are proportionably more familiar, and asserted, when
our interest is engaged in their continuance, with more vehe-

A belligerent nation says to neutral ones, you shall not car-
ry certain articles useful in war to my enemy: You shall car-
ry nothing into a fortress of an enemy which I am actually be-
sieging: You shall not enter a port of his, when I am able to
station ships before it. As a neutral is at peace with both,

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and aims only at his own interest, he feels the restraint some-
what irksome. He carries arms, and he seeks the beleaguer-
ed city, because these are articles which bring higher price in
war, and the peculiar wants of a besieged city will enable him
to make better bargains. By going, he aids one party to resist
or annoy the other, but that is not his design. It is an inci-
dental consequence of his pacific posture. By staying he in-
jures himself and furthers the designs of the besiegers. What
then induces him to acquiesce? What induces the besieged
city to overlook an acquiescence so hurtful to itself? They all
remember that the case will be, to-morrow, their own. This
system does not, on the whole, and in the rapid changes of
events produce an overbalance of evil to either. The good
or harm is pretty equally distributed. Besides, to take this
city is a point of great moment to the belligerent. It is a na-
tional concern. To send in a few mules or ships is of little
consequence, and the concern of a few individuals. Writers
on public law may give a different account of the matter; but
surely this is a plain case and truly stated.

The belligerent would gladly go further if he could. He
would gladly destroy all the neutral trade of his enemy, but
his enemy has a naval power as well as his own. The inequa-
lity is not considerable or permanent, or not in his own favor.
The reprisals that his enemy will make will be equally or more
injurious to him. The neutrals are also powerful at sea, and
are able to assert their claim to a part of the empire. Hence
a sort of equilibrium, a species of mutual forbearance may
prevail among them, which may give, to the weakest among
them, in some degree, the privilege of general commerce.

This participation of the empire of the sea, depending on
the equality of the maritime powers, must disappear along
with that equality. France and England were, for a century,
at the head of these. Either would have been able to over-
power the rest: but those being powerless alone, were to be
feared as auxiliaries. The competition of the great, therefore,
preserved unimpaired the claims of the small states of Hol-
land, Portugal, and Denmark, by sea, as it preserved Venice,
Switzerland, Savoy, and the German principalities by land.
The integrity of these claims was by no means uniform in ei-
ther case. They suffered temporary violences; partial
breaches and suspensions without number; especially in war
between the great powers, when their fleets being abroad op-

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portunities continually occurred for treating the neutral trader,
as an enemy, without incurring a war with his nation.

We have, unfortunately, lived to see this double balance at
an end. The maritime kingdoms and republics of Europe
have been swallowed up by France. The naval forces of these
states would have formerly enabled her, by uniting them to her
own, to conquer the sea also, but by a series of well known
events the naval power of Britain has reached an height much
more beyond the reach of any political prophecy, than the
terrestrial elevation of France. That dominion, of which the
sea is susceptible, the power of compelling all who sail upon it
to submit to the rules prescribed by her convenience, is fully at-
tained. There is not a single foe to subdue. There is
scarcely a ship of war in any sea but hers. What is the con-
sequence? All who navigate the ocean must conform to her
will. Being at war with France, all commerce with that na-
tion or its subjects must close, if the interests of Britain re-
quire it.

The progress of that power to its present height, is easily
traced; the motives which dictated each step are palpable,
uniform and simple. They originated in the double convic-
tion of an interest in taking them, and a power to sustain the
step when taken. They flowed from the same cause which
has produced enlargement of empire in all ages; which makes
the world a continued scene of war and contention; of falling
and rising states; the ambition inseparable from nations, to
aggrandize themselves, and a readiness at all times, to do this,
in the only way it can generally be done, at the expense of
their neighbors.

The outlines of this progress are to be seen, first, in en-
croachments on the trade of neutral nations with the colonies
of their enemy; secondly, in interdicting the entrance of neu-
tral ships into ports not actually guarded by her navy; thirdly,
in prohibiting the passage of neutral ships from one port to
another; and finally, by subjecting all neutral commerce with
their enemy to conditions which amounted to a total prohibi-
tion of this commerce. All these were, seemingly, bold
steps. The last step was quite gigantic. In any former age,
none of them could have been prudently taken. She has ne-
ver before been at war with all the maritime parts of Europe.
These steps, therefore, would have converted all who remain-
ed neutral into enemies, and her own navy was not such as to
justify her in wantonly incurring their enmity; but now the

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conquests of France had subjected all the western coast of
Europe, and all its maritime distriets, being reduced into
French provinces, were hostile. Besides, her naval forces
were great enough to set at defiance the combination of the
whole world. The new nation in the West, with a rich and
flourishing commerce, likely to be deeply injured by these
steps, and not indisposed to resentment and revenge, was des-
titute of all defence, and therefore unworthy of the smallest

We are not to suppose that these motives, though simple
and obvious and undeniable, were avowed in the proclama-
tions and decrees, issued to the world on each occasion. There
is a certain deferance paid by statesmen, to decency, not in
their conduct, but their declarations. All public transactions
are so complex, and states are all so uniformly governed by a
regard to their own interest, that none can ever want matter
for an argumentative defence of their proceedings. To cull
out from the actual state of things, such topics and views as
may pass, with their own countrymen, for a justification of
their projects, is a task easy to the most stupid advocate. Let
us touch briefly on the garb which political rhetoric has assum-
ed, among all parties, on the present occasion. To avoid pro-
lixity, we will mention only the last great step taken by France,
with the subsequent proceedings of Great Britain.

France, by the subjugation of Prussia, was left without
any active enemy but England. All her previous attempts
towards an actual invasion of the British Islands, had been
baffled and defeated by their navy. What expedients remain-
ed to the emperor for annoying and perplexing her. It was
commonly supposed that the life of Britain, and especially
the basis of her navy was foreign trade. To effect it indirect-
ly by shutting out all her manufactures from the countries in
subjection to him, was a desperate policy, since it was a blow
at her through his own sides. The blow, however, desperate
as it was, was struck.

There was still, however, another expedient, of which the
influence on England would be more injurious, and of which
the policy was more refined. Could he not raise up another
enemy against England, in the American states? By decree-
ing that they should not trade with England; he might fur-
nish that power with a pretext for prohibiting their trade with
his own dominions. His own decree, to that effect, he was
well aware could not be extensively executed, but as far as it

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could be enforced, it would answer the end directly, and by
sowing discord between England and America, it would still
more effectually, though indirectly answer it. Such was the
text, which the minister was to enlarge, by topics drawn from
that mine of state rhetoric, that arsenal of diplomatic warfare,
public law.

The scribe accordingly informs us, that England does not
admit the right of nations, as universally acknowledged by all
civilized people:
though this right is founded on usage, and
usage, in the intercourse of nations, is either uniform vio-
lence and outrage, or a forbearance regulated by their rela-
tive power, and therefore eternally varying, as their relative
power varies; and though no two civilized nations ever
agreed upon the same construction of a maxim, when their
material interests dictated an adverse construction.

He tells us further, that England is very wrong in seizing
merchant vessels, unarmed, and private property, and making
prisoners of their crews; that the rights of war, being the
same by land and sea, cannot extend to any private property
whatever, nor persons not military
, though usage, which is the
the test of this sort of right and wrong, is absolutely uniform
and universal in this respect. The seizing of ships and pro-
perty, unarmed and private, has been practiced by France and
England, with equal diligence, when at war, ever since they
were nations. All other states, civilized or barbarous, have
done the same, and this practice conforms as exactly, as the
theatre of action will permit, to the rights of war as exercised,
particularly by the French on land. By military contributions,
either in goods or money, private property is seized. By bil-
letting soldiers upon citizens, private property, if the phrase
has any meaning, is seized. By open and systematic plun-
dering, the practice more or less of all armies, and notoriously
so of the French, private property is seized and swallowed
up by the enemy. The church and the house, with its valua-
ble contents are not, indeed, put upon wheels and rolled into
France, whereas the ship is always brought into port; for an
obvious reason: one cannot be done, the other can. Surely
these analogies are indisputable, yet they have been over-
looked by very sharp eyes.*

  * See particularly Brougham's Review of War in Disguise, in the Edin-
burgh Review.

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He proceeds to acquaint us, that the rights of blockade have
been unjustifiably extended by England to ports and rivers
not actually guarded by her ships. Here we have again the
prostituted terms of Reason, and the usage of civilized nations.
A violence committed upon neutrals is wrong; is a breach of
public law, when committed for the first time. Repetition,
however, soon metamorphoses the wrong into right, for usage,
which consists in repetition, makes the law. But we have,
in the winding up, a splendid proof of the sagacity of these
interpreters of reason and organs of the will of all civilized
. After enumerating these sins of the English, we are
told that they justify his majesty in committing a breach of
these same rights, an hundred fold greater. The English put
under blockade forty miles of the Dutch or German coast:
therefore, his majesty decrees that the British islands shall be
in a state of blockade. This decree, indeed, violates a treaty
with a neutral nation, and injures their prosperity and happi-
ness essentially. This it is does, immediately, to some ex-
tent, but much more extensively by its indirect and contin-
gent, tho' intended and wished-for consequences, in embroiling
America with Great Britain, but what of that? France
has nothing to fear from a war with America, and she has
much to hope from a war between England and America.
We may complain that we are injured; that we did not de-
serve the injury; that she breaks her treaty with us, with-
out provocation; that acquiescence in the injustice imputed
to England could alone justify a conduct so injurious to us;
that a breach of public law on one side will not justify a great-
er breach on the other; especially to the detriment of an in-
offensive neutral. They make no reply; and why should
they? They have gained their point without argument: We,
luckless wretches, can do nothing but argue. We must pa-
tiently wait till our turn comes to gain our ends by force over
neighbors, whose weakness will have nothing left them, but
remonstrances and syllogisms.*

  * The notes of General Armstrong to the French government are to be
admired for their force and elegance. Words cannot shew more glaringly
the folly of the reasonings of the French edicts. The veil is indeed so thin
and flimsy, that when we recollect the ingenuity of that race, we are oblig-
ed to suppose that, in this case, they feared so little are resorting to the ulti-
matum, that the trouble of a little more invention was quite needless. The
remonstrances of our minister are quite seasonable and proper, unless we
should measure the value of things by the end that they are adapted to pro-

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What was now to be done by England? Circumstances
soon took place which in her own opinion allow her to exert her
maritime power even to the detriment of neutrals, with impu-
nity. Whom had she now to fear but America, that being
the only considerable state within the maritime circle, which
continued neutral? Was there aught to fear from her? She had
neither armies or fleets, and, therefore, considered as an inde-
pendent enemy, or as an auxiliary of France, she was as little
formidable as the people of Lilliput. All the motives of ter-
ror and forbearance indeed lay on the other side. English
fleets were to be dreaded by a people, whose population was
gathered on the sea coast, whose chief occupation was in rais-
ing matters for export, and in carrying it abroad, and whose
great towns were accessible to naval armaments. A war with
England, therefore, would expose them to devastation and
ruin, and how would they report or compensate the injury. A
war puts an end, totally, to the American trade, or all of it
which it may be expedient for England to destroy. It only
suspends, if indeed it does suspend, the trade of England with
America; with all the rest of the world it remains upon its an-
cient footing, or, by the total extinction of American traffic on
a better footing than before. What annoyance may arise from
privateers is of no value in this account, because she can either
destroy their shipping in their ports, or shut them up by bloc-
kading frigates. The requisite security abroad is to be obtained
by an increase of convoys, by no means inconvenient to pro-

Since policy impels us, they may say, what is to draw
us back? Not gratitude, not the merits of the people towards
us? Not the benefits they have conferred, or the services they

   mote. Our remonstrances were designed either to shew that we did not ac-
quiesce, or to bring about a change of conduct. The first of these ends was
an airy nothing. Our verbal acquiescence or [gap] was wholly unimport-
ant. The second aim was unattainable, especially by remonstrances which
touch not the true motives of the wrong doer, and afford no counter induce-
ments to those which actually impel him. Napoleón is gratified with im-
pairing the strength and distracting the councils of Great Britain. These
decrees, immediately and otherwise, tend to affect these ends. That logic
would indeed be serviceable to us which should make the emperor take
pleasure in the exaltation of his enemy, or which should convince him that
his present [gap] tended to exalt, and not to depress his enemy. Any
other logic may be decent and becoming perhaps, but altogether nugatory
and impertiment as to any effect to be produced by it on the conduct or con-
viction of him to whom it is addressed.

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have rendered to us. Our debts to a nation who owe us their
existence, who repaid the blood and treasure we expended in
the nurture of their infancy and the protection of their child-
hood, by shaking off their natural dependence on us; by en-
tering into league with our natural enemies to weaken and sub-
due us; who since their disconnection from us have never
been checked in the pursuit of their separate interest, by the
smallest consideration of our benefit; who, during the present
war, have eagerly seized every opportunity of advancing their
own trade at our expense; who have not only exhausted every
stratagem and artifice to elude the general restraints upon neu-
tral commerce, which their own statesmen allow to be sacred,
but avail themselves of the triumphs of our enemy to extort
from us new and unexampled concessions: Who open a ren-
dezvous for our seamen, convert them into citizens, and then
claim an exemption for them from our legal jurisdiction; who
refuse to surrender our deserters, and finally, in revenge for
an unauthorised attack upon one of their vessels, occasioned
by the captain's harboring our deserted seamen, and refusing
to comply with a polite demand, shut their ports and wa-
ters against us, and refuse us all the supplies customary among
states at peace, while they receive, protect, and cherish our
enemy;—what are our debts, what are our obligations to such
a nation?

That these feelings and reasonings are natural to every peo-
ple; that the British nation are not in debt to our benevolence
or generosity, in any instance; that we have given liberal en-
tertainment to their seamen, for our own advantage; that we
have labored hard to extend, as well as to preserve every neu-
tral privilege: to secure our intercourse with the French do-
minions, as large and unfettered as possible, I suppose no one
will deny. Nay, we justify it, because if the interest of a
foreign country clash with our own, it is surely our duty to
prefer our own. If her misfortunes, not brought on her by
us, compel her to grant us benefits and privileges, we are
right in seeking and accepting them. If she owe nothing to
our kindness, neither are we in debt to her, on that score.
How much are we in her debt for the crimes and miseries of
the revolution; for the violences and insolences of her naval
commanders; for the invasions of our own territory; for the
lawless pillage of our merchant ships; for reducing our na-

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into slavery, and forcing them to fight against our own
friends. Will not these bring the account to a balance?

It will. It will prove that you are mutual enemies; go-
verned in your conduct towards each other by motives of the
same kind. But England is supreme at sea, and having no-
thing to fear from you, prohibits your trade to any port of the
French dominions. Her decree, however, like the French,
must, according to established etiquette, have a satisfactory
preface, in which something like a reason must be given for
her resolutions. It would be impolite to avow the true

The reasons on such an exigence are obvious. France
has attempted to cut off the British islands from all external
trade. She cannot do it; but his majesty can deprive his
enemy of all foreign trade, and it is worthy of his dignity to
issue and execute a like decree with respect to France. He
thus exerts his just and unquestionable right of retaliation.
He repays an ineffectual attempt to injure him by an effica-
cious one. This is very well between France and England.
They are enemies, and therefore for England to kill nine-
tenths of the French, by cannon balls and famine, if she can,
is the ordinary course of things. For France to burn the ci-
ties of England, and take away the heads of half the people,
and the purses of the other half, is equally a matter of course:
but the foreign trade of France is the business and profit of
America. This new mode of warfare against France, there-
fore, is an immense injury to the neutral state.

So much the better, says the British government, in pri-
. Our ancient and recent conduct merits nothing but
war and detriment at her hands, and this detriment will ope-
rate to her advantage, as well as gratify her enmity to France.
Her public declarations are not quite so explicit. In them
she is obliged to say that his majesty is reluctantly forced, by
the French decrees, and by the acquiescence of neutral states
in their prohibitions, to assert and vindicate, in this manner,
his just rights, and support that maritime power essential to
his own safety, and, wonderful to tell, necessary to the pro-
tection of all independent states, and to the generalintercourse
and happiness of mankind.

It is a pity that statesmen think it necessary to justify their
conduct by any principle, but that right which the course of
sublunary things give to the strong over the weak. It betrays

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them into follies that absolutely sicken an impartial hearer.
Yet they do their best. If they have the folly to urge, they
have not the folly of believing what they urge. His majes-
ty's unquestionable right to retaliate on those nations at war
with him, does not enjoin him to return an empty threat
with a solid injury; to avenge a blow from the ruffian before
him, by knocking down the quiet man at his elbow, seems a
questionable mode of exerting this unquestionable right of re-
taliation. How the destruction of the American trade with
Europe tends to support his majesty's maritime power, and to
vindicate any right of his, just or unjust, is not quite incon-
ceivable; but the most monderful of all is, that to prohibit the
intercourse of all civilized nations with each other, or with
any but herself, is the true way of protecting independent
states and maintaining the general intercourse and happiness
of mankind
. As to the acquiescence of America in the French
decrees, it is true enough, if he calls inattention to an empty
and impotent threat by that name; or if he thinks any thing
short of a general massacre of the French among us, a decla-
ration of war by sound of trumpet, and the fitting out a thou-
sand privateers against French ships, knowing before hand,
that there are none to be found, be acquiescence.

Had America resented the decrees of France by a declar-
ed war, or by an embargo in relation to her, the emperor's be-
nevolent intention of embroiling us with England, would
probably have been frustrated. England would not have is-
sued her orders, because our resentment against France would
have done more for her, than her orders could do. It was
best, on the whole, that America should, by her own acts,
suspend her commerce with France, because all the Ameri-
can trade would, in that case, have centered in England
and her friends, and those obstacles avoided which have since
arisen from her imperious and despotic interference. A war
between America and England could not but gratify the Bri-
tish government, and they made some pause, to afford time
for this desirable event. It took not place. The wisdom of
America discerned, in this case, that embargo would be war,
and that war, for a provocation like this, would be folly.
Great Britain finding that America was satisfied with the ge-
neral promises of France, that notwithstanding the offensive
edict, her treaty with us should be maintained; that when
the promises were broken, we were still averse to hostility,
they delayed no longer, but published their orders, and plead-

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ed the acquiescence of the neutral states in the lawless obstruc-
tions of France, in excuse for loading them with obstructions
infinitely heavier. They maintained that in this monstrous
disproportion, between the evil they rendered and the evil
they suffered, there was nothing but the simplest and most
absolute equality, and claimed our acquiescence in these pro-
ceedings, by urging that their navy was our defence as well
as theirs, and that allowances ought to be made to a nation
fighting for existence.

Of all the pleas that shock a common understanding, this
claim to concurrence and forbearance from their neighbors,
on the score of the general protection which is afforded by
their navy, is one of the grossest. A naval power must al-
ways, from the nature of that stage on which it acts, be exer-
cised with irresistible temptations to excess and lawless vio-
lence, even against friends and allies. It traverses paths,
which are constantly traversed by other nations, and where
the armed ship assumes a jealous control and vexatious in-
spection over the unarmed. Naval commanders are incited
to abuse their power, by their despotic habits, the absence of
superintending eyes, the personal profit which accrues from
treating the friend as an enemy. Hence, reasonable men
consider war between great maritime states, as involving,
unavoidably, their peaceable neighbors in many of its evils.

Britain, whose naval power is supreme, is enabled and has
actually exercised an empire over the whole sea. She has
anchored on these distant shores, entered our bays and har-
bors, examined our domestic trade, captured vessels, and ta-
ken out their crews at pleasure. No lamb is more helpless in
the fangs of a tyger, than are we, and now that a large portion
of our foreign trade is abolished by her authority, we have no
remedy but patience, or certain covert or indirect methods of
annoying her, which injure ourselves more than her. This is
the protection, the safety we owe to her navy.

We are told, indeed, that her ships protect us from the sol-
diers of France. The ruffian, who overpowers another ruffian,
and takes to himself the business of robbing and murdering
us, protects us in the same manner. But France can conquer
our territory. England can only domineer at sea. What a
strange, though popular illusion is this,. Let us call for ex-
amples of this difference. France invaded and subdued
Egypt, and was not England able to supply an army that re-

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conquered Egypt. France conquered Malta, and did not
England reconquer Malta. France conquered Portugal, and
has not England wrested Portugal from France, and how was
this effected? Not by armies on one side, and fleets on the
other: England won the field, by pitched battles and well ap-
pointed armies. France sent an army to conquer St. Domin-
go: Could not England have sent one as numerous to subdue
a rebellion in Jamaica. How many thousands has she now
sent to Spain, and could North America be visited by more
formidable expeditions from France, if France were as abso-
lute mistress of the sea? No.

All that England wants, is provocation. Prompt enough
is she to take it, and to provide against a distant evil, by sud-
den blows, as the Danish expedition sufficiently proves. Had
we had a fleet, like the Danes, we should have been at war long
ago, nor, if the French had been masters of the sea, would
there have been equal hazard of incurring hostility from them,
as there has hitherto been from England.

But the fundamental error, in the popular feelings on this
subject, lies in believing that we have nothing but a war, on
commerce, to dread from Great Britain. That her ships can
only annoy and intercept our trade. The failure of all her
efforts, during a seven-year war, to conquer the country, cre-
ates an habitual belief, that we are invincible by British arms.
But this is not all. We imagine this belief as strong in the
British government, as in our hearts. We are secure, not on-
ly from conquest, but from any attempt to conquer: But we
do not perceive that all such projects, would be not more hope-
less in the eyes of Great Britain, than of France. England,
we think, having once tried and failed, will forever despair of
again succeeding. France has not been taught the same des-
pair by the same misfortunes; but, on the contrary, her mar-
vellous successes, against nations hitherto esteemed invinci-
ble, inspires her with hope enough for any enterprise.

We forget that the efforts of England to subdue our coun-
try were resisted by the fleets and armies of France, exerted
without any manifest or irrevocable inequality; that the con-
quests of these States was a much more arduous undertaking to
France than it was to England, when that attempt was made.
At present France can do nothing, but England can do more
than France could do, if the British navy, and of consequence
the possible confederacy of her arms with ours were annihi-

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lated. France has acquired an empire, but a great part of
her military force is necessarily and constantly exerted to re-
tain it. Her ability for further enterprises, and for enter-
prises in a particular direction, is lessened in proportion to
her victories and conquests in a different direction. It was
only when Prussia and Poland were subdued, and the neutra-
lity of Russia and Austria secured by new motives of fear,
that Great Britain was finally delivered from all danger of in-
vasion, because the forces intended for this purpose were call-
ed and detained elsewhere. Spain has lately revolted, and at
no period were her efforts for deliverance more likely to suc-
ceed, because the forces of her enemy are garrisoned in north-
ern Germany, Poland and Dalmatia, and these must be partly
or wholly exerted, to war with success against Spain.

It is a vulgar error to suppose that France has made ad-
vances to military power or territorial empire more extensive
than England has done during the same period. The
changes in France extinguished these factions in Great Bri-
tain, which tended to weaken the authority of government.
The threats and preparations for invasion, compelled the Bri-
tish government to embody, equip, and organise the physical
force of the nation. Thus the unity and despotism of the go-
vernment, in all its foreign operations, and the force even by
land, has increased in the same proportion, in both nations,*
while that species of military force, which the insular situa-
tion of Great Britain, requires for her own protection, and for
the extension and preservation of her foreign dominions, is of
course out of all comparison.

As to territorial empire, the conquests of France being
made in Europe, and at the expence of states and institutions
with which we are familiar, strike our imagination more forci-
bly than those of Great Britain. We overlook the instabi-
lity of these conquests; the immense force necessary to be
constantly exerted to maintain them; the power which still
remains in the conquered people to avail themselves of proba-
ble accidents to break their yoke; and the little that results to
France from all these acquisitions, besides unprofitable plun-
der, which melts as fast as it is gotten.

  * This may safely be asserted, but it might easily be proved, that the
regular military force of Great Britain, even by land, has increased in a
much larger proportion since the French revolution, than that of France,
compared not only to their military strength previous to that event, but to
the population of the kingdoms

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The British conquests are made in Asia, of which we think
and know but little, and where the subversion of ancient king-
doms and families, though not less memorable from the vio-
lence done to usage, than the recent revolutions in western
Europe, excite no meditation or astonishment; but in all that
makes conquests of value to a state, in the nature of the soil or
climate, the arts, population and riches of a people, with the
amount of their internal revenue and the profits of their ex-
clusive commerce, and especially in the security and perma-
nence of the conquest, from any re-acting force in the natives
or chances of succour from abroad, the superiority of the Bri-
tish empire in Hindostan, to that of France in Europe, is glar-
ing. Britain too has retained all her dominions in America,
and has acquired Malta, the Cape of Good Hope and the
Keys of Egypt.

The difference between them is enormous, likewise, in the
probable duration of that unity and internal force, on which this
empire is built. With respect to France, how much of her
present grandeur reposes on the frail foundation of a single
life! But British power is affected by no death of kings, no
mutations of ministers, no fluctuations of faction. All its
force is calmly, deliberately, harmoniously exerted, on uni-
form and steadfast principles, by whatever storm or dissen-
tions, the court or parliament is shaken. How different are
the impending destinies of France? What we suffer from the
power or arrogance of the former is a durable and growing
evil, for that power and arrogance are likely only to gain
strength by time. The tyranny of France will pass away, like
a fearful dream, with the sudden crumbling and division of
the power which upholds it. If twenty years should sweep
away that race of upstart kings, those senates, by rescript and
those dukes of yesterday, from the face of the earth: If Spain,
Italy and Germany should be emptied of the French, in a sin-
gle month by the domestic wants of hostile leaders and ex-
terminating factions at home, who will be surprised? If these
events happen not, the most cautious foresight, the most en-
lightened guesses will be disappointed; but what domestic
revolution is to deprive the British of their empire beyond the
sea, break their yoke in Ireland, dismantle their navy, disband
their regiments, on turn their swords against each other:

We have likewise heard much of the British fighting for
instance; of their navy, as merely barring out the torrent that

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would sweep away the nation itself. This is at once an ab-
surd, and, in British mouths, a dastardly thought. It implies
that Great Britain can be conquered, if it can only be attack-
ed; that if her enemies had only a mountain or river to
cross, she would infallibly be overwhelmed; that two hun-
dred thousand regular troops, eight hundred thousand well
equipped volunteers, besides a numerous militia, would yield
to one-fourth or one-fifth of their number of Frenchmen,
with as much facility as Austria and Russia and Prussia
yielded to numbers superior to themselves. If Britain were
wholly stripped of her navy, and reduced to defend her own
borders, she might in some sense be said to be fighting for
existence. It enables her to fight for distant provinces; to
enlarge and preserve that empire which is severed from her
own body by thousands of miles; to beset and annoy the in-
most recesses of the European territories of her rival. While
she has been thus fighting for existence, she has added vast
provinces to her Indian empire; she has stripped her enemies
of most of their colonies; she has conquered Egypt once, and
resumed possession of its principal harbor; she has menaced
Constantinople with destruction, and been prevented from
driving the Sultan from his palace and the Mufti from his
mosque, by a mere caprice of the winds; she has seized the
capital and navy of Denmark; she has made herself impreg-
nable in Malta and Gibraltar; though the latter is the strong-
est post on the continent of Europe; she has gained possession
of Portugal, and is now about to fight the French, on their
own inland frontier. Such has been the war, carried on for
their existence; such has been the enterprises of a navy em-
ployed, as we are often told, merely in preserving their na-
tional existence.

That wretched sophistry by which the getting of all we
can, and the keeping of all we get, is converted into measures
necessary to self preservation, is always at hand on these oc-
casions, and such are the illusions of self-love, that the Bri-
tish will urge this plea, to vindicate the detention of Malta
from France, and Gibraltar from Spain, while they scoff at the
impudence of France in producing similar pleas for keeping
hold of Warsaw or Naples. Their governors in India shall
assign reasons for their treatment of the native prince of that
country, namely, the safety and extension of the British
power, precisely similar to, and indeed less ambiguous, less

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qualified than those which the emperor and his ministers as-
signed for giving new kings to Spain and Portugal, and estab-
lishing their thrones at the expence of half the lives of their
indignant and despairing subjects.*

The British government having hitherto no provocation to
any war with us, but that which can be carried on against our
commerce, have hitherto confined their hostility to commerce.
As we had no fleets, the concord or co-operation of which
with the French might prove inconvenient, they have no oc-
casion to disturb us by entering our harbors, and destroying
the object of tneir jealousy. As the violences exercised by
their ships of war, under our noses, are encountered only by
remonstrances, these have been patiently listened to, and ar-
gumentatively answered. As the embargo is an effort at war
which has not injured them, but probably promoted their ad-
nantage, and is quite compensated by the prohibition of our
trade with France, we have hitherto escaped any regular in-
cursion or bombardment. How long we shall escape these,
how far our new measures may incite them to resort to a war
of this kind, no one can predict; but nothing but the lowest
ignorance of human nature, and of the actual state of the
world, can persuade us that we have less to fear from the pow-
er or ambition of England, than we shall have from those of
France, if the maritime power of the former were extinguish-
ed like that of the latter, and that of the latter as widely and
irresistibly diffused as is the naval power of England at pre-
sent. But let us return to these famous orders.

The British ministers pleaded retaliation, necessity, acqui-
escence; but his majesty's ministers indeed, believed nothing
of all this. The French decree had an apologetic preface, and
therefore the British had one too. In the motives that dictat-
ed them both, there was as much uniformity, as there was

  * These reflections will force themselves on the minds of every impar-
tial observer, on reading the masterly accounts of his own proceedings in
India, by Wellesley. No French deputy in Italy or Poland could furnish
more explicit and undisguised examples of the maxim All for ourselves and
nothing for others
. We have in England much declamation against the wars
in India and the capture of Copenhagen, but all this is the vile effusion of
faction, from men who labor to gain the power of treading exactly in the
same path. It is their business to prove the ruling party in the wrong, and
to consider not what is done, but only who does it. All that has been writ-
ten in England against the orders in council and the infraction of neutral
rights, has the same sordid foundation, or one still narrower in professional

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in the adroitness of the logic employed by each, in his justi-
fication. America was the sufferer in both cases, and her re-
monstrances against both were of the same tenor. She had
the barren pleasure of conquering in argument, and her ar-
guments had no defect, but merely that of being quite beside
the true purpose, and of no wise conducing to shake the con-
victions, or to alter the hostile conduct of the adversary.

Argumentation having been tried in vain,; we are next to
think of a different resource. An open war with both par-
ties is generally deemed inexpedient. We may declare, but
how shall we wage hostilities. Shall we send out vessels of
war to prey upon the commerce of the enemy. One of them
has no commerce to attack. The other will be effectually
guarded. Our vessels cannot pass the mouths of our har-
bors, or can only pass to be taken, or to roam about without
adequate advantage and return. Meanwhile we bring upon
our own shores and cities, a tremendous and but half occupied

By land, there are British provinces within reach, but if we
conquer them, they must be incorporated in our empire, and
to this, the consent of the provinces themselves is neces-
sary. The business offers an harvest of expense, toil and dan-
ger, but neither honor nor profit; and unluckily, the road
that leads to them, will lead them to us. Half the navy of
Britain, and more than half her army are unemployed. The
days of invasion are now over, and can never return. They
can spare enough for the defense of Canada, and enough to
keep us most anxiously watchful in our own defence.

But since we must not think of expeditions by sea or land,
we must wage some other kind of war. We must suspend
all intercourse with them. We must cease to trade with them.
And why? To punish them for their injustice; to compel
them to retract their decrees. But the experiment has been
made without success. They do not suffer; they do not re-
pent. Whether they suffer or not, may be doubtful, but cer-
tainly they have not repented. If they had suffered, revenge
and not repentance would have followed. You think a de-
clared war inexpedient, because that will bring a declared war
upon ourselves, but your restrictions upon trade, exactly in pro-
portion as they answer the end you wish, in their calamities,
will bring along with them the end, you do not wish, a de-
clared war.

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There are endless rumors from Europe, some of which
counsel us to persist, because our restrictions begin to be felt.
This feeling indicates with some, the proximity of redress, and
they rejoice at it; but war and not redress, a ten-fold accu-
mulation of evil, and not the removal of the evil which we in-
dure, will shew us that the embargo is felt.

We read pamphlets from England, written by merchants and
bankers, interested in the restoration of the American trade,
and by lawyers, hired to plead their cause before the parlia-
liament. They prove, to our full satisfaction, that England
has ever since the revolution, been jealous of America, and
constantly busy in thwarting and harrassing her lawful trade.
Te prove this, however, is of little moment, because who, but
ambassadors and manifestos, will deny it? How could it be
otherwise? Did we not wrest our independence by force,
from Great Britain? Have we not since been trading nations,
and we chiefly owing our success to their misfortunes?
This is matter of course, and no love being lost, our account
is balanced.

They are very eloquent too, on the subject of retaliation,
but this is as impertinent here as in our diplomatic papers.
They come nearer to the point when they attempt to shew that
the orders in council will do more harm than good to the
commercial interest of Great Britain, even in those branches of
it, which were thought likely to profit by an American war.
But though they come nearer, they touch not the point. They
speak not to the ears, they reach not the motives of the rulers
of the nation. All their arguments are vitiated by faction
and profession. Their intricate chain of reasonings and facts,
is not attended to by most, because the reasoner is a banker, a
lawyer, or an oppositionist, The technical form of the sub-
ject makes it difficult to understand. Its intricacy suggests
doubts, even to the impartial reader; while the theory itself
being built upon the actual state of the political balance, is fair-
ly puffed away by the next wind, which brings intelligence,
that an empire in South America, as large as the U. States,
is, in a commercial sense, gained to England by the emigra-
tion of the Portuguese government. If this gale be not suffi-
cient to disperse the cobweb, another follows which tells us,
that Portugal itself is reconquered by the British troops. Even
this, however, is not the last or least. A third bears upon its
wings, the marvellous tale, that Spain, with its huge train of

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provinces in the East and West, have revolted from France.
All America, except our own portion, are converted into the
friends and allies and commercial vassals of these fortunate
islands. That splendid world, of which their fleets and ar-
mies could not gain possession of a barren acre, though de-
fended only by peasants and pedlars, who never knew war bs-
fore, now hails their approach with songs of triumphs. The
whole, from Cape Horn to Nootka, is now bound to Britain,
by laws of mutual interest, which the expulsion of the French
from Spain will weakeu and diminish, and their final conquest
of that peninsula (by far the most probable event) will streng-
then and perpetuate.

Embargoes and interdicts are then either useless to us or
pernicious: but what can we do? Does it become us to re-
linquish our rights without a struggle? Meanly and tamely to
submit to their injustice? What paltry, what unmeaning de-
clamations are these? Relinquish! You are called upon to re-
linquish nothing. Your enemies have taken away your
rights, as you call them, without asking you to loosen your
hold. Your power to navigate the ocean is at an end. If it
be not at an end, your business is to enjoy it. With regard
to the British dominions, there is no let or hindrance in your
way. Your power is the same as ever. With regard to the
other countries, if you have the power to trade with them, ex-
ert it. But you know you have not the power. You acknow-
ledge it. But your honor will not allow you to submit. Why
surely that perturbed spirit, called honor, has no option, has
no room to play its pranks, to domineer and fret, in this case.
It surely does not require you to sting and torment your-
selves to no purpose. If it enjoin any thing, it must be open
war; a fearless attempt to regain by force what force had de-
prived you of; does honor require you to aim a stabbing blow
at your enemy under your cloak, with one hand, while with
the other you doff the hat, and assure him that you mean him
no harm at all? And does honor sanction the motives of this
artifice, which are to elude his resentment, and inflict your
wound in such a way, that while it penetrates his vitals, he
shall want a pretext to retort the blow. This versatile, this
pliant thing called honor, will allow you to forbear open war,
because that will do you more harm than good. Your ene-
my is too much for you in fair regular fight. Honor does
not forbid you to submit to that necessity. But you try the
covert, the safer way of an embargo. That fails: You are

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called upon to give it up exactly, for the same reason you had
previously declined open war. Because, it answers not the
end: Because it hurts yourself, but does not bring your ene-
my to your feet, either because it benefits your enemy, or be-
cause he values not the hurt it does him. But here your ho-
nor becomes all of a sudden very refractory. Those reasons
which bowed and bent it before, have no influence upon it

But we have rights to defend; for which we ought cheer-
fully to lay down our lives. The right to navigate the ocean,
the great highway of nations; the common property of man-
kind. Does it avail nothing to remind you, that the right you
speak of is founded upon usage? That this usage is nothing
but the practice of several states, regulated by their mutual
fears, and a certain equipoise in their maritime power: that
this usage has bent and turned, therefore, conformably to the
changes in this equipoise; that the equipoise is now at an
end, in the European and American seas, and usage will now,
as formerly, conform to it. The field will be common* while
all that border it, are equally strong. When one is stronger
than all the rest put together, it will cease to be common. The
stronger will seize and possess it wholly. That right which
each borderer has to exert all his power for his own advan-
tage, gave him formerly that portion which he possessed.
Governed by this right, as he will call it, he is constantly
swelling and enlarging his hulk both by sea and land. If his
neighbour be as strong as he, their expansive power will mu-
tually resist and counteract. This equipoise will shew itself
on land, because it is land, by an equal division of the soil; at
sea, because it is sea, by a common use of it. The land equi-
poise destroyed, the stronger conquers and subjects all the
rest. The maritime equipoise destroyed, the sea is conquer-
ed and possessed also.

But the sea is different from land. True. I have just ex-
plained the difference. It cannot be parcelled out among the

  * This, however, is granting too much. The sea has been appropriated
by division, wherever it was possible. The inhabitants of the land call the
sea adjacent to them, their territory, their jurisdiction, because their vicini-
ty enables them to make it so. Thus the Delaware and Chesapeake, and
Long Island sound are our waters. Thus the Irish sea is claimed as a sort
of vassal province by Great Britain. The learned dispute about the domi-
nions of the four seas, which originated in equipoised powers, is now termi-
nated by the destruction of that equipoise.

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borderers, by metes and bounds, marked out and defended by
walls and fortresses, like the land. It is not necessary to in-
quire how far a peace between France and England will
suspend the exercise of the British power over this great tho-
roughfare; how far it will enable the French to muster up na-
val force sufficient to share with England, or monopolize this
watry empire, is quite uncertain. Meanwhile, that she is
powerless at present no body doubts. That we are unable to
wrest it from her, or obtain, in despite of her, the liberty of us-
ing it, by means direct or indirect, reason foresaw a twelve-
month ago, and experience has now demonstrated.

But let us leave this open plain for a moment, and venture
back to the briery and mazy and darksome precincts of public
. Let us tolerate the notion of right just long enough to
see whether it will bear a scrutiny, even on its own principles.
The right we claim is not merely to sail upon the ocean, but
to use it as a road to carry our produce to market, and bring
back something in exchange. A distant nation whom we vi-
sit with our ships, for this purpose, refuses to admit them, or
what has exactly the same effect, refuses to buy and sell with
us. She does not contravert our right to the sea. She allows us
to roam about its unstable surface as much as we please. She
only refuses that for which alone the sea is of any use. She
does not attack and destroy our vessels, but, by a process that
costs no trouble, she compels us to lay them up in our own
docks, or to break them up for firewood.

If this be done, we cannot complain. Every nation, says
the oracular code, has a right to trade with whom it will, that
is, to buy and sell from, and to whom it pleases. It has a right
to make domestic regulations which operate to the injury of
others, and for the purpose of producing the injury. It has
no right to defraud us of the power to sail upon the ocean, but
only of all the ends and benefits which make that power useful,
and which occasions us to exercise it. If the commercial use of
the sea is the end, yet a foreign nation has no right to bereave
us of this end by one sort of means, in itself partial and ineffec-
tual, but her right to do so by another sort of means, more com-
plete and more destructive, is unquestionable.

France refuses to trade with us. She does not meet us in
in the road and push us back, but she shuts her city gate at the
end of it. Thus, as the road was made to carry us to her
market, and this is shut up, it is henceforth deserted by us.

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We do not go halfway to be pushed back, but we may stay at
home altogether. Such is this beautiful system of rights!
Such are the tangling mazes in which it involves us. Thus
are we made by a change of terms and not of things, to claim
and disclaim, to affirm and deny, with the same breath. We
have a right (say the highway-men) to the sea. The people
of the land that surround it, have no right to restrain our pas-
sage, but we have no right to land upon any of the surround-
ing coasts, without the consent of their inhabitants. They
have a right to withhold their consent. The consequences as
to the use we make of the sea is the same, and the welfare of
our own people is equally affected by it, as if they guarded our
rivers and bays with squadrons; but in one case our dignity,
our independence, our right is insulted, and we must go to
war. In the other case there is no necessity.

But France (or England as the case may be) does not con-
tent herself with shutting her own ports, but she undertakes to
cut off our intercourse with other states, How does one case
differ from the other, except in the degree of injury inflicted.
She has no right to deprive us of any part of the use of the sea.
She may deprive us of more or less, but our claim to a part is
as valid as to the whole, to much as to little. But if this be
granted you, what say you when France marches into Hol-
land, Prussia, Portugal, Naples, and thus acquires a power of
extinguishing your commerce totally with these states, by
turning you from their doors? You cannot complain. He who
possesses the land, has a right to admit or exclude strangers.
He gained this possession by usurpation and injustice, and
maintains it by sanguinary force. This alters not the case.

But let us suppose .hat by a train of usurpations and ini-
quities equally flagrant, by the exertion of a force equally san-
guinary, another power has acquired the control of all the
seas, that leave these conquered countries, and forbids us to
enter their havens, when they are willing to receive us. This
is encroaching on our rights. To submit to this is the loss of
independence and of dignity. If we cannot enter Lisbon, by
aeason of the tyrants within, we are injured, but our national
dignity is not insulted. Our rights are unimpaired; but if
we be prevented by tyrants without, provided they are at a
certain distance from the land, the indignity, the humiliation,
the injustice is not to be borne.

Let us consider the right (prostituted name!) of blockade. If
a belligerent stations a squadron at the mouth of a river in the

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Baltic, then all our traffic to that river, were it half of all
our foreign trade, might be seized or abolished without a
crime against any of our rights; without entitling us
to go to war, or even to complain, because this is a right
universally acknowledged by all civilized nations
. When
we look for the foundation of the right, where do we find
it, but in the power, sometimes our own, of enforcing it. Not-
withstanding the interdict, that issues in such a case, the
neutral enters, if he can. Every momentary absence of
the porter, occasioned by stress of weather, or otherwise, is
eagerly seized by the merchant, and if detected and captured,
his nation feels no wound, in the seat of their honor, on that
account. They leave him to his destiny.

If the belligerent declares a considerable extent of coast in
a state of blockade, we immediately inquire into its actual
state. If he have ships at anchor along it, we are satisfied.
If he have not, and consequently his blockade is a paper or
ideal one merely, and our ships pass and repass with impuni-
ty, then our indignation boils; our honor is offended; our
independence overturned; but, coolly reflecting, that the bloc-
kade is nominal merely; we satisfy ourselves with diploma-
tic epistles, and pursue the old commercial track as usual.
Thus, the French emperor declares that he blockades the Bri-
tish Isles, but as we see our intercourse with these islands is
as free as ever, we complain merely. Since we experience
no inconvenience from their edict; we pass it by. If the
emperor could station ships in such a manner, as to mark and
overtake every American ship that visited their shores, all
would be well. By some strange magic, he does right if he
can execute his edicts, though to our infinite detriment. He
does wrong if he threatens to intercept our vessels and is un-
able to do so.

With England, unhappily for us, the case is widely different.
She declares the French dominions blockaded, or in other
words, she decrees that all our commerce with them, shall
cease. As far as she is able to execute this edict, she fulfills
the essential conditions of blockade. As far as she is unable,
her edict is an airy threat, in spite of which we carry on our
trade as usual. But there are two modes of interrupting this
trade; one is to draw a chain of frigates round the whole
coast of the French dominions, so as to spy out and overhaul

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every ship that approaches the land. Now this is right. This
gives us no reason to complain. Our acknowledged rights
are not infringed by this mode of proceeding, because this is
regular legitimate blockade. But there are two other modes.
By one she spreads her ships of war out upon the ocean, oc-
casonally visiting the hostile coast, or she draws this military
chain round our own harbors, seizes all that go out, with a
view of visiting the French dominions. In these three ways,
her decree may be executed, and, strange to tell, the first and
most effectual we patiently submit to, as right. The second
and third modes, we do not judge by their efficacy, but we
exclaim against the tyranny and imagine our essential rights
are violated by these. Exactly in proportion as the interdict
fulfills the conditions of a genuine and legitimate blockade,
by the compleatness with which it is enforced, are we enrag-
ed at its injustice and indignity. For England to place her
ships in such manner, that all trade with her enemies is effec-
tually destroyed, is no injustice. This is a blockade. But
to destroy it, or fetter or impair it in any other manner, though
much less efficacious, is injustice, because this is not blockade.
Such are the rational foundations on which doctors build their
systems, judges decide, and ministers dispute; and all this
may be allowed. These quiddities are suitable enough for
disputation among jurists and secretaries, but is the conduct
of nations, that would be thought to be enlightened to be guid-
ed by such logic? Is their blood to flow; their houses to
burn; their practicable commerce to be abjured in defence of
these metaphysical phantoms?

Remember: I am not the advocate of foreign powers: I am
not the preacher of devout submission to their claims as right-
. Their conduct flows from a single principle; the pro-
motion of their own advantage: and is regulated by a single
circumstance; their power to promote it. But neither am I
so blind as not to see that our claims, our conduct has no
other foundation. That equity, justice, right, though in
the mouths of all, equally disclaim alliance with all. Our
rights to the sea, are measured by no standard, but its con-
duciveness to our advantage; our means to enforce it by no
scale, but their efficacy; our conduct should originate in no
phantastic illusion; no chimerical and puerile distinctions; in
no desire but the sole advantage of the nation; to be sought for
by no means but the practicable.

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How much have we heard of tribute: How earnestly been
called upon to recollect the spirit of the revolution: To reject
the fetters of colonial servitude! When I hear these calls, I
start upon my feet, in terror: Good Heavens! Tribute! Co-
lonial bondage! Is it possible that things have come to that
pass once more! To be governed by deputies from England!
Customs to be gathered on our own shores? By officers ap-
pointed by the privy council! To swell that tide of corruption
on which the British constitution floats! Laws, made by our
provincial sages, to be vetoed by a foreign deputy called Go-
vernor, or, finally, by a privy counsel of Bishops and Chan-
cellors! They who have lived to see this, have indeed lived
too long.

I look about me to verify the dire portent. I search for
the royal governor; the parliamentary collector; the duties
imposed by his majesty's authority, and gathered under our
noses; the supervising power of a foreign cabinet. I find
them not. All things are just as they used to be. Indeed,
in the matter of political independence of our quondam mo-
ther, they are rather better, for we have driven away all our
ships of war from our bays and havens: Nay, they have
deserted the coast itself, were they used to insult us and annoy
us so much.

I am called upon to exert the spirit of the revolution: But
there must have happened something very singular to justify
the call. That spirit was excited and exerted to secure the
benefits of self-government, to abolish a right claimed by the
British parliament to tax us; to gather customs, in pursuance
of their law and not ours, in our territories. We did not ob-
ject to any thing that had usage for its basis. What we were
used to, we even thought right. We objected not to their
executive deputies; their supervising sessions; but to levy
taxes among us, without our consent, was new and therefore
we spurned at the attempt. Britain persisted, and we went to
war. What other claim of hers did we condemn? On what
other account did we fly to arms? What has lately occurred
to raise the same spirit?

Why she prohibits us from trading with her enemies——ex-
cept upon conditions. We must go into her ports first, and
pay a duty. And is this the grievance which being parallel
to ancient grievances, should excite a similar spirit of resist-

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ance? Did we go to war to extort the privilege of trading
directly with foreign nations? I thought this was a restraint,
which having usage and antiquity on its side, was recognized
as altogether sacred and just, by the statesmen and sages of
that day. I thought they even allowed it on the score of rea-
sonableness of paying our mother in this way, for the trouble
we had cost her. At all events, it was a right never ques-
tioned, and supposed only to be forfeited, by the argumenta-
tive champions of indepeneence, by her misconduct in other
respects. Now it seems she prohibits us all foreign trade——
with her enemies——except upon conditions. Then she prohi-
bited our trade——unconditionally——even with her friends. As
to her enemies, they were ours; and we ratified the interdict,
not as irresistible, the only circumstance which can make us
acquiesce now; the only one that has ever been pleaded on be-
half of acquiescence; but as sacred and just.

The present interdict is unjust; tyrannical; suggested by
self-interes; supported by military power; but why will you
inflame the spirit of infernal discord, by conjuring up phan-
toms; why irritate that phrenzy of revenge, which never
dealt evil to others, without pulling double evil on its own
head, by fallacies so gross; by impostures so glaring. Instead
of misleading the populace by such illusions, should you not
rather employ all your powers in displaying to their eyes, the
simple truth. Surely that is sufficiently flagrant and enormous.
Refrain from that odious, that pernicious flattery, which would
persuade them that their ends are more disinterested; their
claims more just, measured by that scale which ascertains right
and wrong, without personal or national preferences. Tell
them, that France has refused to admit their ships, if visited
by British cruizers; that therefore their trade with that na-
tion is at an end; that British interdicts, conditional or un-
conditional, are nothing in their consequences. That duty,
which you think is so base a thing to pay, you cannot pay, if
you loved the performance, as much as you hate it, because a
condition previously imposed by France, made it just as diffi-
cult to reach her ports, before the imposition of this law as af-
ter it.

Tribute, likewise, is another watch-word admirably
suited to away the unreasoning minds of the multitude. We
must have no intercourse with Britain, because she has the

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insolence to demand tribute from us, and what could be more
humiliating, than to buy the privileges of a free nation, by pay-
ing money for it; but we are to buy the privilege of foreign
trade, by paying a duty on the articles exported by us. This
is an heavy evil; but suppose (a thing however, quite im-
possible,) that we should make no resistance and comply. It
may be worth while to calculate the sum of this odious tri-
bute, to shew the impolicy, as well as the baseness of paying
it. But we have just ascertained, that this amount is nothing.
We are to buy the privilege of trading to a country, which re-
fuses to receive us, if we have suffered, not the levying of the
tribute, but merely a visit from British naval officers. If we
escape this visit, we pay no tribute, and may go. If we escape
not, we cannot go, and this amounts to a destruction of the
trade, whether we pay or refuse the tribute. Thus, the im-
position of the tax creates no new obstacle to the trade. It
was quite at an end before.

But let us call it tribute. Admit that we trade with
France, provide we pay for it. Is this a relaxation of the ge-
neral interdict or not? Is it worse or better than an absolute
prohibition to trade with her enemies? In spite of the horrors
that environ this word, it is better. All that this word can
do is to make it as bad. Surely a total forbidding, without
alternative, is at least as bad as a conditional forbidding, but
we have already ascertained the value of a total prohibition;
of an unlimited blockade.

Besides, tribute is a payment by the nation in its collective
capacity; not the bribe which an individual pays in a foreign
port for a privilege of trade denied without it. When a
trader to France is compelled to purchase this privilege, even
in our ports, by a payment to a French agent sent out for this
purpose, no sagacity has hitherto been keen enough to smell
out tribute, in this demand. The agent's signature to cer-
tain papers, which the French law make, necessary, cannot be
received in any other light than as an expedient for extracting
money from the commerce. A mean expedient it is, but
since it is paid by private traders, on this score, it is not tri-
bute. Who ever dreamt that the British nation, the Ameri-
can, and all the countries on the ocean, were tributaries to the
Danes? Yet nothing can be clearer, if to pay duty on the
trade with Sweden, Russia, and Northern Germany, be the

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payment of tribute. But such duty is actually paid in the
passage of the Sound. This demand Denmark denominates
a right, and so it is, if right be built upon power, and will be
always due to him who can hinder you from passing, but on
his own terms.

But this nation, so very punctilious at present, starting and
wincing at the name of tribute, can accommodate its feelings
to the thing itself, without any difficulty. It has actually paid
an annual sum, in its national capacity, for many years, to the
savages of Barbary, for permission to navigate the Mediterra-
nean. This is an example of tribute in its purest and most
absolute sense, but here the dictates of common sense happen
to be reinforced by habit and example. Here we make no scru-
ple to buy what we cannot get without buying, if the price
leaves us the ordinary profit, even though a part of the price
be an open, undisputed tribute. They that impose the tribute
are a species of outcasts and robbers; surly ruffians who buf-
fet and spit upon you, while they take your money; who hold
existence by no tenure, but the selfish jealousies of Christian
Europe; who palliate these outrages by no civility; by no
plea; yet we can pay tribute to these, without being sensible of
any stain upon our honor: We can coolly reckon the cost of
refusal and compliance, and heartily and cheerfully embrace
the cheapest alternative. Of such stuff are the judgments of
men made.

But by shewing you that you have paid tribute heretofore,
I do not mean to persuade you to pay it now. I mean only
that if tribute were demanded, you could not, without a glar-
ing contradiction, refuse, on the score of national dignity. If
by paying tribute we sacrifice honor, nothing but the ghost of
it now remains. It has been sacrificed already, and for a price
as sordid and mean, as ever was given for it. But here is no
tribute demanded. The opening afforded, for enjoying the
trade of Europe, at a price, to those individuals who chuse to
buy it, could not be made use of, if you were ever so ea-
ger to seize it. How worthy of the resentment of rational
men is that demand, which cannot be complied with if they

The business before you is a calculation of national advan-
tage. The trade you are deprived of you should seek, if it
be profitable to the nation. As to the right, that is to be

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adjusted by a standard of general utility, and without person-
al or national preferences, which to your patriotic ears would
be jargon and impertinence. If you consider your national
good as the only test of justice, you will at least be in no
danger of injuring yourselves for the sake of sounds and
phantoms. On that ground, war, open or covert, expeditions
to Canada, privateering voyages, embargoes and suspended
intercourse, are all to be judged of alike by their efficacy; all
of them are alike absurd, unreasonable and inexpedient. The
restoration of commerce, as far as internal laws can restore it,
is required by the interest of the nation. But these laws, or
rather the repeal of certain of them, can restore your com-
merce with the British dominions, with Portugal, with Spain,
with China. If not with the French colonies, it will be be-
cause they are now under that blockade which you yourselves
are obliged to acknowledge to be valid and regular. Your
trade with the Spanish islands and provinces will depend up-
on circumstances disconnected with your disputes with Great

That some of your citizens will bend the whole force of
their faculties to break, by cunning and dexterity, the shac-
kles imposed by England and France; that if, by any bar-
gain or contrivance, they can gain access into the ports of
France, at a hazard and with losses not disproportioned to
their ultimate gains, they will eagerly seize the opportunity,
there can be no doubt. The phantoms of tribute and submis-
sion will not prevent them from bribing a French agent or
commissary in Holland to license their entrance, though im-
mediately from Falmouth or Portsmouth; will not hinder
them from paying any custom or toll the British parliament
chuse to exact, provided they can grow rich by the adventure,
notwithstanding these drawbacks. The most fiery patriot in
your own body would not be deterred from doing this, by the
fear of humbling and disgracing his nation; because when
things come home thus directly to his feelings, he sees that all
these declamations about honor and tribute mean nothing;
that our political rights are limited by our power; that as
much of the sea as we can get is ours and no more. What
private citizen ever hesitated to cover the property of Dutch-
man or Frenchman when he was able, and the enterprise was
profitable? Who ever scrupled to violate the rights of bloc-

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kade, in their most generally admitted sense, when it could be
done with impunity and profit? France required you to pro-
hibit the trade to St. Domingo, and rather than quarrel with
France you submitted to the mandate, in a way which might
easily be proved to be much more injurious to your national
dignity than acquiescence with Great Britain, if her edicts
were directly enforced by your own laws; but you were right
in prohibiting the trade to St. Domingo, because you gratified
a vain punctilio of France, and enjoyed the trade notwith-
standing. To conform to this example is not necessary now.
——You have only to let your vessels go or come according
to the judgment of the owners. You have only to order
things so that the unjust decrees of the belligerents will be ex-
ecuted exactly in that degree in which they have power to ex-
ecute and no more. Relaxations and evasions will be inces-
sant. The very extent of the theatre of action will afford
large opportunity for these, and the profit of clandestine or
partial exportations will, on the whole, be nearer to the whole
amount of the profit on an open and unrestricted trade than
you imagine.

It is to be hoped that you will not think the national honor
concerned in the compliance with those odious edicts, of in-
dividuals who find an interest in compliance. If you are truly
the organs of this nation, you must withhold a legal and ab-
solute compliance with them, merely because they impair the
general interest, and must countenance a partial and occasion-
al compliance in private persons, because their interest is ad-
vanced by it. Whether they are to gain or lose, by paying
the demanded duty, you may safely leave to their judgment.
Nor is your honor concerned openly to protect and avenge
them when they draw a blank in the lottery. Your military
power at present is limited to your own shores. Of this you
are fully aware. An enemy's squadron may anchor within
four miles of any part of your coast. You have no power to
compel him to withdraw. All of us that go beyond that li-
mit, roam beyond your protection. They must depend for
their safety on their own dexterity and good fortune, from the
masters of that element. That the British are such you
have acknowledged. Every mouth of you hath spoke the
these, therefore, you have no power to protect, and
make no promise to do so.

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This outgoing is, in the present circumstances, no more
than any other sort of emigration. When our citizens go in-
to France or England, they subject themselves to the reigning
power. The laws and government lay hold of them, and your
protection avails them not, and is not invoked. They who
will benefit by your power must live within your territorial
limits. If you had five hundred ships of the line and a thou-
sand frigates, your empire, if you chose, would comprehend
all the seas of the globe. If you had forty thousand troops,
well instructed and equipped, this dominion, if you please,
might extend to Panama, Nootka, and Hudson's Bay by

But if you have not ten frigates in your territory, the
sphere of your political protection cannot extend one league
into the ocean. If you have no army at all, you must
be content to reign within the Lakes and the Gulf of Mex-

As to the degeneracy of those citizens who go where you
cannot protect them, you may bestow upon it as much cen-
sure as you please, but surely you ought not to punish them.
You would not make laws to keep them at home, or to fine
them or whip them when they return. The citizen who goes
into the English channel with his ship, or into Warwickshire
with his purse, or Upper Canada or Botany Bay* with his fa-
mily, in the present state of the world, go equally beyond your
protection, and into the sphere of a foreign power. Your
dignity, your independence is as much concerned in prevent-
ing or punishing one of these kinds of emigration, as another;
in exerting the prerogative of governing him, after he is
gone. The two cases are precisely similar. Nothing but the
wonder-working power of habit, makes us view them differ-

The authority of laying a perpetual embargo has been said
by some to be denied you by the constitution. The assertion
is a silly one. The constitution has not denied you the pow-
er of perpetually suspending commercial intercourse with
Asia or Europe, nor that of maintaining it with the hither side
of the moon. Nature has denied you both the one and

  * Strange as it may seem there have been emigrations to Botany Bay.

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the other. A suspension of the first is equally impossible,
both for an age and a year. The constitution has empowered
you to lay an embargo, but not to execute it for a single month.
You may vex, hamper, and harass the citizens; you may drive
them to the necessity of new stratagems and artifices to gain
their ends: As foreign powers make it a hard task to enter
their ports, you may also make it as hard a one to get out of
our own. But we shall treat your laws, barring our exit, with
as little reverence as those of foreign tyrants excluding our

The arguments of senates and factions sometimes receive
most powerful confutations, though silent ones, from mere
facts. The use of an embargo to save our property from pil-
lage, to secure the general interest, is one of these. It im-
plies that the United States are a bedlam, of which you are
the keepers; a nursery, of which you are the beldames. If you
do not lock us up, we shall all of us, or at least some of us,
run out and break our necks over the next precipice, or drown
ourselves in the next river. Your laws are merely restraints
upon those who would otherwise go out. They go out to
their own destruction, and therefore you kindly detain them;
or, if they gain by going out, they gain more than proportion-
ably injures others. As to the first, your undertaking to
judge for the individual himself, is something worse than ri-
diculous, and that his gains are injurious to the rest of his
countrymen is a position that merits not a scrutiny.

However, you pretend not that the trade with some parts of
the world is unusually dangerous; that its gains are directly
or indirectly hurtful to the nation; but only that by prohibit-
ing your citizens from the free trade, you will either force
your enemies to make all free, or punish them for obstinately
fettering it. The goodnes of this end, and the wisdom of
this means, we have already discussed; and any attempt to
shew that the authority to impose general embargoes is a
shred, a fragment of that barbarism, in which your European
ancestors were once involved, and which, like many other
shreds of a cruel, contradictory, pernicious and disjointed po-
licy, is the chief political inheritance they have left you;
would be unworthy of a good citizen. This power you
have exerted, and you will exert; the people will elude
your power, by secret fraud and by partial violence, but God

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forbid that your conncils should generate a foreign war, not
merely because the evils it directly produces are enormous,
and incurred without adequate motives, but because of the
eminent peril to which a foreign war, in a case like this, and
in the present circumstances of the nation, will expose our
internal and domestic peace. If foreign war must come,
those who labored most to avert it, ought, by inculcating sub-
mission, and promoting unanimity, to save us from its worst

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THE domestic evil effects arising from the total stop of
exportation in the United States, are quite beyond the reach
of human calculation. No penetration can foresee the re-
sources, balances and compensations which human society
affords in all such exigencies. Imports would necessarily
cease with exports, and here would be opened a new and enor-
mous source of change and privation. This would doubtless
be somewhat balanced by the application of a great capital to
domestic manufactures. The distribution of society into
classes, would be somewhat altered. The manufacturers and
townsmen would increase, but the farmers would not dimi-
nish. The internal sources of property would still impart to
our population a rapid progress, but would this progress be as
rapid as in the ordinary state of things? How much would
the farmers be augmented by the addition of merchants out of
business? How much would cities lose by the emigration of

In a country which has hitherto depended so extensively for
cloathing, ornaments, food, tools, furniture, and all the appa-
ratus of civilized life on importation; which has hitherto ex-
ported in value, at least, one-third of all the produce of its land
and labor, a total and sudden cessation of this import and ex-
port, must needs produce a vast and wide spread revolution.
By what means, in what time, and to what degree the chasm
would be filled up, is a problem no human wit can solve. What
would be the immediate effects? What the ultimate? Vo-
lumes might be filled with attempts to explain these points,
but the arguments, however shrewd, the theory however plau-
sible, would gain credit with no reasonable man. He would
obstinately withhold his faith from any testimony but experi-

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ence, and that will never be granted him, because this revolu-
tion is impossible. Laws are possible; considerable but
temporary checks to commerce are possible; but an absolute
and permanent extinction of foreign trade, is plainly impossi-

It is of no importance to the nation, whether its governors
approve of a commercial system of society or not. These topics
being necessarily remote from practice, they may enjoy their
sentiments in quiet, and without meriting suspicion or re-
proach. On this head, they are surely at liberty to think and
talk as freely as on the best proportion of oxygen in the atmos-
phere, or the advantage of excluding all eccentric bodies
from the solar system. They can never make their own eoun-
try, an example of a purely commercial, or a mere agricultu-
ral state. They can do nothing, in short, but what their cre-
ators, the people, approve either beforehand or after, but in
this respect, the whole society is under the influence of laws,
which the abstract opinion of the largest majority cannot

Ought we to be all foreign traders? All farmers? Or
partly traders and farmers and foreign traders? Or partly
farmers and partly manufacturers, without foreign traders. If
the whole society be made heartily to agree in one of these
opinions, no one finds it easier on that account to change the
path in which his destiny has placed him. The merchant, the
artificer and the farmer, has been such before he begins to
reason on these subjects. Is there a magic in a mere opinion
of this kind, which will supercede the influence of habit; sup-
ply the want of education; and create a farmer where there
is no room for him; an artizan where all the custom is alrea-
dy engrossed; a merchant, where all the current business is
already done by others. He must continue in the track,. he
must acquire a living, and raise a fortune in the way in which
he is fixed by the complex and motly system of a great and
civilized society, and may amuse himself with theories and vi-
sions, as to a better order of things, with his book and his clo-
set, if he has the time and the taste.

When we reflect on the perpetual jealousies and bickerings,
the hardships and oppressions, the frauds and cruelties to which
an extensive foreign trade necessarily exposes a state; on
the gigantic evils of war, to which the clashing interests of our

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own, and of other nations make us liable; on the intestine
broils and factions which derive their existence and their ve-
nom from this source; on the seeming necessity there is of
protecting trade, if we have it, by frigates and by squadrons;
on the enormous and insupportable expense which any efforts
of this kind require; on the utter hopelessness of affording
adequate protection to it in the present state of the world; on
the mortification and shame of submitting to injustice and op-
pression, when we cannot revenge or repel it; on the absolute
misery which this injustice and oppression diffuses through
a part of the community; and which arises from the fluctua-
tions of war and peace among foreign powers: When we
think on our helpless dependence, for the comforts and decen-
cies of life, upon nations three thousand miles off, we may,
without a crime, be disposed to wish that all intercourse of
this kind, were at an end; that we should sit, quiet spectators
of the storms that shake the rest of the world, secure in our
solitude and in the waste that rolls between them and us; em-
ploying all our vigor in building up an empire here in the West;
and in cementing the members of our vast and growing nation,
into one body.

There is something charming too in the picture of a world
within ourselves; of bringing within our limits, all the sources of
comfort and subsistence; of supplying all our wants with our own
hands; of gaining all the functions, occupations and relations
of a polished nation; of being a potent political body, com-
plete in all its members and organs, and in which no chasm or
defect can be found. We catch likewise an imperfect notion
that we should be richer and more populous by this means.
We should go on multiplying persons and towns and cottages
faster; and thus become much greater and more wealthy, if
all our surplus products were consumed by mouths at home,
and not abroad. If the millions who now weave and sow and
hammer and file for us, were members of our own body, swel-
ling by their gains and their expences, the tide of circulation
in our own community.

We cannot be blamed if we ponder with pleasure on such
splendid images, if we are reluctant to pursue any path of re-
flection, which appears to lead us away from them. They
charm us, because they are visions of national felicity. They
doubly charm us, because the nation around which they ho-

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ver, is our own. And are we, on more deliberate reflection,
obliged to relinquish them?

Certainly our confidence is somewhat shaken, when we
come to recollect, that most of this formidable train of evils
is hitherto in prospect merely; that though we are a nation,
whish wrested its independence from Great Britain by force
of arms; though pursuing the commercial path with a zeal
and to an extent unexampled; though our commercial inter-
ests have been perpetually interfering with hers; though her
maritime power be all and ours nothing; though for
twenty years, superior to all naval rivalship in Europe, and
engaged in a war, in consequence of which we were able to
gather immense profits and mount to enormous opulence, yet
we have hitherto escaped the grosser evils of that war, which
seemed but now the necessary consequence of foreign trade.
That navy which seemed so necessary for the guardianship of
such a trade as ours, we have never had, and yet the molesta-
tions and vexations it has suffered, has not disarmed us of our
caution, or made us rashly incur greater evils, in resentment
of these injuries. What is the amount of these vexations. If
they are great, they have still borne so small a proportion to the
benefits of the trade, growing out of the war itself, that our
advances in population and riches, have been truly wonderful;
the mass of our gains has been enormous; and what we have
gained by eluding the allowed rights of belligerents has been
infinitely more than what we have lost by the lawless and un-
authorized exertion of their power. Remember that.

Now, indeed, the prospect begins to lour. The insults
and vexations we meet with begin to urge us to hostilities.
We are ready to bring invasion on our own shores; we are
willing to give up the remnants of foreign trade, allowed us
by the lords of the ocean, because they have denied some of
that which we have been accustomed to enjoy: We are wil-
ling sullenly to abandon all, because we cannot retain all, espe-
cially as this proceeding is adapted to annoy and perplex the
injurer. But whether we have now arrived at the point at
which a foreign war is to grow out of foreign trade, is not yet
quite certain. Hope still fondly believes that the government
will still recall its fiery menaces; and annul its avenging em-
bargoes; that we may once more stand on the brink of war,
and yet escape it; that since we are to fight for gain,——embar-

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goes and interdicts, being only modes of fighting, to which we
have recourse in the want of armies and squadrons——Since we
aim at regaining the commerce of foreign states, for no end
but the profits it affords, may we not find that we destroy our
own ends, by our proceedings, and make this discovery while
the evil is reparable?

With regard to intestine feuds, they have certainly appear-
ed to draw most of their ferocity from our intercourse with
foreigners. But this intercourse, like all other political condi-
tions and transactions, produces many effects, and some of
them must necessarily be evil. We are bound only to con-
sider the evil which it excludes, or the proportion of its good
and evil. But what is the extent of this evil. Faction has
not hitherto shaken or overturned, or seriously endangered
the public peace. The war has been a verbal one, and its vic-
tories are only seen in numerical changes at elections; nor in
truth do we owe the existence or ferocity of faction to foreign
trade. If there be any foreign ingredient at all in the cup, it
must chiefly be ascribed to our intellectual intercourse with
foreigners. Their political conduct and opinions only can have
an influence on us affecting our internal policy, the frame and
constitution of our government, and no one, I suppose, seri-
ously imagines it either possible or eligible to stop this kind of

Faction, however, belongs to human nature. Forms of
government create it not; extinguish it not. They only vary
or regulate the mode of its action, the field of its contests;
ours are regulated by our manners and political forms, the
most memorable effect of which is to make it talkative, loud,
noisy, vociferous; to make it harangue without fear, and
scribble without end. It is a spirit necessarily active, and it
matters little how it is employed, since it must be busy; and
happy shall we be, if it continue to prate and to bluster with
as little injury to peace and order, as it has hitherto done.

With regard to the beauty of the spectacle afforded by a na-
tion in which all the departments of human society are filled
up by its own citizens; whose farmers feed and furnish its ci-
tizens and traders only, and whose artisans and traders supply
each other and those farmers only, little need be said. It is
in reality commended by nothing but a certain shape of or-
der and completeness, adverse and not friendly to the dignity

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and happiness of mankind. Human society is a complex body,
the members of which are not equal in use or value; in their
faculties of self enjoyment; in the power they exert over the
commonweal; in the immediate benefits which, as individu-
als, they derive from their employments. There must be
some to till the ground and raise bread, but they must pro-
duce more than they consume, otherwise they can merely
eat. They demand clothes, shelter, and domestic accommo-
dation. Tools and machines to till the ground, even for
their own use, they must necessarily have; and to procure
these, they must raise a surplus produce, and give it to the ar-
tisan, who makes, and the merchant who fetches and carries.
Artizans must be numerous in proportion as the farmer's taste
and habits require much accommodation, and as his surplus
produce is great. They must be divided into numerous
classes, in proportion to the refinement which the arts have
attained. As their numbers are greater, they are obliged to
work for lower wages, and with more industry. The fruit
of their work is cheaper, and those whom they supply get
better things, and more of them, for the same quantity of pro-
duce, or money which represents it; but the subsistence of
the artisan is more precarious, his enjoyments fewer, his
drudgery more painful, all the causes of human misery and
distress operate more cruelly upon him, as his wages are
scantier. And thus the condition of the artisan is worse,
as the produce of his labor is cheaper, and of conse-
quence the ease and luxury of those who buy that produce

Now what is our present condition? We are a nation of
farmers, traders, and artisans, but our wants are not entire-
ly supplied by our artisans. The produce of manufacturing
labor, which is annually consumed is immense, but a vast
proportion is produced by the labor of distant nations. We
are clothed, and adorned, and supplied with tools, in a great
degree, by artisans beyond the ocean. Our principal em-
ployment is to catch fish, to cut timber, to reap corn, to feed
cattle, and to carry what we do not consume of these away,
in exchange for the viands of foreign climates, or those arti-
cles of foreign manufacture which they will buy, and which
we want. From circumstances peculiar to the countries that
supply these, their workmen are many; they are obliged,

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therefore, to work cheap: powerful machines are in use
which do more than human hands at a less cost. Hence, the
misery and want of the artisans of these countries; hence
the cheapness and abundance of their work to us; and hence
more than half of the population of these countries are coop-
ed up in towns; while only one-fourth or one-fifth of our
population is thus cooped up.

Considering mutual dependance as a principle of unity,
there is a body of farmers, traders and artificers, who live
by each other, amounting perhaps to seven millions. Six
millions live in America; one million in Europe. The six
millions here are chiefly cultivators, woodmen, and carriers.
The million at a distance are chiefly day laborers in towns and
factories. Now to a benevolent eye, it may be of little conse-
quence how they are dispersed. The mutual relations being
the same, and the effects upon their happiness the same, it
matters not, in such a view, how they are distributed; whe-
ther all the artificers are here, and all the farmers there; but,
with those who have national feelings, it may be of some im-
portance. How far is it eligible that six millions of Ameri-
cans should be classed as at present, or a change take place,
in consequence of which one million of the six* are employed
in manufactures?

The intricacy of this subject is well known. The delusive-
ness of all comparisons between different classes and profes-
sions, as to their enjoyments, is apparent. It is evident how
much the real condition of a human being is disconnected
with the nature of his employment, and is modified by his
climate, the products he cultivates, his social relations, his
education, his property, and even his personal character flow-
ing from religion or morals.

Take an Highland cottager and a Kentish one. They are
equally poor and their kind of labor is the same, but the High-
land man has the worst soil, the worst fare, and the worst
house: Yet education and manners make him a better and
happier man. Take the Irish peasant into this comparison.
He is poorer, worse clothed, and worse housed, more unlet-
tered and improvident, and more degraded in his political

  * These numbers are taken for the sake of a clear statement. They
are not, and need not be accurate. The conclusions are equally valid whe-
ther they be precisely true or not.

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condition than either, but he is better fed, because he has
learned the value of potatoes; and is healthier in course. He
is likewise happier by temperament, and because he feels an
inward impulse to laugh, when the others are inclined to

Take the linen manufacturer in Lancashire, in Silesia, and
in Glarus. Their employments are the same, and their
gains not very different; but the first passes the day in the
work room, crowded, hot, noisome, pestiferous, and his nights
in the ale-house. The others are country cottagers, and work
alone amidst rural scenes and mountain airs.

Take the plowman of Kentucky or Connecticut, and of
Yorkshire. The former is a citizen, a proprietor, and calls
no man master. The other is an half starved hireling, and
meditates no asylum in age or sickness but the alms-house.
But add to these the plowman of Roanoke and the seedsman of
Santee. What are they compared to the Yorkshire peasant, or
their countryman of Connecticut? They are negroes, slaves;
worse, far worse than the serfs of Hungary or Poland; yet
the Polish serf, the Yorkshire cottager, the Connecticut
farmer, and the slave that hoes corn and plants rice beyond the
Chesapeak, are all of one vocation; they till the earth and en-
joy the country. In like manner the manufacturers of Lan-
cashire, of Antrim Glarus, or Geneva, follows all the same
calling, but it leads to very different degrees of health, ease
and happiness. He that tills the earth in Georgia is far inferior
to the pin-maker of Birmingham. The Newark shoemaker is
much more happy and respectable than the Yorkshire plow-
man or the Teveot dale shepherd, though the former is a towns-
man, an artisan of the lowest class, and works for exportation.
And all of them are, by many degrees, higher than the race of
men called sailors, which it is the peculiar tendency of foreign
trade to propagate and multiply.

Thus embarrassed and qualified are all reasonings and
comparisons about the eligibility of different callings and con-
ditions in human life. There may be a solid ground at bot-
tom, and we might possibly find it, were it our present busi-
ness to search for it; but this would lead us into volumes,
and is not to our present purpose. We are at present a com-
munity of merchants, artificers and farmers. Some of our
artificers even work for exportation. If things are left to

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their own course, the period will inevitably arrive when most
of our own wants will be supplied by our own hands, except
such as peculiarities of soil and climate deny us. But we shall
not stop here. We shall become the manufacturers of other
nations. Such we are, even now, to a certain degree, but
our manufactures will multiply in a larger proportion than our
husbandmen. Less and less of the produce of mere handi-
craft will be imported from abroad, and more and more will
be exported. The latter will depend, in some measure, on
the state of foreign nations; but the former will be chiefly in-
fluenced by internal and domestic causes. It will even be
our lot to import the raw materials of our manufactures, even
for our own consumption, nor can any thing but the real state
of foreign countries prevent us, in fine, from importing bread
and meat itself. All this will come. Eternal and immuta-
ble causes will bring us finally to this point, without the aid of
government to push us forward, and in spite of all its efforts
to hold us back; but the impossibility of any internal regula-
tion to suspend our commercial intercourse with foreigners,
will be as evident when that intercourse consists in carrying
cloths and fetching flour and cotton, as now when it consists
in carrying cotton and fetching cloths. This is a point not
susceptible of serious argument.

There is a view of this subject suggested by the local situa-
tion of the United States, which I cannot help pursuing in
this place. It may be of some service to do so, as very erro-
neous ideas are commonly entertained of the nature and ad-
vantage of foreign commerce. By some there is supposed to
be a magic in this name, potent only to do evil. By others,
it is a power equally marvellous to do good. Whereas, it is
not permanently distinguished from domestic commerce by
any immutable lines.

That intercourse among men is useful is a self-evident
maxim. Alone, I am helpless, forlorn, wretched, and must
perish. Give me another man to assist and commune with
me, my condition is greatly improved; add to the number
of my associates, and you add to the common benefit.
Commerce, or the intercourse of buying and selling, is itself
manifestly beneficial, and necessarily implies and creates all
the more liberal kinds of intercourse. Extend the sphere of
this intercourse, or the number that uphold it, and a propor-

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tionable benefit results. Render this intercourse frequent,
and thorough by bringing them nearer, and by smoothing,
shortening and multiplying roads between them, and the aug-
mented benefit keeps pace with these improvements.

This intercourse between the members of the same com-
munity, is called domestic commerce; between communities
politically disconnected, is called foreign commerce. This
intercourse, being beneficial, in proportion to the numbers that
maintain it, and to the freedom of it, domestic commerce, in
which the intercourse is more thorough and subjected to few-
er restraints, is better than foreign commerce, where there is
a separate interest, diverse and adverse laws and perpetual re-
strictions. In other words, the intercourse is more complete
and beneficial, between two millions of men, members of the
same state, and the same number distributed between two
states, and thus the internal trade of one nation may be more
beneficial, by being more extensive, not only as to the num-
bers trading, but as to the freedom of the trade: The actual
benefits of foreign commerce, being proportioned not, as is
vulgarly supposed, to the number of independent states who
have mutual intercourse, but in the number of human beings
who are made mutually serviceable and dependent by these

Thus the trade between Sweden and Denmark is, to each
a foreign trade. The intercourse between the different dis-
tricts of France, is called domessic trade; but this intercourse
being in the former case, between three or four millions of peo-
ple divided between two States, and consequently shackled by
numerous restraints, and in the latter, being free and intimate,
between twenty and thirty millions, the foreign trade is far less
beneficial to the parties than the domestic.

The most unbounded commercial intercourse between all
the hundred states of Europe, in the twelfth century, would
have afforded a striking example of foreign trade, but that
trade would have been much less beneficial than the internal
trade of France alone at this day, because the present popula-
tion of France probably exceeds that of all Europe in the
former age, and because the intercourse of the different States
was rendered by its local extent alone, much less frequent,
easy and thorough, than than that of a region so much smaller,
and lying so much closer together, as France.

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There is another circumstance, besides that of number,
which modifies the effects of trade. This arises from the ac-
tual or relative condition of the trading districts, whether
composing one state or many. Savages may be profited by
intercourse with civilized; a country of farms with a coun-
try of towns; but this intercourse is better where their differ-
ent classes or conditions are parts of one state, and therefore
not shackled or marred by adverse interests, than when they
are politically disconnected: In other words, it is better to
be a domestic trade than a foreign one.

The links of political union among mankind, are very
vague and indefinite. The parts of some states are frequent-
ly less thoroughly cemented together than those of others.
With regard to commercial intercourse, this union is fre-
quently very imperfect, where, in other respects, there seems
to be compactness enough. All the kingdoms of Europe are
merely combinations of parts that were formerly as distinct
and politically independent of each other, as the present king-
doms are of each other. England was parted into eight or
nine states, whose conduct towards each other was governed
by the same maxims as at present govern the intercourse
of England and France. France, Spain and Germany, were
severed each into twenty or thirty of such states. In process
of time they were united, but the union was effected by dif-
ferent means and at different times. In many cases, that in-
dividuality which leads to restrictions upon commerce, was
suffered to remain, and the different provinces of France and
Spain were, in many respects, aliens and foreigners to each
other, in their commercial intercourse. This intercourse had
many of the disadvantages of foreign trade, insomuch that
somebody has said, one of the Spanish provinces might be laid
waste by famine, when the adjacent one was suffering from

With regard to the United States, had they not been bound
together by a federal government, they would have had an op-
portunity of enjoying all the good and suffering all the evil of
foreign trade without crossing the Atlantic, the Mississippi,
or the St. Laurence. Their trade with each other would have
been, in the strictest sense, foreign, and pretty extensive as
such, since there would have been fifteen sovereign states in
the circle. Happily we have gained unity, where only it was

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wanting. In a commercial view, we are melted down into
one mass, and the various parts of the nation may trade with
each other as freely and intimately, (at least in ordinary times)
as the counties of England.

One of the consequences of extended empire is to pull
down those barriers which separate mankind from each other;
to enlarge that circle which each man calls his country; to
take away the grounds of dissention and rivalship; to create
one nation out of many; to blend into one system of friendly,
and especially of commercial intercourse, tribes that formerly
looked upon each other as natural and hereditary enemies.
Curious examples of this consolidation are to be found in the
history of Europe; one memorable one is afforded by the his-
tory of Asia, but the most magnificent of all will be given to
posterity in the history of North America.

The Romans combined into one people all the southern and
western parts of Europe, the western part of Asia, and the
northern region of Africa; all the Turkish empire, real or no-
minal, all the piratical states of Barbary, with Egypt and
Morocco, all European territories within the Rhine and Da-
nube. These were cemented into onenation as much as in after
times the dissolution of the Heptarchy, and the conquest of
Wales, cemented the people of South Britain into one people. The
Mediterranean was the medium of their commercial inter-
course, which, immense and wide spread as it was, was still no-
thing more than domestic trade. A commerce between the
same parts must now take the name of foreign trade, and as
such be burthened with restraints, and thwarted by violences
wholly unknown to them, when they trafficed together as Ro-
mans. An hundred and fifty millions of people, dispersed
over a great variety of soil, and though great diversity of cli-
mate, and various in their arts and products, strongly endued
with the spirit of traffic and adventure, and befriended by a le-
nient and enlightened government, with a thoroughfare so
convenient and comprehensive as the Mediterranean, must
have exhibited a scene of stupendous activity and bus-

This wonderful body, was broken, by incessant blows, re-
peated for three or four centuries, into innumerable fragments,
which as soon as they had reached their minutest divisions,
began again to reunite. By the operation of the laws of inherit-

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ance and marriage, and by fraud and violence, conducted ex-
actly on the principles which have prodused the changes of the
present time, one state was subjected to another; time and
habit converted the subjection into incorporation; parts hos-
tile and dissimilar, finally coalesced, and eight or ten nations
rose from the parcelling combinations of five hundred. What
new advances to unity the next age will witness, we cannot
conjecture. There seems to be no reason why they should
stop where they are at present, more than at any former peri-
od. On the contrary, there is a cause in the present state of
navigation, by which armies and messengers can cross half
the globe, with more facility than they could formerly cross a
forest or a desert, for believing that the empire of a single Eu-
ropean state may, in time, comprehend the world; but this is
too copious a theme; and leads us from the review we in-
tended of mankind, under the influence of commerce,
and of the true distinction between foreign trade and home

The Chinese nation are remarkable for living in seclusion
from the rest of mankind. They allow of little intercourse
with foreigners; that little only at a single port; and only in
foreign ships. Such an instance of dreary solitude, of sullen
reserve, is no where else to be found, and yet what is really
the extent of commercial intercourse enjoyed by this nation.
To know this, we have only to imagine China struck out of
the worlds map, and all the other inhabitants of the globe, in
both hemispheres, in every climate, so modeled that a boundless
commercial intercourse prevails among them; without jealous
interferences; without those bars which diversity of language
and antipathy, religious or political, would produce. This
surely would be a marvellous picture. Impossibility seems
written upon it. And yet this is short of the picture actually
displayed by China. To complete the parallel, we must ima-
gine all the rest of the globe improved in the arts of civilized
life; at least, in all the arts of domestic accommodation, as
much as France and England. Then we shall have China, and
Chinese commerce before us; with this important diversity:
That a number of civilized men, equal to all the rest of man-
kind together, are brought into one compact mass of contigu-
ous provinces traversed by roads, canals and rivers, and blend-
ed into one system of convenient and unrestricted inter-

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course.* If trade has any influence on human society, if this
influence depends upon the numbers whom it binds in its gol-
den chain
, the state of China must read us important lessons,
since it operates on a scale of magnitude altogether stupendous
and hitherto unexampled. To talk of the want of foreign trade
in China, and to draw grave inferences from that want, is
strange, since all the trade, foreign or domestic, which any
other nation enjoys, or can bestow, is to the extent of the Chi-
nese internal trade, as one to an hundred.

I dwell thus upon China, not only from its extraordi-
nary situation, and the prevalent errors concerning it, but
because North America is destined to afford a similar
example of internal wealth and population in the com-
ing age. Our actual territory has about the same area. It
lies in the same beneficent climates. It is almost equally com-
pact. The surface is far more level and fertile. It is occu-
pied by one language; one people; one mode of general go-
vernment; one system of salutary laws. Its population is
small at present, but our progress to a more than Chinese
abundance of produce and people, is no contingent event; it
is one of those future appearances, of which the certainty is
just as great as of any thing past. Barring deluges, almost
general, and pestilences that extinguish mankind; or the un-
timely destruction of the globe itself, this, and, indeed, a great
deal more than this, must happen, because the present limits
of our territory are not immutable. They must stretch with
our wants. The South sea only can bound us on one side;
the Mexican gulph on the other; the polar ices on the third;

  * The population of China is settled by authentic proofs at more than
three hundred millions. Its extent and the distribution of its provinces are
ascertained with as much precision as those of Germany. Its superiority
to all other nations, lies in this extent and in this population. It is supe-
rior in the scale of civilization, in whatever way we settle that scale, to all
but the Christian nations and their colonies. To these, perhaps, they are
inferior in that scale, but since their degree, though lower, is enjoyed or at-
tained by at least twice the number of persons in these nations and their
colonies collectively, they may, surely, on the whole, claim the superiority.
Admitting, what is doubtful, that they are not so far advanced in the genu-
ine elements of civil policy, as France or England, yet, what they have
is unquestiodably not much lower, and the numbers that enjoy it, are ten or
twenty times greater. China, properly considered, is the great wonder of
this world, but we are, in general, strangely insensible to this wonder.

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but time, instead of diminishing our intercourse and dissolving
ing our connection with foreigners, will only augment and
strengthen them. The other states in the Western hemis-
phere, we shall, of course, approach more nearly, and mix with
them more intimately. The gaps of unpeopled waste, which
now sever them and us will disappear. Our limits will touch.
As to the nations of Europe, as they conquered and peopled
this hemisphere, they are destined to conquer and possess and
people what remains to be peopled of the Eastern World.
Hence our mere local proximity, will continually increase. Our
commercial intercourse will make rapid advances, but its par-
ticular relations or conditions must change. It will assume
new forms, and while its actual extent will increase, its extent,
relative to our numbers may, possibly, with regard to Europe
at least, be diminished.

These may appear, to some minds, wholly occupied with
the passing scene, as silly and unseasonable dreams. Yet
those who meditate on the present state of things, and find no
comfort, may thank him who snatches them away to the fu-
ture. How little will the errors of the present moment, with
all their brood of mischiefs appear, to those who think of that
progress to greatness, to which the worst of these errors can
create but momentary obstacles. We have, however, a much
nearer consolation. The causes of our present difficulties are
in themselves, fugitive and transient. They spring entirely
from a war in Europe, which must come to an end. This
end is proved by indisputable tokens, to be not very remote.
The reign of maritime peace in Europe, is at hand, and when
it arrives, all our embargoes will vanish of themselves; all our
fortresses moulder and crumble. The ports of the Eastern
World will again be open. Ships of war will no longer over-
spread the ocean. The great highway will no longer be cut
across with dykes, be thrown up into ramparts, or be edged
with batteries. All again, for a season at least, will be level,
and commodious, and those who chuse to pass may pass.

As to the land scene, the storm will not perhaps, be so spee-
dily hushed. Turbulence and revolution seems to hover as
gloomily and threaten as loudly as ever, but in the impending
events, we have no immediate or national concern. Whether
they will conduce to the exaltation or depression of France
may be inquired by us without particular anxiety. There is

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one alternative, however, within our reach. If France sub-
dues Spain, then Spanish America is independant of Europe.
If Spain resist the Invader, America may still belong to Spain.
But at all events, the conquest of Spain, and the supremacy of
France in Europe, is but temporary: Not because she has not
the physical force necessary to maintain it, but because nature
has condemned the soul which pervades and wields it in one
direction——to die.

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IN order to form some notion of the importance of
our trade to Great Britain and Spain, as supplying their defi-
ciencies in human sustenance, it may be worth while to men-
tion a few facts, respecting the corn produce and trade of
England. The detail and the evidence are to be found in
the publications of the Board of Agriculture.

Of the waste lands of Great Britain, that portion of them,
now unimproved, which is capable of tillage, exceeds three
millions of acres, or three-sevenths of the whole lands now
in tillage. The waste or uncultivated land in the island ex-
ceeds twenty-two millions, or nearly one-third of the whole
area, but of this, three millions might be planted with corn and
esculents, on the same imperfect system that now prevails
with regard to the lands actually in tillage, and produce, ex-
clusive of seed and allowance for fallow, seventy millions of
bushels. Five bushels per head, per annum, is a large al-
lowance, but this would give an additional quantity of bread,
equal to the bread maintenance of fourteen millions of per-
sons, which is more than the actual population of the island.

The actual produce, at present, is divided among men,
horses, brewers, and distillers. A scarcity lessens the por-
tion assigned to horses and the manufacturers of beer and

For fourteen years previous to 1789, the annual average
importation of wheat fell short of three hundred and fifty thou-
sand bushels, which is the annual bread of seventy thousand
persons in eleven millions; and of near two millions three
hundred thousand of oats, rye, beans, &c. which if applied
solely to human sustenance, would give bread to four hun-
dred and sixty thousand persons annually. At that period,
therefore, the imports were equal to the ample supply of
more than half a million persons, or about a twentieth of
the whole people. But the oats, barley and rye, were con-
sumed chiefly or wholly by the brewers, distillers, and horses.
This whole import would have been supplied by an hundred

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thousand acres, or a thirtieth part of the waste fit for corn

The imports have greatly increased since that time, but
they must increase thirty fold before they exceed the addi-
tional amount to be drawn from the ground. Why is thus
much imported, and not raised or grown at home? Because
industry and capital can be more profitably employed in trade
and manufactures. When any external misfortune reduces
that profit to a level with agriculture, then the requisite in-
dustry and capital will go to it. The same effect will follow
a misfortune that shall raise the profits of agriculture to a le-
vel with that of trade and manufactures. Difficulties in the
way of exporting manufactures or importing corn have these
tendencies respectively. The consumption of corn in the
breweries, distilleries, and stables, is immense. This distri-
bution depends upon a certain equilibrium of price. If this
equilibrium be affected by a scarcity, the distribution, is alter-
ed. More goes to men, and less to stables and vats. The
resources of the nation in this respect are immense, though
such is the selfishness of luxury everywhere, and the inequa-
lity of fortune in Great Britain, that this equilibrium will ne-
ver vary in exact proportion to the increase of the general
wants. Many of those who keep ten horses now, and con-
sume a barrel of beer, will continue to do it, though a scarcity
of wheat should double or tripple the price of oats and barley.
Others will retrench in like circumstances, but the general re-
trenchment will not keep pace with the scarcity. The brew-
house and stable now absorb what would suffice for six or
eight millions of people, and continued to absorb a great deal
in spite of the late scarcities.

The possible surplus produce of the United States in corn
or edible vegetables, depends on the demand. No limits can
scarcely be assigned to it, but the demand created hy an ex-
traordinary scarcity abroad could not be fully met with by a
proportional and seasonable increase at home. More of the
surplus produce which the standing demand had produced,
would go where the scarcity existed, and the draught of high
prices would be so great, that it would require a price almost
equally high, when commerce is free, to keep the needful
quantity at home.

The corn and edibles, including rice, ship stuff and bis-
cuit, exported from the United States, amounted, last year,

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to two millions of bushels of grain and roots, and fourteen
hundred thousand barrels of flour and meal. This would be
their full years bread to six hundred and eighty thousand
persons, at least, computing the whole as wheat, but the
maize and the potatoes would go proportionably much far-
ther than wheat. This is double the population of Jamaica;
about one-eighth of that of Ireland, and about a fifteenth of
that of Great Britain or Spain. This amount would be fur-
nished by an hundred and fifty thousand acres, taken from
the three millions of fertile land fit for tillage but now, or late-
ly unimproved, and waste in Great Britain.

If Great Britain or Spain were actually affected with a de-
ficiency to the amount of the whole, that we could supply,
what would be the consequence. If it were possible to bring
the whole into a well ordered army, and deal out daily to each
one-fifteenth less of bread than they commonly consumed, the
deduction would not be felt. If it were in the power of law
to lessen, in England, during that season, the quantity of beer
and spirits, one-fifth, or to put to death some of the pleasure
horses merely, there would be as much bread as usual. As it
is, the privation would affect the poor only. The mortality
among them, and especially their children, would be greater,
and marriages would be fewer than usual. The national
system, conduct and power would be wholly unaffected by
these two circumstances, and the next year if plenty were
restored, augmented marriages and augmented births,
would more than fill up the gap. It is doubtful, likewise
the scarcity being confined to bread, and considering the
actual decrease in the quantity remaining, of that portion as-
signed to other purposes than that of feeding man, whether
the distress would be visible at all.

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