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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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