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25. Inquiry into the constitutionality of the euforcing act. Lamentable pub-
OLIVE BRANCH, &c.
Crisis of the affairs of the United States. Dangers of parties and factions. Similarity of our situation to that of France, Italy and England, previous to their civil wars. To excite insurrection easy. To allay it difficult. Dangerous tendency of inflammatory publications.
THE situation of the United States was in the fall of 1814 highly critical. · Party and faction, the bane and destruction of all the old republics,* were carried to such ex. travagant lengths, as to endanger the public tranquillity and perhaps lead to civil war, the greatest scourge that ever afflicted mankind. Unceasing efforts were used to excite our citizens to open resistance of the government.t This principally took place in the eastern states; but there was hardly a portion of the union, in which there were not persons constantly employed in inflaming the public mind, and
* An idea has been propagated by superficial writers, and pretty universal. ly believed by superficial readers, that party and faction are peculiar to republics. Never was there a greater error. There is hardly a body of men, how small or insignificant soever, that is not disturbed more or less by party and faction. Within the last ten years, one-half.at least, of the Religious Congregations in Philadelphia, have been distracted by discord and faction, which in more instances than one, have been carried to the extreme length of absolate separation. And, to mount higher, who can forget the violent factions at the commencement of the reign of George III. when England was on the vesy verge of insurrection-and let me add the religious crusade of Lord George Gordon, which was the offspring of faction, and terminated in enhindling thirty-six fires at onee in London-of which city the icob had undisturbed possesfica for several days. All the felong, and other tenants of the prisons had their chaias knocked off, and were let loose once more to prey on the public. The enumeration were endless. Let this slight sketch suffice. These topics will be fully discussed in specific chapters at the close of this
preparing it for commotions. * Thousands and tens of thousands of citizens, upright, honest, and honorable in private life, were so deluded by the madness of party as to believe, that the defeat, the disgrace, and the disasters of our armiest-the destruction of the public credit*--(as leading to the expulsion from their stations of the highest public functionaries du ly chosen by the people) were all “a consummation devoutly to be wished”-and the certain means of procuring a 9peedy and an honorable peace, which we could not fail to obtain from the magnanimity of Great Britain, provided we removed those public officers, whom, according to them, she had so much reason to execrate.
It was in vain that the uniform voice of history proclaimed that the generosity of nations towards each other is a nonentity; that the terms of a treaty are more or less favorable or injurious in proportion to the relative strength, and energy, and means of annoyance or defence, of the parties; that powerful nations have almost always taken advantage of the feebleness of their adversaries; and that the certain road to a -speedy and an honourable peace has ever been to wage war with the utmost decision and effect.
Were history wholly silent on this topic, the inherent propensities of human nature, properly explored, might satisfy every rational mind of the soundness of these political maxims. They are fair deductions of reason and common sense, to which the universal experience of mankind bears testimony. Every nation, in its periods of debility, has been obliged occasionally to submit to injustice. Every nation, possessing the power to do injustice, has more or less availed itself of the opportunity.
* See second Note, at the bottom of the preceeding page. + To some of my readers this will scem impossible.
It certainly appears incredible. But there are many things very incredible, that are nevertheless true. And it is capable of the most complete judicial proof, that gentlemen highly estimable in private life, have thanked God most fervently for the disgraceful capture of our armies. Others have prayed to God that every one of our soldiers wbo entered Canada, might be slaughtered. This is one of the many strange and unaccountable instances in which our history is utterly unlike the histories of the other nations of the earth. It is really a sui generis, I feel pretty confident that no man of character or worth in England or France, ever rejoices at the disgrace or disasters of his country. But I blush to tell it, the disgrace of our armies has been repeatedly a subject of as much exultation in our coffee houses and our newspapers, as in the city of London. I could name individuals of the utmost worth in all the social relations, except that which they bear to their country, whose satisfaction at the distresses and enbarrassments of our government has at least equalled that of lord Castle rtagt.