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believe in the necessity, or in the expediency, of concealing these differences. I have very little faith in the hush policy. I have very little faith in the wisdom of keeping up an appearance of entire unanimity upon a question like this, where such unanimity does not exist, for the sake of mere stage effect, and with a view of making a more profound impression upon the spectators. Every body understands such concerted arrangements; every body sees through them, whether the theatre of their presentment be on one side of the Atlantic or on the other.
Because Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, and Lord. Aberdeen and Lord Palmerston, thought fit to unite in a common and coincident expression of sentiment, in the two Houses of Parliament, eight or nine months ago, during the well-remembered debate on the President's inaugural address, I do not know — I do not believe — that the people of the United States were any the more awed from the maintenance of their own previous views and purposes in regard to Oregon, than if these distinguished leaders of opposite parties had exhibited something less of dramatic unity, and had indulged rather more freely in those diversities of sentiment which ordinarily lend interest to their discussions. Nor am I of opinion, on the other hand, that a similar course on this side of the ocean is to have any material influence on the action of the British Government. I hold, at any rate, that it is better for us all to speak our own minds, to declare our own honest judgments, and to look more to the influence of our remarks upon our own people and our own policy, than upon those of Great Britain.
I may add, Sir, that in presenting these resolutions at the earliest opportunity which was afforded me, I was actuated by the desire to put my own views upon record, before the returning Steamers should bring back to us from England the angry recriminations to which the last message of the President may not improbably give occasion, and before the passions of our people were inflamed by any violent outbreaks of British seeling, which that document is so likely to excite.
I am perfectly aware, Mr. Speaker, that, let me express the views which I entertain when I may, I shall not escape reproach and imputation from some quarters of the House. I know that
there are those by whom the slightest syllable of dissent from the extreme views which the Administration would seem recently to have adopted, will be eagerly seized upon as evidence of a want of what they call patriotism and American spirit. I spurn all such imputations in advance. I spurn the notion that patriot. ism can only be manifested by plunging the nation into war, or that the love of one's own country can only be measured by one's hatred to any other country. Sir, the American spirit that is wanted at the present moment, wanted for our highest honor, wanted for our dearest interests, is that which dares to confront the mad impulses of a superficial popular sentiment, and to appeal to the sober second thoughts of moral and intelligent men. Every schoolboy can declaim about honor and war, the British lion and the American eagle; and it is a vice of our nature that the calmest of us have heartstrings which may vibrate for a moment even to such vulgar touches. But, – thanks to the institutions of education and religion which our fathers founded!- the great mass of the American people have, also, an intelligence and a moral sense which will sooner or later respond to appeals of a higher and nobler sort, if we will only have the firmness to make them. It was a remark of an old English courtier, a century and a half ago, to one who threatened to take the sense of the people on some important question, that he would take the nonsense of the people and beat him twenty to one. And it might have been something better than a good joke in relation to the people of England at the time it was uttered. But I am not ready to regard it as applicable to our own intelligent and edu. cated American people at the present day. An appeal to the nonsense of the American people may succeed for an hour; but the stern sense of the country will soon reassert itself, and will carry the day in the end.
But, Mr. Speaker, there are other reproaches, besides those of my opponents, to which I may be thought to subject myself, by the formal promulgation of the views which I entertain on this subject. It has been said, in some quarters, that it is not good party policy to avow such doctrines; that the friends of the Administration desire nothing so much as an excuse for branding the Whigs of the Union as the peace party; and
that the only course for us in the minority to pursue, is to brag about our readiness for war with those that brag loudest. Now, I am entirely sensible that is an opponent of the present adminis. tration were willing to make a mere party instrument of this Oregon negotiation, he might find in its most recent history the amplest materials, for throwing back upon the majority in this House the imputations, in which they have been heretofore so ready to indulge. How easy and obvious it would be for us to ask, where, where was the heroic determination of the Executive to vindicate our title to the whole of Oregon — yes, sir, “ the whole or none” — when a deliberate offer of more than five degrees of latitude was recently made to Great Britain ?- Made, too, at a moment when the President and his Secretary of State tell you that they firmly believed that our right to the whole was clear and unquestionable! How easy it would be to taunt the Secretary of State with the policy, he has pursued in his correspondence, of keeping back those convincing arguments upon which he now relies to justify him in claiming the whole of this disputed territory, until his last letter, - until he had tried in vain to induce Great Britain to accept a large part of this territory, — as if he were afraid to let even his own country understand how good our title really was, in case he could succeed in effecting a compromise!
For myself, however, I utterly repudiate all idea of party obligations or party views in connection with this question. I scorn the suggestion that the peace of my country is to be regarded as a mere pawn on the political chess-board, to be perilled for any mere party triumph. We have seen enough of the inischief of mingling such questions with party politics. We see it at this moment. It has been openly avowed elsewhere, and was repeated by the honorable member from Illinois (Mr. Douglas) in this House yesterday, that Oregon and Texas were born and cradled together in the Baltimore convention; that they were the twin offspring of that political conclave; and in that avowal may be found the whole explanation of the difficulties and dangers with which the question is now attended.
I honor the administration, Mr. Speaker, for whatever spirit of conciliation, compromise, and peace, it has hitherto mani.
fested on this subject, and I have no hesitation in saying so. If I have any thing to reproach them with, or taunt them for, it is for what appears to me as an unreasonable and precipitate aban. donment of that spirit. And if anybody desires on this account, or any other account, to brand me as a member of the peace party, I bare my bosom, I hold out both my hands, to receive that brand. I am willing to take its first and deepest impres. sion, while the iron is sharpest and hottest. If there be any thing of shame in such a brand, I certainly glory in my shame. As Cicero said, in contemplation of any odium which might attach to him for dealing in too severe or summary a manner with Catiline,“ Eo animo semper fui, ut invidiam virtute parlam, gloriam, non invidiam, putarem !”
But who, who is willing to bear the brand of being a member of the war party? Who will submit to have that Cain-mark stamped upon his brow? I thank Heaven that all men, on all sides, have thus far refused to wear it. No man, of ever so extreme opinions, has ventured yet to speak upon this ques. tion without protesting, in the roundest terms, that he was for peace. Even the honorable member from Illinois, who was for giving the notice to quit at the earliest day, and for proceeding at once to build forts and stockades, and for asserting an exclusive jurisdiction over the whole Oregon Territory at the very instant at which the twelve months should expire, was as stout as any of us for preserving peace. My venerable colleague, (Mr. Adams,) too, from whom I always differ with great regret, but in differing from whom on the present occasion, I conform not more to my own conscientious judgment than to the opi. nions of my constituents and of a great majority of the people of Massachusetts, as I understand them — he, too, I am sure, even in that very torrent of eloquent indignation which cost us for a moment the order and dignity of the House, could have had nothing but the peace of the country at heart. So far as peace, then, is concerned, it seems that we are all agreed. “Only it must be an honorable peace;" — that, I think, is the stereotyped phrase of the day; and all our differences are thus reduced to the question, What constitutes an honorable peace ?
Undoubtedly, Mr. Speaker, the answer to this question must
depend upon the peculiar circumstances of the case to which it is applied. Yet, I will not pass to the consideration of that case without putting the burden of proof where it belongs. Peace, sir, in itself, in its own nature, and of its own original essence, is honorable. No individual, no nation, can lay a higher claim to the honor of man or the blessing of Heaven than to seek peace and ensue it. Louis Philippe may envy no monument which ever covered human dust, if it may justly be inscribed on his tombstone, (as has recently been suggested,) that, while he lived, the peace of Europe was secure! And, on the other hand, war, in its proper character, is disgraceful; and the man or the country which shall wilfully and wantonly provoke it, deserves the execrations of earth and heaven. These, Mr. Speaker, are the general principles which civilization and Christianity have at length ingrafted upon the public code of Christendom. If there be exceptions to them, as I do not deny there are, they are to be proved specially by those who allege them. Is there, then, any thing in the Oregon controversy, as it now stands before us, which furnishes an exception to these general principles ? - any thing which would render a pacific policy discreditable, or which would invest war with any degree of true honor? I deny it altogether. I reiterate the propositions of the resolutions on your table. I maintain,
1. That this question, from its very nature, is peculiarly and eminently one for negotiation, compromise, and amicable adjustment.
2. That satisfactory evidence has not yet been afforded that no compromise which the United States ought to accept can be effected. .
3. That, if no other mode of amicable settlement remains, arbitration ought to be resorted to; and that this governmerit cannot relieve itself from its responsibility to maintain the peace of the country while arbitration is still untried. ..
I perceive, sir, that the brief time allowed us in debate will compel me to deal in the most summary way with these propositions, and that I must look to other opportunities for doing full justice either to them or to myself. Let me hasten, how. ever, to do them what justice I may.