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of February, 1805, he appeared at the bar of the Senate and opened the case, in a speech occupying one hour and a half. The result of this novel and exciting trial is well known. During the same session, Mr. Randolph delivered his celebrated speech on the Yazoo Question, a full account of which will be found in Mr. Garland's interesting volume.
Pending the difficulties between the United States and Great Britain, in 1805-6, many plans of action were proposed both in the Senate and House of Representatives. Mr. Gregg's resolution, the prominent one in the House, suggested a prohibition of all intercourse between the two nations, until England would consent to arrange the matters in dispute on fair terms. This professed to be a peace measure; but many of its friends discussed it as a war measure; Mr. Randolph so regarded it, and on the fifth day of March, 1806, he delivered an able and eloquent speech against it. By many, this effort was regarded as his most forcible and patriotic. It caused general remark in England, where it was republished, soon after its delivery, with a comprehensive introduction by the author of the celebrated pamphlet, War in Disguise. Mr. Randolph combated, with energy and resolution, every measure that tended to weaken the bonds of peace between the United States and Great Britain. His speech on an increase in the army, delivered in the lower House of Congress, on the tenth of December, 1811, contributed to that end.
Early in April, 1812, President Madison sent in a secret message recommending an immediate embargo. The Committee of Foreign Relations, anticipating the message, had already prepared a bill, which was read twice, reported to the Committee of the Whole, referred back to the House, and immediately put on its passage. The question was asked by one of the members whether the bill was to be considered as a peace measure, or a precursor to war. He was answered that it was understood as a war measure; "and it is meant,” said the member, " that it shall lead directly to it.” Approbation of the message and the proposition before the House was then expressed by different members, when Mr. Randolph rose and made the following remarks :* “I am so impressed with the importance of the subject, and the solemnity of the occasion, that I cannot be silent. Sir, we are now in conclave; the eyes of the surrounding world are not upon us: we are shut up here from the light of heaven, but the eyes of God are upon us. He knows the spirit of our minds. Shall we deliberate upon this subject with the spirit of sobriety and candor, or with that spirit which has too often characterized our discussions upon occasions like the present? We ought to realize that we are in the presence of that God who knows our thoughts and motives, and to whom we must hereafter render an account for the deeds done in the body. I hope, sir, the spirit of party, and every improper - passion, will be exorcised, that our hearts may be as pure and clean as fall to the lot of human nature.
“I am confident in the declaration, Mr. Chairman, that this is not a measure of the Executive; but that it is engendered by an extensive excitement upon the Executive_* * * *
“I will appeal to the sobriety and reflection of the House, and ask, what new cause of war for the last twelve months? What new cause of embargo within that period? The affair of the Chesapeake is settled.—No new principles of blockade interpolated into the laws of nations. I suppose every man of candor and sober reflection will ask why we did not go to war twelve months ago? Or will it be said we ought to make up, by our promptness now, for our slowness then? Or will it be that if the wheat for which we have received two dollars a bushel had been rotting in our barns, we should have been happier and richer? What would the planter say if you were to ask him which he would prefer,—the honorable, chivalrous course advocated by the Speaker, with the consequences which must attend it, the sheriff at his back, and the excise collector pressing him? He would laugh in your face. It is not generally wise to dive into faturity; but it is wise to profit by experience, although it may be unpleasant. I feel much concerned to have the bill on the table for one hour.” That privilege was not allowed, however; the bill was hurried through, and in a short time became a law. At the close of his term Mr. Randolph retired to his estate on the Roanoke River.
In 1816, he again took his seat in Congress, where he distinguished himself by a strong opposition to the Bank of the United States. He opposed it as unconstitutional, inexpedient, and dangerous. “I declare to you, sir,” said he, “that I am the holder of no stock whatever, except live stock, and had determined never to own any—but, if this bill passes, I will not only be a stockholder to the atmost of my power, but will advise every man over whom I have any influence, to do the same, because it is the creation of a great privileged order of the most hateful kind to my feelings, and because I would rather be the master than the slave. If I must have a master, let him be one with epaulettes-something that I can fear and respect, something that I can look up to—but not a master with a quill behind his ear.” Mr. Randolph was equally strong and vehement in his opposition to the “revenue bill," of this session.
* Life of John Randolph of Roanoke, by Hugh A. Garland. Vol. I. page 298.
During the summer of 1816, after his return to Roanoke, Mr. Randolph's health, which for some time had been declining, became more feeble, and the following winter he suffered extremely. An anecdote of this period of his life, is related by Mr. Roane, who was a member of Congress from Virginia during the session of 1816–17. “I remember," says he, “that one morning Mr. Lewis came into the House of Representatives and addressed Mr. Tyler and myself, who were the youngest members from Virginia, and said we must go to Georgetown to Mr. Randolph. We asked for what; he said that Mr. Randolph had told him that he was determined not to be buried as beau Dawson had been, at the public expense, and he had selected us young bloods to come to him and take charge of his funeral. We went over immediately. When we entered Mr. Randolph's apartments he was in his morning gown. He rose and shook us by the hand. On our inquiries after his health, he said, “Dying! dying! dying! in a dreadful state.' He inquired what was going on in Congress. We told him that the galleries were filling with people of the District, and that there was considerable excitement on the re-chartering of the batch of banks in the District. He then broke off, and commenced upon another subject, and pronounced a glowing eulogium upon the character and talents of Patrick Henry. After sitting for some time, and nothing being said on the business on which we had been sent to him, we rose and took our leave. When we got to the door, I said, 'I wish, Mr. Randolph, you could be in the House to-day.' He shook his head—Dying, sir, dying!' When we had got back to the House of Representatives, Mr. Lewis came in and asked how we had found Mr. Randolph. We laughed, and said as well as usual—that we had spent a very pleasant morning with him, and had been much amused by his conversation. Scarcely a moment after, Mr. Lewis exclaimed, “There he is!' and there to be sure he was. He had entered by another door, having arrived at the Capitol almost as soon as we did. In a few moments he rose and commenced a speech, the first sentence of which I can repeat verbatim.—Mr. Speaker,' said he, 'this is Shrove Tuesday. Many a gallant cock has died in the pit on this day, and I have come to die in the pit also. He then went on with his speech, and after a short time turned and addressed the crowd of 'hungry expectants,' as he called them—tellers, clerks, and porters in the gallery."
Mr. Randolph continued his legislative duties until the spring of 1821, when he obtained leave of absence, and sailed for England in search of health. On his arrival, he met a flattering and distinguished reception. “The plaidness of his appearance," says a London paper, “his republican simplicity of manners, and easy and unaffected address, attracted much attention.” After travelling extensively in England and Scotland, he returned to the United States in November, 1822, and the following December took his seat in Congress. Here he remained until the close of the session, but never took part in the debates.
At the opening of the eighteenth Congress, Mr. Randolph appeared at his place, and entered zealously into the various discussions of the day. He opposed Mr. Webster, Mr. Clay, and others in the debate on the Greek Question ; delivered an elaborate speech against a contemplated scheme of internal improvements, which originated with Mr. Monroe, and was supported by Mr. Clay, and combated the Tariff in all its stages. After he had given up all hope of success in his efforts against the latter measure, he wrote thus to a friend : “I am satisfied (now) that nothing can avail to save us. Indeed, I have long been of that opinion. "The ship will neither wear nor stay, and she may go ashore, and be —'as Jack says."
Shortly after the adjournment of Congress, Mr. Randolph again visited Europe, spending the latter part of the summer of 1824 among the mountains of Switzerland. He returned to New
York the same year, and in April of the year following was re-elected to the House of Representatives. Being detained at home by his private affairs, he did not reach the seat of Government until after Christmas, 1825. In the mean time, he was elected to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. About this time he fought a duel with Mr. Clay. He continued in the Senate until March, 1827, participating largely in the debates of that body. The following April he was again returned to the House of Representatives.
On the accession of General Jackson to the Presidency, he announced his determination to retire from public life, and declined to be a candidate for any office. But he was obliged to sacrifice this determination. In October, 1829, he was a member of the Virginia Convention to amend the Constitution of that State; and, in May of the next year, was sent, by President Jackson, on a mission to Russia.
He returned to his native country in the fall of 1831, much reduced in health. “Ah, sir," said he to a friend who met him on his landing, “I am going at last; the machine is worn out; nature is exhausted, and I have tried in vain to restore her.” From this time his energies continued to waste away, and after a long period of intense suffering, he died (June 24th, 1833) at Philadelphia, whither he had gone to take passage to England.*
SPEECH ON MR. GREGG'S RESOLUTION.
This speech, on a motion for the non-impor- | right to address yon: for, in truth, I have not tation of British merchandise, offered by Mr. yet seen the documents from the treasury,
which were called for some time ago, to direct Gregg in the House of Representatives, in the judgment of this House in the decision of 1806, during the dispute between Great Britain the question now before you; and indeed, after and the United States, was made by Mr. Ran- what I have this day heard, I no longer require dolph, on the fifth day of March of that year.t that document, or any other document; indeed,
I do not know that I ever should have required I am extremely afraid, sir, that so far as it it, to vote on the resolution of the gentleman may depend on my acquaintance with details from Pennsylvania. If I had entertained any connected with the subject, I have very little doubts, they would have been removed by the
style in which the friends of the resolution
have this morning discussed it. I am perfectly * An interesting and valuable account of the life and services of Mr. Randolph, has been written by Mr. Hugh A. aware, that upon entering on this subject, we Garland, to which those who desire a more particular history go into it manacled, handcuffed, and tongueof that celebrated man, are referred.
tied. Gentlemen know that our lips are sealed + Mr. Gregg offered his resolation on the 29th of January, on subjects of momentous foreign relations, 1806. It was as follows:-“Whereas Great Britain impresses which are indissolubly linked with the present citizens of the United States, and compels them to serve on question, and which would serve to throw a board her ships of war, and also seizes and condemns vessels great light on it in every respect relevant to it. belonging to the citizens of the United States, and their car. I will
, however, endeavor to hobble over the goes, being the bona fide property of American citizens, not subject, as well as my fettered limbs and palcontraband of war, and not proceeding to places besieged or sied tongue will enable me to do it. blockaded, under the pretext of their being engaged in time I am not surprised to hear this resolution of war in a trade with her enemies, which was not allowed discussed by its friends as a war measure. in time of peace:
They say, it is true, that it is not a war meas“ And whereas the government of the United States has ure, but they defend it on principles which repeatedly remonstrated to the British government against would justify none but war measures, and seem these injuries
, and demanded satisfaction therefor, but with pleased with the idea that it may prove the out effect: Therefore-Resolved, That until equitable and forerunner of war. If war is necessary; if we satisfactory arrangements on these points shall be made be, have reached this point, let us have war. But tween the two governments, it is expedient that, from and after the — day of — next, no goods, wares or merchan. while I have life, I will never consent to these dise, of the growth, product or manufacture of Great Britain, incipient war measures, which in their comor any of the colonies or dependencies thereof, ought to be
mencement breathe nothing but peace, though imported into the United States ; provided, however, that they plunge us at last into war. It has been whenever arrangements deemed satisfactory by the Presi- well observed by the gentleman from Pennsyldent of the United States shall take place, it shall be lawful vania, behind me (Mr. J. Clay), that the situafor him by proclamation to fix a day on which the prohibi- tion of this nation in 1793, was in every tion aforesaid shall cease."—History of Congress.
respect different from that in which it finds itself in 1806. Let me ask, too, if the situation make a conquest of Canada and Nova Scotia. of England is not since materially changed? Indeed? Then, sir, we shall catch a Tartar. Gentlemen, who, it would appear from their I confess, however, I have no desire to see the language, have not got beyond the horn-book senators and the representatives of the Canadian of politics, talk of our ability to cope with the French, or of the tories and refugees of Nova British navy, and tell us of the war of our Scotia, sitting on this floor, or that of the other revolution. What was the situation of Great House—to see them becoming members of the Britain then? She was then contending for Union, and participating equally in our political the empire of the British channel, barely able rights. And on what other principle would to maintain a doubtful equality with her ene- the gentleman from Massachusetts be for incormies, over whom she never gained the supe- porating those provinces with us? Or on what riority until Rodney's victory of the 12th of other principle could it be done under the conApril. What her present situation? The stitution? If the gentleman has no other combined fleets of France, Spain, and Holland, bounty to offer us for going to war, than the are dissipated; they no longer exist. I am not incorporation of Canada and Nova Scotia with surprised to hear men advocate these wild the United States, I am for remaining at peace. opinions, to see them goaded on by a spirit What is the question in dispute? The carryof mercantile avarice, straining their feeble ing-trade. What part of it? The fair, the strength to excite the nation to war, when honest, and the useful trade that is engaged in they have reached this stage of infatuation, carrying our own productions to foreign marthat we are an over-match for Great Britain on kets, and bringing back their productions in the ocean. It is mere waste of time to reason exchange? No, sir; it is that carrying trade with such persons. They do not deserve any which covers enemy's property, and carries the thing like serious refutation. The proper argu- coffee, the sugar, and other West India products, ments for such statesmen are a strait waistcoat, to the mother country. No, sir; if this great a dark room, water-gruel, and depletion. agricultural nation is to be governed by Salem
It has always appeared to me that there are and Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and three points to be considered, and maturely | Baltimore and Norfolk and Charleston, let genconsidered, before we can be prepared to vote tlemen come out and say so; and let a commitfor the resolution of the gentleman from Penn- tee of public safety be appointed from those sylvania. First. Our ability to contend with towns to carry on the government. I, for one, Great Britain for the question in dispute: will not mortgage my property and my liberty Secondly. The policy of such a contest: and to carry on this trade. The nation said so Thirdly. In case both these shall be settled seven years ago; I said so then, and I say so affirmatively, the manner in which we can, now. It is not for the honest carrying-trade with the greatest effect, re-act upon and annoy of America, but for this mushroom, this funour adversary.
gus of war, for a trade which, as soon as the Now the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. nations of Europe are at peace, will no longer Crowninshield), has settled at a single sweep, exist; it is for this that the spirit of avaricious to use one of his favorite expressions, not only traffic would plunge us into war. that we are capable of contending with Great I am forcibly struck on this occasion by the Britain on the ocean, but that we are actually recollection of a remark made by one of the her superior. Whence does the gentleman ablest, if not honestest, ministers that England deduce this inference? Because, truly, at that ever produced. I mean Sir Robert Walpole, time, when Great Britain was not mistress of who said that the country gentlemen, poor, the ocean, when a North was her prime minis- meek souls! came up every year to be sheared; ter, and a Sandwich the first lord of her admi- that they laid mute and patient whilst their ralty; when she was governed by a counting- fleeces were taking off'; but that if he touched house administration, privateers of this coun- a single bristle of the commercial interest, the try trespassed on her commerce. So too did whole stye was in an uproar. It was indeed the cruisers of Dunkirk. At that day Suffrein shearing the hog—"great cry, and little wool.” held the mastery of the Indian seas. But what But we are asked, are we willing to bend is the case now? Do gentlemen remember the the neck to England; to submit to her outcapture of Cornwallis on land, because De rages? No, sir; I answer, that it will be time Grasse maintained the dominion of the ocean? enough for us to tell gentlemen what we will To my mind no position is more clear, than do to vindicate the violation of our flag on the that if we go to war with Great Britain, ocean, when they shall have told us what they Charleston and Boston, the Chesapeake and have done, in resentment of the violation of the Hudson, will be invested by British squad- the actual territory of the United States by rons. Will you call on the Count de Grasse to Spain, the true territory of the United States, relieve them? or shall we apply to Admiral not your new-fangled country over the MissisGravina, or Admiral Villeneuve, to raise the sippi, but the good old United States-part of blockade? But you have not only a prospect Georgia, of the old thirteen states, where citiof gathering glory, and, what seems to the zens have been taken, not from our ships, but gentleman from Massachusetts much dearer, to from our actual territory. When gentlemen profit by privateering, but you will be able to have taken the padlock from our mouths, I
shall be ready to tell them what I will do rela- | Good Hope (or now doubling it) to capture tive to our dispute with Britain, on the law of and confiscation; of their unprotected sea-port nations, on contraband, and such stuff. towns, exposed to contribution or bombard
I have another objection to this course of ment. Are we to be legislated into a war by a proceeding.–Great Britain, when she sees it, set of men, who, in six weeks after its comwill say the American people have great cause mencement, may be compelled to take refuge of dissatisfaction with Spain. She will see by with us in the country? the documents furnished by the President, that And for what? a mere fungus-a mushroom Spain has outraged our territory, pirated upon production of war in Europe, which will disour commerce, and imprisoned our citizens; appear with the first return of peace—an unand she will inquire what we have done. It fair truce. For is there a man so credulous as is true, she will receive no answer; but she to believe that we possess a capital, not only must know what we have not done. She will equal to what may be called our own proper see that we have not repelled these outrages, trade, but large enough also to transmit to the nor made any addition to our army and navy, respective parent states, the vast and wealthy nor even classed the militia. No, sir; not one products of the French, Spanish, and Dutch of our militia generals in politics has mar- colonies ? 'Tis beyond the belief of any rational shalled a single brigade.
being But this is not my only objection to Although I have said it would be time entering upon this naval warfare. I am averse enough to answer the question, which gentle-to a naval war with any nation whatever. I men have put to me, when they shall have was opposed to the naval war of the last adanswered mine; yet, as I do not like long pro- ministration, and I am as ready to oppose a rogations, I will give them an answer now. I naval war of the present administration, should will never consent to go to war for that which they meditate such a measure. What! shall I cannot protect. I deem it no sacrifice of this great mammoth of the American forest dignity to say to the Leviathan of the deep, leave his native element, and plunge into the we are unable to contend with you in your own water in a mad contest with the shark? Let element, but if you come within our actual him beware that his proboscis is not bitten off limits, we will shed our last drop of blood in in the engagement. Let him stay on shore, their defence. In such an event, I would feel, and not be excited by the muscles and perrinot reason; and obey an impulse which never winkles on the strand, or political bears, in a has—which never can deceive me.
boat to venture on the perils of the deep. France is at war with England: suppose her Gentlemen say, will you not protect your viopower on the continent of Europe no greater lated rights and I say, why take to water, than it is on the ocean. How would she make where you can neither fight nor swim? Look her enemy feel it? There would be a perfect at France; see her vessels stealing from port non-conductor between them. So with the to port, on her own coast; and remember that United States and England; she scarcely pre- she is the first military power of the earth, and sents to us a vulnerable point. Her commerce as a naval people, second only to England. is carried on, for the most part, in fleets; where Take away the British navy, and France toin single ships, they are stout and well armed; morrow is the tyrant of the ocean. very different from the state of her trade This brings me to the second point. How during the American war, when her merchant- far is it politic in the United States to throw men became the prey of paltry privateers. Great their weight into the scale of France at this Britain has been too long at war with the three moment ?—from whatever motive to aid the most powerful maritime nations of Europe, views of her gigantic ambition--to make her not to have learnt how to protect her trade. mistress of the sea and land—to jeopardize the She can afford convoy to it all; she has eight liberties of mankind. Sir, you may help to hundred ships in commission: the navies of crush Great Britain-you may assist in breakher enemies are annihilated. Thus, this war ing down her naval dominion, but you cannot has presented the new and curious political succeed to it. The iron sceptre of the ocean spectacle of a regular annual increase (and to will pass into his hands who wears the iron an immense amount) of her imports and ex- crown of the land. You may then expect a ports, and tonnage and revenue, and all the in- new code of maritime law. Where will you signia of accumulating wealth, whilst in every look for redress? I can tell the gentleman former war, without exception, these have suf- from Massachusetts, that there is nothing in his fered a greater or less diminution. And where- rule of three that will save us, even although fore? Because she has driven France, Spain, he should out-do himself, and exceed the finanand Holland, from the ocean. Their marine is cial ingenuity which he so memorably displayer no more. I verily believe that ten English on a recent occasion.* No, sir; let the battle ships of the line would not decline a meeting with the combined fleets of those nations. I
* In a debate on a bill fixing the prices which the comforewarn the gentleman from Massachusetts, missioners of the sinking fund should not exceed, in their and his constituents of Salem, that all their purchases of public debts, Mr. Crowninshield had asserted, golden hopes are vain. I forewarn them of the that the three per cents, were worth only half as much as the exposure of their trade beyond the Cape of sixes; in other words, that tho value of the stocks was in