Page images

it professes, requires that every vessel leaving the several ports of the United States, should be furnished with a certified list of the crew, to be granted by the collectors of the customs, on the oaths of the masters of the respective vessels to whom it is given; describing the persons, place of birth, and residence of the individuals composing the crew. It is fair to presume that a seaman found on board an American vessel, and not entered on the certified list is not an American citizen. In such a case, therefore, it is usual for our officers to reclaim him. But his name being on the list is no proof whatever that he is an American: the master only swears

to the best of his knowledge,' or as far as he has been able to discover,' that A. B. is a citizen of the United States; and where it is his interest not to know or not to discover, it cannot be supposed he will take much pains to undeceive himself. But the act of Congress' farther provides, that the collector of every district shall keep a book or books, in which, at the request of any seaman, being a citizen of the United States of America, and producing proof of his citizenship, authenticated in the manner hereinafter directed, he shall enter the name of such seaman and shall deliver to him a certificate,' &c. But by some strange omission, the nanner hereinafter directed is not directed or described at all, nor is there any farther mention made about proof. The consequence of which is, that those collectors certificates' are profusely issued without any proof at all.

Two examples, out of two thousand that we could give, will be sufficient to shew with what ease these certificates' are fraudulently obtained. The first is that of an English seaman who had protected himself ten years from the impress by a collector's certificate' obtained in the following manner.

Henry Donaldson maketh oath and saith, that he procured a protection of Joshua Sands, collector of New York, on the 15th of December, 1800, then assuming the name of Henry Kent, which he obtained on the affidavit of a woman who swore, for several other Englishmen on the same day; that an objection was made at the time by some person in the custom-house to the validity of this woman's oath, she haring sworn to so many in so short a time ; but that the collector said, as the woman had sworn to them, he must sign them. He says the woman was charged with having sworn to some hundreds in a short time. Sworn at Liverpool, 17th of May, 1810, before me,

(Signed) Thomas Golightly, Mayor.' Another man, impressed at Liverpool at the same time, carried about with him a certificate of birth, &c. signed by Mr. Graaf, deputy collector of Philadelphia, which he obtained by giving an old man four dollars for swearing that he knew his father and mother, &c.' the man had neither father nor mother, as described in the affidavit, and had never been in America before.


But the evil extends still farther. It is not even necessary to go to America to procure these certificates ;' they are to be purchased at most of the sea ports of the United Kingdom. The crews of American vessels are not only entered on the certified list, but are also furnished with these individual protections; frequently in duplicate, and even triplicate; they are offered for sale to British seamen; the age and description are altered and erased to suit those of the purchaser; a ceremony however, which is not always observed, as it is by no means uncommon for a man with blue eyes and sandy hair, to carry about with him a 'collector's certificate' describing a mulatto.

If to the vast number of protections thus issued from the American custom-houses, with so little caution and without any proof, be added the numerous forgeries of this kind of document, and the protections that are granted by the American consuls and vice-consuls, and notaries public, it is not surprizing that English seamen, in the disguise of Americans, should be met with in almost every English vessel that navigates the ocean.

We have partly the means of ascertaining the extent of the injury sustained by Great Britain from the profuse supply of documents we have been describing. We have seen a collector's certificate of Philadelphia bearing a number above 20,000, and one of New York exceeding 12,000, of Boston above 8,000. We should underrate the other ports collectively at 40,000 more ; and taking into the account the forged certificates, the duplicates and triplicates, the certificates of consuls and notaries, we are certainly within bounds in estimating the outstanding number of protected American seamen at 100,000. What proportion of these may be real American native seamen, or born of American settlers, it would be difficult to determine. The whole tonnage of Great Britain in the merchant and transport service employs about 120,000 men. To allow to America one-third of this number would probably be allowing her too much; but to keep within bounds, we will admit it to be one-half : there would still remain 40,000 British seamen navigating merchant ships of our own and neutrals, under cover of American protections.

It appears from a correspondence that took place between Mr. Monroe and the Secretary of State in 1804, that about one-fourth part of those seamen, whose discharge from the British navy had been applied for by the consul at various times, had produced satisfactory proofs of American citizenship; the remaining threefourths were really British seamen. Taking the number of nominal Americans serving in the navy at 4,000, which we understand is beyond the calculation, we cannot on these data reckon the number of Americans serving in the Britisli navy at more than 1,000. If this statement be correct we are injured in a forty-fold proportion to America, by the effect of the Act of Congress for the relief and protection of American seamen.' It would be little short of madness then, we repeat, and an act of political suicide, to give up our right of search for British seamen, and to admit the American flag to protect all those sailing under it. We have heard indeed that it has been more than once suggested, by the American government, that some compromise or modification of the exercise of this right might be devised, which should equally with the actual search itself, secure the object of retaining to Great Britain the services of all her seamen.


If the American government has

such arrangement to propose,

there will of course be no indisposition on the part of this country to examine it. But we .cannot forbear to express our extreme apprehension that the substitution of any other less simple mode of enforcing this undoubted right would be found to multiply the opportunities of evading it. We

e protest against any scheme of paper security, any accumulation of certificates and of oaths, of which we have but too much already. And seeing no other that has been, or (as far as we know) can be devised,—we content ourselves with observing on this proposal of the American government, that it clearly, unequivocally, and in a manner more satisfactory than a direct and naked acquiescence, admits the legality of the right, and the necessity of the practice for which it offers a substitution. Against this right, therefore, surely America will not go to war.

What then can be her motive for assuming her present hostile attitude towards Great Britain ? It cannot be the wantonness of wealth, since their Secretary of the Treasury tells them that the state of their finances is not even equal to the peace establishment. Mr. Jefferson, in a message to Congress in 1805, observed ;-• It may be the pleasure and pride of an American to ask, what farmer, what mechanic, what labourer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of the United States?' We leave to Mr. Gallatin the pleasure and pride of answering the American's' question.

Can it be the love of conquest? This is a very natural object for a great military power : but for

for a power whose army is yet a project on paper, it seems prima facie not a very intelligible one. We learn, however, from the gentleman who brought up the report of their Committee, that they will take Canada. What proportion of the 25,000 men which they are to raise, they will be able to bring against Quebec, after having conquered 500 miles of territory, and garrisoned Montreal, and all the intermediate forts, after all the casualties of so long a march, of partial skirmishes, and regular sieges, we do not venture to calculate; nor even to hint at the opposite supposition, that the invading force, if it should ever reach the ca

pital of Canada, might possibly arrive there as captives rather than as conquerors.

As to the capture of the British West India colonies, it may be just sufficient to observe that the warlike navy of America, as enumerated in their official reports, does not appear to be quite competent to such an achievement.

The confiscation of the debts due from American citizens to British subjects (the third great belligerent measure of America) is unquestionably more within their power. But of this, it must be reinembered that it is equally within their power in peace as well as in war; and for aught that we see, or have heard, or read of the practice of civilised nations, would be equally justifiable. The hint, however, has, we think, been improvidently thrown out by America ; for, anticipating as we do with no less anxiety than any of our fellow subjects, the renewal of commercial intercourse with the United States, we are not without our apprehensions that the very circnmstance of such a measure as this confiscation of individual debts, having been in contemplation, may operate here as a warning against the extravagant length of credit which our merchants have been in the habit of giving to their American correspardents.

Considering the war on the part of America, as a war for commerce, we are not aware what advantages she designs to herself from it. Her trade, it is true, may be cramped by the present state of the European world: but her exports still amount, as we learn from Mr. Gallatin, to more than forty-five millions of dollars ; and of these exports more than five-sixths are carried to Great Britain and her allies.

The following is the statement made by Mr. Gallatin, of their goods, wares and merchandize of domestic growth, and manufactures exported in the year Ciding September, 1811,

To Great Britain

Spain and Portugal

18,266,466 Baltic

3,055,833 France and Italy

1,194,275 Other countries


Dollars. 45,294,043 But a calculation of the balance of injuries, which the belligerent parties would probably sustain, can furnish but a miserable inotive for going to war. How much more rational and politic and just is it to appreciate duly the vast advantages of remaining at peace! War must inevitably injure both England and America. The only power that would be benefitted by such a rupture, is at work to stimulate America to provoke hostilities with England. We trust, however, that England will still bear with the froward humour of America. Her character will not suffer by her forbearance. We deprecate a war with America on every consideration; we could even wish that some sacrifices should be made on our part to remain at peace with her; but we would not be bullied into the smallest particle of concession. If America does not expect (as surely she cannot) that by placing herself in a warlike armour and attitude,' she can frighten England out of her maritime rights ; does she hope that an alliance with Buonaparte will remove all restrictions on her commerce? Does she not know that Buonaparte hates commerce and all its concerns? Has she forgotten the answer he made to a deputation of the merchants of Hamburgh on their humble representation that "his measures would involve them in universal bankruptcy, and banish commerce from the continent ?' So much the better,' exclaimed the tyrant, 'so much the better; the bankruptcies in England will be more numerous, and you will be less able to trade with her. England must be humbled, though the fourth century should be revived, commerce extinguished, and no other interchange of commodities than by barter.'



Here we have a complete exposition of the doctrines and the views of this implacable foe to all free governments. His frequent allusions to the dark ages of the fourth century,' and the return to barbarism,' are not so much the angry effusions of the moment as the settled purpose of his soul; they are the scope of all his actions, the tenour of all his discourses.' All his regulations and restrictions are directed to the annihilation of commerce, and to the prevention of intercourse between different nations, as the most effectual means of extinguishing liberty among mankind. But above all the commerce of England is hateful to him, because, as the sensible author of War in Disguise' has observed, ' while it is light at Dover, it cannot be wholly dark at Calais. Destruction and desolation are bis attributes. War, eternal war, is his motto, till the last spark of European liberty has been extinguished, and the last vestige of a free government obliterated by the tread of a colossal despotism.

Next to England, America is his bane and his terror. The people of this country being derived from the same stock, speaking the same language, breathing the same spirit of liberty, have qualities quite sufficient to rivet his hatred. The American gentleman, who has so ably written on the genius and dispositions of the French government, and who, from his situation in Paris, had every opportunity of hearing what the public opinions were, declares that every person, whether in or out of office, who had any intimate con


« PreviousContinue »