13 MARCH 1841, Page 2


Two more packets have arrived from New York during the week, the Westchester and the England, with papers to the 20th. The in- telligence from that quarter grows in importance : the House of Repre- sentatives may be said to have taken part, though with some qualifica- tion, in the hostile exhibitions which have lately been so frequent ; and they have manifested some disposition to proceed to extreme measures.

The first of these significant proceedings was the receipt of a report by the Committee on Foreign Affairs upon the correspondence between Mr. Fox and Mr. Forsyth, relative to the detention of Mr. II'Leod by the State of New York on a charge of murder as one of the persons who had attacked and destroyed the steamer Caroline. The report sur- prised the House of Representatives by its warlike tone. It begins by recapitulating some of the facts of the Caroline affair. It places the employment of the steamer in the light of a mere ordinary employment for purposes of profit: the boat was originally intended, the report says, to ran from Buffalo to Schlosser, and "should it seem profitable, it was intended to run her also to Navy Island." Mr. Wells, her owner, is "said to be a respectable citizen of Buffalo ; and it is obvious his in- ikentikon in patting up the boat was one of speculation and profit en- litedy": he only meant to take advantage of the excitement which attracted a great many persons to the neighbourhood, " some from curiosity, some from idleness, and others 'from taking an interest in the unusual and extraordinary collection of adventurous men gathered together at that time on Navy Island." There was no proof that any arms or munitions of war were carried in the boat, " except perhaps one small six-pounder field-piece, belonging to a passenger." Even if the boat had been trading in contraband articles, it is contended that that circumstance afforded " no excuse for invading the territory and soil of a neutral and independent power, whose private citizens may choose to run the hazards of such a trade."

" In this instance there were no two foreign powers engaged in war, but all concerned in the outbreak, or excitement, within the British jurisdiction, claimed to be British subjects, in resistance to the authorities of Cluilids, a province of the British empire. Even admitting, then, that the Caroline was engaged in contraband trade, yet it was with citizens who claimed to he sub- jects of the same empire with those who were styled the legitimate officers of the province. Abstractedly speaking, how was a private citizen to decide who were right and who wrong in these local disputes ? and which portion of citizens of the same province must our citizens refuse to have any communica- tion with ?"

The report retorts upon Mr. Fox the use of the word nontinal, which he had applied to the jurisdiction of the United States over Sc.hlosser, the place where the steamer was seized : it might as well be said, ob- serves the report, that Navy Island was nominally within the territory of the British Government ; for the people collected there had as effec- tually defied the Canadian authorities as the people of the Union had disregarded their own authorities. The report also argues against the epithet piratical applied by Mr. Fox to the steamer— "Pirates are freebooters, enemies of the human race; and eminent jurists de- scribe them as ravaging every sea and coast, with no flag and no home. Piracy comes under the concurrent jurisdiction of all nations. Even in the worst point of view that it can be considered, those connected with the steam-boat Caroline were but 'eiders and abettors of others engaged in rebellion. And the. Committee are totally at a loss to know upon what authority rebellion is re- cognized as piracy. Such confounding of terms is resting the case upon epi- thets, instead of sound law or facts, But even supposing it to lies piratical boat,' as the Minister asserts it to be, yet the moment it touched our soil it fell under our sovereignty, and no power on earth could rightfully invade it."

A case precisely similar to that of the Caroline is supposed, in which England stands to France in the relation of the United States to England in the actual dispute ; and it is asked whether "there is not an Englishman whose heart would not beat high to avenge the wrong ? The report complains of want of respect and courtesy on the part of Great Britain: "as if to treat our authorities with contempt, there was no 'preliminary demand or representation made" before the attack on the Caroline. "There is an assumption in most of our intercourse with that great power, revolting to the pride and spirit of independence in a free people.' The report then enters upon the common-law part of the subject. . BPLeod was. believed to be particeps criminis in the murder of a citizen of the United States; he was voluntarily within the territory ; and he was arrested "as any citizen of the United States charged with a simi- lar offence might have been." Had the United States been at war with Great Britain, and M`Leod had committed the offences charged, then he might have fallen under the rules and regulations of war ; but the act alleged against him was committed in time of profound peace. With respect to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, the report says, that had the crime been of a kind to render the perpetrator hostis humani generis—an outlaw, or a pirate in the legal acceptation of the term—, the United States tribunals would have had cognizance of it : but the offence charged in the case was in time of peace, and a violation purely of the lex loci, against the "peace and dignity of the State of New York," and as such coming within the criminal jurisdiction of that State. The English Minister bad said that it was notorious that M`Lecnt was not one of the party which attacked the Caroline- " This may perchance all be so; but it would be asking a great deal to re- quire an Amerman court to yield jurisdiction and render up a prisoner charged with offences against the law, upon the mere ipse dixit of any man, no matter how high in authority. Whether APLeod he guilty or not guilty, is the very point upon which an American jury alone have a right to decide. Jurisdiction in state tribunals over criminal cases, and trial by jury of the venue, are essen- tial points in American jurisprudence."

The Federal Government has no right "to arrest the power of the one or thwart the jurisdiction of the other "—

" The Federal Executive might be clothed with power to deliver up fugitives from justice for offences committed against a foreign state ; but even then it might not be obligatory to do so, unless it were made matter of treaty stipula- tion. This duty and right in an Executive has generally been considered as dormant, until made binding by treaty arrangement. But when the matter is reversed, and demand is inside, not of fugitives from justice for offences against a foreign power, but for the liberation of a man charged with offences against the peace and dignity of one of our own States, then it is that the


demand becomes preposterous n the extreme. The fact that the offences were committed under the sanction of provincial authorities does not alter the case, unless we were in a state of war. In such cues as the present, the power to deliver up could not be conferred upon the Federal Executive by treaty stipulation. It could only be conferred in those cases over which jurisdiction is clearly delegated by the .Federal Constitution—such, for instance, as treason. which is an offence against the conjoined sovereignty of the States as defined in the Constitution. Over all cases except those defined in the Constitution and those coming clearly under the laws of nations, the States have exclusive juris- diction ; and the trial and punishment for offences against them are incident to


their separate sovereignty. It is not pretended n this case that there is any treaty stipulation under which the demand is made; and the Federal Executive, under our system' has no power but what is conferred by the Constitution, or by special law of Congress..

Towards the conclusion, the report draws an alarming picture of the aggressive and powerful position of Great Britain-

" We have other points of difference with Great Britain, which add interest to every question that arises between us at present. Neither our North-eastern or North•westent boundaries are yet settled with her ; and the subject is not entirely free from difficulty. She has recently seized our vessels and exercised a power involving the right of search, under the pretext of suppressing the foreign slave-trade, which, if persevered in, will sweep our commerce from the- coast of Africa, and which is incompatible with our rights as a maritime power, She has recently, in her intercourse with us, refused indemnity and denied our. rights to property, on a subject-matter vital to near one half the States of Baia. confederacy, and which, considering her military position at Bermuda and her growing power in the West Indies, is of the last Importance to our national

independence. All these subjects make every question between us, at this par- ticular juncture, of the deepest interest. " Besides this, we are both permanently destined to have perhaps the most extensive commerce of modern nations. Our flags float side by side over every sea and bay and inlet of the known globe. She moves steadily upon her objects with an ambition that knows no bounds. And wherever she has had a conflict of interest, she has rarely yielded to any power. At this moment she presents to the civilized world the spectacle of the greatest military and commercial power in combination ever known. From her vast possessions in every quarter of the globe, and her pe- culiar commercial system, she has been made the reservoir of the wealth of nations. Her internal resources, skill, labour, and machinery, with her capital, are beyond calculation. Her natural position, being about midway the coast of Europe, gives her great control over the outlets and currents of commerce. Her mihtary occupation of Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Islands, and recently of St Jean d'Acre, give her ascendancy on the Mediterranean and the Levant ; while St. Helena and the Cape of Good Hope give her possession over the cur- rents of trade along those extensive coasts. Then, Bombay, Calcutta, and her Immense possessions in the East Indies, together with her recent movements in the China seas and islands, enable her to extend her power over those vast regions that have slumbered for ages in solitary and enervated magnificence. She possesses the Falkland Islands, but to control the commerce that passes around Cape Horn ; while Trinidad gives her all she desires in the Carribean Sea. Halifax at one point and Bermuda at another stand out in great force over our own coast from one extremity to the other. Her positions all over the world are at this moment in a military point of view equal to a million of men i

wider arms. Her continual conflicts n the mighty regions of the East, only enable her officers to become skilful and to improve in the art of war, while her great armies and extensive fleets draw their support from the immense countries seized and occupied. In the present juncture of affairs, no states- man can overlook these things. Steam power has recently brought us so near together, that ill the event of any future conflict, war, with its effects, will be precipitated upon us with much more rapidity than formerly."

This report was presented to the House of Representatives on the 13th February ; when it gave rise to some discussion, in which Mr. Granger, of New York, took a leading part. He objected. to the report, as tantamount to a declaration of war, and mentioned that he had opposed it in the Committee. Another objection that he made was, that the report dealt with many things as causes of complaint against Great Britain, with which the House had no concern, and respecting which it had no information. Mr. Pickens, the Chairman of the Committee, defended the report, on the singular ground that it had a tendency to the preservation of peace : he was for peace, and he happened to re- present a State whose interests were peculiarly pacific. The object of the report was to call the attention of Congress and the American people to the necessity of preparations for the national defence. Mr. lPiekens admitted that the report had had the concurrence of a bare majority in the Committee. Mr. Adams condemned the report, for being of a strictly party character. "What, he asked, would be its effect on theatimerican people ? on the world? Would it not bethought that it was the malice of a defeated enemy, setting fire to a tenement that he was forced to abandon ? He enjoined upon the country the necessity of union in any war that it should undertake : it would not do to go into war with a bare majority. The report would be read in England as an official exposé of the views and determinations of the United States Government. But who had made up this issue ? He had nothing to do with it. No one had been consulted about it. It came upon us suddenly. But in it was the issue of peace or war. We should put forth nothing upon which we were not willing to take the issue of war. There were some questions pending between the two nations as to which we might be wrong and Great Britain right. He would not, therefore, put the question of peace or war on this report." The report was ultimately ordered to be printed, by a majority of 103 to 68. This decision is partly accounted for by the absence of several of the Whig party. The Journal of Commerce observes of the document, that "it' appears to be intended to operate at home not abroad. It does seem," adds the Journal, "that we are fearful of speaking above our breath, lest Great Britain should overhear us."

The proceedings in the House of' Representatives on the 16th Febru- ary were of yet greater moment. A report from the Secretary at War, dated May last, was laid before Congress some time back : it suggested a plan for fortifying the frontiers of the Union. In reference to that report, Mr. Fillmore moved an instruction to the Committee on Mili- tary Affairs, to prepare a bill "making the necessary appropriations for fortifications, naval armaments, and other necessary preparations to place the Northern and North-eastern frontier in a proper state of de- fence." Mr. Thompson of South Carolina, the Chairman of the Com- mittee, said that the subject contemplated by the resolution was under the consideration of the Committee ; and that he expected in a few days to be instructed to report a general plan of defence. And it ap- peared from an observation by Mr. Fillmore, that a bill had actually been agreed upon by the Committee more than two weeks before. In Order to forward his resolution,- it seems, Mr. Fillmore was obliged to um% a suspension of the rules of the House ; and he carried his motion by 127 to 36. The resolution was then altered so as to embrace all "the country" in its provisions, in place of "the Northern and North- eastern frontier." Sortie opposition was made to this resolution, and it was met hy "the previous question "; which was carried by 76 to 58. Mr. Fillmore then modified his resolution, so as to subnlit to' the Com- mittee the question of the expediency of placing the country in' a state df defence ;- and the resolution thus altered was carried, apparently without division.

A petitietr was presented on the previous day from citizens of Penn- sylvania, praying that the country might be put in a state of defence ; and a petition was presented from Baltimore, for the fortification of that harbour. On the presentation of the latter, Mr. Preston made much of the warlike resources of Russia and other Earopean countries besides England, as causes for apprehension.

The papers publish a letter from Mr. Fox to Mr, Forsyth, recapi- tulating the facts of the capture of the Amistad Spanish schooner by the slaves on board, and their being steered in their ignoince and against their wish, by their White prisoners, to North America, instead of Africa, whither they desired to go. Mr. Fox then says, that the prosecution of the slave-trade by subjects of Spain is unlawful and against treaties between Great Britain and that country ; and he calls upon the Govern- ment of the United States to aid in carrying -out the treaty of Ghent, and to take measures for securing the liberation of the Africans. Mr.

Forsyth, after a compliment to the benevolence of "her Majesty's Go- vernment," "under which aspect alone" the communication could be entertained, says that the executive Government of the United States cannot interfere with the courts of law, to whom the formal demand of the Spanish Minister for the restitution of the schooner and the Negroes bad been submitted; and he refers Mr. Fox to Spain herself for satisfac- tion respecting the fulfilment of the treaty.

This correspondence had attracted some little notice in Congress. A memorial was presented from citizens of New York, for the intervention of the Government on behalf of one hundred and fifty Americans suffering severe punishment in Van Diemen's Land for having taken part in the Canadian rebellion : On the presentatin of the memorial; Mr. Preston said that the American convicts had lost all claim upon their country by their own conduct ; and he exhorted his countrymen not to. meddle in the affairs of England, but to take warning by- the bad ex- ample of her interference in the ease of the Amistad ; of which the citizens of the United States had just reason to complain.

Some resolutions passed by the House of Representatives of Maine, voting 400,000 dollars for "removing" the troops of the Queen of Great Britain from " the territory called ' disputed ' by the British Govern- ment," had been adopted by the Senate of that State ; who bad in- creased the sum voted to 1,000,000 dollars ; and the vote was referred to a Committee on the North-eastern boundary, along with a resolution urging the President of the United States " to cause the immediate re- moval .of the foreign armed force by which our State is invaded, sta- tioned upon the upper valley of the St. John's," and earnestly invoking "the Government of the United States to relieve this State from the present heavy needless burden of its own defence." The United States Boundary Commissioners had reported to Congress. They had not completed their labours ; but they supported the claim of the United States to the whole of the disputed territory.

The New York Herald for February 6th displays much indignation at the news of two more seizures of American vessels by British war- ships on the coast of Africa. The William and Francis, of New Yfnic, Flowery master, was seized by the British brig Forrester, while beat- ing out from the Brass River ; and the Seamew, of Salem, Briant master, was taken by the British brig Persian, Captain Queen, at Mit- briz. 'Both vessels were rigorously searched, and then released ; and the insolence of the officers of the Forrester forms an item in the coml. plaint. It is understood that the William and Francis had been landing goods in the river, for the use of a notorious slave-dealer resident in Brass Town. Whether that fact justifies the conduct of the British officers or not, it is most unfortunate that the irritating question of the right of search should be raised just at present.

Commercial affairs had not mended since the date of the last advices. The United States Bank had petitioned the Legislature of Pennsylvania to relieve them of a pressure which they had used great exertions to support, by exempting them from the peculiar penalties to which that bank is liable for suspending cash payments. The demand is enforced by a-striking list of loans and bonuses and the like assistance, which the Bank had rendered to the State. On the other hand, a me.ting- of the party hostile to the Bank was held at New York, at which all banks were denounced under the present system, and the law was called upon. to enforce the penalties against suspension. United States Bank Shares were sold at as low a price as 25, and were last selling at 27 in Phila- delphia. The derangement of monetary affairs had sensibly affected trade, which was decidedly dull. Exchange on England was 8 to si ; oa France 5.21* to 5.20.