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and as the fort fired on them, I presume the capture was not made by consent of the Brazilian Government." Such is the mild conclusion of an American shipmaster, who seems to see the conduct of Great Britain in the same light as it is seen by the publicist of Germany and the publicist of France.
Such instances, so recent, show how little the injunction of International Law has been regarded by Great Britain, whether before or after the Crimean War; and yet British censors have not hesitated to arraign the United States in brutal terms. I do not admit their competency to sit in judgment on us; I plead to the jurisdiction. If they would teach correct principles, they must begin by a correct example. Meanwhile the abuses for which Great Britain is responsible cannot be forgotten by those who sincerely desire a new era in International Law. I say this in no spirit of reproach or controversy, but simply to serve the cause of my country and of truth.
RELATIONS WITH GREAT BRITAIN:
THE ST. ALBANS RAID.
SPEECH IN THE SENATE, ON A BILL FOR FORTIFICATIONS AND BATTERIES ON THE LAKES, DECEMBER 19, 1864.
DECEMBER 19th, Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, introduced a bill to enable the President to expend the sum of ten million dollars, or so much thereof as might be necessary, in his opinion, in building fortifications and floating-batteries to defend our northern frontier and the commerce of the Lakes against the attacks of piratical and hostile expeditions organized in the British provinces by the enemies of the United States; and he moved the reference of the bill to the Committee on Finance, which, at the suggestion of Mr. Sumner, he changed to the Committee on Foreign Relations. A debate ensued, involving what were called the troubles on the border, and especially the "St. Albans Raid," when a hostile expedition crossed from Canada into Vermont, and committed acts of violence in that town. Mr. Sumner said :
R. PRESIDENT,- The question before the Senate is simply on the reference of this bill. It is a question of the order of business.
Looking at its character, it is plain that it concerns primarily and essentially our foreign relations. This circumstance gives it a peculiar interest. If it concerned only an additional levy of troops, or the building of new forts, or a change in our commercial policy, there would be no question with regard to its reference, nor would the Senator from Maryland [Mr. REVERDY JOHNSON] have followed it by remarks on the outrage at St.
Albans. I assume, then, that it concerns our foreign relations, and therefore, according to the usages of the Senate, should be referred to the committee having that subject in charge.
This is all I have to say on the question of reference; but the Senate will pardon me, if I glance for one moment at the outrage to which the Senator referred. Only a few weeks ago, the village of St. Albans, in Vermont, was disturbed by a band of murderers, highwaymen, house-breakers, horse-thieves, and bank-robbers, from Canada. After breaking open the banks and obtaining a certain amount of spoil, attended by the murder of a citizen, they succeeded in making their way back to Canada, where they declared themselves agents of the Rebel Government. Such are the main facts. Now, Mr. President, does any one suppose that these agents of the Rebel Government were moved to this criminal enterprise merely by considerations of plunder? that they risked life and everything merely to rob a bank? No such thing. Their object was much higher and more comprehensive. It was to embroil the Government of the United States with the Government of Great Britain. I cannot doubt that such was their object. To my mind it is plain as noonday.
These agents, or rather the men behind who set them on, knew the sensitiveness of our people, and how naturally they would be aroused against the foreign country where the enterprise had its origin. They saw that excitement, passion, anger on our part were inevitable, that out of these some complication or collision might ensue, and that any such complication or collision must necessarily help the Rebellion more than a victory on the field of battle. All this they saw, and acted ac
cordingly. The whole proceeding was a trap in which to catch the Government of our country. It was hoped that in this way the Rebellion might gain that powerful British intervention which would restore its failing fortunes.
For myself, Sir, I am determined not to be caught in any such trap. There are many things Great Britain has done, since the outbreak of our Rebellion, which to my mind are most unfriendly; but I am unwilling that there should be anything on our side to furnish seeming apology for that foreign intervention so constantly menaced, and originally foreshadowed in the most hasty and utterly unjustifiable concession of ocean belligerence to Rebel Slavemongers who had not a single port or prize court. Nobody sees the wrongs we have suffered more clearly than I do; but I see other wrongs also. While never ceasing to claim all our just rights, and reminding this power always of duties plainly neglected, I cannot forget that we are engaged in a war for the suppression of a long-continued and most virulent Rebellion, which has thus far tasked our best energies. To this work let us dedicate ourselves, without arousing another enemy, through whose alliance the Rebellion may be encouraged and strengthened. Let us put down the Rebellion. Do this, and we shall do everything.
Meanwhile I trust the Senate will not be moved by passion into hasty action on any of the measures before it, but that each will be considered carefully and calmly on its merits, according to the usage of this body. This surely is the dictate of prudence, and I cannot doubt that it is the dictate of patriotism also.
Washington, in his Farewell Address, warns against
"the insidious wiles of foreign influence"; but the "insidious wiles" of our Rebels, seeking to embroil us with foreign powers, are as deadly as any influence brought against us. Forewarned is forearmed. Let us be steadfast against them.
After further debate, in which Mr. Sumner considered the order of General Dix, authorizing our troops to pursue a hostile expedition into Canada, according to writers on International Law, the bill was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, where, with other similar measures, it was allowed to sleep.