Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/57

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1807.
47
DEMANDS AND DISAVOWALS.

also be taken into account, not as warranting their unauthorized seizure, but as a question of redress between government and government. In respect to the general question of impressment in connection with the specific grievance of the "Chesapeake," he explained at some length the different ground on which the two disputes rested; and while professing his willingness to discuss the regulation of the practice, he affirmed the rights of England, which, he said,—

"existed in their fullest force for ages previous to the establishment of the United States of America as an independent government; and it would be difficult to contend that the recognition of that independence can have operated any change in this respect, unless it can be shown that in acknowledging the government of the United States, Great Britain virtually abdicated her own rights as a naval Power, or unless there were any express stipulations by which the ancient and prescriptive usages of Great Britain, founded in the soundest principles of natural law, though still enforced against other independent nations of the world, were to be suspended whenever they might come in contact with the interests or the feelings of the American people."

After disposing of the matter with this sneer, Canning closed by earnestly recommending Monroe to consider whether his instructions might not leave him at liberty to adjust the case of the "Chesapeake" by itself:—

"If your instructions leave you no discretion, I cannot press you to act in contradiction to them. In that case