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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539 (Page 4)

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539
continue to repel, injuries not doubtful in their nature, & hostility not to be misunderstood. But
this is a situation of necessity, not of choice. It is one in which we are placed- not by our own
acts- but by the acts of others; & which we change, so soon as the conduct of others will permit
us to change it.
The regularly accumulating injuries sustained from France had, in 1798, progressed to
such a point, as to leave to the United States no reasonable ground of doubt, that war was to be
expected, & that [8] force & force only coud be selected on, for the maintenance of our rights as
a sovereign & independent nation. Force therefore was resolved to :- but in the very act of
resorting to it, our preference for peace was manifest, & it was apparent that we shoud return to
our natural situation, so soon as the wrongs which forced us from it shoud cease, & security
against their repetition be offered. A reasonable hope that this state of things may be attained, has
been furnished by the recent conduct & overtures of the french government America meets these
overtures, & in dosing so, only adherse to her pacific system.
To impress more forcibly on the british cabinet the principles on which this government
acts, it may not perhaps be improper, to point their attention to our conduct, during the most
critical periods of the present war.
In 1799, when the combination against France was not most formidable, when, if ever, it
was dangerous to acknowledge her new government, & to preserve with it the relations of amity,
which, in a different state of things, had been formed with the nation, the American government
[9] openly declared its determination to adhere to that state of neutrality, which it has ever
since sought to maintain; nor did the clouds which, for a time, lourd over the fortunes of the
republic, in any degree, shake this resolution.
When victory had changd sides, & France in turn threatend those who did not arrange
themselves under her banners, America, pursuing, with undeviating step, the same steady course,
negotiated with his Britannic majesty a treaty of amity, commerce, & navigation, nor coud either
threats or artifices prevent its ratification.
At no period of the war has France occupied such elevated ground, as at the very point of
time when America aimd to resist her. Triumphant & victorious everywhere, she had dictated a
peace to her enemies on the continent & had refused one to Britain.

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