The Daily Commentary
05 July 2001

Speech On The American War
by Lord Chatham of Great Britain

I cannot, my lords, I will not, join in congratulation on misfortune and disgrace. This, my lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment. It is not a time for adulation. The smoothness of flattery cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must, if possible, dispel the illusion and darkness which envelop it, and display, in its full danger and genuine colors, the ruin which is brought to our doors.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia; History of the United States, Emerson David Fite, Henry Holt and Company, New York, (c)1926, p. 132Can ministers still presume to expect support in their infatuation? Can Parliament be so dead to its dignity and duty, as to give their support to measures thus obtruded and forced upon them? Measures, my lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to ruin and contempt! But yesterday, and England might have stood against the world; now, none so poor as to do her reverence.

The people whom we at first despised as rebels, but whom we now acknowledge as enemies, are abetted against us; supplied with every military store, their interest consulted and their ambassadors entertained by our inveterate enemy! - and ministers do not, and dare not, interpose with dignity or effect. The desperate state of our army abroad is in part known. No man more highly esteems and honors the English troops than I do; I know their virtues and their valor; I know they can achieve anything but impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility.

The Minute Man, a statue at Concord, by Daniel C. FrenchYou cannot, my lords, you cannot conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst; but know that in three compaigns we have done nothing, and suffered much. You may swell every expense, accumulate every assistance, and extend your traffic to the shambles of every German despot; your attempts will be forever vain and impotent-doubly so, indeed, from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your adversaries, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty. If I were an American, as I am an Englishmen, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms-never, never, never!!

But, my lords, who is the man that, in addition to the disgrace and mischiefs of the war, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage?-to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitants of the woods?-to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment.

The Committee on the Declaration of Independence,
an old engraving in the Public Library of Pontiac, Illinois; 
The Men Who Made The Nation, Edwin Erle Sparks, 
The Macmillian Company, London, 1901, p. 112But, my lords, this barbarous measure has been defended, not only on the principles of policy and necessity, but also on those of morality; "for it is perfectly allowable," says Lord Suffolk, "to use all the means which God and Nature have put into our hands." I am astonished, I am shocked, to hear such principles confessed; to hear them avowed in this House, or in this country!

My lords, I did not intend to encroach so much upon your attention, but I cannot repress my indignation. I feel myself impelled to speak. My lords, we are called upon as members of this House, as men, as Christian men, to protest against such horrible barbarity. "That God and Nature have put into our hands!" What ideas of God and Nature that noble lord may entertain, I know not; but I know that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity.

What! To attribute the sacred sanction of God and Nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife!-to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering, devouring drinking the blood of his mangled victims! Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation.

I call upon that right reverend, and this most learned ench, to vindicate the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. I call upon the bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn;--upon the judges to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. I call upon the honor of your lordships to reverence the dignity of your ancestors and maintain your own. I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country to vindicate the national character.

--Lord Chatham

Source: The Normal Fifth Reader, Albert N. Raub, published by Porter & Coates, Philadelphia, p. 83.

Editor's Note: Tomorrow, Our Country, by Daniel Webster

--Al Colombo, Editor

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