Relying then on the patronage of your good-will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choices it is in your power to make. And may that infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.
—Of Virginia’ (born 1773, died 1833.)
ON THE MILITIA BILL—HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DEC. 10, 1811.
This is a question, as it has been presented to this House, of peace or war. In that light it has been argued; in no other light can I consider it, after the declarations made by members of the Committee of Foreign Relations.
The Committee of Foreign Relations have, indeed, decided that the subject of arming the militia (which has been pressed upon them as indispensable to the public security) does not come within the scope of their authority. On what ground, I have been, and still am, unable to see, they have felt themselves authorized to recommend the raising of standing armies, with a view (as has been declared) of immediate war—a war not of defence, but of conquest, of aggrandizement, of ambition—a war foreign to the interests of this country; to the interests of humanity itself. * * *
I cannot refrain from smiling at the liberality of the gentleman in giving Canada to New York in order to strengthen the northern balance of power; while, at the same time, he forewarns her that the western scale must preponderate. I can almost fancy that I see the Capitol in motion toward the falls of Ohio; after a short sojourn, taking its flight to the Mississippi, and finally alighting at Darien; which, when the gentleman’s dreams are realized, will be a most eligible seat of government for the new republic (or empire) of the two Americas! But it seems that in 1808 we talked and acted foolishly, and to give some color of consistency to that folly we must now commit a greater.