Page 4145

4145 HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, in the course of time and things, that

fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages

that might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that

Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation

with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by

every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered

impossible by its vices?

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is,

in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little

political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed

engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here

let us stop.

Harmony and a liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking

nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural

course of things; diffusing and diversifying, by gentle means, the

streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers

so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the

rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support

them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and

liable to be, from time to time, abandoned or varied, as experience

and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it

is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another;

that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it

may accept under that character that, by such acceptance, it may

place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal

favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving

more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate

upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which

experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and

affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and

lasting impression I could wish-that they will control the usual