HC Deb 20 July 1847 vol 94 cc604-7

moved an Address to Her Majesty— That She will he graciously pleased to direct that there be laid before this House a Copy of the Letter from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Her Britannic Majesty's Minister at Washington, acknowledging the donation in food and money of the Legislature and Citizens of the United States of America, for the relief of the famine in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman then referred to the great amount of misery and destitution which had been experienced in Ireland, and to the very large contributions raised in America for the relief of that country, one committee having raised a sum of not less than 109,000l., and another of 60,000l. The expedition with which these large contributions were converted into food, and transmitted to Ireland, was also matter of surprise as well as gratitude. He would read a few extracts from letters, to show the manner in which the subject had been taken up in the United States:— Cincinnati, Ohio, April 22, 1847.—Early in the month of February, accounts of the suffering in Ireland, for want of food, were received in this city, and excited strong sympathy among our citizens. A meeting was called, a handsome sum was at once raised, and the subscribers were appointed an executive committee to manage the sum collected, and give efficiency to the cause of Irish relief. At this meeting it was determined that all receipts of money should be converted into provisions, and that a ship load should be sent to the suffering poor of Ireland. Zanesville, Ohio, Mushingum County, April 30, 1847—Our countrymen, with a generosity that is proverbial, and ever alive to the calls of suffering humanity, regardless alike of race, clime, or religion, have nobly responded to the heart-stricken appeals of their famishing brethren on the other side of the Atlantic; and out of the abundance liberally supplied them by a bountiful Providence, they have given their mite. Small as it may be in comparison with your requirements, it is evidence, at least, of heartfelt sympathy in your sufferings, and a desire to alleviate them. New York, May 19.—Out of one contribution of 170 dollars, the largest part was contributed by the children of the forest, our red brethren of the Choctau nation. Even these distant men (as the chairman of the New York committee well observes) have felt the force of Christian sympathy and benevolence, and have given their cheerful aid in this good cause, though they are separated from you by so many miles of land and an ocean's breadth. New York, June 1.—Accompanying this you will receive a bill of lading for 300 barrels of corn meal, to be distributed under the directions of the central committee of relief, to the needy and destitute people of Ireland. This small offering is from the contributions of a few of the lodges of Odd Fellows of the city and State of New York, and is tendered in the hope, that although it may be considered but a mite towards relieving the wants of a suffering nation, still that it may be the means of temporary relief to a few of those whom starvation is reducing to the brink of despair and death. The best wishes of the order go with their donation; and the most fervent hopes are entertained that the hand of a merciful Providence will speedily restore an abundant supply of the fruits of the earth, so that the famine may depart, and the now suffering people of Ireland may once more be restored to their usual comforts, and be again permitted to enjoy the smiles of their happy homes. After the manifestation of such kindly feelings on their part, we could do no less than give expression to the gratitude which we felt. He regarded the conduct of America, in this respect, as of great importance, seeing it tended to confirm those friendly relations that existed between the two countries, and would aid in laying the foundations of lasting peace. These reasons justified him in moving that this Address be presented to Her Majesty, simply with the view of eliciting the strong expressions of national gratitude which he was certain were felt in every part of Her Majesty's dominions.


concurred in what had been said by the hon. Gentleman with regard to the effect upon the amicable relations of the two countries which the recent conduct of America was calculated to produce. It was not merely the amount of their contributions; but the promptness with which vessels were placed at the disposal of the contributors for the transmission of grain to Ireland, and the kindness and hospitality which wore shown to those who went from this country to procure provisions, that demanded their gratitude and esteem. There was one feature in the transaction deserving of particular notice, namely, that part of the donations came from our red brethren in the west.


I have very great pleasure in acquiescing in and supporting the Motion of my hon. Friend. The only regret I can feel on the occasion is, that although the despatch for which he has moved, expresses in strong terms the feelings of Her Majesty's Government, and the feelings which we believe animate the whole of the British nation; still I am sensible that no terms which could have been employed by me could adequately convey the feelings of thankfulness and admiration which the conduct of our brethren in the United States must have excited amongst all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. As my hon. Friend has stated, not only was the supply sent large, liberal, and generous in amount, but the manner in which it was sent, the promptitude with which it was forwarded, and the strong feeling of interest which was expressed on the part of all those who had contributed to that supply, were more almost than could possibly be expected on the part of persons who, however united to us in origin, and bound to us by every tie of language and religion, of manners and habits, are still separated from us by a mighty expanse of ocean. The extent of sympathy by which our brethren in the United States have been so honourably distinguished, was more than could have been expected. I agree with my hon. Friend, that transactions of this nature are calculated to cement in the strongest manner those ties which ought to unite kindred nations; and it is this circumstance which ought not to be lost sight of, that while on the one hand acts of generosity such as these rivet the affections of those upon whom they have been conferred, and on the other hand they tend, by the very exercise which accompanies them of good and kindly feelings, to increase the affection of those by whom they are done towards those who have been the objects of those generous acts. And, therefore, Sir, both in regard to the feelings excited here, and the feelings which those actions proclaim in America, I am happy to think that, whatever may have been the sufferings and calamities which gave rise to these acts, at all events they will so far have been attended with happy results that they have afforded to our brethren in the United States an opportunity of doing that which will never be forgotten by the people of this country; and, I hope, for a long time, will increase the good feeling of the people of the United States towards their brethren in this country.


said, as he had had very peculiar opportunities of noticing the warmth of feeling which existed in every part of the Union towards the inhabitants of this, which they called "the old" country, he could not help declaring his participation in the feelings of satisfaction and thankfulness expressed by the hon. Member and by his noble Friend. It was impossible to overrate the strength of those feelings, evinced by the warmth of sympathy which had been called forth in America, and by the liberal and substantial tokens which had accompanied it, and which, he trusted, would be considered to be amply acknowledged by the despatch of his noble Friend. But he was not sorry that, before Parliament arose, feelings such as those expressed by the hon. Members had found a vent within the walls of that House. He had received letters recently from New York, describing the measures taken there for securing the health and comfort of the destitute emigrants from this country; and at Boston an island had been set apart for and appropriated to hospitals. He believed that the same kindly spirit prevailed all over the Union, from Maine to New Orleans; and although occasionally causes of soreness and subjects of altercation would unavoidably arise between the two countries, as between other nations, the touchstone of calamity was only wanting to call forth at all times whatever was most generous and kind in our nature. He bore with pleasure his testimony to the value of those feelings which the calamities of Ireland had elicited in America.

Motion agreed to.

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