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rupt speculators, and thus surround itself mored among the same anxious patriots, by a privileged class of society, with the in “à coach and six.” view of paving the way to the recognition These fictions of the false prophets, in of an aristocracy by law, and the saddling the days of Washington, can now be of the good people of the country with mon little consequence, except as a foil to the archical institutions, modeled after those of truth, that the Executive then acted on their old enemies, the British. Mr. Jef- the principle of fully exercising all the ferson, at a later period, described Hamil- powers conferred on it by the Constituton's system as “a machine for the cor- tion, yet usurping none. Notwithstanding ruption of the legislature." And how all the abstractions with which the leadadmirably, in his opinion, it answered the ers of opposition in Congress discussed purpose of the inventor, may be learned the relative powers of the general and the from his division of the patriots who com- State governments, and the jealousy of posed the House of Representatives, in delegated authority declared to exist in the second Congress, into "1, bank di- the minds of the people of this country, rectors ; 2, holders of bank stock; 3, Washington was of opinion that the great stock-jobbers; 4, blind devotees; 5, ig- body of American citizens were in favor norant persons, who did not comprehend of such a liberal construction of the terms them (Giles' Resolutions,) 6, lazy and good of the new Constitution, as was necessary humored persons.” These were the men, to remove the difficulties which had hinthe people were told, by whose venal votes, dered the prosperity of the country under aided by the “irresistible influence and the Confederation. For this very purpose popularity of General Washington, played had they made the change in their frame off by the cunning of Hamilton,” an'at- of federal institutions. It was, indeed, tempt was to be made to draw over the the only sound, practical view to take of country the substance, as it had already government at that time, or at any time. done the forms, of the British government. And it has always been, we believe, the “ They,” (the British,) said the same high sense of the better part of the people of authority,“ had their paper system, stock this Union, that, in any great national jobbing, speculations, public debt, monied emergency, its government was justified in interest, &c., and all this was contrived using all power absolutely necessary to for us. They raised their cry against meet existing difficulties, provided such jacobinism and revolutionists, we against power had not been expressly denied to democratic societies and anti-federalists." it, or expressly given to the local authori. And if any further evidence of the near ties by the Constitution. The more rigid advent of monarchy were required, the interpretation of constitutional powers, lovers of liberty were reminded that the rendering our system of government intitle of His Excellency had been bestowed elastic and inefficient, would take from it upon the President—that His Excellency, the ability not only to remedy the evils, or as a Virginia senator preferred to call but also to withstand the shocks of time him, His Limpid Highness, opened the and change. But the executive branch sessions of Congress with speeches like a of the federal government, during this king—that he held morning levees, stand- Administration, great as was its influence, ing in regal state, with cocked hat, sword never overstepped its lawful limits. So and gloves—that Mrs. Washington, too, far was Washington from improperly ingave levees—that both of them, at the terfering with the action of the co-ordinate birth-night balls, sat upon a seat raised branches of government, that, for examhigh enough for a throne—that it was ple, while Congress was engaged in disproposed to place the head of George cussing the measures of the proposed sysWashington on the national coin-and, tem of finance, he strictly abstained from finally, that the Vice-President walked the any expression of opinion respecting them. streets with his hat under his arm, pre- Wherever precedents may be found for ceded (as the story ran in the Old Do- buying congressional votes with Executive minion,) by four men bearing naked promises, or making the support of Exswords, and aired himself in a carriage écutive measures by legislators the ground drawn by a pair of horses, or as was ru for rewarding them with lucrative and
honorable offices, or for bringing any sort | incompetent to devise a better one; and of illegitimate influence into the halls of its opponents, while they seemed disposed legislation, the first President, no less pure to force the government to resort to the in mind than firm in authority, set none of unpopular policy of direct taxation, never them. Never was Mr. Jefferson farther ventured to take the responsibility of from the truth, than when, in 1792, he actually proposing
or any other set declared that the Executive “had swal- of financial measures. If Congress shaped lowed up the legislative branch." Perhaps its course of legislation, generally, in acthe error, however, ought to be set down cordance with Executive recommendation, to the fondness of the then Secretary of it was because the counsels of Washington State for this particular figure of speech. were dictated by such a sagacious knowlFor he also said, a short time before, that edge, and such an impartial care of all the Department of the Treasury had so the great interests of the country, as deincreased in influence as to “swallow up servedly won its approbation. It could the whole Executive powers.” And a originate no higher wisdom. Not even few years later, he averred it to be “a the Jacobin Clubs, otherwise called Demosingular phenomenon, that while our State cratic Societies, which were instituted by governments are the very best in the the opposition party for the express purworld, without exception or comparison, pose of looking after the public interests, our General government has, in the rapid had any better counsels to offer. course of nine or ten years, become more The disastrous consequences of the arbitrary, and has swallowed more of the course of opposition, which we have now public liberty than even that of England.” described, were not fully developed until More singular still is it, miraculous even, during the second term of the Administrathat this monster of a Treasury depart-tion, which was occupied almost exclument, which had swallowed up the Ex- sively with the foreign relations of the ecutive branch, which itself had swallowed country. It then led to the whiskey inup the legislative branch, which again had surrection in Pennsylvania; but as the swallowed up its bellyfull of the public suppression of this was the concluding liberty, should ever have vomited out one act of the domestic policy of Washington, and all, Executive, legislature, liberty, our review of his first term may fitly be safely upon the dry land! The great pre- closed by a notice of it. ponderating influence of the Executive, After as high duties had been laid upon during the first Administration, we do not imports as they could reasonably be subby any means deny. On the contrary, jected to, the government still had need we declare our belief, that, from the com of additional revenues, in order to pay
the mencement of the federal union to the debts of the war of independence, together present day, there has been no adminis- with its own expenses; and was tration under which the legislation of Con- pelled to resort to an excise on homegress, the entire governmental action, has made spirits. The burden of this tax fell, been so much controlled by the President of course, on the consumers of liquors and his cabinet on the one hand, and so throughout the country; but the distillers, little guided by occasional, local, irregular viewing it a discouragement of their trade, expressions of public opinion on the other, joined with their natural allies, the lovers as was the case under the first. Yet is of it, in no very soft-voiced resistance. To this but half the truth. The other half allay, as far as possible, this popular disis, that this guiding, controlling force pro- satisfaction, Congress several times introceeded legitimately from the commanding duced such modifications into the excise talents, the superior wisdom, the overaw- laws, as were calculated to render their ing character of those illustrious men who operation as little unpleasant as tax-payfilled the executive departments, and es- ing could be. Consequently, the distilpecially of their chief, as great a governor lers were gradually falling into habits of of men as was ever called by the name of more or less contented obedience to the king. If the legislature adopted the sys. laws, when the rising French party in this tem proposed by the Secretary of the country, which found its interest in seekTreasury, it was because it found itself | ing out the oppressed in all the earth for
the benevolent purpose of offering them were committed on the
propits sympathies in exchange for their as- erty of the revenue officers; the public sistance, took up the cause of these mar mails were stopped and opened; the tyrs of liberty also. They were just the houses and barns of obnoxious friends of men for the anti-patriotic purposes they the laws were burned; the local police were wanted for, being Germans, Irish, were so intimidated by the threats, or Quakers, Tories and anti-federalists, the won over by the promises of the seditious, thirsty patrons or owners of no fewer than that their services could not be relied three thousand small distilleries in West- on; large numbers of the disaffected ern Pennsylvania—allies not inferior to assembled in convention at various places, those Kentucky borderers, who, equally and were encouraged in their course by impatient of American laws and Spanish the most violent speeches and resolves; rights, gave the Administration no little in a word, there was an organized and unnecessary trouble respecting the navi- systematic insurrection against the authogation of the Mississippi, and who, about rity of the federal government, which the same time, were likewise brought un- sought alliance with similar malcontents in der the bonnet rouge. These freemen, neighboring States, and which, crediting who before considered themselves suffi- the lies of the opposition prints and the decintly oppressed by being called upon to mocratic societies, believed its cause to be pay taxes, were now informed that their so widely approved, that an attempt to excise-money all went into the pockets of oppose it by force would involve the Anglomen and monocrats, the secret sup- country in civil war. Deeply impressed, porters of that monster confederacy of as Washington always was, with the digEuropean kings, which was threatening to nity of law, and the respect due to esdevour liberty in France, and was only tablished authority, he could take no less reserving them for a dessert, to be washed grave a view of this state of things, than down in their own whiskey. In Congress that “if the laws are to be trampled upon the excise was denounced as unequal and with impunity, and a minority, a small unjust, unnecessary and tyrannical ; and one too, is to dictate to the majority, the resistance of it was spoken of as there is an end put, at one stroke, to reprobable, in order to render it certain presentative government; and nothing Lay a tax, said the leaders of opposition, but anarchy and confusion are to be exon property, on incomes, on salaries, on pected hereafter. Some other man or lawyers, on written instruments, on any- society may dislike another law, and opthing, save this “common drink of the pose it with equal propriety, until all laws nation,” as Mr. Jefferson called it. The are prostrate, and any one, the strongest I distillers having been early encouraged by presume, will carve for himself.” Washthis tone of the opposition party in Con- ington could risk his life and fortune in gress, and by the unhappy dissensions leading a revolution to secure the rights then existing in the cabinet, where, they and the independence of his country, but were led to believe, their cause did not to the spirit of sedition, riot, and what has lack apologists, had thrown such obsta- since been termed lynching, there never cles in the way of collecting the duties, as lived a more determined opposer, or one called forth from the President, in his first who was more convinced of the necessity, term, an admonitory proclamation. In when all other means of putting it down the exercise of his usual moderation and had failed, of resorting to force of arms. forbearance, he continued for upwards of No sympathy had he with the spirit of two years to persevere in the use of strictly him, who, respecting Shay's rebellion in pacific means for overcoming this resist- Massachusetts, had said, God forbid we ance to lawful authority. But the leni- should ever be twenty years without such ency of the government served only to a rebellion." Accordingly, the seat of strengthen the hands and embolden the the present sedition being supposed to purposes of the malcontents. The minis. contain about sixteen thousand men caters of justice, directed to enforce the pable of bearing arms, and being in a part laws by legal processes, were resisted by of the State which had been bitterly opforce and violence; multiplied outrages posed to the Constitution, and hostile to
all the measures of the government under meeting of that body which has the sole it, he provided for raising a force sufficient right of declaring war; of being so patient to look down all possible opposition, and of the kicks and scoffs of our enemies, and thus to confound the rebellion, without rising at a feather against our friends; of the necessity of destroying the rebels. adding a million to the public debt and He marched twelve thousand men over deriding us with recommendations to pay the mountains, and not an insurgent dared it if we can,” &c. This being compelled lift a finger; the leaders fled or were to defray the expense of undoing their arrested ; order was re-established; and own doings, must, indeed, have been a the duties on distilled spirits were collected bitter pill to the opposition—as bitter as ever after in Pennsylvania, so long as the was ever the paying of their British debts. laws authorizing them remained on the But comment is unnecessary. statute books.
We now come to the consideration of In justice to the opposition party, we the second term, and of the foreign policy give their version of this matter in the of the Administration. language of their chief. His interpreta In the same year, it will be remembered, tion of this signal triumph of the govern- in which the American Congress met for ment was as follows“Our alarmists the first time under the Constitution, the marched an army to look for an insurrec States-General of France was summoned tion, but they could not find it.” And in to assemble by Louis XVI. The reforms a letter to Mr. Madison, written after the in the French state
, which followed immediPresident, who viewed the insurrection as ately from this latter act, were hailed every“one of the ripe fruits” of the democratic where in this country, as an escape from societies, bad expressed a censure of these royal tyranny, similar to that which had associations, in his speech to Congress, at been overthrown here. And still greater the session following, the same authority was the universal joy, when the nation said, “The denunciation of the democratic which had been our ally in the war of insocieties is one of the extraordinary acts dependence, finally declared itself a repubof boldness, of which we have seen so lican commonwealth, and claimed the right many from the faction of the monocrats. of enjoying those political liberties which It is wonderful, indeed, that the President its arms had contributed towards securing should have permitted himself to be the for others. Nevertheless, in the eyes of organ of such an attack on the freedom
the more intelligent class of American of discussion, the freedom of writing, citizens, this morning of joyful anticipaprinting and publishing." Speaking of tions, which then rose over France, was the transactions against the excise laws, early clouded by the adows of events to the writer continued, “We know of none Those, especially, who had seen which, according to the definitions of the their efforts to adopt and to maintain an law, have been anything more than riotous. efficient government in this country, folThere was indeed a meeting to consult lowed up with such determined resistance, about a separation. But to consult on a distrusted the issue of the French experiquestion does not amount to a determina- ment, when they saw that it was undertion of that question in the affirmative, taken without the consent of the whole still less to the acting on such a determi- people, that it was supported by the most nation; but we shall see, I suppose what violent excesses, and that it led to both the court lawyers, and courtly judges, and civil and foreign war. As this distrust would-be ambassadors, will make of it. was publicly expressed, the leaders of the The excise law is an infernal one. The opposition party, who had participated first error was to admit it by the Consti- less in it, saw that it might easily be tution; the second to act on that admis- turned to account against the supporters sion; the third and last will be, to make of the Administration. They at once it the instrument of dismembering the adopted the policy, therefore, of encourUnion.
I expected to have aging the people to approve of the deeds seen some justification of arming one part done in the name of liberty in France, and of the society against the other; of de- of bringing their own government into disclaring a civil war the moment before the credit by representing it as disapproving
of them. It was loudly proclaimed that the pretense that the government of the the cause of liberty was one in all the latter was not strong enough to enforce earth; that to doubt its triumph in France, its promises, but also delayed surrenderwas to desire its discomfiture in America ; | ing the posts held on our northwestern that to disapprove of the sort of republi- border, alleging the non-fulfilment of the canism which had been set up there, was article in the treaty of peace securing the to design to introduce the monarchical debts of British subjects. When, theresystem of Great Britain here. The hope fore, war was at length declared by France was, that they would be able to destroy against England, Washington foresaw that the enthusiastic attachment of the great a great effort would be made, both by the body of the people to Washington and former power, and by the minority at his Administration, by substituting in its home, to enlist the sympathies, if not the place an enthusiastic devotion to the cause arms of the republic, in favor of foreign of liberty in Europe. It was to expel one liberty. Immediately on the arrival of passion, by bringing in another. Not that the news of the declaration of hostilities, these politicians designed openly to advo- in fact, a number of vessels, in different cate the taking up of arms by the country ports, were put in readiness for preying for the purpose of assisting the French to upon the commerce of our ancient enemy, conquer the confederate powers of Europe. now represented as the enemy of the rights They did not wish to aid France, but them- of man in Europe. But Washington reselves. A great popular agitation was to solved to take prompt measures for avertbe raised, ostensibly, for the sufficiently ing the impending peril. From Mount vague object of giving sanction to the re- Vernon, he wrote to the Secretary of public which had been instituted beyond State, declaring his intention to assume a seas; but, in reality, to effect an ultimate position of strict neutrality between the change in the administration of the federal belligerent nations. On his return to the government, such as was subsequently seat of government, after having taken the accomplished by the election of Mr. Jef- advice of his cabinet, which, however, was ferson to the Presidency.
divided in opinion respecting several imIt was in the face of such a rising oppo- portant points involved in the proposed sition, that Washington entered upon the course of policy, he decided, on the one task, or so much of it as fell to his share, hand, to recognize the revolutionary auof shaping the foreign policy of the re- thorities of Paris, and to regard the treatpublic. The work would have been suf- ies made with the royal government as ficiently embarrassing, even without the still obligatory, and, on the other, to issue perplexities arising out of domestic vari a proclamation, declaring the design of the ance and clamors. For this country had government of the United States to pursue assumed its place in the family of nations a course of strict neutrality and impartial at a period, when the established system justice, with reference to all the belligeof international rights and duties was rents. Accordingly, on the 22d of April
, about to be thrown into confusion, by the 1793, a proclamation was issued, stating revolutions and wars of Europe. Into that “the duty and interest of the United this strife of the transatlantic world, the States require that they should with sinfactions which afterwards rose to power in cerity and good faith adopt and pursue a Paris employed almost every means, hon- conduct friendly and impartial towards the orable and dishonorable, to entice the tot- belligerent powers,” and exhorting and tering footsteps of our infant state. Eng. warning the citizens to avoid contravening land,
on the other hand, had pursued, since such a line of conduct, whether by engagthe peace, a course of conduct, which ren ing in hostilities with or against any of the dered the relations of the two countries nations at war, or by carrying to any of extremely critical. Bearing her enfran- them those articles deemed contraband by chised colonies no good will, and little modern usage. Viewed with respect to respecting a power destitute of so much its immediate, or its remote consequences, as a single ship to restrain her tyranny of this paper was one of the most important the ocean, she not only refused to form a acts of Washington's Administration. It treaty of commerce with the Union, on saved the republic from being drawn, be