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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, before its liberties were well established, into presumed so far to judge of the causes of that vortex of European wars, from which war, as to speak of “the duty and the init is impossible to see how it could have terest” of the nation in relation to it. Of emerged without damage to its indepen- course, the opposition, however cautious dence and its honor. It saved it from be- and cool, of men of the highest reputation, coming entangled in a system of political emboldened the subordinate chiefs of thé alliances with foreign powers, for the party to employ less impalpable, more accomplishment of purposes inconsistent plain-spoken arguments. They condemned with its popular institutions, its compara- the proclamation as a royal edict, and a tively isolated position, its industrial avo- daring usurpation of power. They stigcations; and substituted in its stead that matized the supporters of the act of neutrue American system, which, excluding trality as the partisans of England, and as permanent antipathies against some nations violators of the treaty of alliance with and passionate attachments to others, asks France. Nor did they altogether lack favors of none, and is reasonably indepen- eminent leaders, who were as foul-mouthdent of all. It set the first precedent of ed and as unscrupulous as themselves, for the policy of peace-of that policy which Virginia furnished them with a Giles, and aims at extending the influence and do- France with a Genet. minion of free institutions, not by the This hot-headed, pretentious, insolent, prowess of arms, nor by the arts of diplo- yet clever minister of the red-capped remacy, nor by acquisitions of territory, public, made common cause with the oppobut by presenting to the nations of the sition. The ends of the Frenchmen, and earth the example of a great people, hap- of the French party, were not the same, py in the enjoyment of wholesome liberty, indeed; for while the one wished to get in the pursuits of beneficent industry, and ships to aid in fighting the battles of his in the maintenance of public and private country, the other merely wished to run a morality. Well would it have been for private adventure under favor of his nathe true interests of the nation, if from tion's colors. But they agreed in the use this policy it had never departed.
of the same means, the creation of a genStrange that this proclamation, which eral ferment among the good people of was, in fact, no less than a second declara- this country in the cause of liberty in gention of American independence, should not eral. At first, Citizen Genet pretended to have been received with universal appro- the government that his country did not bation. But so blinded were the opposers expect her former ally to take part in her of the Administration to the high duties distant quarrels with the powers of Euand permanent interests of the country, or rope. There was, indeed, no good ground so willing to neglect both in their struggle in the treaty of alliance existing between for political ascendancy, that they convert the two nations, for claiming our aid in ed this stone laid at the corner into a stone such an offensive war and scheme of conof stumbling, and from this time forth, by quest, as was then entered
under the speech and print, they not only violently tri-color. All the circumstances of the denounced the course of the government, case, likewise, came strongly in support of but basely assailed the character of its such a view of our obligations; for while chief. Even Mr. Madison, who had so we were unable, from the feebleness of our nobly struggled with Hamilton and Jay infancy, to render any efficient service to to secure the adoption of the Constitution, our friends, by going to war, we could be and had been one of the staunchest sup- of inestimable advantage to them, as neuporters of Washington, in the early part tral carriers. So obvious were these of his Administration, having now passed truths, that the French minister, in pursuover to the ranks of the opposition, whose ing the mistaken as well as unfair policy of head-quarters were in his native State, his government, did not come out at once came forward with his nicely drawn dis- with a direct claim for an armed co-operatinctions, declaring that the President was tion, but endeavored gradually to involve not competent to pronounce the United this country in such a course of partial faStates to be, de jure, in a state of neu- vors to France, and unfriendly measures trality, and regretting that he should have against Great Britain, as would finally
lead to open hostilities with the latter ground that the Americans, not having power, for the benefit of the former. For shed their blood in the cause of France, the accomplishment of his object, he re- were not entitled to the honor. Consistsorted to means diplomatic and undiplo- ing, for the most part, of pot-house politimatic. He had arrived on our shores cians, the members spent the day in dewith all sorts of popular mottoes flying in claiming against the policy of the Administhe rigging of the ship which brought tration, and the night in drinking Pennsylhim; be had at the end of a voluble vania whiskey, all the better if it had not tongue all the high-sounding phrases of the paid the excise. As the bowl went round, new-fangled liberty and fraternity, to be be- and the red cap was passed from head to stowed on the crowds who hung on his lips head, they toasted Citizen Genet, and footsteps; and equally lavish of insult Mountain," "the French war for the and flattery, he filled his diplomatic com- rights of man,” “French virtue, superior munications to the government with patri- to that of Greece or Rome;" and, during otic declamations, afterwards published for the intervals, they passed their judgment the benefit of the people. Even more upon the wisdom or the constitutionality than this, he invaded the sovereignty of of the measures of the national governthe nation, by fitting out and commission- ment; very few of which, however, incuring privateers to cruise against the com- red the disgrace of receiving their appromerce of nations with whom the United val. These societies played an important States were at peace, and also, by getting part in furthering the designs of Genet up an unlawful expedition for the invasion and the French party, but finally died out of the Spanish territories on our southern on the denunciation of the Jacobin clubs border. This obnoxious course of conduct in France, leaving an odor behind, which he pursued, in defiance alike of the rea- long made the name of Democrat an ofsonings and the orders of the government, | fense, even in nostrils familiar with abomifrom the moment he landed at Charleston, nations. up to the period of his recall. Nothing Soon after the conclusion of Genet's misbut the sincere regard entertained by sion, Mr. Jefferson retired from the office Washington for the country thus unwor- of Secretary of State. He had been thily represented, induced him to forbear, called to it chiefly on account of the emias long as he did, with this abuser of na- nent talents before displayed in the service tional hospitality, and fomenter of the vio- of his country, his experience in diplomalence of domestic parties.
cy, and his integrity of character ; but There was not an act, indeed, of Citizen partly, also, from the consonance of his Genet, which was not lauded by the political sentiments with those of that more popular portion of the adherents of large body of citizens, originally opposed France in this country ; but the service for to the Constitution, whose cordial support which they were most indebted to him it was the wish of Washington to obtain was the establishing a batch of Jacobin by the use of every proper instrumentality. Clubs, under the name of Democratic | In accepting the post, he had declared to Societies. They were instituted for the the President, "My only shelter will be purpose of seeing that liberty suffered no the authority of your name, and the wisdetriment under the Administration of dom of measures to be dictated by you George Washington! In their own phrase, and implicitly executed by me.” This dethe motive for their creation was to pre- claration was honorably observed, during serve freedom from the menaces of “ his continuance in office, so much so that “European confederacy transcendent in notwithstanding the Secretary's wellpower and unparalled in iniquity," and known partiality for France, he had conalso against the more insidious attacks of ducted the correspondence with Genet in " the pride of wealth and arrogance of a manner which met the approbation of power” existing in the United States. the friends of the Administration ; and so These clubs were affiliated together; but much so, also, that, on retiring from the they met with a refusal in their applica- cabinet, he carried with him the affectiontion to be admitted to the fellowship of the ate testimonal of Washington, that he had original Jacobin fraternity in Paris, on the discharged his duty with ability and fideli
And the ap
ty. We notice, with the more pleasure, | Nor can we pass from this subject without this honorable conduct of Mr. Jefferson, expressing our disapprobation of another while in office, because we are required, in act of the Secretary of State, when, on rethis essay, to speak disparagingly of his tiring from office, he recommended the course, as the head of the opposition. Attorney General, Mr. Randolph, another There is, indeed, an important distinction chief of the opposition, as a suitable sucto be drawn between the official acts and cessor. This gentleman, previously to his opinions of this distinguished man, both appointment to the former office, had while Secretary of State, and President of earned a distinguished reputation as a juthe United States, and the sentiments rist, and been raised to the highest honors avowed by him in less public and respon- of the State of Virginia, but becoming sible situations. In office, he showed him more interested, after his promotion to the self, for the most part, a conservative place of Secretary, in the success of the statesman; out of office, a thorough-going opposition than of the government of agitator. There was this combination of which he was a confidential adviser, he incharacters in Mr. Jefferson, and it would trigued with the French minister to the be easy to show a corresponding inconsis- ruin of his reputation, traded with mertency running through the writings of the chants and speculators to the loss of his greater portion of his life. In the one fortune, and finally ended his political cacharacter, we find much to approve; in reer with the unenviable distinction of the other, more to condemn. Not that being the first cabinet defaulter. Yet this double nature was kept so separate, among the many records of confidential that the principles by which Mr. Jefferson conversations afterwards published to the was guided, while in possession of place, world in the “Ana,” which reflect no were not somewhat sophisticated by the credit on the recorder, stands the followacts by which he had got, and upon which ing—" I asked him (Washington) whether he partly relied to keep it.
some person could not take my office adinproval above expressed of his conduct, in terim, till he should make an appointment; à subordinate office, both obtained and as Mr. Randolph for instance. "Yes,' says held in honor, still needs some slight qual- he, “but then you would raise the expectaification. For while it cannot fairly be ob- tion of keeping it, and I do not know that jected to the Secretary of State, that he he is fit for it, nor what is thought of Mr. earnestly combated, in the cabinet, the Randolph. I avoided noticing the last principal measures of the domestic policy observation, and he put the question to of the government, there can be no satis me directly. I then told him I went into factory apology made for his maintaining society so litile as to be unable to answer in his department that Frenchman, Fre- it. I knew that the embarrassments in his neau, who, from week to week, filled the private affairs had obliged him to use excolumns of the National Gazette, of which pedients which had injured him with the he was the editor, with the foulest abuse merchants and shopkeepers, and affected of the character, the services, and the ad- his character for independence; that these ministration of Washington. If, as was embarrassments were serious, and not likeoffice was an act of patronage to genius, "The proclamation of neutrality, and the the greater was the shame, for he prosti- measures adopted in maintenance of it, tuted the gifts of God to the service of did not prevent the government of France another than the giver. When Washing from persevering in its efforts to embroil ton complained to his Secretary that there this country in the European quarrel. As had not been a single act of government, faction after faction succeeded to power which this sheet had not endeavored to in Paris, minister after minister came over vilify, the latter, in making note of the to carry out the policy, so successful on conversation, added this comment, “I the other continent, of estranging the peotook his intention to be that I should in- ple from their own government, and thereterpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps by securing the co-operation of the forwithdraw his appointment of translating mer, in spite of the resistance of the latter. clerk to my office. But I will not do it. Unhappily, these efforts were now strongly