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seconded by the unabated hostility mani- | clap ever heard in the galleries of the fested towards this country by the govern- House of Representatives. These Resoment of Great Britain. Still declining to lutions, introduced to put into operation form a treaty of commerce, still holding on the principles contained in the important to the western forts, still promoting through Report made by Mr. Jefferson, just before their agents or their courts Indian hostili- retiring from office, on the commercial reties on our borders, and Bermuda priva- lations of the United States, were designed teering against our commerce, the British to turn, by means of countervailing restricauthorities evinced a disposition to pay tions, the course of American trade from little attention to the rights of any neutral the shores of England to those of France. power, whenever they conflicted with their They were the only important measures plans for distressing the French. They which the opposition party ever took the pretended, with a high hand, to search responsibility of bringing forward in Conour vessels, impress our seamen, and pre- gress during the Administration of Washivent our carrying not only munitions of ington. And they were no more nor less war, but supplies of provisions to the ports than a plan, not to promote the interests of their enemies. To stay the course of of American trade and navigation, at the these aggressions, the American executive expense of those of England, but actually sent in a remonstrance against the cele- to sacrifice them, to no inconsiderable brated British orders in council, and fol- extent, in favor of those of her rival. The lowed it up by urgently recommending to practical effect of their adoption could Congress to take measures for putting the not have been any other than an American country in a state of defense, and for ena- | injury, and a French benefit. Not strictly bling it to maintain its rights upon the war measures, though calculated to in
“There is a rank due to the Uni- volve the country in interminable difficulted States among nations,” said Washing- ties with foreign powers by their factitious ton, " which will be withheld, if not abso- regulations, they may be regarded as a lutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. peaceful method of bestowing such_disiriIf we desire to avoid insult, we must be terested, unmerited favors upon the French able to repel it; if we desire to secure republic as the more violent opponents of peace, one of the most powerful instru- the Administration, out of Congress, were ments of our prosperity, it must be known, clamoring to conser by means of war. that we are at all times ready for war.” We say unmerited favors, because valuaIn harmony with these views, it may be ble as was the aid rendered this country added, the importance of national defense, in the war of the Revolution by the of an armed and disciplined militia, of a French king, that aid was given to humsmall permanent army, of a navy to be ble the power of a rival, rather than to gradually increased, and of a military acad- assist the fortunes of a friend. This was emy, was frequently urged in the executive proved by the testimony of the minister speeches and messages throughout the Ad- of the French republic himself, who, in ministration. Washington was not in fa- order to alienate the attachments of the vor of purchasing peace, whether of Algiers American people from the dethroned monor any other foreign power, by subsidies, arch, produced evidence from the secret but of placing the country in a condi- records of state to show, that Louis XVI. tion in which it could maintain its rights, was as jealous of the growth of the repubwhen peaceful means failed, by force of lic which he assisted, as he was envious arms.
of the dominion of the greater empire While our neutral rights were thus en- which he opposed. croached upon by Great Britain, the oppo- Meanwhile Washington, not thinking it sition party made the land resound with right or becoming for a Christian people clamors for war. The popular excitement, to go to war, without having first resorted having been artfully fomented by the lead to every honorable expedient for effecting ers of faction, now invaded both the halls the recognition of its claims, gladly availed and the lobbies of Congress, and drew out, bimself of an opportunity, furnished by during the debate on Mr. Madison's cele- some intimations from the British govern. brated commercial Resolutions, the first ment that it was disposed to come to an
amicable adjustment of existing difficul- solitary voice crying nay, to petition the ties, to send a special minister of reconcili- President to refuse the treaty his signaation to St. James'. The result of this ture. In all the great towns of the counmission was Jay's treaty, and the preser- | try, there was more or less of mighty vation of peace. By an admirable stroke declamation, with the accompaniments of of policy, the impending perils were avert. hissing, groaning, and whiskey-drinking, ed from the infancy of the republic, and all to confound—a treaty which few read, the opposition party taken by such sur- and fewer still could comprehend. prise, that their cries for letting loose the The Senate, in advising the ratification dogs of war were made suddenly to stick of the treaty, having made an exception in their throats. At the moment they of one article, and the news of the renewal were expecting to carry the country with of the British orders in council
, respecting them, they saw their hopes struck down the carrying of provisions to France, havby a single well-directed blow. But they ing arrived immediately after the Senate's were not long in recovering their self-pos. action, Washington took time to consider session. Having done so, they began what course to pursue under the peculiar with denouncing, in prints and pamphlets, circumstances. The treaty, although it even the attempts to form a treaty of did not secure for this country all the amity with the British tyrant, and declared privileges which were desired, still sacrithat it was allying the republic to the con- ficed none of those actually possessed ; federacy of European kings. But when, and it averted the evils of a war, in which at length, the treaty, negotiated by Mr. the nation had much on the ocean to lose, Jay, having been laid before the Senate much on the land to jeopardize, with the for its approval, its contents were clandes- reasonable prospect of nothing, absolutely tinely given to the public through the nothing to be gained on either. Washingcolumns of the Aurora, the fury of opposi- ton, therefore, resolved to give the treaty tion knew no bounds. Mr. Jefferson, an unconditional ratification, yet accomturning from his “contemplations of the panying it with a remonstrance against tranquil growth of lucerne and potatoes," the obnoxious orders; and the wisdom of led off the hue and cry, by pronouncing his determination is sufficiently evinced the treaty an execrable thing," an “infa- from the fact, that these orders were mous act,” as “ nothing more than a trea- speedily revoked, and that, from that day ty between England and the Anglomen of to this, notwithstanding a war meanwhile of this country against the legislature and waged to obtain by arms the advantages people of the United States. An honor- which it was then found impossible to get by able senator gave it a still more pithy ex- negotiation, the United States have never planation, saying, “'tis a damned thing been able to wrest from the steady, farmade to plague the French.” The popu- seeing, self-aggrandizing policy of Britlace of New York and Philadelphia burned ish councils, any concessions of much imMr. Jay in effigy, and burned a copy of portance beyond those secured by the dihis treaty, in the one city, before his own plomacy of John Jay. During this interval residence, in the other, before that of the of deliberation, however, a very general British minister. In Charleston, the Brit- attempt was made to influence the decision ish flag was dragged through the streets of the Executive, by bringing to bear upon in derision. Somewhere in the Old Do it the full force of the then prevailing minion, a newspaper was heard to raise popular sentiment. Under those trying its voice, and advise the State, in case circumstances, the views of duty taken by the treaty should be ratified, to retire Washington so well illustrate the spirit by from the Union. A Democratic Society which he was always animated in adminin South Carolina felt itself moved to istering the government, as to entitle them affirm, that if it should appear that Mr. to be stated in his own words. They may Jay had negotiated the treaty “of and be found in his reply to the letter of the from himself,” it would “lament the want selectmen of Boston, the concluding part of a guillotine.” The good people of Bos- of which is as follows: "Without a preton, irate beyond their ordinary habit, as. dilection for my own judgment, I have sembled in town-meeting, and voted, one weighed with attention every argument, which has at any time been brought into | zens by whose patriotic efforts, especially, view. But the Constitution is the guide the free institutions of the country had which I can never abandon. It has as- been obtained, and by whose right-minded signed to the President the power of mak- principles only, they could securely be ing treaties, with the advice and consent of maintained. To no such constituency had the Senate. It was doubtless supposed, that the Constitution given authority to comthese two branches of government would pel the chief magistrate in the performcombine, without passion, and with the ance of his duty. Therefore, after harbest means of information, those facts and ing obtained all the information within principles, upon which the success of our his reach, and regarding impartially the foreiga relations will always depend; that true interests of his country, his whole they ought not to substitute for their own country, and nothing but his country, conviction the opinions of others, or to Washington always took the responsiseek truth through any channel but that bility of shaping his official conduct acof a temperate and well-formed investi- cording to the dictates of the laws, of gation. Under this persuasion, I have re- his own best judgment, and of a pure solved on the manner of executing the duty conscience. before me. To the high responsibility at- But the perplexing trial to which the tached to it, I freely submit; and you, British treaty subjected the head of the gentlemen, are at liberty to make these government did not end with its ratificasentiments known as the grounds of my tion.
tion. The opposition, after having burned procedure. While I feel the most lively Mr. Jay in effigy for negotiating it, charged gratitude for the many instances of appro- the Senate with downright corruption for bation from my country, I can no other approving it, and pronounced Washington wise deserve it, than by obeying the dic-a dotard and a dupe for signing it, had yet tates of my conscience.” Washington one more chance of success, and one more always gave a courteous reception and a opportunity for calumny. The treaty had courteous reply to the expressions of pub- been ratified and published as the law of lic opinion, which, from time to time, were the land, but the action of the House of made to him respecting the manner in Representatives was still necessary for which he ought to fulfil the duties of the carrying it into effect. The House, therepresidency. He cheerfully received in fore, had it in its power to repudiate the formation from all sources. He sincerely act of the other branches of the governdesired to know the real wishes of his felment, by which the faith of the nation low citizens, and so to conduct himself in had been pledged, according to the prooffice as to obtain the approbation of the visions of the Constitution, to a foreign wisest and the best of them. But to ascer- power and before the world. This it was tain what were the settled convictions of proposed to do. Great activity was disthe great body of the American people, he played by the leaders of the party to cause looked first and chiefly to the Constitution, petitions to be sent in to the House of which they themselves had made and or- Representatives, praying that the treaty dained, through the instrumentality of might not be carried into execution. Emminds the most sagacious, the most pa boldened by the result of these efforts, the triotic, and the most virtuous in the land. members of the House, opposed to the Not to the resolves of the Democratic | Administration, proceeded to carry out societies, not to the resolutions of casual their plan by calling on the President for assemblages of citizens, not to the coun- copies of all the documents relating to sels of ambitious leaders of party, or the negotiation. This was done with the to the declamations of violent stirrers-up avowed design of enabling the House to of the populace, not to momentary pas- bring the treaty into judgment, and to desions or to inveterate prejudices, to local cide, on its merits, whether or not to wishes or personal caprices, to new-fangled sanction it. The doctrine set up was, in opinions or abstract theories, to foreign the words of Mr. Jefferson, addressed to wiles or domestic treason, did Washing- William B. Giles, “that when a treaty is ton look to learn what was the common made, involving matters confided by the Consense and will of that great mass of citi- stitution to the three branches of the Legis
lature conjointly, the Representatives are casion for representing him as not respectas free as the President and the Senate ing the wishes of the people expressed by were, to consider whether the national | their agents in the legislature, and furnish interest requires or forbids their giving the a pretext for the insinuation that circumforms and the force of law to the articles stances had occurred in the negotiation over which they have a power.” The ex- which the Administration feared to have pediency of exercising this power, in the exposed. But, on the other hand, Washpresent instance, was also urged from ington very well knew that an attempt had Monticello, in a letter to a fellow-laborer in been expressly made in the Convention the Senate, Colonel Monroe, on the ground which framed the Constitution, to confer that, “on the precedent now to be set, upon the House of Representatives a share will depend the future construction of our of the treaty-making power, as now claimed Constitution, and whether the powers of by it, and been defeated. The terms of legislation shall be transferred from the the Constitution confining this power exPresident, Senate and House of Repre-clusively to the President and Senate were sentatives to the President and Senate, plain and explicit. The general policy of and Piamingo or any other Indian, Alge- this provision was perfectly clear to his rine or other chief. It is fortunate that the mind. The precedents already established first decision is to be in a case so palpably by the action of the House, in carrying atrocious, as to have been predetermined into effect treaties before made without by all America.” Equally earnest were their co-operation, could not be disputed. Mr. Jefferson's representations of the duty Following, therefore, the simple direction devolving upon the popular branch of the adopted by him in signing the treaty, that legislature, addressed to one of its leaders, “there is but one straight course, and that Mr. Madison. “I see not much harm is to seek truth and pursue it steadily," in annihilating the whole treaty-making he refused to comply with the request of power, except as to making peace. If the Representatives. He gave
his reasons you decide in favor of your right to refuse for his refusal, concluding with the words co-operation in any case of treaty, I should following : “As, therefore, it is perfectly wonder on what occasion it is to be used, clear to my understanding, that the asif not in one where the rights, the inter- sent of the House of Representatives is ests, the honor and faith of our nation are not necessary to the validity of a treaty ; so grossly sacrificed; where a faction has as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits, entered into a conspiracy with the enemies in itself, all the objects requiring legislaof their country to chain down the legis- tive provision, and on these the papers lature at the feet of both; when the whole called for can throw no light; and as it is mass of your constituents have condemned essential to the due administration of the this work in the most unequivocal manner, government, that the boundaries fixed by and are looking to you as their last hope the Constitution between the different deto save them from the effects of the ava- partments, should be preserved; a just rice and the corruption of the first agent, regard to the Constitution and to the duty the revolutionary machinations, and the of my office, under all the circumstances incomprehensible acquiescence of the only of this case, forbids a compliance with honest man who has assented to it. I your request.' wish that his honesty and his political Thus did Washington, desirous as he errors may not furnish a second occasion was of gaining the approbation of his to exclaim, Curse on his virtues, they countrymen, put his whole popularity to have undone his country.”” The call for hazard, rather than swerve, but a hair's the papers, thus strongly advised, was breadth, from the line of duty. The remade; and being sustained by a large ward of his well-doing followed sooner majority in the House, and by its apparent than was expected. After time had been popularity with the people, placed Wash- given for fully discussing and reflecting ington in a delicate position. If taking upon the treaty, it turned out that the the opposition party a second time by noise of the partisans was not the voice of surprise, he should refuse to comply with the country. The yeomanry of the land *he request of the House, it might give oc- aroused at length by the general vociferation, and still more by the firmness mani- | public career. One great duty still refested by Washington amid the violence mained to be done. It was to give his of adversaries, and the silence of friends, parting counsels to the country which he for the moment overpowered, took their had so truly loved and cherished, served turn at petitioning, and sent into the House and saved. such an array of names, as supported by But the Farewell Address of the Father the eloquence of Fisher Ames, so far of his country is still so generally and broke down the spirit of the opposition as affectionately kept in the memory of the to obtain a partial withdrawal of the pre- | American people, that it is not necessary tensions of the Representatives, and the here to dwell on its doctrines. They were passage, by a small majority, of the neces- the same as the principles of his Adminissary laws for carrying the treaty into oper-tration, which we have endeavored briefly ation.
to delineate. With a wisdom which time This last and crowning measure of the has hallowed, while it has not surpassed, foreign policy of the Administration, put he urged first upon his countrymen the off the war with Great Britain until the importance of the union of the States, year 1812.
If it furnished a pretext for saying, “ It is of infinite moment, that you those outrages of the French government should properly estimate the immense on American commerce and American value of your national union to your colcitizens, which afterwards jeopardized the lective and individual happiness ; that you peace of the country, it was only owing to should cherish a cordial, habitual, and the culpable backwardness of Mr. Monroe immovable attachment to it; accustoming to explain the views of the Administration yourselves to think and speak of it as of in negotiating a treaty to which he was the palladium of your political safety and himself opposed, together with that reck- prosperity ; watching for its preservation less disregard of right, and thirst for with jealous anxiety; discountenancing plunder, which characterized the rise and whatever may suggest even a suspicion, fall of what was called the Republic of that it can in any event be abandoned ; France. The long wished for period, and indignantly frowning upon the first therefore had now arrived, when the new dawning of every attempt to alienate any ly launched vessel of the American State, portion of our country from the rest, or to having been safely conducted out of port, enfeeble the sacred ties which now link and ridden out the storms, not a spar together the various parts." Besides these gone, which had greeted her appearance means for preserving the unity of the naon the ocean she was destined so proudly tion, Washington habitually insisted upon to sail, the pilot felt at liberty to leave the duty of every citizen to stand by the the helm. It was the wish, it is believed, Constitution, and the government estabof a large majority of the people that lished under it, respecting its authority, Washington should continue in office still complying with its laws, and discounteanother term. He was pressed by nu- nancing not only all acts of direct dismerous solicitations to do so. But the obedience, all associations designed to critical period of the national affairs, which counteract or control the action of the conhad induced him to accept a second elec- stituted authorities, but also that spirit of tion, was overpassed. Neither Mr. Jeffer- innovation, which, under the forms of law, son nor any one else any longer “trembled” might insidiously undermine those great for the success of the experiment of self- pillars of the State, which it could not government. He had even gone so far presume directly to overthrow. Against as to declare, two years before, that the the baneful effects of party spirit, and the President was “getting into his dotage.” insidious wiles of foreign influence, he also But it was in the prime of a vigor which raised his warning voice. Would that it death alone could abate, although more had been better heeded! The danger, wearied, indeed, by the contests and too, of a despotic usurpation of power by calumnies of party than when he had be any single department of government enfore retired from service against the ene- croaching upon the others, was pointed mies of his country in the field, that out by the President, who never but once Washington now prepared to close up his applied his veto ; and also, of becoming