Page images
PDF
EPUB

fore 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

upon

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

[ocr errors]

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

2

an

VOL. IV.

NO. I.

NEW SERIES.

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

ocean,

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,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »