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ty. We notice, with the more pleasure, this honorable conduct of Mr. Jefferson, while in office, because we are required, in this essay, to speak disparagingly of his course, as the head of the opposition. There is, indeed, an important distinction to be drawn between the official acts and opinions of this distinguished man, both while Secretary of State, and President of the United States, and the sentiments avowed by him in less public and responsible situations. In office, he showed himself, for the most part, a conservative statesman; out of office, a thorough-going agitator. There was this combination of characters in Mr. Jefferson, and it would be easy to show a corresponding inconsistency running through the writings of the greater portion of his life. In the one character, we find much to approve; in the other, more to condemn. Not that this double nature was kept so separate, that the principles by which Mr. Jefferson was guided, while in possession of place, were not somewhat sophisticated by the acts by which he had got, and upon which he partly relied to keep it. And the approval above expressed of his conduct, in a subordinate office, both obtained and held in honor, still needs some slight qualification. For while it cannot fairly be objected to the Secretary of State, that he earnestly combated, in the cabinet, the principal measures of the domestic policy of the government, there can be no satisfactory apology made for his maintaining in his department that Frenchman, Freneau, who, from week to week, filled the columns of the National Gazette, of which he was the editor, with the foulest abuse of the character, the services, and the administration of Washington. If, as was alleged in excuse, the keeping this man in office was an act of patronage to genius, the greater was the shame, for he prostituted the gifts of God to the service of another than the giver. When Washington complained to his Secretary that there had not been a single act of government, which this sheet had not endeavored to vilify, the latter, in making note of the conversation, added this comment, "I took his intention to be that I should interpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk to my office. But I will not do it."
Nor can we pass from this subject without expressing our disapprobation of another act of the Secretary of State, when, on retiring from office, he recommended the Attorney General, Mr. Randolph, another chief of the opposition, as a suitable successor. This gentleman, previously to his appointment to the former office, had earned a distinguished reputation as a jurist, and been raised to the highest honors of the State of Virginia, but becoming more interested, after his promotion to the place of Secretary, in the success of the opposition than of the government of which he was a confidential adviser, he intrigued with the French minister to the ruin of his reputation, traded with merchants and speculators to the loss of his fortune, and finally ended his political career with the unenviable distinction of being the first cabinet defaulter. Yet among the many records of confidential conversations afterwards published to the world in the "Ana," which reflect no credit on the recorder, stands the following-" I asked him (Washington) whether some person could not take my office ad interim, till he should make an appointment; as Mr. Randolph for instance. Yes,' says he, but then you would raise the expectation of keeping it, and I do not know that he is fit for it, nor what is thought of Mr. Randolph.' I avoided noticing the last observation, and he put the question to me directly. I then told him I went into society so little as to be unable to answer it. I knew that the embarrassments in his private affairs had obliged him to use expedients which had injured him with the merchants and shopkeepers, and affected his character for independence; that these embarrassments were serious, and not likely to cease soon."
The proclamation of neutrality, and the measures adopted in maintenance of it, did not prevent the government of France from persevering in its efforts to embroil this country in the European quarrel. As faction after faction succeeded to power in Paris, minister after minister came over to carry out the policy, so successful on the other continent, of estranging the people from their own government, and thereby securing the co-operation of the former, in spite of the resistance of the latter. Unhappily, these efforts were now strongly
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 Washvent 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 inocean. "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. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war." In harmony with these views, it may be added, the importance of national defense, of an armed and disciplined militia, of a small permanent army, of a navy to be gradually increased, and of a military academy, was frequently urged in the executive speeches and messages throughout the Administration. Washington was not in favor of purchasing peace, whether of Algiers or any other foreign power, by subsidies, but of placing the country in a condition in which it could maintain its rights, when peaceful means failed, by force of
While our neutral rights were thus encroached upon by Great Britain, the opposition party made the land resound with clamors for war. The popular excitement, having been artfully fomented by the leaders of faction, now invaded both the halls and the lobbies of Congress, and drew out, during the debate on Mr. Madison's celebrated commercial Resolutions, the first
peaceful method of bestowing such disinterested, unmerited favors upon the French republic as the more violent opponents of the Administration, out of Congress, were clamoring to confer by means of war. We say unmerited favors, because valuable as was the aid rendered this country in the war of the Revolution by the French king, that aid was given to humble the power of a rival, rather than to assist the fortunes of a friend. This was proved by the testimony of the minister of the French republic himself, who, in order to alienate the attachments of the American people from the dethroned monarch, produced evidence from the secret records of state to show, that Louis XVI. was as jealous of the growth of the republic which he assisted, as he was envious of the dominion of the greater empire which he opposed.
Meanwhile Washington, not thinking it right or becoming for a Christian people to go to war, without having first resorted to every honorable expedient for effecting the recognition of its claims, gladly availed himself of an opportunity, furnished by some intimations from the British government that it was disposed to come to an
solitary voice crying nay, to petition the President to refuse the treaty his signature. In all the great towns of the country, there was more or less of mighty declamation, with the accompaniments of hissing, groaning, and whiskey-drinking, all to confound-a treaty which few read, and fewer still could comprehend.
amicable adjustment of existing difficulties, to send a special minister of reconciliation to St. James'. The result of this mission was Jay's treaty, and the preservation of peace. By an admirable stroke of policy, the impending perils were averted from the infancy of the republic, and the opposition party taken by such surprise, 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 its voice, and advise the State, in case the treaty should be ratified, to retire from the Union. A Democratic Society in South Carolina felt itself moved to affirm, that if it should appear that Mr. Jay had negotiated the treaty "of and from himself," it would "lament the want of a guillotine." The good people of Boston, irate beyond their ordinary habit, assembled in town-meeting, and voted, one
popular sentiment. Under those trying circumstances, the views of duty taken by Washington so well illustrate the spirit by which he was always animated in administering the government, as to entitle them to be stated in his own words. They may be found in his reply to the letter of the selectmen of Boston, the concluding part of which is as follows: "Without a predilection for my own judgment, I have 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 which I can never abandon. It has assigned to the President the power of making treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It was doubtless supposed, that these two branches of government would combine, without passion, and with the best means of information, those facts and principles, upon which the success of our foreign relations will always depend; that they ought not to substitute for their own conviction the opinions of others, or to seek truth through any channel but that of a temperate and well-formed investigation. Under this persuasion, I have resolved on the manner of executing the duty before me. To the high responsibility attached to it, I freely submit; and you, gentlemen, are at liberty to make these sentiments known as the grounds of my procedure. While I feel the most lively gratitude for the many instances of approbation from my country, I can no otherwise deserve it, than by obeying the dictates of my conscience." Washington always gave a courteous reception and a courteous reply to the expressions of public opinion, which, from time to time, were made to him respecting the manner in which he ought to fulfil the duties of the presidency. He cheerfully received information from all sources. He sincerely desired to know the real wishes of his fellow citizens, and so to conduct himself in office as to obtain the approbation of the wisest and the best of them. But to ascertain what were the settled convictions of the great body of the American people, he looked first and chiefly to the Constitution, which they themselves had made and ordained, through the instrumentality of minds the most sagacious, the most patriotic, and the most virtuous in the land. Not to the resolves of the Democratic societies, not to the resolutions of casual assemblages of citizens, not to the counsels of ambitious leaders of party, or to the declamations of violent stirrers-up of the populace, not to momentary passions or to inveterate prejudices, to local wishes or personal caprices, to new-fangled opinions or abstract theories, to foreign wiles or domestic treason, did Washington look to learn what was the common sense and will of that great mass of citi
the free institutions of the country had been obtained, and by whose right-minded principles only, they could securely be maintained. To no such constituency had the Constitution given authority to compel the chief magistrate in the performance of his duty. Therefore, after having obtained all the information within his reach, and regarding impartially the true interests of his country, his whole country, and nothing but his country, Washington always took the responsibility of shaping his official conduct according to the dictates of the laws, of his own best judgment, and of a pure conscience.
But the perplexing trial to which the British treaty subjected the head of the government did not end with its ratification. The opposition, after having burned Mr. Jay in effigy for negotiating it, charged the Senate with downright corruption for approving it, and pronounced Washington a dotard and a dupe for signing it, had yet one more chance of success, and one more opportunity for calumny. The treaty had been ratified and published as the law of the land, but the action of the House of Representatives was still necessary for carrying it into effect. The House, therefore, had it in its power to repudiate the act of the other branches of the government, by which the faith of the nation had been pledged, according to the provisions of the Constitution, to a foreign power and before the world. This it was proposed to do. Great activity was displayed by the leaders of the party to cause petitions to be sent in to the House of Representatives, praying that the treaty might not be carried into execution. Emboldened by the result of these efforts, the members of the House, opposed to the Administration, proceeded to carry out their plan by calling on the President for copies of all the documents relating to the negotiation. This was done with the avowed design of enabling the House to bring the treaty into judgment, and to decide, on its merits, whether or not to sanction it. The doctrine set up was, in the words of Mr. Jefferson, addressed to William B. Giles, "that when a treaty is made, involving matters confided by the Constitution to the three branches of the Legis
lature conjointly, the Representatives are as free as the President and the Senate were, to consider whether the national interest requires or forbids their giving the forms and the force of law to the articles over which they have a power." The expediency of exercising this power, in the present instance, was also urged from Monticello, in a letter to a fellow-laborer in the Senate, Colonel Monroe, on the ground that, "on the precedent now to be set, will depend the future construction of our Constitution, and whether the powers of legislation shall be transferred from the President, Senate and House of Representatives to the President and Senate, and Piamingo or any other Indian, Algerine or other chief. It is fortunate that the first decision is to be in a case so palpably atrocious, as to have been predetermined by all America." Equally earnest were Mr. Jefferson's representations of the duty devolving upon the popular branch of the legislature, addressed to one of its leaders, Mr. Madison. "I see not much harm in annihilating the whole treaty-making power, except as to making peace. If you decide in favor of your right to refuse co-operation in any case of treaty, I should wonder on what occasion it is to be used, if not in one where the rights, the interests, the honor and faith of our nation are so grossly sacrificed; where a faction has entered into a conspiracy with the enemies of their country to chain down the legislature at the feet of both; when the whole mass of your constituents have condemned this work in the most unequivocal manner, and are looking to you as their last hope to save them from the effects of the avarice and the corruption of the first agent, the revolutionary machinations, and the incomprehensible acquiescence of the only honest man who has assented to it. I wish that his honesty and his political errors may not furnish a second occasion to exclaim, Curse on his virtues, they have undone his country."" The call for the papers, thus strongly advised, was made; and being sustained by a large majority in the House, and by its apparent popularity with the people, placed Washington in a delicate position. If taking the opposition party a second time by surprise, he should refuse to comply with the request of the House, it might give oc
casion for representing him as not respecting the wishes of the people expressed by their agents in the legislature, and furnish a pretext for the insinuation that circumstances had occurred in the negotiation which the Administration feared to have exposed. But, on the other hand, Washington very well knew that an attempt had been expressly made in the Convention which framed the Constitution, to confer upon the House of Representatives a share of the treaty-making power, as now claimed by it, and been defeated. The terms of the Constitution confining this power exclusively to the President and Senate were plain and explicit. The general policy of this provision was perfectly clear to his mind. The precedents already established by the action of the House, in carrying into effect treaties before made without their co-operation, could not be disputed. Following, therefore, the simple direction. adopted by him in signing the treaty, that "there is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily," he refused to comply with the request of the Representatives. He gave his reasons for his refusal, concluding with the words following: "As, therefore, it is perfectly clear to my understanding, that the assent of the House of Representatives is not necessary to the validity of a treaty; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits, in itself, all the objects requiring legislative provision, and on these the papers called for can throw no light; and as it is essential to the due administration of the government, that the boundaries fixed by the Constitution between the different departments, should be preserved; a just regard to the Constitution and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances of this case, forbids a compliance with your request."
Thus did Washington, desirous as he was of gaining the approbation of his countrymen, put his whole popularity to hazard, rather than swerve, but a hair's breadth, from the line of duty. The reward of his well-doing followed sooner than was expected. After time had been given for fully discussing and reflecting upon the treaty, it turned out that the noise of the partisans was not the voice of the country. The yeomanry of the land aroused at length by the general vocifera