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tions, to the establishment of which he had gradually drawn to itself all the more devoted his life, and in the perpetuity of impetuous passions of his being, as a great which he ever kept a cheerful, though river its tributaries, and now bore onward duly chastened, faith.
its accumulated currents with a flow so Washington, with the modesty charac-even and placid, as to inexperienced eyes teristic of the noblest minds, which are to appear almost destitute of motion. always more deeply impressed with the Amongst the first duties of the Presigreatness of their task, than the measure dent, immediately after his inauguration, of their abilities, expressed the same was the perplexing one of nominating the doubts of his qualifications, in entering necessary officers for the new government. upon the office of President of the United Even before leaving Mount Vernon, the Siates, which he had done in accepting President elect had been overwhelmed that of commander in chief of the Amer- with the applications of candidates for ican armies. But his civil, no less than almost all kinds of offices; and they did his military talents, were of the highest not cease to flow in upon him, after his order. From the camp, he brought arrival at the seat of government. But to the cabinet a knowledge of the art he early adopted some general rules reof governing the wills and the passions specting appointments, which relieved him, of men; he brought those crowning qual- in a degree, of the onerous pressure of ities of a governor of a state, “the spirit this branch of his responsibilities. In the of command, tempered by the spirit of first place, he established the principle, meekness;" he brought the wisdom re- that he would give no encouragement sulting from a long experience in the whatever to any applicant for office, premanagement of important affairs ; he viously to the time of filling of such office. brought the habit of accomplishing great For a short period after his election, civil national objects by the compromise of answers were given to all letters containlocal interests, of balancing conflicting ing applications; but the amount of time motives and opinions, of accepting the thereby consumed soon compelled him to highest, even dictatorial powers, and yet return no replies, except in peculiar cases. of limiting their exercise by the laws, the When the time for making an appointment fears and the prejudices of his country arrived, he made up his mind respecting men. Without being familiar with the it from all the information in his possesdetails of law-making, he nevertheless sion, without fear or favor, with a single entered upon office with well-settled opin- eye to the promotion of the national interions as to what should be the general ests, and a desire to distribute the appolicy of the new government. A short pointments, in as equal a proportion as time after his election, he wrote to La- was practicable, to persons belonging to fayette, “My endeavors shall be unre- the different States in the Union. mittingly exerted, even at the hazard of cases where the other pretensions of the former fame or present popularity, to ex- candidates were equal, the peculiar necestricate my country from the embarrass- sities of those who had honorably suffered ments in which it is entangled through the cause of liberty, but never of those want of credit; and to establish a general who were bankrupt in both fame and forsystem of policy, which, if pursued, will tune, were taken into favorable considerensure permanent felicity to the common- ation. Political reasons also contributed wealth.' I think I see a path as clear and their just weight in determining his deas direct as a ray of light, which leads to cisions, for he laid great stress upon the the attainment of that object.” But more influence which his appointments would valuable still, if possible, than these quali- bring to the support of the Constitution, fications, was the “honest zeal,” to the then just established after the most bitter possession of which, in entering upon the and pertinacious opposition. From this direction of federal affairs, he laid the reason, as well as in pursuance of the rules most explicit claim; more precious still, above prescribed, the persons endowed that ardent love of country, which having with the honors of office, at the beginning been developed and severely disciplined of the government, were selected from by the whole course of his previous life, that "aristocracy of virtue and talent,
which,” said Mr. Jefferson, “nature has suing; for this, in my opinion, would be wisely provided for the direction of the a sort of political suicide. That it would interests of society, and scattered with embarrass its movements, is most certain.” equal hand through all its conditions.” During the second term of his AdminisAfter three years' experience in the war tration, the observance of this rule led to of independence, and learning upon whom no little difficulty in finding out, and prehe could, and whom he could not rely, vailing upon, fit characters to fill the more Washington had given the order, " Take important offices. It occasioned, also, the none but gentlemen for officers.” And exercise of the power of removal, in a having continued to find that, in the army, very signal instance—in the recall of Col. the officers, and in civil life, the magis- Monroe from the post of minister in Paris, trates, the rich planters, the leading mer- for lack of zeal in carrying out the plans chants, were the most ardent and firm of the Executive, at a critical period of friends of liberty, and that it was mainly international relations. It led, likewise, at by their example and counsels, that the about the same time, to the formation of a great mass of the people could be pre- cabinet composed not, as at first, of the vailed upon to adhere steadfastly to the representatives of opposite political senticause of independence, the first President ments, but of subordinates all holding earnestly desired to enlist the services of views in entire consonance with those of men connected with the former classes, their chief. Wisely tolerant of political in executing the trusts of the Constitu- differences as was the President, in the tion. Through the influence of such offi- exercise of the powers of appointment cers and supporters, he felt convinced, the and removal, he was nevertheless comnew system of government would most pelled, as the opposition to his governsurely draw to itself the confidence and ment grew more and more violent, to seek the affections of the whole people. the aid, particularly in the higher execu
These were the principles adopted by tive offices, of such persons as were inWashington in deciding between the com- clined heartily to further the measures petitors for vacant offices. But where and the purposes of the Administration. offices were established by the Constitution In putting the new government into corresponding to those already in existence operation, there were many preliminary under the Confederation, the former were arrangements to be made by the President, invariably filled with the incumbents of besides that of supplying it with officers. the latter, provided these were unexcep- of all the points decided and precedents tionable in character and conduct. The set by Washington, in regulating the exprinciple of promotion, rather than of ro- ecutive departments, determining the relatation in office, was favored throughout tions of the executive to the other branches the first Administration. Washington of government, and in prescribing various never removed an officer for the expres- important rules of executive action, it sion of political opinions. Anxious as he would be impossible for us to speak in was, however, to obtain for the Constitu- detail. Yet several important principles, tion the support of those persons distin- settled in these introductory labors, deguished for talents and patriotism, who serve to be noted. The executive departhad been unfriendly to its adoption, and ments of government established by Conalso to conciliate individuals of similar gress during its first session, which were character, who afterwards became opposed almost entirely of American origin, and, to his Administration, he invariably refused with few alterations, have since been adto call them to office, unless there appeared hered to, were framed in accordance with to be sufficient reason for believing that the well-known views of the President, they would lend an honest support to the who regarded the substitution of the pringovernment. “I shall not,” said he inciple of individual responsibility, in the 1795, “whilst I have the honor to ad- place of the divided accountability of the minister the government, bring a man into former boards and committees, as absoan office of consequence, knowingly, whose lutely essential to an efficient and pure political tenets are adverse to the measures administration of the government.
He which the general government are pur-saw, also, the vital importance, in a system of free institutions, of as general an government in all its relations, foreign and application of this principle, as was con domestic, the President adopted the plan sistent with their general character; for he of setting apart an hour in the morning of saw that in proportion as personal respon- one day in the week, for the reception of sibility is weakened by the action of men visits of ceremony. Public officers and in large numbers, whether it be in the citizens, having important business, could halls of legislation, in the ranks of parties, be admitted to an interview, by appointin societies instituted for political purposes, ment, at all seasonable times. But Washin such casual assemblages even as riots ington did not expect any person to call and mass meetings, are the obligations of upon him on business, without an urgent public law, and the dictates of private reason; nor on ceremony, without a proper conscience, alikc, apt to be lost sight of.- introduction. To obtain the necessary Another important principle, early es- time for the transaction of public business tablished, was, that in all intercourse with was not, however, the only object of these foreign powers, the President was to be and similar regulations; another of no regarded as the head of the nation, in as little importance, in the estimation of high a sense, as the crowned potentates of Washington, was, to maintain by such Europe were of theirs. Accordingly, when simple forms, as were consistent with the French minister, in New York, think republican manners, the proper dignity of ing to obtain some advantage, made re- the office of chief magistrate. The first peated endeavors to open negotiations President always held, that the paying a directly with the chief of the State, the due respect to all persons clothed with latter insisted upon referring the minister high authority by the laws, was no less a to his Secretary, as the medium of com- point in good republicanism, than in good munication analogous to that recognized manners; and that it aided materially in at foreign courts. Thus, also, it was keeping alive that spirit of loyalty to the claimed by the President, that no direct laws themselves, on which depends the communications could be made by other healthful condition of a free State. In governments to either of the branches of this matter, he coincided in opinion with Congress; but only through the Executive, the benevolent founder of Pennsylvania, as the appointed representative of the who in drawing up a frame of fundamental national sovereignty. Besides determining law for that colony, declared the end of the relation of the chief magistrate to the government to be, “ to support power in other branches of the government, and to reverence with the people, and to secure foreign states, there remained the delicate the people from the abuse of power.” task of adopting some rules to govern his It will be borne in mind, in entering intercourse with the people. The necessity upon an examination of the first Adminisof these soon became obvious from the tration, that, at its commencement, the fact, that, from morning to afternoon, the Constitution was but a system of abstract doors of the President were besieged by rules, a theory of government, adopted in persons calling for the purpose of for- the place of a not dissimilar one which had warding small personal interests, for the failed, and adopted, too, not without the sake of which the great ones of the com- determined hostility of a very large minority munity were to be deferred, or merely for of the citizens. It was not then supported the purpose of paying their respects, when, by the affections of the people; it had to in a large number of instances, it would acquire them. It was not held fast in its have been more respectful to have re- place of supremacy by the cords of old mained at home. To save from these in- associations, of established habits, of settled trusions of petty concerns, and mistaken and successful policy; it had to wait for civility, sufficient time for his arduous the slow hand of time to weave them. public labors, among which, at this period, The hopes of the nation were set upon the was included such a thorough study of successful or the unsuccessful issue of a the detailed reports of the secretaries of novel experiment. The opposition to its foreign affairs, of war, and of the treasury adoption had been led not only by the board, as was necessary to make him com- demagogues, who had most to hope from pletely acquainted with the state of the 1 a state approaching to anarchy, instead of
one conformed to law, but also by many | true interests of the nation, would also tried patriots of distinguished reputation, ultimately bring about the greatest unawho feared from its ascendancy the annihi- nimity of sentiment and action. The purlation of the separate governments of the pose of Washington was right; his means States. Many of the former class wished were legitimate. the new government no good; many of To “ establish justice,” was declared to both loudly prophesied its speedy failure be another of the principal objects of the to promote the prosperity of the country; people of the United States, in ordaining and some had adopted the policy of ac- and establishing their Constitution. And cepting office under it with a view of to this declaration the circumstances of gradually robbing it of its authority, as the country gave such an emphasis, that that of the Old Congress had before been it was adopted by Washington as another absorbed by the States. In taking the of the chief guides of his Administration. helm of affairs, under such circumstances, At the time it was made, both the Union Washington made that which was the and the different States were deeply inleading object of the Constitution, the volved in debts, incurred in the proseculeading object of his Administration—"to tion of a war, the charges of which had form à more perfect union." From his been greatly above the actual resources, first political act to his last, he never lost though not the certain prospects of the sight of this. His ruling purpose and country. Individuals, likewise, from north hope, was, to bind together in bands to south, owed large sums for manufacwhich time could not break, but could tured goods, imported from Europe, both only strengthen, all the original members before and after the war, at which periods of the confederation who had striven to the system of exchanging American progether for freedom, and those wanderers, ducts for foreign manufactures kept the also, who, from the oppressed nations of balance of trade constantly against us. the earth, should seek out this poor man's The indebtedness of the country was so inheritance, to till and to possess it, that great, in fact, that all that portion of the they all might have “one country, one inhabitants who were poorly supplied with Constitution, one destiny."* By every moral courage, or honest principle, as well word and deed, therefore, he endeavored as ready resources, were disposed to disto allay the violence of anti-federal oppo-charge their obligations by a general sition, and to conciliate the minds of men bankruptcy. A repudiating party sprang of all classes in favor of the plan of up in the States.* A kind of civil war was government, which had been framed by waged by debtors against creditors, in the the best wisdom of the country: Partly progress of which the former endeavored with this design, he called to his cabinet to carry their points, by bringing the such friends of State rights as Thomas courts of justice and the ministers of the Jefferson and Edmund Randolph, the for- law into popular disfavor, and, finally, bemer of whom had at first been opposed came involved, in Massachusetts, in an open to the unconditional adoption of the Con- rebellion, which demanded the confiscastitution, and had afterwards only so far tion of debts, a release from taxes, the modified his opinions, as to give it a continuation of a depreciated currency, and guarded approval
. Yet it was no part of an equal distribution of property. The Washington's intention to court favor for success of this party in some of the States, the Constitution by any sacrifice of its and the fear of its triumph in others, had principles, or lowering of its tone. On destroyed, previously to the formation of the contrary, he rested his hopes of pro- the new Constitution, nearly all credit, moting the indissoluble union of the States both public and private. It had defeated on a strictly constitutional administration the recommendations of Congress for of the government, as firm as it should be raising a revenue by imposts, making conciliatory. For he justly judged that them a by-word and a mockery through an uniformly decided, but temperate poli- the land. It had confirmed the demoralcy, being best calculated to advance the izing tendencies, which a long war, and a
* Daniel Webster.
* Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. 2, p. 103.
depreciated currency had developed in 50- | children, in the days of their prosperity,
society, had done much towards undermin- might look back to the efforts of its ing that basis of common honesty on early manhood, and feel no shame. which alone the superstructure of free in- The party in favor of “establishing jusstitutions can securely stand, and, finally, tice” having prevailed over the advocates had united with the friends of disunion in of repudiation and disunion, in the vote on forming an anti-federal party, for the pur- the adoption of the Constitution; the pose of preventing the adoption of the President, with the design of pursuing a federal Constitution by the people. financial policy, which should secure to
Washington was not a member of the the country the fruits of that triumph, party of repudiation. He was the head called to the head of the Department of and front of those, who, from the begin the Treasury the sterling integrity and ning, had opposed every attempt to make transcendent abilities of Alexander Hamilthe depreciated paper of the States a legal ton. As, however, this brilliant ornament tender in the payment of debts, due in a of his country's early history was charged sound currency; who struggled through by the opponents of the Administration all adverse circumstances for the exact with anti-republicanism, and as this old observance of both public and private en-calumny still continues to be rolled, as a gagements; who were in favor of main- sweet morsel, under the tongues of those taining the regular administration of jus- who claim to be their political descendtice, of sustaining a system of taxation as ants * it
proper here to give it a vigorous as the resources of the country passing notice. Yet suffice it to state would reasonably bear, and of supplying simply the ground of the charge, and its the insufficiency of the revenues thus ac- refutation. In the discussions of abstract quired, by pledging in security those pros- principles of government, so prevalent at pects of the nation, which were scarcely the time of the establishment of republiless valuable than actual possessions. can institutions in this country, and in While their opponents proposed to cure France, Hamilton, on the one hand, avowthe ills of the times by the counter prac-ed in the society of his intimate friends the tice of inflicting such ills as the continued opinion, that no nation had ever possessed emission of paper money, the delay of le- a political system, so nearly approaching gal proceedings, the withholding of taxes, to perfection, as the British ; and, on the the refusal of the stipulated pay of the other, he at the same time declared his soldier, who had shed his blood in the conviction, that a monarchy was entirely cause of liberty and his country, this party unsuited to the dispositions, and circumprescribed, as the only safe remedies, the stances of the American people. Accordpractice of increased industry and frugali- ingly, the highest toned propositions made ty, the turning of all citizens from the cor- by him in the Convention for framing the rupting speculations, and dissolute courses, Constitution, were for having a President which prevailed after the war, to the pa- and Senate, elected by the people, to tient cultivation of the virgin soil, and to hold office during good behavior, and a the prosecution of all those trades and House of Representatives during three arts, which the wants of a growing coun- years. And these propositions, although try promised richly to remunerate. As a they appear to have been suggested for brave and high-minded young man, who, the purpose of eliciting and giving tone to entering upon the struggle for a livelihood, the sentiments of the Assembly, rather burdened with the charges of his outfit, than from any expectation of their being easily denies himself the indulgence of adopted, and were subsequently withcostly comforts, and cheerfully binds drawn in favor of a more popular plan of himself to unremitting toils, in order to their author, were found to be in harmony lay, in the honest payment of his debts, with the views of no fewer than five the foundations of honorable success, so States, including among them Virginia. did Washington desire to see this young The wish of Hamilton was, that the gove country start in the career of nations with honor bright; even in adversity keeping its
* See Gen. Cass' Letter to the Committee of faith; so that its children and its children's the Baltimore Convention,