« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
sure I have no new light to throw upon year, he also placed on record the declarthe subject, nor any other arguments to ation, that “the Constitution was gallopoffer in support of my own doctrine than ing fast into monarchy"-a fate from what you have seen; and I could only in which it was saved, according to the general add, that an innate spirit of free- same authority, by Philip Freneau's newsdom first told me, that the measures, which paper. Of a charge like this, it might, the administration have for some time perhaps, be a sufficient refutation to exbeen, and now are most violently pursuing, claim, wonderful escape! and no less are opposed to every principle of natural wonderful instrument of it! But we will justice; whilst much abler heads than further say, that Washington did, indeed, my own have fully convinced me, that express the belief, that “mankind, when they are not only repugnant to natural lefi lo themselves, are unfit for their own right, but subversive of the laws and con- government.” He had no faith in a destitution of Great Britain itself, in the mocracy. “We have probably had,” said establishment of which some of the he,“ too good an opinion of human nature best blood in the kingdom has been in forming our Confederation;" adding spilt."'* Here, it will be remarked, the wri- the very good reason, that "experience ter makes a distinction between the con had already shown that men would not victions drawn from his own breast, and adopt and carry into execution measures, those adopted from the representation of the best calculated for their own good, other minds; the former assured him of without the intervention of a coercive a natural, the latter of a constitutional power.” He had no faith in a government right to freedom; and to the innate belief destitute of power to execute its resolves, he assigns the foremost place, as relying as was the Confederation. Nor is there chiefly on it, while the derived persuasion any less uncertainty as to what Washingfollows, second in rank and importance. ton actually did believe, touching the point
Equally unjust to the reputation of in question. To Lafayette he wrote, under Washington, as well as inconsistent with date of June 18, 1788, “ You see I am any true estimate of the value of bis ser not less enthusiastic than I ever have been, vices to the country, is the suspicion which if a belief that peculiar scenes of felicity they have attempted to cast upon his
re are reserved for this country is to be depublican principles, who have represented nominated enthusiasm. Indeed, I do not him as doubting the capacity of his coun- believe, that Providence has done so much trymen for self-government, and, conse for nothing. It has always been my creed, quently, the beneficial results of their po- that we should not be left as a monument litical constitutions. These imputations to prove that mankind, under the most were first thrown out by the opponents of favorable circumstances for civil liberty bis Administration, and have been so often and happiness, are unequal to the task of repeated since, as to have found their way governing themselves, and therefore made into the faith of many reverers of his cha- for a master.” Instead, also, of placing racter, and especially is this erroneous less confidence in the federal Constitution persuasion to be attributed to numerous than in other forms of government, he passages in the writings of Thomas Jeffer- expressed, soon after its adoption, the folson, wherein this eminent man, after hav- lowing opinion of its merits, to Sir Edward ing become the head of the party opposed Newenham. “Although there were some to the first Administration, was led to few things in the Constitution, recomspeak disparagingly of the political prin-mended by the federal Convention to the ciples of the father of the republic. “The determination of the people, which did not President,” said he, in the year 1793, fully accord with my wishes, yet, having “has not confidence enough in the virtue taken every circumstance into serious conand good sense of mankind to confide in a sideration, I was convinced it approached government bottomed on them, and thinks nearer to perfection than any government other props necessary. In the same hitherto instituted among men.” So far
was this illustrious statesman from dis* Writings of Washington, vol. ii. p. 397, and trusting the practical issues of our free Life of Hamilton, vol. ii. p. 557.
institutions, that, although it was not the VOL. IV.
habit of his mind to indulge so largely in this new responsibility, were as natural, as speculations respecting the course oł future his desire to avoid it was unaffected. Nor events, as did some of his compatriots, yet were his anticipations of the dangers, we boldly affirm, there was not one among which would beset the path of the “inthem all, who had so true, far-reaching, fant empire," as he fondly termed it, either unclouded a foresight of the glorious ca exaggerated, or peculiar to himself. Not reer of this republic, as George Washing-only did difficulties, as great as those apton. His writings, as well as the tenor of prehended by him, really occur in the his life, furnish abundant proofs of this course of his Administration, but they tried assertion. Washington never despaired the souls of all the eminent statesmen who of the fortunes of his country, even when took part in the government. The Secro they sank the lowest. In one of the most tary of State, surely, could not have been calamitous periods of the war, when driven free from anxiety respecting the working from the Jerseys over the Delaware, he is of the Constitution, when, to prevent the said to have replied to the question, President from declining a re-election, he whither next he would retreat in case of declared to him, that he “ trembled," in necessity—“From the Delaware to the view of the danger to which such an event Susquehanna, and from the Susquehanna would expose the people to be led into to the Alleghanies !" Subsequently, amid “violence or secession.” “I knew we all the discouraging circumstances which were some day,” continued he, "to try clouded the prospects of the country to walk alone, and if the essay should be during the imbecile rule of the Confeder- made while you should be alive and lookation, he wrote to Lafayette, “There willing on, we should derive confidence from assuredly come a day, when this country that circumstance, and resource if it failwill have some weight in the scale of ed.” Much fairer, in truth, would it be empires ;” and, in another place, “Sure to accuse the accuser, in this instanceI am, if this country be preserved in to charge the Secretary with that distrust tranquillity twenty years longer, it may of the practical results of the federal Conbid defiance in a just cause to any power stitution, which he attributed to the Prewhatever, such in that time will be its sident. Who was it, at this period, if population, wealth, and resources ;” and not Mr. Jefferson, who gave utterance to extending his generous hopes of an advan- the fear, that his countrymen were about cing civilization to other nations, he con to set up “a king, lords, and commons,' cluded, "I indulge a fond, perhaps an on the ruins of the republic? If any one enthusiastic idea, that, as the world is doubted the success of the new experievidently much less barbarous than it has ment in self-government, was it not he, been, its melioration must still be progress- who declared that he saw. (where few ive; that nations are becoming more others would have looked for it) in the humanized in their policy; that the sub- independent footing of the federal judijects of ambition and causes for hostility ciary, "the germ that was to destroy." are daily diminishing; and in fine, that the charter of our liberties ? But as it the period is not very remote, when the would be unjust to the reputation of the benefits of a liberal and free commerce illustrious author of the Declaration of will pretty generally succeed to the devas- Independence, to consider assertions, made tations and the horrors of war."
under the influence of strong party exciteTrue it is, indeed, that Washington did ment, as indicative of his settled convicnot enter upon the office of the Presi- tions, so is it a mistake, the more deserving dency without a profound and painful sense of correction, as it has been sanctioned by of the difficulties to be encountered in very high authority,* to construe the disconducting an untried experiment of gov- trust, which Washington modestly exernment, and of the imminent risk, to which pressed of his capacity successfully to inhis limited civil experience and capacities troduce the new system of government, as would expose him, of not answering the a want of confidence in those free instituexpectations, even if he should not in any instance bring detriment on the fortunes
* J. Q. Adams' Discourse on the Constitution is country. His anxieties, in assuming of the United States.
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 ehastened, 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 Presi. greatness 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 States, which he had done in accepting President elett 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. In 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 in 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 de. as 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 bis 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 Presidentments, 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 anexcep- 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 sys
tem 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, alike, 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 a state approaching to anarchy, instead of