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the benevolent purpose of offering them were committed on the
propits sympathies in exchange for their as- erty of the revenue officers; the public sistance, took up the cause of these mar- mails were stopped and opened; the tyrs of liberty also. They were just the houses and barns of obnoxious friends of men for the anti-patriotic purposes they the laws were burned; the local police were wanted for, being Germans, Irish, were so intimidated by the threats, or Quakers, Tories and anti-federalists, the won over by the promises of the seditious, thirsty patrons or owners of no fewer than that their services could not be relied three thousand small distilleries in West- on; large numbers of the disaffected ern Pennsylvania—allies not inferior to assembled in convention at various places, those Kentucky borderers, who, equally and were encouraged in their course by impatient of American laws and Spanish the most violent speeches and resolves ; rights, gave the Administration no little in a word, there was an organized and unnecessary trouble respecting the navi- systematic insurrection against the authogation of the Mississippi, and who, about rity of the federal government, which the same time, were likewise brought un- sought alliance with similar malcontents in der the bonnel rouge. These freemen, neighboring States, and which, crediting who before considered themselves suffi- the lies of the opposition prints and the decintly oppressed by being called upon to mocratic societies, believed its cause to be pay taxes, were now informed that their so widely approved, that an attempt to excise-money all went into the pockets of oppose it by force would involve the Anglomen and monocrats, the secret sup- country in civil war. Deeply impressed, porters of that monster confederacy of as Washington always was, with the digEuropean kings, which was threatening to nity of law, and the respect due to esdevour liberty in France, and was only tablished authority, he could take no less reserving them for a dessert, to be washed grave a view of this state of things, than down in their own whiskey. In Congress that “if the laws are to be trampled upon the excise was denounced as unequal and with impunity, and a minority, a small unjust, unnecessary and tyrannical; and one too, is to dictate to the majority, the resistance of it was spoken of as there is an end put, at one stroke, to reprobable, in order to render it certain. presentative government; and nothing Lay a tax, said the leaders of opposition, but anarchy and confusion are to be exon property, on incomes, on salaries, on pected hereafter. Some other man or lawyers, on written instruments, on any- society may dislike another law, and opthing, save this "common drink of the pose it with equal propriety, until all laws nation,” as Mr. Jefferson called it. The are prostrate, and any one, the strongest I distillers having been early encouraged by presume, will carve for himself.” Washthis tone of the opposition party in Con- ington could risk his life and fortune in gress, and by the unhappy dissensions leading a revolution to secure the rights then existing in the cabinet, where, they and the independence of his country, but were led to believe, their cause did not to the spirit of sedition, riot, and what has lack apologists, had thrown such obsta- since been termed lynching, there never cles in the way of collecting the duties, as lived a more determined opposer, or one called forth from the President, in his first who was more convinced of the necessity, term, an admonitory proclamation. In when all other means of putting it down the exercise of his usual moderation and had failed, of resorting to force of arms. forbearance, he continued for upwards of No sympathy had he with the spirit of two years to persevere in the use of strictly him, who, respecting Shay's rebellion in pacific means for overcoming this resist- Massachusetts, had said, “ God forbid we ance to lawful authority. But the leni- should ever be twenty years without such ency of the government served only to a rebellion.” Accordingly, the seat of strengthen the hands and embolden the the present sedition being supposed to purposes of the malcontents. The minis. contain about sixteen thousand men caters of justice, directed to enforce the pable of bearing arms, and being in a part laws by legal processes, were resisted by of the State which had been bitterly opforce and violence; multiplied outrages posed to the Constitution, and hostile to
all the measures of the government under meeting of that body which has the sole
We now come to the consideration of
, give their version of this matter in the of the Administration. language of their chief. His interpreta- In the same year, it will be remembered, tion of this signal triumph of the govern- in which the American Congress met for ment was as follows-"Our alarmists the first time under the Constitution, the marched an army to look for an insurrec- States-General of France was summoned tion, but they could not find it.” And in to assemble by Louis XVI. The reforms a letter to Mr. Madison, written after the in the French state, which followed immediPresident, who viewed the insurrection as ately from this latter act, were hailed every“one of the ripe fruits” of the democratic where in this country, as an escape from societies, had expressed a censure of these royal tyranny, similar to that which had associations, in his speech to Congress, at been overthrown here. And still greater the session following, the same authority was the universal joy, when the nation said, “ The denunciation of the democratic which had been our ally in the war of insocieties is one of the extraordinary acts dependence, finally declared itself a repubof boldness, of which we have seen so lican commonwealth, and claimed the right many from the faction of the monocrats. of enjoying those political liberties which It is wonderful, indeed, that the President its arms had contributed towards securing should have permitted himself to be the for others. Nevertheless, in the eyes of organ of such an attack on the freedom
the more intelligent class of American of discussion, the freedom of writing, citizens, this morning of joyful anticipaprinting and publishing.” Speaking of tions, which then rose over France, was the transactions against the excise laws, early clouded by the shadows of events to the writer continued, “We know of none Those, especially, who had seen which, according to the definitions of the their efforts to adopt and to maintain an law, have been anything more than riotous. efficient government in this country, folThere was indeed a meeting to consult lowed up with such determined resistance, about a separation. But to consult on a distrusted the issue of the French experiquestion does not amount to a determina- ment, when they saw that it was undertion of that question in the affirmative, taken without the consent of the whole still less to the acting on such a determi- people, that it was supported by the most nation; but we shall see, I suppose what violent excesses, and that it led to both the court lawyers, and courtly judges, and civil and foreign war. As this distrust would-be ambassadors, will make of it. was publicly expressed, the leaders of the The excise law is an infernal one. The opposition party, who had participated first error was to admit it by the Consti- less in it, saw that it might easily be tution; the second to act on that admis- turned to account against the supporters sion; the third and last will be, to make of the Administration. They at once it the instrument of dismembering the adopted the policy, therefore, of encourUnion.
I expected to have aging the people to approve of the deeds seen some justification of arming one part done in the name of liberty in France, and of the society against the other; of de- of bringing their own government into disclaring a civil war the moment before the credit by representing it as disapproving
of them. It was loudly proclaimed that the pretense that the government of the the cause of liberty was one in all the latter was not strong enough to enforce earth; that to doubt its triumph in France, its promises, but also delayed surrenderwas to desire its discomfiture in America ; | ing the posts held on our northwestern that to disapprove of the sort of republi- border, alleging the non-fulfilment of the canism which had been set up there, was article in the treaty of peace securing the to design to introduce the monarchical debts of British subjects. When, theresystem of Great Britain here. The hope fore, war was at length declared by France was, that they would be able to destroy against England, Washington foresaw that the enthusiastic attachment of the great a great effort would be made, both by the body of the people to Washington and former power, and by the minority at his Administration, by substituting in its home, to enlist the sympathies, if not the place an enthusiastic devotion to the cause arms of the republic, in favor of foreign of liberty in Europe. It was to expel one liberty. Immediately on the arrival of passion, by bringing in another. Not that the news of the declaration of hostilities, these politicians designed openly to advo- in fact, a number of vessels, in different cate the taking up of arms by the country ports, were put in readiness for preying for the purpose of assisting the French to upon the commerce of our ancient enemy, conquer the confederate powers of Europe. now represented as the enemy of the rights They did not wish to aid France, but them- of man in Europe. But Washington reselves. A great popular agitation was to solved to take prompt measures for avertbe raised, ostensibly, for the sufficiently ing the impending peril. From Mount vague object of giving sanction to the re- Vernon, he wrote to the Secretary of public which had been instituted beyond State, declaring his intention to assume a seas ; but, in reality, to effect an ultimate position of strict neutrality between the change in the administration of the federal belligerent nations. On his return to the government, such as was subsequently seat of government, after having taken the accomplished by the election of Mr. Jef- advice of his cabinet, which, however, was ferson to the Presidency.
divided in opinion respecting several imIt was in the face of such a rising oppo- portant points involved in the proposed sition, that Washington entered upon the course of policy, he decided, on the one task, or so much of it as fell to his share, hand, to recognize the revolutionary auof shaping the foreign policy of the re- thorities of Paris, and to regard the treatpublic. The work would have been suf- ies made with the royal government as ficiently embarrassing, even without the still obligatory, and, on the other, to issue perplexities arising out of domestic vari- a proclamation, declaring the design of the ance and clamors. For this country had government of the United States to pursue assumed its place in the family of nations a course of strict neutrality and impartial at a period, when the established system justice, with reference to all the belligeof international rights and duties was rents. Accordingly, on the 22d of April
, about to be thrown into confusion, by the 1793, a proclamation was issued, stating revolutions and wars of Europe. Into that “the duty and interest of the United this strife of the transatlantic world, the States require that they should with sinfactions which afterwards rose to power in cerity and good faith adopt and pursue a Paris employed almost every means, hon- conduct friendly and impartial towards the orable and dishonorable, to entice the tot- belligerent powers," and exhorting and tering footsteps of our infant state. Eng. warning the citizens to avoid contravening land, on the other hand, had pursued, since such a line of conduct, whether by engagthe peace, a course of conduct, which ren- ing in hostilities with or against any of the dered the relations of the two countries nations at war, or by carrying to any of extremely critical. Bearing her enfran- them those articles deemed contraband by chised colonies no good will, and little modern usage. Viewed with respect to respecting a power destitute of so much its immediate, or its remote consequences, as a single ship to restrain her tyranny of this paper was one of the most important the ocean, she not only refused to form a acts of Washington's Administration. It treaty of commerce with the Union, on saved the republic from being drawn, before 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 the 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 gen
Strange 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 disc 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
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; he 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, “ the and footsteps; and equally lavish of insult Mountain, “the French war for the and Aattery, 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. Cluts, 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 fideliNO. I.