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Title: Washington and the American Republic, Vol. 3.
Author: Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Washington and the American Republic, Vol. 3." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: WASHINGTON]

[Illustration: WASHINGTON







Benson J. Lossing,




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by VIRTUE &
YORSTON, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

[Transcriber's Note: The caret (^) has been used to mark subscript in the
text version. A Table of Contents has been added. Obvious printer errors,
including punctuation, have been corrected. All other inconsistencies have
been left as they were in the original.]


     CHAPTER I                  1
     CHAPTER II                13
     CHAPTER III               32
     CHAPTER IV                40
     CHAPTER V                 53
     CHAPTER VI                63
     CHAPTER VII               74
     CHAPTER VIII              92
     CHAPTER IX               103
     CHAPTER X                114
     CHAPTER XI               125
     CHAPTER XII              135
     CHAPTER XIII             147
     CHAPTER XIV              161
     CHAPTER XV               167
     CHAPTER XVI              178
     CHAPTER XVII             192
     CHAPTER XVIII            205
     CHAPTER XIX              219
     CHAPTER XX               230
     CHAPTER XXI              243
     CHAPTER XXII             258
     CHAPTER XXIII            271
     CHAPTER XXIV             283
     CHAPTER XXV              292
     CHAPTER XXVI             307
     CHAPTER XXVII            323
     CHAPTER XXVIII           334
     CHAPTER XXIX             348
     CHAPTER XXX              368
     CHAPTER XXXI             378
     CHAPTER XXXII            390
     CHAPTER XXXIII           417
     CHAPTER XXXIV            435
     CHAPTER XXXV             447
     CHAPTER XXXVI            465
     CHAPTER XXXVII           479
     CHAPTER XXXVIII          491
     CHAPTER XXXIX            501
     CHAPTER XL               517
     CHAPTER XLI              527
     CHAPTER XLII             550
     CHAPTER XLIII            573
     CHAPTER XLIV             584
     ANALYTICAL INDEX         613



     WASHINGTON AT VALLEY FORGE                           VIGNETTE TITLE.

     WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS NEAR NEWBURG                             7

       NOVEMBER 25, 1783                                               33

     WASHINGTON PRESIDING IN THE CONVENTION, 1787                      63

       OLIVER ELLSWORTH, AND JOHN RUTLEDGE                             64

     WASHINGTON ENTERING TRENTON                                       87

       APRIL 23, 1789                                                  89

       DALE, AND BARRY                                                295

     PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS                                           472




We have observed, that with the capture of Cornwallis and his army, the
War for Independence was virtually ended, but that some blood flowed
afterward, and that hostile forces were arrayed against each other for
several months longer, before the two nations agreed to fight no more.
Let us take a brief survey of events, from the siege of Yorktown until
the declaration of peace, and the departure of the last British troops
from our shores.

On the evening of the ninth of October, just as Lincoln, having
completed the first parallel before Yorktown, ordered a battery to open
upon the British works, Washington received encouraging intelligence
from General Greene in the far South. Greene was then encamped upon the
High Hills of Santee, having, a little more than a week previous to the
date of his letter, been engaged in a bloody battle with the enemy at
Eutaw Springs.

In a former chapter we left Greene on his march to attack Fort
Ninety-Six, situated in Abbeville district in South Carolina, within
about six miles of the Saluda river. It was then garrisoned by five
hundred and fifty loyalists, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Cruger, of New York. Sumter having cut off all communication between
Camden and Ninety-Six, Cruger had not received Rawdon's orders to join
Brown at Augusta, but remained, and was using every endeavor to
strengthen his works.

Greene arrived before Ninety-Six on the twenty-second of May, with less
than a thousand regulars and a few raw militia. Kosciuszko, the brave
Pole, was his chief engineer, and under his direction the Americans
commenced making regular approaches, by parallels, for the works were
too strong to be taken by assault. For almost a month the work went on,
enlivened by an occasional sortie and skirmish. Then news came that Lord
Rawdon was approaching with a strong force to the relief of Cruger.
Greene's troops were full of spirit, and were anxious to storm the works
before his lordship's arrival. Consent was given by the commander, and
on the eighteenth an assault was made, and a bloody contest ensued. The
Americans were repulsed, and on the following day Greene raised the
siege and retreated across the Saluda. Rawdon pursued him a short
distance, and, having accomplished the object of his errand, wheeled,
and marched toward Orangeburg.

While the siege of Ninety-Six was in progress, partisan corps were
elsewhere successful. Lee captured Fort Galphin, twelve miles below
Augusta, and then sent an officer to the latter post to demand its
surrender from Brown. The summons was disregarded, and Lee, Pickens, and
Clarke, commenced a siege. It lasted several days, and on the fifth of
June, the fort and its dependencies at Augusta were surrendered to the
republicans. Lee and Pickens then joined Greene at Ninety-Six, and with
him retreated beyond the Saluda.

And now Greene and Rawdon changed their relative positions, the former
becoming the pursuer of the latter, in his march toward Orangeburg.
Finding Rawdon strongly entrenched there, Greene deemed it prudent not
to attack him; and the sickly season approaching, he crossed the
Congaree with his little army, and encamped upon the High Hills of
Santee, below Camden, where pure air and water might be found in

Considering the post at Ninety-Six quite untenable, Rawdon ordered
Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger to abandon it and join him at Orangeburg.
There Rawdon was met by Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, who had come up from
Charleston with an Irish regiment. As Greene had gone into
summer-quarters apparently, and the American partisans were just then
quiet, his lordship left all his forces in charge of Stewart, went down
to Charleston, and embarked for Europe to seek the restoration of his

Soon after encamping on the High Hills of Santee, Greene detached Sumter
with about a thousand light troops to scour the lower country and beat
up the British posts in the vicinity of Charleston. His assistants were
those bold partisans, Lee, Marion, Horry, the Hamptons, and other brave
republican leaders, with troops accustomed to the swamps and sandy
lowlands. These performed excellent service in preparing the way for the
expulsion of the enemy from the interior of South Carolina.

Early in August Greene was reinforced by North Carolina troops, under
General Sumner; and toward the close of the month, he broke up his
encampment, crossed the Wateree, and marched upon Orangeburg. Stewart,
who had been joined by Cruger, immediately retreated to Eutaw Springs,
near the southwest bank of the Santee, and there encamped. Greene
followed, and on the morning of the eighth of September, a very severe
battle commenced. The British were finally expelled from the camp,
leaving their tents standing, and almost everything but their arms
behind them.

Greene's troops, unmindful of their commander's orders, had spread
themselves through the abandoned camp to plunder, eat, and drink, when
the enemy unexpectedly and suddenly renewed the battle. After a bloody
conflict of four hours the Americans were compelled to give way. "It was
by far the most obstinate fight I ever saw," Greene wrote to Washington.
Stewart feeling insecure, for the American partisan legions were
hovering around him, retreated toward Charleston that night.

On the morning of the ninth Greene advanced and took possession of the
battle-field, and sent detachments in pursuit of Stewart. A victory was
claimed by both parties. Washington seemed to consider it as such for
Greene. "Fortune," he said, in a letter to him, "must have been coy
indeed, had she not yielded at last to so persevering a pursuer as you
have been." Yet there was no victory in the case. The advantage
evidently lay with the Americans. The contest had been a most sanguinary
one. The loss of the Americans in killed, wounded, and missing, was five
hundred and fifty-five; that of the British six hundred and
ninety-three. The bravery, skill, and caution of Greene, and the general
good conduct of his troops, were applauded by the whole country.
Congress ordered a gold medal to be struck in commemoration of the
event, and presented to Greene. A British standard captured on that
occasion was also presented to him.

Many of his troops being sick, Greene again retired to the High Hills of
Santee, where he remained until the middle of November. There, on the
thirtieth of October, he was informed of the glorious events at
Yorktown, and the day was made jubilant with the rejoicings of the army.

The whole upper country of the Carolinas and Georgia was now in
possession of the republicans. Nothing remained to be done, but to drive
in the British outposts, and hem them within the narrow precincts of
their lines at Charleston and Savannah. Marion, Sumter, Lee, and other
partisans, performed this service effectually.

Greene finally crossed the Congaree and moved with his army to the
vicinity of Charleston. The object of his campaign was accomplished. He
had driven the enemy to the margin of the sea, and he was prepared to
keep them there. Marion and his men lingered around the headwaters of
the Cooper river to watch their movements, and to prevent their
incursions beyond Charleston. St. Clair had come down from Yorktown, and
had driven the British from Wilmington. Governor Rutledge had called the
legislators of South Carolina together at Jacksonboro', to re-establish
civil government in that state, and Greene's army lay as a guard between
them and the enemy at Charleston. In that city and Savannah only, did
the British have a foothold south of the Delaware at the close of 1781;
and Wayne, with vigilant eye and supple limb, lay not far from the
latter place, closely watching the British there. The war was virtually
at an end in the South.

Let us turn to the consideration of Washington's movements after the
capitulation at Yorktown.

In the midst of the rejoicings because of the great victory,
Washington's heart was made sad by domestic affliction. His stepson,
John Parke Custis, who had followed him to the field as his aid-de-camp,
sickened before the close of the siege. Anxious to participate in the
pleasures of the victory, he remained in camp until the completion of
the surrender, when he retired to Eltham, the seat of Colonel Bassett,
who had married Mrs. Washington's sister. His malady (camp-fever) had
increased, and Washington sent Doctor Craik with him. A courier was also
despatched to Mount Vernon for his wife and mother; and on the fifth of
November, having arranged all public business at Yorktown, Washington
set out for Eltham. He arrived there, as he wrote to Lafayette, "time
enough to see poor Mr. Custis breathe his last."

The grief of Washington was very great, and he wept bitterly. He had
watched over that young man from his earliest childhood with paternal
affection and solicitude; and with pride he had seen him take public
position as a member of the Virginia assembly. Now, at the age of
twenty-eight years, he was taken from him. The mother was almost
unconsolable, and the young wife was sorely smitten by the bereavement.
Washington's heart deeply sympathized with them, and there, in the
death-chamber, he formally adopted the two younger children of Mrs.
Custis, who thenceforth became members of his family. These were
Eleanor Parke Custis, who married Lawrence Lewis, the favorite nephew of
Washington, and George Washington Parke Custis, who lived until the
autumn of 1857.

Washington proceeded directly from Eltham to Mount Vernon, only halting
at Fredericksburg to see his mother, and join in some public ceremonials
there, in honor of himself and the French officers. But he sought not
the quiet of his home for purposes of repose, for he was not to be
seduced into the practices engendered by a fancied security because of
the late brilliant victory. On the contrary, his apprehensions were
painfully awakened to the danger which the prevalence of such confidence
might occasion, and he wrote to General Greene, saying:--

     "I shall remain but a few days here, and shall proceed to
     Philadelphia, where I shall attempt to stimulate Congress to the
     best improvement of our late success, by taking the most vigorous
     and effectual measures to be ready for an early and decisive
     campaign, the next year. My greatest fear is, that Congress,
     viewing this stroke in too important a point of light, may think
     our work too nearly closed, and will fall into a state of languor
     and relaxation. To prevent this error, I will employ every means in
     my power, and if unhappily we sink into that fatal mistake no part
     of the blame shall be mine."

A little later he wrote to Greene from Philadelphia, saying: "I am
apprehensive that the states, elated by the late success, and taking it
for granted that Great Britain will no longer support so losing a
contest, will relax in their preparations for the next campaign. I am
detained here by Congress to assist in the arrangements for the next
year; and I shall not fail, in conjunction with the financier, the
minister of foreign affairs, and the secretary at war, who are all most
heartily well-disposed, to impress upon Congress, and get them to
impress upon the respective states, the necessity of the most vigorous


Washington had been received in Philadelphia with distinguished honors,
at the close of November. With his usual energy and industry, he pressed
forward military arrangements for the campaign of 1782, and by his
continual importunities, he awakened Congress to the importance of being
prepared for another year of active duty in the field. On the tenth of
December that body, by resolution, made a requisition of men and money
from the southern states, and the resolve was warmly seconded by
Washington, in letters to the respective governors of those states.
Franklin, at the same time, was using the most strenuous exertions in
France to procure more aid from that power; and when intelligence of the
capitulation of Yorktown reached the French court, Vergennes promised a
loan of six millions to the United States.

Washington remained four months in Philadelphia, and then joined the
army near Newburg, on the Hudson. The allied forces had been dissolved.
The troops under the Marquis St. Simon had sailed from the Chesapeake in
De Grasse's fleet early in November; the French troops, under
Rochambeau, remained in Virginia; the remainder of the American army,
after St. Clair's force was detached to the South, proceeded northward,
under the command of Lincoln, and took post on the Hudson and in the
Jerseys, so as to be ready to operate against New York in the spring;
and Lafayette, perceiving no probability of active service immediately,
obtained leave of absence from the Congress, and returned to France to
visit his family.

We have already noticed the proceedings in the British house of commons
on the subject of peace with the Americans. Early in May, 1782, Sir Guy
Carleton arrived in New York as the successor of Sir Henry Clinton in
the chief command of the British forces; and in a letter dated the
seventh of that month, he informed Washington that he and Admiral Digby
were joint commissioners to make arrangements for a truce or peace. Even
this friendly approach of British officials did not make Washington any
the less vigilant and active, and he continued his preparations for
further hostilities, with all the means in his power.

With the dawning of the day of peace great discontents in the army were
developed. It prevailed equally among officers and private soldiers,
and originated in the destitute condition of the troops at that time,
and the conviction that the army would be disbanded without provision
being made for the liquidation of the claims upon the government for the
pay of arrearages, and the promised half-pay of the officers for a term
of years after the conclusion of the war. The prospect was, indeed,
gloomy. For a long time the public treasury had been empty; and
thousands of the soldiers, many of them invalids, made so by their hard
service for their country, would be compelled to seek a livelihood in
the midst of the desolation which war had produced. In this state of
things, and with such prospects, many sighed for a change. They lost
faith in the republican form of government, as they saw it in its
practical workings under the _Articles of Confederation_, and they
earnestly desired something stronger--perhaps an elective or
constitutional monarchy.

Washington had perceived these growing discontents with anxiety, and was
urging Congress to do something to allay them, when he received a letter
from Colonel Lewis Nicola, a veteran and well-bred officer of the
Pennsylvania line, which filled him with the greatest apprehensions. In
it Nicola, no doubt, spoke the sentiments of a great many of his
fellow-officers and soldiers at that time. He attributed all current
evils, and those in anticipation, to the existing form of government,
and then urged the necessity and expediency of adopting a mixed one like
that of England. Having fortified his position by argument, Nicola

     "In this case it will, I believe, be uncontroverted, that the same
     abilities which have led us through difficulties apparently
     unsurmountable by human power to victory and glory--those
     qualities, that have merited and obtained the universal esteem and
     veneration of an army--would be most likely to conduct and direct
     us in the smoother paths of peace. Some people have so connected
     the ideas of tyranny and monarchy as to find it very difficult to
     separate them. It may, therefore, be requisite to give the head of
     such a constitution as I propose some title apparently more
     moderate; but, if all other things were once adjusted, I believe
     strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of
     KING, which I conceive would be attended with some national

How little did even Nicola, who was very intimate with Washington,
comprehend the true character of his disinterested patriotism in all its
breadth and depth! The commander-in-chief perceived that Nicola was only
the organ of a dangerous military faction, whose object was to create a
new government through the active energies of the army, and to place
their present leader at the head. He sympathized with the army in its
distresses, but this movement met with his severest rebuke.

"_Sir_," said Washington, in a responsive letter to Nicola, "With a
mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I have read with attention
the sentiments you have submitted to my perusal. Be assured, sir, no
occurrence in the course of this war has given me more painful
sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in
the army as you have expressed, and which I must view with abhorrence
and reprehend with severity. For the present, the communication of them
will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter
shall make a disclosure necessary. I am much at a loss to conceive what
part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address which to
me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If
I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a
person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, in
justice to my own feelings, I must add, that no man possesses a more
serious wish to see ample justice done to the army than I do; and, as
far as my power and influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they
shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should
there be any occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard
for your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me,
to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from
yourself or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature. I am, etc."

This stern rebuke at once silenced the faction, and checked all further
movement in the direction of king-making. How brightly did the
patriotism of Washington shine out in this affair! At the head of a
victorious army; beloved and venerated by it and by the people; with
personal influence unbounded, and with power in possession for
consummating almost any political scheme not apparently derogatory to
good government, he receives from an officer whom he greatly esteems,
and who speaks for himself and others, an offer of the sceptre of
supreme rule and the crown of royalty! What a bribe! Yet he does not
hesitate for a moment; he does not stop to revolve in his mind any ideas
of advantage in the proposed scheme, but at once rebukes the author
sternly but kindly, and impresses his signet of strongest disapprobation
upon the proposal. History can not present a parallel.

The summer of 1782 passed away without much apparent progress being made
toward a definite and permanent arrangement for peace. At the beginning
of August, Carleton and Digby wrote a joint letter to Washington,
informing him that they had good authority for saying, that negotiations
for peace had been commenced at Paris, by commissioners, and that the
British representatives in that conference, would first propose the
independence of the United States as a basis. But Washington, taught by
past experience, was still doubtful of the reality of all these
professions. "Jealousy and precaution," he said, "at least can do no
harm. Too much confidence and supineness may be pernicious in the

No wonder he still doubted. The British government had not yet made any
offer for a general cessation of hostilities. The Americans had allies
whose interests must be consulted. Hostilities might cease in the United
States, according to recent enactments of Parliament, but the very
forces then on our shores, might be sent to make war upon the French
dominions in the West Indies. The public faith required that the
interests of France should be considered in the negotiations for peace;
and until a cessation of general hostilities should be officially
proclaimed by Great Britain, Washington resolved to be prepared for a
renewal of the war.

Thus viewing affairs, the commander-in-chief advised Rochambeau, who was
then (August, 1782) at Baltimore, to march his troops to the banks of
the Hudson, and form a junction with the American army. This was
accomplished at the middle of September, the first division of the
French army crossing the Hudson at King's ferry on the fifteenth. The
American forces were at Verplanck's Point, opposite, to receive them,
all arranged in their best attire, their tents decked with evergreens,
and their bands playing French marches.

In the meantime British troops had been leaving the southern shores of
the United States, and others were preparing to depart. They evacuated
Savannah on the eleventh of July, and sailed for New York, when the
"keys of the city of Savannah" were delivered to Major Jackson, by a
committee of British officers, under the direction of General Wayne. On
the same day the American army, led by Wayne, entered the city, and
royal authority in every form ceased for ever in Georgia.

General Leslie, the British commander at Charleston, was not in a
condition to leave on account of a want of provisions. When he was
apprized of the proceedings in Parliament in favor of peace, he proposed
to General Greene a cessation of hostilities. Like a true soldier,
Greene took no such responsibility, but referred the whole matter to
Congress, while relaxing not one whit of his vigilance. Leslie then
asked permission to purchase supplies for his army, that he might
evacuate Charleston. The wary Greene refused to allow it, for in so
doing he might be nourishing a viper that would sting him.

Leslie then resorted to force to obtain supplies; and late in August he
sent an expedition up the Combahee for the purpose. General Gist, with
some Maryland troops, was there to oppose him, and the British were
compelled to retreat to Charleston. In the skirmish that ensued, the
noble Colonel John Laurens, who had volunteered in the service, was
killed. He was mourned by all as a great public loss; and his was about
the last blood that flowed in the War for Independence.[1]

On the fourteenth of December following, the British evacuated
Charleston, and on the ensuing day the Americans, under General Greene,
marched into the city and took possession. He and his army were greeted
as deliverers. From the windows, balconies, and housetops, handkerchiefs
waved, and the mingled voices of women and children shouted, "God bless
you, gentlemen! Welcome! Welcome!" That evening the last hostile sail
was seen beyond Charleston bar, as a white speck upon the horizon. At
the close of the year only New York city was held in possession by
British troops.


[1] John Laurens was a son of Henry Laurens, president of the
continental Congress in 1777. He joined the army early in 1777, and was
wounded in the battle of Germantown. He continued in the army (with the
exception of a few months), under the immediate command of Washington,
until after the surrender of Cornwallis, in which event he was a
conspicuous participant as one of the commissioners appointed to arrange
the terms. Early in 1781, he was sent on a special mission to France to
solicit a loan of money and to procure arms. He was successful, and on
his return received the thanks of Congress. Within three days after his
arrival in Philadelphia, he had settled all matters with Congress, and
departed for the army in the South under Greene. There he did good
service, until his death, on the Combahee, on the twenty-seventh of
August, 1782, when he was but twenty-nine years of age. Washington, who
made him his aid, loved him as a child. He declared that he could
discover no fault in him, unless it was intrepidity, bordering on
rashness. "Poor Laurens," wrote Greene, "has fallen in a paltry little
skirmish. You knew his temper, and I predicted his fate. The love of
military glory made him seek it upon occasions unworthy his rank. The
state will feel his loss." He was buried upon the plantation of Mrs.
Stock, in whose family he spent the evening previous to his death in
cheerful conversation. A small enclosure, without a stone, marks his



A very painful affair occupied the attention of Washington in the autumn
of 1782, when his judgment and his sympathies were placed in opposition.
In the neighborhood of Freehold, in New Jersey, lurked a band of
marauding tories, known as Pine Robbers. One of these named Philip
White, notorious for his depredations, had been caught by the New Jersey
people, and killed while attempting to escape, when being conducted to
Monmouth jail. His partisans in New York vowed revenge. Captain Huddy, a
warm whig, then in confinement in New York, was taken by a party of
loyalists under Captain Lippincott, to the Jersey shore, near Sandy
Hook, and hanged. Upon Huddy's breast the infamous Lippincott placed a
label, on which, after avowing that the act was one of vengeance, he
placed the words in large letters--


From the neighboring country went forth a strong cry for retaliation.
Washington submitted the case to a board of general officers, when it
was agreed that Lippincott should be demanded as a murderer, for
execution, and if Sir Henry Clinton would not give him up, retaliation
should be exercised upon some British officer in the possession of the

Sir Henry refused. At the same time the Congress, by resolution,
approved Washington's course, and he proceeded to select a British
officer for execution, by lot, from among prisoners at Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. It fell upon Captain Asgill, a young man nineteen years of
age, an officer of the guards, and only son and heir of Sir Charles
Asgill. Efforts were immediately set on foot to save Asgill. For a long
time the matter remained in suspense, but Washington, firm in his
purpose, was deaf to all entreaty. Lippincott was tried by a
court-martial, and acquitted, it appearing that he was acting under the
verbal orders of Governor Franklin, who was at the head of the board of
associated loyalists. General Carleton, meanwhile, had succeeded Sir
Henry Clinton in command at New York. He condemned the proceedings in
the case of Huddy, and broke up the board of loyalists. Thus, in time,
the most prominent features of the case became changed.

Meanwhile Lady Asgill had written a most pathetic letter to the Count de
Vergennes, the French minister, imploring him to intercede on behalf of
her son. Vergennes, at the request of the king and queen, to whom he
showed the letter, wrote to Washington, soliciting the liberation of
young Asgill. The count's letter was referred to Congress. That body had
already admitted the prisoner to parole; and to the great relief of
Washington, he received orders from Congress, early in November, to set
Captain Asgill at liberty.

The case of Asgill excited Washington's deepest sympathies. He was an
amiable and honorable young man. "I felt for him," wrote the
commander-in-chief, "on many accounts; and not the least, when viewing
him as a man of honor and sentiment, I considered how unfortunate it was
for him that a wretch who possessed neither, should be the means of
causing him a single pang or a disagreeable sensation."

On the twenty-fifth of July, 1782, the British Parliament passed a bill
to enable the king to consent to the independence of the United States,
and the monarch signed it, though with reluctance. Richard Oswald was
immediately appointed, with full powers, to negotiate a treaty of peace
with the new republic, on the basis of its independence. The American
ministers abroad, Franklin, Adams, and Jay, were constituted
commissioners for the United States, to treat for peace, and on the
thirtieth of November, preliminary articles were signed by them
respectively at Paris. Henry Laurens, who had arrived at Paris, from
London, while the negotiations were in progress, had joined the American
commissioners, and he also signed the treaty.

Washington, meanwhile, had been anxiously preparing the way for the
anticipated disbanding of the army. Congress, through utter inability,
had done really nothing to allay the discontents in the army; and the
commander-in-chief was fearful, that during the idle hours of a winter
encampment, those discontents would assume the form of absolute mutiny.
He drew his forces to his former encampment, near Newburg, and there
calmly awaited the issue of events.

Almost daily there were bold conferences of officers and soldiers in the
camp, when the prospects of the future were discussed, sometimes
angrily, and always warmly. Finally, in December, 1782, the officers, in
behalf of the army, sent a committee with a memorial to the Congress, in
which they represented the real hardships of their condition, and
proposed that a specific sum should be granted them for the money
actually due them, and as a commutation for the half-pay of the
officers. This memorial elicited a long and warm debate in Congress, its
character and its propositions being viewed differently by different
minds. The entire winter passed away, and nothing satisfactory was done
in the supreme legislature for the suffering soldier.

At length forbearance appeared to many as no longer a virtue, and some
officers resolved not to wait for justice in idle expectation of its
appearance from the halls of legislation. A plan was arranged among a
few, "for assembling the officers, not in mass, but by representation;
and for passing a series of resolutions, which, in the hands of their
committee, and of their auxiliaries in Congress, would form a new and
powerful lever" of operations. Major John Armstrong, a young officer
six-and-twenty years of age, and aid-de-camp of Gates, was chosen to
write an address to the army, suitable to the subject, and this, with an
anonymous notification of a meeting of officers, was circulated
privately on the tenth of March, 1783.[2]

That address exhibited superior talent in the writer, and its tone was
calculated to make a deep impression upon the minds of the malcontents.
After preparing their feelings for a relinquishment of faith in the
justice of their country, which had been already much weakened by real
and fancied injuries, he remarked:--

     "Faith has its limits as well as temper, and there are points
     beyond which neither can be stretched without sinking into
     cowardice or plunging into credulity. This, my friends, I conceive
     to be your situation; hurried to the verge of both, another step
     would ruin you forever. To be tame and unprovoked, when injuries
     press hard upon you, is more than weakness; but to look up for
     kinder usage, without one manly effort of your own, would fix your
     character, and show the world how richly you deserved the chains
     you broke." He then took a review of the past and present--their
     wrongs and their complaints--their petitions and the denials of
     redress--and then said: "If this, then, be your treatment while the
     swords you wear are necessary for the defense of America, what have
     you to expect from peace, when your voice shall sink, and your
     strength dissipate by division; when these very swords, the
     instruments and companions of your glory, shall be taken from your
     sides, and no remaining mark of military distinction left but
     wants, infirmities, and scars? Can you, then, consent to be the
     only sufferers by the Revolution, and, retiring from the field,
     grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt? Can you consent to
     wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable
     remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in
     honor? If you can, go, and carry the jest of tories and the scorn
     of whigs; the ridicule, and, what is worse, the pity of the world!
     Go, starve, and be forgotten."

The writer now changed from appeal to advice. "I would advise you,
therefore," he said, "to come to some final opinion upon what you can
bear and what you will suffer. If your determination be in proportion to
your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to the fears of
government. Change the milk-and-water style of your last memorial;
assume a bolder tone, decent, but lively, spirited, and determined; and
suspect the man who would advise to more moderation and longer
forbearance. Let two or three men who can feel as well as write, be
appointed to draw up _your last remonstrance_--for I would no longer
give it the suing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of _memorial_." He advised
them to talk boldly to Congress, and to warn that body that the
slightest mark of indignity from them now would operate like the grave,
to part them and the army for ever; "that in any political event, the
army has its alternative. If peace, that nothing shall separate you from
your arms but death; if war, that, courting the auspices, and inviting
the direction of your illustrious leader, you will retire to some
unsettled country, smile in your turn, and 'mock when their fear cometh
on.' Let it represent also, that should they comply with the request of
your late memorial, it would make you more happy and them more

Copies of these papers were placed in the hands of the
commander-in-chief on the day when they were circulated, and with
consummate sagacity and profound political wisdom, he resolved to guide
and control the proceedings in a friendly manner at the meeting of
officers, rather than to check them by authority. In general orders the
next morning, he referred to the anonymous papers, as disorderly, and
utterly disapproved of by the commander-in-chief. At the same time he
requested that the general and field officers, with one officer of each
company, and a proper representation of the staff of the army, should
assemble at a place designated, at twelve o'clock on Saturday, the
fifteenth, for the purpose of hearing the report of the committee of the
army to Congress. With masterly skill he requested the senior officer
(General Gates, whom he suspected, and doubtless with justice, of being
the chief actor in the drama) to preside at the meeting.

When this order appeared, Armstrong prepared and issued another address,
more subdued in tone, but so adroitly worded, as to convey the idea that
Washington approved of the scheme, the time of the meeting only being
changed. This interpretation Washington frustrated, by private
conversation with the principal officers, in whose good sense and
integrity he had confidence. The minds of these he impressed with a
sense of the danger that must attend any rash act at such a crisis; and
he inculcated moderation and forbearance. He thus prepared the best men
in camp to deliberate at the coming conference, without passion or

The meeting was held pursuant to the order of Washington. There was a
full attendance of officers, and Gates presided. There was a raised
platform at one end of the room in which the meeting was held, on which
Gates and others sat. Upon this Washington took a seat, and when the
meeting was called to order, he advanced upon the platform, while the
most solemn silence prevailed in the assembly, and read an address which
he had prepared for the occasion. It was compact in thought, dignified
and patriotic in expression, and mild in language, yet severe in

When he had concluded the reading, Washington retired without uttering
a word, leaving the officers to deliberate without restraint. The
address had a most powerful and salutary effect. The conference was
brief. They did not deliberate long, but proceeded to pass resolutions
offered by Knox, and seconded by Putnam, by unanimous vote, thanking the
commander-in-chief for the course he had pursued; expressing their
unabated attachment to his person and their country; declaring their
unshaken confidence in the good faith of Congress, and their
determination to bear with patience their grievances, until, in due
time, they should be redressed. Gates, as president of the meeting,
signed the address, and on the eighteenth, Washington, in general
orders, expressed his satisfaction.

Thus was frustrated, by the sagacity, prudence, and wisdom of
Washington, the most dangerous scheme by which the liberties of America
were put in jeopardy, next to the treason of Arnold. It had no _wicked_
features in common with that treason, but its practical effects, if
carried out, might have been almost equally disastrous.

To the president of Congress Washington wrote, when he transmitted to
that body an account of the affair just narrated:--

     "The result of the proceedings of the grand convention of officers,
     which I have the honor of sending to your excellency, for the
     inspection of Congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as
     the last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given
     by men who aspired to the distinction of a patriot army; and will
     not only confirm their claim to the justice, but will increase
     their title to the gratitude of their country."

The excitement caused by these events had scarcely died away, when
intelligence of the signing of the preliminary treaty of peace reached
the commander-in-chief. That intelligence came to him in despatches from
Robert L. Livingston, the secretary for foreign affairs, and also in a
letter from Alexander Hamilton, and other New York delegates in
Congress. It had been sent to them in the French ship, _Triomphe_,
despatched for the purpose by Count de Estiang, at the request of
Lafayette. Washington immediately wrote to Governor Clinton, saying:--

"I take the first moment of forwarding to your excellency the despatches
from the secretary of foreign affairs, which accompany this. They
contain, I presume, all the intelligence respecting peace, on which
great and glorious event, permit me to congratulate you with the
greatest sincerity." Upon the envelope, bearing the superscription of
this letter, Washington wrote, in a bold hand, and with a broad dash
under it--PEACE.

On the nineteenth of April, the seventh anniversary of the earlier
bloodshedding in the War for Independence, at Lexington and Concord, the
intelligence of peace was officially proclaimed to the army in general
orders. "The generous task," Washington said, "for which we first flew
to arms, being accomplished; the liberties of our country being fully
acknowledged, and firmly secured, and the characters of those who have
persevered through every extremity of hardship, suffering, and danger,
being immortalized by the illustrious appellation of _the patriot army_,
nothing now remains, but for the actors of this mighty scene, to pursue
a perfect, unvarying consistency of character through the very last act;
to close the drama with applause, and to retire from the military
theatre with the same approbation of angels and men, which has crowned
all their former virtuous actions."

Ever mindful of the interests of his soldiers, Washington had procured
the passage of a resolution in Congress, that the services of the men
engaged in the war, did not expire until the definitive treaty of peace
should be ratified, but that the commander-in-chief might grant
furloughs according to his own judgment, and permit the men to take
their arms home with them. Washington used this prerogative freely, but
judiciously, and, by degrees, the continental army was virtually
disbanded, except a small force at headquarters; for those dismissed on
furlough were never called back to service. "Once at home," says Irving,
"they sank into domestic-life; their weapons were hung over their
fireplaces--military trophies of the Revolution, to be prized by future

On the sixth of May Washington held a personal conference with Sir Guy
Carleton, at Tappan, in relation to the transfer of certain posts in the
United States occupied by British troops, and other arrangements; and
two days afterward, Egbert Benson, William S. Smith, and Daniel Parker,
were appointed commissioners on the part of the Americans, to inspect
and superintend the embarkation of the tories, who were about to leave
for Nova Scotia, with their property. Several thousands of these
unfortunate people left New York for that far-east country, where, one
of them observed, were "nine months of winter, and three months of cold
weather every year."

In view of the approaching dissolution of the army, and their final
separation, the officers in camp, most of whom had worked shoulder to
shoulder in the eight years struggle, yearned for some bond of
association, whereby they should continue to be like brothers, not only
in the memory of the past, but in personal intercourse, and friendly
association. The idea of a society to be formed of all the officers of
the Revolution, American and foreign, was conceived by the large-hearted
Knox, and on the thirteenth of May, at the quarters of the Baron
Steuben, a committee that had been appointed for the purpose, submitted
a plan to a meeting of officers. It was adopted, and an association
called the _Society of the Cincinnati_, was formed. That name was
adopted, because, like the noble Roman, LUCIUS QUINTIUS CINCINNATUS,
they were about to return to private life and their several employments,
after serving the public.

The chief objects of the society were to promote cordial friendship and
indissoluble union among themselves; to commemorate by frequent
re-unions the great struggle they had just passed through; to use their
best endeavors for the promotion of human liberty; to cherish good
feeling between the respective states; and to extend benevolent aid to
those of the society whose circumstances might require it. They formed a
general society, and elected Washington the president, and Knox the
secretary. The former held his office until his death, and was succeeded
by General Alexander Hamilton. For greater convenience, state societies
were organized, which were auxiliary to the parent society. To
perpetuate the association, it was provided in the constitution, that
the eldest male descendant of an original member should be entitled to
membership on the decease of such member, "in failure thereof, the
collateral branches, who may be judged worthy of becoming its supporters
and members." During the remainder of his life, Washington manifested a
great interest in this society, and the re-unions were seasons of real
enjoyment for the members.[4]

On the eighth of June Washington addressed a circular letter to the
governors of all the states, on the subject of the disbanding of the
army. It was a most able paper, evidently prepared with care after much
thought, and presenting, for the consideration of his countrymen,
topics and opinions of the greatest importance. With admirable skill he
drew a picture of the enviable condition and position of the United
States, and their citizens, and then remarked:--

     "Such is our situation, and such our prospects; but notwithstanding
     the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us--notwithstanding
     happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion
     and make it our own; yet it appears to me there is an option still
     left to the United States of America, whether they will be
     respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a
     nation. This is the time of their political probation; this is the
     moment when the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them; this
     is the time to establish or ruin their national character for ever;
     this is the favorable moment to give such a tone to the federal
     government as will enable it to answer the ends of its institution;
     or this may be the ill-fated moment for relaxing the powers of the
     Union, annihilating the cement of the confederation, and exposing
     us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one
     state against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to
     serve their own interested purposes. For, according to the system
     of policy the states shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or
     fall; and by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided
     whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing
     or a curse; a blessing or a curse not to the present age alone, for
     with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.

     "With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis,
     silence in me would be a crime. I will therefore speak to your
     excellency the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise.
     I am aware, however, those who differ from me in political
     sentiments may perhaps remark, I am stepping out of the proper line
     of my duty; and they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or
     ostentation, what I know is alone the result of the purest
     intention; but the rectitude of my own heart, which disdains such
     unworthy motives--the part I have hitherto acted in life--the
     determination I have formed of not taking any share in public
     business hereafter--the ardent desire I feel and shall continue to
     manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils
     of war, the benefits of a wise and liberal government, will, I
     flatter myself, sooner or later convince my countrymen, that I
     could have no sinister views in delivering, with so little reserve,
     the opinions contained in this address.

     "There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the
     well-being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the
     United States, as an independent power.

     "1st. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.

     "2dly. A sacred regard to public justice.

     "3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,

     "4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition
     among the people of the United States, which will induce them to
     forget their local prejudices and politics, to make those mutual
     concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in
     some instances to sacrifice their individual advantages to the
     interest of the community.

     "These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our
     independence and national character must be supported. Liberty is
     the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or
     overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he may
     attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest
     punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country."

With close and admirable logic he expatiated upon these four heads; and
with the earnestness of most profound conviction, he urged the
importance of union, and the vesting of the federal Congress with
greater power. He then made a warm and generous plea for the army, while
treating upon the subject of public justice. Concerning proposed
half-pay and commutation, he observed:--

     "As to the idea, which I am informed has, in some instances,
     prevailed, that the half-pay and commutation are to be regarded
     merely in the odious light of a pension, it ought to be exploded
     for ever; that provision should be viewed, as it really was, a
     reasonable compensation offered by Congress, at a time when they
     had nothing else to give to officers of the army, for services
     then to be performed: it was the only means to prevent a total
     dereliction of the service; it was a part of their hire. I may be
     allowed to say, it was the price of their blood, and of your
     independency; it is, therefore, more than a common debt, it is a
     debt of honor; it can never be considered as a pension or gratuity,
     nor cancelled until it is fairly discharged."

After giving a sufficient apology for treating upon political topics, he
concluded by saying:--

     "I have thus freely declared what I wished to make known, before I
     surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The
     task is now accomplished. I now bid adieu to your excellency, as
     the chief magistrate of your state, at the same time I bid a last
     farewell to the cares of office and all the employments of public

But, six long months of official labor, with all the anxieties and cares
incident thereto, were before the commander-in-chief. Even at the very
moment when he was sending forth his address, and making a noble plea to
his country for justice to the army, a part of that army was bringing
dishonor upon the whole, by mutinous proceedings. About eighty
newly-recruited soldiers of the Pennsylvania line, stationed at
Lancaster, marched in a body to Philadelphia, where they were joined by
about two hundred from the barracks in that city. The whole body then
proceeded, with drum and fife, and fixed bayonets, to the statehouse,
where the Pennsylvania legislature and the continental Congress were in
session, with the avowed purpose of demanding a redress of specified
grievances from the state authorities. They placed a guard at every
door, and sent a message in to the president and council, threatening
them with violence if their demands were not complied with in the course
of twenty minutes. The Congress, feeling themselves outraged, and
doubting the strength of the local government to protect them against
any armed mob that might choose to assail them, sent a courier to
Washington with information of these proceedings, and then adjourned to
meet at Princeton, in New Jersey. This event occurred on the
twenty-first of June, and the Congress reassembled at Princeton on the

Washington received information of the mutiny on the twenty-fourth, and
immediately detached General Howe, with fifteen hundred men to quell the
insurrection and punish the leaders. At the same time he wrote a letter
to the president of Congress, in which he expressed his sorrow and
indignation that a mob of men, "contemptible in number, and equally so
in point of service, and not worthy to be called soldiers," should have
so insulted the "sovereign authority of the United States." He then
vindicated the rest of the army upon whom the act might cast dishonor.
But the mutiny was quelled before Howe reached Philadelphia, and
bloodshed was prevented.

While waiting, "with little business and less command," for the
definitive treaty, Washington made a tour northward from Newburg, of
about seven hundred and fifty miles. Governor Clinton accompanied him.
They set out on the seventeenth of July, ascended the Hudson to Albany,
visited the places made memorable by Burgoyne's defeat, passed down Lake
George in light boats, and over to Ticonderoga, from the foot of that
beautiful sheet of water. They returned by nearly the same route to
Schenectady, and then went up the Mohawk as far as Fort Schuyler (now
Rome); thence to Wood creek, a tributary of Oneida lake, by which there
was a water-communication with Lake Ontario, at Oswego, and then
traversed the country between the Mohawk and Otsego lake. They were
absent nineteen days, and performed a greater part of the journey on
horseback, much of it through an unbroken wilderness.

To the Chevalier de Chastellux, Washington wrote in October, respecting
this tour:--

    "Prompted by these actual observations I could not help taking a
    more extensive view of the vast inland navigation of the United
    States, from maps and the information of others; and could not but
    be struck with the immense extent and importance of it, and with the
    goodness of that Providence, which has dealt its favors to us with
    so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to
    improve them. I shall not rest contented till I have explored the
    western country, and traversed those lines, or great part of them,
    which have given bounds to a new empire."

Over all that region where then the primeval forest stood, the hand of
industry has spread the varied beauties and blessing of cultivation; and
where the solitary Indian then prowled with his rifle or arrow, in
search of game for his appetite, a busy population, inhabiting cities
and villages, and thousands of pleasant cottages or stately mansions,
now dwell.

On his return to headquarters, Washington found a resolution of the
Congress, calling him to Princeton, where that body was in session. The
chief object was to have him near them for consultation and aid in the
several arrangements for peace. The Congress engaged a house, suitably
furnished, for his use, at Rocky Hill, a few miles distant, and he set
out for Princeton on the eighteenth of August, leaving General Knox in
command at Newburg. On the twenty-sixth he had a formal public audience
with Congress, when that body presented a most affectionate address to
him, in which they said:--

     "It has been the particular happiness of the United States, that
     during a war so long, so dangerous, and so important, Providence
     has been graciously pleased to preserve the life of a general, who
     has merited and possessed the uninterrupted confidence and
     affection of his fellow-citizens. In other nations, many have
     performed eminent services, for which they have deserved the thanks
     of the public. But to you, sir, peculiar praise is due. Your
     services have been essential in acquiring and establishing the
     freedom and independence of your country. They deserve the grateful
     acknowledgments of a free and independent nation."

This honorable reception was grateful to the feelings of Washington,
for, next to the approval of his God and his conscience, he coveted that
of his country. Congress had already voted him a rarer honor, an honor
such as the senate of old Rome was fond of conferring upon the heroes of
the commonwealth. On the seventh of August they had--

"_Resolved_ (unanimously, ten states being present), That an equestrian
statue of General Washington be erected at the place where the residence
of Congress shall be established," and a committee appointed for the
purpose reported a plan for a pedestal to support the statue, with
historical _basso relievos_ upon it, and an appropriate inscription. But
this statue, like many other monumental testimonials, ordered by the old
Congress, was never made. Washington submitted to the unpleasant
operation of having a plaster-cast taken from his face, to be sent to
the sculptor in Europe who should be employed to execute the statue; but
the cast was broken, and as he would not submit to the manipulations
again, the effort was abandoned.

On the third of September the definitive treaty for peace was signed at
Paris, and by a proclamation dated the eighteenth day of October, 1783,
all officers and soldiers of the continental army, absent on furlough,
were discharged from further service; and all others who had engaged to
serve during the war, were to be discharged from and after the third of

On the second of November, Washington, yet at Rocky Hill, issued his
last general orders, in which he addressed his soldiers as a father
speaking to his children, and bade them an affectionate farewell.[5]

He then waited quietly for the British to evacuate New York city, that
he might go thither with a few troops that would remain in camp under
Knox, take formal possession, and then hasten to the seat of Congress
and resign his commission of commander-in-chief of the American armies
into their hands.


[2] The following is a copy of the notification: "A meeting of
the field-officers is requested at the public building on Tuesday next
at eleven o'clock. A commissioned officer from each company is expected,
and a delegate from the medical staff. The object of this convention is
to consider the late letter of our representatives in Philadelphia, and
what measures (if any) should be adopted to obtain that redress of
grievances which they seem to have solicited in vain."

[3] The following is a copy of the address:--

     "GENTLEMEN: By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been
     made to convene you together; how inconsistent with the
     rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of
     all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army
     decide. In the moment of this summons, another anonymous
     production was sent into circulation, addressed more to the
     feelings and passions than to the reason and judgment of the
     army. The author of the piece is entitled to much credit for
     the goodness of his pen, and I could wish he had as much
     credit for the rectitude of his heart; for, as men see
     through different optics, and are induced by the reflecting
     faculties of the mind to use different means to attain the
     same end, the author of the address should have had more
     charity than to mark for suspicion the man who should
     recommend moderation and longer forbearance; or, in other
     words, who should not think as he thinks, and act as he

When Washington had concluded this paragraph, he paused, took out his
spectacles, begged the indulgence of the audience while he put them on,
and observed, "You see I have grown gray in your service, and am now
growing blind." The effect was electrical, and many an eye was moistened
by tears called forth by the incident. He then proceeded:--

     "But he had another plan in view, in which candor and liberality of
     sentiment, regard to justice, and love of country have no part; and
     he was right to insinuate the darkest suspicion to effect the
     blackest design. That the address is drawn with great art, and is
     designed to answer the most insidious purposes; that it is
     calculated to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated
     injustice in the sovereign power of the United States, and rouse
     all those resentments which must unavoidably flow from such a
     belief; that the secret mover of this scheme, whoever he may be,
     intended to take advantage of the passions while they were warmed
     by the recollection of past distresses, without giving time for
     cool, deliberate thinking, and that composure of mind which is so
     necessary to give dignity and stability to measures, is rendered
     too obvious, by the mode of conducting the business, to need other
     proofs than a reference to the proceedings.

     "Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe
     to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and
     hasty meeting which was proposed to be held on Tuesday last, and
     not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity,
     consistent with your own honor and the dignity of the army, to make
     known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to
     you that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration
     of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But,
     as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common
     country; as I have never left your side one moment, but when called
     from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and
     witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and
     acknowledge your merits; as I have ever considered my own military
     reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army; as my
     heart has ever expanded with joy when I have heard its praises, and
     my indignation has arisen when the mouth of detraction has been
     opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this last stage
     of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests. But how are
     they to be promoted? The way is plain, says the anonymous
     addresser. 'If war continues, remove into the unsettled country;
     there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to
     defend itself.' But who are they to defend? Our wives, our
     children, our farms, and other property which we leave behind us?
     or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two
     first (the latter can not be removed) to perish in a wilderness,
     with hunger, cold, and nakedness?

     "'If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords,' says he, 'until
     you have obtained full and ample justice.' This dreadful
     alternative of either deserting our country in the extremest hour
     of her distress, or turning our arms against it--which is the
     apparent object--unless Congress can be compelled into instant
     compliance, has something so shocking in it, that humanity revolts
     at the idea. My God! what can this writer have in view by
     recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he
     be a friend to this country? Rather, is he not an insidious foe?
     some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both,
     by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and
     military powers of the continent? And what a compliment does he pay
     to our understandings, when he recommends measures, in either
     alternative, impracticable in their nature?

     "But, here, gentlemen, I will drop the curtain, because it would be
     as imprudent in me to assign my reasons for this opinion, as it
     would be insulting to your conception to suppose you stood in need
     of them. A moment's reflection will convince every dispassionate
     mind of the physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into
     execution. There might, gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking
     notice, in this address to you, of an anonymous production; but the
     manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army,
     the effect it was intended to have, together with some other
     circumstances, will amply justify my observations on the tendency
     of that writing.

     "With respect to the advice given by the author, to suspect the man
     who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance, I
     spurn it, as every man, who regards that liberty and reveres that
     justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for, if men are to
     be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may
     involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite
     the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us. The
     freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be
     led, like sheep, to the slaughter. I can not, in justice to my own
     belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention
     of Congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided
     opinion that that honorable body entertains exalted sentiments of the
     services of the army, and, from a full conviction of its merits
     and sufferings, will do it complete justice; that their endeavors
     to discover and establish funds for this purpose have been
     unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have not
     a doubt. But, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety
     of different interests to reconcile, their determinations are slow.
     Why, then, should we distrust them, and, in consequence of that
     distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory
     which has been so justly acquired, and tarnish the reputation of an
     army which is celebrated through all Europe for its fortitude and
     patriotism? And for what is this done? To bring the object we seek
     nearer? No; most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a
     greater distance. For myself (and I take no merit in giving the
     assurance, being induced to it from principles of gratitude,
     veracity, and justice, a grateful sense of the confidence you have
     ever placed in me), a recollection of the cheerful assistance and
     prompt obedience I have experienced from you under every
     vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an
     army I have so long had the honor to command, will oblige me to
     declare, in this public and solemn manner, that in the attainment
     of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the
     gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently
     with the great duty I owe my country; and those powers we are bound
     to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost extent
     of my abilities.

     "While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most
     unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in
     your favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to
     take any measures, which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will
     lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto
     maintained. Let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of
     your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the
     intentions of Congress, that, previous to your dissolution as an
     army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as
     directed in the resolutions which were published to you two days
     ago, and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their
     power to render ample justice to you for your faithful and
     meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our
     common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect
     the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national
     character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation
     of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn
     the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the
     flood-gates of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire in

     "By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and
     direct road to the attainment of your wishes; you will defeat the
     insidious designs of your enemies, who are compelled to resort from
     open force to secret artifice; you will give one more distinguished
     proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue rising superior
     to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings; and you will,
     by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to
     say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to
     mankind, 'Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the
     last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of
     attaining.'"--_Journals of Congress_, viii 180-183.

[4] A full account of this society, with drawings of the orders
worn by the members, and the certificate of membership, may be found in
the first volume of _Lossing's Field-Book of the Revolution_.

[5] The following is a copy of Washington's last general order:--

     "ROCKY HILL, NEAR PRINCETON, _November 2, 1783._

     "The United States in Congress assembled, after giving the most
     honorable testimony to the merits of the federal armies, and
     presenting them with the thanks of their country, for their long,
     eminent, and faithful service, having thought proper, by their
     proclamation bearing date the sixteenth of October last, to
     discharge such part of the troops as were engaged for the war, and
     to permit the officers on furlough to retire from service, from and
     after to-morrow, which proclamation having been communicated in the
     public papers for the information and government of all concerned;
     it only remains for the commander-in-chief to address himself once
     more, and that for the last time, to the armies of the United
     States (however widely dispersed individuals who compose them may
     be), and to bid them an affectionate, a long farewell.

     "But before the commander-in-chief takes his final leave of those
     he holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in
     calling to mind a slight review of the past: he will then take the
     liberty of exploring, with his military friends, their future
     prospects; of advising the general line of conduct which in his
     opinion ought to be pursued; and he will conclude the address by
     expressing the obligations he feels himself under for the spirited
     and able assistance he has experienced from them in the performance
     of an arduous office.

     "A contemplation of the complete attainment (at a period earlier
     than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended
     against so formidable a power, can not but inspire us with
     astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on
     our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be
     forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble
     condition, were such as could scarcely escape the attention of the
     most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the armies
     of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and
     discouragement, for the space of eight long years, was little short
     of a standing miracle.

     "It is not the meaning, nor within the compass of this address, to
     detail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to
     describe the distresses which in several instances have resulted
     from the extremes of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigors
     of an inclement season: nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark
     side of our past affairs. Every American officer and soldier must
     now console himself for any unpleasant circumstances which may have
     occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has
     been called to act no inglorious part, and the astonishing events
     of which he has been a witness--events which have seldom, if ever
     before, taken place on the stage of human action, nor can they
     probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined
     army formed at once from such raw materials? Who that was not a
     witness could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would
     cease so soon; and that men who came from different parts of the
     continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education to despise
     and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one
     patriotic band of brothers? Or who that was not on the spot, can
     trace the steps by which such a wonderful Revolution has been
     effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?

     "It is universally acknowledged that the enlarged prospects of
     happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and
     sovereignty, almost exceed the power of description; and shall not
     the brave men who have contributed so essentially to these
     inestimable acquisitions, retiring victorious from the field of war
     to the field of agriculture, participate in all the blessings which
     have been obtained? In such a republic, who will exclude them from
     the rights of citizens, and the fruits of their labors? In such a
     country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of commerce and the
     cultivation of the soil will unfold to industry the certain road to
     competence. To those hardy soldiers who are actuated by the spirit
     of adventure, the fisheries will afford ample and profitable
     employment; and the extensive and fertile regions of the West will
     yield a most happy asylum for those who, fond of domestic
     enjoyment, are seeking personal independence. Nor is it possible to
     conceive that any one of the United States will prefer a national
     bankruptcy, and dissolution of the Union, to a compliance with the
     requisitions of Congress, and the payment of its just debts; so
     that the officers and soldiers may expect considerable assistance,
     in recommencing their civil operations, from the sums due to them
     from the public, which must and will most inevitably be paid.

     "In order to effect this desirable purpose, and to remove the
     prejudices which may have taken possession of the minds of any of
     the good people of the states, it is earnestly recommended to all
     the troops that, with strong attachments to the Union, they should
     carry with them into civil society the most conciliating
     dispositions; and that they should prove themselves not less
     virtuous and useful as citizens than they have been persevering and
     victorious as soldiers. What though there should be some envious
     individuals who are unwilling to pay the debt the public has
     contracted, or to yield the tribute due to merit; yet let such
     unworthy treatment produce no invective, or any instance of
     intemperate conduct; let it be remembered that the unbiassed voice
     of the free citizens of the United States has promised the just
     reward, and given the merited applause; let it be known and
     remembered that the reputation of the federal armies is established
     beyond the reach of malevolence; and let a consciousness of their
     achievements and fame still excite the men who composed them to
     honorable actions, under the persuasion that the private virtues of
     economy, prudence, and industry, will not be less amiable in civil
     life than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and
     enterprise, were in the field. Every one may rest assured that
     much, very much of the future happiness of the officers and men,
     will depend upon the wise and manly conduct which shall be adopted
     by them when they are mingled with the great body of the community.
     And, although the general has so frequently given it as his
     opinion, in the most public and explicit manner, that unless the
     principles of the federal government were properly supported, and
     the powers of the Union increased, the honor, dignity, and justice
     of the nation would be lost for ever; yet he can not help repeating
     on this occasion so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his
     last injunction to every officer and every soldier who may view the
     subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best
     endeavors to those of his worthy fellow-citizens, toward effecting
     these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence as a
     nation so materially depends.

     "The commander-in-chief conceives little is now wanting to enable
     the soldier to change the military character into that of a
     citizen, but that steady and decent tenor of behavior which has
     generally distinguished not only the army under his immediate
     command, but the different detachments and separate armies, through
     the course of the war. From their good sense and prudence he
     anticipates the happiest consequences: and while he congratulates
     them on the glorious occasion which renders their services in the
     field no longer necessary, he wishes to express the strong
     obligations he feels himself under for the assistance he has
     received from every class, and in every instance. He presents his
     thanks, in the most serious and affectionate manner, to the general
     officers, as well for their counsel on many interesting occasions
     as for their ardor in promoting the success of the plans he had
     adopted; to the commandants of regiments and corps, and to the
     officers, for their zeal and attention in carrying his orders
     promptly into execution; to the staff, for their alacrity and
     exactness in performing the duties of their several departments,
     and to the non-commissioned officers and private soldiers for their
     extraordinary patience in suffering as well as their invincible
     fortitude in action. To various branches of the army the general
     takes this last and solemn opportunity of professing his inviolable
     attachment and friendship. He wishes more than bare profession were
     in his power; that he was really able to be useful to them all in
     future life. He flatters himself, however, they will do him the
     justice to believe that, whatever could with propriety be attempted
     by him, has been done. And being now to conclude these his last
     public orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the
     military character, and to bid a final adieu to the armies he has
     so long had the honor to command, he can only again offer, in their
     behalf, his recommendations to their grateful country, and his
     prayers to the God of armies. May ample justice be done them here,
     and may the choicest of Heaven's favors, both here and hereafter,
     attend those who, under the Divine auspices, have secured
     innumerable blessings for others! With these wishes, and this
     benediction, the commander-in-chief is about to retire from
     service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the
     military scene to him will be closed for ever."

Chapter III.


It was late in November, 1783, before the British troops were prepared
to leave New York, so large was the number of persons, and so great was
the quantity of goods to be first conveyed away. At length Sir Guy
Carleton gave Washington notice when he would be ready to surrender the
city. Governor Clinton summoned the members of the state council to
convene at Eastchester on the twenty-first of November, to prepare for
the re-establishment of civil government in New York city and its
vicinity, and a detachment of troops came down from West Point to be
ready to take possession of the posts about to be evacuated by the

Carleton appointed the twenty-fifth of November as the day for the
evacuation, and before that time the British troops were drawn in from
the surrounding posts. On the morning of the twenty-fifth Washington and
Governor Clinton were at Harlem, with the detachment from West Point,
under General Knox; and during the morning they all moved toward the
city, and halted at the Bowery. The troops were composed of
light-dragoons, light-infantry, and artillery, and were accompanied by
the civil officers of the state.


Between twelve and one o'clock the British troops were embarked. The
fleet immediately weighed anchor, and with a favoring breeze sailed out
the Narrows. The American troops and the civil authorities then marched
in and took formal possession. Washington and Clinton, with their
respective suites, led the procession, escorted by a troop of
Westchester cavalry. Then followed the lieutenant-governor and members
of the council, General Knox and the officers of the army, the speaker
of the assembly, and a large procession of citizens on horseback and on

The evacuation of the British, and the entrance of the Americans,
produced in the inhabitants mingled feelings of joy and sadness. The
whigs greatly rejoiced at their deliverance, while the families of
loyalists were saddened by the change. There was a marked contrast
between the troops that left and the troops that came. "We had been
accustomed for a long time to military display in all the finish and
finery of garrison life," said an American lady to Mr. Irving; "the
troops just leaving us were as if equipped for show, and with their
scarlet uniforms and burnished arms, made a brilliant display; the
troops that marched in, on the contrary, were ill-clad and
weather-beaten, and made a forlorn appearance; but they were _our_
troops, and as I looked at them and thought upon all they had done and
suffered for us, my heart and my eyes were full, and I admired and
gloried in them the more, because they _were_ weather-beaten and

But joy was the predominant feeling, and on that night the city was a
scene of public festivity, and demonstrations of unbounded pleasure. The
governor gave a feast, and splendid fireworks illuminated the town.

On the fourth of December Washington was prepared for a journey to
Annapolis, where the Congress was in session, to resign his commission
into their hands. A handsome barge was made ready to convey him from the
Whitehall ferry to Paulus's Hook (now Jersey City), and lay at the
stairs, ready manned at twelve o'clock. Meanwhile Washington and his
officers had assembled in the parlor of Fraunce's tavern, near by, to
take a final leave of each other. Marshall has left on record, a brief
but touching narrative of the scene. As the commander-in-chief entered
the room, and found himself in the midst of his officers--his old
companions-in-arms, many of whom had shared with him the fortunes of war
from its earliest stages--his tender feelings were too powerful for
concealment, and defied his usual self-command. Filling a glass of wine,
and taking it in his hand, he turned upon his friends a sad but
benignant countenance, and said:--

"With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you, most
devoutly wishing that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy,
as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." After lifting the
wine to his lips, and drinking a farewell benediction, he added, while
his voice trembled with emotion:--

"I can not come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if
each of you will come and take me by the hand." General Knox being
nearest, first turned to him. Washington, incapable of utterance,
grasped his hand in silence, and embraced him affectionately, while his
eyes were suffused with tears. In the same affectionate manner, every
officer took leave of him. Not a word was spoken. Feeling held speech in
abeyance. The tear of manly sensibility was in every eye, and in
dignified silence they all followed their beloved chief as he left the
room, passed through a corps of light-infantry, and walked to Whitehall
to embark. Having entered the barge, he turned to the tearful friends
upon the wharf, and waving his hat, bade them a silent adieu. They stood
and watched the barge until it was hidden from their view by an angle of
the battery, when, in silent and solemn procession, they all returned to
the place where they had assembled.

Washington stopped a few days in Philadelphia, where he adjusted his
accounts with the comptroller of the treasury. These were all in perfect
order, from the beginning of the war until the moment of settlement, on
the thirteenth of December. They were entirely in his own hand-waiting.
The gross amount was almost seventy-five thousand dollars, in which were
included moneys expended for secret service and in various incidental
charges. For his own services he would receive nothing.

Washington's journey from New York to Annapolis, in Maryland, was one
continued ovation. The people everywhere received him with enthusiasm;
and public meetings, legislative assemblies, and learned and religious
institutions, greeted him with addresses. He arrived at Annapolis on
Friday, the nineteenth of December, where he was joined by Mrs.
Washington and many warm personal friends. On the following day he
addressed a note to the Congress, inquiring when, and in what manner it
would be proper to offer his resignation; and on Monday he was present
at a dinner ordered by that body. In the evening he attended a grand
ball given in his honor.

On Tuesday, the twenty-third, Washington wrote to the Baron
Steuben--"This is the last letter I shall write while I continue in the
service of my country. The hour of my resignation is fixed at twelve
to-day; after which I shall become a private citizen on the banks of the

At the hour named the chief was before the assembled Congress, of whom
General Thomas Mifflin was president. The hall was filled with public
functionaries and military officers, accompanied by ladies; and in the
gallery was Mrs. Washington and many more ladies than were on the floor

Washington was conducted to the hall by Secretary Thomson, when the
president said, "The United States in Congress assembled, are prepared
to receive your communication." Washington then arose, and in a
dignified manner, and clear, rich voice, said:--

     "Mr. PRESIDENT: The great events on which my resignation depended,
     having at length taken place, I now have the honor of offering my
     sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself
     before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to
     me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my
     country. Happy in the confirmation of our independence and
     sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United
     States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction
     the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my
     abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was
     superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the
     support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of
     Heaven. The successful termination of the war has verified the most
     sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of
     Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen,
     increases with every review of the momentous contest. While I
     repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice
     to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar
     services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been
     attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice
     of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more
     fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular those who
     have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of
     the favorable notice and patronage of Congress. I consider it as an
     indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life by
     commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection
     of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to
     his holy keeping. Having now finished the work assigned me, I
     retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an
     affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I
     have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave
     of all the employments of public life."

President Mifflin replied: "SIR--The United States, in Congress
assembled, receive with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn
resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops
with success through a perilous and a doubtful war. Called upon by your
country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge,
before it had formed alliances, and while it was without funds or a
government to support you. You have conducted the great military contest
with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil
power, through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and
confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them to display their
martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have
persevered, until these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and
nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in
freedom, safety, and independence; in which happy event we sincerely
join you in congratulations. Having defended the standard of liberty in
this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and
to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of
action with the blessings of your fellow-citizens. But the glory of your
virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue
to animate remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the army
in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of
those confidential officers who have attended your person to this
affecting moment. We join you in commending the interests of our dearest
country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the
hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded
them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address
to him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with
all his care; that your days may be as happy as they have been
illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this
world can not give."

Washington, now a private citizen, hastened to his beloved home on the
Potomac, accompanied on the way by many friends, among whom was Colonel
Walker, one the aids of the Baron Steuben. By his hand, he sent a letter
to Governor George Clinton--the first that he wrote after his retirement
from office--in which he said: "The scene is at last closed. I am now a
private citizen on the banks of the Potomac. I feel myself eased of a
load of public care. I hope to spend the remainder of my days in
cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the
domestic virtues."

It was on Christmas eve when Washington reached Mount Vernon. It must
have been a happy and a merry Christmas in that beautiful home, for the
toils and dangers of war were over, peace was smiling upon all the land,
and the people were free and independent. The enjoyment of his home,
under these circumstances, was an exquisite one to the retired soldier;
and in his letters to his friends he gives frequent and touching
evidence of his happiness in private life. To Lafayette he wrote on the
first of February:--

    "At length, my dear marquis, I am become a private citizen on the
    banks of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own
    fig-tree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of
    public life. I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of
    which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame, the statesman,
    whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising
    schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other
    countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us all, and the
    courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in
    hopes of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception.
    I have not only retired from all public employments, but I am
    retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk,
    and tread the paths of private life, with a heartfelt satisfaction.
    Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this my
    dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down
    the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers."

A little later he wrote to Madam Lafayette, saying:--

    "Freed from the clangor of arms and the bustle of a camp, from the
    cares of public employment and the responsibility of office, I am
    now enjoying domestic ease under the shadow of my own vine and my
    own fig-tree; and in a small villa, with the implements of husbandry
    and lambkins around me, I expect to glide gently down the stream of
    life, till I am entombed in the mansion of my fathers.

    "Come, then, let me entreat you, and call my cottage your home; for
    your own doors do not open to you with more readiness than mine
    would. You will see the plain manner in which we live, and meet with
    rustic civility; and you shall taste the simplicity of rural life.
    It will diversify the scene, and may give you a higher relish for
    the gayeties of the court, when you return to Versailles. In these
    wishes and most respectful compliments, Mrs. Washington joins me."

Notwithstanding Washington's retirement was so perfect as to amount to
positive isolation for a month or more, on account of the effects of an
intensely severe winter, which closed almost every avenue to Mount
Vernon, and suspended even neighborly intercourse, he found it
extremely difficult to divest himself of the habits of the camp.
"Strange as it may seem," he wrote to General Knox on the twentieth of
February, "it is nevertheless true, that it was not till lately I could
get the better of my usual custom of ruminating, as soon as I waked in
the morning, on the business of the ensuing day; and of my surprise at
finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a
public man, nor had anything to do with public transactions.

     "I feel now, however, as I conceive a wearied traveller must
     do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy
     burthen on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having
     reached the haven to which all the former were directed; and
     from his house-top is looking back, and tracing with an
     eager eye the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands
     and mires which lay in his way; and into which none but the
     all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have
     prevented his falling."

Surely, if ever a man had cause for serenity of mind while taking a
retrospect of his public and private life, it was George Washington.
From his youth he had walked in the path of truth and rectitude, and
throughout his long public career of about thirty years, at the time of
his retirement from the army, not a stain of dishonor--not even the
suspicion of a stain--had ever been seen upon his character. His moral
escutcheon was bright, his conscience was unqualifiedly approving, his
country loved him above all her sons. With a sincere desire to spend the
remainder of his days as a simple farmer upon the Potomac, without the
ambition of being famous, or the expectation of being again called into
public life, he resumed his old domestic habits, and prepared for the
enjoyment of the evening of his days undisturbed by the turmoils of
society around him.

"My manner of living is plain," he wrote to a friend, "and I do not mean to
be put out by it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready, and
such as will be content to partake of them, are always welcome. Those who
expect more will be disappointed."

But Washington's modest dream of quietude and simplicity of life in his
home at Mount Vernon was not realized.


[6] Life of Washington, iv. 440.



Washington took a careful survey of all his affairs, on retiring from
the public service, and perceived that much was to be done to retrieve
losses, and to make his estate an agreeable home, and suitable to his
position in life. The mansion, two stories in height, with only four
rooms on a floor, was too small to accommodate the visitors who he well
knew, might be expected at Mount Vernon, and he had already determined
to commence its enlargement with the opening of the spring, as well as
the adornment of the grounds around it, and the improvement of his
farms. To do this required a large outlay of time and money; and,
notwithstanding Washington had an ample fortune for a private gentleman
of moderate tastes, he perceived the necessity of practising economy.
His private affairs had become somewhat deranged, and his fortune
diminished during the war; and he knew that the current expenses of his
household must thereafter be materially increased.

At this juncture, when economy appeared so necessary, his consistency as
a servant of the public without pecuniary reward, was tested. The
temptation came in the specious form of a proposed testimonial of
public gratitude for his services, and was so delicately presented to
his mind, as almost to leave a doubt of its real purpose. It originated
with the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, who, a few days
before Washington resigned his commission at Annapolis, remarked as
follows in their instructions to the delegates in Congress from that

     "Though his excellency, General Washington, proposes in a short
     time to retire, yet his illustrious actions and virtues render his
     character so splendid and venerable, that, it is highly probable,
     the admiration and esteem of the world may make his life in a very
     considerable degree public, as numbers will be desirous of seeing
     the great and good man, who has so eminently contributed to the
     happiness of a nation. His very services to his country, may,
     therefore, subject him to expenses, unless he permits her gratitude
     to interpose.

     "We are perfectly acquainted with the disinterestedness and
     generosity of his soul. He thinks himself amply rewarded for all
     his labors and cares, by the love and prosperity of his
     fellow-citizens. It is true, no rewards they can bestow can be
     equal to his merits. But they ought not to suffer those merits to
     be burdensome to him. We are convinced that the people of
     Pennsylvania would regret such a consequence.

     "We are aware of the delicacy with which this subject must be
     treated. But relying upon the good sense of Congress, we wish it
     may engage their early attention."

President Mifflin forwarded a copy of these instructions to Washington,
because it was thought advisable not to lay them before Congress without
his knowledge and approbation. True to the consistency of his character,
Washington promptly declined the intended favor. "I can not but feel,"
he said, in reply to Mifflin, "the greatest obligations to the supreme
executive council of Pennsylvania. But as my sentiments on the subject
of their instructions have been long and well known to the public, I
need not repeat them to your excellency on the present occasion." All
proceedings on the subject were accordingly stopped.

With the opening of the spring of 1784, numerous visitors began to make
their way to Mount Vernon. Many of them were officers, and some of them
poor soldiers of the war just closed, who went to pay the homage of
their affections to the general under whom they had so long served with
delight. Others were persons of distinction, from the various states and
from abroad; and others went there out of mere curiosity, to see the
great man of the nation in his retirement. Every one received the
attentions of a generous hospitality from the master; and in these
offices he was nobly seconded by Mrs. Washington, whose cheerful good
sense and excellent management, made her home a delightful spot for all
who entered it.

Of all the visitors who came to Mount Vernon during that first year of
Washington's retirement, none was more cordially welcomed than
Lafayette, who landed in New York early in August, and reached Mount
Vernon on the seventeenth of the same month. He remained there twelve
days, during which time the mansion was crowded with guests who came to
meet the great friend of America; and when he departed for Baltimore,
quite a large cavalcade of gentlemen accompanied him far on his way.

In September, Washington made quite an extensive tour westward, over the
Alleghany mountains, to visit his lands on the Ohio and Great Kanawha
rivers. He was accompanied by Doctor Craik, his old companion-in-arms in
the French and Indian war, and who had accompanied him to the same
region in 1770. They travelled in true soldier style--tent, pack-horses,
and a few supplies, relying for their food chiefly upon their guns and

Owing to accounts of discontents and irritation among the Indian tribes,
Washington did not think it prudent to descend the Ohio, and they
proceeded no farther West than the Monongahela, which river they
ascended, and then went southward through the wilderness, until they
reached the Shenandoah valley, near Staunton. They returned to Mount
Vernon on the fourth of October, having travelled on horseback, in the
course of forty-four days, six hundred and eighty miles.

It was during their first tour, according to the late Mr. Custis, that
Washington was visited by a venerable Indian sachem, who regarded him
with the utmost reverence, as a God-protected hero. He would neither
eat, drink, nor smoke with Washington; and finally, when a fire was
kindled, he arose and addressed him through Nicholson, an interpreter,
in the following terms:--

     "I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes; my influence extends
     to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far, blue mountains. I
     have travelled a long and weary path, that I might see the young
     warrior of the great battle. It was on the day, when the white
     man's blood, mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first
     beheld this chief; I called to my young men, and said, mark yon
     tall and daring warrior, he is not of the red-coat tribe--he hath
     an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do--himself is
     alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our
     rifles were levelled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to
     miss. It was all in vain, for a power mightier far than we,
     shielded him from harm. He can not die in battle. I am old, and
     soon shall be gathered to the great council-fire of my fathers, in
     the land of shades; but ere I go, there is a something, bids me
     speak, in the voice of prophecy. Listen! _The Great Spirit protects
     that man, and guides his destinies--he will become the chief of
     nations, and a people yet unborn, will hail him as the founder of a
     mighty empire!_"

This prophetic speech made a deep impression upon the companions of
Washington; and always afterward, on the field of battle, Doctor Craik
remembered it, and was fully persuaded that his friend would come out of
the storm of conflict unharmed. And so he did. It is a singular fact,
that Washington never received the slightest wound in battle.

Washington took an active interest in all that concerned the development
of the internal resources of the country; and one of the objects of his
tour westward in 1784, was the observation of the courses, and the
character of the streams flowing into the Ohio; the distance of their
navigable parts to those of the rivers east of the mountains, and the
distance of the portage between them. He had conceived the idea that a
communication, by canals, might be formed between the Potomac and James
rivers, and the waters of the Ohio, and thence to the great chain of
northern lakes. This idea had assumed the tangible shape of a
well-matured scheme of internal improvement, and he had attempted to
form a company for the purpose, when the kindling of the War for
Independence put a stop to every enterprise of that kind.

Washington now desired to awaken new interest in the matter, and in a
long and able letter to Benjamin Harrison, then governor of Virginia,
written in October, 1784, he set forth the advantages to be expected by
such a system of inland navigation. This letter was "one of the ablest,
most sagacious, and most important productions of his pen," says Mr.
Sparks, "presenting first a clear statement of the question, and showing
the practicability of facilitating the intercourse of trade between the
East and the West, by improving and extending the water

Washington then proceeded, by a train of admirable arguments and
illustrations, to explain the commercial and political value of such a
measure, in giving strength to the union of the states, and promoting
the prosperity of the country, by multiplying the resources of trade.

"I need not remark to you, sir," he said, "that the flanks and rear of
the United States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones
too; nor how necessary it is to apply the cement of interest to bind all
parts of the Union together by indissoluble bonds, especially that part
of it which lies immediately west of us, with the middle states. For
what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people? How entirely
unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not
apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their
left, instead of throwing stumbling-blocks in their way, as they now do,
should hold out lures for their trade and alliance? What, when they get
strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive (from the
emigration of foreigners, who will have no particular predilection
toward us, as well as from the removal of our own citizens), will be
the consequence of their having formed close connections with both or
either of those powers, in a commercial way? It needs not, in my
opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell.

"The western states (I speak now from my own observation) stand, as it
were, upon a pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any way. They
have looked down the Mississippi, until the Spaniards, very
impolitically, I think for themselves, threw difficulties in their way;
and they looked that way for no other reason, than because they could
glide gently down the stream, without considering, perhaps, the
difficulties of the voyage back again, and the time necessary to perform
it in; and because they have no other means of coming to us but by long
land transportations and unimproved roads. These causes have hitherto
checked the industry of the present settlers; for, except the demand for
provisions, occasioned by the increase of population, and a little
flour, which the necessities of the Spaniards compel them to buy, they
have no incitements to labor. But smooth the road, and make easy the way
for them, and then see what an influx of articles will be poured upon
us; how amazingly our exports will be increased by them, and how amply
we shall be compensated for any trouble and expense we may encounter to
effect it.

"A combination of circumstances makes the present conjuncture more
favorable for Virginia, than for any other state in the Union, to fix
these matters. The jealous and untoward disposition of the Spaniards on
the one hand, and the private views of some individuals, coinciding with
the general policy of the court of Great Britain on the other, to retain
as long as possible the posts of Detroit, Niagara, and Oswego (which,
though done under the letter of the treaty, is certainly an infraction
of the spirit of it, and injurious to the Union), may be improved to the
greatest advantage by this state, if she would open the avenues to the
trade of that country, and embrace the present moment to establish it.
It only wants a beginning. The western inhabitants would do their part
toward its execution. Weak as they are, they would meet us at least
halfway, rather than to be driven into the arms of foreigners, or to
be made dependent upon them; which would eventually either bring on a
separation of them from us, or a war between the United States and one
or the other of those powers, most probably with the Spaniards."

Washington's letter had a powerful effect upon the public mind. Governor
Harrison laid it before the Virginia legislature, and that body received
it with the greatest favor. Thus encouraged in his scheme, Washington
hastened to Richmond to give his personal attention to the matter; and
on the morning after his arrival (November sixteenth) he was waited upon
by a committee of the assembly, with Patrick Henry at their head, who,
in the name of the body whom they represented, testified their reverence
for his character and affection for his person.

The Virginia assembly proceeded to appoint a commission to make the
requisite surveys, and Washington returned to Mount Vernon, accompanied
by Lafayette, whom he had met in Richmond. The marquis remained there a
few days, and then departed for the seaboard, never to visit the United
States again, until he became an old man, and the republic he had
assisted in founding, had grown fifty years older.

Washington's scheme for internal improvements occupied much of his
attention, and he corresponded largely upon the subject. His plan, at
first, contemplated more especially the interests of Virginia and
Maryland, but it expanded in his mind so as to embrace the whole Union.
In a letter written on the fourteenth of December, to Richard Henry Lee,
then recently elected president of Congress, he urged the necessity of
action by that body, and suggested that the western waters should be
explored, the navigation of them fully ascertained, accurately laid
down, and a perfect map made of the country; that in the sale of public
lands, the United States should make a reservation of all mines,
minerals, and salt-springs, for special sale; and that a medium price
should be adopted for the western lands, sufficient to prevent a
monopoly, but not to discourage actual settlers. He wished to
discountenance the land-jobbers and "roaming speculators," who were
disquieting the Indians, and to encourage the useful citizen. He
perceived the necessity of doing something to regulate the matter, for,
he said, "the spirit of emigration is great. The people have got
impatient, and, though you can not stop the road, it is yet in your
power to mark the way. It is easier to prevent than to remedy an evil."

Late in December, Washington was invited to Annapolis by the Virginia
assembly, to assist in arranging matters with the assembly of Maryland,
respecting his scheme for uniting the Potomac and James rivers, with
those of the West. He attended the conference, and chiefly through his
exertions two companies were formed for the purpose, under the auspices
of the respective governments, and he was appointed president of both.
They were called respectively, the _Potomac Company_, and the _James
River Company_. Thus it will be seen, that during the first year after
the close of the Revolution, Washington set in motion that vast scheme
of internal improvements, which has had a powerful and salutary
influence upon the destinies of our country.

Again Washington's consistency was put to the test. Grateful for his
past services, and conscious of the advantages to the Virginia
commonwealth, of the great scheme of improvement which he had now set in
motion, they, by unanimous vote, offered to present to him fifty shares
in the Potomac Company, valued at ten thousand dollars, and one hundred
shares in the James River Company, valued at twenty-five thousand
dollars. Aware of his resolution not to receive any pecuniary gift from
the public, the legislature, in the preamble to the resolution, said:--

     "It is the desire of the representatives of this commonwealth to
     embrace every suitable occasion of testifying their sense of the
     unexampled merits of George Washington toward his country; and it
     is their wish in particular, that those great works for its
     improvement, which, both as springing from the liberty which he has
     been so instrumental in establishing, and as encouraged by his
     patronage, will be durable monuments of his glory, may be made
     monuments also of the gratitude of his country."

This mark of his countrymen's appreciation, was, of course, gratifying
to Washington, but again, true to his convictions and his vows, he
declined to receive the donation for his own benefit; but, as a matter
of expediency, he offered to accept the shares, provided the legislature
would allow him to appropriate them to the use of some object of a
public nature. The assembly cheerfully acceded to his proposition. As
the encouragement of education was a subject in which he felt deeply
interested, he made over the shares of the James River Company to an
institution in Rockbridge county, called _Liberty Hall Academy_, and
those of the Potomac Company he bequeathed in perpetuity for the
endowment of a university in the District of Columbia, under the
auspices of the general government. _Liberty Hall_ afterward became the
flourishing _Washington College_, but the national university has never
been established.

Other examples of Washington's interest in educational institutions, are
on record. He cheerfully accepted the chancellorship of William and Mary
college at Williamsburg; during many years he gave two hundred and fifty
dollars annually for the instruction of poor children in Alexandria; and
by his will he left four thousand dollars, the net income of which was
to be used for the same object. "Other examples," says Sparks, after
enumerating these and other benevolent acts of the great and good man,
"might be cited; and from his cautious habit of concealing from the
world his deeds of charity, it may be presumed many others are unknown,
in which his heart and his hand were open to the relief of indigent

We have observed that Washington's dreams of repose at Mount Vernon were
not realized. Visitors from the old and the new world constantly
increased, and among them came that champion of liberty, Catharine
Macaulay Graham, whose pen had done noble service in the cause of human
rights. She came with her husband, and professed to have crossed the
Atlantic for the sole purpose of testifying, in person, her respect and
admiration for the character and deeds of Washington. "A visit from a
lady so celebrated in the literary world," he wrote to Knox, "can not
but be very flattering to me."

His correspondence increased so rapidly, that it soon began to be
burdensome. To Richard Henry Lee he wrote in February, 1785, when
transmitting to him a mass of papers which he had received from the
pious Countess of Huntington, explaining her scheme for Christianizing
the American Indians: "Many mistakingly think that I am retired to ease,
and to that kind of tranquillity which would grow tiresome for want of
employment; but at no period of my life, not in the eight years I served
the public, have I been obliged to write so much myself, as I have done
since my retirement. Was this confined to friendly communication, and to
my own business, it would be equally pleasing and trifling; but I have a
thousand references to old matters, with which I ought not to be
troubled, but which, nevertheless, must receive some answer."

In a letter to General Knox he amplified this topic a little, saying:
"It is not the letters from my friends which give me trouble, or add
aught to my perplexity. It is reference to old matters with which I have
nothing to do; applications which oftentimes can not be complied with;
inquiries which would require the pen of a historian to satisfy; letters
of compliment, as unmeaning, perhaps, as they are troublesome, but which
must be attended to; and the common-place business, which employs my pen
and my time, often disagreeably. Indeed, these, with company, deprive me
of exercise, and unless I can obtain relief, must be productive of
disagreeable consequences."

For more than two years after the war, Washington kept neither clerk nor
secretary. At length the labor became insupportable, and through the
kind offices of General Lincoln, he procured the services of Tobias
Lear, a talented young gentleman of New Hampshire, who had recently left
Harvard college with honor. Mr. Lear took a social position at Mount
Vernon, as one of the family at table and among the guests, and became
greatly beloved by Washington. He remained there several years,
accompanied the general to New York when he went there to take the chair
of chief magistrate of the nation, and continued in his family until
after the seat of government was removed to Philadelphia. He was again a
resident at Mount Vernon, after the death of his wife, and was present
when the master of the mansion died. Mr. Lear relieved Washington of
much of the drudgery of the pen, and also took charge of the instruction
of his adopted children, Master and Miss Custis.

Washington was also annoyed by the applications of artists and literary
men, the former for him to give them sittings for his portrait, and the
latter for materials for either his biography, or a general history of
the Revolution. He positively refused compliance with the latter
request, but occasionally indulged the former. At the solicitation of
Francis Hopkinson, he sat to Robert Edge Pine, a diminutive Englishman
and excellent artist. Pine was a warm republican, and came to America to
collect portraits of distinguished persons for the purpose of painting a
series of pictures illustrative of the War for Independence.

Soon after Pine left Mount Vernon, Houdon, the eminent French
portrait-sculptor was there, at the request of the legislature of
Virginia, who had ordered a statue of Washington to be executed for the
statehouse at Richmond. For such a purpose, and under such auspices,
Washington was willing to submit to the manipulations of art, even those
so unpleasant as the moulding of the face in plaster, and he wrote to
Houdon, on his arrival in New York: "It will give me pleasure, sir, to
welcome you to the seat of my retirement; and whatever I have, or can
procure, that is necessary to your purpose, or convenient and agreeable
to your wishes, you must freely command, as inclination to oblige you
will be among the last things in which I shall be found deficient,
either on your arrival or during your stay."

Houdon made a plaster-mould from Washington's face, modelled a complete
head and bust in clay, made a cast from that, took the latter to France,
and from it executed the statue now in the capitol at Richmond. He made
careful measurements of Washington's figure, and in Paris, Gouverneur
Morris stood for it.

During nearly all of the year 1785, Washington was engaged much of the
time in the ornamentation of the grounds around the mansion he had
greatly enlarged, and in the improvement of his farms. The relief from
the pen afforded him by Mr. Lear, gave him time for pursuits of this
nature, which he so much loved, and his diary abounds with brief records
of his planting of trees and sowing of seeds. His Mount Vernon estate
was divided into five farms, and several hundred acres of woodland. The
mansion-house farm was his great care and delight, yet he managed the
other four with skill and prudence. On them he had over fifty
draught-horses, a dozen mules, more than three hundred head of black
cattle, three hundred and sixty sheep, and a large number of swine that
ran wild in the woods.

He was fond of improvements of every kind. The king of Spain hearing
that he was anxious to procure the best breed of asses in Europe, for
the propagation of mules on his estate, sent him a magnificent jack and
two jennies. With this jack, and another sent to him by Lafayette, at
about the same time, he raised some noble mules from his coach-mares. In
a few years the Mount Vernon estate became stocked with a very superior
breed, some of them rising to the height of sixteen hands.

From Arthur Young, an English agriculturist, Washington received many
precious seeds, improved implements, and good advice in the laying out
and management of farms. His early life habits were resumed--his early
rising, his frugal breakfast, his ride over his estate, and his exact
method in everything. He loved amusements still, but of a more quiet
kind than those of his younger days. The pleasures of the chase were
relinquished. His kennel was broken up, and his hounds, some of them a
present from Lafayette, were given away.

Washington was a most cheerful, companionable man at home, yet always
dignified. "General Washington is, I believe," said Mr. Lear, after two
years residence in his family, "almost the only man of an exalted
character, who does not lose some part of his respectability by an
intimate acquaintance. I have never found a single thing that could
lessen my respect for him. A complete knowledge of his honesty,
uprightness, and candor in all his private transactions, has sometimes
led me to think him more than a man."

In his family he was peculiarly kind and affectionate. Between himself
and Mrs. Washington the most perfect harmony existed. In all his
intercourse with his wife, he was most considerate. Mrs. Lewis (Nelly
Custis) said she had often seen Mrs. Washington, when she had something
to communicate, or a request to make, at a moment when the general's
mind was entirely abstracted from the present, seize him by the button
to command his attention, when he would look down upon her with a most
benignant smile, and, become at once attentive to her wishes, which were
never slighted.

Thus, in the management of his estate, the entertainment of his guests,
correspondence with his friends at home and abroad, and the
contemplation of years of peaceful life that lay before him,
Washington's hours glided away for a season. Meanwhile the political
horizon of his country began to darken, and omens of a fearful storm
appeared. The people looked to their ancient pilot for help, and at the
hour when he was dreaming most sweetly of domestic quiet, they called
him to take the helm, for the ship of state was in danger. He was soon
at the post of responsibility, upon the turbulent sea of political life.


[7] Life of Washington, page 379.

Chapter V.


We have had occasion, from time to time, to notice the jealousies of
individual states toward the continental Congress during the war, and
the consequent weakness of that body, as an executive of the will of the
people, at times when strength and energetic action were most needed.

It was with great difficulty that the states were brought to agree to
the _Articles of Confederation_, and nothing but the pressure of a
common danger, which required unity of action, could have induced them
to surrender even so much of their individual sovereignty as those
articles required. When, therefore, the common danger had passed, and
the people felt security in the pursuits of peace, sectional and
provincial pride began to operate powerfully in dissolving the union of
the states. The Congress, doubtful of their power, and but little relied
upon by the great mass of the people as an instrument for the promotion
of national prosperity, were incompetent to execute treaties, to
regulate commerce, or to provide for the payment of debts contracted
for the confederation, amounting in the aggregate, foreign and domestic,
to a little more than forty millions of dollars. And that body itself
was often distracted by party dissentions, and rendered powerless to
exercise even its acknowledged authority, through disagreement.

To Washington and other sagacious minds, the Articles of Confederation
had been regarded as essentially defective as a system of government,
long before the war had ceased. They perceived the necessity for a
greater centralization of power in the general government; and that
necessity became painfully apparent when peace came, and the people of
the several states found themselves in the condition of independent
sovereignty. The system of credit for the extinction of the national
debt, and to provide for the national expenditures, devised by the
Congress, was tardily accepted by most of the states, and utterly
neglected by others. Local interests and prejudices were consulted
instead of the national welfare; treaty stipulations were disregarded,
and the confederation became, in many respects, a dead letter.

"The confederation appears to me," Washington wrote to James Warren, in
October, 1785, "to be little more than a shadow without the substance,
and Congress a nugatory body, their ordinances being little attended to.
To me it is a solecism in politics, indeed, it is one of the most
extraordinary things in nature, that we should confederate as a nation,
and yet be afraid to give the rulers of that nation (who are the
creatures of our own making, appointed for a limited and short duration,
and who are amenable for every action, and may be recalled at any
moment, and are subject to all the evils which they may be instrumental
in producing) sufficient powers to order and direct the affairs of the
same. By such policy as this the wheels of government are clogged, and
our brightest prospects, and that high expectation which was entertained
of us by the wondering world, are turned into astonishment; and, from
the high ground on which we stood, we are descending into the vale of
confusion and darkness.

"That we have it in our power to become one of the most respectable
nations upon earth, admits, in my humble opinion, of no doubt, if we
would but pursue a wise, just, and liberal policy toward one another,
and keep good faith with the rest of the world. That our resources are
ample and increasing, none can deny; but while they are grudgingly
applied, or not applied at all, we give a vital stab to public faith,
and shall sink, in the eyes of Europe, into contempt.

"It has long been a speculative question among philosophers and wise
men, whether foreign commerce is of real advantage to any country; that
is, whether the luxury, effeminacy, and corruptions, which are
introduced along with it, are counterbalanced by the convenience and
wealth which it brings. But the decision of this question is of very
little importance to us. We have abundant reason to be convinced, that
the spirit of trade which pervades these states, is not to be
restrained. It behooves us, then, to establish just principles; and this
can not, any more than other matters of national concerns, be done by
thirteen heads differently constructed and organized. The necessity,
therefore, of a controlling power is obvious; and why it should be
withheld is beyond my comprehension."

A little earlier than this, Washington had been engaged in grave
discussions at Mount Vernon, with commissioners who had been appointed
by the assemblies of Virginia and Maryland, to form a compact in
relation to the navigation of the Potomac and Pocomoke rivers, and a
part of Chesapeake bay. During the conference he suggested the idea of a
conjunction of the several states in arrangements of a commercial
nature, over which the Congress, under the Articles of Confederation,
had no control. In this suggestion lay the kernel of future most
important action, which finally led to the great result of a convention
of the states, the abandonment of the old confederation, and the
adoption of the Federal Constitution.

But earlier far than this, one of the most extraordinary young men of
the last century--indeed, of any century--had, with wonderful sagacity,
perceived the evils that would naturally be developed by a weak central
government, and had pleaded eloquently with the people to give the
Congress more power. That young man was Alexander Hamilton, who, as
early as 1781, put forth his views on the subject in a series of
papers, under the title of _The Continentalist_. He was then only
twenty-four years of age, yet no man in the country appeared to have
clearer views of what constituted true national policy, than he. Indeed,
he spoke with the wisdom of a statesman of threescore years; and with
Washington and others he deeply lamented the mischievous effects of the
practical influence of the doctrine of state rights in its ultra phases.
"An extreme jealousy of power," he said, "is the attendant of all
popular revolutions, and has seldom been without its evils. It is to
this source we are to trace many of the fatal mistakes which have so
deeply endangered the common cause; particularly that defect--a want of
power in Congress."

The _Continentalist_ was published in the _New York Packet_, printed at
Fishkill, in Duchess county, and the series were devoted chiefly to a
discussion of the defects of the confederation. They excited great local
and general interest; and finally Hamilton succeeded in having the
subject of a general convention brought before the New York legislature,
in 1782, while in session at Poughkeepsie. The idea Was a popular one
with them, and on Sunday, the twenty-first of July, 1782, that body
passed a series of resolutions, in the last of which it was remarked,
"that it is essential to the common welfare, that there should be as
soon as possible, a conference of the whole on the subject, and that it
would be advisable for this purpose to propose to Congress to recommend,
and to each state to adopt, the measure of assembling a GENERAL
CONVENTION OF THE STATES, specially authorized to revise and amend the
CONFEDERATION, reserving the right to the respective legislatures to
ratify their determination."

This recommendation was pondered in other states, but the public
authorities were not ready to adopt it. At length the suggestion of
Washington, concerning a general commercial convention, was acted upon
by the Virginia legislature. That action drew a letter from John Jay to
Washington, in March, 1786, in which he said:--

     "Experience has pointed out errors in our national government which
     call for correction, and which threaten to blast the fruit we
     expected from our tree of liberty. The correction proposed by
     Virginia may do some good, and would, perhaps, do more if it
     comprehended more objects. An opinion begins to prevail that a
     general convention for revising the Articles of Confederation would
     be expedient. Whether the people are yet ripe for such a measure,
     or whether the system proposed to be attained by it is only to be
     expected from calamity and commotion, is difficult to ascertain. I
     think we are in a delicate situation, and a variety of
     considerations and circumstances give me uneasiness."

To this Washington responded in May, saying: "I coincide perfectly in
sentiment with you, my dear sir, that there are errors in our national
government which call for correction; loudly, I would add; but I shall
find myself happily mistaken, if the remedies are at hand. We are
certainly in a delicate situation; but my fear is, that the people are
not yet sufficiently _misled_ to retract from error. To be plain, I
think there is more wickedness than ignorance mixed in our councils.
Under this impression I scarcely know what opinion to entertain of a
general convention. That it is necessary to revise and amend the
Articles of Confederation, I entertain no doubt; but what may be the
consequences of such an attempt, is doubtful. Yet something must be
done, or the fabric must fall, for it certainly is tottering."

It was the general impression, at that time, that an alarming crisis in
public affairs was at hand, and during the whole summer of 1786,
Washington was in constant correspondence with leading minds in
different parts of the country. To Jay he again wrote in August,

     "I do not conceive we can long exist as a nation, without having
     lodged somewhere a power, which will pervade the whole Union in as
     energetic a manner as the authority of the state governments
     extends over the several states. To be fearful of investing
     Congress with powers, constituted as that body is, appears to me
     the very climax of popular absurdity and madness. Could Congress
     exert them for the detriment of the public, without injuring
     themselves in an equal or greater proportion? Are not their
     interests inseparably connected with those of their constituents?
     By the rotation of appointment, must they not mingle frequently
     with the mass of citizens? Is it not rather to be apprehended, if
     they were possessed of the powers before described, that the
     individual members would be induced to use them, on many occasions,
     very timidly and inefficaciously, for fear of losing their
     popularity and future election? We must take human nature as we
     find it. Perfection falls not to the share of mortals.

     "Many are of opinion, that Congress have too frequently made use of
     the suppliant, humble tone of requisition in application to the
     states, when they had a right to assert their imperial dignity and
     command obedience. Be that as it may, requisitions are a perfect
     nullity when thirteen sovereign, independent, disunited states, are
     in the habit of discussing and refusing compliance with them at
     their option. Requisitions are actually little better than a jest
     and a by-word throughout the land. If you tell the legislatures
     they have violated the treaty of peace, and invaded the
     prerogatives of the confederacy, they will laugh in your face. What
     then is to be done? They can not go on in the same train for ever.
     It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind of
     people, being disgusted with the circumstances, will have their
     minds prepared for any revolution whatever.... I am told that even
     respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government
     without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking; thence to acting
     is often but a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous!
     What a triumph to our enemies to verify their predictions!... Would
     to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the
     consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.

     "Retired as I am from the world," he continued, "I frankly
     acknowledge I can not feel myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet,
     having happily assisted in bringing the ship into port, and having
     been fairly discharged, it is not my business to embark again on a
     sea of troubles. Nor could it be expected that my sentiments and
     opinions could have much weight on the minds of my countrymen. They
     have been neglected, though given as a last legacy in the most
     solemn manner," he said, referring to his circular to the governors
     of the states in the summer of 1783; "I had then, perhaps, some
     claim to public attention, I consider myself as having none at

His sentiments and opinions _did_ have great weight, and in his
retirement at Mount Vernon, Washington exercised a most powerful
influence. To the patriotic and thoughtful, his words were oracular, and
the ear of the nation leaned in earnest silence toward Mount Vernon at
that crisis, to catch the faintest whisper from the lips of the retired
soldier, who was about to emerge as a sagacious statesman.

In September, 1786, commissioners met at Annapolis, at the suggestion of
the legislature of Virginia, "to take into consideration the trade of
the United States," and "to report to the several states such an act
relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them,"
would enable "the United States in Congress assembled," effectually to
provide for such a uniform system in their commercial relations as might
be necessary to their common interest and their social harmony.

Only five states (Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New
York) were represented in the convention. The deputies assembled on the
eleventh, and appointed John Dickenson, of Pennsylvania, chairman. A
committee was appointed to prepare a draft of a report to be made to the
legislatures of the several states there represented. That committee
reported on the fourteenth, when, as a majority of the states were not
represented in the convention, it was thought advisable to postpone
further action. They adjourned, after recommending to the several states
the appointment of deputies to meet in convention for a similar purpose,
in May following. They also prepared a letter to Congress, to accompany
a copy of the report to the several states represented, in which the
defects of the _Articles of Confederation_ were set forth.

When the Virginia assembly met, they resolved to appoint seven delegates
to represent that state in the proposed convention, and placed
Washington's name at the head of the list of deputies selected. The
appointment was made by the unanimous voice of the assembly, and the
fact was first communicated to him by Mr. Madison. Washington was
embarrassed. He heartily approved of the measure, and was willing to
leave the retirement of private life for a season, to serve his country
in a dark and critical hour; but he could not do so at that time,
without being obnoxious to the charge of inconsistency, and of
disrespect to a class of his fellow-citizens, who, above all others, he
most loved.

"I presume you have heard, sir," he said to Madison, "that I was first
appointed, and have since been re-chosen, president of the society of the
Cincinnati; and you may have understood, also, that the triennial
general meeting of this body is to be held in Philadelphia the first
Monday in May next. Some particular reasons, combining with the peculiar
situation of my private concerns, the necessity of paying attention to
them, a wish for retirement and relaxation from public cares, and
rheumatic pains which I begin to feel very sensibly, induced me to
address a circular letter to each state society, informing them of my
intention not to be at the next meeting, and of my desire not to be
re-chosen president."

Under these circumstances, and as the convention was to assemble at the
same place and at about the same time, he felt that he ought to decline
serving, for he could not appear there without giving offence to the
members of the society. They might, with reason, have grounds for
suspecting his sincerity, or even of his having deserted the officers
who had so nobly supported him during the war for independence. He,
therefore, in reply to the governor's official notification of his
appointment, expressed a wish that some other gentleman should be
substituted for himself.

Washington did not absolutely refuse to serve, and Governor Randolph
suggested that perhaps before the time for the assembling of the
convention the objections in his mind might be removed. His name was
therefore continued at the head of the Virginia convention.

Time moved on, and the subject of the convention of the states occupied
a large place in the public mind. Washington received many letters.
Some of these from his warm, personal friends expressed doubts of the
propriety of his attending the convention, and others advised against
it. Some thought that, as it did not originate with the supreme
legislature, acting under the articles of confederation which that
convention was called to revise, it would be illegal; and those who were
very tender of Washington's character, and had doubts concerning the
results of such convention, advised against his going, as his brilliant
reputation might suffer, should the whole affair prove abortive; while
others, having heard insinuations that the opposers of the convention
were monarchists, advised his going, to show that he favored it, and to
give the weight of his name to a really republican movement in which the
best interests of his country were involved.

Circumstances did finally occur which removed all objections from
Washington's mind. The Congress legalized the convention by a resolution
which declared it expedient, and fixing the day for its meeting. That
day was the second Monday in May, and was chosen in reference to the
general meeting of the society of the Cincinnati, which was to take
place a week earlier, that, thereby, Washington might be allowed to meet
with his brothers of the fraternity if he chose. Another circumstance
was the insinuation just alluded to, that the opponents of the
convention were monarchists, who were willing to have the difficulties
and dangers of the country increase, under the weak control of the
confederation, until republicanism should become hateful to the people;
and a third circumstance was a dangerous insurrection in Massachusetts
which had grown out of efforts to enforce federal laws. Washington was
unwilling to be classed among the opponents of the convention, or to
remain inactive, while violence was assuming to defy all law, and when
an era of anarchy in his country seemed about to dawn. Added to these
considerations, and the sanction of the convention by law, his friends,
whose minds had been changed in the course of a few months, now urged
him, by every consideration of patriotism, to come forth from his
retirement, for the salvation of the country depended in a great measure
upon his exertions. Washington no longer hesitated, and prepared to go
to the convention at the head of the Virginia deputies.

He resolved not to go uninformed upon the great subject that would
engage the attention of that body, and he commenced a course of
preparation. "His knowledge of the institutions of his country and of
its political forms," says Sparks, "both in their general character and
minute affiliated relations, gained by inquiry and long experience, was
probably as complete as that of any other man. But he was not satisfied
with this alone. He read the history and examined the principles of the
ancient and modern confederacies. There is a paper in his handwriting
which contains an abstract of each, and in which are noted, in a
methodical order, their chief characteristics, the kinds of authority
they possessed, their modes of operation, and their defects. The
confederacies analyzed in this paper are the Lycian, Amphictyonic,
Achæn, Helvetic, Belgic, and Germanic. He also read the standard works
on general politics and the science of government, abridging parts of
them, according to his usual practice, that he might impress the
essential points more deeply on his mind." He resolved to do all in his
power, in that convention, to affect a radical cure of the political
maladies with which his country was afflicted.

Washington set out from Mount Vernon on the ninth of May, in his
carriage, for Philadelphia, to attend the convention. He arrived at
Chester on the thirteenth, and was there met by General Mifflin (who was
then the speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly), Generals Knox and
Varnum, Colonels Humphreys and Meigs, and Majors Jackson and Nicholas,
by whom he was escorted toward Philadelphia. At Gray's ferry, on the
Schuylkill, a company of light-horse under Colonel Miles met and
escorted him into the city, when the bells were rung in honor of his
arrival. On the pressing invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Morris, he
took lodgings with them; and as soon as the dust of travel could be
removed, he called upon Doctor Franklin, who was at that time president
of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The following day was the time
appointed for the assembling of the convention.




On Monday, the fourteenth day of May, 1787, those delegates to the
convention called to revise the Articles of Confederation who were then
in Philadelphia, assembled in the large room in the statehouse, since
known as Independence hall; but it was not until Friday, the
twenty-fifth, that seven states, the number required by Congress to form
a quorum, were represented, and the convention was organized. On that
day, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and North
and South Carolina, were represented by an aggregate number of
twenty-seven delegates; and on the nomination of Robert Morris, in
behalf of the state of Pennsylvania, Washington was, by unanimous vote,
elected president of the convention. William Jackson was chosen
secretary; and on Monday, the twenty-eighth, Edmund Randolph, of
Virginia, at the request of his colleagues, opened the business of the
convention by an elaborate speech, in which he showed the defects of the
Articles of Confederation, illustrated their utter inadequacy to secure
the peace and safety of the republic, and the absolute necessity of a
more energetic government. When he closed his remarks, he offered for
the consideration of the convention fifteen resolutions; not as a system
of organic law, but as leading principles whereon to form a new

Very soon after the commencement of the session, eleven states were
represented. New Hampshire sent delegates at the close of June, but the
Rhode Island assembly refused to elect any. Some of the most influential
men of that little commonwealth united in a letter to the convention, in
which they expressed warm sympathy with the movement.

Sixty-one delegates had been appointed at the beginning of July, but
only about fifty served in the convention.[8] These were among the most
illustrious citizens of the republic, most of whom had been
distinguished for worth of character, talents, and patriotism, during
the late struggle for the independence of the colonies. Eighteen of them
were at that time members of the continental Congress.

It is not proposed to consider in detail, nor even in a synoptical
manner, the proceedings of that convention, which occupied several hours
each day for four months. We will merely glance at the men and measures,
contemplate the result, and leave the reader to seek, in special
sources, for information concerning the important and interesting
subject of the formation of our federal constitution.[9]


Next to Washington, the venerable Doctor Franklin, then a little over
eighty-one years of age, was the most conspicuous member. Thirty-three
years before, he had submitted to a convention of colonial delegates,
held at Albany, a plan for a confederation, similar to our federal
constitution, but it was not adopted. It satisfied neither the board of
trade to whom it was submitted, nor the colonial assemblies who
discussed it. "The assemblies did not adopt it," he said, "as they all
thought there was too much _prerogative_ in it, and in England it was
judged to have too much of the _democratic_."

Dickinson, Johnson, and Rutledge, had been members of the stamp-act
Congress in 1765. The first and last had been compatriots with
Washington in the Congress of 1774, and Sherman, Livingston, Read, and
Wythe, had shared the same honors. The two latter, with Franklin,
Sherman, Gerry, Morris, Clymer, and Wilson, had signed the Declaration
of Independence. Washington, Mifflin, Hamilton, and Cotesworth Pinckney,
represented the continental army; and the younger members, who became
prominent after the Declaration of Independence, were Hamilton, Madison,
and Edmund Randolph. The latter was then governor of Virginia, having
succeeded Patrick Henry.

The leading speakers in the long and warm debates elicited by the
resolutions of Governor Randolph and others, were King, Gerry, and
Gorham, of Massachusetts; Hamilton and Lansing, of New York; Ellsworth,
Johnson, and Sherman, of Connecticut; Paterson, of New Jersey, who
presented a scheme counter to that of Randolph; Franklin, Wilson, and
Morris, of Pennsylvania; Dickinson, of Delaware; Martin, of Maryland;
Randolph, Madison, and Mason, of Virginia; Williamson, of North
Carolina; and the Pinckneys, of South Carolina. Such were the men with
whom Washington was associated in the contrivance and construction of a
new system of government.

"At that time," says Curtis, "the world had witnessed no such spectacle
as that of the deputies of a nation, chosen by the free action of great
communities, and assembled for the purpose of thoroughly reforming its
constitution, by the exercise and with the authority of the national
will. All that had been done, both in ancient and in modern times, in
forming, moulding, or modifying constitutions of government, bore little
resemblance to the present undertaking of the states of America. Neither
among the Greeks nor the Romans was there a precedent, and scarcely an

The great political maxim established by the Revolution was the original
residence of all human sovereignty in the people; and the statesmen in
the federal convention had scarcely any precedent, in theory or
practice, by which they might be governed in parcelling out so much of
that sovereignty as the people of the several states should be willing
to dismiss from their local political institutions, in making a strong
and harmonious federal republic, that should be at the same time
harmless toward reserved state-rights.

Randolph's resolutions proposed: First, To correct and enlarge the
Articles of Confederation, so as to accomplish the original objects of
common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare. Secondly, To
make the right of suffrage in the national legislature proportioned to
the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as
might seem best in different cases. Thirdly, To make the national
legislature consist of two branches; the members of the first to be
elected by the people of the several states at certain intervals for a
specified term. They were to be of a prescribed age, entitled to liberal
emolument for their public services, and to be ineligible to any office,
state or federal, except such as pertained to the functions of that
first branch, during their service; also to be ineligible to re-election
until after a certain space of time succeeding their term of service.
Fourthly, To have the members of the second branch elected by those of
the first from among those who should be nominated by the state
legislatures; to hold their offices "for a term sufficient to insure
their independency;" to be liberally paid for their services, and to be
subject to restrictions similar to those of the first. Fifthly, To have
each branch invested with power to originate acts; to give the national
legislature the right to legislate in all cases where the state
governments might be incompetent, or in which the harmony of the
confederation might be interrupted by the exercise of individual
legislation; to negative all laws passed by the individual states that
might contravene the articles of union; and to call forth the whole
Union against any member of the confederation that should fail to fulfil
its stipulated duty. Sixthly, To institute a national executive, to be
chosen periodically, liberally remunerated, and to be ineligible to a
second official term. Seventhly, To constitute the executive and a
convenient number of the national judiciary a council of revision, who
should have authority to examine every act of the national legislature
before it should operate, and of every individual legislature before a
negative thereon should be final, the dissent of said council amounting
to a rejection unless such act be again passed, or that of such
particular legislature should be again negatived by a specified number
of members of each branch. Eighthly, To establish a national judiciary,
the members of which should hold office during good behavior; and to
define their duties, powers, privileges, and emoluments. Ninthly, To
provide for the admission of new states into the Union. Tenthly, To
guaranty a republican form of government to each state and territory.
Eleventhly, To provide for a continuation of a Congress with its
delegated powers, until a new constitution should be established.
Twelfthly, To make provision for the amendment of the article of union
whenever it should seem necessary, the assent thereto of the national
legislature to be required. Thirteenthly, To require the legislative,
executive, and judiciary powers within the several states to be bound by
oath to support the Union. Fourteenthly, To submit the amendments made
by the convention, after the approbation of the same by Congress, "to an
assembly or assemblies of representatives, recommended by the several
legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider and
decide thereon."

Upon general principles, the scheme of Randolph, called the "Virginia
plan," was highly approved; but there were many zealous and pure-minded
patriots in that convention, who regarded the preservation of state
sovereignty, in all its integrity, as essential to the stability of the
republic. Holding the "Virginia plan" to be an infringement upon the
prerogatives of such sovereignty, they opposed it with vehemence. This
plan and a sketch submitted by Charles Pinckney, which appears to have
furnished the outline of the constitution as finally adopted, was
referred to a committee.

The question arose at the beginning, and frequently recurred, "What
limit has the convention in revising the Articles of Confederation? and
has it power to prepare an entirely new system of government?" It was
properly argued, that as a favorably-received resolution in Mr.
Randolph's plan proposed to submit the matter finally to popular
conventions in the several states, that question need not to be

The debates were carried on warmly, day after day, in committee of the
whole house, and the convention soon became divided into national and
state-rights men, the representatives of six of the states being in
favor of the broad national view, and five for the state-rights view.

Randolph's resolutions were taken up consecutively and debated for a
fortnight, when, after many modifications, they were reported back to
the house. Paterson, of New Jersey, then immediately brought forward a
counter scheme, which was called the "New Jersey plan," and embodied the
peculiar views of the state-rights party. It proposed to preserve the
continental Congress as the federal legislature, with additional power
to levy duties on foreign importations; to impose stamp and postage
taxes; to collect, without hinderance, requisitions not promptly met by
the states; and to regulate commerce with foreign nations. It proposed a
plural federal executive and a federal judiciary, and made acts of
Congress and foreign treaties supreme laws.

Paterson's plan and Randolph's modified resolutions were referred to a
new committee, and the whole question concerning a national government
was again considered. Again debates ran high. In the course of these,
Hamilton, who had come into the convention with more courage and fixed
plan than any other member, avowed his dissent from both the schemes
before the committee. He was listened to with the most profound respect;
and gray-haired men, as they looked upon his delicate form and youthful
features, were filled with wonder at the display of his great genius for
political construction, his extensive knowledge of the means by which
true conservative liberty might be secured, and his thorough
comprehension of the wants and resources of his country. He had come
into the convention fully prepared to propound a solution of the great
questions which he knew would perplex the members; and at the close of
an elaborate and in many respects most extraordinary speech, he offered
a written sketch of a system, not, he said, for discussion in the
committee, nor with the idea that the public mind was yet prepared for
it, but as explanatory of his own views and introductory to some
amendments he intended to propose. He then departed for New York,
leaving his two colleagues, who took the state-rights view of the
matter, to represent his state in the convention. They too soon left,
and never returned.

Day after day and week after week the debates continued, sometimes with
great courtesy, and sometimes with considerable acrimony, until the
tenth of September, when all plans and amendments which had been adopted
by the convention were placed in the hands of a committee for revision
and arrangement. Hamilton, who had returned to the convention at the
middle of August, was placed upon that committee, having for his
associates Messrs. Madison, King, Johnson, and Gouverneur Morris. To the
latter was intrusted the task of giving the finish to the style and
arrangement of the instrument. It was then reported to the convention,
taken up clause by clause, discussed, somewhat amended, and ordered to
be engrossed. On the fifteenth it was agreed to as amended, by all the
states present, and on the seventeenth a fair copy was brought in to
receive the signatures of the members.

Many times, during that long session of almost four months, there were
serious apprehensions of failure, the views of members differed so
essentially upon important points. One of the most exciting of these
questions which elicited zealous debates, was a proposition for the
general government to assume the debts of the respective states. The
debts of the several commonwealths were vastly unequal, and the
proposition was therefore distasteful to several. For example, those of
Massachusetts and South Carolina amounted to more than ten and a half
millions of dollars, while those of all the other states did not exceed,
in the aggregate, fifteen millions.

But the most serious subject for difference was that of representation
in the senatorial branch of the national legislature, the smaller states
claiming, and the larger ones opposing, the exercise of the rule of
equality. For a long time an equal division of votes on that point had
been reiterated, and most of the members began to feel assured that no
compromise could be effected. But the matter was finally adjusted by
mutual concessions, and a plan for the construction of the senate upon
the basis of an equal number of representatives from each of the states,
large and small, was adopted.

Frequently during the session of the convention, Washington had serious
apprehensions concerning the result. He perceived with much anxiety a
disposition to withhold power from the national legislature, which, in
his opinion, was the chief cause of the inadequacy of the confederation
to fulfil its mission. "Happy indeed will it be," he wrote to David
Stuart on the first of July, "if the convention shall be able to
recommend such a firm and permanent government for this Union, that all
who live under it may be secure in their lives, liberty, and property;
and thrice happy would it be if such a recommendation should obtain.
Everybody wishes, everybody expects something from the convention; but
what will be the final result of its deliberations the book of fate must
disclose. Persuaded I am, that the primary cause of all our disorders
lies in the different state governments, and in the tenacity of that
power which pervades the whole of their systems. Whilst independent
sovereignty is so ardently contended for, whilst the local views of each
state, and separate interests by which they are too much governed, will
not yield to a more enlarged scale of politics, incompatibility in the
laws of different states, and disrespect to those of the general
government, must render the situation of this great country weak,
inefficient, and disgraceful. It has already done so, almost to the
final dissolution of it. Weak at home, and disregarded abroad, is our
present condition, and contemptible enough it is."

"Thirteen governments," he wrote on the fifteenth of August, "pulling
against each other, and all tugging at the federal head, will soon bring
ruin on the whole; whereas, a liberal and energetic constitution, well
checked and well watched, to prevent encroachments, might restore us to
that degree of respectability and consequence to which we had the
fairest prospect of attaining." And again: "I confess that my opinion of
public virtue is so far changed, that I have my doubts whether any
system, without means of coercion in the sovereign, will enforce due
obedience to the ordinances of a general government, without which
everything else fails."

Although Washington took no part in the debates of the convention, his
opinions, concurrent with those of Hamilton, were firmly and strongly
expressed, and had great influence. The constitution as finally framed
and adopted did not receive his unqualified approval. He had decided
objections to several of its features; but he accepted it as a whole, as
the best that could be obtained under the circumstances, firmly
persuaded that it was a great step in advance of the confederation, and
that experience in its workings would suggest necessary amendments, for
which ample provision was made. In fact, the instrument did not wholly
please a single member of the convention. It was, to a considerable
extent, a patchwork of compromises, and many doubted its being ratified
by a majority of the states.

Hamilton regarded the constitution as adopted with feelings of
disappointment. It lacked the strength that he desired it to possess;
but, like Washington, he yielded his private sentiments and impulses to
the consideration of the public good. His own plan, which he had urged
with all his eloquence and energy, differed radically from the one
adopted; yet, with a nobleness of spirit which challenges our highest
admiration, he sacrificed the pride of opinion, and when the
constitution had passed the ordeal of severest criticism and amendment
by the convention, he avowed himself ready to sign it, and urged others,
who hesitated, to do the same "No man's ideas are more remote from the
plan than my own," he said; "but is it possible to deliberate between
anarchy and confusion on one side, and the chance of good on the other."

A large majority of the members desired that the instrument should go
forth to the people, not only as the act of the convention, but with the
individual sanction and signatures of their representatives. Franklin,
desirous of having it promulgated with such sanction, arose with a
written speech in his hand when the engrossed copy was brought in, in
which, with pleasant words, he endeavored to allay the irritated temper
of some of the delegates, and procure for the constitution unanimous
signature. Mr. Wilson read the speech, and it was closed with a form
suggested by Gouverneur Morris, which might be signed without implying
personal approval of the instrument: "Done by consent of the states
present. In testimony whereof, we have subscribed," et cetera.

The appeals of Hamilton and Franklin, a few approving words of
Washington, and the example of Madison and Pinckney, secured the
signatures of several dissatisfied members; and all present, except
Mason and Randolph of Virginia, and Gerry of Massachusetts, signed the
constitution.[10] The absence of the colleagues of Mr. Hamilton (Yates
and Lansing), who had left the convention in disgust on the first of
July, caused New York to be regarded as not officially present; but, to
secure for the proceedings the weight of a name so important as that of
Hamilton, in the place that should have been filled by his state, was
recited "Mr. Hamilton of New York."

"There is a tradition," says Curtis, "that when Washington was about to
sign the instrument, he rose from his seat, and holding the pen in his
hand, after a short pause, pronounced these words: 'Should the states
reject this excellent constitution, the probability is that an
opportunity will never again offer to cancel another in peace--the next
will be drawn in blood.' While the members were signing, Doctor
Franklin, looking toward the chair occupied by Washington, at the back
of which a sun was painted, observed to the persons near him: 'I have
often and often, in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of
my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that sun behind the
president, without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting:
at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising, not a setting

The great convention adjourned on the seventeenth of September, after
directing a copy of the constitution, with an accompanying letter, to be
sent to the Congress. The journal of the convention was placed in the
hands of Washington (by whom it was afterward deposited in the
department of state); and on the following morning he wrote in his
dairy: "The business being thus closed, the members adjourned to the
City Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other;
after which, I returned to my lodgings, did some business with, and
received the papers from, the secretary of the convention, and retired
to meditate on the momentous work which had been executed, after not
less than five, for a large part of the time six, and sometimes seven
hours' sitting every day (except Sundays, and the ten days' adjournment
to give a committee an opportunity and time to arrange the business) for
more than four months."


[8] The following are the names of the delegates: _New
Hampshire_--John Langdon, John Pickering, Nicholas Gilman, and Benjamin
West. _Massachusetts_--Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham,
Rufus King, and Caleb Strong. _Connecticut_--William Samuel Johnson,
Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth. _New York_--Robert Yates, John
Lansing, Jr., and Alexander Hamilton. _New Jersey_--David Brearly,
William Churchill Houston, William Paterson, John Neilson, William
Livingston, Abraham Clark, and Jonathan Dayton. _Pennsylvania_--Thomas
Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas
Fitzsimons, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, and Benjamin Franklin.
_Delaware_--George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard
Bassett, and Jacob Broom. _Maryland_--James M'Henry, Daniel of St.
Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francis Mercer, and Luther Martin.
_Virginia_--George Washington, Patrick Henry (refused to serve, and
James M'Clure was nominated in his place), Edmund Randolph, John Blair,
James Madison, Jr., George Mason, and George Wythe. _North
Carolina_--Richard Caswell, Alexander Martin, William Richardson Davie,
Richard Dobbs Spaight, and Willie Jones: Caswell and Jones having
declined to serve, William Blount and Hugh Williamson were chosen in
their places. _South Carolina_--John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney, and Pierce Butler. _Georgia_--William Few, Abraham
Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houston, and Nathaniel

[9] Curtis's _History of the Origin, Formation, and Adoption of
the Constitution of the United States_ is by far the most ample and
reliable source of information on this subject.

[10] The following are the names of the delegates who signed
the constitution: GEO. WASHINGTON, _President, and deputy from
Virginia_. _New Hampshire_--John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman.
_Massachusetts_--Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King. _Connecticut_--William
Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman. _New York_--Alexander Hamilton. _New
Jersey_--William Livingston, David Brearly, William Paterson, Jonathan
Dayton. _Pennsylvania_--Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert
Morris, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James
Wilson, Gouverneur Morris. _Delaware_--George Reed, Gunning Bedford,
Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom. _Maryland_--James
M'Henry, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll. _Virginia_--John
Blair, James Madison, Jr. _North Carolina_--William Blount, Richard
Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson. _South Carolina_--John Rutledge, Charles
C. Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler. _Georgia_--William Few,
Abraham Baldwin. _Attest_: William Jackson, _Secretary_.



The Congress, on the twenty-eighth of September, unanimously resolved to
send the constitution adopted by the convention, and the accompanying
letters, to the legislatures of the several states, and to recommend
them to call conventions within their respective jurisdictions to
consider it. And it was agreed, that when nine of the thirteen states
should ratify it, it should become the fundamental law of the republic.

And now commenced the first great and general conflict of political
opinions since the establishment of the independence of the United
States; and in each of the several commonwealths, men of the first rank
in talent, social position, and sound moral and political integrity,
became engaged in the discussion of the great question of national
government. That conflict had commenced in the general convention, but
the proceedings of that body were under the seal of secrecy. Yet the
positions assumed by the delegates in the general discussion in their
several states, revealed the fact that extreme diversity of opinion had
prevailed in the convention, and that the constitution was composed of
compromises marked with the scars of severe conflict.

Referring to these differences of opinion in the convention, Washington
remarked to Catharine Macaulay Graham, in a letter written on the
sixteenth of November, that "the various and opposite interests which
were to be conciliated, the local prejudices which were to be subdued,
the diversity of opinions and sentiments which were to be reconciled,
and, in fine, the sacrifices which were necessary to be made on all
sides for the general welfare, combined to make it a work of so
intricate and difficult a nature, that I think it is much to be wondered
at that anything could have been produced with such unanimity as the
constitution proposed.... Whether it will be adopted by the people or
not remains yet to be determined."

To Lafayette he wrote in February following: "It appears to me little
short of a miracle that the delegates from so many states, different
from each other, as you know, in their manners, circumstances, and
prejudices, should unite in forming a system of national government, so
little liable to well-founded objections." After alluding to its obvious
defects, he continued:--

     "With regard to the two great points, the pivots upon which
     the whole machine must move, my creed is simply: First, that
     the general government is not invested with more powers than
     are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a
     good government; and, consequently, that no objection ought
     to be made against the quantity of power delegated to it.
     Secondly, that these powers, as the appointment of all
     rulers will for ever arise from, and at short stated
     intervals recur to, the free suffrage of the people, are so
     distributed among the legislative, executive, and judicial
     branches, into which the general government is arranged,
     that it can never be in danger of degenerating into a
     monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any other
     despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall remain
     any virtue in the body of the people.

     "I would not be understood, my dear marquis, to speak of
     consequences which may be produced, in the revolution of
     ages, by corruption of morals, profligacy of manners, and
     listlessness in the preservation of the natural and
     inalienable rights of mankind, nor of the successful
     usurpations that may be established at such an unpropitious
     juncture upon the ruins of liberty, however providently
     guarded and secured, as these are contingencies against
     which no human prudence can effectually provide. It will at
     least be a recommendation to the proposed constitution, that
     it is provided with more checks and barriers against the
     introduction of tyranny, and those of a nature less liable
     to be surmounted, than any government hitherto instituted
     among mortals. We are not to expect perfection in this
     world; but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made
     some progress in the science of government. Should that
     which is now offered to the people of America be found an
     experiment less perfect than it can be made, a constitutional
     door is left open for its amelioration."

Hamilton, with his usual marvellous sagacity, clearly perceived the
shaping of the conflict to be fought, and at once assumed the panoply of
a most acute contestant in its favor. "The new constitution," he wrote
immediately after the adjournment of the convention, "has in favor of
its success these circumstances: A very great weight of influence of the
persons who framed it, particularly in the universal popularity of
General Washington. The good will of the commercial interest throughout
the states, which will give all its efforts to the establishment of a
government capable of regulating, protecting, and extending the commerce
of the Union. The good will of most men of property in the several
states, who wish a government of the Union able to protect them against
domestic violence, and the depredations which the democratic spirit is
apt to make on property; and who are, besides, anxious for the
respectability of the nation. The hopes of the creditors of the United
States that a general government, possessing the means of doing it, will
pay the debt of the Union. A strong belief, in the people at large, of
the insufficiency of the present confederation to preserve the existence
of the Union, and of the necessity of the Union to their safety and
prosperity; of course, a strong desire of change, and a predisposition
to receive well the propositions of the convention."

Very soon Hamilton, with other _federalists_, as the supporters of the
constitution were called, found it necessary to put forth all his
intellectual energies in defence of that instrument. Conventions were
speedily called in the several states to consider it, and the friends
and opponents of the constitution marshalled their respective
antagonistic forces with great skill and zeal.

In Virgina, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Richard Henry Lee, opposed
the constitution with all their power and influence, chiefly because it
would, in a degree, annul state rights, and base the sovereignty too
absolutely upon the popular will. Mason led in the opposition, and Henry
gave him the support of his eloquence. His arguments were those of all
other opponents; and with the leaders in his own and other states, he
raised the cry, which soon became general, that the new constitution had
no bill of rights and no sufficient guaranties for personal liberty.

They cited the experience of the past to show, that of all national
governments a democratic one was the most unstable, fluctuating, and
short-lived; and that despotism, arising from a centralization of power
in the national government on one hand, and anarchy, incident to the
instability of democracy--"the levelling spirit of democracy" denounced
by Gerry as "the worst of political evils"--on the other, were the
Scylla and Charybdis between which the republic would, in the opinion of
their opponents, be placed, with almost a certainty of being destroyed.

These views were ably combated in a series of political essays written
by Hamilton and Madison, with a few numbers by John Jay, which were
published in a New York newspaper, the object being, as stated by
Hamilton in the first number, "A discussion of the utility of the Union;
the insufficiency of the confederation to preserve that Union;" and "the
necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one
proposed, to the attainment of this object." These essays, under the
general title of _The Federalist_, were written with uncommon ability,
exerted a powerful influence, and present an admirable treatise on the
philosophy of our federal constitution.[11]

Long and stormy debates occurred in the state conventions; and it was
not until the twenty-first of June, 1788, that New Hampshire, the ninth
state in order, ratified the constitution.[12] It then became the organic
law of the republic. The Congress, when testimonials of ratification
were received from a sufficient number of states, appointed the first
Wednesday of January, 1789, for the people of the United States to
choose electors of a president in accordance with the provisions of the
constitution; the first Wednesday in February following for the electors
to meet and make a choice; and the first Wednesday in March ensuing for
the new government to meet for organization in the city of New York.

While these discussions were going on, Washington remained at Mount
Vernon, a most anxious spectator of the progress of political events,
especially in his own state, where the opposition to the constitution
was very powerful and well organized. He took no direct part in the
proceedings of his state convention. "There is not, perhaps, a man in
Virginia," he wrote to General Lincoln, "less qualified than I am to
say, from his own knowledge and observation, what will be the fate of
the constitution here; for I very seldom ride beyond the limits of my
own farms, and am wholly indebted to those gentlemen who visit me for
any information of the disposition of the people toward it; but, from
all I can collect, I have not the smallest doubt of its being accepted."

Washington's views were freely expressed in conversations at Mount
Vernon and in his letters, and they had great weight; and when, finally,
the seal of approbation of the constitution was set by New Hampshire and
his own state, and that instrument became the supreme law of the land,
his heart was filled with gratitude to the Great Disposer of events for
his manifest protection of the American people from the calamities with
which they had so long been threatened. "We may, with a kind of pious
and grateful exultation," he wrote to Governor Trumbull, "trace the
finger of Providence through those dark and mysterious events which
first induced the states to appoint a general convention, and then led
them, one after another, by such steps as were best calculated to effect
the object into an adoption of the systems recommended by that general
convention; thereby, in all human probability, laying a lasting
foundation for tranquillity and happiness, when we had too much reason
to fear that confusion and misery were coming rapidly upon us."

The people of the Union, as if governed by one impulse, now turned to
Washington as the man who, above all others, was best qualified to
become the chief magistrate of the nation. He was informally nominated
by Hamilton, almost before the members of the convention that framed and
adopted the constitution had reached their homes. In a paper from which
we have just quoted, published immediately after the adjournment of the
convention, Hamilton said: "If the government be adopted, it is probable
General Washington will be the president of the United States. This will
insure a wise choice of men to administer the government, and a good
administration. A good administration will conciliate the confidence and
affection of the people, and perhaps enable the government to acquire
more consistency than the proposed constitution seems to promise for so
great a country."

It was soon apparent to Washington that the universal sentiment of the
people was in favor of his election to the chief magistracy. Almost
every letter from his friends expressed a desire that he should accept
the office when tendered to him, as it surely would be, by the electors
chosen by the people; and before the elections were held, so general was
the presumption that Washington would be the first president of the
United States, that he received many letters soliciting appointments to
office. These annoyed him exceedingly; for the subject, he said, never
failed to embarrass and distress him beyond measure. The prospect of
again being called into public life, in an arena in which difficulties
more formidable and perplexing than those in a military sphere must be
encountered, gave him great uneasiness. He loved his home, his family,
and the quiet pursuits of agriculture; and he desired, above all earthly
boons, the privilege of reposing among these.

To Hamilton he wrote, as early as August, 1788: "You know me well
enough, my good sir, to be persuaded that I am not guilty of affectation
when I tell you, that it is my great and sole desire to live and die in
peace and retirement on my own farm."

In October he again wrote to Hamilton, saying: "In taking a survey of
the subject, in whatever point of light I have been able to place it, I
will not suppress the acknowledgment, my dear sir, that I have always
felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as I have been taught to
expect I might, and perhaps must ere long, be called to make a

To Governor Trumbull he wrote in December: "May Heaven assist me in
forming a judgment; for at present I see nothing but clouds and darkness
before me. Thus much I may safely say to you in confidence; if ever I
should, from any apparent necessity, be induced to go from home in a
public character again, it will certainly be the greatest sacrifice of
feelings and happiness that ever was or ever can be made by me."

To Lafayette he had written several months before, in reply to a hint of
the marquis that he would be called to the presidency, and said: "It has
no enticing charms and no fascinating allurements for me.... At my time
of life and under my circumstances, the increasing infirmities of nature
and the growing love of retirement do not permit me to entertain a wish
beyond that of living and dying an honest man on my own farm. Let those
follow the pursuits of ambition and fame who have a keener relish for
them, or who may have more years in store for the enjoyment."

As the time approached when he should make a decision, the mind of
Washington was greatly exercised, and to all his friends he sincerely
declared that no other consideration than the solemn requirements of his
country could induce him to accept the office. These sentiments he
expressed with full freedom to his intimate friend, Colonel Henry Lee,
who had written to Washington with great warmth on the subject, and
said: "Solicitous for our common happiness as a people, and convinced as
I continue to be that our peace and prosperity depend on the proper
improvement of the present period, my anxiety is extreme that the new
government may have an auspicious beginning. To effect this, and to
perpetuate a nation formed under your auspices, it is certain that again
you will be called forth. The same principles of devotion to the good of
mankind which have invariably governed your conduct, will, no doubt,
continue to rule your mind, however opposite their consequences may be
to your repose and happiness.... If the same success should attend your
efforts on this important occasion which has distinguished you hitherto,
then, to be sure, you will have spent a life which Providence rarely, if
ever, gave to the lot of man."

To this Washington replied: "The principal topic of your letter is to me
a point of great delicacy indeed--insomuch that I can scarcely, without
some impropriety, touch upon it.... You are among the small number of
those who know my invincible attachment to domestic life, and that my
sincerest wish is to continue in the enjoyment of it solely until my
final hour. But the world would be neither so well instructed, nor so
candidly disposed, as to believe me uninfluenced by sinister motives, in
case any circumstance should render a deviation from the line of conduct
I had prescribed to myself indispensable.

     "Should the contingency you suggest take place, and (for
     argument's sake alone let me say it) should my unfeigned
     reluctance to accept the office be overcome by a deference
     for the reasons and opinions of my friends, might I not,
     after the declarations I have made (and Heaven knows that
     they were made in the sincerity of my heart), in the
     judgment of the impartial world and of posterity, be
     chargeable with levity and inconsistency, if not with
     rashness and ambition? Nay, farther, would there not be some
     apparent foundation for the two former charges? Now, justice
     to myself and tranquillity of conscience require that I
     should act a part, if not above imputation, at least capable
     of vindication. Nor will you conceive me to be too
     solicitous for reputation. Though I prize as I ought the
     good opinion of my fellow-citizens, yet, if I know myself, I
     would not seek or retain popularity at the expense of one
     social duty or moral virtue.

     "While doing what my conscience informed me was right, as it
     respected my God, my country, and myself, I could despise
     all the party clamor and unjust censure which might be
     expected from some, whose personal enmity might be
     occasioned by their hostility to the government. I am
     conscious that I fear alone to give any real occasion for
     obloquy, and that I do not dread to meet with unmerited
     reproach. And certain I am, whensoever I shall be convinced
     the good of my country requires my reputation to be put in
     risk, regard for my own fame will not come in competition
     with an object of so much magnitude. If I declined the task,
     it would lie upon quite another principle. Notwithstanding
     my advanced season of life, my increasing fondness for
     agricultural amusements, and my growing love of retirement,
     augment and confirm my decided predilection for the
     character of a private citizen, yet it would be no one of
     these motives, nor the hazard to which my former reputation
     might be exposed, nor the terror of encountering new
     fatigues and troubles, that would deter me from an
     acceptance; but a belief that some other person, who had
     less pretense and less inclination to be excused, could
     execute all the duties fully as satisfactorily as myself."

To Lafayette he wrote, after the elections were held in January, 1789,
but before the electoral college met to make choice of a president: "I
can say little or nothing new, in consequence of the repetition of your
opinion, on the expediency there will be for my accepting the office to
which you refer. Your sentiments, indeed, coincide much more nearly with
those of my other friends than with my own feelings. In truth, my
difficulties increase and multiply as I draw toward the period when,
according to the common belief, it will be necessary for me to give a
definitive answer, in one way or another. Should circumstances render it
in a manner inevitably necessary to be in the affirmative, be assured,
my dear sir, I shall assume the task with the most unfeigned reluctance,
and with a real diffidence, for which I shall probably receive no credit
from the world. If I know my own heart, nothing short of a conviction of
duty will induce me again to take an active part in public affairs; and
in that case, if I can form a plan for my own conduct, my endeavors
shall be unremittingly exerted, even at the hazard of former fame or
present popularity, to extricate my country from the embarrassments in
which it is entangled through want of credit, and to establish a general
system of policy which, if pursued, will insure permanent felicity to
the commonwealth. I think I see a path, as clear and as direct as a ray
of light, which leads to the attainment of that object. Nothing but
harmony, honesty, industry, and frugality, are necessary to make us a
great and happy people. Happily, the present posture of affairs, and the
prevailing disposition of my countrymen, promise to co-operate in
establishing those four great and essential pillars of public felicity."

These sentences, taken from Washington's letters to his most intimate
friends, show how little ambitious he was for the fame of statesmanship,
and how honestly and eagerly he yearned for the quiet and obscurity of
domestic life. At the same time, they reveal the true motives which led
the great patriot to enter upon public employment, namely, a sincere
love for his country, and a ready willingness to labor for the promotion
of its best interests.

At the prescribed time the elections took place, and the college, by
unanimous voice, made choice of Washington for president of the United
States, and John Adams for vice-president. True to his convictions of
duty, the great leader of the armies of America consented to be the
pilot of the ship of state for four years, and prepared accordingly to
leave his beloved Mount Vernon for the stormy sea of public life. These
preparations were made with sincere reluctance; and the delay of a month
in forming a quorum of Congress, so that the votes for president were
not counted officially until the beginning of April, was regarded by
Washington with heartfelt satisfaction.

"The delay," he said in a letter to General Knox on the first of April,
"may be compared to a reprieve; for in confidence I tell _you_ (with the
_world_ it would obtain little credit) that my movements to the chair of
government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a
culprit, who is going to the place of his execution; so unwilling am I,
in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a
peaceful abode for an ocean of difficulties, without that competency of
political skill, abilities, and inclination, which are necessary to
manage the helm. I am sensible that I am embarking the voice of the
people and a good name of my own on this voyage; but what returns will
be made for them, Heaven alone can foretell. Integrity and firmness are
all I can promise. These, be the voyage long or short, shall never
forsake me, although I may be deserted by all men; for of the
consolations which are to be derived from these, under any
circumstances, the world can not deprive me."

The senate was organized on the sixth of April. The electoral votes were
counted, and Washington was declared duly chosen president of the United
States for four years from the fourth of March preceding. John Langdon,
a senator from New Hampshire, had been chosen president of the senate
_pro tempore_, and he immediately wrote an official letter to Washington
notifying him of his election. This was borne by Charles Thomson, the
secretary of the continental Congress from its first session in 1774. He
reached Mount Vernon at about noon on the fourteenth, and on the evening
of the sixteenth Washington wrote in his diary: "About ten o'clock I
bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and domestic felicity; and
with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I
have words to express, set out for New York with Mr. Thomson and Colonel
Humphreys, with the best disposition to render service to my country in
obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its

Meanwhile, the illustrious soldier, who was about to assume the most
exalted civil duties that can be delegated to man, had made a quick
journey to Fredericksburg, the residence of his mother, to bid her, what
both of them considered, and what proved to be, a final adieu. She was
then about fourscore years of age, and suffering from an acute and
incurable malady. Their meeting was tender, and their parting peculiarly
touching. "The people, madam," said Washington to his mother, "have been
pleased, with the most flattering unanimity, to elect me to the chief
magistracy of these United States; but, before I can assume the
functions of my office, I have come to bid you an affectionate farewell.
So soon as the weight of public business, which must necessarily attend
the outset of a new government, can be disposed of, I shall hasten to
Virginia, and--" "You will see me no more," said the matron,
interrupting him. "My great age," she continued, "and the disease which
is fast approaching my vitals, warn me that I shall not be long in this
world; I trust in God that I may be somewhat prepared for a better. But
go, George, fulfill the high destiny which Heaven appears to have
intended you for: go, my son; and may that Heaven's and a mother's
blessing be with you always!"[13]

Washington was accompanied in his journey from Mount Vernon to New York
(the then seat of the federal government) by Secretary Thomson and
Colonel Humphreys, preceded in a stage by his private secretary, Tobias
Lear. He desired to go in as private a manner as possible; but his
wishes were thwarted by the irrepressible enthusiasm and love of his
countrymen along the route. He was met at the very threshold of his own
estate by a cavalcade of citizens of Alexandria--his neighbors and
personal friends--who invited him to partake of a public dinner. He
could not refuse; and, at the table, his feelings were most sensibly
touched by the words of the mayor, who said: "The first and best of our
citizens must leave us; our aged must lose their ornament, our youth
their model, our agriculture its improver, our infant academy its
protector, our poor their benefactor.... Farewell! Go, and make a
grateful people happy; a people who will be doubly grateful when they
contemplate this new sacrifice for their interests."

Washington's feelings allowed him to make only a short reply. "Words
fail me," he said. "Unutterable sensations must, then, be left to more
expressive silence, while from an aching heart I bid all my affectionate
friends and kind neighbors farewell!"

All the way to the city of New York, the president's journey was a
continued ovation. At every large town and village he was hailed with
the most joyous acclamations. Deputations of the most valued inhabitants
met him everywhere and formed escorts and processions. At Baltimore he
was greeted by the ringing of bells and the thunders of artillery. At
the frontier of Pennsylvania he was met by General Mifflin (then
governor of the state) and Judge Peters at the head of a large cavalcade
of citizens; and at Chester a grand procession, led by General St.
Clair, formed an escort for the president into Philadelphia. This
swelled in numbers and increased in interest as they approached the

At Gray's ferry, over the Schuylkill, triumphal arches were reared; and
from one of these, as Washington passed under it, Angelica Peale (a
little daughter of the painter, Charles Willson Peale), who was
concealed in foliage, let down a civic crown upon his head, while the
multitude filled the air with long and loud huzzas. At least twenty
thousand people lined the road from the river to the city; and at every
step the president was saluted with the cries, "Long live George
Washington!" "Long live the father of his people!"


Washington and his suite were entertained at a sumptuous banquet given
at the City Tavern, at which the leading members of the state and city
governments were present. In the evening there was a magnificent display
of fireworks, such as the Philadelphians had never before seen.

At the banquet, the mayor of the city presented to Washington an
official address, in behalf of himself and the council, in which a
complimentary reference to the president's public services was made.
"When I contemplate the interposition of Providence," said Washington in
reply, "as it was visibly manifested in guiding us through the
Revolution, in preparing us for the reception of the general government,
and in conciliating the good will of the people of America toward one
another after its adoption, I feel myself oppressed and almost
overwhelmed with a sense of Divine munificence. I feel that nothing is
due to my personal agency in all these wonderful and complicated events,
except what can be attributed to an honest zeal for the good of my

The military of Philadelphia prepared to escort the president to Trenton
the next morning, but rain prevented, and Washington and suite journeyed
in a close carriage. Toward noon the clouds broke, and as they
approached the Delaware the sun beamed out brightly, and a great crowd
of people came to welcome the Father of his Country to the spot where,
many years before, he had given a blow of deliverance, the most
brilliant that was struck during the war. The contrast between the
scenes that now broke upon his vision and those at the same place in the
dark winter of 1776-'77, when hope for the republican cause had almost
expired, and the sun of liberty for his country appeared to be setting
among the clouds of utter despondency, must have created the most lively
sensations of joy in his bosom. Memory with its sombre pencil drew the
picture of the past, while present perception with its brilliant pencil
portrayed passing events, that quickened the pulse and made the heart
leap with pleasure.

Upon the very bridge over which, less than thirteen years before,
Washington had fled before the troops of Cornwallis, a triumphal arch,
made by the women of New Jersey, was now placed, bearing mementoes of
his triumphs there, and the words: "THE DEFENDER OF THE MOTHERS WILL BE
THE PROTECTOR OF THE DAUGHTERS." And as he passed under that arch, the
way was lined with mothers and daughters, all dressed in white, while
thirteen young girls in like apparel, with wreaths upon their heads, and
holding baskets of flowers in their hands, strewed blossoms in the way
and sang:--

    "Welcome, mighty Chief! Once more,
    Welcome to this grateful shore;
    Now no mercenary foe
    Aims again the fatal blow--
    Aims at thee the fatal blow.

    "Virgins fair and matrons grave,
    Those thy conquering arm did save,
    Build for thee triumphal bowers:
    Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers!
    Strew your hero's way with flowers!"

Before he left Trenton, the president sent a brief note to the ladies
who prepared this memorable reception, in which he said: "General
Washington can not leave this place without expressing his
acknowledgments to the matrons and young ladies who received him in so
novel and grateful a manner at the Triumphal Arch, for the exquisite
sensations he experienced in that affecting moment. The astonishing
contrast between his former and his actual situation at the same spot,
the elegant taste with which it was adorned for the present occasion,
and the innocent appearance of the white-robed choir who met him with
the gratulatory song, have made such an impression on his remembrance
as, he assures them, will never be effaced."


Over the same route across New Jersey along which Washington fled toward
the close of 1776, with his wasting little army, before an exulting foe,
and in the midst of secret enemies on every side, he now made his way
among a happy and peaceful people, who received him everywhere with the
open arms of love and veneration, while the air was filled with the
shouts of multitudes, the booming of cannon, and the ringing of bells.
He arrived at Elizabethtown point, a few miles from New York, on the
morning of the twenty-third of April, and there he was received by
committees of both houses of Congress, officers of the federal, state,
and municipal governments, and a large number of citizens who had
collected from all parts of the country. A splendid barge had been
constructed for the occasion, to carry the president to New York, and in
it he embarked immediately after his arrival. It was manned by thirteen
masters of vessels in white uniforms, commanded by Commodore James
Nicholson; and other beautiful barges, fancifully decorated, conveyed
the Congressional committees and the heads of departments. Other boats
joined them on the way, some of them bearing musicians; and when they
approached the city, whose shores and wharves, and every part of Fort
George and the Battery, were covered with people, there was a grand
flotilla in the procession, the oars keeping time with instrumental

All the vessels in the harbor but one were gayly decked with flags, and
upon two of them parties of ladies and gentlemen sang gratulatory odes
as the barge of the president approached. The exception was the Spanish
man-of-war _Galveston_, which displayed no token of respect. A general
feeling of indignation began to prevail, when in an instant, as the
president's barge came abreast of her, her yards were manned as if by
magic; every part of her rigging displayed flags of all nations, with
the effect of an immense shrub bursting suddenly into gorgeous bloom;
and the roar of thirteen cannon, discharged in quick succession,
attested the reverence and respect of the Spanish admiral for the
illustrious Washington. The effect upon the multitude was electrical,
and over bay and city a shout, long and loud, floated upon the noontide

Washington was received at the stairs of Murray's wharf by his old
friend Governor Clinton; and his loved companion-in-arms, General Knox,
was there to welcome him, with a host of others of the army of the
Revolution, who had come, some of them long distances, to look once more
upon the face of their beloved Chief, to feel the grasp of his hand, and
to hear his voice.

A carriage was in waiting to convey the president to his lodgings in
Osgood's house, in Cherry-street, and a carpet had been spread, from the
wharf to the vehicle, for him to tread upon. But he preferred to walk. A
long civic and military train followed. From the streets, windows,
balconies, and roofs, he was greeted with shouts and the waving of
handkerchiefs. All the bells in the city rang out a joyful welcome; and
from Colonel Bauman's artillery heavy peals of cannon joined the chorus.
The president and a large company dined with Governor Clinton; and in
the evening, the streets, though very wet after a warm shower, were
filled with people to witness a general illumination of the houses.

While the name of Washington was spoken with reverence by every lip;
while in the ears of senators were yet ringing the remarkable words of
Vice-President Adams--"If we look over the catalogues of the first
magistrates of nations, whether they have been denominated presidents or
consuls, kings or princes, where shall we find one whose commanding
talents and virtues, whose overruling good fortune, have so completely
united all hearts and voices in his favor; who enjoyed the esteem and
admiration of foreign nations and fellow-citizens with equal unanimity?"
while the occasion of his arrival "arrested the public attention beyond
all powers of description"--"the hand of industry was suspended, and the
pleasures of the capital were centered in a single enjoyment," that
great man, exercised by a modest estimate of his own powers in a degree
amounting almost to timidity, wrote in his diary:--

     "The display of boats which attended and joined us on this
     occasion, some with vocal and some with instrumental music on
     board; the decorations of the ships; the roar of cannon, and the
     loud acclamations of the people which rent the skies as I passed
     along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful
     (considering the reverse of this scene, which may be the case,
     after all my labors to do good) as they are pleasing."

And a few days after his inauguration he wrote to Edward Rutledge:

     "Though I flatter myself the world will do me the justice to
     believe that, at my time of life and in my circumstances, nothing
     but a conviction of duty could have induced me to depart from my
     resolution of remaining in retirement, yet I greatly apprehend that
     my countrymen will expect too much from me.... So much is expected,
     so many untoward circumstances may intervene, in such a new and
     critical situation, that I feel an insuperable diffidence in my own
     abilities. I feel, in the execution of the duties of my arduous
     office, how much I shall stand in need of the countenance and aid
     of every friend to myself, of every friend to the Revolution, and
     of every lover of good government."

How nobly, ay, and how sadly, do these feelings of Washington--his
humiliating sense of the great responsibility laid upon him when he
assumed the office of the chief magistrate of the republic--contrast
with the eager aspirations of mere politicians to sit in the seat of
that illustrious and conscientious man! How the spectacle illustrates
the words of the poet:--

    "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!"


[11] "The first number of the _Federalist_," says J. C. Hamilton in his
_History of the Republic of the United States_, "was written by
Hamilton, in the cabin of a sloop, as he was descending the Hudson, and
was published on the 27th of October, 1787. After the publication of the
seventh, it was announced: 'In order that the whole subject of the
papers may be as soon as possible laid before the public, it is proposed
to publish them four times a week.'" It was originally intended to
comprise the series within twenty, or at most twenty-five numbers, but
they extended to eighty-five. Of these Hamilton wrote sixty-five.

Concerning these papers, Washington wrote to Hamilton, at the close of
August, 1788: "I have read every performance which has been printed on
one side and the other of the great question lately agitated, so far as
I have been able to obtain them; and, without an unmeaning compliment, I
will say, that I have seen no other [than _the Federalist_] so well
calculated, in my judgment, to produce conviction in an unbiassed mind,
as the production of your _triumvirate_. When the transient
circumstances and fugitive performances which attended this crisis shall
have disappeared, that work will merit the notice of posterity, because
in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the
topics of government, which will be always interesting to mankind, so
long as they shall be connected in civil society."

[12] The several states ratified the constitution in the following

Delaware, December 7, 1787; Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787; New Jersey,
December 18, 1787; Georgia, January 2, 1788; Connecticut, January 9,
1788; Massachusetts, February 6, 1788; Maryland, April 28, 1788; South
Carolina, May 23, 1788; New Hampshire, June 21, 1788; Virginia, June 26,
1788; New York, July 26, 1788; North Carolina, November 21, 1788; Rhode
Island, May 29, 1790.

[13] Custis's _Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington_, page



Thursday, the thirtieth of April, was the appointed day for Washington
to take the oath of office. For almost a fortnight, strangers from every
part of the Union had been making their way to New York to participate
in the inaugural ceremonies; and every place of public entertainment,
and many private houses, were filled to overflowing. "We shall remain
here," wrote a young lady from Philadelphia to her friend, "even if we
have to sleep in tents, as so many will have to do. Mr. Williamson had
promised to engage us rooms at Fraunces's, but that was jammed long ago,
as was every other decent public house; and now, while we are waiting at
Mr. Vandervoort's, in Maiden Lane, till after dinner, two of our beaux
are running about town, determined to obtain the best places for us to
stay at, which can be opened for love, money, or the most persuasive

At dawn on the morning of the thirtieth, Colonel Bauman's artillery
fired a national salute at the Bowling Green, and very soon afterward
the streets were filled with citizens and strangers all dressed for a
gala-day. At nine o'clock all the church bells of the city rang out a
call for the people to assemble in their respective places of public
worship, "to implore the blessings of Heaven on the nation, its favor
and protection to the president, and success and acceptance to his
administration:" and when the throngs left the churches, martial music
enlivened the town, for the military companies were forming into grand
procession to escort Washington to the Federal hall in Wall street, at
the head of Broad street, where the inaugural ceremonies were to be

At twelve o'clock the procession, under the general command of Colonel
Morgan Lewis, began to form in Cherry street before the president's
house; and at half-past twelve Washington entered his carriage,
accompanied by Colonel Humphreys, his aid-de-camp, and Tobias Lear, his
private secretary, and proceeded to the Federal hall, escorted by a
large number of the military, and followed by heads of departments,
members of Congress, foreign ministers, and other distinguished citizens
and strangers.

When near the Federal hall, Washington and his attendants alighted from
the carriages, and were conducted by a marshall to the senate-chamber,
at the door of which the president was received by Vice-President Adams
(who had been inaugurated some time before) and conducted to his seat.
In the presence of both houses of Congress then assembled, the
vice-president, addressing Washington, said: "Sir, the senate and house
of representatives of the United States are ready to attend you to take
the oath required by the constitution, which will be administered by the
chancellor of the state of New York."

Washington responded: "I am ready to proceed;" when the vice-president,
senators, and chancellor, led the way to the open outside gallery at the
front of the hall, in full view of the vast multitude that, with
upturned faces and hushed voices, filled the streets. The scene that
ensued was most solemn and momentous; and the immediate actors in it
felt the weight of great responsibility resting upon them.

The entrance of the president upon the balcony "was hailed by universal
shouts," says Washington Irving, who, though quite a young child, was
present, and distinctly remembers the scene. "He was evidently moved by
this demonstration of public affection. Advancing to the front of the
balcony, he laid his hand upon his heart, bowed several times, and then
retreated to an arm-chair near the table. The populace appeared to
understand that the scene had overcome him, and were hushed at once into
profound silence."[15]

After a few moments Washington rose again and came forward, and stood
between two of the supporting pillars of the gallery, in full view of
the people. His noble and commanding form was clad in a suit of fine,
dark-brown cloth, manufactured in Hartford, Connecticut. At his side was
a steel-hilted dress-sword. He wore white silk stockings and plain
silver shoe-buckles, and his hair was dressed in the fashion of the time
and uncovered. On one side of him stood Chancellor Livingston, who had
come out of the Revolution with his soul filled with intense love for
his country, and who was one of the most effective orators of his day.
"His acknowledged integrity and patriotism," says Doctor Francis,
"doubtless added force to all he uttered. Franklin termed him the
American Cicero; and in him were united all those qualities which,
according to that illustrious Roman, are necessary in the perfect
orator."[16] He was dressed in a fall suit of black cloth, and wore the
robe of office. On the other side was the vice-president, in a
claret-colored suit, of American manufacture. Between the president and
the chancellor was Mr. Otis, the secretary of state. He was a small man,
dressed with scrupulous neatness, and held in his hand an open Bible
upon a rich crimson cushion. Near this most conspicuous group stood
Roger Sherman, Richard Henry Lee, Alexander Hamilton, Generals Knox and
St. Clair, the Baron Steuben, and other distinguished men.

Chancellor Livingston administered the oath with slow and distinct
enunciation, while Washington's hand was laid upon the Bible held by Mr.
Otis. When it was concluded, the president said, in a distinct voice, "I
swear." He then bowed his head, kissed the sacred volume, and as he
assumed an erect posture, he with closed eyes said, with solemn
supplicating tone, "So help me God!"

"It is done!" said the chancellor; and, turning to the multitude, he
waved his hand, and shouted: "Long live George Washington, president of
the United States!" The exclamation was echoed and re-echoed, long and
loud, by the people. "The scene," wrote an eye-witness, "was solemn and
awful beyond description.... The circumstances of the president's
election, the impression of his past services, the concourse of
spectators, the devout fervency with which he repeated the oath, and the
reverential manner in which he bowed down and kissed the sacred
volume--all these conspired to render it one of the most august and
interesting spectacles ever exhibited." It seemed, from the number of
witnesses, to be a solemn appeal to Heaven and earth at once.

At the close of the ceremonies, Washington bowed to the people and
retired to the senate chamber, where he read his inaugural address to
both houses of Congress there assembled. It was short, direct, and
comprehensive. He alluded in a most touching manner to the circumstances
which placed him in the position he then held. "On the one hand," he
said, "I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but
with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the
fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable
decision, as the asylum of my declining years.... On the other hand, the
magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country
called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced
of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could
not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior
endowments from nature, and unpractised in the duties of civil
administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own
deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver is, that it
has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation
of every circumstance by which it might be affected."

He expressed his devout gratitude to God for his providential
watchfulness over the affairs of his country; declined the exercise of
his constitutional duty of recommending measures for the consideration
of Congress, not being yet acquainted with the exact state of public
affairs, yet called their attention to necessary amendments of the
constitution; and concluded by saying:--

"When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country,
then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in
which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every
pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance
departed; and being still under the impressions that produced it, I must
decline, as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments
which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the
executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary
estimates for the station in which I am placed may, during my
continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public
good may be thought to require." To this expression of his disinterested
patriotism he added a renewal of grateful acknowledgments to the Father
of all, and supplication for further aid, protection, and guidance.

When the delivery of the inaugural address was ended, the president,
with the members of both houses of Congress, proceeded to St. Paul's
church (where the vestry had provided a pew for his use), and joined in
suitable prayers which were offered by Dr. Provost, the lately-ordained
bishop of the Protestant Episcopal church in the diocese of New York,
and who had been appointed chaplain to the senate. From the church
Washington retired to his residence, under the conduct of a committee
appointed for that purpose. The people spent the remainder of the day in
festal enjoyments, and closed it with fireworks, bonfires, and

When the two houses of Congress reassembled, each appointed a committee
to prepare a response to the president's inaugural address. Mr. Madison
prepared that of the representatives, and it was presented on the eighth
of May, in a private room of the Federal hall. "You have long held the
first place in the esteem of the American people," they said; "you have
often received tokens of affection; you now possess the only proof that
remained of their gratitude for your services, of their reverence for
your wisdom, and of their confidence in your virtues; you enjoy the
highest, because the truest, honor of being the first magistrate, by
the unanimous choice of the freest people on the face of the earth.

"We well know the anxieties with which you have obeyed a summons, from
the repose reserved for your declining years, into public scenes, of
which you had taken your leave for ever. But the obedience was due to
the occasion. It is already applauded by the universal joy which
welcomes you to your station; and we can not doubt that it will be
rewarded with all the satisfaction with which an ardent love for your
fellow-citizens must review successful efforts to promote their

After referring to his declaration concerning pecuniary emoluments for
his services, they concluded by saying: "All that remains is, that we
join in our fervent supplications for the blessings of Heaven on our
country, and that we add our own for the choicest of these blessings on
the most beloved of her citizens."

On the eighteenth of May, the entire senate waited upon the president at
his own house, to present their response. After congratulating him on
the complete organization of the federal government, they said:--

     "We are sensible, sir, that nothing but the voice of your
     fellow-citizens could have called you from a retreat chosen with
     the fondest predilections, endeared by habit, and consecrated to
     the repose of declining years: we rejoice, and with us all America,
     that, in obedience to the call of our common country, you have
     returned once more to public life. In you all parties confide, in
     you all interests unite; and we have no doubt that your past
     services, great as they have been, will be equalled by your future
     exertions, and that your prudence and sagacity as a statesman will
     tend to avert the dangers to which we were exposed, to give
     stability to the present government, and dignity and splendor to
     that country which your skill and valor, as a soldier, so eminently
     contributed to raise to independence."

To this Washington replied: "The coincidence of circumstances which led
to this auspicious crisis, the confidence reposed in me by my
fellow-citizens, and the assistance I may expect from counsels which
will be dictated by an enlarged and liberal policy, seem to presage a
more prosperous issue to my administration than a diffidence of my
abilities had taught me to anticipate, I now feel myself inexpressibly
happy in a belief that Heaven, which has done so much for our infant
nation, will not withdraw its providential influence before our
political felicity shall have been completed; and in a conviction that
the senate will, at all times, co-operate in every measure which may
tend to promote the welfare of this confederated republic. Thus
supported by a firm trust in the Great Arbiter of the universe, aided by
the collective wisdom of the Union, and imploring the Divine benediction
in our joint exertions in the service of our country, I readily engage
with you in the arduous but pleasing task of attempting to make a nation

It was indeed an arduous task, especially for conscientious men like
Washington and his compatriots. The circumstances of the country and the
temper of the people demanded the exercise of great wisdom and
discretion in trying the experiment of a new form of government,
concerning which there was yet a great diversity of sentiment. Doubts,
fears, suspicions, jealousies, downright opposition, were all to be
encountered. The late conflict of opinions had left many wounds. A large
proportion of them were partially healed, others wholly so; but deep
scars remained to remind the recipients of the turmoil, and the causes
which incited it. Although eleven states had ratified the constitution,
yet only three (New York, Delaware, and Georgia) had accepted it by
unanimous consent. In others it was ratified by meagre majorities. North
Carolina hesitated, and Rhode Island had refused to act upon the matter.
The state-rights feeling was still very strong in most of the local
legislatures, and many true friends of the constitution doubted whether
the general government would have sufficient power to control the
actions of the individual states. The great experiment was to be tried
by the representatives of the nation while listening to the sad lessons
derived from the history of all past republics, and beneath the scrutiny
of an active, restless, intelligent, high-spirited people, who were too
fond of liberty to brook any great resistance to their inclinations,
especially if they seemed to be coincident with the spirit of the

The republic to be governed was spread over a vast territory, with an
ocean front of fifteen hundred miles, and an inland frontier of three
times that extent. Cultivation and permanent settlements formed but a
sea-selvedge of this domain; for beyond the Alleghanies but
comparatively few footsteps of civilized man had yet trodden. In the
valleys of the Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, empires were budding; but
where half the states of the Union now flourish the solitude of the
wilderness yet reigned supreme.

Could the regions beyond the Alleghanies have remained so, there would
have been less cause for anxiety; but over those barriers a flood of
emigration had begun to flow, broad and resistless; and during the first
years of Washington's administration those wilds became populated with a
hardy race, who found upon the bosom of the Mississippi a grand highway
for carrying the products of their fertile soil to the markets of the

That great river was controlled by the Spaniards seated at its mouth,
who, in traditions, race, and aspirations, had no affinity with the
people of the new republic. They sat there as a barrier between the
settlers and the sea; and even before Washington left his home on the
Potomac, conflicting rumors had reached him respecting the impatience of
the western settlers because of that barrier. They had urged the
Congress of the Confederation to open it by treaty, but that Congress
was too feeble to comply. Now one tongue of rumor said that they would
soon organize an expedition to capture New Orleans; another tongue
asserted that the Spaniards, aided by British emissaries, were
intriguing with leading men in the great valleys to effect a separation
of the Union, and an attachment of the western portion to the crown of
Spain. These things gave Washington and his co-workers great uneasiness.

Another cause for anxiety was the refusal of Great Britain to give up
some of the frontier forts, in compliance with an article of the
definitive treaty of peace of 1783, on the plea that the United States
had violated another article of the same treaty in allowing the debts
due to British subjects, which had been contracted before the war, to
remain unpaid. This was regarded by the Americans as a mere pretext to
cover a more important interest, namely, the monopoly of the fur-trade
with the Indians. It was alleged, also, that the hostile attitude toward
the United States then lately assumed by several of the western tribes
was caused by the mischievous influence of the British officers who held
those posts, and their emissaries among the savages.

At the same time, the finances of the country were in a most deplorable
state. A heavy domestic and foreign debt presented importunate creditors
at the door of government; the treasury was empty; public credit was
utterly prostrated, and every effort of the late government to fund the
public debt had failed.

The foreign commerce of the country, owing to the feebleness of the
Confederation, was in a most unsatisfactory condition. The conduct of
the British government in relation to trade with the United States had
been, since the conclusion of the war, not only ungenerous, but insolent
and oppressive; and at the same time, the corsairs of the Barbary powers
on the southern shores of the Mediterranean sea, whose princes were
fattening upon the spoils of piracy, were marauding upon American
merchant-vessels with impunity, and carrying the crews into slavery.

The younger Pitt, in 1783, had proposed a scheme in the British
parliament for the temporary regulation of commercial intercourse with
the United States, the chief feature of which was the free admission
into the West India ports of American vessels laden with the products of
American industry; the West India people to be allowed, in turn, like
free trade with the United States. But the ideas of the old and unwise
navigation laws, out of which had grown the most serious dispute between
the colonies and the mother-country twenty-five years before, yet
prevailed in the British legislature. Pitts's proposition was rejected;
and an order soon went forth from the privy council for the entire
exclusion of American vessels from West India ports, and prohibiting the
importation thither of the several products of the United States, even
in British bottoms.

Notwithstanding this unwise and narrow policy was put in force, Mr.
Adams, the American minister at the court of St. James, proposed, in
1785, to place the navigation and trade between all the dominions of the
British crown and all the territories of the United States upon a basis
of perfect reciprocity. This generous offer was not only declined, but
the minister was haughtily assured that no other would be entertained.
Mr. Adams immediately recommended his government to pass navigation acts
for the benefit of its commerce; but the Confederation had not power or
vitality sufficient to take action. Some of the states attempted to
legislate upon commercial matters, and the subject of duties for
revenue; but their efforts were fruitless, except in discovering the
necessity of a strong central power, and putting in motion causes which
led to the formation of the federal government.

The earliest efforts of the new government, as we shall perceive
presently, were directed to the maturing of schemes for imposing
discriminating duties; and the eyes of British legislators were soon
opened to the fact that American commerce was no longer at the mercy of
thirteen distinct legislative bodies, nor subject to foreign control.
They perceived the importance of the American trade, and of a
reciprocity in trade between the two countries. They perceived, also,
that the interests of American commerce were guarded and its strength
nurtured by a central power of great energy; and very soon a committee
of parliament submitted a proposition, asking the United States to
consent to a commercial arrangement precisely such as had been offered
by Mr. Adams a few years before, and rejected with disdain.

Thus we perceive that, at the very outset, subjects of vast interest
connected with domestic and foreign affairs--the preservation of the
Union, the allaying of discontents, the liquidation of the public debt,
the replenishment of the treasury, the integrity of treaties, the
conciliation of hostile Indian tribes, the regulation and protection of
commerce, the encouragement of trade, the creation of a revenue, the
establishment of an independent national character, and the founding of
a wise policy for the government--presented themselves in stern array
to the mind of Washington, and almost overwhelmed him, by the magnitude
of their proportions, with a sense of his impotence in giving general
direction to the vast labors to be performed. He had few precedents as
an executive officer to guide him, and no experience as the chief of
civil affairs. "I walk, as it were, upon untrodden ground," he said;
but, like a wise man, he asked counsel of those upon whose judgment he
could rely.

At that moment the president was without constitutional advisers.
Executive departments had not yet been organized; but in John Jay as
secretary for foreign affairs, in General Knox as secretary of war, in
Samuel Osgood, Walter Livingston, and Arther Lee, as controllers of the
treasury--all of whom had been appointed by the old Congress--he found
men of large experience, enlightened views, sturdy integrity, and sound
judgment. With these, and Madison and Hamilton, Sherman and Chancellor
Livingston, and other personal friends, Washington commenced with
courage the great task before him.


[14] Griswold's _Republican Court_, page 137.

[15] Life of Washington, iv. 513.

[16] Address before the Philolexian Society of Columbia College, 1831.



Washington's position was a novel one in every particular. He was the
chosen head of a people who had just abolished royal government with all
its pomp and parade, its titles and class immunities, but who were too
refined, and too conscious of their real social and political strength
as a basis for a great nation, to be willing to trample upon all
deferential forms and ceremonies that might give proper dignity to, and
respect for deserving rulers, without implying servility.

In the convention that framed the constitution, the representatives of
the people exhibited this conservative feeling in a remarkable degree;
and the extreme democratic sentiment, such as afterward sympathized with
the radicals of the French revolution, was yet only a fledgling, but
destined to grow rapidly, and to fly with swift wing over the land. Yet
the spirit was manifest, and its coalescence with the state-rights
feeling made circumspection in the arrangement of the ceremonials
connected with the president and his household extremely necessary.

Already the question of a title for the president had been discussed in
Congress, and had produced a great deal of excitement in different
quarters. The subject appears to have been suggested by Mr. Adams, the
vice-president; and on the twenty-third of April the senate appointed
Richard Henry Lee, Ralph Izard, and Tristram Dalton, a committee "to
consider and report what style or titles it will be proper to annex to
the offices of president and vice-president of the United States." On
the following day the house of representatives appointed a committee to
confer with that of the senate, and the joint committee reported that it
was "improper to annex any style or title to the respective styles or
titles of office expressed in the constitution."

The house adopted the report by unanimous vote, but the senate did not
concur. The question then arose in the senate whether the president
should not be addressed by the title of _His Excellency_, and the
subject was referred to a new committee, of which Mr. Lee was chairman.
A proposition in the house to appoint a committee to confer with the new
senate committee elicited a warm debate. The senate committee,
meanwhile, reported in favor of the title of _His Highness the President
of the United States of America, and Protector of their Liberties_; but
they did not press the matter, as the inauguration had taken place in
the meantime, and the house had addressed the chief magistrate, in reply
to his inaugural address, simply as _President of the United States_.
With a view to preserve harmonious action, the senate determined to
address him in the same way; at the same time resolving that, "from a
decent respect for the opinion and practice of civilized nations,
whether under monarchical or republican forms of government, whose
custom is to annex titles of respectability to the office of their chief
magistrate, and that, in intercourse with foreign nations, a due respect
for the majesty of the people of the United States may not be hazarded
by an appearance of singularity, the senate have been induced to be of
opinion that it would be proper to annex a respectable title to the
office of the president of the United States."

This was the last action in Congress upon the subject, but it was
discussed in the newspapers for some time afterward. The excitement upon
the subject ran high in some places for a while, and Mr. Lee and Mr.
Adams, the reputed authors of the proposition, were quite unpopular. It
gave Washington, who was averse to all titles, much uneasiness, lest, he
said, it should be supposed by some, unacquainted with the facts, that
the object they had in view was not displeasing to him. "The truth is,"
he said, "the question was moved before I arrived, without any privity
or knowledge of it on my part, and urged, after I was apprized of it,
contrary to my opinion; for I foresaw and predicted the reception it has
met with, and the use that would be made of it by the adversaries of the
government. Happily this matter is now done with, I hope never to be

The effect of this movement upon the public mind gave Washington a
perception of the necessity of great circumspection in the arrangement
of ceremonials, to which allusion has just been made. He also perceived
the greater necessity of so regulating his personal matters as to secure
the most time for attention to public business; for, immediately after
his inauguration, he found that he was master neither of himself nor his
home. "By the time I had done breakfast," he wrote to Dr. Stuart, "and
thence till dinner, and afterward till bed-time, I could not get rid of
the ceremony of one visit before I had to attend to another. In a word,
I held no leisure to read or to answer the despatches that were pouring
in upon me from all quarters."

As usual, Washington sought the advice of those in whom he had
confidence. To Vice-President Adams, Jay, Hamilton, and Madison, he
addressed a series of nine questions, and desired them to reflect upon
and answer them. These all had reference to his intercourse with the
public: whether a line of conduct equally distant from an association
with all kinds of company on the one hand, and from a total seclusion
from society on the other, would be proper; how such a system should
best be made known to the public; whether one day in every week would
not be sufficient to devote to visits of compliment; whether he should
receive direct applications from those having business with him, setting
apart a certain hour every morning; whether the customs of the
presidents of the old Congress, in giving large dinner-parties to both
sexes twice a-week, ought not to be abolished, and invitations to dine
at the president's house, informal or otherwise, be limited, in regard
to persons, to six, eight, or ten official characters, including in
rotation the members of both houses of Congress, on days fixed for
receiving company; whether the public would be satisfied if he should
give four great entertainments in a year, on such occasions as the
anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the alliance with
France, the peace with Great Britain, and the organization of the
general government; whether the president should make and receive
informal visits from friends and acquaintances, for purposes of
sociability and civility, and, if so, in what way they should be made so
as not to be construed into visits from the president of the United
States; and finally, whether it might not be advantageous for the
president to make a tour through the United States during the recess of
Congress, in order to become better acquainted with the people, and the
circumstances and resources of the country.

"The president," he said at the close of his queries, "in all matters of
business and etiquette, can have no object but to demean himself in his
public character in such a manner as to maintain the dignity of his
office, without subjecting himself to the imputation of
superciliousness or unnecessary reserve."

To these queries the gentlemen addressed promptly responded in writing.
The vice-president, who, as minister abroad, had seen much of royal
etiquette, and become somewhat fascinated, as Jefferson said, "by the
glare of royalty and nobility," spoke of chamberlains, aids-de-camp,
and masters of ceremonies; for he regarded the presidential office
"equal to any in the world." "The royal office in Poland," he said, "is
a mere shadow in comparison with it;" and he thought that "if the state
and pomp essential to that great department were not in a good degree
preserved, it would be in vain for America to hope for consideration
with foreign powers." He thought it would be necessary to devote two
days each week to the reception of complimentary visits; that
application to a minister of state should be made by those who desired
an interview with the president; and in every case the character and
business of the visitor should be communicated to the chamberlain or
gentleman in waiting, who should judge whom to admit and whom to
exclude. He thought the time for receiving visits should be limited to
one hour each day; that the president might informally invite small
parties of official characters and strangers of distinction to dine with
him, without exciting public clamor; and that he might, as a private
gentleman, make and receive visits; but in his official character, he
should have no other intercourse with society than such as pertained to
public business.

Hamilton desired the dignity of the presidential office to be well
sustained, but intimated that care would be necessary "to avoid
extensive disgust or discontent." Although men's minds were prepared, he
said, for a "pretty high tone in the demeanor of the executive," he
doubted whether so high as might be desirable would be tolerated, for
the notions of equality were too strong to admit of a great distance
being placed between the president and other branches of the government.
He advised a public _levee_ of half an hour once a-week; that formal
entertainments should be given, at most, four times a year, on the days
mentioned by Washington; that informal invitations to family dinners
might be given to official characters; that heads of departments,
foreign ministers of some descriptions, and senators, should alone have
direct access to the person of the president, and only in matters
pertaining to the public business.

The opinions of his friends so nearly coinciding with that of his own,
Washington proceeded to act upon them, but with a wise discretion. He
had already adopted the plan of designating certain times for visits of
compliment, and he gave a public intimation that these would be on
Tuesday and Friday of each week, between the hours of two and three
o'clock. On these occasions there was no ostentatious display. On the
contrary, the president received his visitors in a simple manner;
conversed with them freely after introduction, if opportunities were
afforded; and in every respect, while maintaining perfect dignity, he
made all feel that he was their fellow-citizen.

"These visits are optional," he said in a letter to Dr. Stuart; "they
are made without invitation.... Gentlemen, often in great numbers, come
and go, chat with each other, and act as they please. A porter shows
them into the room, and they retire from it when they choose, without
ceremony. At their first entrance they salute me, and I them, and as
many as I can, I talk to. What 'pomp' there is in all this I am unable
to discover."

The last clause refers to a sentence in Dr. Stuart's letter, in which he
spoke of public clamors, in some places in Virginia, originating
generally with the opponents of the constitution and the government
organized under it, on account of alleged practices on the part of the
president and vice-president, which were regarded as monarchical in
their tendency. An untrue report was circulated that the vice-president
(who, it must be confessed, was quite high in his notions) never
appeared publicly except with a coach and six horses! It created much
excitement in Virginia, and the opponents of the government made much
use of it.

The _levees_ of the president were cited as examples of the rapid growth
of aristocracy. Among other stories, it was alleged that at the first
_levee_ an ante-chamber and presence-room were provided in the
presidential mansion; and that, when those who were to pay court were
assembled, the president, preceded by Colonel Humphreys as herald,
passed through the ante-chamber to the door of the inner room. This was
first entered, according to the untruthful account, by Humphreys, who
called out, with a loud voice, "The president of the United States!"

Another silly story went abroad, that at the ball given in honor of the
president, soon after his inauguration, he and Mrs. Washington were
seated in state upon a raised sofa at the head of the room; that each
gentleman, when going to dance, led his partner to the foot of the sofa
and made a low bow, and that when the dance was over, he again took his
partner to make obeisance to the president and his lady before they
retired to their chairs!

The subject of etiquette in the president's home, and in his intercourse
with the public at large, was of far more consequence, under the
circumstances, than might appear at first thought. It seems to have been
left chiefly to Colonel Humphreys, who had lately been Jefferson's
secretary of legation in Paris, to arrange the whole matter; yet several
months elapsed before Washington felt that he was treading upon sure
ground. As late as November, he made the following entry in his diary:
"Received an Invitation to attend the funeral of Mrs. Roosevelt (the
wife of a senator of this state), but declined complying with it--first,
because the propriety of accepting any invitation of this sort appeared
very questionable; and, secondly (though to do it in this instance might
not be improper), because it might be difficult to discriminate in cases
which might thereafter happen."

The customs established during Washington's administration concerning
_levees_, the president not returning visits, et cetera, have ever since
prevailed, and the chief magistrate of the republic is never seen in the
position of a private citizen.

We have alluded to the ball given in honor of Washington after his
inauguration. It was a brilliant affair, and surpassed anything of the
kind ever before seen in New York. Preparations had been made by the
managers of the city assemblies to have the ball on the evening of the
inauguration day; but, hearing that Mrs. Washington could not accompany
her husband, it was postponed. The time when she would arrive being
uncertain, the ball was given a week afterward. It was attended by the
president and vice-president, a large majority of the members of both
houses of Congress, the governor and other New York state officers,
foreign ministers, many military characters, and a large number of
distinguished citizens. "The collection of ladies," wrote one who was
present, "was numerous and brilliant, and they were dressed with
consummate taste and elegance."

"On this occasion," says Griswold, "an agreeable surprise was prepared
by the managers for every woman who attended. A sufficient number of
fans had been made for the purpose in Paris, the ivory frames of which
displayed, as they were opened, between the hinges and the elegant paper
covering, an extremely well-executed medallion portrait of Washington
in profile, and a page was appointed to present one, with the
compliments of the managers, as each couple passed the receiver of the

On the evening of the fourteenth of May, the Count de Moustier, the
French minister, gave a splendid ball in honor of the president, at his
residence in M'Comb's house, in Broadway, afterward occupied by
Washington as the presidential mansion. The whole arrangement was
directed by his sister, the Marchioness de Brienne, who was an amateur
artist of considerable distinction. "I heard the marchioness declare,"
wrote a lady who was present, "she had exhausted every resource to
produce an entertainment worthy of France."

Mrs. Washington did not leave Mount Vernon until Tuesday, the nineteenth
of May, when she set out for New York in her travelling carriage, drawn
by four horses, accompanied by her two grandchildren, Eleanor Parke and
George Washington Parke Custis, and a small escort of horse. She was
everywhere greeted with demonstrations of the greatest affection. When
she approached Baltimore she was met by a cavalcade of citizens. In the
evening, fireworks were discharged in honor of the fair guest, and a
band of musicians serenaded her. When she approached Philadelphia she
was met by the president of the commonwealth, the speaker of the
assembly, two troops of dragoons, and a large number of citizens, who
escorted her toward the Schuylkill. Seven miles from Philadelphia she
was met by a large company of women in carriages, who formed an escort,
and at Gray's ferry all partook of a collation. There Mrs. Robert Morris
joined Mrs. Washington in her carriage, and as the procession entered
the city the bells rang out a merry peal, and cannon thundered a cordial

Mrs. Washington remained in Philadelphia, a guest of Mrs. Morris, until
Monday morning, when she set out for New York, accompanied by that lady.
All through New Jersey she received the most affectionate attentions,
and at Elizabethtown was the guest of Governor Livingston. At
Elizabethtown Point she was met by her husband, who, attended by Robert
Morris and other distinguished men, had come from New York in his
splendid barge to receive her. As they approached the city they were
saluted by thirteen discharges of cannon, and were followed to their
residence by a crowd of the citizens.

On the day after Mrs. Washington's arrival, the president invited a few
official characters to a family dinner. No clergyman being present,
Washington himself asked a blessing before the company took their seat
at table. The dinner was simple, and no special etiquette was observed
on that occasion. A single glass of wine was offered to each guest, with
the toast which Washington invariably gave on such occasions--"To all
our friends;" and when it was drunk, the president arose, led the way to
the drawing-room, and each one departed when he pleased, without
ceremony. Such continued to be the simple hospitality of President
Washington's table.

On the evening of the twenty-eighth, two days after her arrival, Mrs.
Washington held her first _levee_, or drawing-room. It was attended by
nearly all of the leading characters in social and political life then
in the federal metropolis. "There was no place for the intrusion of the
rabble in crowds, or for the mere coarse and boisterous partisan," says
Colonel Stone in some remarks upon these receptions. "There was no place
for the vulgar electioneerer or impudent place-hunter. On the contrary,
they were select, and more courtly than have been given by any of
Washington's successors. Proud of her husband's exalted fame, and
jealous of the honors due, not only to his own lofty character, but to
the dignified station to which a grateful country had called him, Mrs.
Washington was careful, in her drawing-rooms, to exact those courtesies
to which she knew he was entitled, as well on account of personal merit
as of official consideration. None, therefore, were admitted to the
_levees_ but those who had either a right by official station to be
there, or were entitled to the privilege by established merit and

Mrs. Washington's receptions were on Friday evenings, and were always
closed at precisely nine o'clock. Notwithstanding the entire absence of
all pomp or parade on these occasions, cavilers spoke of them sometimes
in ill-natured and offensive terms, as "court levees" and "queenly

Washington always held the Sabbath-day sacred to worship and repose, and
no visitors were received by him on that day. Sometimes an intimate
acquaintance would spend the evening with him. He usually attended
public worship with his family in the morning, and in the afternoon he
retired to study, to read, to meditate, or to write private letters.

In public as in private life, he was temperate in all things, and frugal
in his household expenses. He employed the celebrated tavern-keeper,
Samuel Fraunces (whose daughter, it will be remembered, once saved
Washington's life by revealing the murderous intentions of one of his
life-guard) as his steward. Everything was governed by a well-regulated
economy, which had a most salutary effect in restraining extravagant
living, toward which New York society had then a strong tendency. The
president's example in that particular was powerful.

Washington preserved, in his movements, a certain degree of state, not
offensive to the well-informed or right-minded. He had a fine coach,
and, as at Mount Vernon, he kept superb horses, six of which, on some
few occasions, were driven at one time before his carriage. The family
carriage was generally drawn by four horses, when rides were taken in
the country for exercise, with "Mrs. Washington and the children." His
servants usually wore livery, and he sometimes was accompanied by
outriders. Such was the state in which many wealthy gentlemen moved at
that day, especially in Virginia; and none knew better than those who
made these things an occasion to revile the new government, that nothing
was further from the mind and heart of Washington, in the practice of
these customs, than a desire for ostentatious display.


[17] Griswold's _Republican Court_, page 156.

[18] The late Mr. Custis, Mrs. Washington's grandson, giving an
account of these receptions at the presidential mansion in Philadelphia,

     "When Mrs. Washington received company it was on Friday, commencing
     about seven, and ending about nine o'clock. Two rooms were thrown
     open. The furniture that was thought handsome in those days would
     be considered barely decent in modern times. The principal ornament
     was a glass chandelier in the largest room, burning wax lights. The
     chair of the lady of the president was a plain arm-chair lined with
     green morocco leather.

     "The ladies visiting the drawing-room were always attended by
     gentlemen. It was not the habit for very young girls to be present
     at the drawing-room, but only those of the age when it is proper
     for ladies to go into company. Upon the ladies being introduced
     they were seated, and the president, who always attended the
     drawing-room, passed round the circle, paying his respects to each
     in succession; and it was a common remark, among the chit-chat of
     the drawing-room, that the chief was no inconsiderable judge of
     female beauty, since he was observed to tarry longer than usual
     when paying his compliments to Miss Sophia Chew, a charming belle
     of Philadelphia in that time.

     "Refreshments were handed round by servants in livery; and about
     that period first appeared the luxury, now so universal, of
     ice-cream. Introductions to eminent personages and conversation
     formed the entertainments of the drawing-room. Cards were
     altogether unknown.

     "But the leading and most imposing feature of the drawing-room was
     the men of mark, the 'Revolutionaries,' both civil and military,
     who were to be seen there. The old officers delighted to pay their
     respects to the wife of Washington, and to call up the
     reminiscences of the headquarters, and of the 'times that tried
     men's souls.' These glorious old chevaliers were the greatest beaux
     of the age, and the recollections of their gallant achievements,
     together with their elegant manners, made them acceptable to the
     ladies everywhere. They formed the _élite_ of the drawing-room.
     General Wayne--the renowned 'Mad Anthony'--with his aids-de-camp,
     Lewis and De Butts, frequently attended, with Mifflin, Walter
     Stewart, Colonel Hartley, and many others. Indeed, there was often
     to be met with at the mansion of the first president an assemblage
     of intellect and honor, public virtue and private worth, exalted
     merit and illustrious services, such as the world will never see



With a most earnest desire to be a faithful public servant, Washington
commenced his labors as soon as possible after the inauguration. His
first care was to make himself acquainted with the exact condition of
his country; and for that purpose he personally inspected all of the
most important official documents issued since the establishment of the
Confederacy, and called, unofficially, upon the heads of the several
departments to report, in writing, the condition of things connected
with the operations of their respective bureaux. In this pursuit he
labored almost incessantly, examining with care the archives of the
departments, making notes of important foreign correspondence, and
collating his garnered facts so as to make them most convenient for use.

The foreign relations of the United States were, on the whole,
satisfactory. With the exception of England, the feeling of the European
powers toward the new republic was friendly. The resentments caused by
the long war with the mother-country were blunted, but by no means
deprived of their strength; and the fact that the British government
still held possession of western posts, in violation of treaty
stipulations, to which allusion has already been made, was a cause of
much irritation on the part of the Americans. And this was increased, as
we have observed, by the supposed malign influence of British officers
over the tribes of Indians between the lakes and the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers, whose military strength was computed at five
thousand warriors, one third of whom were, at the time in question,
standing in open hostility to the United States. In the far southwest,
the powerful Creeks, six thousand strong, were at war with Georgia,
while the entire regular force of the United States did not exceed six
hundred men.

We have already alluded to the relative position of the Spaniards in the
southwest, and their disposition to exclude the Americans from the
navigation of the southern Mississippi to its mouth. An attempt to open
that navigation by treaty had failed; and there was an almost
undefinable boundary-line between the Spanish possessions and those of
the United States, about which a dispute had arisen that threatened
unpleasant relations with Spain.

France, the old ally of the new republic, was still friendly; but its
government was then shaken by a terrible revolution just commenced, in
which Lafayette took a conspicuous part. Of this we shall speak

Up to the time in question, the representatives of France in America had
exhibited the most friendly disposition. Count de Moustier, the
successor of the Chevalier de Luzerne, was assiduous in his attentions;
and Washington had scarcely commenced the exercise of his executive
functions, before that embassador, who had been more than a year in the
country, sought a private interview with him, preparatory, as he said,
to diplomatic negotiations concerning the commerce between the two
nations. He was anxious to secure for his country superior advantages in
commercial arrangements, and seemed to feel that France, as an ally, was
entitled to more consideration than other nations. Washington
reciprocated his expressions of friendship, gave him assurance of the
most friendly feeling toward France on the part of the people and
government of the United States; but, with a wise caution, did not
commit himself to any future policy in regard to commercial or other
intercourse with the nations of Europe.

While zealously engaged in his public duties, Washington was prostrated
by violent disease, in the form of malignant anthrax or carbuncle boil
upon his thigh, and for several days his life was seriously jeoparded.
Fortunately for himself and the republic, there was a physician at hand,
in the person of Doctor Samuel Bard, by whose well-directed skill his
life was spared. While the malady was approaching its crisis, Doctor
Bard never left his patient, but watched the progress of the disease
with the greatest anxiety. On one occasion, when they were alone in the
room, Washington, looking earnestly in the doctor's face, said: "Do not
flatter me with vain hopes; I am not afraid to die, and therefore can
bear the worst." Bard replied with an expression of hope, but with an
acknowledgment of apprehension. To this the president calmly answered:
"Whether to-night or twenty years hence makes no difference--I know that
I am in the hands of a good Providence."

While Washington was so calm under his severe affliction--for his
sufferings were intense--the public mind was greatly agitated upon the
subject of his illness; for momentous interests were suspended upon the
result of the disease. Every hour, anxious inquiries were made at the
presidential mansion. People listened with the most intense concern to
every word that was passed from the lips of the physician to the public
ear; and there was a sense of great relief when his convalescence was
announced. But his recovery was very slow. On the twenty-eighth of July
he was enabled for the first to receive a few visits of compliment,
notwithstanding he had considered his health as restored three weeks
earlier. "But," he wrote to Mr. M'Henry, "a feebleness still hangs upon
me, and I am much incommoded by the incision which was made in a very
large and painful tumor on the protuberance of my thigh. This prevents
me from walking or sitting. However, the physician assures me it has had
a happy effect in removing my fever, and will tend very much to the
establishment of my general health." As late as the eighth of September
he wrote to Doctor Craik, saying:

     "Though now freed from pain, the wound given by the incision is not
     yet healed."

Before he had fairly recovered, the president heard of the death of his
mother, who expired at Fredericksburg, on the twenty-fifth of August, at
the age of little more than eighty-two years, forty-six of which she had
passed in widowhood. The event was touchingly alluded to in the pulpits
of New York; and at the first public _levees_ of the president, after
her death was known, members of the two houses of Congress and other
persons wore badges of mourning.

When Washington had fully recovered, he resumed his labors for the
public good with the greatest ardor. The Congress had been chiefly
employed, meanwhile, in framing laws necessary to the organization of
the government. The most important of these, in the senate, was an act
for the establishment of a judiciary, and in the house of
representatives an act providing a revenue by an imposition of
discriminating duties upon imports. The latter subject had received the
earliest attention of the house, for, in the condition in which the new
government found the national finances, it was an all-important one. Mr.
Madison brought it to the attention of Congress, only two days after the
inauguration, by a suggestion, in the first committee of the whole on
the state of the Union, to adopt a temporary system of imposts, by which
the exhausted treasury might be replenished. Upon the questions which
this proposition gave birth to, long and able debates ensued, in which
the actual state of the trade, commerce, and manufactures of the country
were quite fully developed. From the published reports of these debates
Washington collated a mass of facts which aided him much in his future
labors, and in drawing conclusions concerning public measures. An act
for the collection of revenue through the medium of imposts was finally
passed, and the principle was recognised of discriminating duties for
the protection of American manufactures. The plan then adopted became
the basis of our present revenue system.

Another important question that engaged Congress during its first
session was the establishment of executive departments, the heads of
which should be the counsellors and assistants of the president in the
management of public affairs. Hitherto these functions had been
performed by those officers who had been appointed, some of them several
years before, by Congress under the old Confederation. John Jay had been
secretary for foreign affairs (an equivalent to secretary of state)
since 1784; General Knox had been at the head of the war department
since the close of 1783, when he succeeded General Lincoln; and the
treasury department was still managed by a board, at that time
consisting of Samuel Osgood, Walter Livingston, and Arthur Lee.

Congress established three executive departments--treasury, war, and
foreign affairs (the latter afterward called department of state)--the
heads of which were to be styled secretaries, instead of ministers as in
Europe, and were to constitute, with the president of the United States,
an executive council. In the organization of these departments, the
important question arose, in what manner might the high officers who
should fill them be appointed or removed? Many believed that the
decision of this question would materially influence the character of
the new government; and the clause in the act to "establish an executive
department to be denominated the department of foreign affairs," which
declared the secretary thereof to be removable by the president, was
debated with great warmth. It was contended that such a prerogative
given to the president was in its character so monarchical that it
would, in the nature of things, convert the heads of departments into
mere tools and creatures of his will; that a dependence so servile on
one individual would deter men of high and honorable minds from engaging
in the public service; and that the most alarming dangers to liberty
might be perceived in such prerogative. It was feared, they said, that
those who advocated the bestowment of such power upon the president were
too much dazzled with the splendor of the virtues which adorned the then
incumbent of the office; and that they did not extend their views far
enough to perceive, that an ambitious man at the head of the government
might apply the prerogative to dangerous purposes, and remove the best
of men from office.

The idea that a man could ever be elected by the people of the United
States to the office of chief magistrate, who was so lost to a sense of
right, and so indifferent to public odium, as to remove a good man from
office, was treated by the opposite party as absurd; and after a
discussion which lasted several days, it was decided to give the
removing power to the president, the action of the senate being
necessary only in the matter of appointment.

Another important matter acted upon during the first session of Congress
was that of amending the constitution. It was brought to the attention
of the national legislature in the president's inaugural speech; for he
conceived that the amendments which had been proposed by the minorities
in the several state conventions called to consider the constitution,
deserved the careful consideration of those in authority, not only
because of the nature of the propositions, but because such a
consideration might be productive of good will toward the government,
even in the minds of its opponents.

Mr. Madison brought the subject before Congress, pursuant to pledges
which he found himself compelled to give in the Virginia convention in
order to secure the ratification of the constitution. These amendments
amounted in the aggregate to no less than one hundred and forty-seven,
besides separate bills of rights proposed by Virginia and New York. Some
of them, made in different states, were identical in spirit, and
sometimes in form; and yet, it is worthy of remark that not one of these
proposed amendments, judged by subsequent experience, was of a vital
character. How well this fact illustrates the profound wisdom embodied
in our constitution!

Sixteen amendments were finally agreed to by Congress and submitted to
the several state legislatures. Ten of these were subsequently ratified,
and now form a part of the federal constitution. This early action of
Congress in deference to the opinions of minorities in the several
states had a most happy effect. It reconciled many able men to the new
government, and gave it strength at an hour when it was most needed.

The senate, meanwhile, had adopted measures for the establishment of a
federal judiciary. A plan embodied in a bill drafted by Ellsworth, of
Connecticut, was, after several amendments, concurred in by both houses.
By its provisions, the judiciary as established consisted of a supreme
court, having one chief justice and five associate justices, who were to
hold two sessions annually at the seat of the federal government.
Circuit and district courts were also established, which had
jurisdiction over certain specified cases. Appeals from these lower
courts to the supreme court of the United States were allowed, as to
points of law, in all civil cases where the matter in dispute amounted
to two thousand dollars. A marshal was to be appointed for each
district, having the general power of a sheriff, who was to attend all
courts, and was authorized to serve all processes. A district attorney,
to act for the United States in all cases in which the federal
government might be interested, was also to be appointed for each
district. Such, in brief outline and in general terms, was the federal
judiciary organized at the commencement of the government, and which is
still in force, with slight modifications.

The government being completely organized by acts of Congress, and a
system of revenue for the support of the government being established,
Washington proceeded to the important duty of filling the several
offices which had been created. This was a most delicate and momentous
task, for upon a right choice, especially in the heads of the executive
departments, depended much of the success of his administration. He had
contemplated the subject with much deliberation, and when the time came
for him to act he was fully prepared.

At that time the post of secretary of the treasury was the most
important of all. Everything pertaining to the finances of the country
was in confusion, and needed a skillful hand in re-arranging and
systematizing the inharmonious and incoherent fiscal machinery, so as to
ascertain the actual resources of the treasury, and to adopt measures
for restoring the credit of the country upon a basis of perfect
solvency. "My endeavors," Washington wrote before he assumed the office
of chief magistrate, "shall be unremittingly exerted, even at the hazard
of former fame or present popularity, to extricate my country from the
embarrassments in which it is entangled through want of credit."

To Robert Morris, the able financier of the Revolution, Washington
turned with a feeling that he was the best man for the head of the
treasury department. Immediately after his inauguration, he inquired of
Morris: "What are we to do with this heavy debt?" "There is but one man
in the United States," replied Morris, "who can tell you--that is
Alexander Hamilton. I am glad," he added, "that you have given me this
opportunity to declare to you the extent of the obligations I am under
to him."

This hint determined Washington to offer the important position of
secretary of the treasury to Hamilton. At the beginning of his
administration he gave that gentleman assurances that he should call him
to his cabinet in that capacity; and he frequently consulted him in
reference to fiscal matters and cognate subjects during the summer. And
when, in September, the office was formally tendered to Hamilton, he
accepted it, although it was at the sacrifice of the emoluments of a
lucrative profession. Some of his friends remonstrated with him on that
account, because it would not be just to his growing family. "Of that I
am aware," the patriot replied; "but I am convinced it is the situation
in which I can do most good." He entered upon the duties of his office
almost immediately, with a full assurance that he should perform what he
had often expressed a belief that he could do--the restoration of the
public credit.

General Henry Knox, the efficient leader of the artillery during the
Revolution, the sincere friend of Washington, and a prudent,
industrious, faithful, and honest man, was retained in the office of
secretary of war.

To Edmund Randolph, Washington offered the responsible position of
attorney-general of the United States. They had differed materially in
their opinions concerning the federal constitution, and it will be
remembered that Randolph refused to sign it; but he had in a great
degree become reconciled to the measure; and at no time was the
friendship between himself and Washington interrupted by their diversity
of political sentiments. Washington knew Randolph's great worth and
eminent abilities, and urged him to accept the office. He complied, and
some months afterward entered upon its duties.

John Jay, one of the brightest minds of the remarkable century in which
he lived, and an acute lawyer, was chosen to fill the office of chief
justice of the United States. "I have a full confidence," wrote
Washington to Mr. Jay, "that the love which you bear to our country, and
a desire to promote the general happiness, will not suffer you to
hesitate a moment to bring into action the talents, knowledge, and
integrity, which are so necessary to be exercised at the head of that
department which must be considered the keystone of our political

Mr. Jay accepted the office; and for his associates on the bench, the
president selected William Cushing, then chief justice of Massachusetts;
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, a very conspicuous member of the general
convention of 1787; Robert H. Harrison, then chief justice of Maryland,
who during a large portion of the war for independence had been one of
Washington's most loved confidential secretaries; John Blair, one of the
judges of the court of appeals in Virginia; and John Rutledge, the bold,
outspoken patriot of South Carolina. Harrison declined, and James
Iredell, of North Carolina, was substituted.

The office of secretary of state remained to be filled. To that
important post the president invited Thomas Jefferson, whose long and
varied experience in public affairs at home and abroad thoroughly
qualified him for the duties of that office. He was then the minister
plenipotentiary of the United States at the French court, having
succeeded Doctor Franklin. He had obtained leave to return home for a
few months. He sailed from Havre to England late in September, and
embarked from Cowes for America. He landed at Norfolk on the
twenty-third of November; and on his way to Monticello, his beautiful
seat near Charlottesville in Virginia, he received a letter from
Washington, dated the thirteenth of October, in which he was invited to
a seat in the cabinet as secretary of state. "In the selection of
characters," the president said, "to fill the important offices of
government, I was naturally led to contemplate the talents and
disposition which I knew you to possess and entertain for the service of
your country; and without being able to consult your inclination, or to
derive any knowledge of your intentions from your letters either to
myself or to any of your friends, I was determined, as well by motives
of private regard as a conviction of public propriety, to nominate you
for the department of state, which, under its present organization,
involves many of the most interesting objects of the executive

Mr. Jefferson, who had become enamored with the leaders and the
principles of the French revolution then just inaugurated by the
destruction of the Bastile and other acts, preferred to remain in
Europe; but, yielding to the wishes of the president, he signified his
willingness to accept the office. He was fearful that he would not be
equal to the requirements of the station; but, he said, "my chief
comfort will be to work under your eye, my only shelter the authority of
your name, and the wisdom of measures to be dictated by you and
implicitly executed by me."

The office of secretary of the navy was not created until early in 1798,
when war with France was anticipated. A navy was then formed, and a
naval department established; and at the close of April, Benjamin
Stoddart, of Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, was appointed the
secretary, and became a cabinet officer. The postmaster-general did not
become an executive officer until 1829, the first year of President
Jackson's administration, when William T. Barry entered the cabinet as
the head of the post-office department. Since then a new department has
been established, called the department of the interior, the head of
which is a cabinet officer.

The Congress adjourned on the twenty-ninth of September, after a session
of more than six months, to meet again on the first Monday in January.
Their last act was to appoint a joint committee to wait on the president
and "request that he would recommend to the people of the United States
a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging
with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God,
especially by affording them an opportunity peacefully to establish a
constitution of government for their safety and happiness."

The president complied, and by proclamation he recommended that the
twenty-sixth of November "be devoted by the people of these states to
the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent
Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may
thus all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for
his kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to
their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies, and the
favorable interpositions of his providence, in the course and conclusion
of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and
plenty, which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational
manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of
government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national
one now recently instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with
which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing
useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors
which He has been pleased to confer upon us."



Immediately after the adjournment of Congress, Washington prepared to
make a tour through New England, in order to become better acquainted
with public characters there, the temper of the people toward the new
government, and the circumstances and resources of the country. He had
asked the advice of his counsellors on the propriety of such a journey,
immediately after his inauguration, and now he again talked with
Hamilton and Madison about it. They thought it desirable; and on the
morning of Thursday, the fifteenth of October, he set out in his
carriage drawn by four horses, and accompanied by Major Jackson, his
aid-de-camp, and Tobias Lear, his private secretary, with six servants.
All papers appertaining to foreign affairs he left under the temporary
control of Mr. Jay.

The president was accompanied some distance out of the city by
Chief-Justice Jay, General Knox, and Colonel Hamilton. His diary kept
during his tour exhibits his constant and minute observations concerning
the agricultural resources, and mechanical and other industrial
operations, of the country through which he passed. At every
considerable town on his route he was greeted by the authorities and the
people, and everywhere he received demonstrations of the greatest
personal respect and affection. On approaching New Haven on Saturday,
the seventeenth, he was met by the governor and lieutenant-governor of
Connecticut (Huntington and Wolcott), and Roger Sherman, the mayor of
the city. The governor and the congregational ministers of the city
presented to him addresses, in which they congratulated him on the
restoration of his health. He remained in New Haven until Monday
morning, and then journeyed on to Hartford accompanied by an escort of
cavalry and citizens. At Middletown and other places on the way he was
received by escorts, and greeted with the ringing of bells, and
sometimes the firing of cannon. Increasing demonstrations of respect met
him as he proceeded. At Hartford all business was suspended during his
stay; and, in all the towns, every class of citizens thronged the places
of his presence to see the face of their beloved friend.

Grateful as these demonstrations were to the feelings of Washington, as
evidences of personal and official respect, they were not consonant with
his desires. He wished to travel in the quiet manner of a private
citizen, for he was ever averse to ostentatious displays of every kind.
But his wishes could not control the actions of his fellow-citizens, and
he yielded with a good grace to their receptions.

Near Brookfield, between Palmer and Worcester, the president was met by
a messenger sent by John Hancock, then governor of Massachusetts, to
give notice of measures that had been arranged for the chief
magistrate's reception on his approach to, and entrance into the city of
Boston, the capital of the commonwealth. Governor Hancock also invited
him to make his house his home while in Boston.

Washington courteously declined the governor's invitation to partake of
his hospitality. "Could my wish prevail," he said, "I should desire to
visit your metropolis without any parade or extraordinary ceremony. From
a wish to avoid giving trouble to private families I determined, on
leaving New York, to decline the honor of any invitation to quarters
which I might receive while on my journey; and, with a view to observe
this rule, I had requested a gentleman to engage lodgings for me during
my stay in Boston."

On the receipt of this letter, Governor Hancock wrote by the return
courier to the president, expressing his regret that he could not have
the honor of entertaining him at his house as a guest, and begging that
he and his _suite_ would honor him with their company at dinner, _en
famille_, on the day of their arrival. Washington accepted the
invitation, and on Saturday, the twenty-fourth of October, he passed
through Cambridge, and approached Boston toward meridian.

Preparations had been made for the reception of the president by
Governor Hancock and the municipal authorities of Boston, each
independently of the other, and without consultation. This produced a
disagreeable, but in some respects laughable scene in the ceremonies of
the day. Both parties sincerely desired to pay the highest honors to the
chief magistrate of the nation, but political considerations separated
the governor and the selectmen of Boston. The governor claimed the
right, as chief officer of the state, of receiving and welcoming in
person the expected guest at the entrance to the capital; while the
selectmen said, "You should have met him at the boundary of the _state_;
but when he is about to enter the _town_, it is the right of the
municipal authorities to receive him."

The controversy was unsettled when the president and _suite_, under a
military escort commanded by General Brooks, passed through Roxbury and
were ready to enter Boston. Washington and Major Jackson had left the
carriage, and had mounted horses prepared for them; and as the whole
procession passed over the Neck it was stopped, without apparent cause,
for a long time. The contending parties, executive and municipal, had
their respective carriages drawn up, each with the determination to
receive and do honors to the president; and for more than an hour aides
and marshals were posting between the leaders of the contending parties,
endeavoring to effect a reconciliation. The sky was cloudy and the
atmosphere raw, sour, and most disagreeable.[19] Washington finally
inquired the cause of the delay, and, being informed, he asked, with
evident impatience, whether there was any other avenue into the town. He
was about to wheel his horse and seek one, and leave the contestants
about etiquette to settle their dispute at leisure--when he was informed
that the matter had been arranged, the governor's party having yielded
to the municipal authorities.

The war of words being ended, the procession moved on. The president was
formally welcomed by the selectmen, and was received into the city with
acclamations of joy, the ringing of bells, and the firing of cannon. A
magnificent arch was raised for Washington to pass under, and the
streets, doors, and windows were filled with well-dressed people of both
sexes. The president rode with his hat off, and with a calm, dignified
air, without bowing to the people as he passed; but when he had reached
a balcony of the old statehouse, and he was saluted by a long procession
of citizens, he occasionally returned the salutations.[20] When the
ceremonials were over, he was conducted to his lodgings, at Mrs.
Ingersoll's--a fine brick house, at the corner of Tremont and Court
streets--accompanied by the lieutenant-governor and council, and
Vice-President Adams, who was then in Boston. A fine company of
light-infantry, commanded by the distinguished Harrison Gray Otis, was a
guard of honor on the occasion.

Washington made the following record in his diary that evening: "Having
engaged yesterday to take an informal dinner with the governor to-day,
but under a full persuasion that he would have waited upon me so soon as
I should have arrived, I excused myself upon his not doing it, and
informing me through his secretary that he was too much indisposed to do
it, being resolved to receive the visit. Dined at my lodgings, where the
vice-president favored me with his company."

This record alludes to an amusing display of official pride on the part
of Governor Hancock, which Washington, in the most dignified way,
completely humbled. Hancock's wealth, public services, and official
position, placed him in the highest rank of social life at that time;
and he had conceived the opinion that, as governor of a state and within
the bounds of his jurisdiction, etiquette made it proper for him to
receive the first visit, even from the president of the United States.
He therefore omitted to meet Washington on his first arrival, or to call
upon him; but, lacking courage to avow the true reason, he pleaded
indisposition. The true cause of the omission had been given to the
president, and he determined to resist the governor's foolish
pretensions. He therefore excused himself from the engagement to dinner,
and dined, as he says, at his own lodgings, with Vice-President Adams as
his guest.

Hancock soon perceived that he had made a great mistake, and sent three
gentlemen that evening to express to Washington his concern that he had
not been in a condition to call upon him as soon as he entered the town.
"I informed them," says Washington in his diary, "in explicit terms,
that I should not see the governor unless it was at my own lodgings."

The next day (Sunday), on consultation with his friends, Hancock
determined to waive the point of etiquette; and at noon he sent a
message to Washington that he would do himself the honor of visiting him
within half an hour, notwithstanding it was at the hazard of his health.
Washington immediately returned a note in reply to the governor,
informing him that he would be at home until two o'clock, and adding,
with the most polished irony: "The president need not express the
pleasure it will give him to see the governor; but, at the same time, he
most earnestly begs that the governor will not hazard his health on the

Hancock made the visit within the specified time. After recording in his
diary his attendance upon public worship in the morning and afternoon,
Washington added: "Between the two I received a visit from the governor,
who assured me that indisposition alone prevented him from doing it
yesterday, and that he was still indisposed; but as it had been
suggested that he expected to _receive_ the visit from the president,
which he knew was improper, he was resolved at all hazards to pay his
compliments to-day." Thus the matter ended; and the next day the
president drank tea with the governor, the latter not having been
injured by his exposure in calling upon Washington.[21]

The president remained in Boston until Thursday, the twenty-ninth,
during which time he received many calls and addresses, and visited the
manufacturing establishments in the city, and the French ships-of-war in
the harbor. On the twenty-seventh he had a busy day. In his diary he
recorded: "At ten o'clock in the morning received the visits of the
clergy of the town. At eleven, went to an oratorio; and between that and
three o'clock received the addresses of the governor and council of the
town of Boston[22]--of the president, et cetera, of Harvard college, and
of the Cincinnati of the state; after which, at three o'clock, I dined
at a large and elegant dinner at Faneuil hall, given by the governor and
council, and spent the evening at my lodgings."

Of all the addresses, none were so grateful to him as that from his old
companions-in-arms, the members of the Cincinnati. "After the solemn and
endearing farewell on the banks of the Hudson," they said, "which our
anxiety presaged as final, most peculiarly pleasing is the present
unexpected meeting. On this occasion we can not avoid the recollection
of the various scenes of toil and danger through which you conducted us;
and while we contemplate the trying periods of the war, and the triumphs
of peace, we rejoice to behold you, induced by the unanimous voice of
your country, entering upon other trials and other services, alike
important, and in some points of view equally hazardous. For the
completion of the great purposes which a grateful country has assigned
you, long, very long may your invaluable life be preserved; and as an
admiring world, while considering you as a soldier, have wanted a
comparison, so may your virtues and talents as a statesman leave it
without a parallel."

To these remarks Washington replied: "Dear, indeed, is the occasion
which restores intercourse with my associates in prosperous and adverse
fortune; and enhanced are the triumphs of peace participated with those
whose virtue and valor so largely contributed to procure them. To that
virtue and valor your country has confessed her obligations. Be mine the
grateful task to add to the testimony of a connection which it was my
pride to own in the field, and is now my happiness to acknowledge in the
enjoyment of peace and freedom."

On board the French vessels in the harbor were about thirty officers who
had served in America during the Revolution, and several of these were
members of the society of the Cincinnati in France. Of these the
admiral, Viscount de Pondevez, the Marquis de Traversay, and the
Chevalier de Braye (the Marquis de Galhsoneire being ill on board his
ship) accompanied the Cincinnati in presenting their address. On the
following day the president was conveyed on board the flag-ship of the
French admiral, in the beautiful barge of the ship _Illustrious_, having
the flag of the United States at the bow, and that of France at the
stern. It was steered by a major and rowed by midshipmen, and the
president was received on board with the homage given to sovereigns.
"The officers," says one account, "took off their shoes, and the crew
all appeared with their legs bared." "Going and coming," says Washington
in his diary, "I was saluted by the two frigates which lay near the
wharves, and by the seventy-fours after I had been on board of them. I
was also saluted, going and coming, by the fort on Castle island."

Washington continued his tour eastward as far as Portsmouth, in New
Hampshire, passing through Salem and Newburyport on the way. He was
attended nearly the whole distance by military escorts. He left Boston
on the morning of the twenty-ninth. Eight o'clock was the hour appointed
for departure. The escort that was to accompany him was not ready, and
the punctual president, ever deprecating delays, and fearing some other
question of etiquette was to be settled, left the laggards to overtake
him on the road. He enjoyed the hospitalities of the executive of New
Hampshire (General Sullivan) and the citizens of Portsmouth, for several
days. There he gave Mr. Gulligher, a Boston painter, one sitting for his
portrait, at the request of several of the inhabitants of that city, and
also partook of a public dinner and attended a ball given in his

From Portsmouth Washington journeyed toward New York by an interior
route, passing through Exeter, Haverhill, Andover, Lexington, Watertown,
Uxbridge, Pomfret (where General Putnam lived), and arrived at Hartford
on Monday, the ninth of November. He reached New York in the afternoon
of the thirteenth, his health much benefitted by the journey, and his
store of knowledge of the people and the country greatly increased. He
had been everywhere received as a father, and he left behind him many
pleasant memories, which the participants cherished as long as life

The excess of adulation to which the president had been exposed during
his tour in New England was deprecated by the more thoughtful, but none
found fault with the matter seriously. Trumbull, the author of McFingal,
said good-naturedly in a letter to his friend Oliver Wolcott: "We have
gone through all the popish grades of worship, and the president returns
all fragrant with the odor of incense."

It will be observed that in this tour the president avoided Rhode Island
altogether. The reason was that that state, and North Carolina, had not
yet ratified the federal constitution, and were so far regarded as
foreign states that tonnage duties were imposed upon the vessels of each
coming into any port of the other eleven states. But this unpleasant
position of the two commonwealths was soon changed. On the very day when
Washington reached New York from his eastern tour, a convention of North
Carolina voted to ratify the constitution; and on the twenty-ninth of
May following, Rhode Island was admitted into the Union.


[19] Washington took cold on that occasion. In his diary, the following
Monday, he recorded: "The day being rainy and stormy, myself much
disordered by a cold and inflammation in my left eye, I was prevented
from visiting Lexington," etc. Sullivan, in his Familiar Letters, tells
us that, for several days afterward, a severe influenza prevailed at
Boston and in its vicinity, and was called the _Washington influenza_.
It may not be inappropriate to mention that a similar epidemic prevailed
all over New England and a part of New York, after the visit of
President Tyler to Boston, in 1843, which was called the _Tyler grippe_.

[20] Washington wrote in his diary, under date of Saturday, October
twenty-fourth: "Suffice it to say, that at the entrance of the town I
was welcomed by the selectmen in a body. Then following the
lieutenant-governor and council in the order we came from Cambridge
(preceded by the town corps, very handsomely dressed), we passed through
the citizens classed in their different professions and under their own
banners, till we came to the statehouse, from which, across the street,
an arch was thrown, in the front of which was this inscription, 'To the
man who unites all hearts;' and on the other, 'To Columbia's favorite
Son.' On one side thereof, next the statehouse, in a panel decorated
with a trophy, composed of the arms of the United States, of the
commonwealth of Massachusetts, and our French allies, crowned with a
wreath of laurel, was this inscription--'Boston relieved, March 17,
1776.' This arch was handsomely ornamented, and over the centre of it a
canopy was erected twenty feet high, with the American eagle perched on
the top. After passing through the arch, and entering the statehouse at
the south end and ascending to the upper floor, and returning to the
balcony at the north end, three cheers were given by a vast concourse of
people who by this time had assembled at the arch. Then followed an ode,
composed in honor of the president, and well sung by a band of select
singers. After this three cheers, followed by the different professions
and mechanics, in the order they were drawn up with their colors,
through a lane of the people which had thronged about the arch, under
which they passed. The streets, the doors, the windows, and tops of the
houses, were crowded with well-dressed ladies and gentlemen."

[21] The venerable Samuel Breck, of Philadelphia, now [1859] in the
eighty-ninth year of his age, communicated to me in a letter dated May
twenty-fifth, 1859, the following interesting reminiscences of
Washington's visit to Boston on the occasion under consideration. After
giving me a most interesting account of matters connected with the
French vessels there, Mr. Breck says:--

     "At the time when Admiral de Pondevez was lying with his fleet in
     the harbor of Boston, General Washington, the first president of
     the United States, who was making a tour East during the recess of
     Congress, arrived there. He was received with open arms and hearty
     cheers by the people. In his honor a triumphal arch was raised,
     with appropriate mottoes, near the old statehouse. Under this he
     passed in great state. I stood at a window close by, and saw him
     enter the balcony of that building and show himself to the
     thousands who came from far and near to greet him. I saw all that
     passed, heard the fine anthems that were composed for the occasion,
     and gazed with admiring eyes upon his majestic figure.

     "The procession that had accompanied him from the entrance of the
     town took up its line of march again, after these ceremonies, and
     accompanied him to the house selected for his residence, which
     stood at the corner of Tremont and Court streets. It was a handsome
     brick building. A beautiful company of light-infantry served as a
     guard of honor, commanded by the well-known and greatly
     distinguished Harrison Gray Otis.

     "Governor Hancock had prepared a great dinner at his house, to
     which he invited the French admiral, the officers of the fleet, and
     many of the principal citizens. A notion had got into Hancock's
     head, that the governor of a state was a kind of king or sovereign
     in his own territory, and that it would be derogatory to his
     station to pay the first visit to any one, even the president of
     the United States; and, acting always upon this rule, he sent an
     invitation to General Washington to dine with him, but excused
     himself from calling on him, alleging that sickness detained him at
     home; thus covering by a lame apology the resolution which he dared
     not openly exercise toward the president. Washington, who had
     received some hint of this absurd point of etiquette which sought
     to exalt the head of a part above the head of the whole, sent his
     aid-de-camp, Major William Jackson, with a message to his
     excellency, declining the invitation to dinner, and intimating that
     if his health permitted him to receive company, it would admit of
     his visiting him.

     "My father dined at the governor's, and about sunset brought
     Admiral de Pondevez and several of his officers, who spent the
     evening with us. The dinner-party went off heavily, owing to the
     general disappointment in not meeting the president. Meantime the
     French ships-of-war in the harbor were dressed in variegated lamps,
     and bonfires blazed in the streets. The ladies wore bandeaux,
     cestuses, and ribands, stamped and embroidered with the name of
     Washington; some in gold and silver letters, and some in pearls.

     "About ten o'clock I accompanied the admiral to the wharf of
     embarkation for his ship. As we passed the house where the
     president lodged, De Pondevez and his party expressed great
     surprise at the absence of all sort of parade or noise. 'What!'
     said he, 'not even a sentinel? In Europe,' he added, 'a
     brigadier-general would have a guard; and here this great man, the
     chief of a nation, does not permit it!'

     "The next day was Sunday, and immediately after morning service,
     Mr. Joseph Russell, an intimate friend of the governor, called at
     our house, and told my father that his excellency had swallowed the
     bitter pill, and was then on his way to visit the president--to
     which step he had been urged by a report that the people generally
     condemned his false pride."

[22] The address from the town was accompanied by a request, in behalf
of the ladies of Boston, that he would sit for his portrait, to be
placed in Faneuil hall, that others might be copied from it for their
respective families. On account of a want of time he was compelled to
decline, but promised to have it painted for them after his return to
New York.

[23] "At half-after seven," he says in his diary, "I went to the
assembly, where there were about seventy-five well-dressed, and many of
them very handsome ladies, among whom (as was also the case at the Salem
and Boston assemblies) were a greater proportion with much blacker hair
than are usually seen in the southern states."

[24] Between Uxbridge and Pomfret, the president lodged at an inn kept
by Mr. Taft, where he was so much pleased with the family, that on his
arrival at Hartford he wrote the following letter to Mr. Taft:--

     "HARTFORD, _8th November, 1789._

     "SIR: Being informed that you have given my name to one of your
     sons, and called another after Mrs. Washington's family, and being
     moreover very much pleased with the modest and innocent looks of
     your two daughters, Patty and Polly, I do for these reasons send
     each of these girls a piece of chintz; and to Patty, who bears the
     name of Mrs. Washington, and who waited more upon us than Polly
     did, I send five guineas, with which she may buy herself any little
     ornament she may want, or she may dispose of them in any other
     manner more agreeable to herself. As I do not give these things
     with a view to have it talked of, or even to its being known, the
     less there is said about the matter the better you will please me.
     But, that I may be sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand,
     let Patty, who I dare say is equal to it, write me a line,
     informing me thereof, directed to 'The President of the United
     States at New York.' I wish you and your family well, and am your
     humble servant,




During the summer of 1789 a revolution had broken out in France, and its
influence was soon materially felt in the politics of the United States.
It was severe at the beginning and terrible in its subsequent course.
For a long time the enormous corruptions of state had been apparent, and
an attempted cure by the most violent means appeared inevitable to the
thoughtful and sagacious. The French monarch was a weak man and governed
much by bad advisers; and he often refused to listen to the true friends
of himself and France when they talked of political and social reforms.
Among these was the good, and brave, and generous Lafayette, who loved
the king for his many virtues, but loved France and her true glory,
based upon the welfare and prosperity of her people, far more.

Lafayette's principal associates in the scheme of reform were the Duke
de Rochefoucauld and M. Candorcet. These and one or two others were
regarded as the leaders. They aimed to obtain for France a constitution
similar to that of England, which they regarded as the most perfect
model of human government then known. They desired to retain the throne,
but to diminish very materially the power of the monarch. They desired a
house of peers, with legislative powers similar to that of England, but
restricted in number to one hundred members. They desired a house of
representatives, to be chosen by the great body of the people from among
themselves, and to make the government a constitutional monarchy upon a
republican basis.

With this view Lafayette with his coadjutors had labored for several
months, when, in the assembly of Notables in April, he boldly demanded a
series of reforms, and among others a national assembly. "What!"
exclaimed the Count d'Artois, one of Louis's bad advisers, "do you make
a motion for the states-general?"--"Yes, and even more than that,"
quickly responded Lafayette. That _more_ was a charter from the king, by
which the public and individual liberty should be acknowledged and
guarantied by the future states-general. The measure was carried, and
early in May a session of the states-general was opened at Versailles.

Had the king now listened to the advice of his true friends, and made
concessions, all would have been well. But he ordered the hall of the
national assembly, or states-general, to be closed. He also allowed
German troops from every quarter to gather around Paris, and when
requested by the national assembly to send them away he refused. M.
Necker, the patriotic controller of the treasury, and other ministers
who favored reform were dismissed, and the populace became greatly
excited. For three days there were scenes of violence in the French
capital that presaged the most terrible results. The national assembly
decreed the establishment of an armed militia of forty-eight thousand
men, when no less than two hundred and seventy thousand citizens
enrolled themselves. Arms were seized, and the greatest exasperation
appeared on every side. Again the removal of the troops around Paris was
demanded. "I alone," replied the king, "have the right to judge of the
necessity, and in that respect I can make no change."

Forbearance was no longer a virtue; and the state-prison, called the
Bastile, being regarded as one of the strongholds of despotism, was
attacked and taken by the people on the fourteenth of July. The
conquering thousands then marched in triumph to the city-hall. The chief
supporters of the king fled, and Louis, finding himself abandoned,
hurried to the national assembly to make peace with it. "Heaven knows,"
he exclaimed, "that the nation, and I are one--I confide myself wholly
to you. Help me, in this crisis, to save the state. Relying on the
attachment and security of my subjects, I have ordered the troops to
leave Paris and Versailles. I beseech you to make known my intentions to
the capital!"

Lafayette and another hurried to the city-hall, in Paris, to inform the
people of the king's declarations. "He has hitherto been deceived," he
said, "but he now sees the merit and justness of the popular cause." The
enthusiasm was general at this announcement. Tears of joy were shed, and
the revolution appeared to be at an end. The king confirmed the
nomination of Lafayette as the commander-in-chief of the national guard,
by which he was put at the head of four millions of armed citizens; and
the nation breathed free with hope. But the wily duke of Orleans, who
desired the destruction of the king for the base purposes of his own
exaltation, excited suspicions among the people, and a demand for the
king's presence at the Tuilleries was made. Louis went voluntarily from
Versailles to Paris, followed by sixty thousand citizens and a hundred
deputies of the assembly, and there formally accepted the Declaration of
the Rights of Man, which was presented to him. This set the minds of the
people at rest, and quiet was restored to the capital and to France.

But Lafayette was filled with apprehension for the future. To Colonel
John Trumbull, who was about to leave France for the United States at
the close of summer, he communicated a special message to Washington
concerning the state of affairs in France. After speaking of the changes
already effected and the hopes for the future, he said: "Unhappily,
there is one powerful and wicked man, who, I fear, will destroy this
beautiful fabric of human happiness--the duke of Orleans." He had
already been accused, and no doubt justly, of sending hired assassins to
Versailles to murder Louis and the royal family, that he might be made
regent of the kingdom. "He does not, indeed," said Lafayette, "possess
talent to carry into execution a great project; but he possesses
immense wealth, and France abounds in marketable talents. Every city
and town has young men eminent for abilities, particularly in the
law--ardent in character, eloquent, ambitious of distinction, but poor."
Such was the material that composed the leaders in the reign of terror
which speedily followed, and deluged Paris in blood.

The revolution in France, under the direction of Lafayette and his
associates, was thorough as far as it went, yet it was conservative. It
elicited the warmest sympathies of the American people, and Washington
was rejoiced at the promise thus made of happiness for the French
nation. "The revolution which has taken place with you," he wrote to
Lafayette in October, "is of such magnitude, and of so momentous a
nature, that we hardly yet dare to form a conjecture about it. We
however trust, and fervently pray, that its consequences may prove happy
to a nation in whose fate we have so much cause to be interested, and
that its influence may be felt with pleasure by future generations." To
the Count de Rochambeau he said: "I am persuaded I express the
sentiments of my fellow-citizens, when I offer our earnest prayer that
it may terminate in the permanent honor and happiness of your government
and people."

The connection of the revolution, the first act of which we have
delineated in outline, with the administration of Washington, will be
developed hereafter. It has been given here because it was appropriate
in the order of time.

Few public events of importance occurred in the United States, after
Washington's return from his eastern tour, until the reassembling of
Congress, early in January, 1790. The day appointed for that assembling
was the fourth, but there was not a quorum of the two houses until the
eighth, when the session was formally opened by Washington in person,
with an address which he read in the senate chamber. According to a
record in his diary, it was done with considerable state, conformably to
arrangements made by General Knox and Colonel Humphreys.[25] In that
address the president recommended adequate provision for the common
defence, having special reference to Indian hostilities; an
appropriation for the support of representatives of the United States at
foreign courts and other agents abroad; the establishment of a federal
rule of naturalization; measures for the encouragement of agriculture,
manufactures, commerce, and literature; and adequate provision for the
interest on the public debt. As at the opening of the first session,
both houses now waited upon the president with formal answers to his
message, and the various recommendations contained in it were referred
to an equal number of committees. The latter practice has ever since
been adhered to.

Three important questions, involving the establishment of precedents,
were discussed and decided early in the session of 1790. The first was a
decision, in accordance with the report of a joint committee of both
houses, that the last session of each Congress should expire on the
third of March. The second was in relation to the unfinished business of
the former session. On the report of a joint committee, a rule was
established that everything might be taken up where it had been left off
at the adjournment, except bills which after having passed one house had
stopped in the other. These were to be considered as lost, and were not
to be revived except in the form of new matter. The third question was
as to the official intercourse of the heads of departments with
Congress. The question grew out of an intimation from Mr. Hamilton, the
secretary of the treasury, that he was ready to make a report on the
national debt and the support of the public credit, according to the
requirements of a resolution passed at the last session. The question
was, Shall the report be made orally or in writing? The decision was
that it should be in writing; and ever since, the heads of departments
have held intercourse with Congress only in writing, the secretary of
the treasury reporting directly to Congress, the other secretaries
through the president.

Hamilton's financial scheme was the most important subject that
occupied the attention of Congress during that session. It was submitted
to the house on the fifteenth of January. It was a most masterly
performance, and commanded the profound attention and respect of the
whole country. It boldly enunciated principles based upon the broad
foundation of common honesty, by which, in the opinion of the secretary,
the United States ought to be governed in relation to the public debt.
The report opened with an able and comprehensive argument in elucidation
and support of these principles the fundamental ground of the whole
argument being the justice and policy of making adequate provision for
the final payment of the federal and state debts.

These debts amounted in the aggregate to a large sum. Hamilton estimated
the foreign debt due to the account of France, to private creditors in
Holland, and a small sum in Spain, at about eleven and three quarter
millions of dollars. This sum included the arrears of interest (more
than a million and a half of dollars) which had accumulated on the
French and Spanish loans since 1786, and installments of the French loan
overdue. The domestic debt, including interest to the end of 1790, and
an allowance for unliquidated claims of two millions of dollars
(principally unredeemed continental money), he estimated at about
forty-two and a half millions, nearly a third part of which was arrears
of interest.

The domestic debt was due originally to officers and soldiers of the war
for independence; farmers who had furnished supplies for the army, or
suffered losses by seizure of their products; and capitalists who had
loaned money to the continental Congress during the war, or spent their
fortunes freely in support of the cause. These were sacred debts; but
the position into which the paper which represented these outstanding
claims had fallen, afforded a specious argument against the propriety of
paying their nominal value to the holders. So long had public justice
delayed in liquidating these claims, that they had sunk to one sixth of
their nominal value, and a greater portion of the paper was held by
speculators. It thus lost the power with which it appealed to the public
sympathy when in the hands of the original holders, and there was a
general sentiment against a full liquidation of these claims. It was
therefore suggested that the principle of a scale of depreciation should
be applied to them, as had been done in the case of the continental
money, in paying them--that is, at the rates at which they had been
purchased by the holders. It was especially urged that this principle
should be applied to the arrears of interest, then accumulated to an
amount almost equal to one half the principal.

In his report, Hamilton took strong grounds against this idea, as being
unjust, dishonest, and impolitic. In the latter point of view, he justly
argued that public credit was essential to the new federal government,
and without it sudden emergencies, to which all governments as well as
individuals are exposed, could not be met promptly and efficiently.
Public credit, he said, could only be established by the faithful
discharge of public debts in strict conformity to the terms of contract.
In the case in question the contract was to pay so much money to the
holders of the certificates, or to their assignees. This was plain, and
nothing but a full and faithful discharge of the nominal value of the
debt could satisfy the contract. Thus he argued concerning the
principal, and he applied the same logic to the accumulated overdue
interest. It ought to have been paid when due, according to contract,
and was as much an honest debt as the principal.

Hamilton went further. He strongly recommended the assumption of the
state debts by the federal government, amounting in the aggregate,
overdue interest included, to about twenty-five millions of dollars.
Both descriptions of debts, he argued, were contracted for the same
objects, and were in the main the same. Indeed, a great part of the
particular debts of the states had arisen from assumptions by them on
account of the Union, and it was most equitable that there should be the
same measure of retribution for all. The secretary considered such
assumption "a measure of sound policy and substantial justice." The
entire debt, federal and state, foreign and domestic, for the payment of
which he recommended measures of provision, was almost eighty millions
of dollars.

The secretary, after giving the whole subject a thorough investigation
and discussion, proposed that a loan should be opened to the full amount
of the debt, federal and state, upon the following terms:--

     "_First._ That for every one hundred dollars subscribed payable in
     the debt, as well interest as principal, the subscriber should be
     entitled to have two thirds founded on a yearly interest of six per
     cent. (the capital redeemable at the pleasure of the government by
     the payment of the principal), and to receive the other third in
     lands of the western territory at their then actual value. Or,

     "_Secondly._ To have the whole sum funded at a yearly interest of
     four per cent., irredeemable by any payment exceeding five dollars
     upon the hundred, per annum, both on account of principal and
     interest, and to receive as a compensation for the reduction of
     interest fifteen dollars and eighty cents, payable in lands as in
     the preceding case. Or,

     "_Thirdly._ To have sixty-six and two thirds of a dollar funded at a
     yearly interest of six per cent., irredeemable also by any payment
     exceeding four dollars and two thirds of a dollar upon the hundred,
     per annum, on account both of principal and interest; and to have
     at the end of ten years twenty-six dollars and eighty-eight cents,
     funded at the like interest and rate of redemption."

In addition to these propositions, the creditors were to have an option
of vesting their money in annuities on different plans; and it was also
recommended to open a loan at five per cent. for ten millions of
dollars, payable one half in specie and the other half in the debt,
irredeemable by any payment exceeding six dollars upon the hundred, per
annum, both of principal and interest.

The secretary also proposed an augmentation of the duties on imported
wines, spirits, tea, and coffee, to enable the treasury to meet the
increased demand that would be made upon it; and a duty on domestic
spirits was also recommended. Serious trouble grew out of the latter
measure when adopted and put in force.

Hamilton's report, sent to Congress on the fourteenth of January, was
taken up for consideration in the house of representatives on the
twenty-eighth; but action was postponed until the eighth of February.
Its propositions, especially the one relating to the assumption of the
state debts, were vehemently opposed, chiefly because of their tendency
to a centralization of power, as giving an undue influence to the
general government, and as being of doubtful constitutionality. Many in
different parts of the Union thought they saw great political evil in
this financial union of the states; and Virginia, above all others, most
earnestly opposed the scheme. It was believed that the funding of the
state debts would materially benefit the northern states, in which was
almost the entire capital of the country, while the southern states
could see no benefit for themselves.

Finally, on the ninth of March, a bill predicated upon the secretary's
report passed in committee of the whole by a small majority, and went to
the house for discussion. This continued from time to time until August,
when, on the fourth, an act was passed embodying essentially the several
propositions in Hamilton's report. It authorized the president to borrow
twelve millions of dollars, if so much were found necessary, for
discharging the arrears of interest and the overdue installments of the
foreign debt, and for the paying off the whole of that debt, could it be
effected on advantageous terms, the money thus borrowed to be reimbursed
within fifteen years. It also authorized the opening of a new loan,
payable in certificates of the domestic debt at par value, and in
continental bills of credit at the rate of one hundred for one.
Certificates were to be issued for subscriptions in the interest of the
domestic debt to the full amount, redeemable at the pleasure of the
government, and bearing interest at the rate of three per cent., the
interest to be paid quarterly, and to commence with the first day of
January, 1791; all interest becoming due on continental certificates, up
to that time, to be funded as above. Subscriptions in the principal of
the domestic debt were to bear interest at six per cent.; but upon one
third of the amount, entitled "deferred stock," the interest was not to
commence till the year 1800. This interest was not to be redeemable at a
faster rate than eight dollars upon the hundred, annually, including the
yearly interest, and it was left to the option of the public creditors
to subscribe, or not, to this new loan.

The amount of state debts assumed by the general government, by the act,
was twenty-one millions, five hundred thousand dollars. For this the act
authorized an additional loan, payable in certificates of the state
debts, which were distributed among the states in specific
proportions;[26] but no certificates were to be received except such as
had been issued for services or supplies during the war.

"The effect of this measure," says Marshall, "was great and rapid. The
public paper suddenly rose, and was for a short time above par. The
immense wealth which individuals acquired by this unexpected
appreciation could not be viewed with indifference. Those who
participated in its advantages regarded the author of a system to which
they were so greatly indebted, with an enthusiasm of attachment to which
scarcely any limits were assigned. To many others, this adventitious
collection of wealth in particular hands was a subject rather of chagrin
than of pleasure; and the reputation which the success of his plans gave
to the secretary of the treasury was not contemplated with unconcern."

The discussions which Hamilton's report produced in and out of
Congress, in the public press and in private circles, fearfully agitated
the country, and called forth the first regular and systematic
opposition to the principles on which the affairs of the Union were
administered. In this discussion Washington was greatly interested, yet
he avoided all semblance of participation in it. He heartily approved of
Hamilton's plan for restoring the public credit and laying the
foundation of national policy, as the most perfect that human wisdom had
yet devised; but he concealed his opinions in his own breast, except
when in private conversation with intimate friends. He looked with
ineffable disgust upon the sectional jealousies which the discussion
revealed; and in an able letter to Dr. Stuart, written toward the close
of March, in reply to remarks of that gentleman concerning a spirit of
jealousy in Virginia toward the eastern states, he spoke out warmly. The
latter section of the Union had united in favor of Hamilton's scheme,
while Virginia, for reasons already alluded to, opposed it. Stuart
wrote: "It is represented that the northern phalanx is so firmly united
as to bear down all opposition, while Virginia is unsupported even by
those whose interests are similar to hers.[27] Colonel Lee tells me that
many who were warm supporters of the government are changing their
sentiments, from a conviction of the impracticability of union with
states, whose interests are so dissimilar to those of Virginia."

"I am sorry such jealousies as you speak of should be gaining ground, or
are poisoning the minds of the southern people," Washington wrote in
reply. "But admit the fact, which is alleged as the cause of them, and
give it full scope--does it amount to more than was known to every man
of information before, at, and since the adoption of the constitution?
Was it not always believed that there are some points which peculiarly
interest the eastern states? And did any one who reads human nature, and
more especially the character of the eastern people, conceive that they
would not pursue them steadily by a combination of their force? Are
there not other points which equally concern the southern states? If
these states are less tenacious of their interest, or if, whilst the
eastern move in a solid phalanx to effect their views, the southern are
always divided, which of the two is most to be blamed? That there is a
diversity of interests in the Union none have denied; that this is the
case also in every state is equally certain; and that it even extends to
the counties of individual states can be as readily proved. Instance the
southern and northern parts of Virginia, the upper and lower parts of
South Carolina. Have not the interests of these always been at variance?
Witness the county of Fairfax. Have not the interests of the people of
that county varied, or the inhabitants been taught to believe so? These
are well-known truths; and yet, it did not follow that separation was to
result from the disagreement.

"To constitute a dispute there must be two parties. To understand it
well, both parties and all the circumstances must be fully heard; and,
to accommodate differences, temper and mutual forbearance are requisite.
Common danger brought the states into confederacy, and on their union
our safety and importance depend. A spirit of accommodation was the
basis of the present constitution. Can it be expected, then, that the
southern or eastern parts of the empire will succeed in all their
measures? Certainly not. But I will readily grant that more points will
be carried by the latter than the former, and for the reason which has
been mentioned, namely, that in all great national questions they move
in unison, whilst the others are divided. But I ask, again, which is
most blameworthy--those who see, and will steadily pursue their
interest, or those who can not see, or seeing will not act wisely? And I
will ask another question, of the highest magnitude in my mind, to wit:
if the eastern and northern states are dangerous in union, will they be
less so in separation? If self-interest is their governing principle,
will it forsake them, or be restrained by such an event? I hardly think
it would. Then, independently of other considerations, what would
Virginia, and such other states as might be inclined to join her, gain
by a separation? Would they not, most unquestionably, be the weaker


[25] The following is the record:--

     "According to appointment, at eleven o'clock I set out for the
     city-hall in my coach, preceded by Colonel Humphreys and Major
     Jackson in uniform (on my two white horses), and followed by
     Messrs. Lear and Nelson in my chariot, and Mr. Lewis, on horseback,
     following them. In their rear were the chief justice of the United
     States, and secretary of the treasury and war departments, in their
     respective carriages, and in the order they are named. At the outer
     door of the hall I was met by the doorkeepers of the senate and
     house, and conducted to the door of the senate chamber; and passing
     from thence to the chair through the senate on the right, and house
     of representatives on the left, I took my seat. The gentlemen who
     attended me followed and took their stand behind the senators, the
     whole rising as I entered. After being seated, at which time the
     members of both houses also sat I arose (as they also did) and made
     my speech, delivering one copy to the president of the senate, and
     another to the speaker of the house of representatives; after
     which, and being a few moments seated, I retired, bowing on each
     side to the assembly (who stood) as I passed, and descending to the
     lower hall, attended as before, I returned with them to my house."

[26] The following were the amounts: New Hampshire, $300,000;
Massachusetts, $4,000,000; Rhode Island, $200,000; Connecticut,
$1,600,000; New York, $1,200,000; New Jersey, $800,000; Pennsylvania,
$2,200,000; Delaware, $200,000; Maryland, $800,000; Virginia,
$3,000,000; North Carolina, $2,400,000; South Carolina, $4,000,000;
Georgia, $300,000.

[27] South Carolina joined New England in favor of Hamilton's scheme.



After a tedious journey of a fortnight from Richmond, Mr. Jefferson
arrived at the seat of government on the twenty-first of March, when the
debate on the assumption of the state debts was at its bitterest point.
He had returned to America after several years of diplomatic service in
France, with a sincere desire to spend the remainder of his days in
private life. But he was met at the house of his brother-in-law, on his
way from Norfolk (where he landed) to his home at Monticello, by
Washington's letter, already mentioned, inviting him to his cabinet as
secretary of state. The diplomat was disappointed. He had seen, and in a
degree had participated in, the opening act in the drama of the French
revolution. He had, as we have observed, become deeply enamored of the
leaders in the revolt, and the political sentiments they had proclaimed;
and he preferred to remain in France, if he was to be continued in
public employment. But the terms of Washington's invitation were such,
that Jefferson's sense of duty and reverence for the president would not
allow him to refuse, and after due deliberation he accepted the office.

On his arrival at New York, Jefferson found many things to surprise
and startle him. A wonderful change had apparently taken place in
political life during his residence in Europe; and being thoroughly
imbued with republican principles and a deep-seated hatred of monarchy,
his suspicions and jealousies were most painfully alive. He saw dangers
to the state lurking in every recess where the full light of clear
perceptions did not fall. "I found a state of things," he wrote some
years afterward, "which, of all I had contemplated, I least expected. I
had left France in the first year of her revolution, in the fervor of
natural rights and zeal for reformation. My conscientious devotion to
these rights could not be heightened, but it had been aroused and
excited by daily exercise. The president received me cordially, and my
colleagues and circle of principal citizens apparently with welcome. The
courtesies of dinner-parties given me, as a stranger newly arrived among
them, placed me at once in their familiar society. But I can not
describe the wonder and mortification with which the table conversations
filled me. Politics were the chief topic, and a preference of kingly
over republican government was evidently the favorite sentiment. An
apostate I could not be, nor yet a hypocrite; and I found myself, for
the most part, the only advocate on the republican side of the question,
unless among the guests there chanced to be some member of that party
from the legislative houses."

That there were men of character in the United States at that time who
desired a monarchical form of government, evidence is not wanting. Some
of them had been loyalists during the war. Washington spoke of them in
1787, before the assembling of the convention that framed the federal
constitution, as men who either had "not consulted the public mind," or
who lived "in a region more productive of monarchical ideas than was the
case in the southern states." But that any officer of the government, on
Jefferson's arrival, had a desire for kingly rule, there is no positive
evidence. The most earnest advocate for a strong, energetic,
consolidated government, was Alexander Hamilton; yet he never expressed
a _desire_ for a monarchical government in America. In his speech in
the constitutional convention on the eighteenth of June, 1787, he lauded
the British constitution as the best ever devised by man, and said that
he doubted whether anything short of a government like that of Great
Britain (a constitutional monarchy) would do in America. These
sentiments were uttered when everything like order appeared to be on the
verge of destruction, and a strong arm, independent of the popular will,
seemed necessary for the establishment of public strength and individual
security. The crisis was passed, the federal constitution was formed,
and Hamilton gave it his zealous support. Yet, to the close of his life,
he considered the constitution too weak to perform the great duties
assigned it.

Hamilton was always frank and unreserved in the expression of his
political views; and immediately after Jefferson's arrival at the seat
of government, the secretary of the treasury pressed upon his attention
the importance of the assumption of the state debts--a measure which had
been rejected. "He observed," says Jefferson in his account of the
matter, "that the members of the administration ought to act in concert;
that though this question was not of my department, yet a common duty
should make it a common concern; that the president was the centre on
which all administrative questions ultimately rested; that, the question
having been lost by a small majority only, it was probable that an
appeal from me to the judgment and discretion of some of my friends
might effect a change in the vote, and the machinery of government, now
suspended, might be again set in motion."

To this Jefferson replied that he was a stranger to the whole matter;
that if the rejection of the proposition really, as Hamilton alleged,
endangered the Union, it was important to reconsider it; and then
proposed that the secretary of the treasury should meet two or three
friends at table the next day to discuss the subject. The dinner and the
discussion took place; and it was "finally agreed," says Jefferson,
"that whatever importance had been attached to the rejection of this
proposition, the preservation of the Union and of concord among the
states was more important, and that therefore it would be better that
the vote of rejection should be rescinded, to effect which, some
members should change their votes."

At that time the question, Where shall the seat of the federal
government be permanently located? was a subject of violent contest, the
people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia,
wishing it to be in their respective states. Debates had run high upon
the subject in Congress, and the public press had discussed it
vigorously. It being observed at Jefferson's dinner-party that a
reconsideration of the assumption bill, and its adoption, would be "a
bitter pill" to the southern states, it was proposed that "some
concomitant measure should be adopted to sweeten it a little to them."
The location of the seat of government was chosen as the soother. The
contest had narrowed, geographically, so that it lay between
Philadelphia on the Delaware and Georgetown on the Potomac. It was
proposed to give it to Philadelphia for ten years, and to Georgetown
permanently thereafter, believing that "that might, as an anodyne, calm
in some degree the ferment which might be excited by the other measure
alone." "Two of the Potomac members agreed to change their votes," says
Jefferson, "and Hamilton undertook to carry the other point. In doing
this, the influence he had established over the eastern members, with
the agency of Robert Morris with those of the middle states, effected
his side of the engagement." The assumption bill was carried, and the
location of the seat of government was settled. Congress agreed to make
Philadelphia its residence for ten years, during which time the public
buildings should be erected at some point on the Potomac that the
president might select. Subsequently a territory ten miles square, lying
on both sides of the Potomac in Maryland and Virginia, was ceded by
those states to the United States, and called the district of Columbia.
Thus the matter was settled.

When Jefferson's sensitive republicanism took the alarm to which we have
alluded, he became suspicious of all around him. His feelings toward
Hamilton changed, until he considered him a monarchist in principle, and
regarded all his financial schemes as intended to strengthen the general
government, centralize power, and make the treasury the controlling
lever of public affairs, the chief of which, with almost autocratic
puissance, might direct everything to suit his own political views. With
this impression, retrospection made him angry and resentful. He regarded
the manner in which Hamilton had procured his aid in effecting the
measure of assumption as a snare by which he had been entrapped, and he
characterized the measure itself as a fiscal manoeuvre, to which he
had "ignorantly and innocently been made to hold the candle."

This was the beginning of those dissentions in his cabinet which
afterward gave the president so much trouble. They had grown to
mischievous proportions at a time when he believed there was perfect
harmony among his constitutional advisers. He had never experienced the
sentiment of jealousy himself, and he was the last man to suspect it in
others; and at the time when Jefferson and Hamilton were regarding each
other with a spirit of rivalry, Washington wrote to Lafayette, saying:
"Many of your old acquaintances and friends are concerned with me in the
administration of this government. By having Mr. Jefferson at the head
of the department of state, Mr. Jay of the judiciary, Hamilton of the
treasury, and Knox of war, I feel myself supported by able coadjutors
who harmonize extremely well."

Out of the rivalry between Jefferson and Hamilton, and the conflict of
their opinions respecting the national jurisprudence and French
politics, grew the two political parties known respectively, for about
twenty years, as _Federal_ and _Republican_. We shall observe that
growth as we progress in our narrative.

While Congress and the nation were agitated by discussions concerning
the public debt, another topic elicited a still more exciting
discussion: it was African slavery and the slave-trade. Slavery then
existed in all the states of the Union except Massachusetts, in whose
constitution a clause had been inserted for the purpose of tacitly
abolishing the system from the commonwealth. Pennsylvania had adopted
measures with the same view, and had been imitated by Connecticut, Rhode
Island, and New Hampshire. New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland,
had prohibited the further importation of slaves; and in Virginia and
Maryland restrictions upon emancipation had been repealed. A desire to
get rid of the system appeared to prevail throughout the Union. The
Presbyteries of New York and Pennsylvania, composing a united synod, had
constituted themselves as the general assembly of the Presbyterian
church in America; and that representative body issued a pastoral letter
in 1788, in which they strongly recommended the abolition of slavery,
and the instruction of negroes in letters and religion. The Methodist
church, then rising into notice, even refused slaveholders a place in
their communion; and the Quakers had made opposition to slavery a part
of their discipline. In these benevolent movements Washington
sympathized; for he desired to see the system extinguished by some just

It was only a few days after the commencement of the debate on the
public debt, that a petition from the yearly meeting of the Quakers of
Pennsylvania and Delaware, with another from that of New York, was laid
before the house of representatives. A motion for reference to a special
committee caused a warm debate, and some of those who opposed its
reception spoke sneeringly of "the men in the gallery," who were the
Quaker deputation appointed to look after the petition.[28] It was laid
upon the table that day; and at the opening of the session on the
following morning, another petition on the same subject, from the
Pennsylvania society for the abolition of slavery, was presented. It was
signed by Benjamin Franklin (president of the society), then in the last
weeks of his life. The petition was read, and then the Quaker memorial
was called up. The excitement in the house was very great. The movement
was denominated an improper interference with state rights, or at least
an act of imprudence; and Judge Burke, of South Carolina, declared that
if these memorials were entertained by commitment, the act would "sound
an alarm and blow the trumpet of sedition through the southern states."

The question was mainly a constitutional one, but the debates took
great latitude. It was finally agreed to commit the memorials, by a vote
of forty-three to eleven. They were referred to a committee consisting
of one member from each of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

A month afterward, that committee reported seven resolutions: first,
that the general government was expressly restrained from prohibiting
the carrying on of the slave-trade until the year 1808; second, that by
a fair construction of the constitution, Congress was equally restrained
from interfering with slavery, in the matter of emancipation, in the
several states; third, that Congress had no power to interfere in the
internal regulations of slavery in the several states; fourth, that
Congress had the right, by virtue of the revenue laws, to levy a tax of
ten dollars upon every person imported as property under the special
permission of any of the states; fifth, that Congress had power to
regulate or to interdict the African slave-trade, carried on by citizens
of the United States for the supply of foreign countries; sixth, that
Congress had the right to prohibit foreigners from fitting out vessels
in the United States, to be employed in the supply of foreign countries
with slaves from Africa; seventh, that Congress would exercise their
authority to its full extent, to promote the humane objects set forth in
the memorial of the Quakers.

This report called forth zealous and sometimes angry debates for a whole
week, when it was finally agreed, at the suggestion of Fisher Ames,
seconded by Madison and others, by a vote of twenty-nine to twenty-five,
to enter the report at length upon the journal of the house, where it
might be consulted in the future, and to take no further action. Thus
ended the first agitation of the still pending "slavery question" in
Congress. In a letter to Doctor Stuart, in June, referring to a
complaint of the tardiness of Congress, Washington remarked: "The
introduction of the Quaker memorial respecting slavery was, to be sure,
not only _ill-timed_, but occasioned a great waste of time. The final
decision thereon, however, was as favorable as the proprietors of this
species of property could well have expected, considering the light in
which slavery is viewed by a large part of this Union."

While topics of a domestic nature agitated the public mind and occupied
the attention of the national legislature, the foreign relations of the
government (in which expression may be included the relations with
hostile Indian tribes) were far from satisfactory. We have already
alluded to the hostile attitude of some of the tribes in the northwest
and southwest, among whom it was suspected British emissaries were at
work. Those of the southwest, especially the Creek nation, had been in a
disturbed state for some time, and difficulties with the authorities of
Georgia had caused an open rupture a little earlier than the period in
question. The Creeks were governed by an accomplished chief, Alexander
M'Gillivray, the son of a loyalist Scotchman, of that name, and a Creek
woman of a leading family. He had been well educated, and his father
designed him for commercial pursuits. He loved study more than ledgers;
and his father owning large possessions in Georgia, the young man looked
forward to wealth and social position. But the revolution swept all
away. His father's property was confiscated, and young M'Gillivray took
refuge with the Creeks, his heart filled with hatred of the republicans.
He was brave, fluent in speech, popular with the leading men, and soon
rose to the rank of head chief; and no doubt he stirred up his nation to
assume an attitude hostile to the Americans.

The Creeks, with M'Gillivray at their head, had also established a close
alliance with the Spaniards, who held possession of Florida. The Spanish
governor of that province courted the young half-blood chief, and he was
honored with a colonelcy in the military service of Spain. Through the
Spaniards, the Creeks could readily obtain arms and ammunition in
exchange for their furs; and thus, in point of strength, they were the
most formidable enemies to the United States among the Indian nations.

Good policy caused the United States government to send commissioners to
treat with the Creeks; and in the autumn of 1789, General Lincoln,
Colonel Humphries, and David Griffin--a commission appointed by
Washington--met deputies of that confederacy on the Oconee, to hold a
treaty. M'Gillivray was at the head of the deputation. He received the
American commissioners kindly, and expressed a desire for friendship;
but when he found that they did not propose to restore to the Creeks
their lands about which they had disputed with the Georgians, he
abruptly ended the conference, promising, however, to remain peaceable
until further negotiations could be had.

In March, 1790, Washington despatched Colonel Marinus Willett on a new
mission to the Creeks. He succeeded in persuading M'Gillivray to go to
New York, to carry on negotiations there. Attended by twenty-eight
sachems, chiefs, and warriors, he arrived at the federal capital on the
twenty-third of June, having been received with much attention at the
principal towns on the line of his journey. The members of the Tammany
society of New York, arrayed in Indian costume, escorted M'Gillivray and
his party into the city; and the Creek chief, being the son of a
Scotchman, was made an honorary member of the St. Andrew's society.

These attentions, and the gracious manner in which he was received by
the president, made a deep impression on M'Gillivray's mind. General
Knox, the secretary of war, was appointed to negotiate with him. A
satisfactory treaty, founded upon mutual concessions, was made; and one
of the last acts of Washington during the second session of the first
Congress was the approval of that treaty. It was signed by the
contracting parties on the seventh of August, and was ratified on the
thirteenth, the day after Congress adjourned.

Meanwhile, the aspect of Indian affairs in the country northwest of the
Ohio, into which a stream of emigration was rapidly flowing, claimed the
serious consideration of the government. A territorial government for
that region had been ordained in 1787, and the domain was called the
northwest territory. General Arthur St. Clair was appointed governor. As
we have observed, the Indians in that vicinity had shown much hostility
to the Americans ever since the close of the Revolution. They were
encouraged by Sir John Johnson, then Indian agent on that frontier, and
by Sir Guy Carleton, who was again governor of Canada, to insist upon
re-establishing the Ohio as the Indian boundary. They swarmed upon the
banks of that river, waylaid the boats of emigrants, and even crossed
the stream and made incursions into Kentucky, to attack frontier
stations there. The president was convinced, by long experience with the
Indians, that on the failure of negotiations with them, sound policy and
true economy, not less than humanity, required the immediate employment
of force, which should go as a scourge into the very heart of their
country. Such were now the relations between the northwestern tribes and
the United States; and in the autumn, a military force eleven hundred
strong, under the command of General Harmer, was directed by the
president to march against the Miami village on the Scioto, where
Chilicothe now stands. After some successes and defeats the Americans
withdrew, and the Indians became more insolent and bold.

At this time a general European war appeared inevitable. A long-pending
controversy between Spain and Great Britain remained unsettled. It was
believed that France would side with Spain; and it was thought to be a
favorable time for the United States to press upon Great Britain the
necessity of complying with the yet unfulfilled articles of the treaty
of 1783. Accordingly, as early as January, 1790, Gouverneur Morris, then
in Paris, was commissioned by Washington to proceed to London, as
private agent of the United States, to sound the British ministry on the
subject. At that time there was no diplomatic intercourse between the
United States and Great Britain. Mr. Adams had returned home, and the
court of St. James had never sent a minister to the United States.
Morris opened a communication with the English minister for foreign
affairs, but was unable to make much satisfactory progress for some
time. As late as the first of July, Washington made the following record
in his diary:

     "Having put into the hands of the vice president of the United
     States the communication of Mr. Gouverneur Morris, who had been
     empowered to make informal inquiries how well disposed the British
     ministry might be to enter into commercial relations with the
     United States, and to fulfil the articles of peace respecting our
     western posts, and the slaves which had been carried from this
     country, he expressed his approbation that this step had been
     taken, and added that the disinclination of the British cabinet to
     comply with the two latter and to evade the former, as evidently
     appears from the correspondence of Mr. Morris with the duke of
     Leeds (the British minister for foreign affairs), was of a piece
     with their conduct toward him whilst minister at that court, and
     just what he expected, and that to have it ascertained was

     "He thought, as a rupture between England and Spain was almost
     inevitable, that it would be our policy and interest to take part
     with the latter, as he was very apprehensive that New Orleans was
     an object with the former of their possessing, which would be very
     injurious to us; but he observed, at the same time, that the
     situation of our affairs would not justify the measure, unless the
     people [of the United States] themselves should take the lead in
     the business."

This was also considered a favorable time for the United States to urge
upon Spain their claims to the free navigation of the Mississippi river.
Mr. Carmichael, the American chargé d'affaires at the court of Madrid,
was instructed not only to press this point with earnestness, but to use
his best endeavors to secure the unmolested use of that river in future,
by obtaining a cession of the island of New Orleans and of the Floridas,
offering as an equivalent the sincere friendship of the United States,
by which the territories of Spain west of the Mississippi might be
secured to that government.

Evidence was not wanting that Great Britain apprehended an alliance of
the United States with Spain in the war that seemed to be impending; and
also that, in the event of war, the arms of Great Britain would be
directed against the Spanish settlements in America, to the disadvantage
of the United States. Sir Guy Carleton (now Lord Dorchester) was
continued in the government of Canada. He had asked leave to pass
through New York on his way to England. It was readily granted. And now,
under the pretext of making a formal acknowledgment for the contest, he
despatched his aid-de-camp, Major Beckwith, to sound the American
government, and ascertain, if possible, its disposition toward the two
disputing nations.

Major Beckwith first approached Hamilton, the secretary of the treasury.
After acknowledging the courtesy of the United States government in
offering to comply with the wishes of Lord Dorchester, he observed that
the prospect of a war between Great Britain and Spain would prevent or
defer his lordship's departure for England.

"He next proceeded to observe," says Hamilton in his written report of
the interview which he laid before the president, "that Lord Dorchester
had been informed of a negotiation commenced on the other side of the
water, through the agency of Mr. Morris; mentioning, as the subscriber
understood principally by way of proof of Lord Dorchester's knowledge of
the transaction, that Mr. Morris had not produced any regular
credentials, but merely a letter from the president directed to himself;
that some delays had intervened, partly on account of Mr. Morris's
absence on a trip to Holland, as was understood, and that it was not
improbable these delays and some other circumstances may have impressed
Mr. Morris with an idea of backwardness on the part of the British
ministry. That his lordship, however, had directed him to say that an
inference of this sort would not, in his opinion, be well founded, as he
had reason to believe that the cabinet of Great Britain entertained a
disposition, not only toward a friendly intercourse, but toward an
alliance with the United States."

"Major Beckwith then proceeded to speak of the particular cause of the
expected rupture between Spain and Great Britain, observing it was one
in which all commercial nations must be supposed to favor the views of
Great Britain. That it was therefore presumed, should a war take place,
that the United States would find it to their interest to take part with
Great Britain rather than with Spain."

Major Beckwith then, in the name of Lord Dorchester, disclaimed any
influence, under the sanction of British authorities, over the western
tribes, unfavorable to the interests of the citizens of the United
States; and concluded by producing a letter signed by Dorchester, which
contained sentiments similar to those expressed by the bearer, with an
assurance that "his lordship knew too well the consequences of such a
step, to have taken it without a previous knowledge of the intentions of
the cabinet."

Washington's impression of this semi-official overture from Great
Britain is expressed in the following record in his diary on the eighth
of July: "The aspect of this business, in the moment of its
communication to me, appeared simply and no other than this: 'We did not
incline to give any satisfactory answer to Mr. Morris, who was
_officially_ commissioned to ascertain our intentions with respect to
the evacuation of the western posts within the territory of the United
States, and other matters, until by this unauthenticated mode we can
discover whether you will enter into an alliance with us, and make
common cause against Spain. In that case we will enter into a commercial
treaty with you, and _promise perhaps_ to fulfil what we already stand
engaged to perform.'"

The president referred the matter to his cabinet, with a request that
they would give it their serious consideration. They did so; and on the
fourteenth it was agreed to treat Beckwith's communications very
civilly--to intimate, delicately, that they carried no marks official or
authentic; nor, in speaking of alliance, did they convey any definite
meaning by which the precise object of the British cabinet could be
discovered. "In a word," says Washington in his diary, "that the
secretary of the treasury was to extract as much as he could from Major
Beckwith, and to report to me, without committing, by any assurances
whatever, the government of the United States, leaving it entirely free
to pursue, unreproached, such a line of conduct in the dispute as her
interest and honor shall dictate."

It was evident that the British government were willing that their
relations with the United States should remain unchanged, until they
should perceive what course European affairs were likely to take. For
about nine months Morris remained in London, endeavoring to accomplish
the objects of his mission; but, at the end of that time, the views of
the British government, on all the main topics of discussion, were as
much hidden in a cloud of uncertainty as when he first presented
Washington's letter to the duke of Leeds, as his credentials. The powers
given to Mr. Morris were withdrawn; because, to further press the
subject of a commercial treaty, or the exchange of ministers, or the
evacuation of the western posts, on the part of the United States, would
be useless and dishonorable; and it was resolved to pause in action
until the government had become strong enough to speak in decisive
tones, and prepare to maintain words with works.

Finding the French government, then embarrassed by its own internal
difficulties, disinclined to take part in the quarrel with Great
Britain, Spain, unable alone to cope with her foe, yielded every point
in the controversy, and the dispute was settled.


[28] In his diary under date of March the sixteenth, 1790, Washington
recorded: "Exercised on horseback, between ten and twelve o'clock;
previous to this, I was visited (having given permission) by Mr. Warner
Mifflin, one of the people called Quakers, active in pursuit of the
measures laid before Congress for emancipating the slaves. After much
general conversation, and an endeavor to remove the prejudices which, he
said, had been entertained of the motives by which the attending
deputations from their society were actuated, he used arguments to show
the immorality, injustice, and impolicy of keeping these people in a
state of slavery; with declarations, however, that he did not wish for
more than a gradual abolition, or to see any infraction of the
constitution to effect it. To these I replied, that as it was a matter
which might come before me for official decision, I was not inclined to
express any sentiments on the merits of the question before this should



Congress adjourned on the twelfth of August, after a session of about
seven months, during which time questions of great importance had been
met, discussed, and settled; not always, it must be confessed, in a
conciliatory spirit. In a partial defense of the national legislature,
in a letter to Doctor Stuart, Washington remarked: "I do not mean,
however, from what I have here said, to justify the conduct of Congress
in all these movements; for some of their movements, in my opinion, have
been injudicious, and others unseasonable; whilst the questions of
assumption, residence, and other matters, have been agitated with a
warmth and intemperance, with prolixity and threats, which, it is to be
feared, have lessened the dignity of that body, and decreased that
respect which was once entertained for it. And this misfortune is
increased by many members, even among those who wish well to the
government, ascribing in letters to their respective states, when they
are defeated in a favorite measure, the worst motives for the conduct of
their opponents, who, viewing matters through another medium, may and do
retort in their turn; by which means jealousies and distrusts are spread
most impolitically far and wide, and will, it is to be feared, have a
most unhappy tendency to injure our public affairs, which, if wisely
managed, might make us, as we are now by Europeans thought to be, the
happiest people upon earth."

The session just closed had been a season of great labor for the
president. The cares of state had been many and important, and the
affairs of France had occupied much of his attention. Some days his
application to public business was so continuous, from early morning
until evening, that he omitted his usual exercise in the open air. He
managed, however, to make a tour of four days, in his carriage, upon
Long Island. He travelled eastward as far as Huntington, making (as
appears by his diary) careful observations of the country and its
resources. He proceeded from Brooklyn, through Flatbush and New Utrecht,
to Gravesend, on the extreme western point of the island, and then
eastward to Jamaica by the middle road. From Jamaica he journeyed to
South Hempstead, and then to Hart's tavern in Brookhaven, from which
place he struck across toward the north shore of the island by Coram to
Setauket. On the third day of his journey (April the twenty-third) he
went through Smithstown to Huntington, where he dined; and then turning
westward, he drove to Oyster bay and lodged. Early the following morning
he passed through Mosquito cove, and breakfasted at Hendrick
Onderdonk's, at the head of a bay, the site of the present village of
Roslyn, or Hempstead harbor. He dined at Flushing, reached Brooklyn
ferry before sunset, and home at twilight.

Incessant application to business made severe inroads upon the health of
the president, and on the tenth of May he was seized with a severe
illness, which reduced him to the verge of dissolution. He was confined
to his chamber for several weeks, and it was not until the twenty-fourth
of June that he was able to resume his diary. His chief difficulty was
inflammation of the lungs, and he suffered from general debility until
the close of the session of Congress in August. Then, accompanied by
Jefferson, he made a voyage to Newport, Rhode Island, especially for the
benefit of his health, and incidentally to have personal intercourse
with the leading inhabitants there, he having, as we have observed,
avoided the soil of Rhode Island when on his eastern tour, that state
not then being a member of the Union. It had recently entered by
adopting the federal constitution.

The sea-voyage was beneficial to the health of the president; and soon
after his return, at the close of August, he set out with his family for
Mount Vernon, there to seek repose from the turmoil of public life, and
the sweet recreation which he always experienced in the midst of
agricultural employments in that happy retreat. He carried with him to
Mount Vernon a curious present which he received from his friend
Lafayette, just before the adjournment of Congress. It was the ponderous
iron key of the Bastile--that old fortress of despotism in Paris which
the populace of that city captured the year before, and which had been
levelled to the ground by order of the marquis, who was still at the
head of the revolution in France.

Washington had watched the course of his friend with great anxiety; for
he loved the marquis as a brother. The career upon which he had entered
was a most difficult and perilous one. "Never has any man been placed in
a more critical situation," the Marquis de Luzerne wrote to Washington.
"A good citizen, a faithful subject, he is embarrassed by a thousand
difficulties in making many people sensible of what is proper, who very
often feel it not, and who sometimes do not understand what it is."

"He acts now a splendid but dangerous part," wrote Gouverneur Morris.
Lafayette himself felt the perils of his position. "How often, my
well-beloved general," he wrote to Washington early in the year, "have I
regretted your sage counsels and friendly support. We have advanced in
the career of the revolution without the vessel of state being wrecked
against the rocks of aristocracy or faction.... At present, that which
existed has been destroyed; a new political edifice is forming; without
being perfect, it is sufficient to assure liberty. Thus prepared, the
nation will be in a state to elect in two years a convention which can
correct the faults of the constitution." Alas! those two years had
scarcely passed away before the hopeful champion of freedom was a
prisoner, far away from his home, in an Austrian dungeon. But we will
not anticipate.

Two months later, Lafayette wrote a most hopeful letter to Washington.
"Our revolution," he said, "pursues its march as happily as is possible
with a nation which, receiving at once all its liberties, is yet subject
to confound them with licentiousness." He then spoke of the hinderances
to speedy success in the establishment of a sound republican government,
and said: "After having avowed all this, my dear general, I will tell
you, with the same frankness, that we have made an admirable and almost
incredible destruction of all the abuses, of all the prejudices; that
all which was not useful to the people--all which did not come from
them--has been retrenched; that, in considering the situation,
topographical, moral, and political, of France, we have effected more
changes in ten months than the most presumptive patriots could have
hoped, and that the reports about our anarchy, our internal troubles,
are greatly exaggerated."

In conclusion, the marquis said: "Permit me, my dear general, to offer
you a picture representing the Bastile, such as it was some days after I
had given orders for its demolition, with the main key of the fortress
of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to an adopted
father--as an aid-de-camp to my general--as a missionary of liberty to
its patriarch."

The picture and key were placed in the hands of Thomas Paine, then in
London, who was intending soon to visit the United States. His
destination was changed to France, and after considerable delay he
forwarded the precious mementoes, with a letter, in which he said:--

     "I feel myself happy in being the person through whom the marquis
     has conveyed this early trophy of the spoils of despotism, and the
     first ripe fruit of American principles transplanted into Europe,
     to his great master and patron. When he mentioned to me the present
     he intended for you, my heart leaped with joy.... That the
     principles of America opened the Bastile is not to be doubted, and
     therefore the key comes to the right place."

On the receipt of these presents early in August, Washington wrote to
Lafayette, saying: "I have received your affectionate letter of the
seventeenth of March by one conveyance, and the token of the victory
gained by liberty over despotism by another; for both which testimonials
of your friendship and regard, I pray you to accept my sincerest thanks.
In this great subject of triumph for the new world and for humanity in
general, it will never be forgotten how conspicuous a part you bore, and
how much lustre you reflected on a country in which you made the first
displays of your character."

Referring in the same letter to the treaty which had been concluded with
the Creeks, he said: "This event will leave us at peace from one end of
our borders to the other, except when it may be interrupted by a small
refugee banditti of Cherokees and Shawnees, who can be easily chastised,
or even extirpated, if it shall become necessary." He then added:--

"Gradually recovering from the distress in which the war left us,
patiently advancing in our task of civil government, unentangled in the
crooked politics of Europe, wanting scarcely anything but the free
navigation of the Mississippi (which we must have, and as certainly
shall have as we remain a nation), I have supposed that, with the
undeviating exercise of a just, steady, and prudent national policy, we
shall be the gainers, whether the powers of the old world may be in
peace or war, but more especially in the latter case. In that case, our
importance will certainly increase, and our friendship will be coveted."
The last clause foreshadows that neutral policy which Washington assumed
for the government of the United States at a little later period, when
great efforts were made to involve it in the meshes of European
politics, by active sympathy with the democratic movements in France.

Rest at Mount Vernon was grateful to the wearied chief of the republic.
Yet it was not absolute repose. As a conscientious public servant; as
the chief officer of a government yet in a comparatively formative
state, and charged with the highest trusts that can be committed to
mortal man, he felt most sensibly the care of state, even in his quiet
home on the banks of the Potomac. One subject, in particular, filled him
with anxiety. He had ordered the chastisement of the Indians in the Ohio
country, and troops had gone thither for the purpose. He had deprecated
a war with the deluded savages, but good policy appeared to demand it;
and on the thirtieth of September an expedition set out from Fort
Washington, where the city of Cincinnati now stands, under General
Harmer, a veteran of the Revolution. But from that time until his
arrival in Philadelphia, at the close of November, Washington remained
in profound ignorance of the operations or the fate of the expedition.
On the second of November he wrote to General Knox, the secretary of
war, expressing his surprise that no information of the expedition had
been received, and saying: "This, in my opinion, is an undertaking of a
very serious nature. I am not a little anxious to know the result of
it.... This matter, favorable or otherwise in the issue, will require to
be laid before the Congress, that the motives which induced the
expedition may appear."

On his arrival in Philadelphia, Washington received a letter from
Governor Clinton, of New York, giving an account of Harmer's ill success
against the Indians, reported by Captain Brant, the celebrated Mohawk
warrior of the Revolution. "If this information of Captain Brant be
true," Washington wrote to Clinton in reply, "the issue of the
expedition against the Indians will indeed prove unfortunate and
disgraceful to the troops, who suffered themselves to be ambuscaded."

It was even so. The expedition, as we have already observed, failed in
its efforts, and the savages took courage for future operations. An
expensive war of four or five years' duration ensued.



Philadelphia, as we have already observed, was chosen to be the
residence of the federal government for ten years; and there, in the
courthouse, on the first Monday in December, 1790, the first Congress
assembled to hold their third session.

The removal of the seat of government from New York had caused much
dissatisfaction in that quarter, while many Philadelphians experienced
equal dissatisfaction, but for different reasons. Rents, prices of
provisions, and other necessaries of life, greatly advanced. "Some of
the blessings anticipated from the removal of Congress to this city are
already beginning to be apparent," wrote a Philadelphian. "Rents of
houses have risen, and I fear will continue to rise shamefully; even in
the outskirts they have lately been increased from fourteen, sixteen,
and eighteen pounds, to twenty-five, twenty-eight, and thirty. This is
oppression. Our markets, it is expected, will also be dearer than

Washington was subjected to considerable personal annoyance by the
change. During the recess of Congress, he commissioned Mr. Lear, his
private secretary, to rent a house for his use in Philadelphia. One
owned by Robert Morris appeared to be the most eligible of all; but,
for a long time, Washington could not procure an answer to his prudent
question, "What will be the rent?" Both the state and city authorities,
through committees, had offered to provide at their own expense a home
for the president; but Washington declined the generous offer. He
preferred the independence of a resident in his own hired house; and he
was also convinced that the offer was made because of a desire to have
Philadelphia become the permanent residence of the government. The
erection of a presidential mansion would be an argument in favor of the
scheme. Washington preferred a more southern location. He was to choose
the spot. He wished to have his views unbiassed; so he refused all
offers to lessen his expenses at the cost of the city of Philadelphia,
or of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Time after time Washington wrote to Lear about the rent of Morris's
house. "He has most assuredly," he said, "formed an idea of what ought
to be the rent of the tenement in the condition he left it; and with
this aid, the committee ought, I conceive, to be as little at a loss in
determining what it should rent for, with the additions and alterations
which are about to be made, and which ought to be done in a plain and
neat, and not by any means extravagant, style." He was satisfied that
the committee were delaying with the intention of having the rent paid
by the public; and he foresaw that he might be subjected to heavy bills
of expense in fixing and furnishing the house in an extravagant manner.

"Let us for a moment suppose," he said, "that the rooms (the new ones, I
mean) were to be hung with tapestry, or a very rich and costly paper,
neither of which would suit my present furniture; that costly ornaments
for the bow-windows, extravagant chimney-pieces and the like, were to be
provided; that workmen, from extravagance of the times, for every twenty
shillings' worth of work would charge forty shillings; and that
advantage would be taken of the occasion to newly paint every part of
the house and buildings; would there be any propriety in adding ten or
twelve-and-a-half per cent. for all this to the rent of the house in its
original state, for the two years that I am to hold it? If the solution
of these questions is in the negative, wherein lies the difficulty of
determining that the houses and lots, when finished according to the
proposed plan, ought to rent for so much? When all is done that can be
done," he added, "the residence will not be so commodious as that I left
in New York, for there (and the want of it will be found a real
inconvenience at Mr. Morris's) my office was in the front room below,
where persons on business immediately entered; whereas, in the present
case, they will have to ascend two pairs of stairs, and to pass by the
public rooms as well as the private chambers, to get to it."[29]

It must be remembered that Washington refused to receive a salary for
his services as president of the United States, but stipulated that the
amount of his expenses should be paid by the government. In regulating
these expenses, he was as careful to avoid extravagance as if his
private purse had to be drawn upon to pay. In New York he lived
frugally,[30] and he resolved to continue, in Philadelphia, the same
unostentatious way of living, not only on his own account, but for the
benefit of those connected with the government who could not afford to
spend more than their salaries. His example had a most salutary effect.
An illustrative case may be cited. When Oliver Wolcott, of Connecticut,
was appointed first auditor of the treasury, he, like a prudent man,
would not accept the office until he could visit New York, and ascertain
whether he could live upon the salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year.
He came to the conclusion that he could live upon one thousand, and he
wrote to his wife, saying: "The example of the president and his family
will render parade and expense improper and disreputable." What a
significant commentary!

The rent of Morris's house was at last fixed at three thousand dollars
a year; and on the twenty-second of November Washington set out for
Philadelphia, accompanied by his family, in a chariot drawn by four
horses. They were allowed to travel without parade, and on reaching
Philadelphia, on the twenty-eighth, they found their house ready for
their reception. Yet it was nearly a month before they were prepared to
receive company. Mrs. Washington's first _levee_ or reception in
Philadelphia was on Friday, the twenty-fifth of December, where,
according to eye-witnesses, there was an assemblage of "the most
brilliant, beautiful, well-dressed, and well educated women that had
ever been seen in America."

The season opened gayly. "I should spend a very dissipated winter,"
wrote the vice-president's wife to a friend, "if I were to accept one
half the invitations I receive, particularly to the routs, or
tea-and-cards." The city, for a few weeks after the assembling of
Congress, appeared to be intoxicated. But Washington and his wife were
proof against the song of the syren. They could not be seduced from
their temperate habits in eating, drinking, and sleeping, by the scenes
of immoderate pleasure around them. They held their respective _levees_
on Tuesdays and Fridays, as in New York, without the least ostentation;
and Congressional and official dinners were served in a plain way,
without any extravagant displays of plate, ornament, or variety of
dishes. Mrs. Washington's _levees_ always closed at nine o'clock. When
the great clock in the hall struck that hour, she would say to those
present, with a complacent smile, "The general always retires at nine,
and I usually precede him." In a few minutes the drawing-room would be
closed, the lights extinguished, and the presidential mansion would be
as dark and quiet before ten o'clock as the house of any private

Washington entered upon his public duties with great energy on his
arrival in Philadelphia. His health was almost perfectly restored, and
subjects of profound interest demanded the attention of Congress. That
body assembled on the sixth of December, and on the eighth, in the
presence of both houses sitting in the senate-chamber, the president
delivered, in person, his second annual message. He opened by
congratulating Congress on the financial prosperity of the country, the
import duties having produced, in a little more than thirteen months,
the sum of one million, nine hundred thousand dollars. He had without
difficulty obtained a loan in Holland for the partial liquidation of the
foreign debt; and, in consequence of the increasing confidence in the
government, certificates of the domestic debt had greatly increased in
value. He informed them that Kentucky was about to ask for admission
into the Union as a sovereign state. He called their attention to the
Indian war commenced in the northwestern territory; and after some
allusion to the disturbed state of Europe, growing out of recent events
in France, he suggested measures for the protection of American commerce
in the Mediterranean sea, where it was continually exposed to the
depredations of corsairs of the Barbary powers.

He called their attention to regulations concerning the consular system
that had been proposed and partially established; to the creation of a
mint, the right of coinage being delegated to the federal government
alone; to a uniform system of weights and measures; to a reorganization
of the post-office system, and a uniform militia.

The two most important measures brought forward at the beginning of the
session were, a plan for a national bank, and a tax on ardent spirits
distilled within the United States. In a former communication to
Congress, the secretary of the treasury recommended the establishment of
a national bank, as a useful instrument in the management of the
finances of the country; and now, at the opening of a new session, he
presented a special report, in which the policy of such a measure was
urged with Hamilton's usual strength and acuteness of logic. He argued
upon premises resting on the alleged facilities afforded to trade by
banks, and the great benefits to be expected from a national one in a
commercial point of view. He chiefly dwelt upon the topic of the
convenience to the government of a paper medium in which to conduct its
monetary transactions, and especially as a ready resource for such
temporary loans as might from time to time be required.

Such reasons, utterly without force in the light of subsequent
experience, were wise and important at that time, and commended
themselves to the people of the United States, because they had not
forgotten the convenience afforded by the bank of North America,
established by Robert Morris in 1781, chiefly for the purpose of
assistance to himself in the difficult office of superintendent of
finance. That was the first experiment in America in the issue of a
currency redeemable at sight--a promissory note payable on demand--which
had been the practice of the bank of England for nearly a hundred years.
It was a system so much superior to the colonial loan-office plans, and
the scheme upon which the continental paper-money had been issued during
the earlier years of the war for independence, that the people generally
received Hamilton's recommendation with favor. But it met with
determined opposition in Congress. The anti-federal feeling which from
the close of 1789 had manifested itself, principally in criticisms upon
the federal constitution, now assumed the shape of a party opposed to
the financial policy of the administration. At the head of this
opposition was Mr. Jefferson, the secretary of state; and the herald's
trumpet for the tilt was sounded by the Virginia assembly, in the
adoption of a resolution, declaring so much of the late act of Congress
as provided for the assumption of the state debts "repugnant to the
constitution of the United States," and "the exercise of a power not
expressly granted to the general government." That clause of the act for
funding the continental debt, which restrained the government from
redeeming at pleasure any part of that debt, was denounced as "dangerous
to the rights, and subversive of the interests, of the people."

The bank project encountered very little opposition in the senate, where
the bill originated; but in the house it was assailed vehemently,
chiefly on the ground of its being unconstitutional. Its policy was
questioned, and the utility of banking systems stoutly denied. The
arguments on both sides, in relation to the constitutionality of the
measure (the constitution being utterly silent on the subject), assumed
on frequent occasions an extremely metaphysical tone. It was argued, in
favor of a bank, that the power to establish one was implied in the
powers delegated to Congress by the constitution to collect a revenue,
and to pay the debts of the United States, and in the authority
expressly granted to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying
those powers into execution.

On the twentieth of January 1791, the bank bill passed the senate
without a division, and on the eighth of February it passed the house of
representatives by a vote of thirty-nine to twenty. Before signing it,
the president requested the written opinion of each member of his
cabinet as to its constitutionality, and his reasons for such opinion.
They promptly complied. The cabinet was divided. Hamilton and Knox
strongly maintained that it was constitutional: Jefferson and Randolph
(the attorney-general) as strongly contended that it was
unconstitutional. Washington examined the whole subject with great
deliberation, and then put his signature to the act. That act gave a
charter to the institution limited to twenty years, and for that period
Congress renounced the power of establishing any other bank. The capital
was to be ten millions of dollars, divided into twenty-five thousand
shares of four hundred dollars each; eight millions to be subscribed by
individuals, and the other two millions by the United States. It was to
be managed by twenty-five directors, chosen annually by the
stockholders, and its headquarters were to be at Philadelphia.

The opponents of the bank, and especially Mr. Jefferson, presumed to
censure the president because, in the conscientious exercise of his
power, he made the act a law by affixing his signature. The secretary of
state had other than constitutional grounds for his opposition to the
measure. He had conceived an irrepressible distrust of Hamilton. It
seemed almost like a monomania. He considered the bank as one of the
engines in a scheme intended by Hamilton to make the national
legislature subservient to, and under the direction of, the treasury,
for the purpose of promoting his monarchical schemes. He afterward
affirmed that Washington was deceived by Hamilton, and that he did not
perceive the drift or effect of his financial schemes; and ungenerously
and unfairly remarked, that, "unversed in financial projects and
calculations and budgets, his approbation of them was bottomed on his
confidence in the man."

No person knew better than Mr. Jefferson the unfairness of this
assertion. None knew better than he how little Washington was prone to
be swayed in his judgment by partiality either toward a man or a
measure. He always weighed everything with the greatest care and most
profound wisdom, and the opinions of friends and foes were always
submitted to the alembic of his keen penetration, and the tests of his
almost unfailing sagacity, before they were acted upon. "Hamilton and
myself," wrote Jefferson, "were daily pitted in the cabinet like two
cocks." The personal resentments and consequent prejudices of the
secretary of state appear to have frequently warped his judgment and
fettered his generosity.

An increase of duties on imported spirits, and an excise tax on those
produced at home, in order to increase the revenue required by the
charges growing out of the assumption of the state debts, recommended by
the secretary of the treasury and submitted to the consideration of
Congress in the form of an act, excited warm discussion. An attempt was
made to strike out the excise, but failed; and after animated and
sometimes violent debates, it was carried by a vote in the house of
thirty-five to twenty-one.[31] The portion of the act relating to excise
was received with indignation in some parts of the country, and led, as
we shall hereafter observe, to actual insurrection in western

The establishment of a national mint also occupied the attention of
Congress at this session. At the conclusion of the war for independence,
the continental Congress requested Robert Morris, the minister of
finance, to lay before them his views upon the subject of coins and
currency. The labor of preparing a report upon the subject was assigned
to the able assistant financier, Gouverneur Morris. It was prepared with
great care, and presented in 1782. Morris's first effort was to
harmonize the currency of all the states. He ascertained that the one
thousand, four hundred and fortieth part of a Spanish dollar was a
common divisor for the various currencies. Starting with that fraction
as a unit, he proposed the following table of moneys:--

    Ten units to be equal to one penny.
    Ten pence to one bill.
    Ten bills, one dollar (about seventy-five cents of our present
    Ten dollars one crown.

Congress debated the subject from time to time until 1784, when Mr.
Jefferson proposed a different scheme. He recommended four coins upon
the basis of the Spanish dollar, as follows:--

    A golden piece of the value of ten dollars.
    A dollar in silver.
    A tenth of a dollar in silver.
    A hundredth of a dollar in copper.

In 1785 Congress adopted Mr. Jefferson's scheme, and in 1786 made
provision for coinage upon that basis. This was the origin of our
decimal currency--the copper _cent_, the silver _dime_ and _dollar_, and
the golden _eagle_. Since then, several other coins of different values,
having the decimal basis, have been made of gold and silver; and a
smaller cent, made of metallic composition, has been coined.

Mr. Jefferson, soon after he came into the cabinet, urged the necessity
of a uniform and national coinage, "to banish the discordant pounds,
shillings, pence, and farthings of the different states, and to
establish in their stead the new denominations." The subject received
some attention during that session, and was agitated in the next (the
one we are now considering); but it was not until the second of April,
1792, that laws were enacted for the establishment and regulation of a
mint. Thereafter there was much delay, and the mint was not in full
operation until January, 1795. During that interval its performances
were chiefly experimental, and the variety of silver and copper coins,
now so much sought after by collectors, were struck. The most noted of
these is the "Washington cent," so called because it bore the head of
Washington on one side. It was a long time before Congress decided upon
a proper device for the coins, and the debates that occurred upon the
subject were interesting and sometimes amusing.

During this short session, full official reports of Harmer's expedition
were laid before Congress; and his repulse, and the increasing danger to
the western settlements from the Indians on the frontier, caused that
body to authorize an addition to the standing military force of a second
regiment of infantry, nine hundred strong. By the same act the president
was authorised to appoint, for such term as he should think proper, a
major-general and a brigadier-general, and to call into service, in
addition to the militia, a corps of two thousand six months' levies, and
a body of mounted volunteers.

The conduct of the troops under Harmer was stigmatized as disgraceful.
It was thought proper to place the new expedition about to be organized
under the command of another officer. St. Clair was then at the seat of
government. He was governor of the Northwestern territory, and well
acquainted with the country and the movements of the Indians; and
Washington, having confidence in his old friend and companion-in-arms,
conferred upon him the general command. Yet suffering chagrin and
mortification because of the disasters to Harmer's expedition on account
of Indian ambuscades, the president, when he took leave of St. Clair,
warned him against them in a most solemn manner, saying: "You have your
instructions from the secretary of war. I had a strict eye to them, and
will add but one word--beware of surprise! You know how the Indians
fight. I repeat it--_beware of a surprise!_"

At that time, three famous Seneca chiefs from western New
York--Corn-Planter, Half Town, and Big Tree--were at the seat of
government, and offered to visit their dusky brethren in the Ohio
region, and try to persuade them to bury the hatchet. Washington, who
had a most earnest desire for peace with the savages, accepted their
offer, saying: "By this humane measure you will render these mistaken
people a great service, and probably prevent their being swept off the
face of the earth. The United States require that these people should
only demean themselves peaceably." He concluded his remarks with the
following words, which were indicative of a scheme for civilizing the
Indians which had occupied his mind for a long time: "When you return to
your country, tell your nation that it is my desire to promote their
prosperity, by teaching them the use of domestic animals, and the manner
that the white people plough and raise so much corn; and if, upon
consideration, it would be agreeable to the nation at large to learn
those arts, I will find some means of teaching them, at such places
within their country as shall be agreed upon."

With the admission of Kentucky and Vermont into the Union as sovereign
states, and providing for the increase and pay of the army, the first
Congress closed its labors. They had, within two years, performed a
great work; and no body of men, except those who composed the
continental Congress during the earlier years of the Revolution, so
fairly deserve our sincere gratitude as they. Within that time, with
Washington at their head, they had set in motion the machinery of the
federal government, laid the foundations of its policy, and placed the
United States firmly in the position of a leading nation among the
states of the world.

The term of service of the first Congress expired on the third of March,
1791; but Washington did not leave Philadelphia for Mount Vernon until
late in the month.


[29] Washington's residence in New York was first at Osgood's house, No.
10 Cherry street, which by subsequent changes was made to front on
Franklin square. He afterward occupied the more commodious house of Mr.
M'Comb, where the French minister, M. de Moustier, had resided. It was
on Broadway, west side, below Trinity church. That was the one alluded
to in Washington's letter. An English traveller who visited the
president there described the drawing-room as "lofty and spacious; but,"
he added, "the furniture was not beyond that found in the dwellings of
opulent Americans in general, and might be called plain for its
situation. The upper end of the room had glass doors, which opened upon
a balcony, commanding an extensive view of the Hudson river and the
Jersey shore opposite."

[30] Mr. Custis relates that Fraunces, the steward, once purchased the
first shad of the season for the president's table, as he knew
Washington to be extravagantly fond of fish. He placed it before
Washington at table as an agreeable surprise. The president inquired how
much he paid for the shad. "Two dollars," was Fraunces's reply. "Take it
away," said the president--"I will not encourage such extravagance in my
house." Fraunces had no scruples of that kind, and the fish was devoured
by himself and other members of the household.

[31] The act imposed a duty varying from twenty to forty cents a gallon,
according to strength, on imported liquors; and an excise on domestic
liquors varying, according to the strength, from nine to twenty-five
cents a gallon on those distilled from grain, and from eleven to thirty
cents on those made from molasses or other imported product. Stringent
regulations were made for the collection of this excise.



Washington left Philadelphia for home on Monday, the twenty-first of
March, prepared for a tour through the southern states. He was
accompanied as far as Chester by Mr. Jefferson, the secretary of state,
and General Knox, the secretary of war--the only heads of departments
then remaining in Philadelphia. He travelled by Chestertown, in
Maryland, to Rock Hall, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, where he
and his suite, with horses, carriage, et cetera, embarked for Annapolis.
They arrived at that city on the morning of the twenty-fifth, after a
night of peril on the bay in the midst of a storm of wind, rain, and
lightning. The president was cordially received by the governor and
other dignitaries. On the twenty-eighth he reached Georgetown, and
partook of a public dinner given by the mayor and corporation. There he
met the commissioners appointed under the residence law, and examined
the surveys of the federal city made by Andrew Ellicott, and plans of
public buildings by Major L'Enfant.

It was left to the discretion of the president, it will be remembered,
to choose a place on the Potomac, between the East branch and
Conococheague, for the federal city. He chose the land between the
villages of Georgetown and Carrollsburg; and on his arrival he found
disputes running very high between the inhabitants of the two places
respecting the location of the public buildings, the landholders in each
desiring their village to be the favored one. Washington requested the
contestants to meet him the next day. He then frankly told them that the
dispute in which they were engaged did not comport with either their own
interest or that of the public; that while each party was aiming to
obtain the public buildings, they might, by placing the matter on a
contracted scale, defeat the measure altogether, not only by
procrastination, but for want of means to carry on the work; that
neither the offer of land from Georgetown or Carrollsburg for the public
buildings, separately, was adequate to the end of insuring the object;
that both together did not comprehend more ground, nor would afford
greater means, than was required for the federal city; and that, instead
of contending which of the two should have it, they had better, by
combining more offers, make a common cause of it, and thereby secure it
to the district. The parties saw the wisdom of the president's
suggestion, that while they were contesting for the shadow they might
lose the substance, and they mutually agreed, in writing, to surrender
for public purposes one half of the land they severally possessed. This
business being finished, Washington rode on to Mount Vernon, where he
arrived on the evening of the thirtieth of March.

On the seventh of April the president resumed his tour southward. "I was
accompanied," he says in his diary, "by Major Jackson. My equipage and
attendants consisted of a chariot and four horses drove in hand, a light
baggage-wagon and two horses, four saddle-horses, besides a led one for
myself; and five, to wit, my valet-de-chambre, two footmen, coachman,
and postillion."

Previous to leaving Mount Vernon, he wrote to the secretaries of state,
treasury, and war, giving them information concerning the time when he
expected to be at certain places on his route, and desiring them, in
case of important occurrences, to communicate with him, that he might,
if necessary, return to the seat of government. So judicious were his
arrangements, and so fortunate was the journey, that Washington reached
the several places designated at the time contemplated.[32]

Honors awaited the president at every step. Receptions, escorts,
artillery salutes, and public dinners, everywhere testified the respect
of the people, and many invitations to private entertainments were given
him: he declined all. Among others was one from his kinsman, William
Washington (a hero of the southern campaign), to make his house in
Charleston his home while there. The president's reply in this case
exhibits the spirit of the whole: "I can not comply with your invitation
without involving myself in inconsistency," he said; "as I have
determined to pursue the same plan in my southern as I did in my eastern
visit, which was, not to incommode any private family by taking up my
quarters with them during my journey. It leaves me unencumbered by
engagements, and, by a uniform adherence to it, I shall avoid giving
umbrage to any, by declining all such invitations."

At Richmond, Washington inspected the works in progress of the James
River Navigation company, of which he was president, and received from
Colonel Carrington, the marshall of that judicial district, the pleasing
assurance that the people generally were favorable to the federal
government. To ascertain the temper of the people, become personally
acquainted with the leading citizens, and to observe the resources of
the country, were the grand objects of the president's tour, and he was
rejoiced to find evidences that his own state was gradually perceiving
the value and blessings of the Union. At Richmond he was entertained at
a public dinner, and escorted far on toward Petersburg by a cavalcade of
gentlemen. Having been much incommoded by dust, and finding an escort of
horse was preparing to accompany him from Petersburg, Washington caused
inquiries as to the time he would leave the town to be answered, that he
should endeavor to do it before eight o'clock in the morning. He managed
to get off at five, by which means he avoided the inconvenience

At Wilmington, in North Carolina, he was received by a military and
civic escort, entertained at a public dinner, and attended a ball given
in his honor in the evening. At Newbern he received like homage, where
the dinner and the ball were given at the palace built by Governor Tryon
about twenty-five years before. On the morning of the second of May he
breakfasted at the country-seat of Governor Pinckney, a few miles from
Charleston; and when he arrived at Haddrell's point, across the mouth of
the Cooper river, he was met by General Pinckney, Edward Rutledge, and
the recorder of the city, in a twelve-oared barge, rowed by twelve
captains of American vessels, elegantly dressed. This was accompanied by
a great number of other boats with gentlemen and ladies in them; and
the gay scene, as the flotilla proceeded toward the city, was enlivened
by vocal and instrumental music. At the wharf he was met by the governor
and other civil officers, amid the thunder of artillery; and by the
Cincinnati and a civic and military escort he was conducted to his

Washington remained in Charleston a week, and then departed for
Savannah. There he was greeted by General Wayne, General M'Intosh, and
other companions-in-arms, and remained several days. He left for Augusta
on the fifteenth, dined at Mulberry grove (the seat of Mrs. General
Greene) that day, and reached Augusta on the eighteenth. There Governor
Telfair, Judge Walton, and others, led in offering ceremonial honors to
the illustrious guest.

On the twenty-first the president turned his face homeward, travelling
by way of Columbia and Camden in South Carolina, Charlotte, Salisbury,
Salem, Guilford and Hillsborough in North Carolina, and Harrisburg,
Williamsburg, and Frederickburg, to Mount Vernon. At Salem, a Moravian
settlement, he halted for the purpose of seeing Governor Martin, who, he
was informed, was on his way to meet the president. He spent a day
there, visiting the social and industrial establishments of the
community, and attended their religious services in the evening. A
committee in behalf of the community presented an address to him, to
which he made a brief reply.[33] He reached home on the twelfth of June,
having made a most satisfactory journey of more than seventeen hundred
miles, after starting from Mount Vernon, in sixty-six days, with the
same team of horses. "My return to this place is sooner than I
expected," he wrote to Hamilton, "owing to the uninterruptedness of my
journey by sickness, from bad weather, or accidents of any kind
whatsoever," for which he had made an allowance of eight days.

Washington returned to Philadelphia on the sixth of July. "I am much
pleased," he wrote to Colonel Humphreys, then in Paris, on the
twentieth, "that I have undertaken the journey, as it has enabled me to
see with my own eyes the situation of the country through which we
travelled, and to learn more accurately the disposition of the people
than I could from any information." His observations filled his mind
with joy in contemplating the future. "The country appears," he said,
"to be in a very improving state, and industry and frugality are
becoming much more fashionable than they have hitherto been.
Tranquillity reigns among the people, with that disposition towards the
general government which is likely to preserve it. They begin to feel
the good effects of equal laws and equal protection. The farmer finds a
ready market for his produce, and the merchant calculates with more
certainty on his payments. Manufactures have as yet made but little
progress in that part of the country, and it will probably be a long
time before they are brought to that state to which they have already
arrived in the middle and eastern parts of the Union. Each day's
experience of the government of the United States seems to confirm its
establishment, and to make it more popular. A ready acquiescence in the
laws made under it shows in a strong light the confidence which the
people have in their representatives, and in the upright views of those
who administer the government."

"Our public credit stands on that ground which, three years ago, it
would have been a species of madness to have foretold. The astonishing
rapidity with which the newly-instituted bank was filled gives an
unexampled proof of the resources of our countrymen, and their
confidence in public measures. On the first day of opening the
subscription, the whole number of shares (twenty thousand) were taken up
in one hour, and application made for upwards of four thousand shares
more than were granted by the institution, besides many others that were
coming in from different quarters."

In reference to the future seat of government the president said: "I am
now happy to add, that all matters between the proprietors of the soil
and the public are settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties,
and that the business of laying out the city, the grounds for public
buildings, walks, et cetera, is advancing under the inspection of Major
L'Enfant with pleasing prospects."

L'Enfant, who had served as an engineer in the continental army, and was
employed to furnish a plan for, and make a survey of, the federal city,
spent a week at Mount Vernon, immediately after Washington's return from
his southern tour, in submitting his plans to the president, and in
consulting with him about the future. These plans were approved by
Washington, and met the approbation of Congress when laid before them at
the next session. The city was laid out upon a plot containing eight
square miles.

The first session of the second Congress commenced at Philadelphia on
the twenty-fourth of October, in conformity to an act of the last
session of the first Congress. Washington had spent a greater portion of
the summer in the federal city, in close attention to public duties; but
for six weeks previous to the assembling of the national legislature he
remained in the seclusion of Mount Vernon. It was not for him a season
of repose. Every mail brought him numerous letters, most of them on
public business. Many of them gave him themes for deep and solemn
meditation; for national affairs at home and abroad were assuming forms
and attitudes that occasioned him much anxiety.

The French revolution, in which his friend Lafayette was engaged as a
chief actor, was exhibiting a most alarming and disappointing aspect to
the friends of genuine liberty; and the dreams of the marquis, that his
country was speedily to be redeemed from disorder and corrupt rule, were
disturbed by dismal visions of reality. "Whatever expectations I had
conceived of a speedy termination to our revolutionary troubles," he
wrote to Washington as early as the previous March, "I still am tossed
about in the ocean of factions and commotions of every kind; for it is
my fate to be attacked on each side with equal animosity; on the one by
the aristocratic, slavish, parliamentary, clerical--in a word, by all
the enemies to my free and levelling doctrine--and on the other by the
Orleans factions, anti-royal, licentious, and pillaging parties of every
kind: so that my personal escape from amidst so many hostile bands is
rather dubious, although our great and good revolution is, thank Heaven,
not only insured in France, but on the point of visiting other parts of
the world, provided the restoration of public order is soon obtained in
this country, where the good people have been better taught how to
overthrow despotism than they can understand how to submit to the laws.
To you, my dear general, the patriarch and generalissimo of universal
liberty, I shall render exact accounts of the conduct of your deputy and
aid in that great cause."

In May he wrote: "I wish it were in my power to give you an assurance
that our troubles are at an end, and our constitution totally
established. But, although dark clouds are still before us, we have come
so far as to foresee the moment when the legislative corps will succeed
this convention; and, unless foreign powers interfere, I hope that
within four months your friend will have resumed the life of a private
and quiet citizen. The rage of parties, even among the patriots, is gone
as far as it is possible, short of bloodshed; but, although hatreds are
far from subsiding, matters do not appear so much disposed as they
formerly were towards collision among the supporters of the popular
cause. I myself am exposed to the envy and attacks of all parties--for
this simple reason, that whoever acts or means wrong finds me an
insuperable obstacle. And there appears a kind of phenomenon in my
situation--all parties against me, and a national popularity, which, in
spite of every effort, has remained unchanged.... Given up to all the
madness of license, faction, and popular rage, I stood alone in defence
of the law, and turned the tide into the constitutional channel."

A little later, Lafayette wrote: "The refugees hovering about the
frontiers; intrigues in most of the despotic and aristocratic cabinets;
our regular army divided into tory officers and undisciplined soldiers;
licentiousness among the people not easily repressed; the capital, that
gives the tone to the empire, tossed about by anti-revolutionary or
factious parties; the assembly fatigued by hard labor, and very
unmanageable--cause me sometimes to be filled with alarm."

These few sentences lift the curtain slightly from the terrible drama,
then in cautious rehearsal, which was soon openly acted before the great
audience of the nations. In place of constitutional order, there was the
anarchy of faction in the French capital and throughout the provinces.
The club of forty gentlemen and men of letters, who met in the hall of
the Jacobin monks long before the states-general convened, had now grown
up to a vast and popular association known as the Jacobin club. They
were the avowed and determined adversaries of monarchy and all
aristocratic titles and privileges, and contemners of Christianity; and
they had started a journal for the dissemination of their
ultra-democratic and irreligious doctrines, having for its
watchwords--_Liberty and Equality_. It was puissant in spreading the
spirit of revolt and disaffection to the king, and the greatest license
began to prevail among the people. The king and his family were insulted
in public. Lafayette, disgusted with the refractory spirit that began to
prevail among the National Guards, resigned the command of them, but
resumed it at the urgent solicitation of sixty battalions. The
democratic spirit became more and more insolent, and at length the king
and his family fled from Paris in disguise. Terror prevailed among all
classes. A crisis seemed impending. Political dissolution appeared at
hand. But the monarch was arrested at Varennes and taken back to Paris
under an escort of thirty thousand National Guards. The helpless king
assured the assembly that he had no intention of leaving France, but
wished to live quietly at a distance from the capital, until government
should in a degree be restored and the constitution settled. His
justification was that he was subjected to too many insults in the
capital, and that the personal safety of the queen was imperilled.

The populace were not satisfied. On the twentieth of July they met in
the Elysian Fields, with Robespierre at their head, and petitioned for
the dethronement of the king. Four thousand troops fired upon them and
killed several hundred. Then and there, in the exasperation of the
people and the appearance of Robespierre, the epoch of the Reign of
Terror dawned. Yet Lafayette and his friends held the factions in
check. The constitution was completed early in September, and was
accepted by the king, who solemnly swore that he would "employ all the
powers with which he was intrusted in maintaining the constitution
declared by the national assembly."

Proclamation of this act was made throughout the kingdom, and a grand
festival in commemoration of the event took place in the Elysian Fields.
One hundred thousand citizens danced on that occasion; festoons of
many-colored lamps were suspended between the trees; every half hour,
one hundred and thirty pieces of cannon thundered along the banks of the
Seine; and on a tree planted upon the site of the Bastile was a placard

    "Here is the epoch of liberty;
    We dance on the ruins of despotism;
    The constitution is finished--
    Long live patriotism!"

On the thirtieth, the king made a speech to the assembly, when the
president proclaimed: "The constituent assembly declares their mission
fulfilled and their sittings terminated." Then opened a new act in the
French revolution.

While this revolution was thus progressing, half-formed, half-understood
political maxims, that were floating upon the tide of social life in the
United States, were crystallizing into distinct tenets and assuming
strongly antagonistic party positions. The electric forces, so to speak,
which produced this crystallization, proceeded from the president's
cabinet, where the opinions of the secretaries of the treasury and of
the state were at direct variance, and were now making constant war upon
each other. Hamilton regarded the federal constitution as inadequate in
strength to perform its required functions, and believed that weakness
to be its greatest defect; and it was his sincere desire, and his
uniform practice, so to construe its provisions as to give the greatest
strength to the executive in the administration of public affairs.
Jefferson, on the other hand, contemplated all executive power with
distrust, and desired to impair its vitality and restrain its
operations, believing with Paine that a weak government and a strong
people were the best guaranties of liberty to the citizen. He saw in the
funding system, the United States bank, and the excise law, instruments
for enslaving the people, and believed that the rights of the states and
liberties of the inhabitants were in danger. And as Hamilton was the
originator of these measures, and they constituted prominent features of
the administration, Jefferson found himself, at the opening of the new
Congress, arrayed politically with the opposers of the president and the
general government, and in the position of arch-leader.

Not content with an expression of his opinions, he charged his
opponents, and especially Hamilton, with corrupt and anti-republican
designs, selfish motives, and treacherous intentions; and then was
inaugurated that system of personal vituperation which, from that time
until the present, has disgraced the press and the politicians of our
country, and brought odium upon us as a nation.

The party of which Jefferson was the head called themselves Republicans,
and warmly sympathized with the radical revolutionists in France; while
the great majority of the people--the conservative men of the
country--who were favorable to Hamilton's financial schemes and the
constitution, were called FEDERALISTS.

In the adjustment of party lines at this time, there was a very small
party that appeared to be a cross between the two, as manifested by John
Adams in a series of essays which he published in the United States
Gazette, the acknowledged organ (if organ it had) of the administration,
entitled "Discourses on Davila." These were an analysis of Davila's
_History of the Civil Wars in France_ in the sixteenth century; and the
aim of Mr. Adams was to point out to his countrymen the danger to be
apprehended from factions and ill-balanced forms of government. In these
essays he maintained that as the great spring of human activity,
especially as related to public life, was self-esteem, manifested in the
love of superiority and the desire of distinction, applause, and
admiration, it was important in a popular government to provide for the
moderate gratification of all of them. He therefore advocated a liberal
use of titles and ceremonial honors for those in office, and an
aristocratic senate. To counteract any undue influence on the part of
the senate, he proposed a popular assembly on the broadest democratic
basis; and to keep in check the encroachment of each upon the other, he
recommended a powerful executive. He thought liberty to all would be
thus secured. From the premises which formed the basis of his reasoning,
Mr. Adams concluded that the French constitution, which disavowed all
distinctions of rank, which vested the legislative authority in a single
assembly, and which, though retaining the office of king, divested him
of nearly all actual power, must, in the nature of things, prove a

In the publication of these essays, Adams was most unfortunate. He
appears not to have presented his ideas concerning his political system
with sufficient clearness to be understood. He was, indeed, greatly
misunderstood, and was charged with advocating a monarchy and a
hereditary senate and presidency; with the greatest inconsistency,
because, in 1787, he had written and published in London an excellent
"Defence of the American Constitution;" and with political heresy, if
not actual apostasy, because of that inconsistency. Twenty years later,
when speaking of these essays, Mr. Adams said: "This dull, heavy volume
still excites the wonder of its author--first, that he could find, amid
the constant scenes of business and dissipation in which he was
enveloped, time to write it; secondly, that he had the courage to oppose
and publish his own opinions to the universal opinion of America, and
indeed of all mankind." Others were no less astonished, for the same

These essays were published in 1790, and filled Jefferson with disgust.
He already began to suspect Hamilton of anti-republican schemes, and he
now cherished the idea that there was a conspiracy on foot, headed by
Adams and Hamilton, to overthrow the republican institutions of the
United States, and on their ruins to erect a mixed government like that
of England, composed of a monarchy and aristocracy. To counteract these
political heresies, Paine's Rights of Man, which he wrote in reply to
Burke's pamphlet on the French Revolution (a performance which Adams
held in "perfect detestation," but which other patriots regarded as one
of which any man might be proud), was reprinted and circulated in the
United States, with a complimentary note from Mr. Jefferson at its
head--"a note which Mr. Jefferson declared he neither desired nor
expected to have printed;" not because he did not approve of Paine's
doctrines, but because he did not wish to take such responsibility at
that crisis and while in his official position. He rejoiced, however, at
the reprint of Paine's essay.

"Paine's pamphlet," he said in a letter to Mr. Short, the American
_chargé d'affaires_ at Paris, "has been published and read with general
applause here;" and then he proceeds to charge "Adams, Jay, Hamilton,
Knox, _and many of the Cincinnati_," with endeavoring "to make way for a
king, lords, and commons." "The second" (Jay), he said, "says nothing;
the third [Hamilton] is open. Both are dangerous. They pant after union
with England, as the power which is to support their projects, and are
most determined anti-Gallicans." This, as time has demonstrated, was a
most unjust and ungenerous charge. So thoroughly was Mr. Jefferson then
imbued with the spirit of the French revolution, in its most democratic
and destructive aspect--so bitter was his hatred of monarchy and
aristocracy--that his judgment seemed entirely perverted, his usual
charity utterly congealed; and every man who differed with him in
opinion was regarded as a conspirator against the rights of mankind.

In after years, when the passions of the times had passed away, he
reiterated his opinion that Adams and Hamilton were at that time seeking
the subversion of republican institutions in the United States. "The one
[Adams]," he said, "was for two hereditary branches, and an honest
elective one; the other [Hamilton] for an hereditary king, with a house
of lords and commons, corrupted to his will, and standing between him
and the people. Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute
understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private
transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private
life, yet so bewitched and perverted by British example, as to be under
thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a
nation. Mr. Adams had originally been a republican. The glare of
royalty and nobility, during his mission to England, had made him
believe their fascination a necessary ingredient in government."

The best refutation of the opinion of Jefferson concerning Hamilton's
views is contained in the whole tenor of that great man's life, and in
the close private and political friendship that existed between the
sagacious Washington and Hamilton until death separated them.

Paine's original pamphlet was dedicated "to the president of the United
States," and that dedication was retained in the reprint. That and
Jefferson's note produced quite a stir. Because of certain language in
the pamphlet, Paine had been prosecuted for libel by the British
government, and had fled to France; and this apparent endorsement of his
essay by the government of the United States, in the persons of the
president and secretary of state, was offensive to that of Great
Britain. Major Beckwith, the aid-de-camp of Governor Carleton already
mentioned, expressed his surprise that the pamphlet should have been
published under such auspices, because it seemed to imply unfriendliness
toward his government. He was satisfied, however, when assured that the
president knew nothing of the reprint of the pamphlet, and that the
publication of the note by the secretary of state was unauthorized. The
matter disturbed the friendly relations between Mr. Adams and Mr.
Jefferson for a short time. Frank explanations healed the breach for a
moment; but they differed too widely in their ideas concerning some of
the exciting questions of the day to act together as political friends.
Indeed, they soon became decided political antagonists, and Washington
was greatly disturbed by party dissentions in his cabinet and in


[32] "I shall be," he said, "on the eighth of April at Fredericksburg,
the eleventh at Richmond, the fourteenth at Petersburg, the sixteenth at
Halifax, the eighteenth at Tarborough, the twentieth at Newbern, the
twenty-fifth at Wilmington, the twenty-ninth at Georgetown, South
Carolina; on the second day of May at Charleston in South Carolina,
halting there five days; on the eleventh at Savannah, halting there two
days. Then leaving the line of mail, I shall proceed to Augusta; and
according to the information I shall receive there, my return by an
upper road will be regulated."

[33] The following is the address of the Moravians to the president:--

     "Happy in sharing the honor of a visit from the illustrious
     president of the Union to the southern states, the Brethren of
     Wachovia humbly beg leave, upon this joyful occasion, to express
     their highest esteem, duty, and affection, for the great patriot of
     this country.

     "Deeply impressed as we are with gratitude to the great Author of
     our being for his unbounded mercies, we can not but particularly
     acknowledge his gracious providence over the temporal and political
     prosperity of the country, in the peace whereof we do find peace,
     and wherein none can take a warmer interest than ourselves; in
     particular, when we consider that the same Lord who preserved your
     precious person in so many imminent dangers has made you, in a
     conspicuous manner, an instrument in his hands to forward that
     happy constitution, together with those improvements, whereby our
     United States begin to flourish, over which you preside with the
     applause of a thankful nation.

     "Whenever, therefore, we solicit the protection of the Father of
     mercies over this favored country, we can not but fervently implore
     his kindness for your preservation, which is so intimately
     connected therewith.

     "May this gracious Lord vouchsafe to prolong your valuable life as
     a further blessing, and an ornament of the constitution, that by
     your worthy example the regard for religion be increased, and the
     improvements of civil society encouraged.

     "The settlements of the United Brethren, though small, will always
     make it their study to contribute as much as in them lies to the
     peace and improvement of the United States, and all the particular
     parts they live in, joining their ardent prayers to the best wishes
     of this whole continent that your personal as well as domestic
     happiness may abound, and a series of successes may crown your
     labors for the prosperity of our times and an example to future
     ages, until the glorious reward of a faithful servant shall be your

     "Signed, in behalf of the United Brethren in Wachovia:


     "_Salem, the 1st of June_, 1791."

To which the president of the United States was pleased to return the
following answer:--

     "_To the United Brethren of Wachovia:_

     "GENTLEMEN: I am greatly indebted to your respectful and
     affectionate expression of personal regard, and I am not less
     obliged by the patriotic sentiment contained in your address.

     "From a society whose governing principles are industry and the
     love of order, much may be expected towards the improvement and
     prosperity of the country in which their settlements are formed,
     and experience authorizes the belief that much will be obtained.

     "Thanking you with grateful sincerity for your prayers in my
     behalf, I desire to assure you of my best wishes for your social
     and individual happiness.




Washington read his third annual address to the assembled Congress on
the twenty-fifth of October. Before him were most of the members of the
previous Congress. Nearly all of the retiring senators had been
re-elected. Among the new ones was Roger Sherman of Connecticut, George
Cabot of Massachusetts, and Aaron Burr of New York. The latter was
elected as the successor to General Schuyler, and now, for the first
time, appeared prominent among statesmen. He had been appointed
attorney-general of New York by Governor Clinton, and, in respect to
talent and influence, was a rising man. Artful and fascinating, he had
secured the votes of a sufficient number of federalists in the state
legislature to gain his election, and he went into Congress a decided
opponent of the administration; not on principle, for that never
influenced him, but on account of personal hostility to the president,
whom he hated because of his virtues.

In the house there were several new members, and the number of those
opposed to the policy of the administration had been considerably
increased, the elections in several of the states having been warmly
contested. Jonathan Trumbull, son of the patriotic governor of
Connecticut, was chosen speaker.

In his address, the president congratulated Congress on the general
prosperity of the country, the success of its financial measures, and
the disposition generally manifested to submit to the excise law. He
dwelt at considerable length upon Indian affairs, recommending a just,
impartial, and humane policy toward the savages, as the best means of
securing peace on the frontier. He announced that the site of the
federal capital had been selected and the city laid out on the bank of
the Potomac. He again called their attention to the subject of a
reorganization of the post-office department, the establishment of a
mint, the adoption of a plan for producing uniformity in weights and
measures, and making provision for the sale of the public lands of the
United States.

The expedition against the Indians in the northwest had, meanwhile, been
in progress, with varying fortunes, sometimes successful and sometimes
not. At length painful rumors, and finally positive statements, came
that a terrible calamity had overtaken St. Clair and his command. These
troops had assembled in the vicinity of Fort Washington (now Cincinnati)
early in September, and consisted nominally of two thousand regulars and
one thousand militia, including a corps of artillery and several
squadrons of horse. They were compelled to cut a road through the
wilderness, and erect forts to keep up communication between the Ohio
and the Wabash, the base of their operations. Desertions were numerous,
and the refuse of western population often filled the places of these
delinquents. Insubordination prevailed; and, to increase St. Clair's
difficulties, he was so afflicted with the gout that he could not walk,
and had to be lifted on and off his horse.

At length the little army, reduced to fourteen hundred effective men,
rank and file, by desertion and the absence of a corps sent to apprehend
deserters, had penetrated to a tributary of the Wabash fifteen miles
south of the Miami villages, and almost a hundred from Fort Washington.
There, before sunrise on the fourth of November, while the main body
were encamped in two lines on rising ground, and the militia upon a high
flat on the other side of the stream a quarter of a mile in advance,
they were surprised and fiercely attacked by a large number of Indians,
who fell first upon the militia, and then with deadly power upon the
regulars. Great carnage ensued. The enemy, concealed in the woods,
poured a destructive fire upon the troops from almost every point. St.
Clair, unable to mount his horse, was carried about in a litter, and
gave his orders with discretion and the most perfect coolness. Nearly
all the officers and half the army were killed. For two hours and a half
the desperate contest raged. Finally St. Clair ordered a retreat. It at
once became a disorderly flight. The artillery, baggage, and many of the
wounded, were left behind. Many of the troops threw away their arms,
ammunition, and accoutrements. Some of the officers divested themselves
of their fusees, that their flight might not be impeded. The general was
mounted upon a lazy pack-horse, who could not be spurred into a gallop;
but, as the enemy did not pursue more than a mile or two, St. Clair and
the survivors of the battle escaped to Fort Jefferson, a distance of
twenty-five miles. The retreat was continued the next day toward Fort
Washington, where the shattered army arrived on the eighth. The entire
loss was estimated at six hundred and seventy-seven killed, including
thirty women, and two hundred and seventy-one wounded.

The late Richard Rush, of Philadelphia, has left on record the following
graphic account of the effect which the intelligence of St. Clair's
defeat had upon Washington. It was from an eye-witness:--

"An anecdote I derived from Colonel Lear," says Mr. Rush, "shortly
before his death in 1816, may here be related, showing the height to
which Washington's passion would rise, yet be controlled. It belongs to
his domestic life, with which I am dealing, having occurred under his
own roof, while it marks public feeling the most intense, and points to
the moral of his life. I give it in Colonel Lear's words, as near as I
can, having made a note of them at the time.

"Toward the close of a winter's day in 1791, an officer in uniform was
seen to dismount in front of the president's house, in Philadelphia,
and giving the bridle to his servant, knocked at the door of the
mansion. Learning from the porter that the president was at dinner, he
said he was on public business and had despatches for the president. A
servant was sent into the dining-room to give the information to Mr.
Lear, who left the table and went into the hall, where the officer
repeated what he had said. Mr. Lear replied that, as the president's
secretary, he would take charge of the despatches and deliver them at
the proper time. The officer made answer that he had just arrived from
the western army, and his orders were to deliver them with all
promptitude, and to the president in person; but that he would wait his
directions. Mr. Lear returned, and in a whisper imparted to the
president what had passed. General Washington rose from the table and
went to the officer. He was back in a short time, made a word of apology
for his absence, but no allusion to the cause of it. He had company that
day. Everything went on as usual. Dinner over, the gentlemen passed to
the drawing-room of Mrs. Washington, which was open in the evening. The
general spoke courteously to every lady in the room, as was his custom.
His hours were early, and by ten o'clock all the company had gone. Mrs.
Washington and Mr. Lear remained. Soon Mrs. Washington left the room.

"The general now walked backward and forward for some minutes without
speaking. Then he sat down on a sofa by the fire, telling Mr. Lear to
sit down. To this moment there had been no change in his manner since
his interruption at the table. Mr. Lear now perceived emotion. This
rising in him, he broke out suddenly: 'It's all over! St. Clair's
defeated--routed; the officers nearly all killed--the men by
wholesale--the rout complete! too shocking to think of!--and a surprise
in the bargain!'

"He uttered all this with great vehemence. Then he paused, got up from
the sofa, and walked about the room several times, agitated, but saying
nothing. Near the door he stopped short and stood still a few seconds,
when his wrath became terrible.

"'Yes!' he burst forth, 'HERE, on this very spot, I took leave of him: I
wished him success and honor. "You have your instructions," I said,
"from the secretary of war: I had a strict eye to them, and will add but
one word--beware of a surprise! I repeat it--beware of a surprise! You
know how the Indians fight us." He went off with that as my last solemn
warning thrown into his ears. And yet, to suffer that army to be cut to
pieces, hacked by a surprise--the very thing I guarded him against! O
God! O God! he's worse than a murderer! How can he answer it to his
country? The blood of the slain is upon him--the curse of widows and
orphans--the curse of Heaven!'

"This torrent came out in tone appalling. His very frame shook. 'It was
awful!' said Mr. Lear. More than once he threw his hands up as he hurled
imprecations upon St. Clair. Mr. Lear remained speechless--awed into
breathless silence.

"The roused chief sat down on the sofa once more. He seemed conscious of
his passion, and uncomfortable. He was silent; his wrath began to
subside. He at length said, in an altered voice, 'This must not go
beyond this room.' Another pause followed--a longer one--when he said,
in a tone quite low: 'General St. Clair shall have justice. I looked
hastily through the despatches--saw the whole disaster, but not all the
particulars. I will hear him without prejudice: he shall have full

"'He was now,' said Mr. Lear, 'perfectly calm. Half an hour had gone by;
the storm was over, and no sign of it was afterward seen in his conduct
or heard in his conversation.'"[34]

"The first interview of the president with St Clair after the fatal
fourth of November," says the late Mr. Custis[35] (who was present), "was
nobly impressive. The unfortunate general, worn down by age, disease,
and the hardships of a frontier campaign, assailed by the press, and
with the current of popular opinion setting hard against him, repaired
to his chief, as to a shelter from the fury of so many elements.
Washington extended his hand to one who appeared in no new character;
for, during the whole of a long life, misfortune seemed 'to have marked
him for her own.' Poor old St. Clair hobbled up to his chief, seized the
offered hand in both of his, and gave vent to his feelings in an audible

St. Clair's case was investigated by a committee of the house of
representatives, and he was honorably acquitted. But public sentiment
was against him, and he resigned his commission.

The alarm on the frontier, caused by St. Clair's defeat, produced prompt
and appropriate action in Congress, and an army of five thousand men for
frontier service was authorized. The impetuous General Wayne (of whom
Washington said, at this time, "He has many good points as an officer,
and it is to be hoped that time, reflection, good advice, and above all
a due sense of the importance of the trust committed to him, will
correct his faults, or cast a shade over them") was appointed
commander-in-chief, and Colonel Otho H. Williams, of Maryland, and
Colonel Rufus Putnam, then in the Ohio country, brigadiers under him.
Wayne was then in the prime of life, being forty-seven years of age; and
Washington, believing that an energetic campaign would retrieve the
losses of St. Clair and produce a decisive and salutary effect upon the
Indians, counted much upon the prowess and executive force of that
officer. Nor was he disappointed.

Additional revenue was required to support the increased army; and upon
a motion being made in Congress to call upon the secretary of the
treasury to report the ways and means of raising it, the first decided
opposition to that officer and the measures of the administration, in
complicity with Jefferson's personal dislike of Hamilton, appeared in
the national legislature. Such report was called for, however; and the
discussions that ensued upon this and other topics were sometimes very
acrimonious, and caused Washington much painful apprehension. The press,
at the same time, was fostering party spirit with the most pernicious
aliment. In the previous autumn, a paper in the interest of the
republican party and in opposition to Fenno's _United States Gazette_,
called the _National Gazette_, was established. Philip Freneau, a warm
whig of the Revolution and a poet of considerable local eminence, who
had been editor of a New York paper, and who was called to Philadelphia
at that time by Mr. Jefferson to fill the post of translating clerk in
the state department, was installed as editor of the new opposition
paper. Jefferson patronized it for the avowed purpose of presenting to
the president and the American people correct European intelligence,
derived from the _Leyden Gazette_ instead of through the alleged
polluted channel of English newspapers. But it soon became the vehicle
of bitter attacks upon all measures of the administration which did not
originate with, or were approved by, Mr. Jefferson; and the character of
the secretary became thereby seriously compromised before the American
people. He was charged, with great plausibility, with being the author
of many anonymous political articles in Freneau's paper; but he solemnly
declared the accusation to be untrue.

Congress adjourned on the eighth of May. During the session, Washington
had for the first time exercised the veto power intrusted to the
president by the constitution. The occasion was the passage of an
apportionment bill based upon the census of the population of the United
States, lately taken, which in its provisions appeared to conflict with
the constitution. That instrument provided that the representatives
should not exceed one for every thirty thousand persons. This ratio
would leave a fraction in each state (in some more, in some less)
unrepresented. To obviate this difficulty, the senate originated a bill
which exhibited a new principle of apportionment. It assumed as a basis
the total population of the United States, and not the population of
separate states, as that upon which the whole number of representatives
should be determined. This aggregate was divided by thirty thousand. The
quotient giving one hundred and twenty as the number of representatives,
that number was apportioned upon the several states according to their
population, allotting to each one member for every thirty thousand, and
distributing the remaining members, to make up the one hundred and
twenty, among the states having the largest fractions. After much
debate, the house concurred in the senate's bill, and it was submitted
to the president for his signature. The only question that arose was as
to its constitutionality. The president consulted his cabinet.
Jefferson and Randolph decided that it was unconstitutional; Knox could
not express a definite opinion; and Hamilton rather favored the bill.
After due deliberation Washington returned it with his objections. "A
few of the hottest friends of the bill," says Jefferson in his Anas,
"expressed passion, but the majority were satisfied; and both in and out
of doors," he rather ill-naturedly added, "it gave pleasure to have at
length an instance of the negative being exercised."

The distractions in his cabinet, the increasing virulence of party
spirit continually manifested in Congress, and the cares of government,
began to make Washington thoroughly weary of public life, and early in
1792 he resolved to retire from it at the end of the term for which he
had been elected to the presidency. He had more than a year to serve;
but he determined to let his resolution be made known to the public at
an early day. He first announced it to his nearest friends and
associates. Among these were Jefferson and Madison, the latter a
representative from Virginia, and then taking the position of a
republican leader in the house. To Jefferson, Washington had opened his
mind on the subject as early as the close of February, at the same time
saying that he should consider it unfortunate if his retirement should
cause that of other great officers of the government. At that time, the
president was becoming painfully aware that the differences in his
cabinet were systematic, instead of incidental as at first.

With Madison, Washington held frequent conversations upon the subject of
his retirement, but nothing definite was determined when they left
Philadelphia at the close of the session. The president went so far,
however, as to ask Madison to revolve this subject in his mind, and
advise him as to the proper time and the best mode of announcing his
intention to the people. But Madison always urged him to relinquish the
idea for the public good, and Jefferson desired him to remain in office
for the same reason.

Congress having adjourned on Tuesday, the eighth of May, on the tenth
Washington set out alone for Mount Vernon, leaving his family in
Philadelphia. He carried with him several copies of Paine's _Rights of
Man_, already alluded to, fifty of which he received from the author a
day or two before he left Philadelphia.[36] With peculiar delight he sat
down amid the cool shadows and quiet retreats of his loved home on the
Potomac, at the season of flowers; and the desire to leave the turmoils
of public life appears to have taken hold of him with a strength which
he had never felt before. He resolved to be governed by his
inclinations; and on the twentieth he wrote to Madison, announcing his
intention in unequivocal terms, and repeating the request for advice
which he had made before leaving Philadelphia.

"I have not been unmindful," he said, "of the sentiments expressed by
you in the conversations just alluded to. On the contrary, I have again
and again revolved them with thoughtful anxiety, but without being able
to dispose my mind to a longer continuation in the office I have now the
honor to hold.... Nothing but a conviction that my declining the chair
of government, if it should be the desire of the people to continue me
in it, would involve the country in serious disputes respecting the
chief magistrate, and the disagreeable consequences which might result
therefrom in the floating and divided opinions which seem to prevail at
present, could in any wise induce me to relinquish the determination I
have formed.... Under these impressions, then, permit me to reiterate
the request I made to you at our last meeting, namely, to think of the
proper time and the best mode of announcing the intention, and that you
would prepare the latter. In revolving this subject myself, my judgment
has always been embarrassed.... I would fain carry my request to you
further than is asked above, although I am sensible it would add to your
trouble. But as the recess may afford you leisure, and as I flatter
myself you have dispositions to oblige me, I will without apology
desire, if the measure in itself should strike you as proper, or likely
to produce public good or private honor, that you would turn your
thoughts to a Valedictory Address from me to the public."

He desired Madison to express, "in plain and modest terms," his
feelings: That having endeavored to do his duty in the office he held,
and age coming on apace, he desired to retire to private life, believing
that rotation in the elective offices might be more congenial with the
ideas of the people, of liberty and safety--that with such views, he
took leave of them as a public man, and invoked the continuance of every
blessing of Providence upon his country, "and upon all those who are the
supporters of its interests, and the promoters of harmony, order, and
good government."

Washington then suggested four topics to be remarked upon, as follows:
First, That we are all children of the same country, great and rich, and
capable of being as prosperous and happy as any which the annals of
history exhibit; and that the people have all an equal interest in the
great concerns of the nation. Second, That the extent of our country,
the diversity of our climate and soil, and the various productions of
the states, are such as to make one part not only convenient, but
indispensable to other parts, and may render the whole one of the most
independent nations in the world. Third, That the government, being the
work of the people, and having the mode and power of amendment engrafted
upon the constitution, may, by the exercise of forbearance, wisdom, good
will, and experience, be brought as near perfection as any human
institution has ever been; and therefore, that the only strife should
be, who should be foremost in facilitating and finally accomplishing
such great and desirable objects, by giving every possible support and
cement to the Union. Fourth, "That, however necessary it may be to keep
a watchful eye over public servants and public measures, yet there ought
to be limits to it; for suspicions unfounded and jealousies too lively
are irritating to honest feelings, and oftentimes are productive of more
evil than good."

With these general hints, Washington left the matter in Madison's
hands. At the same time, he asked that friend to give him hints also as
to "fit subjects for communication" in his next annual message to
Congress. In all this we see the acts of an eminently wise man, intent
solely upon the public good, seeking aid in his arduous labors from
those in whom he had confidence.

A month later, Madison replied to the president's letter, giving his
opinion, that if he was determined to retire, it would be expedient and
highly proper for him to put forth a valedictory address through the
public prints; at the same time he expressed a hope that Washington
would "reconsider the measure in all its circumstances and
consequences," and that he would acquiesce in one more sacrifice, severe
as it might be, to the desires and interests of his country. With the
letter Madison sent a draft of an address, and in reference to it
remarked: "You will readily observe that, in executing it, I have aimed
at that plainness and modesty of language which you had in view, and
which indeed are so peculiarly becoming the character and the occasion;
and that I had little more to do, as to the matter, than to follow the
just and comprehensive outline which you had sketched. I flatter myself,
however, that in everything which has depended on me, much improvement
will be made before so interesting a paper shall have taken its last

In a letter to the president, written on the twenty-third of May,
Jefferson expressed his concern at the determination of the president.
"When you first mentioned to me your purpose of retiring from the
government," he said, "though I felt all the magnitude of the event, I
was in a considerable degree silent. I knew that to such a mind as yours
persuasion was idle and impertinent; that, before forming your decision,
you had weighed all the reasons for and against the measure, had made up
your mind in full view of them, and that there could be little hope of
changing the result. Pursuing my reflections, too, I knew we were some
day to try to walk alone, and, if the essay should be made while you
should be alive and looking on, we should derive confidence from that
circumstance and resource if it failed. The public mind, too, was then
calm and confident, and therefore in a favorable state for making an
experiment. But the public mind is no longer so confident and serene,
and that for causes in which you are no way personally mixed." He then
went on at great length in denunciation of the funding system, as one
calculated and even _intended_ to "corrupt the legislature," and as the
chief instrument in efforts to establish a monarchical and
aristocratical government upon the ruins of the confederation--of
preparing the way "for a change from the present republican form of
government to that of a monarchy, of which the English constitution is
to be the model." He then said:--

     "The confidence of the whole Union is centred in you. Your being at
     the helm will be more than an answer to every argument which can be
     used to alarm and lead the people in any quarter into violence and
     secession. North and South will hang together if they have you to
     hang on; and if the first corrective of a numerous representation
     should fail in its effects, your presence will give time for trying
     others, not inconsistent with the union and peace of the states.

     "I am perfectly aware of the oppression under which your present
     office lays your mind, and with the ardor with which you pant for
     domestic life. But there is sometimes an eminence of character on
     which society have such peculiar claims as to control the
     predilections of the individual for a particular walk of happiness,
     and restrain him to that alone arising from the present and future
     benedictions of mankind. This seems to be your condition, and the
     law imposed on you by Providence in forming your character, and
     fashioning the events on which it was to operate; and it is to
     motives like these, and not to personal anxieties of mine or others
     who have no right to call on you for sacrifices, that I appeal, and
     urge a revisal of it, on the ground of change in the aspect of
     things. Should an honest majority result from a new and enlarged
     representation; should those acquiesce whose principles or
     interests they may control, your wishes for retirement would be
     gratified with less danger, as soon as that shall be manifest,
     without awaiting the completion of the second term of four years.
     One or two sessions will determine the crisis; and I can not but
     hope that you can resolve to add more to the many years you have
     already sacrificed to the good of mankind."[37]

These were wise and patriotic words, and, no doubt, had much effect upon
Washington's mind. The critical state of public affairs, the growing
animosities of party spirit, the urgent pleadings of all his friends,
the ardent desires of the people in all parts of the country, and his
willingness to serve his country in any hour of her need, caused him, as
usual, to sacrifice personal inclinations to the public welfare, and he
consented to be a candidate for re-election.

Washington made a verbal reply to Mr. Jefferson's letter when he met him
in Philadelphia. He dissented from most of the secretary's views of
public policy, and defended the assumption of the state debts and the
excise law. As to the United States bank, he did not believe that
discontents concerning it were found far from the seat of government. He
assured Mr. Jefferson that he had spoken with many people in Maryland
and Virginia during his late journey, and found them contented and
happy. According to notes made by Mr. Jefferson at the time, he and the
president had a friendly discussion of the whole matter. Washington was
very decided in his opinions, having weighed the subject with his sound
judgment. But his words had no effect upon Jefferson.


[34] _Washington in Private Life_, by Richard Rush.

[35] _Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington_, page 419.

[36] In his letter accompanying the books, Paine remarked: "The work has
had a run beyond any thing that has been published in this country on
the subject of government, and the demand continues. In Ireland it has
had a much greater. A letter I received from Dublin, tenth of May,
mentioned that the fourth edition was then on sale. I know not what
number of copies were printed at each edition, except the second, which
was ten thousand. The same fate follows me here as I _at first_
experienced in America--strong friends and violent enemies. But as I
have got the ear of the country, I shall go on, and at least show them,
what is a novelty here, that there can be a person beyond the reach of

[37] Randall's Life of Thomas Jefferson ii 61



Those portions of Jefferson's letter which related to public measures
gave Washington a great deal of pain. They formed the first strong
avowal of his able friend and coadjutor of his deep-seated suspicions of
living conspiracies against the liberties of the United States, and his
opposition to the measures which he considered the implements of treason
in the hands of the conspirators. They were the evidences of a schism in
the president's cabinet which destroyed its unity and prophesied of
serious evils.

Jefferson's correspondence at that period shows the bias of his mind;
and, in the light of subsequent experience, while we view him as a true
patriot, jealous of his country's rights, we can not but regard him as a
monomaniac at that time. He saw in every supporter of Hamilton and his
measures a conspirator, or the dupe of a conspirator; and he seemed,
vain-gloriously, to believe that his own political perceptions were far
keener than those of Washington and all the world beside. To Lafayette
he wrote: "A sect has shown itself among us, who declare they espoused
our constitution, not as a good and sufficient thing in itself, but only
as a step to an English constitution--the only thing good and
sufficient in itself, in their eyes. It is happy for us that these are
preachers without followers, and that our people are firm and constant
in their republican purity. You will wonder to be told that it is from
the eastward chiefly that these champions for a king, lords, and commons
come. They get some important associates from New York, and are puffed
up by a tribe of _Agioteurs_ which have been hatched in a bed of
corruption, made up after the model of their beloved England. Too many
of these stockjobbers and kingjobbers have come into our legislature--or
rather, too many of our legislature have become stockjobbers and
kingjobbers. However, the voice of the people is beginning to make
itself heard, and will probably cleanse their seats at the next

To others he wrote in a similar vein; and he seemed to be constantly
haunted by the ghost of kings, lords, and commons, sitting in the seat
of the republican president and of the popular Congress.

Washington pondered these things with great anxiety, and on the
twenty-ninth of July he wrote a private and confidential letter to
Hamilton, in which he set forth, under twenty-one distinct heads, a
summary of objections to the measures of the administration, drawn
chiefly from Jefferson's letter to the president just alluded to.
"These," he said, "as well as my memory serves me, are the sentiments
which, directly and indirectly, have been disclosed to me. To obtain
light and to pursue truth being my sole aim, and wishing to have before
me explanations of, as well as the complaints on, measures in which the
public interest, harmony, and peace, are so deeply concerned, and my
public conduct so much involved, it is my request, and you would oblige
me by furnishing me with your ideas upon the discontents here
enumerated; and for this purpose I have thrown them into heads, or
sections, and numbered them, that those ideas may be applied to the
correspondent numbers."

Hamilton answered in the required form on the eighteenth of August. "You
will observe here and there," he remarked in his preface, "some
severity appears. I have not fortitude enough always to bear with
calmness calumnies which necessarily include me, as a principal agent in
the measures censured, of the falsehood of which I have the most
unqualified consciousness. I trust I shall always be able to bear as I
ought imputations of errors of judgment; but I acknowledge that I can
not be entirely patient under charges which impeach the integrity of my
public motives or conduct. I feel that I merit them _in no degree_; and
expressions of indignation sometimes escape me in spite of every effort
to suppress them. I rely on your goodness for the proper allowances."

He then, under the head of _Objections and answers respecting the
administration of the government_, ably justified all measures which
distinguished that administration. When treating upon the charges that
"the funding of the debt had furnished effectual means of corruption of
such a portion of the legislature as turned the balance between the
honest voters whichever way it was directed," he manifested much
indignation. "This is one of those assertions," he said, "which can only
be denied, and pronounced to be malignant and false. No facts exist to
support it. The asserters assume to themselves, and to those who think
with them, infallibility. Take their words for it, they are the only
honest men in the community." "As far as I know," he said, "there is not
a member of the legislature who can properly be called a stockjobber or
a paper-dealer. There are several of them who were proprietors of public
debt in various ways; some for money lent and property furnished for the
use of the public during the war, others for sums received in payment of
debts; and it is supposable enough that some of them had been purchasers
of the public debt, with intention to hold it as a valuable and
convenient property, considering an honorable provision for it as a
matter of course.

     "It is a strange perversion of ideas, and as novel as it is
     extraordinary, that men should be deemed corrupt and
     criminal for becoming proprietors in the funds of their
     country. Yet I believe the number of members of Congress is
     very small who have ever been considerable proprietors in
     the funds. As to improper speculations on measures
     depending before Congress, I believe never was any body of
     men freer from them."

To the charge that the federalists contemplated the establishment of a
monarchy, Hamilton said: "The idea of introducing a monarchy or
aristocracy into this country, by employing the influence and force of a
government continually changing hands towards it, is one of those
visionary things that none but madmen could meditate, and that no wise
man will believe.

     "If it could be done at all, which is utterly incredible, it
     would require a long series of time, certainly beyond the
     life of any individual, to effect it. Who then would enter
     into such a plot? for what purpose of interest or ambition?

     "To hope that the people may be cajoled into giving their
     sanctions to such institutions is still more chimerical. A
     people so enlightened and so diversified as the people of
     this country can surely never be brought to it but from
     convulsions and disorders, in consequence of the arts of
     popular demagogues.

     "The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a
     subversion of the republican system of the country is by
     flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their
     jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into
     confusion and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of
     anarchy or want of government, they may take shelter in the
     arms of monarchy for repose and security."

The rupture between Hamilton and Jefferson was now complete, and the
violence of party spirit manifested by the Gazettes of Fenno and Freneau
was greatly augmented. The latter became more and more personal in his
attacks upon the administration; and Hamilton, who was held up by name
as a monarchist at heart, believing that the assaults originated in the
hostility of Jefferson, in whose office Freneau was employed, at length
turned sharply upon his assailant. Over an anonymous signature he
inquired, in Fenno's paper, whether the government salary given to
Freneau was paid him for translations, or for calumniating those whom
the voice of the nation had called to the administration of public
affairs; whether he was rewarded as a public servant, or as a disturber
of the public peace by false insinuations. "In common life," he said,
"it is thought ungrateful for a man to bite the hand that puts bread in
his mouth; but if a man is hired to do it the case is altered."

Again he said, after giving a history of the establishment of Freneau's
paper: "An experiment somewhat new in the history of political
manoeuvres in this country; a newspaper instituted by a public
officer, and the editor of it regularly pensioned with the public money
in the disposal of that officer.... But, it may be asked, is it possible
that Mr. Jefferson, the head of a principal department of the
government, can be the patron of a paper the evident object of which is
to decry the government and its measures? If he disapproves of the
government itself, and thinks it deserving of his opposition, can he
reconcile it to his own personal dignity and the principles of probity
to hold an office under it, and employ the means of official influence
in that opposition? If he disapproves of the leading measures which have
been adopted in the course of his administration, can he reconcile it
with the principles of delicacy and propriety to hold a place in that
administration, and at the same time to be instrumental in vilifying
measures which have been adopted by majorities of both branches of the
legislature, and sanctioned by the chief magistrate of the Union?"

This brought out an affidavit from Freneau, in which he exculpated Mr.
Jefferson from all complicity in the establishment, the conduct, or the
support of his paper.

The feud between Hamilton and Jefferson gave Washington great concern
and no little mortification. Both ministers discharged the duties of
their respective offices to the entire satisfaction of the president. He
had endeavored, on his own part, not to allow his private views to
interfere with them in the performance of those duties; but he now found
himself compelled to take part in the dispute. That part was the noble
one of pacificator. He desired most earnestly to heal the breach, and on
the twenty-third of August he wrote to Jefferson on the subject. After
referring to the hostilities of the Indians, and the possible intrigues
of foreigners to check the growth of the United States, he said:--

     "How unfortunate and how much to be regretted is it, that while we
     are encompassed on all sides with armed enemies and insidious
     friends, internal dissentions should be harrowing and tearing our
     vitals. The latter, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming,
     and the most afflicting of the two; and, without more charity for
     the opinions and acts of one another in governmental matters, or
     some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative
     opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to
     be forejudged, than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I
     believe it will be difficult, if not impracticable, to manage the
     reins of government, or to keep the parts of it together; for if,
     instead of laying our shoulders to the machine after measures are
     decided on, one pulls this way and another that, before the utility
     of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder,
     and, in my opinion, the fairest prospect of happiness and
     prosperity that ever was presented to man will be lost, perhaps for

     "My earnest wish and my fondest hope, therefore, is that instead of
     wounding suspicions and irritating charges there may be liberal
     allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporizing yieldings on all
     sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly
     and, if possible, more prosperously. Without them, everything must
     rub; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph,
     and, by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may
     accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting.

     "I do not mean to apply this advice or these observations to any
     particular person or character. I have given them in the same
     general terms to other officers of the government; because the
     disagreements, which have arisen from difference of opinion, and
     the attacks which have been made upon almost all the measures of
     government and most of its executive officers, have for a long time
     past filled me with painful sensations, and can not fail, I think,
     of producing unhappy consequences at home and abroad."

To Hamilton he wrote three days afterward, expressing his regret that
subjects could not be discussed with temper on the one hand, or
decisions submitted to without the motives which led to them improperly
implicated on the other. "When matters get to such lengths," he said,
"the natural inference is that both sides have strained the cords beyond
their bearing, and that a middle course would be found the best, until
experience shall have decided on the right way, or (which is not to be
expected, because it is denied to mortals) there shall be some
infallible rule by which we could forejudge events.

"Having premised these things, I would fain hope that liberal allowances
will be made for the political opinions of each other, and, instead of
those wounding suspicions and irritating charges with which some of our
gazettes are so strongly impregnated, and which can not fail, if
persevered in, of pushing matters to extremity and thereby tearing the
machine asunder, that there may be mutual forbearance and temporizing
yielding _on all sides_. Without these, I do not see how the reins of
government are to be managed, or how the union of the states can be much
longer preserved.... My earnest wish is that balsam may be poured into
all the wounds which have been given, to prevent them from gangrening,
and from those fatal consequences which the community may sustain if it
is withheld."

These letters were answered by Hamilton and Jefferson on the same day
(September the ninth), one dated at Philadelphia and the other at
Monticello. "I most sincerely regret," wrote Hamilton, "the causes of
the uneasy sensations you experience. It is my most anxious wish, as far
as may depend upon me, to smooth the path of your administration, and to
render it prosperous and happy. And if any prospect shall open of
healing or terminating the differences which exist, I shall most
cheerfully embrace it, though I consider myself as the deeply injured
party. The recommendation of such a spirit is worthy of the moderation
and wisdom which dictated it. And if your endeavors should prove
unsuccessful, I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, the period
is not remote when the public good will require _substitutes_ for the
_differing members_ of your administration. The continuance of a
division must destroy the energy of government, which will be little
enough with the strictest union. On my part there will be the most
cheerful acquiescence in such a result.

     "I trust, sir, that the greatest frankness has always
     marked, and will always mark, every step of my conduct
     toward you. In this disposition, I can not conceal from you
     that I have had some instrumentality of late in the
     retaliations which have fallen upon certain public
     characters, and that I find myself placed in a situation not
     to be able to recede _for the present_.

     "I considered myself as compelled to this conduct by
     reasons, public as well as personal, of the most cogent
     nature. I _know_ that I have been an object of uniform
     opposition from Mr. Jefferson, from the moment of his coming
     to the city of New York to enter upon his present office. I
     know from the most authentic sources that I have been the
     frequent subject of the most unkind whispers and
     insinuations from the same quarter. I have long seen a
     formed party in the legislature, under his auspices, bent
     upon my subversion. I can not doubt, from the evidence I
     possess, that the _National Gazette_ was instituted by him
     for political purposes, and that one leading object of it
     has been to render me and all the measures connected with my
     department as odious as possible. Nevertheless, I can truly
     say, that, except explanations to confidential friends, I
     never, directly or indirectly, retaliated or countenanced
     retaliation till very lately. I can even assure you that I
     was instrumental in preventing a very severe and systematic
     attack upon Mr. Jefferson by an association of two or three
     individuals, in consequence of the persecution which he
     brought upon the vice-president by his indiscreet and light
     letter to the printer, transmitting Paine's pamphlet.

     "As long as I saw no danger to the government from the
     machinations which were going on, I resolved to be a silent
     sufferer of the injuries which were done me. I determined to
     avoid giving occasion to anything which could manifest to
     the world dissentions among the principal characters of the
     government--a thing which can never happen without weakening
     its hands, and in some degree throwing a stigma upon it.

     "But when I no longer doubted that there was a formed party
     deliberately bent upon the subversion of measures, which in
     its consequences would subvert the government; when I saw
     that the undoing of the funding system in particular (which,
     whatever may be the original merits of that system, would
     prostrate the credit and honor of the nation, and bring the
     government into contempt with that description of men who
     are in every society the only firm supporters of government)
     was an avowed object of the party, and that all possible
     pains were taking to produce that effect by rendering it
     odious to the body of the people, I considered it as a duty
     to endeavor to resist the torrent, and, as an effectual
     means to this end, to draw aside the veil from the principal
     actors. To this strong impulse, to this decided conviction,
     I have yielded, and I think events will prove that I have
     judged rightly.

     "Nevertheless, I pledge my honor to you, sir, that if you
     shall hereafter form a plan to reunite the members of your
     administration upon some steady principle of co-operation, I
     will faithfully concur in executing it during my continuance
     in office; and I will not, directly or indirectly, say or do
     anything that shall endanger a feud."

Mr. Jefferson answered Washington, that no one regretted the dissentions
in the cabinet more than himself. "Though I take to myself," he said,
"no more than my share of the general observations of your letter, yet I
am so desirous even that you should know the whole truth, and believe no
more than the whole truth, that I am glad to seize every occasion of
developing to you whatever I do or think relative to the government, and
shall therefore ask permission to be more lengthy now than the occasion
particularly calls for, or would otherwise, perhaps, justify.

"When I embarked in the government, it was with a determination to
intermeddle not at all with the legislature, and as little as possible
with my co-departments. The first and only instance of variance from the
former part of my resolution I was duped into by the secretary of the
treasury, and made a tool for forwarding his schemes, not then
sufficiently understood by me; and of all the errors of my political
life, this has occasioned me the deepest regret.... If it has been
supposed that I have ever intrigued among the members of the legislature
to defeat the plans of the secretary of the treasury, it is contrary to
all truth.... That I have utterly, in my private conversations,
disapproved of the system of the secretary of the treasury I acknowledge
and avow; and this was not merely a speculative difference. His system
flowed from principles adverse to liberty, and was calculated to
undermine and demolish the republic by creating an influence of his
department over the members of the legislature. I saw this influence
actually produced, and its first fruits to be the establishment of the
great outlines of his project, by the votes of the very persons who,
having swallowed his bait, were laying themselves out to profit by his
plans; and that, had these persons withdrawn, as those interested in a
question ever should, the vote of the disinterested majority was clearly
the reverse of what they made it. These were no longer the votes, then,
of the representatives of the people, but of deserters from the rights
and interests of the people."

Mr. Jefferson then proceeded to justify his opinions and conduct, and to
defend himself against Hamilton's charges in Fenno's paper, which were:
first, that he (Jefferson) had written letters from Europe to his
friends in America to oppose the constitution while it was depending;
second, with a desire not to pay the public debt; third, with setting up
a paper to decry and slander the government. Jefferson pronounced all
these charges false. He declared that no man approved of more of the
constitution than himself--vastly more than Hamilton did; and that he
was ever anxious to pay the public debt. "This," he said, "makes exactly
the difference between Colonel Hamilton's views and my own. I would wish
the debt paid to-morrow; he wishes it never to be paid, but always to be
a thing wherewith to corrupt and manage the legislature."

Mr. Jefferson acknowledged that he favored the establishment of
Freneau's newspaper for reasons already alluded to,[38] because he
thought juster views of European affairs might be obtained through
publications from the _Leyden Gazette_ than any other foreign source.

"On the establishment of his paper," said Mr. Jefferson, "I furnished
him with the _Leyden Gazettes_, with an expression of my wish that he
would always translate and publish the material intelligence they
contained; and I continued to furnish them from time to time, as
regularly as I received them. But as to any other direction or
indication of my wish, how his press should be conducted, what sort
of intelligence he should give, what essays encourage, I can protest,
in the presence of Heaven, that I never did by myself or any other,
directly or indirectly, write, dictate, or procure any one sentiment
or sentence to be inserted _in his or any other gazette_, to which my
name was not affixed, or that of my office."

While Jefferson avowed his desire for harmony in the cabinet, he felt
the lash of Hamilton too keenly to accept reconciliation with him. He
avowed his intention to retire from his office at the close of the
president's term; and intimating an intention to make an appeal to the
country over his own signature, he said: "To a thorough disregard of the
honors and emoluments of office I join as great a value for the esteem
of my countrymen; and conscious of having merited it by an integrity
which can not be reproached, and by an enthusiastic devotion to their
rights and liberty, I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the
slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can
stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of
the country which has not only received and given him bread, but heaped
its honors on his head."[39]

The spirit of Jefferson's letter afforded Washington no hope for
reconciliation between the secretaries. The contrast between his and
Hamilton's was remarkable. Hamilton held affectionate, courteous,
forbearing, and patriotic language toward the president; Jefferson's
exhibited much of the opposite qualities; and his implacable hatred of
the man whom he had scourged into active retaliation is very marked. It
gave Washington great pain, for he had the highest esteem for the

At that time there were grave reasons why officers of the cabinet
should for the moment forget personal difficulties, and come as a unit
to the aid of the president. There were signs of disorder, and violence,
and serious insurrection in the land. The excise law enacted in 1791,
and modified and made less offensive during the last session of
Congress, was yet vehemently opposed in some parts of the country. In
western Pennsylvania, in particular, hostility to it had become the
sentiment of an organized party, and combinations were formed to prevent
the execution of it. A public meeting was held at Pittsburgh on the
twenty-first of August, at which resolutions were adopted disapproving
of the law, and appointing a committee to correspond with other
committees in different parts of the Union on the subject. It was really
a rebellious movement, as the temper of their closing resolution

Information of these proceedings having reached the secretary of the
treasury, he sent to the president all necessary papers on the subject
for his information, assuring him that he should submit to the
attorney-general the question whether the persons composing the meeting
at Pittsburgh had not committed an indictable offence. He gave it as his
opinion that it was expedient to exert the full form of the law against
the offenders. "If this is not done," he said, "the spirit of
disobedience will naturally extend, and the authority of the government
will be prostrated. Moderation enough has been shown: it is time to
assume a different tune." In subsequent letters he recommends the
issuing of a proclamation on the subject by the president, and sent a
draft of one to Washington. The president approved the measure,
submitted it to Jefferson, and on the fifteenth of September he issued a
proclamation, countersigned by the secretary of state, in which he
warned all persons to desist from such unlawful combinations and
proceedings, and requiring all courts, magistrates, and officers to
bring the offenders to justice. Copies of this proclamation were sent to
the governor of Pennsylvania, and also to the chief magistrates of North
and South Carolina, where a similar defiance of law has been manifested.

In this matter Washington proceeded with great prudence and caution. He
felt indignant at the great outrage thus offered to the government, but
was unwilling to employ force while more peaceful measures were left
untried. "I have no doubt," he said, "the proclamation will undergo many
strictures; and, as the effect proposed may not be answered by it, it
will be necessary to look forward in time to ulterior arrangements:"
that is to say, the employment of regular troops as a last resort.

As Washington intimated it might not, the proclamation produced no
salutary effect. Too many of the civil magistrates themselves were
concerned in the insurrectionary movements, and the few who were not
were totally incapable of maintaining the sovereignty of the laws. With
moderation the government instituted legal proceedings against the
offenders; liquors distilled in the rebellious counties were seized on
their way to market by revenue officers; and the agents of the army were
directed to purchase only those spirits upon which a duty had been paid.
Having their interests thus touched, the manufacturers of liquors would
gladly have complied with the laws, but the people would not allow them.
Subsequently, more serious defiance of the laws in western Pennsylvania
compelled the president to order a military force into that region. This
we will consider hereafter.

At the middle of October, Washington made another and last effort to
restore peace to his cabinet. Jefferson had recently returned to
Philadelphia, and his first care was to forward to the president
extracts from his letter written while the adoption of the constitution
was pending, Washington wrote to him on the eighteenth, and said: "I did
not require the evidence of the extracts, which you enclosed to me, to
convince me of your attachment to the constitution of the United States,
or of your disposition to promote the general welfare of this country:
but I regret, deeply regret, the difference in opinions which have
divided you and another principal officer of the government, and I wish
devoutly there would be an accommodation of them by mutual yieldings.

"A measure of this sort would produce harmony and consequent good in our
public councils. The contrary will inevitably introduce confusion and
serious mischiefs--and for what? Because mankind can not think alike,
but would adopt different means to attain the same end. For I will
frankly and solemnly declare, that I believe the views of both of you to
be pure and well meant, and that experience only will decide with
respect to the salutariness of the measures which are the subjects of
dispute. Why, then, when some of the best citizens in the United
States--men of discernment, uniform and tried patriots, who have no
sinister views to promote, but are chaste in their ways of thinking and
acting--are to be found some on one side and some on the other of the
questions which have caused these agitations, should either of you be so
tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowances for those of the
other? I could, and indeed was about to, add more on this interesting
subject, but will forbear, at least for the present, after expressing a
wish that the cup which has been presented to us may not be snatched
from our lips by a discordance of action, when I am persuaded there is
no discordance in your views. I have a great, a sincere esteem and
regard for you both, and ardently wish that some line may be marked out
by which both of you could walk."

Washington's efforts were unavailing. The breach between Hamilton and
Jefferson was too wide and deep to be healed, and the president
determined to check, as much as possible, if he could not control their
hostility. In one thing, however, these men, sincere patriots at heart,
perfectly agreed, namely, a desire that Washington should consent to a
re-election. As we have already observed, such being the universal wish
of the people, Washington reluctantly consented, and he was again chosen
president of the United States by a unanimous vote of the electoral


[38] See page 198

[39] For the correspondence in full, see Hamilton's Works, volume iv;
Sparks's Life and Writings of Washington, volume x; Randall's Life of
Jefferson, volume ii.

[40] The following is the resolution referred to: "That, whereas some
men may be found amongst us, so far lost to every sense of virtue and
feeling for the distresses of this country as to accept offices for the
collection of the duty: _Resolved_, that in future we will consider such
persons as unworthy of our friendship, have no intercourse or dealings
with them, withdraw from them every assistance, withhold all the
comforts of life which depend upon those duties that as men and
fellow-citizens we owe to each other, and upon all occasions treat them
with that contempt they deserve; and that it be, and is hereby, most
earnestly recommended to the people at large to follow the same line of
conduct toward them."


    TO AID.

The foreign relations of the United States were at this time peculiar
and somewhat anomalous. Popular sentiment, the expression of the
sovereignty of the nation, was mixed in character and yet crude in form,
and it was difficult to discern precisely in what relation it stood to
the disturbed nationalities of Europe. Separated from the old world by a
vast ocean, the public mind here was not so immediately and powerfully
acted upon by passing events as it would have been, if only an imaginary
line of political demarcation had been drawn between the new republic
and convulsed communities; and its manifestations were less
demonstrative than implied.

All Europe was effervescing with antagonistic ideas; and the wisest and
the best men in the old world stood in wonder and awe in the midst of
the upheaval of social and political systems that were hoary with age,
and apparently as settled in their places as the oceans and continents.
France, the old ally and friend of the United States, was the centre of
the volcanic force that was shaking the nations; and with instinctive
motion the potentates, alarmed for the stability of their thrones, had
assumed the attitude of implacable enemies to the new power that was
bearing rule in that kingdom. As the car of revolution rolled onward,
carrying King Louis to the scaffold, they felt the hot breath of
avenging justice upon their own foreheads, and they called out their
legions for defence and to utter a solemn and effective protest. The
people were awed in the presence of gleaming bayonets. In the autumn of
1792, nearly all Europe was in arms against France.

In the United States, where revolution had done its work nobly and
wisely, and the experiment of self-government was working successfully,
sympathy for the struggling people of France and of all Europe was
powerful and untrammelled. Without inquiry, it cheered on the patriots
of France, with Lafayette at their head, when they were struggling for a
constitution; and when it was gained, and the king accepted it, great
satisfaction was felt by every American citizen in whose bosom glowed
the love of freedom for its own sake. With this feeling was mingled a
dislike of Great Britain; first, because the remembrance of her
oppression and her warfare against the independence of the United States
were fresh in the minds of the American people; secondly, because her
government yet refused compliance with the terms of a solemn treaty made
ten years before; and, thirdly, because her attitude was hostile to the
republican movement in France. Thus old alliances and old hatreds, and a
desire to see all people free, made those of the United States
sympathize strongly with those of France in their revolutionary
movements, and to hate the enemies of that nation in its avowed struggle
for liberty.

But there were wise, and prudent, and thoughtful men in the United
States, who had made the science of government a study, and human nature
their daily reading, who perceived principles of self-destruction in the
French constitution. They saw its want of balances, and the course of
the representatives under it, which must inevitably allow the gallery to
rule the legislature, and mobs to give color to the opinions of the
executive. They clearly perceived, what Lafayette and his compatriots
had already deeply lamented, that the true elements of self-government
did not belong to the French nation; that with liberty they were rapidly
degenerating into licentiousness; and that the constitution must prove
as powerless as a rope of sand in restraining the passions of the
people. And some of them, as we have seen, who wrote or spoke in favor
of a well-balanced and potent government were branded by ungenerous men
as the advocates of royalty and aristocracy, and held up to the people
as traitors to republicanism, and fit subjects for the finger of scorn
to point at. They were charged with blind prejudice in favor of British
institutions, and as conspirators for the re-establishment of British
rule in America. But the conservative or federal party, as they were
called, were more powerful if not so numerous as their opponents; and
when Europe armed against the old ally of the United States, the
government of the latter, professedly representing the popular
sentiment, was so restrained by the wise caution of those who held the
sceptre of political power, that it presented the anomalous character of
a warm-hearted, deeply-sympathizing champion of freedom, apparently in
the ranks of the enemies of liberty.

Washington had hailed with satisfaction the dawn of popular liberty in
France, and earnestly desired the success of those who were working for
the establishment of republicanism there; but his wisdom and sagacity
evidently made him doubtful of their success, even from the beginning.
In the course of his correspondence, we find him often expressing
earnest _wishes_ for the happy results concerning which Lafayette had
dreamed so fondly, but he never expressed a _hope_, because he never
felt it; and when, in the summer and autumn of 1792, the Revolution in
France assumed a bloody and ferocious character, and the noble goal
toward which his friend the marquis had so enthusiastically pressed was
utterly lost sight of in the midst of the lurid smoke of a
self-constituted tyranny, as bad in feature and act as the foulest on
history's records, he was disgusted, and with the conservative party,
then fortunately holding the reins of executive and legislative power,
he resolved that the government of the United States should stand aloof
from all entanglements with European politics.

The doctrines of Jefferson and his party, having sympathy with the
French Revolution and enmity to Great Britain among its prime elements,
was rapidly gaining ground in the United States, because the avowed
principles of that party were in accordance with the proclivities of the
great mass of the people, who were moved by passion rather than by
reason. Yet that very people, although aware of the sentiments of
Washington and his supporters in the government, re-elected him by
unanimous voice, thereby showing their great love for, and unbounded
confidence in, the man of men. John Adams, who was again a candidate for
the vice-presidency, was opposed by Governor George Clinton of New York,
and was elected by not a large majority. He received in the electoral
college seventy votes, and Clinton fifty. The Kentucky electors voted
for Jefferson for the same office, and one vote was cast by a South
Carolina delegate for Aaron Burr.

We have just hinted at the progress of violence in France in the autumn
of 1792. Let us take a nearer view for a moment; for such scrutiny is
necessary to the elucidation of political events in the United States a
few months later.

Gouverneur Morris, who, as we have seen, was sent on a semi-official
embassy to England, was appointed full minister at the French court,
after Jefferson's retirement from that post. Mr. Morris was a
federalist, and his appointment was not pleasant to Mr. Jefferson and
his political friends. With Morris's commission, the president wrote a
friendly, and at the same time admonitory, letter to the new minister.
He frankly enumerated all the objections that had been made to his
appointment, and intimated that he thought the charge of his being a
favorite with the aristocracy in France, and anti-republican in his
sentiments, especially as regarded the French Revolution, were too well
founded upon the tenor of his conduct. "Not to go further into detail,"
he said, "I will place the ideas of your political adversaries in the
light in which their arguments have presented them to me, namely: that
the promptitude with which your lively and brilliant imagination
displays itself allows too little time for deliberation and correction,
and is the primary cause of those sallies which too often offend, and of
that ridicule of character which begets enmity not easy to be
forgotten, but which might easily be avoided if it were under the
control of more caution and prudence. In a word, that it is
indispensably necessary that more circumspection should be observed by
our representatives abroad than they conceive you are inclined to adopt.
In this statement you have the _pros_ and _cons_. By reciting them I
give you a proof of my friendship, if I give none of my policy or
judgment. I do it on the presumption that a mind conscious of its own
rectitude fears not what is said of it, but will bid defiance to shafts,
that are not baited with accusations against honor or integrity. Of my
good opinion and of my friendship and regard you may be assured."

Count de Moustier had been succeeded as French minister to the United
States by M. Ternant, a more agreeable gentleman; and diplomatic
intercourse had been opened with Great Britain, by the arrival of Mr.
Hammond as minister plenipotentiary of that government, in the previous
autumn, and the appointment, on the part of the United States, of Thomas
Pinckney, of South Carolina, as minister to the court of St. James. Mr.
Hammond was the first minister Great Britain had deigned to send to the
United States, and John Adams was the only person who had been sent in
the same capacity from his government to the British court. For some
years there had been no diplomatic intercourse between the two

Mr. Morris arrived in Paris, in May, 1792, and on the second of June he
was introduced to the king and queen. Two days afterward he presented a
letter from the president to his majesty--a letter which, according to
Morris, gave several members of the _corps diplomatique_ a high idea of
Washington's wisdom. "It is not relished by the democrats," Morris wrote
to the president, "who particularly dislike the term '_your people_;'
but it suits well the prevailing temper, which is monarchical." Mr.
Morris was very active in his duties there; and while he communicated
officially to Jefferson and Hamilton everything necessary for them to
know, he kept Washington constantly apprized, by both public and private
letters, of the true state of affairs in France, His accounts revealed
shocking scenes of anarchy and licentiousness in the French capital. He
truly represented that Lafayette, in endeavoring to check excesses, had
lost his popularity. "Were he to appear just now in Paris," he wrote,
"unattended by his army, he would be torn to pieces." These tidings gave
Washington great concern; while Jefferson, because of the gloomy future
which these letters foreshadowed and the unfavorable commentary which
they made upon the French Revolution, was very impatient. With his blind
devotion to democracy, and his ungenerous judgment concerning all who
differed from him, he spoke of Morris as "a high-flying monarchy man,
shutting his eyes and his faith to every fact against his wishes, and
believing everything he desired to be true," and keeping the president's
mind "constantly poisoned with his forebodings."

Almost the next vessel from Europe rebuked these unfair expressions, by
confirming the most gloomy anticipations of Morris. Anarchy had seized
upon unhappy France. From the head of his army at Maubeuge, Lafayette
had sent a letter to the National Assembly, denouncing in unmeasured
terms the conduct of the Jacobin club as inimical to the king and
constitution; but it was of no avail. Day after day the disorder in the
capital increased; and on the twentieth of June the populace, one
hundred thousand in number, professedly incensed because the king had
refused to sanction a decree of the National Assembly against the
priesthood, and another for the establishment of a camp of twenty
thousand men near Paris, marched to the Tuilleries with pikes, swords,
muskets, and artillery, and demanded entrance. The gates were finally
thrown open, and at least forty thousand armed men went through the
palace and compelled the king, in the presence of his family, to put the
_bonnet rouge_, or red cap of liberty, upon his head.

Hearing of these movements, Lafayette hastened to Paris, presented
himself at the bar of the National Assembly, and in the name of the army
demanded the punishment of those who had thus insulted the king in his
palace and violated the constitution. But he was powerless. A party had
determined to abolish royalty. On the third of August, _Pelíon_, in the
Assembly, demanded that the king should be excluded from the throne.
The unhappy monarch, perceiving the destructive storm that was
impending, endeavored on the sixth to escape from the Tuilleries in the
garb of a peasant. He was discovered by a sentinel, and all Paris was
thrown into the greatest commotion. Two days afterward the Assembly, by
a handsome majority, acquitted Lafayette of serious charges made against
him by the Jacobins. The populace were dissatisfied, and, as they could
not touch the general, they determined that the king whom he supported
should be deposed. Members of the assembly who had voted in favor of
Lafayette were insulted by armed men who surrounded the legislative
hall; and the national legislature declared their sitting permanent
until order should be restored.

At midnight on the ninth of August the tocsin was sounded in every
quarter, and the _generale_ was beat. Early the next morning the
Tuilleries were attacked by the populace, and the king and his family,
attended by the Swiss guard, fled for protection to the National
Assembly. In the conflict that ensued nearly every man of that guard was
butchered, and the National Assembly decreed the suspension of the
king's authority.

Monarchy in France was now overthrown, and with it fell Lafayette and
the constitutional party. All were involved in one common ruin. The
Jacobins denounced the marquis in the National Assembly, procured a
decree for his arrest, and sent emissaries to seize him. Then the Reign
of Terror was inaugurated.

At first Lafayette resolved to go to Paris and boldly confront his
accusers. It would have been madness. He perceived it, and, yielding to
the force of circumstances, set off from his camp at Sedan, with a few
faithful friends, to seek a temporary asylum in Holland until he could
make his way to the United States. But he and his companions were first
detained at Rochefort, the first Austrian post, and afterward cast into
a dungeon at Olmutz.

When intelligence of these events reached Washington he was greatly
shocked, and the sad fate of his friend grieved him sorely. Every
arrival from Europe brought tidings still more dreadful than the last.
"We have had a week of unchecked murders," Morris wrote to Jefferson on
the tenth of September, "in which some thousands have perished in this
city. It began with two or three hundred of the clergy, who had been
shut up because they would not take the oaths prescribed by the law, and
which they said were contrary to their conscience. Thence _these
executors of speedy justice_ went to the _Abbaye_, where the persons
were confined who were at court on the tenth of August. These were
despatched also, and afterward they visited the other prisons. All those
who were confined either on the accusation or suspicion of crimes were

Morris then detailed other horrors; yet Mr. Jefferson, looking upon the
whole movement against monarchy and aristocracy as essentially right,
and based upon the same principles as that of the American Revolution,
persisted in regarding the Jacobins, who were the chief promoters of
these bloody deeds, and who had laid violent hands on the constitution
and its supporters, as "republican patriots." He was shocked, but was
neither disappointed nor very sorrowful. He looked upon the whole affair
as an indispensable struggle of freemen in the abolition of monarchy and
all its prerogatives and injustice; and he deplored the death of the
innocent who had fallen, but only as he should have done "had they
fallen in battle." "The liberty of the whole earth," he said, "was
depending on the issue of the contest; and was ever such a prize won
with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply
wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause," he continued; "but rather
than that it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth
desolated. Were there but an Adam and Eve left in every country, and
left free, it would have been better than it now is."

When fully assured of Lafayette's fate, Washington felt an ardent desire
to befriend his family, consisting of his wife and young children. He
knew that their situation, in the raging storm, must be dreadful at the
best; and on the first information of their probable residence, at the
close of January, 1793, he addressed the following letter to the

     "If I had words that could convey to you an adequate idea of my
     feelings on the present situation of the Marquis de Lafayette,
     this letter would appear to you in a different garb. The sole
     object in writing to you now is, to inform you that I have
     deposited in the hands of Mr. Nicholas Van Staphorst, of Amsterdam,
     two thousand three hundred and ten guilders, Holland currency,
     equal to two hundred guineas, subject to your orders.

     "This sum is, I am certain, the least I am indebted for services
     rendered to me by the Marquis de Lafayette, of which I never yet
     have received the account. I could add much; but it is best,
     perhaps, that I should say little on this subject. Your goodness
     will supply my deficiency.

     "The uncertainty of your situation, after all the inquiries I have
     made, has occasioned a delay in this address and remittance; and,
     even now, the measure adopted is more the effect of a desire to
     find where you are, than from any knowledge I have obtained of your

Soon after this letter was despatched, Washington received one from the
marchioness, dated at Chavaniac on the eighth of October, 1792, which
came by the way of England. It was accompanied by a letter from an
English farmer who had resided several months in the family of
Lafayette, in which, speaking of the marchioness, he said: "Her present
situation is truly affecting; separated from her husband without the
means of hearing from him, herself in captivity under the safeguard of
the municipality, she is anxiously expecting the decision of his and her
own destiny. Under these circumstances, she relies on your influence to
adopt such measures as may effectuate their mutual freedom."

The marchioness was then a prisoner, in utter ignorance of the real fate
of her husband. She had been commanded by the Jacobins to repair to
Paris about the time when the attack was made upon the Tuilleries and
the destruction of the Swiss guard; but they subsequently allowed her to
reside at the place from which her letter was dated. In that letter she
made a solemn appeal to Washington and the nation to aid her in
procuring the liberty of her husband. "He was taken by the troops of the
emperor," she said, "although the king of Prussia retains him a prisoner
in his dominions. And while he suffers this inconceivable persecution
from the enemies without, the faction which reigns within keeps me a
hostage at one hundred and twenty leagues from the capital. Judge, then,
at what distance I am from him. In this abyss of misery, the idea of
owing to the United States and to Washington the life and liberty of M.
de Lafayette kindles a ray of hope in my heart. I hope everything from
the goodness of the people with whom he has set an example of that
liberty of which he is now made the victim. And shall I dare speak what
I hope? I would ask of them through you for an envoy, who shall go to
reclaim him in the name of the republic of the United States wheresoever
he may be found, and who shall be authorized to make, with the power in
whose charge he may be placed, all necessary engagements for his
release, and for taking him to the United States, even if he is there to
be guarded as a captive. If his wife and his children could be comprised
in this mission, it is easy to judge how happy it would be for her and
for them; but if this would in the least degree retard or embarrass the
measure, we will defer still longer the happiness of a reunion. May
Heaven deign to bless the confidence with which it has inspired me! I
hope my request is not a rash one."

Washington was powerless to aid his friend. His heart yearned to do so,
but there were no means that, in the then political condition of Europe,
could be used with any hope of success, except giving unofficial
instructions to American ministers abroad to make every effort in their
power to procure his release, and this was done. "The United States,"
says Sparks, "had neither authority to make _demands_, nor power to
enforce them. They had no immediate intercourse with Prussia or Austria,
and were in no condition to ask the favors or avenge the tyranny of the
rulers of those countries, who were only responsible for the treatment
of Lafayette, and whose pleasure it was, if not their policy and
interest, to keep him in chains."

The whole matter was very painful to Washington, especially as a great
delay in his letter made the marchioness feel that she was neglected by
her husband's dearest friend, and that husband deserted by the nation
for whose freedom he had so nobly fought. Referring to a former letter,
she said:--

     "Has this letter reached you? Was it necessary that it should
     arrive to excite your interest? I can not believe it. But I confess
     that your silence, and the abandonment of M. de Lafayette and his
     family for the last six months, are of all our evils the most
     inexplicable to me." Then assuring Washington that the fate of her
     husband was in a measure in the hands of the president and
     government of the United States, and that she, not allowed to have
     any communication with him, could do nothing for him, she said, "I
     will only add that my confidence in General Washington, though
     severely tried, remains firm, and that I dare make to him a tender
     of my homage, and of my high esteem of his character."

Although Lafayette was a citizen of the United States, an American
officer, and no more in the French service, his adopted government could
do nothing effectual in his behalf, and for three years he lay in the
dungeon at Olmutz. His wife and daughter were permitted to share his
dungeon life; and finally his eldest son, bearing the name of
Washington, came to seek an asylum in the United States. His reception
here we shall consider hereafter.



When the last session of the second Congress commenced in Philadelphia
on the fifth of November, 1792, ominous clouds were gathering in the
political horizon, which gave Washington many apprehensions of an
impending storm. Party spirit was growing more and more violent; war
with the Indians in the Northwest was progressing; discontents with the
operations of the excise laws were assuming alarming aspects; the
attitude of the European governments brought serious questions to those
who controlled public affairs in the United States; and the cabinet,
where unity of feeling was necessary in order to counsel the president
well, was yet torn by dissentions, with no prospect of their being

There was much apparent good feeling among the members of Congress when
they first met, but action upon public business soon aroused party
spirit in all its rancor. It was first summoned from its sleep by a
motion for the secretaries of war and of the treasury to attend the
house, and give such information as they might possess concerning the
conduct of the Indian war in the Northwest, with which there was much
public dissatisfaction. This proposition raised a cry of alarm from
those in the house opposed to the administration. It was resisted as
unconstitutional, and threatening to subject the house to executive
influence that might be dangerous--that heads of departments would
control the legislature.

A motion to refer the portion of the president's message relating to the
redemption of the public debt to the secretary of the treasury, to
report a plan, called forth still more angry opposition, and Jefferson's
charges of corruption were heard on every side. The secretary of the
treasury was violently assailed; and dark insinuations were made that
members of the house were implicated with Hamilton in dishonest
proceedings in relation to the assumption of state debts, the operation
of the Indian war, etc. And when Hamilton, in his report, offered a
scheme for the redemption of the public debt that effectually silenced
the clamors of his enemies, who had insisted that he regarded that debt
as a public blessing and meant to fix it upon the country as an incubus,
they changed their plans of opposition.

They called upon the president first for particular information as to
the several sums of money borrowed by his authority, the terms of the
loans, and the application of the money. These questions being
explicitly answered, another call was made by an unscrupulous member of
the opposition, from Virginia, for more minute information upon
financial matters. He made an elaborate speech in presenting the motion,
in which, in effect, he charged the secretary of the treasury with being
a defaulter to the amount of a million and a half of dollars! Other
charges having a similar bearing upon the integrity of Hamilton were
made, and the administration was most foully aspersed. The
speaker--acting, it was believed, under the influence of his superiors
in office--based his charges upon the letter of returns and other
treasury statements.

These charges were met by Hamilton in a calm and dignified report, which
ought to have disarmed malignity and made implacable party spirit hide
its head in shame. It was baffled for a moment, but not dismayed; and,
selecting points in the secretary's management of the financial
concerns of the government, the accuser already alluded to proceeded to
frame nine resolutions of censure, for which he asked the vote of the
house. The result was, says a careful and candid historian, "much to
raise the character of the secretary of the treasury, by convincing the
great body of impartial men, capable of understanding the subject, that,
both as regarded talent and integrity, he was admirably qualified for
his office, and that the multiplied charges against him had been
engendered by envy, suspicion, and ignorance."[41]

Up to this time, the opposition had not ventured to show any disrespect
to Washington. He had wisely avoided assuming in any degree the
character of a leader of a party, and had labored with conscientious
zeal for the public good, without the least regard to private
friendships, or with feelings of enmity toward personal friends who had
deserted his administration. Madison was now a leader of the opposition,
yet Washington esteemed him none the less, because he believed him to be
honest and patriotic.

But now, party rancor was gradually usurping the place of that
veneration which every man felt for the character of Washington; and
that jealousy of everything aristocratic in fact or appearance which was
at that moment inaugurating a republic in France, with a baptism of
blood, hesitated not to show personal disrespect to the president. The
people in different parts of the Union, with spontaneous affection,
prepared to celebrate the birthday of Washington on the twenty-second of
February, 1793, with balls, parties, visits of congratulation, etc. Many
members of Congress were desirous of waiting upon the president, in
testimony of their respect for the chief magistrate of the republic, and
a motion was made to adjourn for half an hour for that purpose, when
quite an acrimonious debate ensued. The opposition, with real or feigned
alarm, denounced the proposition as a species of homage unworthy of
republicans; a tendency to monarchy; the setting up of an idol for
hero-worship, dangerous to the liberties of the nation! Freneau's paper
condemned the birthday celebration; and in view of the great dangers to
which the republic was exposed by the monarchical bias of many leading
men, a New Jersey member of the republican party in the house moved that
the mace carried by the marshall on state occasions--"an unmeaning
symbol, unworthy the dignity of a republican government"--be sent to the
mint, broken up, and the silver coined and placed in the treasury. The
peculiar state of public feeling at that time, irritated by prophets of
evil, affords a reasonable excuse for these jealousies.

Washington was not unmindful of these signs, and the necessity of paying
due respect even to the prejudices of the people; and as the time for
his second inauguration was drawing near, he asked the opinions of his
cabinet concerning the forms to be used on that occasion. Jefferson and
Hamilton proposed that he should take the oath of office privately at
his own house, a certificate of the fact to be deposited in the state
department. Knox and Randolph proposed to have the ceremony in public,
but without any ostentatious display. Washington's opinion coincided
with the latter; and at a cabinet meeting held on the first of March,
Mr. Jefferson being the only absentee, it was agreed that the oath
should be administered by Judge Cushing, of the supreme court of the
United States, in public, in the senate chamber, on the fourth of the
month, at twelve o'clock at noon, and that the "president go without
form, attended by such gentlemen as he shall choose, and return without
form except that he be preceded by the marshall."

Accordingly, a little before twelve o'clock, the president rode from his
residence to the Congress hall in his cream-colored coach drawn by six
horses, preceded by the marshall, as proposed, and accompanied by a
great concourse of citizens, and took the oath in the senate chamber.
The heads of departments, foreign ministers, members of Congress, and as
many spectators as could find room in the apartment, were present.
Previous to the administration of the oath by Judge Cushing, Washington
arose and said:--

     "Fellow-citizens: I am again called upon by the voice of my country
     to execute the functions of its chief magistrate. When the occasion
     proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high
     sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the
     confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of the United
     States of America. Previous to the execution of any official act of
     the president, the constitution requires an oath of office. This
     oath I am now about to take, and in your presence; that if it shall
     be found, during my administration of the government, I have in any
     instance violated, willingly or knowingly, the injunction thereof,
     I may, besides incurring constitutional punishment, be subject to
     the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn

The oath was then administered, and the president returned to his
residence as he came.[42]

It was with sincere reluctance that Washington entered upon the duties
of the office of chief magistrate of the nation for a second term. "To
you," he said in a letter to Colonel Humphreys (then abroad) soon after
his inauguration--"To you, who know my love of retirement and domestic
life, it is unnecessary to say, that in accepting this reappointment I
relinquish those personal enjoyments to which I am peculiarly attached.
The motives which induced my acceptance are the same which ever ruled my
decision when the public desire--or, as my countrymen are pleased to
denominate it, the _public good_--was placed in the scale against my
personal enjoyments and private interest. The latter I have ever
considered as subservient to the former; and perhaps in no instance of
my life have I been more sensible of the sacrifice than at the present;
for at my age the love of retirement grows every day more and more
powerful, and the death of my nephew will, I apprehend, cause my private
concerns to suffer very much."[43]

On account of this death, Washington made a hurried visit to Mount
Vernon in April, and while there the important intelligence reached him
that France had declared war against England and Holland, an event which
prophesied a general European war. Almost simultaneously with this
intelligence came that of the execution of King Louis, by order of the
National Convention of France. The king, who had been a mere
shuttle-cock of faction for two years, was beheaded on the twenty-first
of January, with circumstances of brutality which make humanity shudder.
His death had been long predestinated by the ferocious men who ruled
France, and, to accomplish it with a semblance of justice, he had been
accused of crimes of which he was utterly innocent. Even at the last
moment, when standing before the implement of death, he was made to feel
the brutality of men in power. He looked complacently upon the vast
multitude who came to see him die, and was about to say a few words,
when the officer in charge, with ferocious emphasis, said, "_No
speeches! come, no speeches!_" and ordered the drums to be beaten and
the trumpets to be sounded. Louis was heard to say, "I forgive my
enemies; may God forgive them, and not lay my innocent blood to the
charge of the nation! God bless my people!" Thus perished a monarch,
patriotic and amiable, but too weak in intellectual and moral power to
control the terrible storm of popular vengeance which a long series of
abuses had engendered.

For many months Washington had watched with great anxiety the
manifestations of public feeling in the United States while the bloody
work of the French Revolution was progressing. He saw with alarm the
spirit of that Revolution, so widely different from that which had
shaken off the fetters of kingly rule in America, working insidiously
into the constitution of the politics of the United States, and passion
assuming the control of reason in the minds of his people. This was
specially manifested by an outburst of popular feeling when the
proclamation of the French republic reached America, and news that
French arms had made a conquest of the Austrian Netherlands. Forgetting
the friendship of Holland during our war for independence, and the
spirit of genuine liberty (of which that, flaunting its bloody banners
in France, was but a ferocious caricature) which had prevailed in the
Netherlands and made it the asylum of the persecuted for conscience'
sake for centuries, the people of Boston and other places held a
celebration in honor of the temporary victory. In the New England
capital there was a grand barbecue. An ox was roasted whole, and then,
decorated and elevated upon a car drawn by sixteen horses, the flags of
France and the United States displayed from its horns, it was paraded
through the streets, followed by carts bearing sixteen hundred loaves of
bread and two hogsheads of punch. These were distributed among the
people; and at the same time a party of three hundred, with Samuel Adams
(lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts) at their head, assisted by the
French consul, sat down to dinner in Faneuil hall. To the children of
all the schools, who were paraded in the streets, cakes were presented
bearing the inscription, "_Liberty and Equality_." By public
subscription, the sums owed by prisoners for debt, in jail, were paid,
and the victims were set free. There was a general jubilee in Boston on
that barbecue day.

With a similar spirit the news of the death of the king was hailed by
the leaders of the republican party in the United States; and when
intelligence of the French declaration of war against England went over
the land, a fervor of enthusiasm in favor of the old ally was awakened
which called loudly for compliance with the spirit and letter of the
treaty of 1778, by which the United States and France became allies in
peace and war. By that treaty the United States were bound to guarantee
the French possessions in America; and by a treaty of commerce executed
at the same time, French privateers and prizes were entitled to shelter
in the American ports, while those of the enemies of France should be

There was now a wide-spreading sentiment in favor of an active
participation with France, on the part of the United States, in her
struggles against armed Europe; and many, in the wild enthusiasm of the
moment, would not have hesitated an instant in precipitating our country
into a war. Indeed, for a while, the universal sentiment was a cheer for
republican France, whose Convention had declared, in the name of the
French nation, that they would grant fraternity and assistance to every
people who wished to recover their liberty; and they charged the
executive power to send the necessary orders to the generals "to give
assistance to such people, and to defend those citizens who may have
been, or who may be, vexed for the cause of liberty."

Filled with the spirit of this declaration, and charged with the
performance of political functions seldom exercised by _diplomats_,
Edmund Charles Genet--"Citizen Genet," as he was termed in the new
nomenclature of the French republic--came to America at this time, as
the representative of that republic, to supersede the more conservative
M. Ternant. Genet was a man of culture, spoke the English language
fluently, possessed a pleasing address, was lively, frank, and
unguarded, and as fiery as the most intense Jacobins could wish. He
arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, on the eighth of April, five days
after the news of the French declaration of war reached New York. His
presence intensified the enthusiasm with which the country was then
glowing; and for a moment, until sober reason assumed the sceptre, all
opposition to the revolutionary sentiment was swept away by the tide of
popular zeal for a cause that seemed identical with that which secured
independence to the United States. "Is it wonderful," says the latest
biographer of Jefferson, "that American popular sympathy swelled to a
pitch of wild enthusiasm, when an emissary came from the new republic,
surrounded with its prestige; proclaiming wild, stirring doctrines;
declaring the unbounded affection of his country for the United States;
scorning the arts of old diplomacy, and mixing freely with the
democratic masses; not declining to talk of the important objects of his
mission in promiscuous assemblies of plain working men; and exhibiting
in his deportment that practical democracy, that fraternity, which men
in his position, of English blood, never exhibit?"[44]

These events excited the deepest anxiety in the mind of Washington. He
had no confidence whatever in the men at the head of public affairs in
France--the self-constituted government of that unhappy nation. "Those
in whose hands the government is intrusted," he said in a letter to
Governor Lee, "are ready to tear each other to pieces, and will, more
than probably, prove the worst foes the country has." He deeply deplored
the wild enthusiasm which was threatening to involve his country in the
European war then kindling. "Unwise would we be in the extreme," he
wrote to Gouverneur Morris a month before, "to involve ourselves in the
contests of European nations, where our weight would be but small,
though the loss to ourselves would be certain." With such views
Washington hastened back to Philadelphia; for he foresaw the necessity
for announcing the disposition of his country toward the belligerent
powers, and the propriety of restraining as far as possible his
fellow-citizens from taking part in the contest. He immediately
despatched an express to Philadelphia with the following letter to Mr.
Jefferson, the secretary of state:--

     "Your letter of the seventh was brought to me by the last post. War
     having actually commenced between France and Great Britain, it
     behooves the government of this country to use every means in its
     power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with
     either of those powers, by endeavoring to maintain a strict
     neutrality. I therefore require that you will give the subject
     mature consideration, that such measures as shall be deemed most
     likely to effect this desirable purpose may be adopted without
     delay; for I have understood that vessels are already designated as
     privateers and are preparing accordingly. Such other measures as
     may be necessary for us to pursue, against events which it may not
     be in our power to avoid or control, you will also think of, and
     lay them before me on my arrival in Philadelphia, for which place I
     will set out to-morrow."

Washington reached Philadelphia on the seventeenth, and on the
nineteenth held a cabinet council, having on the previous day submitted
to each member of his cabinet the following questions for their

     "I. Shall a proclamation issue for the purpose of preventing
     interferences of the citizens of the United States in the war
     between France and Great Britain, etc.? Shall it contain a
     declaration of neutrality, or not? What shall it contain?

     "II. Shall a minister from the republic of France be received?

     "III. If received, shall it be absolutely without qualifications;
     and if with qualifications, of what kind?

     "IV. Are the United States obliged by good faith to consider the
     treaties heretofore made with France as applying to the present
     situation of the parties? May they either renounce them, or hold
     them suspended till the government of France shall be

     "V. If they have the right, is it expedient to do either, and which?

     "VI. If they have an option, would it be a breach of neutrality to
     consider the treaties still in operation?

     "VII. If the treaties are to be considered as now in operation, is
     the guaranty in the treaty of alliance applicable to a defensive
     war only, or to war either offensive or defensive?

     "VIII. Does the war in which France is engaged appear to be
     offensive or defensive on her part? or of a mixed and equivocal

     "IX. If of a mixed and equivocal character, does the guaranty, in
     any event, apply to such a war?

     "X. What is the effect of a guaranty such as that to be found in
     the treaty of alliance between the United States and France?

     "XI. Does any article in either of the treaties prevent ships of
     war, other than privateers, of the powers opposed to France, from
     coming into the ports of the United States to act as convoys to
     their own merchantmen? Or does it lay any other restraint upon them
     more than would apply to the ships of war with France?

     "XII. Should the future regent of France send a minister to the
     United States, ought he to be received?

     "XIII. Is it necessary or advisable to call together the two houses
     of Congress, with a view to the present posture of European
     affairs? If it is, what should be the _particular_ object of such a

The cabinet meeting to consider these questions was held at the
president's house. All the heads of departments and the attorney-general
were present; and after a protracted discussion, it was unanimously
determined that a proclamation should issue forbidding citizens of the
United States to take part in any hostilities on the seas, with or
against any of the belligerent powers, and warning them against carrying
to any such powers any of those articles deemed contraband according to
the modern usage of nations; and enjoining them from all acts and
proceedings inconsistent with the duties of a friendly nation toward
those at war. It was also unanimously agreed that a minister from the
republic of France should be received. The remaining questions were
postponed for further consideration.

In the excited state of the public mind, and the proclivity of the
popular feeling toward sympathy with France, Washington's proclamation
met with the severest censures. Neither his unbounded popularity nor the
reverence for his character, as a wise, and honest, and patriotic man,
were proof against the operations of that feeling; and the proclamation
was assailed with the greatest vehemence. Every epithet in the
vocabulary of the opposition party was applied to it. It was stigmatized
as a royal edict, an unwarrantable and daring assumption of executive
power, and an open manifestation, of the president and his political
friends, of partiality for England and hostility to France. And it seems
fair to infer, from his letters at that time, that Mr. Jefferson, who
reluctantly voted in the cabinet for the proclamation, governed by his
almost fanatical hatred of Hamilton and his sympathy with the French
regicides, secretly promoted a feeling so hostile to the administration.

The wisdom of the proclamation,[46] and the position of neutrality which
the government of the United States assumed at that time, was soon
apparent, and has been fully vindicated by the logic of subsequent


[41] Hildreth's History of the United States, Second Series, i, 405.

[42] An eye-witness of the scene when Washington read his annual message
to Congress has left a pleasant account of it on record. "As the
president alighted, and, ascending the steps, paused upon the platform,
looking over his shoulder, in an attitude that would have furnished an
admirable subject for the pencil, he was preceded by two gentlemen
bearing long white wands, who kept back the eager crowd that pressed on
every side to get a nearer view. At that moment I stood so near that I
might have touched his clothes; but I should as soon have thought of
touching an electric battery. I was penetrated with a veneration
amounting to the deepest awe. Nor was this the feeling of a schoolboy
only; it pervaded, I believe, every human being that approached
Washington; and I have been told that, even in his social and convivial
hours, this feeling, in those who were honored to share them, never
suffered intermission. I saw him a hundred times afterward, but never
with any other than that same feeling. The Almighty, who raised up for
our hour of need a man so peculiarly prepared for its whole dread
responsibility, seems to have put an impress of sacredness upon His own
instrument. The first sight of the man struck the heart with involuntary
homage, and prepared everything around him to obey. When he 'addressed
himself to speak,' there was an unconscious suspension of the breath,
while every eye was raised in expectation.

"The president, having seated himself, remained in silence, serenely
contemplating the legislature before him, whose members now resumed
their seats, waiting for the speech. No house of worship, in the most
solemn pauses of devotion, was ever more profoundly still than that
large and crowded chamber.

"Washington was dressed precisely as Stuart has painted him in Lord
Lansdowne's full-length portrait--in a full suit of the richest black
velvet, with diamond knee-buckles, and square silver buckles set upon
shoes japanned with the most scrupulous neatness, black silk stockings,
his shirt ruffled at the breast and wrists, a light dress-sword; his
hair profusely powdered, fully dressed, so as to project at the sides,
and gathered behind in a silk bag, ornamented with a large rose of black
riband. He held his cocked hat, which had a large black cockade on one
side of it, in his hand, as he advanced toward the chair, and when
seated, laid it on the table.

"At length, thrusting his hand within the side of his coat, he drew
forth a roll of manuscript, which he opened, and rising held it in his
hand, while, in a rich, deep, full, sonorous voice, he read his opening
address to Congress. His enunciation was deliberate, justly emphasized,
very distinct, and accompanied with an air of deep solemnity, as being
the utterance of a mind profoundly impressed with the dignity of the act
in which it was occupied, conscious of the whole responsibility of its
position and action, but not oppressed by it."

[43] This was George A. Washington, to whom had been intrusted the
management of affairs at Mount Vernon during the master's absence at the
seat of government. He was seized with alarming symptoms of pulmonary
disease early in 1792. He was greatly beloved by Washington, and his
sickness gave the president much pain, and was a frequent topic in
letters to his friends. To Lafayette he wrote as early as June, 1792:--

     "I am afraid my nephew George, your old aid, will never have his
     health perfectly re-established. He has lately been attacked with
     the alarming symptoms of spitting large quantities of blood, and
     the physicians give no hopes of restoration, unless it can be
     effected by a change of air and a total dereliction from business,
     to which he is too anxiously attentive. He will, if he should be
     taken from his family and friends, leave three fine children, two
     sons and a daughter. To the eldest of the boys he has given the
     name of Fayette, and a fine-looking child he is."

To General Knox he wrote:--

     "I thank you most sincerely for the medicine you were so obliging
     as to send for my nephew, and for the sympathetic feeling you
     express for his situation. Poor fellow! neither, I believe, will be
     of any avail. Present appearances indicate a speedy dissolution. He
     has not been able to leave his bed, except for a few moments to sit
     in an arm-chair, since the fourteenth or fifteenth of last month.
     The paroxysm of the disorder seems to be upon him, and death, or a
     favorable turn to it, must speedily follow."

The sufferer was then residing upon a small estate in Hanover. He
lingered for several weeks, and then expired; and on the twenty-fourth
of February Washington wrote to his widow:--

     "MY DEAR FANNY: To you, who so well knew the affectionate regard I
     had for our departed friend, it is unnecessary to describe the
     sorrow with which I was afflicted at the news of his death,
     although it was an event I had expected many weeks before it
     happened. To express this sorrow with the force I feel it, would
     answer no other purpose than to revive in your breast that
     poignancy of anguish, which by this time I hope is abated. The
     object of this letter is to convey to your mind the warmest
     assurance of my love, friendship, and disposition to serve you.
     These I also profess to bear in an eminent degree for your

He then invites her to make Mount Vernon the home of herself and
children. "You can go to no place," he said, "where you will be more
welcome, nor to any where you can live at less expense or trouble."

The young widow appears to have declined the offer of a home at Mount
Vernon, preferring to keep house in Alexandria, but offering to resign
the charge of her eldest son, Fayette, into Washington's keeping. In
March the president wrote to her, saying:--

     "The carriage which I sent to Mount Vernon for your use I never
     intended to reclaim; and now, making you a formal present of it, it
     may be sent for whenever it suits your convenience and be
     considered as your own. I shall, when I see you, request that
     Fayette may be given up to me, either at that time or as soon after
     as he is old enough to go to school. This will relieve you of that
     portion of attention which his education would otherwise call
     for."--_Mount Vernon and its Associations_, pages 264, 265.

[44] _The Life of Thomas Jefferson_, by Henry S. Randall, LL.D., ii, 128.

[45] Sparks's Washington, x, 533, 534.

[46] The following is copy of the proclamation:--

     "Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria,
     Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands, on
     the one part, and France on the other; and the duty and interest
     of the United States require that they should, with sincerity and
     good faith, adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial
     toward the belligerent powers;

     "I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the
     disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid
     towards those powers respectively; and to exhort and warn the
     citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and
     proceedings whatsoever, which may in any manner tend to contravene
     such disposition.

     "And I do hereby also make known, that whosoever of the citizens of
     the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or
     forfeiture under the laws of nations, by committing, aiding, or
     abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying
     to them any of those articles which are deemed contraband by the
     modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the
     United States against such punishment or forfeiture; and further,
     that I have given instructions to those officers to whom it
     belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons
     who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United
     States, violate the law of nations with respect to the powers at
     war, or any of them.

     "In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States
     of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same
     with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the twenty-second
     day of April, 1793, and of the independence of the United States
     the seventeenth.




Genet, as we have observed, landed at Charleston, in South Carolina,
instead of a port near the seat of the government to which he came
accredited. The circumstance was not regarded of much consequence at the
time, as it might have been the result of accident; but the development
of his designs, in accordance with secret instructions from his
government, soon revealed the fact that he chose that southern port for
his destination, because its contiguity to the West Indies would give it
peculiar convenience as a resort for privateers, the employment of which
was a part of the programme of his diplomatic functions.

Genet came in the French frigate _L'Embuscade_, and was received with
most enthusiastic rejoicings by Governor Moultrie and the citizens of
Charleston. This reception, acting upon his ardent nature, made him
forgetful of his relations to the government to which he was sent; and
with a zeal untempered by sound judgment, and a mind mistaking the
evanescent demonstrations of personal respect, and the exhibition of
popular feeling toward the French republic in that southern city for the
settled convictions of the American people, he commenced the
performance of his duties under his secret instructions, before he laid
his credentials before the United States government, and asked for his
reception as the representative of his nation. By these private
instructions, assuming that the American executive might not be
sufficiently compliant with the wishes of the French government, he was
authorized to employ, with the _people_ of the United States, the same
policy which had been so successfully used in Europe in producing

Genet was provided with blank commissions, both naval and military; and
while enjoying the flattering attentions at Charleston for several days,
he undertook to authorize the fitting out and arming of vessels in that
port as privateers, to depredate upon the commerce of England and other
nations at war with France. For this purpose he granted commissions,
enlisted men, and, by authority assumed by him under a decree of the
convention, he constituted all consuls of France the heads of courts of
admiralty, to try, condemn, and authorize the sale of all property
seized by the privateer cruisers sailing under Genet's _letters of
marque_. Two of these privateers, manned chiefly by Americans, soon put
to sea under the French flag, cruised along the Carolina coasts, and
captured many homeward-bound British vessels and took them into the port
of Charleston. The frigate in which Genet came to America became one of
these privateers, and proceeded northward toward Philadelphia,
plundering the sea on her way.

The French minister travelled to Philadelphia by land, and reached that
city on the sixteenth of May. His journey was like a continued ovation.
The whole country through which he passed, electrified by the French
Revolution, appeared alive with excitement; and the honors which the
republicans, in their antipathy to aristocracy, had been anxious to
withhold from Washington because it was man-worship, were lavished upon
the person of the representative of the French republic without stint.
On approaching Philadelphia he was met at Gray's ferry, on the
Schuylkill, by a considerable number of persons, who had come to welcome
him to the federal capital, and to escort him to his lodgings;[47] and
on the following day he received addresses from several societies and
from the citizens at large, who waited upon him in a body.

Meanwhile, _L'Embuscade_ had arrived at Philadelphia with a British
vessel, called _The Grange_, as a prize; and intelligence of Genet's
unwarrantable proceedings at Charleston in authorizing privateers had
been received. Yet so wild and unthinking was the popular enthusiasm
that appeared on the surface of society, that scarcely a word in
condemnation of his conduct was offered. On the contrary, these things
appeared to increase the zeal of his political sympathizers, and made
Genet's reception, in some respects, more flattering to his personal and
national pride. In a letter to Madison at this time, Jefferson,
influenced by the exultation of the movement, and in apparent
forgetfulness of the serious offence which the ardent Genet had
committed against the dignity of the United States and the courtesy of
nations, wrote:--

     "The war between France and England seems to be producing an effect
     not contemplated. All the old spirit of 1776, rekindling the
     newspapers from Boston to Charleston, proves this; and even the
     monocrat papers are obliged to publish the most furious philippics
     against England. A French frigate took a British prize (the
     _Grange_) off the capes of Delaware, the other day, and sent her up
     here. Upon her coming into sight, thousands and thousands of the
     _yeomanry_ of the city crowded and covered the wharves. Never was
     there such a crowd seen there; and when the British colors were
     seen reversed, and the French flying above them, they burst into
     peals of exultation. I wish we may be able to repress the spirit of
     the people within the limits of a fair neutrality.... We expect
     Genet daily."

So eager were the republicans of Philadelphia to do honor to Genet,
that, before he had presented his credentials to the president, he was
invited to an evening feast. Indeed, preparations for his reception and
the "republican dinner" had been made several days before, and this
invitation was only a part of the programme. Genet was delighted by this
demonstration--a demonstration (arranged chiefly by the labors of Peter
S. Duponceau, who came to America originally as the secretary of Baron
Steuben, and who was now secretary of a secret society of Frenchmen,
which met at Barney M'Shane's, sign of the bunch of grapes, number
twenty-three North Third street) that should strike with terror the
"cowardly, conservative, Anglo-men, and monarchists," led by President
Washington; and his joy was heightened by reading an approving history
of the proceedings in Freneau's paper, the organ of the secretary of
state. He even seemed for a moment to doubt the expediency of presenting
his credentials at all, because Washington was evidently not ready to
comply with all his wishes, and he believed that the whole American
people were friends of France, and the enemies of all her opponents.

Genet, however, did present his credentials on the nineteenth of May,
and was officially accredited. In that ceremony his pride was touched
and his enthusiasm was abated. He found in the presence of Washington an
atmosphere of dignity and greatness wholly unexpected, and thoroughly
overpowering. He felt his littleness in the presence of that noble
representative of the best men and the soundest principles of the
American republic, and he returned from the audience abashed and
subdued; for the genuine courtesy exhibited by the president, and the
words of sincere friendship for the French nation which he uttered, had
touched Genet's sensibilities; while the severe simplicity and dignity
of manner, and the absence of that effervescent enthusiasm in the midst
of which he had been cast since his arrival, administered rebuke alike
to the adulators in public places, and his own pretentious aspirations.
He had come with secret instructions to foment war between the United
States and England for the benefit of France, but that single interview
with Washington made him feel, for the time, that his efforts must
result in failure; for the word of the chief magistrate was yet almost
as omnipotent as law with the greater portion of his countrymen.

Genet was relieved of the chill by the evening banquet, where all was
enthusiasm and boisterous mirth. It was given at Oeller's hotel, and
quite a large number of republicans were at the board. A patriotic ode
written in French, by Duponceau, and translated into English by Freneau,
was sung; and the Marseilles hymn was chanted by Genet and the company,
the minister adding two stanzas composed by himself, and having special
reference to the navy. This followed the reception of a deputation of
sailors from the frigate _L'Embuscade_, who, when they entered the room,
were received by the guests with a "fraternal embrace." The table was
decorated with the tree of liberty and the French and American flags;
and after the last regular toast of the evening was given, the _bonnet
rouge_, or red cap of liberty, was placed first upon the head of Genet,
and then upon each one present in turn, the recipient being expected,
under the inspiration of the emblem of freedom, to utter a patriotic
sentiment. The national flags were finally delivered to the French
sailors, who "swore to defend till death these tokens of liberty, and of
American and French fraternity."

To the superficial observer, the great mass of the people seemed carried
away with a monomaniac frenzy. Democratic societies were founded in
imitation of Jacobin clubs; everything that was respectable in society
was denounced as aristocratic; politeness was looked upon as a sort of
_lese republicanisme_; the common forms of expression in use by the
_sans culottes_ were adopted by their American disciples; the title
"citizen" became as common in Philadelphia as in Paris; and in the
newspapers it was the fashion to announce marriages as partnerships
between "Citizen" Brown, Smith, or Jones, and the "citess," who had been
wooed to such an association. Entering the house of the president,
Citizen Genet was astonished and indignant at perceiving in the
vestibule a bust of Louis XVI, whom his friends had beheaded, and he
complained of this "insult to France." At a dinner, at which Governor
Mifflin was present, a roasted pig received the name of the murdered
king, and the head, severed from the body, was carried round to each of
the guests, who, after placing the liberty cap on his own head,
pronounced the word "Tyrant!" and proceeded to mangle with his knife
that of the luckless creature doomed to be served for so unworthy a
company! One of the democratic taverns displayed as a sign a revolting
picture of the mutilated and bloody corpse of Marie Antoinette.[48]

Nor was this enthusiasm confined to Philadelphia. In his admirable
daguerreotype of old New York, the venerable Doctor Francis has given a
vivid picture, from memory, of the effect of Genet's arrival and sojourn
in the country. Speaking of the arrival of _L'Embuscade_, he says: "The
notoriety of the event and its consequences enables me to bring to
feeble recollection many of the scenes which transpired in this city at
that time: the popular excitement and bustle; the liberty cap; the
_entrée_ of Citizen Genet; the red cockade; the song of the
_Carmagnole_, in which with childish ambition I united; the _rencontre_
with the _Boston_ frigate, and the commotion arising from Jay's treaty.
Though I can not speak earnestly from actual knowledge, we must all
concede that these were the times when political strife assumed a
formidable aspect--when the press most flagrantly outraged individual
rights and domestic peace--when the impugners of the Washingtonian
administration received new weapons, with which to inflict their
assaults upon tried patriotism, by every arrival from abroad announcing
France in her progress. The federalists and the anti-federalists now
became the federal and the republican party; the _Carmagnole_ sung every
hour of every day in the streets, and on stated days at the Belvidere
Club-house, fanned the embers and enkindled that zeal which caused the
overthrow of many of the soundest principles of American freedom. Even
the yellow fever, which, from its novelty and its malignity, struck
terror into every bosom, and was rendered more lurid by the absurd
preventive means of burning tar and tar-barrels in almost every street,
afforded no mitigation of party animosity; and Greenleaf with his
_Argus_, Freneau with his _Time-Piece_, and Cobbett with his _Porcupine
Gazette_, increased the consternation, which only added to the
inquietude of the peaceable citizen, who had often reasoned within
himself that a seven-years' carnage, through which he had passed, had
been enough for one life."

"Much I saw--much has been told me by the old inhabitants now departed,"
says Doctor Francis. "When the entire American nation, nay, when the
civilized world at large, seemed electrified by the outbreak of the
Revolution in France, it necessarily followed, as the shadow does the
substance, that the American soul, never derelict, could not but
enkindle with patriotic warmth at the cause of that people whose
loftiest desire was freedom--of that people who themselves had, with
profuse appropriation, enabled that very bosom, in the moment of hardest
trial, to inhale the air of liberty. Successive events had now dethroned
the monarchy of France, and the democratic spirit was now evolved in its
fullest element. It was not surprising that the experienced and the
sober champions who had effected the great revolution of the colonies
should now make the cause of struggling France their own; and as victors
already in one desperate crisis, they seemed ready to enter into a new
contest for the rights of man. The masses coalesced and co-operated.
Cheering prospects of sympathy and of support were held out in the
prospective to their former friends and benefactors abroad. Jealousy of
Britain--affection for France--was now the prevailing impulse, and the
business of the day was often interrupted by tumultuous noises in the
streets. Groups of sailors might be seen collected on the docks and at
the shipping, ready to embark on a voyage of plunder; merchants and
traders, in detached bodies, might be seen discussing the hazards of
commerce; the schools liberated from their prescribed hours of study,
because of some fresh report of _L'Embuscade_ or of _Genet_; the
schoolmaster uttering in his dismissal a new reason for the study of the
classics, by expounding with oracular dignity to his scholars, _Vivat
Respublica_, broadly printed as the caption of the playbill or the
pamphlet just issued."[49]

But, fortunately for the United States, there were many strong, sober,
and patriotic men, who had looked calmly upon the storms of the French
Revolution, and wisely interpreted its portents. On the same day when
Genet was received by the president and feasted by the republicans, an
address was presented to Washington, signed by three hundred of the
principal merchants and other "solid men" of Philadelphia, declaring
their high sense of the wisdom and goodness which dictated his late
proclamation of neutrality; and that the signers, believing that nothing
was necessary to the happiness of the United States but a continuance of
peace, not only would heed that proclamation themselves, but
discountenance, in the most pointed manner, any contrary disposition in
others. In his reply, Washington, with his usual dignity and discretion,
expressed a hope that, in the critical juncture of public affairs, the
people would evince as much freedom in pursuing peace, as they had
previously displayed valor in vindicating their just rights.

The conservative class to whom we have alluded was composed of the best
materials of American society. They were firm, consistent, and quiet;
and while the noise that attended the demonstrations in favor of the
French Revolution appeared to the shallow and timid as the voice of the
nation, a very large majority of the people doubtless sympathized with
the restraining measures of the president.

Among those who had wisely interpreted the teachings of the Revolution
in France, and deprecated the infatuation of his countrymen who had
adopted the doctrines of the Jacobins, was Hamilton. To a friend who had
expressed his sorrow because of the aspect of the public feeling at that
time, he revealed his views freely--views which were held in common with
Washington and the great conservative party of which he was the head. "I
agree with you," Hamilton said, "in the reflections you make on the
tendency of public demonstrations of attachment to the cause of France.
'Tis certainly not wise to expose ourselves to the jealousy and
resentment of the rest of the world, by a fruitless display of zeal for
that cause. It may do us much harm, and it can do France no good
(unless, indeed, we are to embark in the war with her, which nobody is
so hardy as to avow, though some secretly machinate it). It can not be
without danger and inconvenience to our interests, to impress on the
nations of Europe an idea that we are actuated by the _same spirit_
which has, for some time past, fatally misguided the measures of those
who conduct the affairs of France, and sullied a cause once glorious,
and that might have been triumphant. The cause of France is compared
with that of America during its late Revolution. Would to Heaven that
the comparison were just. Would to Heaven that we could discern in the
mirror of French affairs the same decorum, the same gravity, the same
order, the same dignity, the same solemnity, which distinguished the
cause of the American Revolution. Clouds and darkness would not then
rest upon the issue as they now do. I own I do not like the comparison.
When I contemplate the horrid and systematic massacres of the second and
third of September; when I observe that a Murat and a Robespierre, the
notorious prompters of those bloody scenes, sit triumphantly in the
convention and take a conspicuous part in its measures--that an attempt
to bring the assassins to justice has been abandoned; when I see an
unfortunate prince, whose reign was a continued demonstration of the
goodness and benevolence of his heart, of his attachment to the people
of whom he was the monarch, who, though educated in the lap of
despotism, had given repeated proofs that he was not the enemy of
liberty, brought precipitately and ignominiously to the block without
any substantial proof of guilt, as yet disclosed--without even an
authentic exhibition of motives, in decent regard to the opinions of
mankind; when I find the doctrines of atheism openly advanced in the
convention, and heard with loud applauses; when I see the sword of
fanaticism extended to force a political creed upon citizens who were
invited to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty;
when I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish
the monuments of religious worship, erected by those citizens and their
ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult, and violence, usurping those
seats where reason and cool deliberation ought to preside--I acknowledge
that I am glad to believe there is no real resemblance between what was
the cause of America and what is the cause of France; that the
difference is no less great than that between liberty and
licentiousness. I regret whatever has a tendency to confound them, and I
feel anxious, as an American, that the ebullitions of inconsiderate men
among us may not tend to involve our reputation in the issue."[50]

Genet had scarcely reached the seat of government, before his conduct in
authorizing the fitting out of privateers, and the capture of _The
Grange_ by _L'Embuscade_, called forth complaints from Mr. Hammond, the
British minister at Philadelphia. Genet, in his address to the president
on presenting his credentials, had disavowed any wish to involve the
United States in the pending war.

"We wish you to do nothing," he said, "but what is for your own good,
and we will do all in our power to promote it. Cherish your own peace
and prosperity. You have expressed a willingness to enter into a more
liberal commerce with us; I bring full powers to form such a treaty, and
a preliminary decree of the National Convention to lay open our country
and its colonies to you, for every purpose of utility, without your
participating in the burden of maintaining and defending them. We see in
you the only person on earth who can love us sincerely, and merit to be
so loved."

This was uttered while the secret instructions in his pocket authorized
him to foment discord between the United States and Great Britain; to
set the government of our republic at defiance, if necessary; and in the
face of his open insult to the government by his acts at Charleston. And
yet Mr. Jefferson, apparently blinding his eyes to passing events in
Genet's brief career here, said in a letter to Madison, in reference to
the French minister's speech, "It was impossible for anything to be more
affectionate, more magnanimous, than the purport of Genet's
mission.... He offers everything and asks nothing."

"Yet I know," Jefferson added, "that the offers will be opposed, and
suspect they will not be accepted. In short, my dear sir, it is
impossible for you to conceive what is passing in our conclave; and it
is evident that _one or two_ [meaning Hamilton and Knox] at least, under
pretence of avoiding war on the one side, have no great antipathy to run
foul of it on the other, and to make a part in the confederacy of
princes against human liberty." Thus, on all occasions, the secretary of
state ungenerously charged those of his official associates who could
not lovingly embrace the bloody French Jacobins as brothers, with
monarchical principles, and designs to subvert the government of the
United States. To Washington he expressed the same suspicions; and, from
his own record in his _Anas_, he appears to have been rebuked by the
president, and to have persisted in a most unfriendly course. "He [the
president] observed," he said, "that if anybody wanted to change the
form of our government into a monarchy, he was sure it was only a few
individuals, and that no man in the United States would set himself
against it more than himself; but that this was not what he was afraid
of--his fears were from another quarter--_that there was more danger of
anarchy being introduced_."

Washington, according to the same record, then spoke with great warmth
concerning the hostility of Freneau as manifested in his newspaper. He
despised all personal attacks upon himself; but, he said, not a solitary
act of the government had escaped the slanderer's assaults. He adverted
to the fact that Freneau (evidently for the impudent purpose of
insulting Washington) sent him three of his papers every day; and Mr.
Jefferson records these facts in a way that shows the enjoyment he
seemed to derive from such evidences of great annoyance displayed by the
president. "He was evidently sore and worn," wrote Mr. Jefferson, "and I
took his intention to be, that I should interpose in some way with
Freneau--perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk in my
office. But I will not do it."

"It appears to us," says Mr. Irving,[51] "rather an ungracious
determination on the part of Jefferson to keep this barking cur in his
employ, when he found him so annoying to the chief, whom he professed,
and we believe with sincerity, to revere.[52] Neither are his reasons
for so doing satisfactory, savoring as they do of those strong political
suspicions already noticed. 'His [Freneau's] paper,' observed he, 'has
saved our constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has
been checked by no means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and
universally known that it has been that paper which checked the career
of the monocrats. The president, not sensible of the designs of the
party, has not, with his usual good sense and _sang froid_, looked on
the efforts and effects of this free press, and seen that though some
bad things have passed through it to the public, yet the good have
preponderated immensely.'"

On the day succeeding his presentation to the president, Genet addressed
an official letter to Mr. Jefferson, announcing his mission, as

     "Single, against innumerable hordes of tyrants and slaves who
     menace her rising liberty, the French nation would have a right to
     reclaim the obligations imposed on the United States by the
     treaties she has contracted with them, and which she has cemented
     with her blood; but strong in the greatness of her means, and of
     the power of her principles, not less redoubtable to her enemies
     than the virtuous arm which she opposes to their rage, she comes,
     in the very time when the emissaries of our common enemies are
     making useless efforts to neutralize the gratitude, to damp the
     zeal, to weaken or cloud the view of your fellow-citizens; she
     comes, I say, that generous nation, that faithful friend, to labor
     still to increase the prosperity and add to the happiness which she
     is pleased to see them enjoy.

     "The obstacles raised with intentions hostile to liberty, by the
     perfidious ministers of despotism--the obstacles whose object was
     to stop the rapid progress of the commerce of the Americans and the
     extension of their principles, exist no more. The French republic,
     seeing in them but brothers, has opened to them, by the decrees now
     enclosed, all her ports in the two worlds; has granted them all the
     favors which her own citizens enjoy in her vast possessions; has
     invited them to participate the benefits of her navigation, in
     granting to their vessels the same rights as her own; and has
     charged me to propose to your government to establish, in a truly
     family compact--that is, in a national compact--the liberal and
     fraternal basis on which she wishes to see raised the commercial
     and political system of two people, all whose interests are
     blended. I am invested, sir, with the powers necessary to undertake
     this important negotiation, of which the sad annals of humanity
     offer no example before the brilliant era at length opening on

Notwithstanding the boast, in this letter, of his country being "strong
in the greatness of her means," Genet had opened his diplomatic
correspondence by a request for immediate payment, by anticipation, of
the remaining installments of the debt due France by the United States,
amounting to two millions, three hundred thousand dollars, and offered,
as an inducement, to invest the amount in provisions and other American
products, to be shipped partly to the St. Domingo, and partly to France.
But neither his propositions for an alliance nor his application for
money were received with favor. The United States government well knew
that his assurance that the offered relaxation of commercial
restrictions, as a boon of pure good will toward the Americans, was only
a convenient plan for obtaining needed supplies. The request for money
was met by a candid statement by the secretary of the treasury, that his
government had no means of anticipating the payment of the French debt,
except by borrowing money in Europe, which could not be done then on
reasonable terms. Hamilton also told Genet that, even were there no
other obstacle, the anticipation of payment at that time might be
regarded by Great Britain as a breach of neutrality.

This reply greatly offended the French minister, and he threatened to
make the debt to France available for his purpose, by giving assignments
of it in payment for provisions and other supplies. Hamilton calmly
replied that his government would decidedly object to that procedure,
and expressed a hope that, in a matter of mutual concern, nothing would
be done but by mutual consent.

While the British minister, in view of the dereliction of duty on the
part of his government, manifested in its omission to comply with some
of the stipulations of the treaty of 1783, should have been
comparatively silent, the grounds of some of his complaints were too
obviously just, not to be seriously considered. Cabinet meetings were
accordingly held, and the subject was fully discussed. The capture of
_The Grange_ within American waters (in Delaware bay), and the demand,
not only for its restitution, but of all others captured on the high
seas by the privateers authorized by Genet, made by the British
minister, was the chief topic. It was unanimously agreed that _The
Grange_ should be restored, but there was a difference of opinion
respecting the others. Hamilton and Knox, assuming, as a basis for
argument, that it is the duty of a neutral nation to remedy every injury
sustained by armaments fitted out in its ports, were of opinion that the
government should interpose to restore the prizes. Jefferson and
Randolph contended that the case should be left to the decision of
courts of justice; arguing, that if the courts should decide the
commissions given by Genet to be invalid, they would, as a matter of
course, order restitution to be made.[54]

Washington reserved his decision upon this point, and took time to
deliberate. The cabinet had agreed unanimously that the jurisdiction of
every independent nation, within the limits of its own territory, being
of a nature to exclude the exercise of any authority therein by any
foreign power, the proceedings complained of, not being warranted by any
treaty, were usurpations of national sovereignty and violations of
neutral rights, a repetition of which it was the duty of the government
to prevent. Also, that the efficacy of the laws should be tried against
those citizens of the United States who had joined in perpetrating the
offence. These principles being considered as settled, the president
directed the secretary of state to communicate the fact to the ministers
of France and Great Britain. Circular letters, also, were addressed to
the governors of several states requiring their co-operation, with
military force if necessary, to carry out the principles and rules
agreed upon.


[47] The number of people who met and welcomed Genet at Gray's ferry was
greatly exaggerated, as usual on such occasions, by the friends of the
movement. It was called "a great concourse of citizens," but Hamilton,
who was then in Philadelphia, and whose truthfulness has never been
questioned, placed the number at an insignificant figure. In a letter to
a friend, he said, "It is seldom easy to speak with absolute certainty
in such cases, but from all I could observe, or have been able to learn,
I believe the number would be stated high at a hundred persons." Of a
meeting convened at evening to receive Mr. Genet, Hamilton said, "From
forty to one hundred persons give you the extremes of the number
present." On the ensuing evening a much greater number attended.
Altogether the demonstration, in _numbers_, was a failure.

[48] Griswold's _Republican Court_, page 350.

[49] _Old New York, or Reminiscences of the past Sixty Years_, pages
115-119, inclusive.

[50] Hamilton's Works, v. 566.

[51] Life of Washington, v. 164.

[52] A little later, Jefferson wrote to Madison: "The president is not
well; little lingering fevers have been hanging about him for a week or
ten days, and affect his looks most remarkably. He is also extremely
affected by the attacks made and kept up on him in the public papers. I
think he feels these things more than any other person I ever yet met
with. I am sincerely sorry to see them." How utterly insincere appears
the last clause of this paragraph, compared with the one next preceding
it! The most scurrilous of the attacks alluded to proceeded from
Freneau, a clerk in Mr. Jefferson's office!

[53] _Letter to Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of State_, dated "Philadelphia,
May 23d, 1793, second year of the republic."

[54] "During these proceedings," says Chief-Justice Jay, "the circuit
court was held at Richmond by the chief justice, who in his charge to
the grand jury explained the obligations of the United States as a
neutral nation, and directed the jury to present all persons within
their district guilty of violating the laws of nations with respect to
any of the belligerent powers. The charge was well calculated to
strengthen the government, by letting the public perceive that the
supreme court would fearlessly discharge its duty, in punishing acts
forbidden by the neutral position of the nation."--_Life and Writings of
John Jay_, i. 302.



The action of the cabinet gave umbrage to Genet, and he wrote a spirited
letter to the secretary of state. He assented to the restoration of "The
Grange," she having been captured within American waters, but he
protested most vehemently against all interference on the part of the
United States with the privateers at sea. He alleged that they were
armed and furnished by French residents in Charleston, were commanded by
French officers, or Americans who knew of no law or treaty to restrain
their action, and that they had gone to sea with the consent of the
governor of South Carolina. He argued, that as the treaty of commerce
secured to the parties the right of bringing prizes into each other's
ports, it followed that their right to the control and disposal of
prizes so brought in, was conceded to each. As the treaty of 1778 only
forbade each party allowing _enemies_ to fit out privateers in their
respective ports, it was fair to conclude that there was also conceded a
mutual right in the parties themselves to fit out privateers in the
ports of the other. He insisted that the Americans on board the
privateers had, for the time, entered the service of France and
renounced the protection of the United States, and that therefore they
were no longer responsible to their own government for their acts.

Notwithstanding the want of decorum in some portions of Genet's letter,
the president and his cabinet reconsidered the questions at issue in the
light of the minister's arguments. Their opinions remained unchanged,
and Genet was informed that the privateer then in the Delaware, bearing
his name, must forthwith leave American waters; that orders had been
sent to all the ports of the United States for the seizure of all
vessels fitted out as privateers, and to prevent the sale of any prizes
captured by such vessels; and also for the arrest of Henfield and
Singleterry, two Americans, who had enlisted on board the _Citizen
Genet_ at Charleston.

The decision and action of the cabinet made Genet very angry, and he
resolved not to acquiesce in it. He was led to believe that the great
body of the American people, grateful for what France had done in times
past, were ready to go all lengths in his favor, short of actual war. He
had heard clamors among the people, and read violent paragraphs in the
republican newspapers against the position of neutrality taken by the
government, and he resolved to encourage privateering, and to defend his
position before the American people by his pen. At that time, Freneau's
paper was assisted in its warfare upon the administration by another
called the _General Advertiser_, known afterward as the _Aurora_. It was
edited by a grandson of Doctor Franklin, whose French education caused
him to favor the fanaticism of that people in their revolutionary
movements. It was sometimes more virulent in its vituperation than
Freneau's _Gazette_, and both urged Genet to go forward, heedless of the
executive and his cabinet, at the same time charging Washington himself
with an intention of joining in the league of kings against the French

"I hope," said a writer in Freneau's paper, "the minister of France will
act with firmness and spirit. The _people_ are his friends, or the
friends of France, and he will have nothing to apprehend; for, _as
yet_, the people are the sovereigns of the United States. Too much
complacency is an injury done to his cause; for, as every advantage is
already taken of France (not by the _people_), further condescension may
lead to further abuse. If one of the leading features of our government
is pusillanimity, when the British lion shows his teeth, let France and
her minister act as becomes the dignity of their cause, and the honor
and faith of nations."[56]

The arrest and indictment of the two Americans on board the _Citizen
Genet_ added greatly to the irritation of the French minister. "The
crime laid to their charge," said Genet in a letter to Jefferson on the
first of June--"the crime which my mind can not conceive, and which my
pen almost refuses to state, is the serving of France, and defending
with her children the common glorious cause of liberty.

"Being ignorant of any positive law or treaty which deprives Americans
of this privilege, and authorizes officers arbitrarily to take mariners
in the service of France from on board their vessels, I call upon your
intervention, sir, and that of the president of the United States, in
order to obtain the immediate releasement of the above mentioned
officers, who have acquired, by the sentiments animating them, and by
the act of their engagement, anterior to every act to the contrary, the
right of French citizens, if they have lost that of American citizens. I
renew at the same time, sir, the requisition which I made in favor of
another French officer, detained for the same cause and for the same

To this appeal Jefferson replied by sending Genet a copy of the opinion
of the attorney-general of the United States, who decided that the
prisoners had acted in violation of treaties, and were guilty of an
indictable offence. In a subsequent note, the secretary of state
reiterated the opinion of the president that it was the right of every
nation, and the duty of neutral nations, to prohibit acts of sovereignty
within their limits, injurious to either of the belligerent powers; that
the granting of military commissions within the United States by any
foreign authority was an infringement of their sovereignty, especially
when granted to American citizens as an inducement to act against the
duty which they owed to their country; and that it was expected that the
French privateers would immediately leave the waters of the United

Genet, with impudent pertinacity, denounced these doctrines as contrary
to right, justice, the law of nations, and even the proclamation of
neutrality by the president; and when he was informed that a French
privateer, fitted out in New York, had been seized by a body of militia
acting under the authority of Governor Clinton, he was greatly enraged,
and demanded its immediate "restitution, with damages and interest, and
also the immediate" "restitution, with damages and interest, of the
French prizes arrested and seized at Philadelphia." But the government
was unmoved. The prisoners were not released, nor the vessels restored;
whereupon Genet ventured to declare that he "would appeal from the
president to the people." His only excuse for this rash assertion was
his utter ignorance of the character of the president and people whose
actions, in concerns so momentous, he assumed to control or defy. He
seemed really to have imagined that the love of France and the sentiment
of republicanism were so strong among the people of the United States,
that he would be able to overthrow the government. He had already said,
in a letter to Jefferson, "Every obstruction by the government of the
United States to the arming of French vessels must be an attempt on the
rights of man, upon which repose the independence and laws of the United
States; a violation of the ties which unite France and America; and even
a manifest contradiction of the system of neutrality of the president;
for, in fact, if our merchant-vessels or others are not allowed to arm
themselves, when the French alone are resisting the league of all the
tyrants against the liberty of the people, they will be exposed to
inevitable ruin in going out of the ports of the United States, which is
certainly not the intention of the people of America. This fraternal
voice has resounded from every quarter around me, and their accents are
not equivocal. They are pure as the hearts of those by whom they are
expressed; and the more they have touched my sensibility, the more they
must interest in the happiness of America the nation I represent; the
more I wish, sir, that the federal government should observe, as far as
in its power, the public engagements contracted by both nations, and
that, by this generous and prudent conduct, they will give at least to
the world the example of a true neutrality, which does not consist in
the cowardly abandonment of their friends in the moment when danger
menaces them, but in adhering strictly, if they can do no better, to the
obligations they have contracted with them. It is by such proceedings
that they will render themselves respectable to all the powers--that
they will preserve their friends, and deserve to augment their numbers."

All around the French minister there was a sea of passion while the
controversy was progressing. The republican party became more and more
bold in their denunciations. Open expressions of enthusiastic devotion
to France, and of hatred toward all the powers at war with that
republic, were heard on every side. Every measure of the government that
tended to thwart the views of Genet was assailed with the most malignant
zeal. The president's proclamation of neutrality, as we have observed,
was branded as a "royal edict." It was condemned as having been issued
without authority, and in contradiction with the treaties with France;
as contrary to the gratitude which was due to that country by the people
of the United States, and out of time and unnecessary; and a series of
articles written by Hamilton in support of the proclamation, over the
signature of _Pacificus_, were assailed in another series against the
proclamation, written by Madison (at the suggestion of Jefferson) over
the signature of _Helvidius_, as having "been read with singular
pleasure and applause by the foreigners and degenerate citizens among
us, who hate our republican government and the French Revolution."

The declaration that "the duty and interest of the United States
required that they should, with sincerity and good faith, adopt and
pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers,"
was assailed as a monstrous doctrine, and gave the greatest umbrage to
Genet and his friends. The latter insisted that the French minister's
demands were sanctioned by solemn treaties, and that his interpretation
of the instruments was correct. The wrongs inflicted upon America by
Great Britain, and the aid given to the struggling patriots by France,
were recited in most pathetic terms; and the questions were
significantly asked, "Shall the services of the one, as well as the
injuries of the other, be forgotten? Shall a friend and an enemy be
treated with equal favor? Shall neither gratitude nor resentment
constitute a feature of the American character?" It was concluded that
there was a natural and inveterate hostility between monarchies and
republics; that the present combination against France was a combination
against liberty in every part of the world; and that the destinies of
America were inseparably connected with those of the French republic.
They declared that the conduct of the executive, in withholding
privileges to which France was said to be entitled by the most solemn
engagements, was indicative of a desire to coalesce with despots in a
crusade against liberty, furnishing to the French republic just motives
for war; and that all her moderation and forbearance were required to
restrain her from declaring it against the United States. They went so
far, as we have seen, as to exhort Genet not to relax in his endeavors
to maintain the just rights of his country; and he received assurances
of the steady and affectionate support of the American people. Genet was
taught to believe that Washington was acting under the influence of a
British monarchical faction, and that everything was to be hoped from
the predominance of republicanism in the new Congress then in progress
of being chosen.

It was now midsummer, and the whole social and political fabric of the
Union was shaken by these party contentions; and the democratic
societies of which we have spoken, secret and open, were exceedingly
active. "That these societies," Washington observed, "were instituted by
the artful and designing members (many of their body, I have no doubt,
mean well, but know little of the real plan), primarily to sow among the
people the seeds of jealousy and distrust of the government, by
destroying all confidence in the administration of it, and that these
doctrines have been budding and blowing ever since, is not new to any
one who is acquainted with the character of their leaders, and has been
attentive to their manoeuvres.

"Can anything be more absurd, more arrogant, or more pernicious to the
peace of society, than for self-created bodies, forming themselves into
permanent censors, and under the shade of night, in a conclave,
resolving that acts of Congress, which have undergone the most
deliberate and solemn discussion by the representatives of the people,
chosen for the express purpose, and bringing with them from the
different parts of the Union the sense of their constituents,
endeavoring, as far as the nature of the thing will admit, to form
_their will_ into laws for the government of the whole--I say, under
these circumstances, for a self-created _permanent_ body (for no one
denies the right of the people to meet occasionally to petition for, or
remonstrate against, any act of the legislature) to declare that _this
act_ is unconstitutional, and _that act_ is pregnant with mischiefs, and
that all who vote contrary to their dogmas are actuated by selfish
motives or under foreign influence, nay, are traitors to their country?
Is such a stretch of arrogant presumption to be reconciled with laudable
motives, especially when we see the same set of men endeavoring to
destroy all confidence in the administration, by arraigning all its
acts, without knowing on what ground or with what information it

While the controversy was at its height, Washington was suddenly called
to Mount Vernon by the death of the chief manager of his estates. He was
absent a little more than a fortnight. Meanwhile, an incident occurred
which brought the controversy between the United States government and
the French minister to a crisis. A British merchant-vessel was captured
by _L'Embuscade_, sent to Philadelphia, and there Genet, under the very
eye of the federal authorities and in direct opposition to the decision
of Washington and his cabinet, undertook to equip her as a privateer,
under the new name of _Le Petite Democrat_. This movement was discovered
by Hamilton on the sixth of July. He communicated the facts to the
cabinet, with whom Washington had left the control of the public affairs
during his absence, and an investigation was ordered. It was ascertained
that the vessel would probably sail on a cruise the next day, and
Governor Mifflin was called upon to interfere. At midnight he sent
Alexander Dallas, his secretary, to request Genet to desist from his
unlawful course, and to inform him that the vessel would be detained by
force if he refused compliance. The minister flew into a rage, declared
that the president was not the sovereign of the country, and had no
right, without consulting Congress, to give such instructions as he had
done to state governors; that he was a misled man, and wholly under the
influence of the enemies of France and human liberty; and then again
expressed his determination to appeal to the people.

Genet refused to give Mifflin any distinct pledges, and early in the
morning the governor ordered out one hundred and twenty of the militia
to take possession of the privateer. Mr. Jefferson, who perceived the
rashness of Genet's course, now took the matter in hand, and at a
personal interview tried to persuade him to detain the privateer until
the president's return to the seat of government. The secretary of state
was not more successful than the secretary of Governor Mifflin. Genet
stormed like a madman. Jefferson was unable, most of the time, to thrust
in a word, and he sat in silence while the angry minister poured out the
vials of his wrath upon the United States government. He declared that
any attempt to seize the vessel would be resisted by the crew; that he
had been thwarted in all his plans by the government; and that he was
half a mind to leave the country in disgust, as he could not be useful
to his nation here. He censured the president severely, and declared
that on Washington's return he should press him to convene the Congress

Jefferson stopped him at the subject of calling a Congress, and
explained to him the threefold character of the government; assuring him
that all questions which had arisen between himself and the executive
belonged only to that department, and that, were Congress in session,
the matters would not be carried to them, nor would they take any notice
of them. Genet was surprised, and inquired if the Congress were not the
sovereign? Jefferson replied that they were sovereign only in making
laws; that the executive was the sovereign in executing them, and the
judiciary in construing them. "But at least," said Genet, "Congress are
bound to see that the treaties are observed." "There are very few
cases," replied Jefferson, "arising out of treaties, which Congress can
take notice of. The president is to see that treaties are observed." "To
whom then is the nation to appeal, if the president decides against a
treaty?" quickly inquired Genet. "The constitution has made the
president the last appeal," replied Jefferson. Genet was confounded by
his own ignorance, shrugged his shoulders, and, making a bow, remarked
that he would not compliment Mr. Jefferson on such a constitution.

Genet had now become cool, assured Mr. Jefferson that the privateer was
not yet ready for sea, and, without promising that she should not sail
before the president's return, said that it would be necessary for her
to shift her position to the lower end of the town to receive supplies,
and gave the secretary to understand that she would not leave before
Washington's return to Philadelphia. Jefferson accepted his remarks as
honest assurance, and Governor Mifflin dismissed his soldiers; but
Hamilton and Knox, having no faith in the minister's word, proposed the
immediate erection of a battery below the city, where Fort Mifflin stood
in the Revolution, with guns mounted to prevent the privateer's going
down the river. Jefferson, fearing further to offend Genet, refused to
concur in this measure, and the next day the vessel went down the river
as far as Chester.

Washington returned to Philadelphia on the eleventh, and received some
papers, concerning the events we have just described, from Mr.
Jefferson, with an intimation that they required "instant attention."
They aroused the president's indignation. "What is to be done in the
case of the _Little Sarah_ [the original name of the _Petite Democrat_]
now at Chester?" he asked, in a note written to Mr. Jefferson on the
spur of the moment. "Is the minister of the French republic to set the
acts of this government at defiance _with impunity_, and then threaten
the executive with an appeal to the people? What must the world think of
such conduct, and of the government of the United States in submitting
to it?

"These are serious questions. Circumstances press for a decision, and,
as you have had time to consider them (upon me they come unexpectedly),
I wish to know your opinion upon them, even before to-morrow, for the
vessel may then be gone."

Mr. Jefferson assured Washington that the privateer was not yet ready
for sea, and that Genet had promised that she should not sail before the
decision of the president in her case should be known. In a cabinet
council held the next day, it was resolved to detain in the ports of the
United States all privateers which had been equipped therein, and this
decision was immediately communicated to Genet. In defiance of it, the
French minister sent the privateer to sea; and yet the republicans,
forgetful of all national dignity, commended the representative of a
foreign nation in thus offering a marked insult to the chief magistrate
and the government of the republic.

At about the same time, Henfield, one of the prisoners indicted, under
the advice of the attorney-general, for having enlisted on board the
French privateer at Charleston, was tried. The populace, instigated by
the opposition leaders, took the part of the prisoner, and the jury
acquitted him. At once the opposition press heaped obloquy upon the
administration, for having attempted what they were pleased to call an
unlawful measure. They asked, scornfully, "What law had been offended,
and under what statute was the indictment supported? Are the American
people already prepared to give to a proclamation the force of a
legislative act, and to subject themselves to the will of the executive?
But," they said, "if the people are already sunk to such a state of
degradation, are they to be punished for violating a proclamation which
had not been published when the offence was committed, if indeed it
could be termed an offence to engage with France combatting for liberty
against the combined despots of Europe?" And when the prisoner was
acquitted, the event was celebrated with extravagant marks of joy and

These events annoyed Washington exceedingly. He perceived the spirit of
the French Revolution animating his own people, making them regardless
of law and justice, and drunk with ideas that tended to anarchy and
confusion. He perceived the futility of attempts to enforce laws in
support of the doctrines of his proclamation of neutrality, and the
disposition of a large class of people to thwart that conservative
policy which he advised as being most conducive to the welfare of the
state. Yet, strong in his consciousness of rectitude, he swerved not a
line from his prescribed course of duty. "As it respects myself," he
said in a letter to Governor Lee on the twenty-first of July, "I care
not; for I have a consolation within, that no earthly efforts can
deprive me of; and that is, that neither ambitious nor interested
motives have influenced my conduct. The arrows of malevolence,
therefore, however barbed and well pointed, never can reach the most
vulnerable point of me; though, whilst I am up as a _mark_, they will be
continually aimed. The publications in Freneau's and Bache's papers are
outrages on common decency; and they progress in that style in
proportion as their pieces are treated with contempt, and are passed by
in silence, by those at whom they were aimed. The tendency of them,
however, is too obvious to be mistaken by men of cool and dispassionate
minds, and in my opinion ought to alarm them, because it is difficult to
prescribe bounds to the effect."

Matters had now reached a point where forbearance toward the insolent
French minister was no longer required by the most exacting courtesy.
His official communications, and public and private acts, were becoming
too offensive to be longer tolerated by the government, without
virtually abdicating authority and acknowledging its utter incompetency.
So the president called the cabinet together at the beginning of August
to consult upon the matter, when the whole official correspondence
between Jefferson and Genet, and the conduct of the latter, were
thoroughly reviewed. The result was, a determination that the French
government should be requested to recall their minister, because he was
offensive to that of the United States. Jefferson recommended great
delicacy in the terms of this request; the others were favorable to a
peremptory demand for his recall; while Knox, whose indignation had been
thoroughly aroused by the conduct of Genet, proposed to dismiss him at
once without consulting his government. It was at length agreed that a
letter should be written to Gouverneur Morris, the American minister in
Paris, in which should be given a statement of the case, with
accompanying documents, with directions to lay the whole subject before
the Executive Council of France; also that a letter, the same in
substance as the one written to Morris, should be sent to Genet.

It was also proposed to publish the whole correspondence, as an appeal
to the people of the United States and the world, in justification of
the action of the administration. Jefferson opposed the proposition on
the ground that it would make matters worse. He said Genet would appeal,
also; that anonymous writers would take up the subject; that public
opinion would still be divided; and there would be a difference of
opinion in Congress, likewise, for the matter must be laid before them.
"It would," Jefferson said, "be a contest between the president and

Washington took fire at this last suggestion. Wearied and annoyed by the
continual dissentions in his cabinet, and the unjust abuse of his
political opponents, the idea that he should stand before the world as a
contestant with a man like Genet, and be subjected to the ribaldry of
the press, touched his sensitive nature at the most tender point. At
that moment, Knox, with peculiar mal-appropriateness, "in a foolish,
incoherent sort of speech," says Jefferson, "introduced the pasquinade,
lately printed, called _The Funeral of George Washington_"--a parody on
the decapitation of the French king, in which the president was
represented as placed on a guillotine. "The president," says Mr.
Jefferson, "was much inflamed; got into one of those passions [which
only for a moment and very rarely occurred] where he can not control
himself; ran on much on the personal abuse that had been bestowed upon
him; defied any man on earth to produce one single act of his, since he
had been in the government, which was not done on the purest motives;
that he had never repented but once the having slipped the moment of
resigning his office, and that was every moment since; that he had
rather be in his grave than in his present situation; that he had rather
be on his farm than to be made an emperor of the world." And yet, he
said with most emphatic indignation, "they are charging me with wanting
to be king!"

When Washington ceased there was a pause. All had remained silent during
this burst of passion, and it was with some difficulty that the
questions at issue were resumed. The president soon recovered his
equanimity, and opened the subject again by saying that there was no
necessity for deciding the question of an appeal to the people on
Genet's recall at that moment. The propositions already agreed to
respecting the letter to Gouverneur Morris might be put into execution,
and events would doubtless show whether an appeal would be necessary or
not. The cabinet agreed to send a circular to all the collectors of
customs, instructing them in their duty respecting ships of the
belligerent nations within the waters of the United States. It was also
agreed that information should be communicated to the British minister
that compensation would be made to the owners of British vessels
captured by French privateers, fitted out within the United States,
previous to the notice given to Genet that such equipments would not be
allowed; but that in future the British government must regard the
efforts of that of the United States, to prevent the arming of
privateers within its waters, as a full discharge of all neutral
obligations. At the same time, Genet was called upon to give up all the
vessels captured previous to the notice above alluded to, as otherwise
the French government would be held responsible for the amount of
necessary indemnities; also, all vessels captured within the waters of
the United States, those waters being defined as within a marine league
from the exterior coast.


[55] Life and Writings of John Jay, i. 303.

[56] Greenleaf's _Patriotic Register_, at New York, and the _Boston
Chronicle_ echoed these sentiments, and the smaller opposition journals
throughout the country re-echoed the strain.

[57] Marshall, ii. 273.



While Washington's cabinet was thus perplexed by the conduct of the
French minister, it was equally so by the relations of the governments
of the United States and Great Britain. As we have observed, a
diplomatic intercourse between the two governments did not commence
until the federal constitution had established the republic upon a more
solid basis. Then Mr. Hammond was appointed British minister to the
United States, and took up his residence in Philadelphia; and Mr.
Pinckney, appointed United States minister to Great Britain, repaired to
London. We have also observed that the evacuation of some of the western
posts by the British, and other stipulations of the treaty of 1783, yet
remained uncomplied with when Mr. Hammond came. These causes for
complaint on the part of the United States, and the establishment of
just commercial relations between the two governments, had been the
chief subjects for negotiation since his arrival. At the time in
question, no progress had been made toward accommodation, and for this
reason a large number of the Americans felt more disposed to take part
with their old ally, and against their old enemy.

In fact, the catalogue of grievances suffered by the people of the
United States at the hand of Great Britain had increased, new
difficulties having grown out of the belligerent position of Europe at
the time we are considering. France, as we have seen, by a decree of her
National Convention, had placed the shipping of neutrals during the
pending war on the same footing as that of her own; and, in consequence,
a rich commerce had presented itself to American merchantmen, of which
they took advantage. Great Britain paid no attention to this decree, but
claimed for its cruisers the right to seize French property, even on
board American vessels. The British also refused to recognise as neutral
the trade between France and her West India colonies, carried on in
American bottoms, which the pressure of war had created.

The British government had also instructed their cruisers to seize and
bring in all vessels employed in carrying breadstuffs to French ports,
even though vessel and cargo should be neutral property; claiming the
right, contrary to modern usage, of preventing, by all means in her
power, supplies being carried to her enemy, her statesmen having
conceived the idea of destroying the French Revolution by starvation.
Such vessels and cargoes were, however, to be paid for on proof being
presented of their neutral character, and bonds being given to land in
countries at peace with Great Britain. It is proper to state, that, at
about the time in question, the French government--under the pressure of
circumstances, and driven to it, they said, "by their implacable and
ferocious enemies"--authorized the same system of seizure, with promises
to pay. The British _did_ pay, the French did _not_, and on that score
the Americans more highly respected the former than the latter.

A more serious ground of complaint against Great Britain was the
authority given to the commanders of British ships of war to make up any
deficiency in their crews, by pressing into their service British-born
seamen, wherever found, not within the immediate jurisdiction of any
foreign state. Under this authority, many American merchant-vessels were
crippled, while in mid-ocean, by British seamen being taken from them.
Nor were British seamen alone taken. It was sometimes difficult to
distinguish an Englishman from an American; and as the commanders of
vessels-of-war were not very strict in their scrutiny, native-born
Americans were frequently dragged on board British vessels, and kept in
slavery in the royal service for years. American seamen were thus
pressed into foreign service, even within the jurisdiction of the United
States. The remonstrances of the latter government against these
outrages were unheeded, and bitter feelings were engendered.

And yet another serious cause of difficulty with, and resentment toward
Great Britain existed in the hostile position of the Indian tribes in
the Northwest. Abortive attempts were made by the United States'
commissioners to form a treaty with some of them. The Indians insisted
upon making the Ohio river the boundary between themselves and the white
people, and to this they inflexibly adhered. It was generally believed
that the government of Canada encouraged them to persevere in this
claim. Indeed, information obtained from the Indians themselves made the
suspicion plausible, and the justice of that suspicion was enforced by
the tenacity with which the British held on to the western posts, under
the pretext, however, that the portion of the treaty of 1783 relating to
the payment of debts to British creditors, contracted by Americans
previous to the Revolution, had not yet been fulfilled by the government
of the United States, or promised to be by any decisions of the federal

These several causes of complaint against the British government, viewed
superficially by the people, caused great irritation in the public mind,
and a corresponding sympathy for France, the avowed and active enemy of
Great Britain. That sympathy, as we have seen, gave strength to the
insolent pretensions of Genet. Added to this was a decision in the
federal court at Richmond, which declared that, according to the treaty
of 1783, debts due from American citizens to British merchants previous
to the Revolution must be paid. This gave intensity to the excitement,
and the cry of usurpation on the part of the federal judiciary, which
had frequently been raised by the opposition, now went over the land
with vehement cadence.

The relations of the United States with Spain rather strengthened
Genet's position. The Mississippi river was still closed to the
Americans; and the Creek and Cherokee Indians, evidently encouraged by
Spanish emissaries among them, assumed a position hostile to the United
States. It was also asserted that propositions had been made by Spain to
Great Britain inimical to the United States. These facts and rumors
inflamed the people of the extreme South and West; and as a part of
Genet's programme of operations in this country contemplated an armed
invasion of Louisiana and the opening of the Mississippi, he and his
cause were very popular with the settlers in the great valleys beyond
the mountains of the Southwest.

While these things were perplexing Washington's cabinet, the dissentions
in that cabinet were more perplexing to the president. And yet, so
profoundly was Washington impressed with the skill, judgment, forecast,
and patriotism of the chief contestants, Jefferson and Hamilton, that he
contemplated the loss of their service, in their respective stations,
with the greatest solicitude. Such contemplations were pressed upon his
mind during the season of contest with Genet, which we have just
considered. Toward the close of June, Hamilton notified the president
that "considerations relative both to the public interest and to his own
delicacy" had brought him to the conclusion of resigning at the close of
the ensuing session of Congress; and on the thirty-first of July,
Jefferson informed him that, at the close of the ensuing month of
September, he should "beg leave to retire to scenes of greater
tranquillity from those for which," he said, "I am every day more and
more convinced that neither my talents, tone of mind, nor time of life
fit me."

These communications distressed the president; and on the sixth of
August he called upon Mr. Jefferson at his house, a little out of
Philadelphia, and expressed himself greatly concerned because of the
threatened desertion of those on whom he most relied, in this the hour
of greatest perplexity to the government. He did not know where he
should look to find suitable characters to fill up the offices. Mere
talents, he said, did not suffice for the department of state; for its
duties required a person conversant with foreign affairs, and perhaps
with foreign courts.

"He expressed great apprehensions," says Jefferson in his _Anas_, "at
the fermentation which seemed to be working in the mind of the public;
that many descriptions of persons, actuated by different causes,
appeared to be uniting [alluding to the democratic societies]; what it
would end in he knew not; a new Congress was to assemble, more numerous,
and perhaps of a different spirit; and the first expression of their
sentiments would be important." He then urged Jefferson to remain until
the close of the next session, if no longer.

Jefferson pleaded his repugnance to public life, and especially the
uneasiness of the position in which he was placed. He and Hamilton were
bitter enemies, and his course, he said, had caused "the wealthy
aristocrats, the merchants connected closely with England, the
newly-created paper factions," to bear him peculiar hatred. Thus
surrounded, he said, his "words were caught, multiplied, misconstrued,
and even fabricated and spread abroad," to his injury. Disclaiming any
knowledge of the views of the republican party at that time, he gave it
as his opinion that they would be found strong supporters of the
government in all measures for the public welfare; that in the next
Congress they would attempt nothing material but to make that body
independent; and that though the manoeuvres of Mr. Genet might produce
some embarrassment, he would be abandoned by the republicans and all
true friends of the country the moment they knew the nature and tendency
of his conduct.

The want of candor exhibited by Mr. Jefferson in these assurances,
recorded by his own pen, must have been plainly visible to Washington.
The idea that the secretary, the head and front of the republican party,
should be ignorant of their "views," and that the "party" would desert
Genet when they should know "the nature of his conduct," when that party
were his continual backers and supporters, is simply absurd; and it is
difficult to believe that Washington on that occasion, as Mr. Jefferson
says, actually asserted his belief "in the purity of the motives" of
that party.[58]

Jefferson consented to remain longer in the cabinet, and wrote the
vigorous and high-toned letter to Gouverneur Morris on the subject of
Genet's recall--a letter forming one of the most admirable state papers
ever issued from that department. That letter gave Genet great umbrage,
and in his comments he bitterly reproached Jefferson because he had
allowed himself to be made "an ungenerous instrument" of attack upon
him, after having made him believe that he was his friend, and
"initiating him into the mysteries which had influenced his hatred
against all those who aspired to absolute power." It seems, from other
remarks of Genet, that the tone of Jefferson's private conversations
with the minister upon public topics had differed materially from that
of his official communications. Genet intimated this when he said that
"it was not in his character to speak, _as many people do_, in one way,
and to act in another--to have an official language, and a language

While the subject of Genet's recall was pending, the minister proceeded
to New York. Already the common sense of the people began to prevail
over the nonsense of passion and feeling. Business-men--and the whole
population of the country had interests directly associated with
business-men--began to reflect upon the tendency of the doctrines of
Genet, and clearly perceived that their practical effect would be the
involvement of the United States in a war with England, and the sweeping
of all their commerce from the ocean. From the moment when these
reflections were heeded, there was a pause in the popular expressions of
enthusiasm in favor of Genet. The last libations of fulsome adulation
were poured out on his arrival in New York in September, while the
whole town and surrounding country were wild with excitement. The
frigate _L'Embuscade_, while lying in the harbor of New York, had been
challenged to single combat by the British frigate _Boston_, then
cruising off Sandy Hook. _L'Embuscade_ accepted the challenge; a severe
battle ensued; Captain Courtenay, commander of the _Boston_, was killed;
and the French vessel returned in triumph to New York. Multitudes of
people gathered upon the wharves and greeted her with loud cheers. The
excitement was intensified by the arrival, on the same day, of a French
fleet from Chesapeake bay, which anchored in the Hudson river. The
commander of _L'Embuscade_, and the officers of the other French
vessels, were regarded as almost superhuman by the most enthusiastic
sympathizers with the French Revolution; and tri-colored ribbons and
cockades were seen on every side, while the streets were made resonant
with the Marsellaise Hymn and the Carmagnole.

While this new phase of excitement was at its culmination, the booming
of cannon and the merry peal of the bells announced the approach of
Citizen Genet. He was at Paulus' Hook (now Jersey City), opposite New
York, and thousands of his friends immediately gathered in "The Fields"
(now City-hall park) to adopt measures for his reception. A committee of
escort was appointed, and Genet entered the city, amid the acclamations
of an excited populace, with all the pomp of a conqueror. "Addresses
were made to him," says Mr. Irving, "expressing devoted attachment to
the French republic, and abjuring all neutrality in regard to its heroic
struggle. 'The cause of France is the cause of America,' cried the
enthusiasts; 'it is time to distinguish its friends from its foes.'
Genet looked around him. The tri-colored cockade figured in the hats of
the shouting multitude; tri-colored ribbons fluttered from the dresses
of females in the windows; the French flag was hoisted on the top of the
Tontine coffee-house (the city exchange), surmounted by the cap of
liberty. Can we wonder that what little discretion Genet possessed was
completely overborne by this tide of seeming popularity?"

Genet had scarcely touched this cup of delight with his lips, when a
copy of Jefferson's letter to Morris came to embitter the intoxicating
draught. He received the document on the fifteenth of September, with
assurances that, out of regard to the interests of France, the president
would receive Mr. Genet's communications in writing, and respect him as
the representative of his government until his successor should arrive,
as long as his deportment should be of the tenor usually observed by
embassadors toward independent nations. Genet was stung to the quick;
and, three days after the receipt of this letter, he wrote a most angry
reply to Jefferson, in which, as we have just noticed, he accused him of
playing false to his professions of friendship, and charged the disfavor
in which he was held by the government to the machinations of
"aristocrats, partisans of monarchy, partisans of England and her
constitution and consequently enemies of the principles which all good
Frenchmen had imbued with religious enthusiasm;" and who, "instead of a
democratic embassador, would prefer a minister of the ancient _regimé_,
very complaisant, very gentle, very disposed to pay court to people in
office, to conform blindly to everything which flattered their views and
projects; above all, to prefer to the sure and modest society of good
farmers, simple citizens, and honest artisans, that of distinguished
personages who speculate so patriotically in the public funds, in the
lands, and in the paper of government."

Among the twelve enumerated great grievances of which Genet complained,
was, that at his first interview with the president, the latter did not
speak to _him_, specially, but of the friendship of the United States
toward France; that he did not, with partisan enthusiasm, announce a
single sentiment on the French Revolution, "while all the towns from
Charleston to Philadelphia had made the air resound with their most
ardent wishes for the French republic." He complained that the president
had admitted to a private audience, before his arrival, "Noailles[60] and
Talon, known agents of the French counter-revolutionists;" that the
"first magistrate of a free people decorated his parlor with certain
medallions" of the murdered king and his family, "which served at Paris
as signals of rallying;" that when he applied to the secretary of war to
lend his government some cannon and firearms for defensive use in the
Windward islands, that functionary had "the front to answer, with an
ironical carelessness, that the principles established by the president
did not permit him to lend the French so much as a pistol!" and,
lastly, that the president, in spite of the French minister's
"respectful insinuations," had deferred "to convoke Congress immediately
in order to take the true sentiments of the people, to fix the political
system of the United States, and to decide whether they would break,
suspend, or tighten their bonds with France."

Jefferson, who had become heartily disgusted with Genet, took no notice
of this angry and insolent letter, and the speedily-changed tone of
public feeling toward the writer justified the silence. His threat of
appealing from the president to the people--in other words, to excite an
insurrection for the purpose of overthrowing the government--had shocked
the national pride, and many considerate republicans, who had been
zealous in the cause of the French Revolution, paused while listening to
the audacious words of a foreigner, who presumed to dictate a course of
conduct for the beloved Washington to pursue.

The rumor of Genet's threat first went abroad in August, and met him,
while on a visit to New York, in the form of a statement in one of the
public papers. His partisans denied the truth of the statement, when
Chief-Justice Jay and Rufus King (the latter a leading member of
Congress) assumed the responsibility of it in a published note dated the
twelfth of August. The fact was thus established, notwithstanding the
violent assaults made by Genet's partisans upon the integrity of Messrs.
Jay and King; and on the very day when, as we have observed, he was
received in New York in the midst of pealing bells and roaring cannon, a
public meeting was held, in which his insolence was rebuked, and the
policy of Washington's proclamation of neutrality strongly commended.
Similar meetings were held throughout the Union, and there soon appeared
a demonstration of public sentiment, the existence of which was not
suspected by the partisans of Genet. His more violent friends attempted
to check the counter-current, but in vain. When they could no longer
deny the fact of his menace, they unwisely advocated his right to appeal
from the president to the people. But this advocacy, and Genet's own
intemperate conduct, damaged his interests past recovery. The tide of
his popularity began rapidly to ebb, and in the public mind there was
commenced a strong and irresistible reaction in favor of the federal

During the summer of 1793, a malignant fever, with slow but sure steps,
invaded the city of Philadelphia. One after another of the inhabitants
fell before its pestilential breath, until at length physicians and the
voice of daily experience pronounced it infectious. It was, in truth,
the deadly _yellow fever_ that had fastened its fangs upon the doomed
city. With the conviction of imminent peril, the population began to
move. Those whose circumstances permitted them to leave fled to the
country; and as August, with its hot days and cool, moist nights, drew
to a close, its intensity fearfully increased. It respected neither age
nor class. Early in September, Hamilton, the secretary of the treasury,
was prostrated by it, but recovered; and on the ninth, Washington with
his family left for Mount Vernon, leaving directions about his household
with General Knox, who resolved to remain, contrary to the advice of the

"I think it would not be prudent," said Washington, "either for you or
the clerks in your office, or the office itself, to be too much exposed
to the malignant fever, which, by well-authenticated report, is
spreading through the city.... I sincerely wish and pray that you and
yours may escape untouched, and when we meet again, that it may be under
circumstances more pleasing than the present."

Washington would have remained longer, but Mrs. Washington, alarmed for
the safety of the whole family (the house in which they lived being in a
manner blockaded by the disorder), prevailed on him to leave. The fever
continued to rage with great violence until late in October, when frost
checked its progress. Before it ceased, between three and four thousand
of the inhabitants of Philadelphia perished. There was mourning in
almost every family; and during the ensuing session of Congress, there
was very little gayety in the federal capital. Some of the physicians
fled like cowards from the field of battle, while others remained and
assumed the two-fold functions of physicians and nurses, during those
dark days of the autumn of 1793. Among the latter was the eminent Doctor
Rush, whose courage and philanthropy are matters of history.[61]

The progress of the disease in Philadelphia was watched by the
president at Mount Vernon with great solicitude, as the autumn wore
away, for it was near the time for the assembling of a new Congress, and
public affairs demanded their earliest and most serious attention.
September passed away, and much of October had gone, before the fever
abated. Meanwhile, he proposed to call the Congress together at
Germantown, or some other place near Philadelphia, at a safe distance
from the pestilence. He had some doubt concerning his power to change
the place of meeting, or to call them together at all, and asked the
opinion of Mr. Randolph, the attorney-general. That gentleman expressed
his belief that the president had not the power, and suggested the
propriety of the Congress assembling at some place within the limits of
Philadelphia, and then adjourning to some more remote and safe position.
In the event of their not so assembling at the proper time, the
"extraordinary occasion" contemplated by the constitution would occur,
and the president then, clearly, had the right to call them together at
the most suitable place. He also asked the opinions of other members of
his cabinet on the subject; but the abatement of the disease rendered
any change unnecessary.

At the close of October Washington set out for Philadelphia with his
family, and there, on the second of December, the new Congress


[58] In a letter to Richard Henry Lee, written at Mount Vernon a few
weeks later, Washington said: "On fair ground it would be difficult to
assign reasons for the conduct of those [the republican party] who are
arraigning, and, so far as they are able, constantly embarrassing, the
measures of government with respect to its pacific disposition towards
the belligerent powers in the convulsive dispute which agitates them.
But their motives are too obvious to those who have the means of
information, and have viewed the different grounds which they have
taken, to mistake their object. It is not the cause of France, nor I
believe of liberty, which they regard; for, could they involve this
country in war (no matter with whom) and disgrace, they would be among
the first and loudest of the clamorous against the expense and impolicy
of the measure."

[59] Genet's Letter to Jefferson, September 18, 1793.

[60] De Noailles was a young French nobleman, who married a sister of
Madame Lafayette, and served with distinction at the siege of Yorktown,
in 1781. Like his brother-in-law, the marquis, he had engaged warmly in
the French Revolution, in its earlier stages, but, like him, found
himself in a proscribed party, and obliged to fly for safety. He came to
the United States by way of England, and early in May he was in
Philadelphia with his friend Talon, seeking an audience with Washington.
The latter, with his usual circumspection, declined any direct
communication with him until the object of his visit should be known. In
a note to Hamilton, Washington remarked, "I pray you intimate to him
[Viscount de Noailles], gently and delicately, that if the letters or
papers which he has to present are, knowingly to him, of a nature which
relates to public matters, and not particularly addressed to me, or if
he has any verbal communications to make of a similar kind, I had rather
they should come through a proper channel. Add thereto, generally, that
the peculiar situation of European affairs at this moment, my good
wishes for his nation aggregately, my regard for those of it, in
particular, with whom I have had the honor of an acquaintance, my
anxious desire to keep this country in peace, and the delicacy of my
situation, render a circumspect conduct indispensably necessary on my
part. I do not, however, mean by this that I am to withhold from him
such civilities as are common to others. Those more marked,
notwithstanding our former acquaintance, would excite speculations,
which had better be avoided."

[61] Dr. Benjamin Rush was then in the prime of life, being forty-eight
years of age. He had already achieved the highest success in his
profession as a writer and practitioner; and as a member of the
continental Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, he
had a wide-spread popularity. He founded the Philadelphia dispensary in
1786, and was one of the principal founders of Dickinson college, at
Carlisle, in Pennsylvania. He was professor of medical science in the
medical college of Philadelphia, and also in the medical college of
Pennsylvania. He was president of the American Anti-slavery society and
other associations for the good of mankind.

"In private life," says Doctor John W. Francis, "his disposition and
deportment were in the highest degree exemplary. Admired and courted for
his intellectual endowments, he riveted to him the affections of all who
enjoyed the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance. The affability of his
manners, the amiableness of his temper, and the benevolence of his
character, were ever conspicuous. He was ardent in his friendships, and
forgiving in his resentments; and yet, entertaining a due regard for
himself and a high sense of honor, he possessed a manly independence of
spirit which disdained everything mean and servile. He had an
extraordinary command of language, and always imparted his thoughts in a
peculiarly impressive and eloquent manner. Those who had the happiness
to experience the delights of his conversation will long recollect with
pleasure his unassuming modesty, and the rich stores of knowledge he
poured forth on the most instructive topics. Even when his opinions were
solicited, they were given, not as the dictates or admonitions of a
superior, but as the kind advice of a friend and equal. He never evinced
any of that haughtiness and affectation of importance which sometimes
attaches to men of eminence, and which so materially lessens the
pleasures and comforts of social life."--_Sketch of the Life and
Character of the late Doctor Benjamin Rush_, in the _American Medical
and Philosophical Register_, July, 1813.



The third Congress assembled at Philadelphia on the second of December.
In the senate, many of the leading members of former sessions remained,
having their places either by holding over or by re-election. Many of
the old members of the house of representatives had also been re-chosen,
and yet there were a great many changes in that body. The elements of
party strife were active among them all, and it was evident to every man
that a great struggle was impending. The aggressions of the British and
the intrigues of Genet continued to inflame the zeal of the republicans,
and they carried their partiality to France to a degree of absolute
fanaticism. To many minds, open war between England and the United
States appeared inevitable.

Washington's annual message, delivered at the opening of Congress, was
calculated to still the turbulent waves of faction, had reason and
judgment, and not passion and fanaticism, swayed the opinions of men. He
expressed his sense of the continued confidence of the people in
re-electing him to the high office of chief-magistrate of the nation;
and then, in firm, explicit, and dignified terms, spoke of existing
public affairs, especially the measures he had taken, in consequence of
the war in Europe, to preserve peace at home and to protect the rights
and interests of the United States. He pressed upon Congress the
necessity of placing the country in a condition of complete defence, and
of exacting from other governments the fulfilment of their duties toward
his own.

"The United States ought not," he said, "to indulge a persuasion that,
contrary to the order of human events, they will for ever keep at a
distance those painful appeals to arms with which the history of every
other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among
nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely 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 rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at
all times ready for war." With such suggestions, he urged them to adopt
measures for increasing the amount of arms and ammunition in the
arsenals, and to improve the militia establishment. He assured them that
every reasonable effort had been made to adjust the causes of dissention
with the Indians north of the Ohio, and yet war with them continued. He
alluded to the political connection of the United States with Europe,
and promised to give them, in a subsequent communication, a statement of
occurrences which related to it, that had passed under the knowledge of
the executive.

The president urged the house of representatives to adopt measures for
the "regular redemption and discharge of the public debt," as a matter
of the first importance; and announced the necessity of an augmentation
of the public revenue to meet all proper demands upon the treasury. He
concluded by saying, "Permit me to bring to your remembrance the
magnitude of your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of
the government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with
freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But, as the legislative
proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for
the want of temper or of candor, so shall not the public happiness
languish for the want of my strenuous and warmest co-operation."

On the fifth of December, according to promise, Washington laid before
Congress the documents relating, not only to Genet and his mission, but
to negotiations with England and other European governments. In his
message accompanying these documents, after alluding to the general
feeling of friendship for the United States exhibited by the
representative and executive bodies of France, the president spoke as
follows of the insolent Genet:--

"It is with extreme concern I have to inform you, that the proceedings
of the person whom they have unfortunately appointed their minister
plenipotentiary here have breathed nothing of the friendly spirit of the
nation which sent him. Their tendency, on the contrary, has been to
involve us in war abroad, and discord and anarchy at home. So far as his
acts, or those of his agents, have threatened our immediate commitment
in the war, or flagrant insult to the authority of the laws, their
effect has been counteracted by the ordinary cognizance of the laws, and
by an exertion of the powers confided to me. Where their danger was not
imminent, they have been borne with from sentiments of regard to his
nation, from a sense of their friendship toward us, from a conviction
that they would not suffer us to long remain exposed to the action of a
person who has so little respected our mutual dispositions, and from a
reliance on the firmness of my fellow-citizens in their principles of
peace and order." He then alluded to the spoliations which had been
committed upon the commerce of the United States by the cruisers of the
belligerent powers, and the restrictions upon American commerce
attempted to be enforced by the commanders of British vessels pursuant
to instructions of their government. He also called attention to the
inexecution of the treaty of 1783, and the relations of the United
States and Spain.

"The message," says Hildreth, "as originally drafted by Jefferson,
contained a contrast between the conduct of France and England,
especially in relation to commercial facilities, highly favorable to the
former. This had been objected to by Hamilton, who considered the
disposition of the people toward France a serious calamity, and that the
executive ought not, by echoing her praises, to nourish that
disposition. In his opinion, the balance of commercial favors was
decidedly with the British; the commercial offers made by France were
the offspring of the moment, growing out of circumstances that could not
last. To evade Hamilton's objections, Jefferson consented to some
modifications of the message. Hamilton then insisted that the papers
relating to the non-execution of the treaty of peace, and to the
stopping of the corn-ships, ought not to be communicated, unless in a
secret message, as the matters therein discussed were still unsettled,
and the tendency of the communication was to inflame the public mind
against Great Britain. Jefferson was a good deal alarmed at this
threatened suppression of his diplomatic labors; but Washington decided
that all the papers should be communicated without any restrictions of
secrecy, even those respecting the corn-ships, which all the cabinet
except Jefferson had advised to withhold."

In a letter to his wife, written on the nineteenth of December, John
Adams, referring to the sentence in Washington's special message in
relation to the French minister, said, "The president has considered the
conduct of Genet very nearly in the same light with Columbus, and has
given him a bolt of thunder. We shall see how this is supported by both
houses. We shall soon see whether we have any government or not in this
country." Doubting whether Washington would be sustained by Congress,
Adams continued: "But, although he stands at present as high in the
admiration and confidence of the people as ever he did, I expect he will
find many bitter and desperate enemies arise in consequence of his just
judgment against Genet."

In this, Adams was mistaken. The house, where the opposition was most
rampant, determined, and unscrupulous, responded most affectionately to
the president's message, and tacitly rebuked the demagogues for their
personal abuse of Washington. They expressed their satisfaction at his
re-election, and their confidence in the purity and patriotism of his
motives, in all his acts, especially in again consenting, at the call of
his country, to fill the presidential chair. "It is to virtues which
have commanded long and universal reverence, and services from which
have flowed great and lasting benefits, that the tribute of praise may
be paid, without the reproach of flattery; and it is from the same
sources that the fairest anticipations may be derived in favor of the
public happiness."

Both houses, likewise, in the face of the popular excitement in favor of
France, approved of the president's course in regard to that country and
its representative; and while the lower house was guarded in its terms
of approval of the proclamation of neutrality that had been so loudly
condemned by the partisan press, the senate pronounced it "a measure
well-timed and wise, manifesting a watchful solicitude for the welfare
of the nation and calculated to promote it."

Jefferson's official connection with Washington was now drawing to a
close. He had consented to remain in the cabinet until the end of the
current year. With the completion and submission of some able state
papers he finished his career as secretary of state. One of them was an
elaborate report called for by a resolution of Congress adopted in
February, 1791, on the state of trade of the United States with
different countries; the nature and extent of exports and imports, and
the amount of tonnage of American shipping. It also specified the
various restrictions and prohibitions by which American commerce was
embarrassed and greatly injured, and recommended the adoption of
discriminating duties, as against Great Britain, to compel her to put
the United States on a more equal footing, she having thus far
persistently declined to enter into any treaty stipulations on the

Jefferson's last official act was the administration of a deserved
rebuke to Genet. That meddling functionary had sent to him translations
of the instructions given him by the executive council of France,
desiring the president to lay them officially before both houses of
Congress, and proposing to transmit, from time to time, other papers to
be laid before them in like manner. "I have it in charge to observe,"
said Jefferson to Genet in a letter on the thirty-first of December,
"that your functions as the minister of a foreign nation here are
confined to the transactions of the affairs of your nation with the
executive of the United States; that the communications which are to
pass between the executive and legislative branches can not be a
subject for your interference; and that the president must be left to
judge for himself what matters his duty, or the public good, may require
him to propose to the deliberations of Congress. I have, therefore, the
honor of returning you the copies sent for distribution, and of being,
with great respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant."
Even this did not keep Genet quiet.

Throughout all the storm that had agitated his cabinet, and the
hostility of Jefferson and his party to the measures of the
administration, Washington never withheld from the secretary of state
his confidence in his wisdom and patriotism; and the latter left office
with the happy consciousness that he carried with him into retirement
the friendship of one, of whom he said in after years, "His integrity
was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known; no
motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being
able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the word, a
wise, and good, and great man"[62]

On the last day of the year, Mr. Jefferson offered his resignation in
the following letter to the president: "Having had the honor of
communicating to you, in my letter of the last of July, my purpose of
retiring from the office of secretary of state at the end of the month
of September, you were pleased, for particular reasons, to wish its
postponement to the close of the year. That time being now arrived, and
my propensities to retirement daily more and more irresistible, I now
take the liberty of resigning the office into your hands. Be pleased to
accept with it my sincere thanks for all the indulgences which you have
been so good as to exercise toward me in the discharge of its duties.
Conscious that my need of them have been great, I have still ever found
them greater, without any other claim on my part than a firm pursuit of
what has appeared to me to be right, and a thorough disdain of all means
which were not as open and honorable as their object was pure. I carry
into my retirement a lively sense of your goodness, and shall continue
gratefully to remember it.

"With very sincere prayers for your life, health, and tranquillity, I
pray you to accept the homage of great and constant respect and

To this Washington replied the next day as follows: "I yesterday
received, with sincere regret, your resignation of the office of
secretary of state. Since it has been impossible to prevail upon you to
forego any longer the indulgence of your desire for private life, the
event, however anxious I am to avert it, must be submitted to.

"But I can not suffer you to leave your station without assuring you
that the opinion which I had formed of your integrity and talents, and
which dictated your original nomination, has been confirmed by the
fullest experience, and that both have been eminently displayed in the
discharge of your duty.

"Let a conviction of my most earnest prayers for your happiness
accompany you in your retirement; and while I accept, with the warmest
thanks, your solicitude for my welfare, I beg you to believe that I
always am, dear sir, &c."

Edmund Randolph, the attorney-general, took Jefferson's place in the
cabinet, and his own was filled by William Bradford, of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Jefferson left the seat of government as soon as possible after
withdrawing from public life; and a fortnight after his resignation he
arrived at Monticello, his beautiful home in the interior of Virginia,
in full view of the Blue Ridge along a continuous line of almost sixty
miles. He was then fifty years of age. His whole family, with all his
servants, were at his home to receive him; and so delightful was this,
his first experience of private life for many long years, that he
resolved to abandon himself to it entirely.

He boasted, almost a month after he left Philadelphia, that he had not
seen a newspaper since his flight from the cares of government, and he
declared that he thought of never taking one again. "I think it is
Montaigne," he wrote to Edmund Randolph on the third of February, "who
has said that ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest
his head. I am sure it is true, as to anything political, and shall
endeavor to estrange myself to everything of that character." But his
hatred of Hamilton, and his persistence in regarding the political
friends of that gentleman as necessarily corrupt, would not allow party
feud to sleep in his mind, and he added, in the next sentence, "I
indulge myself on one political topic only; that is, in declaring to my
countrymen the shameless corruption of a portion of the representatives
to the first and second Congress, and their implicit devotion to the

Meanwhile, the report of Jefferson on commercial affairs was eliciting
warm debates in Congress. In that report he had suggested two methods
for modifying or removing commercial restrictions: first, by amicable
arrangements with foreign powers; and, secondly, by counteracting acts
of the legislature. With the design, as we have seen, of distressing
France by cutting off her supplies, two orders in council were issued by
the British government, one in June and the other in November, which
bore heavily upon the commercial prosperity of the United States. By the
first order, British cruisers were instructed to stop all ships laden
with corn, flour, or meal (corn-ships already alluded to), bound to any
French port, and send them to any convenient port, home or continental,
where the cargoes might be purchased in behalf of the British
government. By the second, British ships-of-war and privateers were
required to detain all vessels laden with goods produced in any colony
belonging to France, or with provisions for any such colony, and bring
them to adjudication before British courts of admiralty. These were such
flagrant outrages upon the rights of neutrals, that the United States
government strongly remonstrated against them as unjust in principle and
injurious in their practical effects. It was to these orders in council
and their effects that the president pointed in his annual message, when
urging the necessity of placing the country in a state of defense, and
in a position to assert its just rights.[63]

Mr. Jefferson's report gave rise to a series of resolutions offered, by
Mr. Madison on the third of January, 1794, the leading idea of which was
that of opposing commercial resistance to commercial injury, and to
enforce a perfect equality by retaliating impositions on the assumption
that the commercial system of Great Britain was hostile to that of the
United States. This scheme embodied the idea of a proposition made by
Madison in the first Congress. His resolutions now took wider range,
however, than did his proposition then. It was now proposed to impose
restrictions and additional duties on the manufactures and navigation of
nations which had no commercial treaties with the United States, and a
reduction of duties on the tonnage of vessels belonging to nations with
which such treaties existed.


[62] Letter to Doctor Walter Jones, January 2, 1814.

[63] In allusion to the annual and special messages of Washington at
this time, the eminent Charles James Fox made the following remarks in
the British parliament on the thirty-first of January, 1794:--

     "And here, sir, I can not help alluding to the president of the
     United States, General Washington, a character whose conduct has
     been so different from that which has been pursued by ministers of
     this country. How infinitely wiser must appear the spirit and
     principles manifested in his late addresses to Congress than the
     policy of modern European courts! Illustrious man! deriving honor
     less from the splendor of his situation than from the dignity of
     his mind; before whom all borrowed greatness sinks into
     insignificance, and all the potentates of Europe (excepting the
     members of our own royal family) become little and contemptible! He
     has had no occasion to have recourse to any tricks of policy or
     arts of alarm; his authority has been sufficiently supported by the
     same means by which it was acquired, and his conduct has uniformly
     been characterized by wisdom, moderation, and firmness. Feeling
     gratitude to France for the assistance received from her in that
     great contest which secured the independence of America, he did not
     choose to give up the system of neutrality. Having once laid down
     that line of conduct, which both gratitude and policy pointed out
     as most proper to be pursued, not all the insults and provocations
     of the French minister, Genet, could turn him from his purpose.
     Intrusted with the welfare of a great people, he did not allow the
     misconduct of another with respect to himself, for one moment, to
     withdraw his attention from their interest. He had no fear of the
     Jacobins; he felt no alarm for their principles, and considered no
     precaution as necessary in order to stop their progress.

     "The people over whom he presided he knew to be acquainted with
     their rights and their duties. He trusted to their own good sense
     to defeat the effect of those arts which might be employed to
     inflame or mislead their minds; and was sensible that a government
     could be in no danger while it retained the attachment and
     confidence of its subjects; attachment, in this instance, not
     blindly adopted--confidence not implicitly given, but arising from
     the conviction of its excellence, and the experience of its
     blessings. I can not, indeed, help admiring the wisdom and fortune
     of this great man. By the phrase 'fortune,' I mean not in the
     smallest degree to derogate from his merit. But, notwithstanding
     his extraordinary talent and exalted integrity, it must be
     considered as singularly fortunate that he should have experienced
     a lot which so seldom falls to the portion of humanity, and have
     passed through such a variety of scenes without stain and reproach.
     It must indeed create astonishment, that, placed in circumstances
     so critical, and filling for a series of years a station so
     conspicuous, his character should never once have been called in
     question; that he should in no one instance have been accused
     either of improper insolence or of mean submission in his
     transactions with foreign nations. For him it has been reserved to
     run the race of glory, without experiencing the smallest
     interruption to the brilliancy of his career."



Madison's resolutions elicited very warm, and at times, violent debates.
The subject was of a purely commercial nature; but the questions it
involved were so interwoven with political considerations, that the
debates inevitably assumed a political and partisan aspect. The
federalists plainly saw that the recommendations in Jefferson's report,
and in the resolutions of Madison, hostility to England and undue favor
toward France, neither position being warranted by a wise policy, nor
consistent with neutrality. The republicans, on the other hand, regarded
the scheme as equitable in itself, and as absolutely necessary for the
assertion of the rights of neutral nations, and the protection of
American commerce from insult, aggression, and plunder. These debates,
which commenced on the thirteenth of January, continued until the third
of February, with few intermissions; and the house was so nearly equally
divided in sentiment, that the first resolution, authorizing commercial
restrictions, was passed by a majority of only five. This was
subsequently rejected in the senate by the casting vote of the
vice-president, and the further consideration of the whole subject was
postponed until March. When it was resumed, the progress of events had
given such new complexion to the whole matter, that it was indefinitely

A new and important subject for legislation was brought up at this time.
Very soon after the close of the Revolution, the piratical practices of
corsairs belonging to the Barbary powers on the southern shores of the
Mediterranean sea, and particularly of Algiers, had suggested the
importance of a naval establishment for the protection of the infant
commerce of the new-born nation. Many American merchant-ships, trading
in the Mediterranean sea, were captured by these corsairs, their cargoes
appropriated by the pirates, and their crews sold into slavery. Toward
the close of 1790, President Washington called the attention of Congress
to the subject, and at the same time Mr. Jefferson, the secretary of
state, who had made himself thoroughly acquainted with the facts when in
France, gave many interesting details in an official report on the

Colonel David Humphreys was appointed a commissioner to treat with the
dey or governor of Algiers concerning his corsairs; but that
semi-barbarian--proud, haughty, and avaricious--was not disposed to
relinquish his share of the profitable sea-robberies carried on under
his sanction. "If I were to make peace with everybody," he said, "what
should I do with my corsairs? What should I do with my soldiers? They
would take off my head for the want of other prizes, not being able to
live on their miserable allowance!"

This was certainly good logic for the perplexed dey, but it did not
convince Humphreys of the justice of piratical practices; and, at the
close of 1793, he wrote to the government of the United States, "If we
mean to have a commerce, we must have a navy to defend it. Besides, the
very _semblance of this_ would tend more toward enabling us to maintain
our neutrality, in the actual critical state of affairs in Europe, than
all the declarations, reasonings, concessions, and sacrifices, that can
possibly be made."

Washington had communicated to the house on the twenty-third day of
December, in a confidential message, the state of affairs with Algiers;
and its consideration with closed doors brought about a debate as to
whether the public should at any time, or under any circumstances, be
excluded from the galleries of the halls of Congress. This, however,
interrupted the business only for a short time.

On the second of January, a committee was appointed to report the amount
of force necessary to protect American commerce against the Algerine
corsairs, and the ways and means for its support. This was the first
committee of ways and means ever appointed by Congress, questions of
that sort having been hitherto referred to the secretary of the
treasury. It indicated an opposition majority in the house, but, as we
have seen in the case of Madison's resolutions, it was very small.

Finally, in the spring of 1794, Congress passed an act to provide for a
naval armament, because, as the preamble recited, "the depredations
committed by the Algerine corsairs on the commerce of the United States,
render it necessary that a naval force should be provided for its
protection." The bill met with strenuous opposition: first, because the
time required to form a navy would be too long, the pressing exigency of
the case requiring immediate action; and, secondly, because it would be
cheaper to purchase the friendship of Algiers by paying a money-tribute,
as had been done for some time by European nations, or to purchase the
protection of those nations. It appears strange that suggestions so
degrading to the character of a free and independent nation should not
have been met with indignant rebuke.

The bill was passed by a small majority. The president was authorized to
provide four frigates, to carry forty-four guns each, and two to carry
thirty-six guns each, and to equip, man, and employ them. The act also
gave him some discretion about the size and metal of the vessels.
Washington, impressed with the stern necessity that called for this
armament, immediately ordered the six vessels to be built, one each at
Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Portsmouth in Virginia, and Portsmouth
in New Hampshire. He also, with the advice and consent of the senate,
proceeded to appoint six naval commanders and other officers; and thus
was commenced the navy of the United States.[64]


During the progress of the debates on Madison's resolutions,
Washington communicated to Congress evidences of efforts on the part of
Genet to excite the people of portions of the Union against the Spanish
authorities on its southwestern border, and to organize military
expeditions against Louisiana and the Floridas. It was now determined to
bear with the insolence and mischievous meddling of the French minister
no longer; and, at a cabinet council, it was agreed that his diplomatic
functions should be suspended, the privileges resting thereon to be
denied him, and his person arrested. This was the only course for the
government to pursue for the preservation of its dignity, and perhaps
the safety of the republic. This resolution was about to be put into
execution, when a despatch was received from Gouverneur Morris
announcing Genet's recall. The French minister of foreign affairs had,
as soon as he heard of Genet's misconduct, reprobated it as unauthorized
by his government, and appointed M. Fauchet secretary of the executive
council to succeed him. At the same time the French government asked the
recall of Gouverneur Morris, whose views of democracy, as he saw it
daily in Paris, did not coincide with the doctrines of the Jacobins.
Morris was recalled, and Washington, with a liberal spirit, nominated
James Monroe, a political opponent, as his successor. He knew that
Monroe would be acceptable to the French Convention, and likely,
therefore, to be useful to his government.

Fauchet was a keen diplomatist, and came as the representative of an
administration more radical in its democracy than the one that appointed
Genet. The Girondists had fallen, and the government of France had
passed into the hands of Danton and Robespierre, the leaders of the
Jacobins. The Reign of Terror was now in full force. The republican
constitution had been suspended, and the Convention had assumed despotic
powers with bloody proclivities. Even the warmest sympathizers with the
French Revolution, in America, stood appalled at the aspect of affairs
there; and many began to doubt, after all, whether English liberty was
not preferable to French liberty.[65]

Fauchet arrived at Philadelphia in February, and Genet had liberty to
return to France. But he did not choose to trust his person to the
caprices of his countrymen in that time of anarchy and blood, and he
remained in America. He married Cornelia Tappen, daughter of Governor
Clinton, of New York, and became a resident of that state. He at once
disappeared from the firmament of politics, but was an excellent citizen
of his adopted country, and took great interest in agriculture. His
course as minister has been ably defended; but the verdict of impartial
history condemns it as unwise and unwarrantable, to say the least. He
died at his residence in Greenbush, opposite Albany, in July, 1834.

Another subject now violently agitated the American people. The news of
the British orders in council concerning the French colonial trade had
produced great excitement in commercial circles at Philadelphia and New
York. It was considered a flagrant act of injustice toward neutrals, and
both parties vehemently condemned the British government. In Congress a
resolution was offered for the raising of fifteen thousand men to serve
two years, and for other preparations for war; and it was at this
juncture that Madison's commercial resolutions, as we have observed,
were called up, debated, and indefinitely postponed. While the debates
on these resolutions were pending, the feeling against Great Britain was
further stimulated by the publication, in New York, of a reputed speech
of Lord Dorchester (Carleton), governor of Canada, to a deputation of
Indians of Lower Canada, who had attended a great council of savage
tribes, in the Ohio country, in 1793. In this speech, Dorchester, it was
alleged, openly avowed his opinion that war between the United States
and Great Britain would be commenced that year, and that "a new line
between the two nations must be drawn by the sword." This document was
pronounced a forgery. But it had its intended effect in increasing the
hatred of Great Britain in the hearts of a very large portion of the
American people. Congress, under the excitement of the moment, passed a
joint resolution, laying an embargo for thirty days, and afterward for
thirty days longer, for the purpose of preventing British supply-ships
carrying provisions to their fleet in the West Indies. It was also
proposed to enroll an army of eighty thousand minute-men, to man forts
and be ready for action; also an additional standing army of twenty
thousand men.

War with Great Britain now seemed inevitable. To avert it, was
Washington's most anxious solicitude; and, firm in his purpose of
preserving for his country neutrality and peace, he resolved to make an
experiment for the maintenance of both, by sending an envoy
extraordinary to England to open negotiations anew. It required great
heroism to attempt such a course; for the popular excitement was
intense, and the idea of holding any further intercourse with England
was scouted as pusillanimous. The tri-colored cockade was seen upon
every side, and the partisans of the French regicides appeared again to
rule the popular will for the hour.

While the public mind was thus agitated, the president received
despatches from Mr. Pinckney, the resident American minister in London,
advising him that the offensive orders in council of the previous
November, concerning neutral ships, had been revoked, and that Lord
Grenville, in conversation, had assured Mr. Pinckney that that measure
had not been intended for the special vexation of American commerce, but
to distress France. This intelligence subdued the belligerent tone of
the opposition for a moment; yet they showed no reluctance to an open
rupture with Great Britain, affecting to regard Grenville's words as
insincere. Their vehement opposition to the appointment of a special
envoy was speedily renewed, and unscrupulous partisans kept up the
war-cry. The opposition press and the democratic societies used every
means to inflame the populace and increase the exasperation of their
feelings toward Great Britain; and they declared that the crisis had
arrived when decision and energy, not moderation toward that government,
was demanded.

But these manifestations had no sensible effect upon Washington. His
purpose had been adopted after mature reflection. His sagacious mind
perceived clearly the probability of success, and his moral heroism, as
on all other occasions, was proof against animadversions. He hesitated
only when the question, Who shall be appointed? was presented.

Washington's first preference for the mission was Hamilton; but the
earliest intimation of this preference that reached the public ear
raised a storm of opposition. The proposed mission itself was condemned
as a cowardly advance to the British government; and a member of the
house of representatives addressed an earnest letter to the president,
opposing the mission in general terms, and in an especial manner
deprecating the appointment of Hamilton as the envoy to be employed.
Senator James Monroe also took upon himself the task of remonstrating
with Washington, in writing, against the nomination of Hamilton,
assuring him that it would be injurious to the public interest and to
the interest of the president himself; and proposed to explain his
reasons at a private interview. Washington declined the interview, but
requested Mr. Monroe to submit to him, in writing, any facts he might
possess which would disqualify the secretary of the treasury for the
mission; and added: "Colonel Hamilton and others have been mentioned,
but no one is yet absolutely decided upon in my mind. But, as much will
depend, among other things, upon the abilities of the person sent, and
his knowledge of the affairs of this country, and as I am alone
responsible for a proper nomination, it certainly behooves me to name
such a one as, in my judgment, combines the requisites for a mission so
peculiarly interesting to the peace and happiness of this country."
Nothing more was heard from Mr. Monroe on the subject.

Hamilton, with his usual disinterestedness, relieved the president by
advising him to choose, for the proposed envoy, Chief-Justice Jay. In a
long letter to the president, written on the fifteenth of April, in
which he took a general and comprehensive view of national affairs and
the relative position of the country to England, he recommended him to
nominate, as special minister to England, a person who should "have the
confidence of those who think peace still within our reach, and who may
be thought qualified for the mission," with an observation to Congress
that it was done "with an intention to make a solemn appeal to the
justice and good sense of the British government;" at the same time, to
make an "earnest recommendation that vigorous and effectual measures may
be adopted to be prepared for war."

Hamilton then alluded to the fact that Washington had contemplated
nominating him for the mission; and after saying that he was well aware
of the obstacles that existed, and that he would be "completely and
entirely satisfied with the election of another," he nominated Mr. Jay,
as "the only man in whose qualifications for success there would be
thorough confidence.... I think," he continued, "the business would have
the best chance possible in his hands, and I flatter myself that his
mission would issue in a manner that would produce the most important
good to the nation."

"Let me add, sir," said Hamilton in conclusion, "that those whom I call
the sober-minded men of the country, look up to you with solicitude on
the present occasion. If happily you should be the instrument of still
rescuing the country from the dangers and calamities of war, there is no
part of your life, sir, which will produce to you more real
satisfaction, or true glory, than that which shall be distinguished by
this very important service."

Washington took Hamilton's advice, and, in the following message to the
senate, nominated Mr. Jay for the mission:--

     "_Gentlemen of the Senate:_--The communications which I have made
     to you during the present session, from the despatches of our
     minister in London, contain a serious aspect of our affairs with
     Great Britain. But, as peace ought to be pursued with unremitted
     zeal before the last resource, which has so often been the scourge
     of nations, and can not fail to check the advancing prosperity of
     the United States, is contemplated, I have thought proper to
     nominate, and do hereby nominate, John Jay as envoy extraordinary
     of the United States to his Britannic majesty.

     "My confidence in our minister plenipotentiary in London continues
     undiminished. But a mission like this, while it corresponds with
     the solemnity of the occasion, will announce to the world a
     solicitude for a friendly adjustment of our complaints, and a
     reluctance to hostility. Going immediately from the United States,
     such an envoy will carry with him a full knowledge of the existing
     temper and sensibility of our country, and will thus be taught to
     vindicate our rights with firmness, and to cultivate peace with

Mr. Jay had recently arrived in Philadelphia from New York, and
consented to accept the nomination. It was confirmed by the senate on
Saturday, the nineteenth of April, by a majority of eighteen to eight;
Aaron Burr being among the few who opposed it, it being his practice to
dissent from every measure proposed by Washington.

Conscious of the urgency of his mission, Mr. Jay made immediate
preparations for his departure; and on the twelfth of May he embarked at
New York, with Colonel John Trumbull, the artist, as his secretary. He
was accompanied to the ship by about a thousand of his fellow-citizens,
who desired thus to testify their personal respect and their interest in
his mission of peace. A few days preceding, the Democratic Society of
Philadelphia issued a most inflammatory denunciation of the mission and
the minister; and the opposition in the lower house of Congress
succeeded in adopting a resolution to cut off all intercourse with Great
Britain. It was lost in the senate by the casting vote of
Vice-President Adams; "not," as Washington remarked in a letter to
Tobias Lear on the sixth of May, "as it is said and generally believed,
from a disinclination to the ulterior expedience of the measure, but
from a desire to try the effect of negotiation previous thereto." Mr.
Monroe, acting under instructions from the Virginia legislature,
proposed in the senate to suspend by law the article of the treaty of
peace which secured to British creditors the right of recovering in the
United States their honest debts. This proposition was frowned down by
every right-minded man in that chamber.

Another delicate matter connected with the foreign relations of the
United States now occupied the mind of Washington. The French
government, as we have observed, on recalling Genet, asked that of the
United States to recall Mr. Morris. Washington was anxious to appoint a
judicious successor--one that would be acceptable to the French, and who
would not compromise the neutrality of his own country. He confided in
Pinckney, and desired Mr. Jay, in the event of his mission being
successful, to remain in London as resident minister. Pinckney would
then be sent to France. But Jay would not consent to the arrangement.
Washington then offered the French mission to Robert R. Livingston,
chancellor of the state of New York, who, with his extensive and
influential family connections, was in politics a republican. Livingston
declined, and the president finally offered it to James Monroe. He
consented to serve, and his nomination was confirmed by the senate on
the twenty-eighth of May. Soon after this, John Quincy Adams, son of the
vice-president, was appointed minister at the Hague in place of Mr.
Short, Jefferson's secretary of legation in France, who went to Spain to
ascertain what Carmichael, the American minister there, was doing, his
government being unable to hear from him except at long intervals.

Mr. Monroe arrived in Paris toward the middle of August, and immediately
sent to the president of the convention the following letter:--

     "_Citizen-President:_--Having, several days since, arrived with a
     commission from the president of the United States of America, to
     represent those states in quality of minister plenipotentiary at
     the capital of the French republic, I have thought it my duty to
     make my mission known as early as possible to the national
     representatives. It belongs to them to determine the day, and to
     point out the mode, in which I am to be acknowledged the
     representative of their ally and sister republic. I make this
     communication with the greater pleasure, because it affords me an
     opportunity, not only to certify to the representatives of the free
     citizens of France my personal attachment to the cause of liberty,
     but to assure them at the same time, in the most positive way, that
     the government and people of America take the highest interest in
     the liberty, success, and prosperity of the French republic."

Robespierre had lately fallen. His bloody rule was at an end. For some
time he had been hated by the Convention, to which body reason and
conscience were bringing their convictions. On the twenty-eighth of July
the Convention resolved to crush him. Billaud Varennes, in a speech
replete with invective, denounced him as a tyrant; and when Robespierre
attempted to speak, his voice was drowned with cries of "Down with the
tyrant! down with the tyrant!" A decree of outlawry was then passed, and
he and some of his friends were ordered to immediate execution. With
their fall the Reign of Terror ended. The nation breathed freer, and the
curtain fell upon one of the bloodiest tragedies in the history of the

It was at this auspicious moment that Monroe appeared. The sentiments of
his letter were so much in consonance with the feelings of the hour,
that it is said the president of the Convention embraced Monroe
affectionately when they met. It was decreed that the American and
French flags should be entwined and hung up in the hall of the
Convention, as an emblem of the union of the two republics; and Monroe,
not to be outdone in acts of courtesy, presented the banner of his
country to the Convention in the name of his people.

Congress adjourned on the ninth of June to the first Monday in the
succeeding November. The session had been a stormy one. Questions of
national policy had arisen, which called forth some of the most animated
and eloquent discussions ever held upon the floor of the house of
representatives; and when the adjournment took place, questions were
pending, the solution of which caused many an anxious hour to the
president and the friends of the republic.

As soon as Washington could make proper arrangements, he set out on a
flying visit to Mount Vernon. Many persons had predicted that the yellow
fever would reappear in Philadelphia during that summer; and, to guard
his family against the dangers of its presence, he removed them to a
pleasant house at Germantown. On the eighteenth of June he left for the
Potomac; and at Baltimore he wrote a brief letter to Gouverneur Morris,
assuring him of his undiminished personal friendship, notwithstanding
his recall. At Mount Vernon he wrote another, in which Washington
evinced his consciousness that vigilant eyes were upon all his public
movements, and not with friendly intent. "The affairs of this country,"
he said to Morris ironically, "can not go wrong; there are so many
watchful guardians of them, and such infallible guides, that no one is
at a loss for a director at every turn."

Washington did not return to Philadelphia quite as early as he had
anticipated, owing to an injury to his back, received while using
exertions to prevent himself and horse being precipitated among the
rocks at the Falls of the Potomac, at Georgetown, whither he went on a
Sunday morning to view the canal and locks at that place, in which he
felt a deep interest. He was back, however, early in July, and was soon
informed of popular movements in western Pennsylvania and in Kentucky,
which presented the serious question whether the government had
sufficient strength to execute its own laws.

The movement in Kentucky was the result, in a great degree, of Genet's
machinations, and the influence of the Democratic societies. It is true,
there had been dissatisfaction among the people there for several years,
because the Spanish government kept the Mississippi closed against
American commerce. Now, that dissatisfaction assumed the form of menace.
During the recent session of Congress, the people of that region sent a
remonstrance to the supreme legislature respecting the navigation of the
Mississippi. It was intemperate and indecorous in language. It charged
the government with being under the influence of a local policy, which
had prevented its making a single real effort for the security of the
commercial advantages which the people of the West demanded, and cast
aspersions upon the several departments of government. They also
intimated that they would leave the Union if their grievances were not
speedily redressed, and the "great territorial right" of the free
navigation of the Mississippi secured to them.

This remonstrance was referred to a committee by the senate, who
reported, that such rights to the navigation of the great river as were
sought by the western people were well asserted in the negotiations then
going on at Madrid; and on the recommendation of the committee, the
senate resolved that the president should be requested to communicate to
the governor of Kentucky such part of the pending treaty between the
United States and Spain as he might deem advisable, and not inconsistent
with the course of the negotiation. The house of representatives also
passed a resolution, expressing their conviction that the president was
doing all in his power to bring about the negotiation as speedily as

The demagogues at the West, who hoped to profit by the excitement and
bring about hostilities with the Spaniards in Louisiana, refused to be
soothed by these assurances; and at a convention of a number of the
principal citizens of Kentucky, assembled at Lexington, the following
intemperate and indecorous resolutions were adopted:--

     "That the general government, whose duty it is to put us in
     possession of this right [free navigation of the Mississippi] have,
     either through design or mistaken policy, adopted no effectual
     measures for its attainment.

     "That even the measures they have adopted have been uniformly
     concealed from us, and veiled in mysterious secrecy.

     "That civil liberty is prostituted, when the servants of the people
     are suffered to tell their masters, that communications which they
     may judge important may not be intrusted to them."

These resolutions concluded with a recommendation of county meetings, of
county committees of correspondence, and of a convention when it might
be judged expedient, to deliberate on the proper steps for the
attainment and security of their just rights.

No doubt the leaders in these movements felt indignant because an
expedition, which had been prepared in the West for an invasion of
Louisiana under the auspices of Genet, had been frustrated by the
vigilance of the president, who, when informed of the fact, had ordered
General Wayne, then in the Ohio country, to establish a military post at
an eligible place on the Ohio river, to stop any armed men who should be
going down that stream. This interference with what they had been taught
to believe were their inalienable rights was considered a very great

In a private letter, on the tenth of August, Washington referred to
these movements in Kentucky, and said, after expressing a conviction
that there "must exist a predisposition among them to be dissatisfied:"
"The protection they receive, and the unwearied endeavors of the general
government to accomplish, by repeated and ardent remonstrances, what
they seem to have most at heart--namely, the navigation of the
Mississippi--obtain no credit with them, or, what is full as likely, may
be concealed from them, or misrepresented by those _societies_, which,
under specious colorings, are spreading far and wide, either from real
ignorance of the measures pursued by the government, or from a wish to
bring it, as much as they are able, into discredit; for what purposes,
every man is left to his own conjectures."

Washington continued: "That similar attempts to give discontent to the
public mind have been practised with too much success in some of the
western counties in this state [Pennsylvania], you are, I am certain,
not to learn. Actual rebellion against the laws of the United States
exists at this moment, notwithstanding every lenient measure, which
could comport with the duties of the public officers, has been
exercised to reconcile them to the collection of taxes upon spirituous
liquors and stills. What may be the consequence of such violent and
outrageous proceedings is painful in a high degree, even in
contemplation. But, if the laws are to be so trampled upon with
impunity, and a minority, a small one too, is to dictate to the
majority, there is an end put, at one stroke, to republican government;
and nothing but anarchy and confusion are to be expected hereafter. Some
other man or society may dislike another law, and oppose it with equal
propriety, until all laws are prostrate, and every one--the strongest, I
presume--will carve for himself."

Washington alluded to the rebellious movement in western Pennsylvania,
at that time, known in history as "The Whiskey Insurrection."


[64] The following are the names of the officers appointed by
Washington: John Barry, Samuel Nicholson, Silas Talbot, Richard Dale,
Thomas Truxton, James Sever, _commanders_; Joshua Humphreys, George
Cleghorn, Forman Cheeseman, John Morgan, David Stodder, James Hackett,
_naval constructors_; Isaac Coxe, Henry Jackson, John Blagge, W.
Pennock, Jeremiah Yellott, Jacob Sheafe, _navy agents_.

[65] A striking caricature appeared a little earlier than this, entitled
_The Contrast_. It was in the form of two medallions, one called
_English liberty_, and the other _French liberty_. On the former is seen
Britannia, holding the pileus and cap of liberty in one hand with Magna
Charta, and in the other the scales of justice. At her feet stoops a
lion; and on the placid sea, in the distance, is a British
merchant-vessel under full sail. Under the medallion are the words,
"Religion, Morality, Loyalty, Obedience to the Laws, Independence,
Personal Security, Justice, Inheritance, Protection, Property, Industry,
National Prosperity, Happiness." On the latter medallion is a fury, in
the form of a woman; her hair formed of serpents; flames issuing from
her cestus of snakes; in one hand a bloody sword, in the other a
trident--the head of a man, streaming with blood upon one prong, and a
human heart upon each of the others; while under her feet is a
prostrate, naked, headless man. In the distance is seen a street lamp,
with a man hanging by the neck from its supporting bracket. Under this
medallion are the words, "Atheism, Perjury, Rebellion, Treason, Anarchy,
Murder, Equality, Madness, Cruelty, Injustice, Treachery, Ingratitude,
Idleness, Famine, National and Private Ruin, Misery." Below all is the
significant question, "_Which is best_?"



While the inhabitants of Kentucky were talking of insurrection, those of
some of the western counties of Pennsylvania actually lifted the arm of
defiance against the general government. In August, 1794, acts were
committed in opposition to the ministers of the law, which called for
the interference of the powers of the federal executive, and the episode
in our history known as "The Whiskey Insurrection" was inaugurated.
Properly to understand its character, we must take a brief glance at its
antecedents. Some of these have already been alluded to in our
consideration of the revenue system of the new government.

Among other taxes recommended by Secretary Hamilton for the support of
the government, and authorized by a bill reported in the house of
representatives in January, 1791, was one upon domestic distilled
spirits and distilleries. As whiskey was almost entirely a luxury, and
not a necessity, it seemed a just subject for levying a duty upon. And
the College of Physicians of Philadelphia advocated it as desirable both
to the morals and bodily health of the people. The bill was passed and
received Washington's signature. It imposed a tax of from nine to
twenty-six cents a gallon upon spirits distilled from grain.
Regulations for the collection of these duties were made and officers
appointed to collect them. Opposition to the law manifested itself in
various parts of the Union immediately after its passage, but nowhere so
prominently as in Pennsylvania. In July, 1791, a public meeting on the
subject was held at Red Stone (Brownsville), when it was arranged that
county committees should be convened at the different shire towns of
Alleghany, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. In August, at
a meeting of another committee already alluded to,[66] one of the
resolutions adopted, as we have seen, declared, after condemning the
law, that whosoever should accept office under it should be considered
an enemy to his country, should be treated with contempt, and all
intercourse with him be dissolved. These resolutions were published in a
Pittsburgh paper and produced a feverish excitement.

Early in September another meeting was held in Pittsburgh. Twelve
delegates were present, and many complaints against the government, in
connection with the excise law, were recited. They adopted a
representation to Congress, and a remonstrance to the legislature of
Pennsylvania, against the excise on whiskey. Not long after this, a
collector of the revenue for two of the counties before-named was
seized, tarred and feathered, and deprived of his horse, by some armed
men in disguise. The perpetrators were known, however, and processes
were issued against them from the district court of Pennsylvania; but
the public feeling was so strongly against the law, west of the
Alleghany mountains, that, as a marshal to whom the writ was committed
for execution said, "any attempt to serve it would have occasioned the
most violent opposition from a greater portion of the inhabitants;" and
he declared that if he had attempted it, he believed he would not have
returned alive.

The resistance to law now assumed most alarming aspects. The meetings,
said Secretary Hamilton in a report upon the subject, "composed of very
influential persons, and conducted without moderation and prudence,
were justly chargeable with the excesses which have from time to time
been committed, serving to give consistency to an opposition, which had
at length matured to a point that threatened the foundations of the
government and the Union, unless speedily and effectually subdued."

The working of the federal government was then merely experimental, and
those who had charge of the complicated and precious machine, and
regarded it as the very ark of freedom, used its powers with wise
caution. Therefore, while occasional outrages in connection with the
excise laws were perpetrated, it was thought best to let coercive
measures against the law-breakers remain untried, until at the next
session of Congress some modifications of the law might be made to allay

In May, 1792, an act of Congress became a law which materially modified
the provisions of the excise act. The duty on whiskey and stills was so
reduced as to silence all complaints on that head. All serious
objections to the old law were considered, and the act was so amended as
to promise peace; but there were men of influence who would not accept
these concessions, and they kept up the opposition excitement. The
well-disposed citizens were intimidated by the violent ones of the
opposition. In August, 1792, a meeting of the malcontents was held at
Pittsburgh, at which resolutions were passed no less objectionable than
those adopted the year before. After denouncing the tax on spirituous
liquors, they concluded by declaring that they considered it their duty
to "persist in remonstrances to Congress and every other legal measure
that might obstruct the operations of the law." Almost daily outrages
were committed, and three or four counties of western Pennsylvania
assumed many of the features of openly rebellious communities. It was
then that Washington, under the advice of Hamilton and others, issued
his proclamation of September the sixteenth, 1792, warning all persons
to desist from such unlawful combinations, _et cetera_.[67] Some legal
steps were taken against the malcontents, but these and the proclamation
were of little effect toward subduing the rebellious and quieting the
excitement. The officers of the law were still defied, denounced,
insulted, and abused.

At the next session of Congress (1792-'93) inefficient efforts were made
to amend the excise laws. The forbearance of the federal government was
construed by the ringleaders of the opposition as weakness, and they
became more bold. Distillers who were willing to comply with the law
were abused. Finally, the Congress passed an act, which became a law in
1794, calculated to strengthen the executive arm in enforcing obedience.
This law made the opposition still more earnest and bold; and few men in
the district of country where they exercised a sort of reign of terror
dared openly to dissent from their views. So general was the combined
influence of actual disaffection upon one portion of the community, and
dread of the violence of the turbulent, among the others, that out of
the family connection of General Neville, inspector of revenues, the
employées of the government, and two others, there were none in
Pittsburgh who dared to condemn these lawless proceedings, for fear of
personal harm. Mails were robbed; Neville's house was twice attacked and
finally burned by an armed party of lawless men; and preparations were
made to seize Fort Fayette, in that region. Among the leaders of the
insurgents was one Bradford, who, by common consent, appears to have
assumed the position of commander-in-chief. At this time the
insurrectionary spirit had spread into adjoining counties of Maryland
and Virginia, and Bradford and his associate leaders issued a call for
the assembling of the militia on Braddock's field, on the first of
August, with arms and accoutrements, and provisions for four days.
Within three days seven thousand men were assembled, some of them out of
curiosity, but a greater part with the determination to follow, in
resistance to the federal and state governments, wherever Bradford and
others might lead.

It was Bradford's design to seize Fort Pitt and its arms and ammunition;
but he found most of the militia officers unwilling to co-operate in
such an overt act of treason. But they readily consented to the
perpetration of outrages against excise officers, and the whole country
in that region was governed, for the moment, by the combined powers of
mobocracy and military despotism.

When intelligence of these proceedings reached the president, he called
his cabinet into council. All regarded the movement as a critical one
for the republic. The example of the insurgents in Pennsylvania might
become infectious; for the Democratic societies, spread all over the
land, while they professed to oppose and deprecate violence, openly
denounced the excise laws, and, no doubt, secretly fomented rebellion
against the federal government. It was agreed in the cabinet council
that forbearance must now end, and the effective power of the executive
be put forth to suppress the rising rebellion. Accordingly, on the
seventh of August, Washington issued a proclamation warning the
insurgents to disperse, and declaring, that if tranquillity should not
be restored in the disturbed counties before the first of September, an
armed force would be employed to compel submission to the laws.[68] At
the same time the president made a requisition on the governors of New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, for militia sufficient to
compose an army of twelve thousand men.

To the chief magistrate of the latter state, his friend and
companion-in-arms, General Henry Lee, Washington wrote privately, from
Germantown, on the twenty-sixth of August, and said, "It is with equal
pride and satisfaction I add, that, as far as my information extends,
this insurrection is viewed with universal indignation and abhorrence,
except by those who have never missed an opportunity, by side-blows and
otherwise, to attack the general government.... I consider this
insurrection as the first formidable fruit of the Democratic societies,
brought forth, I believe, too prematurely for their own views, which may
contribute to the annihilation of them.

"That these societies were instituted by the artful and designing
members (many of their body, I have no doubt, mean well, but know little
of the real plan), primarily to sow among the people the seeds of
jealousy and distrust of the government, by destroying all confidence in
the administration of it, and that their doctrines have been budding and
blowing ever since, is not new to any one who is acquainted with the
character of their leaders and has been attentive to their manoeuvres.
I early gave it as my opinion, to the confidential characters around me,
that if these societies were not counteracted (not by prosecutions, the
ready way to make them grow stronger), or did not fall into disesteem
from the knowledge of their origin, and the views with which they had
been instituted by their father, Genet, for purposes well known to the
government, they would shake the government to its foundation. Time and
circumstances have confirmed me in this opinion, and I deeply regret the
probable consequences; not as they will effect me personally--for I have
not long to act on this theatre, and sure I am that not a man amongst
them can be more anxious to put me aside than I am to sink into the
profoundest retirement--but because I see, under a display of popular
and fascinating disguises, the most diabolical attempts to destroy the
best fabric of human government and happiness that has ever been
presented for the acceptance of mankind."

Washington's proclamation had very little effect in suppressing the
lawless acts of the insurgents, and on the twenty-fifth of September
he issued a second proclamation, in which he vividly described the
perverse spirit in which the lenient propositions of the government had
been met, and declared his determination to reduce the refractory and
lawless men to obedience.[69]

The president now determined to act with vigor against the insurgents.
He appointed Governor Lee, of Virginia, the commander-in-chief. General
Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, was appointed his second in command. Governor
Howell, of New Jersey, the third; and General Daniel Morgan, the veteran
leader of the riflemen in the War for Independence, the fourth. General
Hand, of Pennsylvania, was appointed adjutant-general.

From the best information that the president could obtain, it was
supposed that there were in the rebellious counties about sixteen
thousand men capable of bearing arms, and that at least seven thousand
of them might be brought into the field. It was therefore resolved to
employ a sufficient force at once to put down all opposition. The number
of militia first called for was twelve thousand; it was subsequently
increased to fifteen thousand. The place of rendezvous appointed for the
New Jersey troops under Howell, and the Pennsylvanians under Mifflin,
was Bedford, in Pennsylvania. Those from Virginia and Maryland--the
former under General Morgan, and the latter under General Smith, the
hero of Fort Mifflin in 1777, and now the Baltimore member of
Congress--assembled at Cumberland, on the Potomac. The latter formed the
left wing of the gathering army, and were directed to march across the
mountains by Braddock's road. Those under Mifflin and Howell composed
the right wing, and were ordered to cross the mountains by the more
northern route, over which Forbes and his army crossed in 1758.

These martial preparations were made after every peaceful effort had
been exhausted. As we have observed, the president had issued two
proclamations before ordering the militia into the field. He had also,
at the time of issuing the first proclamation, appointed three federal
commissioners--Senator Ross, Mr. Bradford, the attorney-general, and
Yates, a judge of the supreme court of Pennsylvania--to visit the
insurgent counties, with discretionary powers to arrange, if possible,
prior to the fourteenth of September, an effectual submission to the
laws, offering lenient terms to the offenders. These were joined by
Chief-Justice M'Kean and General Irvine, commissioners appointed by the
state of Pennsylvania. At the same time, Governor Mifflin issued two
proclamations--one calling the Pennsylvania legislature together; the
other requiring submission on the part of the rioters, and announcing
his determination to obey the president's call for militia.

These commissioners had crossed the mountains together, and at
Parkinson's ferry they found representatives from almost every town of
four insurgent counties, two hundred in number, assembled in convention,
having Judge Cook, of Fayette county, for their president, and Albert
Gallatin, afterward a distinguished officer of the federal government,
for their secretary. The business was in charge of a vigilance committee
of sixty. Near the place of meeting, which was upon a commanding
eminence under the shade of trees, stood a liberty-pole, bearing a
placard with the words, "Liberty and no excise! No asylum for cowards
and traitors!"

The vigilance committee appointed a sub-committee of fifteen to confer
with the state and federal commissioners. On that committee were,
Bradford, the chief leader of the insurgents, Gallatin, Cook, Marshall,
and Brackenridge, the latter a young and ambitious lawyer of Pittsburgh.
All of these, except Bradford, perceiving the dangers with which they
were surrounded, were favorable to submission. Bradford's voice was for
war, and the organization of a separate and independent state west of
the mountains. This committee declared the propositions of the
commissioners to be reasonable, and to the town organizations the whole
matter of submission was referred. These generally refused compliance.
The federal commissioners returned to Philadelphia and reported the
virtual failure of their mission. Then it was that the president issued
his proclamation of the twenty-fifth of September, and prepared to use
coercive measures.

Washington determined to lead the army in person against the insurgents,
if it should appear to be expedient. He accordingly left Philadelphia at
the beginning of October, accompanied by the secretary of war, whose
department was left in charge of Hamilton, the secretary of the
treasury. Just before he left, the president received a letter from the
venerable Morgan, written at Winchester on the twenty-fourth of
September. "I am sorry to understand," wrote the brave old rifleman,
"the difficulty experienced in the state of Pennsylvania to raise the
quota of men to suppress that horrid insurrection on their frontiers.[70]
The state of Virginia seems to be unanimous and determined to suppress
it; and it is my opinion that we shall, in a very few days, have men
enough to do that business. For my part, I wish I was at Morgantown at
this time with two thousand men, which would be as many as I could ask,
with what would join me at this place, to bring these people to
order.... I wish an accommodation may not be patched up with these
rioters, under an apprehension of not getting troops to suppress them.
Virginia could, and would, furnish an army sufficient for that
purpose.... I don't wish to spill the blood of a citizen; but I wish to
march against these people, to show them our determination to bring them
to order, and to support the laws. I took the liberty to write you this,
lest your intelligence might not be so good, or that this might throw
some light, or be of some service."

This letter, from his old companion-in-arms, was only one of many of
similar tone that Washington received at that time. Coming from such an
esteemed veteran (with whom was the president's favorite nephew,
Lawrence Lewis, as aid-de-camp), it was peculiarly grateful to
Washington, and he responded in earnest tone, from Carlisle, on the
eighth of October. "Although I regret the occasion," he said, "which has
called you into the field, I rejoice to hear you are there, and because
it is probable I may meet you at Fort Cumberland, whither I shall
proceed as soon as I see the troops at this rendezvous in condition to
advance. At that place, or at Bedford, my ulterior resolution must be
taken, either to advance with the troops into the insurgent counties of
this state, or to return to Philadelphia, for the purpose of meeting
Congress, the third of next month. Imperious circumstances alone can
justify my absence from the seat of government whilst Congress is in
session; but if these, from the disposition of the people in the
refractory counties and the state of the information I expect to receive
at the advanced posts, should appear to exist, the lesser must yield to
the greater duties of my office, and I shall cross the mountains with
the troops; if not, I shall place the command of the combined troops
under the orders of Governor Lee, of Virginia, and repair to the seat of

In a private letter to Randolph, the secretary of state, on the
following day, the president said, "The insurgents are alarmed, but not
yet brought to their proper senses. Every means is devised by themselves
and their associates to induce a belief that there is no necessity for
troops crossing the mountains; although we have information, at the same
time, that part of the people there are obliged to embody themselves to
repel the insults of another part."

The Pennsylvania troops moved forward from Carlisle on the tenth of
October, and Washington proceeded to Fort Cumberland, the place of
rendezvous for the Maryland and Virginia troops, where he arrived on the
sixteenth. Quite a large number were already there, and fifteen hundred
more from Virginia were near at hand. There Washington received such
information as convinced him that the spirits of the insurgents were
broken, and that the greatest alarm prevailed in their ranks. He
hastened on to Bedford, thirty miles distant, and there this
intelligence was confirmed. Satisfied that his presence would be no
longer needed with the army, he arranged a plan of operations against
the insurgents, and prepared to return to Philadelphia; "but not," he
said in a letter to Randolph, "because the impertinence of Mr. Bache
[editor of the "General Advertiser," the opposition paper] or his
correspondent has undertaken to pronounce that I can not
constitutionally command the army whilst Congress are in session."

The command of the army was left with Governor Lee. On the twentieth of
October he received from Washington his instructions, drawn by Hamilton,
with a letter from the president's own hand, in which he said, "I can
not take my departure without conveying to you, through the army under
your command, the very high sense I entertain of the enlightened and
patriotic zeal for the constitution and the laws, which has led them
cheerfully to quit their families, homes, and the comforts of private
life, to undertake, and thus far to perform, a long and fatiguing march,
and to encounter and endure the hardships and privations of a military
life.... No citizens of the United States can ever be engaged in a
service more important to their country. It is nothing less than to
consolidate and to preserve the blessings of that Revolution which, at
much expense of blood and treasure, constituted us a free and
independent nation. It is to give the world an illustrious example, of
the utmost consequence to the cause of mankind." Then cautioning the
troops against committing the least infraction of the laws, or trenching
upon the functions of the civil authorities, he thanked them for the
readiness with which they had seconded him "in the most delicate and
momentous duty the chief magistrate of a free people can have to

Hamilton remained with the army as the president's civil representative;
also the secretary of war; and Washington hastened back to Philadelphia,
where he arrived on the twenty-sixth of October. The troops crossed the
Alleghany mountains in a heavy rain, marching sometimes in mud up to
their knees. The two wings formed a junction at Uniontown; and as they
advanced into the insurgent country, all signs of rebellion disappeared.
The leaders fled, and all upon whom rested the eye of suspicion quailed
in its glance and hastened to make excuses. Early in November, Lee
issued a proclamation, confirming an amnesty that had been offered to
those entitled to it, and calling upon all of the inhabitants to take
the oath of allegiance to the United States. Many arrests were soon
afterward made. A large number were dismissed at once because of a want
of evidence against them; others were bound over to keep the peace; and
a few were sent to Philadelphia for trial.[71] Two only were convicted of
capital offences--one of arson, the other of robbing the mails--and
these, because of palliating circumstances, were finally pardoned by the
president. Most of the troops were speedily withdrawn from the
disaffected counties and dismissed; but a body of twenty-five hundred,
under General Morgan, remained encamped in the district through the

Thus terminated a rebellion, that at one time threatened the very
existence of the Union, without the shedding of a drop of blood. This
result was owing chiefly to the wisdom, prudence, energy, and personal
popularity of Washington; and that which appeared so ominous of evil was
overruled for the production of good. The government was amazingly
strengthened by the event. The federal authority was fully vindicated;
and the general rally in its support when the chief sounded his
bugle-call, even of those who had hitherto leaned toward the opposition,
was a significant omen of future stability and power. Every honest man
expressed his reprobation of the violent resistance to law; and the
democratic societies, the chief fomenters of the insurrection, showed
symptoms of a desire to be less conspicuous. Hamilton, who had always
distrusted the strength of the government in such an emergency, was now
perfectly convinced of its inherent power; and both he and Washington
regarded the affair as a fortunate circumstance for the nation.

In relation to this event and its effects, Washington, in a letter to
Mr. Jay, written soon after his return to Philadelphia from the
different rendezvous of the troops, said that the subject would be
represented differently according to the wishes of some and the
prejudices of others, who might exhibit it as an evidence of what had
been predicted, namely, that the people of the new republic were unable
to govern themselves. "Under this view of the subject," he said, "I am
happy in giving it to you as the general opinion that this event having
happened at the time it did was fortunate, although it will be attended
with considerable expense.

"That the self-created societies," he continued, "which have spread
themselves over this country have been laboring incessantly to sow the
seeds of distrust, jealousy, and of course discontent, thereby hoping to
effect some revolution in the government, is not unknown to you. That
they have been the fomenters of the western disturbances, admits of no
doubt in the mind of any one who will examine their conduct; but,
fortunately, they precipitated a crisis for which they were not
prepared, and thereby have unfolded views which will, I trust,
effectuate their annihilation sooner than it might otherwise have
happened; at the same time, that it has afforded an occasion for the
people of this country to show their abhorrence of the result, and their
attachment to the constitution and the laws; for I believe that five
times the number of militia that was required would have come forward,
if it had been necessary, in support of them.

"The spirit which blazed out on this occasion, as soon as the object was
fully understood and the lenient measures of the government were made
known to the people, deserves to be communicated. There are instances of
general officers going at the head of a single troop, and of light
companies; of field-officers, when they came to the places of
rendezvous, and found no command for them in that grade, turning into
the ranks, and proceeding as private soldiers, under their own captains;
and of numbers, possessing the first fortunes in the country, standing
in the ranks of private men, and marching day by day with their
knapsacks and haversacks at their backs, sleeping on straw with a single
blanket in a soldier's tent, during the frosty nights which we have had,
by way of example to others. Nay, more; many young Quakers of the first
families, character, and property, not discouraged by the elders, have
turned into the ranks and are marching with the troops.

"These things have terrified the insurgents, who had no conception
that such a spirit prevailed; but, while the thunder only rumbled at a
distance, were boasting of their strength, and wishing for and
threatening the militia by turns, intimating that the arms they should
take from them would soon become a magazine in their hands. Their
language is much changed indeed, but their principles want correction.

"I shall be more prolix in my speech to Congress on the commencement and
progress of this insurrection than is usual in such an instrument, or
than I should have been on any other occasion; but as numbers at home
and abroad will hear of the insurrection, and will read the speech, that
may know nothing of the documents to which it might refer, I conceived
it would be better to encounter the charge of prolixity by giving a
cursory detail of facts, that would show the prominent features of the
thing, than to let it go naked into the world, to be dressed up
according to the fancy or inclination of the readers, or the policy of
our enemies."[72]


[66] Page 216

[67] See page 216.

[68] The following is a copy of the proclamation. Its preamble contains
such a complete summary of the causes which called forth the
proclamation, that we give the document entire:--

     "Whereas, combinations to defeat the execution of the laws laying
     duties upon spirits distilled within the United States, and upon
     stills, have, from the time of the commencement of those laws,
     existed in some of the western parts of Pennsylvania: and whereas,
     the said combinations, proceeding in a manner subversive equally of
     the just authority of government and of the rights of individuals,
     have hitherto effected their dangerous and criminal purpose by the
     influence of certain irregular meetings, whose proceedings have
     tended to encourage and uphold the spirit of opposition by
     misrepresentations of the laws calculated to render them odious; by
     endeavors to deter those who might be so disposed from accepting
     offices under them through fear of public resentments and of injury
     to person and property, and to compel those who had accepted such
     offices by actual violence to surrender or forbear the execution of
     them; by circulating vindictive measures against all who should
     otherwise, directly or indirectly, aid in the execution of the said
     laws, or who, yielding to the dictates of conscience and to a sense
     of obligation, should themselves comply therewith; by actually
     injuring and destroying the property of persons who were understood
     to have so complied; by inflicting cruel, humiliating punishments
     upon private citizens, for no other cause than that of appearing to
     be the friends of the laws; by interrupting the public officers on
     the highways, abusing, assaulting, and otherwise ill-treating them;
     by going to their houses in the night, gaining admittance by force,
     taking away their papers, and committing other outrages; employing
     for these unwarrantable purposes the agency of armed banditti,
     disguised in such a manner as for the most part to escape
     discovery: and whereas, the endeavors of the legislature to obviate
     objections to the said laws, by lowering the duties and by other
     alterations conducive to the convenience of those whom they
     immediately affected (though they have given satisfaction in other
     quarters), and the endeavors of the executive officers to
     conciliate a compliance with the laws, by expostulation, by
     forbearance, and even by recommendations founded on the suggestion
     of local considerations, have been disappointed of their effect by
     the machinations of persons whose industry to excite resistance has
     increased with the appearance of a disposition among the people to
     relax in their opposition and to acquiesce in the laws; insomuch
     that many persons in the said western parts of Pennsylvania have at
     length been hardy enough to perpetrate acts which I am advised
     amount to treason, being overt acts of levying war against the
     United States; the said persons having, on the sixteenth and
     seventeenth of July last, proceeded in arms (on the second day
     amounting to several hundred) to the house of John Neville,
     inspector of the revenues for the fourth survey of the districts of
     Pennsylvania--having repeatedly attacked the said house with the
     persons therein, wounding some of them; having seized David Lenox,
     marshal of the district of Pennsylvania, who previously thereto had
     been fired upon while in the execution of his duty by a party of
     men, detaining him for some time prisoner, till for the
     preservation of his life and obtaining of his liberty he found it
     necessary to enter into stipulations to forbear the execution of
     certain official duties, touching processes issuing out of the
     court of the United States; and having finally obliged the said
     inspector of the revenue and the marshal, from considerations of
     personal safety, to fly from this part of the country, in order, by
     a circuitous route, to proceed to the seat of government, avowing
     as the motives of these outrageous proceedings an intention to
     prevent by force of arms the execution of the said laws, to oblige
     the said inspector of the revenues to renounce his office, to
     withstand by open violence the lawful authority of the government
     of the United States, and to compel thereby an alteration in the
     measures of the legislature, and a repeal of the laws aforesaid:
     and whereas, by a law of the United States entitled, 'An act to
     provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the
     Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions,' it is enacted,
     'that whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or
     the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too
     powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial
     proceedings, or by the power vested in the marshals by that act,
     the same being notified by an associate justice or the district
     judges, it shall be lawful for the president of the United States
     to call forth the militia of said state to suppress such
     combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. And if the
     militia of a state, where such combinations may happen, shall
     refuse or shall be insufficient to suppress the same, it shall be
     lawful for the president, if the legislature of the United States
     shall not be in session, to call forth and employ such numbers of
     the militia of any other state or states most convenient thereto as
     may be necessary; and the use of the militia so to be called forth
     may be continued, if necessary, until the expiration of thirty days
     after the commencement of the ensuing session; _Provided always_,
     that whenever it may be necessary in the judgment of the president
     to use the military force hereby directed to be called forth, the
     president shall forthwith, and previous thereto, by proclamation,
     command such insurgents to disperse, and retire peaceably to their
     respective abodes within a limited time:' and whereas, James
     Wilson, an associate justice, on the fourth instant, by writing
     under his hand, did, from evidence which had been laid before him,
     notify to me that 'in the counties of Washington and Alleghany, in
     Pennsylvania, the laws of the United States are opposed, and the
     execution thereof obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be
     suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by
     the powers vested in the marshal of that district:'

     "And whereas, it is in my judgment necessary, under the
     circumstances of the case, to take measures for calling forth the
     militia in order to suppress the combination aforesaid, and to
     cause the laws to be duly executed; and I have accordingly
     determined so to do, feeling the deepest regret for the occasion,
     but withal the most solemn conviction that the essential interests
     of the Union demand it, that the very existence of government and
     the fundamental principles of social order are materially involved
     in the issue, and that the patriotism and firmness of all good
     citizens are seriously called upon as occasion may require, to aid
     in the effectual suppression of so fatal a spirit:

     "Wherefore, and in pursuance of the provision above recited, I,
     George Washington, president of the United States, do hereby
     command all persons, being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others
     whom it may concern, on or before the first day of September next,
     to disperse and return peaceably to their respective abodes. And I
     do moreover warn all persons whomsoever against aiding, abetting,
     or comforting, the perpetrators of the aforesaid treasonable acts;
     and do require all officers, and other citizens, according to their
     respective duties and the law of the land, to exert their utmost
     endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous proceedings.

     "In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States
     of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same
     with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the seventh day of
     August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and of the
     independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.

[69] The following is a copy of the second proclamation:--

     "Whereas, from a hope that the combination against the constitution
     and laws of the United States, in certain of the western counties
     of Pennsylvania, would yield to time and reflection, I thought it
     sufficient, in the first instance, rather to _take measures_ for
     calling forth the militia than immediately to embody them; but the
     moment is now come when the overtures of forgiveness, with no other
     condition than a submission to law, have been only partially
     accepted; when every form of conciliation not inconsistent with the
     being of government has been adopted without effect; when the
     well-disposed in those counties are unable by their influence and
     example to reclaim the wicked from their fury, and are compelled to
     associate in their own defence; when the proffered lenity has been
     perversely misinterpreted into an apprehension that the citizens
     will march with reluctance; when the opportunity of examining the
     serious consequences of a treasonable opposition has been employed
     in propagating principles of anarchy, endeavoring through
     emissaries to alienate the friends of order from its support, and
     inviting its enemies to perpetrate similar acts of insurrection;
     when it is manifest that violence would continue to be exercised
     upon every attempt to enforce the laws; when, therefore, government
     is set at defiance, the contest being whether a small portion of
     the United States shall dictate to the whole Union, and, at the
     expense of those who desire peace, indulge a desperate ambition:

     "Now, therefore, I, George Washington, president of the United
     States, in obedience to that high and irresistible duty consigned
     to me by the constitution 'to take care that the laws be faithfully
     executed,' deploring that the American name should be sullied by
     the outrages of citizens on their own government, commiserating
     such as remain obstinate from delusion, but resolved, in perfect
     reliance on that gracious Providence which so signally displays its
     goodness toward this country, to reduce the refractory to a due
     subordination to the laws, do hereby declare and make known, with a
     satisfaction which can be equalled only by the merits of the
     militia summoned into service from the states of New Jersey,
     Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, that I have received
     intelligence of their patriotic alacrity in obeying the call of the
     present, though painful, yet commanding necessity; that a force,
     which according to every reasonable expectation is adequate to the
     exigency, is already in motion to the scene of disaffection; that
     those who shall have confided or shall confide in the protection of
     government shall meet full succor under the standard and from the
     arms of the United States; that those who, having offended against
     the laws, have since entitled themselves to indemnity, will be
     treated with the most liberal good faith, if they shall not have
     forfeited their claim by any subsequent conduct, and that
     instructions are given accordingly.

     "And I do moreover exhort all individuals, officers, and bodies of
     men, to contemplate with abhorrence the measures leading, directly
     or indirectly, to those crimes which produce this resort to
     military coercion; to check, in their respective spheres, the
     efforts of misguided or designing men to substitute their
     misrepresentation in the place of truth, and their discontents in
     the place of stable government; and to call to mind, that as the
     people of the United States have been permitted, under the Divine
     favor, in perfect freedom, after solemn deliberation, and in an
     enlightened age, to elect their own government, so will their
     gratitude for this inestimable blessing be best distinguished by
     firm exertion to maintain the constitution and the laws.

     "And, lastly, I again warn all persons whomsoever and wheresoever,
     not to abet, aid or comfort the insurgents aforesaid, as they will
     answer the contrary at their peril; and I do also require all
     officers and other citizens, as far as may be in their power, to
     bring under the cognizance of the laws all offenders in the

     "In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States
     of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same
     with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the twenty-fifth
     day of September, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and
     of the independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.

[70] When the use of military force was first suggested, Randolph, the
secretary of state, expressed his fears that such a measure would bring
on a general collision that might destroy the Union. Governor Mifflin
partook of this fear. "The Pennsylvanians," says Hildreth, "at first,
were rather backward, and a draft ordered by Mifflin seemed likely--by
reason, it was said, of defects in the militia laws--to prove a failure.
But the legislature, on coming together, having first denounced the
insurgents in strong terms, to save the delays attendant on drafting,
authorized the government to accept volunteers, to whom a bounty was
offered. As if to make up for his former hesitation, and with a military
sensibility to the disgrace of failing to meet the requisition, Mifflin,
in a tour through the lower counties, as in several cases during the
Revolutionary struggle, by the influence of his extraordinary popular
eloquence, soon caused the ranks to be filled up. As a further stimulus,
subscriptions were opened to support the wives and children of the
volunteers during their absence,"--_History of the United States_,
second series, i, 570.

[71] Among these was Herman Husbands, then a very old man, who had
figured conspicuously in the revolutionary movement in North Carolina,
previous to the War for Independence, known as _the Regulator war_. He
was arrested on suspicion of being an active fomenter of the
insurrection. This, however, seems not to have been the case, "I know
that his sentiments were always in favor of the excise law," wrote a
friend of Husbands to the president, "and that he did all that he could
to prevent the people of the western counties from opposing the
execution of the law; and I know he is a good friend of liberty and his
country." Husbands was released, at about the first of January, 1795.

[72] Washington was so impressed with the sense of danger to be
apprehended by the Democratic Societies, that he contemplated making
them a topic in his forthcoming annual message to Congress. In a letter
to the secretary of state, written at Fort Cumberland on the sixteenth
of October, he said, "My mind is so perfectly convinced, that if these
self-created societies can not be discontinued they will destroy the
government of this country, that I have asked myself, while I have been
revolving on the expense and inconvenience of drawing so many men from
their families and occupations as I have seen on their march, where
would be the impropriety of glancing at them in my speech, by some such
idea as the following: 'That, however distressing this expedition will
have proved to individuals, and expensive to the country, the pleasing
spirit which it has drawn forth in support of law and government will
immortalize the American character, and is a happy presage that future
attempts, of a certain description of people, to disturb the public
tranquillity will prove equally abortive.'"

Mr. Randolph, though a democrat, was favorable to some such expression
of sentiment regarding these societies. In a letter, to which the
president's was a response, he had intimated the propriety of taking
advantage of the prevailing reprobation of the insurrection, to put down
those societies. "They may now, I believe, be crushed," he said. "The
prospect ought not to be lost." Washington did allude to them in his
annual message, as we shall observe presently.



The members of Congress came tardily to the federal capital in the
autumn of 1794; and it was not until the nineteenth of November, sixteen
days after the time appointed for the commencement of the session, that
they were ready to listen to the president's sixth annual message. As he
had intimated to Mr. Jay that he should, Washington, in that message,
dwelt at considerable length on the subject of the late insurrection,
taking a complete outline survey of all the facts and circumstances, and
drawing conclusions therefrom.

"While there is cause to lament," he said, "that occurrences of this
nature should have disgraced the name, or interrupted the tranquillity,
of any part of our community, or should have diverted to a new
application any portion of the public resources, there are not wanting
real and substantial consolations for the misfortune. It has
demonstrated that our prosperity rests on solid foundations, by
furnishing an additional proof that my fellow-citizens understand the
true principles of government and liberty; that they feel their
inseparable union; that, notwithstanding all the devices which have been
used to sway them from their interest and duty, they are now as ready to
maintain the authority of the laws against licentious invasions, as they
were to defend their rights against usurpation. It has been a spectacle
displaying to the highest advantage the value of republican government,
to behold the most and the least wealthy of our citizens standing in the
same ranks as private soldiers, pre-eminently distinguished by being the
army of the constitution--undeterred by a march of three hundred miles
over rugged mountains, by the approach of an inclement season, or by any
other discouragement. Nor ought I to omit to acknowledge the efficacious
and patriotic co-operations which I have experienced from the chief
magistrates of the states to which my requisitions have been addressed.

"To every description of citizens, indeed, let praise be given. But let
them persevere in their affectionate vigilance over that precious
depository of American happiness, the constitution of the United States.
Let them cherish it, too, for the sake of those who, from every clime,
are daily seeking a dwelling in our land. And when, in the calm moments
of reflection, they shall have traced the origin and progress of the
insurrection, let them determine whether it has not been fomented by
combinations of men, who, careless of consequences, and disregarding the
unerring truth that those who rouse can not always appease a civil
convulsion, have disseminated, from an ignorance or perversion of facts,
suspicions, jealousies, and accusations of the whole government."

The boldness of Washington was conspicuous in thus officially denouncing
the Democratic Societies, because he well knew that his words of severe
reprobation would arouse their hottest resentment. But, conscious of his
own integrity, and well assured of the support of all good men, he
hesitated not a moment. Some democratic members of the senate, the most
prominent of whom were Burr and Jackson, showed great ill feeling; but
the majority in that body gave it their approval. In the lower house it
created a good deal of angry altercation, for the opposition were
powerful there. They exhibited their disapprobation on the first draft
of their answer to the president's message, by passing the matter over
in silence. To this draft an amendment was offered, reprobating the
"self-created societies," which, "by deceiving and inflaming the
ignorant and weak, may naturally be supposed to have stimulated the
insurrection." It then denounced them as "institutions not strictly
unlawful, yet not less fatal to good order and true liberty, and
reprehensible in the degree that our system of government approaches to
perfect political freedom."

It was this amendment that caused the debate. Those who opposed it did
so cautiously, and exhibited their sense of the waning popularity of
these societies, by taking care to disclaim their own personal
connection with them. It was contended that the term "self-created
societies" involved all voluntary associations whatever; that the right
of censure was sacred; and that the societies would retort. Others
contended that the question was not, whether the societies were legal,
but whether they were mischievous. If they were so, the representatives
of the people, presumed to be the guardians of the republic, ought to
declare it, and not, by silence, give an implied contradiction to the
president's statements.

A motion to strike out the words "self-constituted societies" elicited a
warm debate. "It has been argued," said one of the members (Sedgwick)
who traced the origin of these societies to Genet, "that to censure them
might be construed into an attack on the freedom of public discussion.
He was sorry," he said, "to see a disposition to confound freedom and
licentiousness. Was there not an obvious distinction between a cool,
dispassionate, honest, and candid discussion, and a false, wicked,
seditious misrepresentation of public men and public measures? The
former was within the province of freemen; it was, indeed, their duty;
the latter was inconsistent with moral rectitude, and tended to the
destruction of freedom and to the production of every evil that could
afflict a community." The speaker then described the Democratic
Societies as "self-created, without delegation or control, not emanating
from the people, or responsible to them; not open in their
deliberations; not admitting any but those of their own political
opinions; permanent in their constitution, and of unlimited duration."
These, he said, "modestly assumed the character of popular instructors,
guardians of the people, guardians of the government. Every man in the
administration who had assented to its acts they had loaded with every
species of calumny--slanders--which they knew to be such. They had not
even spared that character supposed to have been clothed with
inviolability--not the paltry inviolability of constitutional
proscription, but an inviolability infinitely more respectable, founded
on the public gratitude, and resulting from disinterested and invaluable

The motion upon which this debate arose was finally carried in committee
of the whole, but by a very small majority. The struggle was renewed
when it was reported to the house. Finally, a compromise was effected by
inserting in the address a declaration of great concern on the part of
the house, "that any misrepresentations whatever of the government and
its proceedings, either by individuals or combinations of men, should
have been made, and so far have been credited as to foment the flagrant
outrage which had been committed on the laws."

It was very evident, from the debates and the votes on this and other
questions brought up by the president's message, that the government was
growing stronger, and the opposition in Congress weaker. Jefferson, the
father of the opposition, who had declared that his retiracy from the
political world should be profound, was alarmed at these manifestations
of the declining strength of his party, and he was moved to let his
voice be heard once more. On the twenty-eighth of December he wrote to
Madison, the republican leader in the lower house, an angry letter
concerning the president's remarks about the "self-created societies,"

     "The denunciation of the Democratic Societies is one of the
     extraordinary acts of boldness of which we have seen so many from
     the faction of monocrats. It is wonderful indeed that the president
     should have permitted himself to be the organ of such an attack on
     the freedom of discussion, the freedom of writing, printing, and
     publishing." After making an ungenerous attack upon the Society of
     the Cincinnati, he proceeded: "I here put out of sight the persons
     whose misbehavior has been taken advantage of to slander the
     friends of popular rights; and I am happy to observe that, as far
     as the circle of my observation and information extends, everybody
     has lost sight of them, and views the abstract attempt on their
     natural and constitutional rights in all its nakedness. I have
     never heard, or heard of, a single expression or opinion which did
     not condemn it as an inexcusable aggression."

Then, in full sympathy with the whiskey insurrectionists, he said: "And
with respect to the transactions against the excise law, it appears to
me that you are all swept away in the torrent of governmental opinions,
or that we do not know what these transactions have been. We know of
none which, according to the definitions of the law, have been anything
more than riotous. There was, indeed, a meeting to consult about a
separation. But to consult on a question does not amount to a
determination of that question in the affirmative, still less to the
acting on such a determination; but we shall see, I suppose, what the
court lawyers, and courtly judges, and would-be embassadors will make of
it. The excise law is an infernal one. The first error was to admit it
by the constitution; the second, to act on that admission; the third and
last will be, to make it the instrument of dismembering the Union, and
setting us all afloat to choose what part of it we will adhere to. The
information of our militia returned from the westward is uniform, that
though the people there let them pass quietly, they were objects of
their laughter, not of their fear; that one thousand men could have cut
off their whole force in a thousand places of the Alleghany; that their
detestation of the excise law is universal, and has now associated to it
a detestation of the government; and that separation, which perhaps was
a very distant and problematical event, is now near, and certain, and
determined in the mind of every man. I expected to have seen some
justification of arming one part of society against another; of
declaring a civil war the moment before the meeting of that body which
has the sole right of declaring war; of being so patient of the kicks
and scoffs of our enemies, and rising at a feather against our friends;
of adding a million to the public debt, and deriding us with
recommendations to pay it if we can."

But the medicines of most powerful friends could not cure the mortal
malady that now afflicted the Democratic Societies. As it happened with
Genet, their founder, so it now happened with these societies; the great
mass of the people had learned to reprobate them. The denunciations of
the president, co-operating with the downfall of the Jacobin clubs in
France--kindred societies--soon produced their dissolution. Monroe, in
an official despatch, had set in its true light the character of the
Jacobin clubs, as interfering with the government; and in the United
States, their _confréres_, the Democratic societies, soon sank into
merited obscurity.

In his message, Washington announced that "the intelligence from the
army under the command of General Wayne was a happy presage to military
operations against the hostile Indians north of the Ohio." Wayne, as we
have seen, had succeeded St. Clair after that veteran's unfortunate
defeat in the autumn of 1791. He marched into the Indian country in
1793, and near the spot where St. Clair was surprised he built Fort
Recovery. There he was attacked by the Indians at the close of June,
1794, but without receiving much damage. General Scott arrived there not
long afterward from Kentucky, with eleven hundred volunteers, and then
Wayne advanced to the confluence of the Maumee and Au Glaize rivers,
"the grand emporium," as he called it, of the Indians. They fled
precipitately; and there Wayne built a strong stockade, for the
permanent occupation of that beautiful country, and called it Fort

The main body of the Indians had retired down the Maumee about thirty
miles, where they took a hostile attitude. With about three thousand
men, Wayne marched against them, and near the present Maumee City he
fought and defeated them, on the twentieth of August. He then laid waste
their country, and the trading establishment of the British agent in
their midst was burned. There seemed little doubt that he had stirred up
the savages against the Americans.

Wayne fell back to Fort Defiance three days after the battle; and at the
beginning of November, after a successful campaign of three months,
during which time he had marched three hundred miles along a road cut by
his own army, gained an important victory, driven the Indians from their
principal settlement, and left a strong post in the heart of their
country, he placed his army into winter-quarters at Greenville. The
western tribes were humbled and disheartened; and early in August, the
following year, their principal chiefs and United States' commissioners
met at Greenville and made a treaty of peace. The Indians ceded to the
United States a large tract of land in the present states of Michigan
and Indiana, and for more than ten years afterward the government had
very little trouble with the western savages.

In his message, Washington urged the adoption of some definite plan for
the redemption of the public debt. "Nothing," he said, "can more promote
the permanent welfare of the nation, and nothing would be more grateful
to our constituents." At his request, Hamilton, the secretary of the
treasury, prepared a plan, digested and arranged on the basis of the
actual revenues for the further support of the public credit. It was one
of the ablest state papers of the many that had proceeded from his pen
during his official career. It was reported on the twentieth of January,
1795, and this was Hamilton's last official act. He had, on the first of
December, immediately after his return from western Pennsylvania,
addressed the following letter to the president:--

     "I have the honor to inform you that I have fixed upon the last of
     January next, as the day for my resignation of my office of
     secretary of the treasury. I make this communication now, that
     there may be time to mature such an arrangement as shall appear to
     you proper to meet the vacancy when it occurs."

Mr. Hamilton resigned his office on the thirty-first of January. It was
with deep regret, as in the case of Mr. Jefferson, that Washington found
himself deprived of the services of so able an officer. "After so long
an experience of your public services," he said in a note to Hamilton on
the second of February, "I am naturally led, at this moment of your
departure from office (which it has always been my wish to prevent), to
review them. In every relation which you have borne to me, I have found
that my confidence in your talents, exertions, and integrity, has been
well placed. I the more freely render this testimony of my approbation,
because I speak from opportunities of information which can not deceive
me, and which furnish satisfactory proof of your title to public

To this Hamilton replied on the following day, saying, "My particular
acknowledgments are due for your very kind letter of yesterday. As often
as I may recall the vexations I have endured, your approbation will be a
great and precious consolation. It was not without a struggle that I
yielded to the very urgent motives which compelled me to relinquish a
station in which I could hope to be, in any degree, instrumental in
promoting the success of an administration under your direction; a
struggle which would have been far greater had I supposed that the
prospect of future usefulness was proportioned to the sacrifices made."

Justice to a growing family was the chief cause of Hamilton's
resignation. "The penurious provision made for those who filled the high
executive departments in the American government," says Marshall,
"excluded from a long continuance in office all those whose fortunes
were moderate, and whose professional talents placed a decent
independence within their reach. While slandered as the accumulator of
thousands by illicit means, Colonel Hamilton had wasted in the public
service great part of the property acquired by his previous labors, and
had found himself compelled to decide on retiring from his political

Oliver Wolcott, of Connecticut, who had been the federal comptroller
under Hamilton for some time, was appointed to succeed that officer; and
General Knox, who had offered his resignation as secretary of war at the
close of the year, was succeeded by Timothy Pickering, who was at that
time the postmaster-general. "After having served my country nearly
twenty years," wrote Knox in his letter tendering his resignation on the
twenty-eighth of December, "the greatest portion of which under your
immediate auspices, it is with extreme reluctance that I find myself
constrained to withdraw from so honorable a station. But the natural
and powerful claims of a numerous family will no longer permit me to
neglect their essential interests. In whatever situation I shall be, I
shall recollect your confidence and kindness with all the fervor and
purity of affection of which a grateful heart is susceptible."

Washington always loved Knox. His frankness and good nature, his eminent
integrity and unswerving faithfulness in every period of his public
career, endeared him to the president; and it was with sincere sorrow
that he experienced the official separation. "The considerations which
you have often suggested to me," Washington wrote in reply to Knox, "and
which are repeated in your letter as requiring your departure from your
present office, are such as to preclude the possibility of my urging
your continuance in it. This being the case, I can only wish it was
otherwise. I can not suffer you, however, to close your public service
without uniting with the satisfaction which must arise in your own mind
from a conscious rectitude, my most perfect persuasion that you have
deserved well of your country. My personal knowledge of your exertions,
whilst it authorizes me to hold this language, justifies the sincere
friendship which I have ever borne for you, and which will accompany you
in every situation in life."

The last session of the third Congress closed on the third of March,
1795. For a little while, Washington's mind was relieved in a degree
from the pressure of political duties, and a matter of different but
interesting nature occupied it at times. It will be remembered that the
legislature of Virginia presented to Washington, as a testimony of their
gratitude for his public services, fifty shares in the Potomac company,
and one hundred shares in the James River company--corporations created
for promoting internal navigation in Virginia--and that he accepted them
with the understanding that he should not use them for his own private
benefit, but apply them to some public purpose.

An opportunity for such application, that commended itself to
Washington's judgment, had not occurred until this time, when a plan for
the establishment of a university at the federal capital, on the
Potomac, was talked of. "It has always been a source of serious
reflection and sincere regret with me," he said in a letter to the
commissioners of the federal city on the twenty-eighth of January, "that
the youth of the United States should be sent to foreign countries for
the purpose of education. Although there are doubtless many, under these
circumstances, who escape the danger of contracting principles
unfavorable to republican government, yet we ought to deprecate the
hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds from being too strongly
and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before
they are capable of appreciating their own.

"For this reason, I have greatly wished to see a plan adopted, by which
the arts, sciences, and belles-lettres, could be taught in their fullest
extent, thereby embracing all the advantages of European tuition, with
the means of acquiring the liberal knowledge which is necessary to
qualify our citizens for the exigencies of public as well as private
life; and (which with me is a consideration of great magnitude) by
assembling the youths from the different parts of this republic,
contributing, from their intercourse and interchange of information, to
the removal of prejudices, which might, perhaps, sometimes arise from
local circumstances."

Washington then suggested the federal city as the most eligible place
for such an institution; at the same time offering, in the event of the
university being established upon a scale as extensive as he described,
and the execution of it being commenced under favorable auspices in a
reasonable time, to "grant in perpetuity fifty shares in the navigation
of the Potomac river towards the endowment of it."

About four weeks after this, Washington received a letter from Mr.
Jefferson, on the subject that had a bearing upon the disposition of his
shares, the former having on some occasion asked the advice of the
latter concerning the appropriation of them. Mr. Jefferson now informed
Washington that the college at Geneva, in Switzerland, had been
destroyed, and that Mr. D'Ivernois, a Genevan scholar who had written a
history of his country, had proposed the transplanting of that college
to America. It was proposed to have the professors of the college come
over in a body, it being asserted that most of them spoke the English
language well.

Jefferson was favorable to the establishment of the proposed new college
within the state of Virginia; but Washington, with practical sagacity,
concluded that it would not be wise to have two similar institutions. He
preferred having one excellent institution, and that at the federal
capital, and gave his reasons at length for his opinion, at the same
time adding--after stating to Mr. Jefferson the fact that he had offered
the fifty shares of the Potomac company to the commissioners--"My
judgment and my wishes point equally strong to the application of the
James River shares [one hundred] to the same object at the same place;
but, considering the source from whence they were derived, I have, in a
letter I am writing to the executive of Virginia on this subject, left
the application of them to a seminary within the state, to be located by
the legislature."

In his letter to Governor Brooke, above referred to, Washington said:
"The time is come when a plan of universal education ought to be adopted
in the United States. Not only do the exigencies of public life demand
it, but, if it should be apprehended that prejudice would be entertained
in one part of the Union against another, an efficacious remedy will be
to assemble the youth from every part, under such circumstances as will,
by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their
minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation." He
then expressed his preference of the proposed university at the federal
capital, as the object of his appropriation, but left the matter at the
disposal of the legislature. That body, in resolutions, approved of his
appropriation of the fifty shares in the Potomac company to the proposed
university, and requested him to appropriate the hundred shares in the
James River company "to a seminary at such place in the upper country,
as he may deem most convenient to a majority of the inhabitants


[73] Life of Washington, ii, 356

[74] See page 48 of this volume.



Mr. Jay's mission to England had been from its inception a cause of much
anxiety to Washington. Its object was beneficent and patriotic in the
highest degree, and yet it had been opposed with the bitterest party
spirit, and regarded with distrust even by friends of the
administration, who had watched the ungenerous and despotic course of
the British government toward the United States ever since the peace of

Mr. Jay's instructions contemplated three important objects to be
obtained by treaty. These were, compensation for the losses sustained by
American merchants in consequence of the orders in council; a settlement
of all existing disputes in relation to the treaty of peace; and a
commercial treaty. Great discretion was to be given to the envoy. He was
to consider his instructions as recommendatory, not as peremptory. Only
two restrictions were imposed upon him. One was, not to enter into any
stipulation inconsistent with the existing engagements of the United
States with France; the other was, not to conclude any commercial treaty
that did not secure to the United States a direct trade in their own
vessels, of certain defined burdens, with the British West India
islands, in whatever articles were at present allowed to be carried in
British bottoms.

Mr. Jay was fully impressed with the importance of his mission and the
necessity of prompt action. He arrived at Falmouth on the evening of the
eighth of June, and the same night he forwarded a letter to Lord
Grenville, the secretary for foreign affairs, announcing his arrival. He
reached London a few days afterward, took lodgings at the Royal Hotel,
Pall Mall, and on the fifteenth addressed the following note to Lord

     "MY LORD: You have doubtless received a letter which I had the
     honor of writing to you from Falmouth. I arrived here this morning.
     The journey has given me some health and much pleasure, nothing
     having occurred on the road to induce me to make it shorter.

     "Colonel Trumbull does me the favor to accompany me as secretary;
     and I have brought with me a son, whom I am anxious should form a
     right estimate of whatever may be interesting to our country. Will
     you be so obliging, my lord, as to permit me to present them to
     you, and to inform me of the time when it will be most agreeable to
     your lordship that I should wait upon you, and assure you of the
     respect with which I have the honor to be, &c."

Mr. Jay's appearance in London was at a time when all Europe was in a
state of the most feverish excitement. Robespierre and his bloody
companions were revelling in all the wantonness of irresponsible power.
The Reign of Terror was at its height, and the resentment against France
by all true friends of freedom in Europe, and especially the British
nation, was hot and uncompromising. England, supported by Russia,
Austria, and Spain, was waging war against the revolutionists; and at
the moment of Jay's arrival, the nation was madly rejoicing because of a
splendid victory obtained by Lord Howe over the French fleet. The fact
that a large party in the United States warmly sympathized with France,
the late proceedings of Congress manifesting a disposition hostile to
Great Britain, and the remaining soreness of wounded pride experienced
by England in the loss of her colonies, combined with the stirring
events then occurring in Europe, made the moment apparently
inauspicious for a mission like that of Mr. Jay. It required, on the
part of the minister, the exercise of the most discreet courtesy.

The views entertained by the two nations as to their rights and
interests were so opposed, on several points, that reconciliation
appeared almost impossible. The Americans complained that, contrary to
express provisions of the treaty of 1783, a large number of negroes had
been carried away by the evacuating British armies at the South, and for
the losses thereby sustained by the owners compensation was demanded.
The British contended that the claim in the treaty referred to did not
apply to negroes who had been set at liberty in the course of the war,
under proclamations of the British commanders; and as those carried away
were all of that kind, no compensation should be allowed.

The Americans also complained of the continued occupancy of the western
posts by British garrisons, and attributed the protracted hostility of
the Indian tribes, to the influence of the British commanders there.
They also alleged numerous invasions of their neutral rights, not only
under the orders in council, issued as instructions to the commanders of
British cruisers, but in the seizure of many vessels without sufficient
warrant, and their condemnation by the local admiralty courts. They also
complained of the impressment into the British service of seamen from on
board American vessels, and the exclusion of American shipping from the
trade to the British West Indies.

The British were unwilling to relinquish their right of impressment, as
a means of manning their fleets at that important crisis; and they
regarded the claim of the Americans to an equal participation in the
West India trade as unreasonable, because it would require England to
renounce the long-settled principles of her commercial system. The most
important questions to be settled, and those which involved matters most
dangerous to the peace between the two countries, were those of neutral
rights and the occupancy of the western posts. Such in brief were the
chief points in the controversy to be settled by treaty.

"By a deportment respectful yet firm," says Marshall, "mingling a
decent deference for the government to which he was deputed, with a
proper regard for the dignity of his own, this minister avoided those
little asperities which frequently embarrass measures of great concern,
and smoothed the way to the adoption of those which were suggested by
the real interests of both nations."[75]

Mr. Jay found Lord Grenville commissioned by the king to treat with him,
and the sincerity and candor of each soon led to the highest degree of
mutual confidence. "Instead of adopting the usual wary but tedious mode
of reducing every proposition to writing," says Mr. Jay's biographer,[76]
"they conducted the negotiation chiefly by conferences, in which the
parties frankly stated their several views, and suggested the way in
which the objections to these views might be obviated. It was understood
that neither party was to be committed by what passed in these
conversations, but that the propositions made in them might be recalled
or modified at pleasure. In this manner the two ministers speedily
discovered on what points they could agree, where their views were
irreconcilable, and on what principles a compromise might be effected."

While at Fort Cumberland, in October, Washington received a most
gratifying letter from Mr. Jay, accompanied by despatches from Mr.
Randolph, the secretary of state. They came by the Packet _William
Penn_. Mr. Jay's letter was dated the fifth of August. Concerning the
business of his mission he wrote as follows:--

     "I am this moment returned from a long conference with Lord
     Grenville. Our prospects become more and more promising as we
     advance in the business. The compensation cases (as described in
     the answer) and the amount of damages will, I have reason to hope,
     be referred to the decision of commissioners, mutually to be
     appointed by the two governments, and the money paid without delay
     on their certificates, and the business closed as speedily as may
     be possible. The question of admitting our vessels into the islands
     under certain limitations is under consideration, and will soon be
     decided. A treaty of commerce is on the carpet. All things being
     agreed, the posts will be included. They contend that the article
     about the _negroes_ does not extend to those who came in on their
     proclamations, to whom (being vested with the property in them by
     the right of war) they gave freedom, but only to those who were,
     _bona fide_, the property of Americans when the war ceased. They
     will, I think, insist that British debts, so far as _injured_ by
     lawful impediments, should be repaired by the United States by
     decision of mutual commissioners. These things have passed in
     conversation, but no commitments on either side, and not to have
     any official weight or use whatever.

     "The king observed to me, the other day, 'Well, sir, I imagine you
     begin to see that your mission will probably be successful.'--'I am
     happy, may it please your majesty, to find that you entertain that
     idea.'--'Well, but don't you perceive that it is like to be
     so?'--'There are some recent circumstances (the answer to my
     representation, etc.) which induce me to flatter myself that it
     will be so.' He nodded with a smile, signifying that it was to
     those circumstances that he alluded. The conversation then turned
     to indifferent topics. This was at the drawing-room.

     "I have never been more unceasingly employed than I have been for
     some time past and still am; I hope for good, but God only knows.
     The _William Penn_ sails in the morning. I write these few lines in
     haste, to let you see that the business is going on as fast as can
     reasonably be expected, and that it is very _important_ that peace
     and quiet should be preserved for the present. On hearing last
     night that one of our Indiamen had been carried into Halifax, I
     mentioned it to Lord Grenville. He will write immediately by the
     packet on the subject. Indeed, I believe they are endeavoring to
     restore a proper conduct toward us _everywhere_; but it will take
     some time before the effects will be visible. I write all this to
     you in _confidence_, and for your own _private_ satisfaction. I
     have not time to explain my reasons, but they are _cogent_. I could
     fill some sheets with interesting communications if I had leisure,
     but other matters press, and must not be postponed; for 'there is a
     tide in the affairs of men,' of which every moment is precious.
     Whatever may be the issue, nothing in my power to insure success
     shall be neglected or delayed."[77]

To Mr. Randolph he wrote: "I shall persevere in my endeavors to acquire
the confidence and esteem of this government--not by improper
compliances, but by that sincerity, candor, truth, and prudence, which,
in my opinion, will always prove to be more wise and more effectual than
finesse and chicane. Formal discussions of disputed points should, in my
judgment, be postponed until the case becomes desperate; my present
object is to accommodate, rather than to convert or convince. Men who
sign their names to arguments seldom retract. If, however, my present
plan should fail, I shall then prepare and present such formal, and at
the same time such temperate and _firm_, representations as may be
necessary to place the claims and conduct of the two governments in
their proper point of view."

A treaty was finally signed at London, on the nineteenth of November,
1794, by Mr. Jay and Lord Grenville, and submitted to their respective
governments for ratification. It was defective in some parts and
objectionable in others; but, as it was the best that could be obtained,
Mr. Jay was induced to sign it.

In a private letter to Washington, written on the same day that he
signed the treaty, Mr. Jay said, "To do more was impossible. I ought not
to conceal from you," he added, "that the confidence reposed in your
personal character was visible and useful throughout the negotiation."
To the secretary of state he wrote:--

     "The long-expected treaty accompanies this letter. The difficulties
     which retarded its accomplishment frequently had the appearance of
     being insurmountable. They have at last yielded to modifications of
     the articles in which they existed, and to that mutual disposition
     to agreement which reconciled Lord Grenville and myself to an
     unusual degree of trouble and application. They who have levelled
     uneven ground know how little of the work afterward appears.

     "Since the building is finished, it can not be very important to
     describe the scaffolding, nor to go into all the details which
     respected the business. My opinion of the treaty is apparent from
     my having signed it. I have no reason to believe or conjecture that
     one more favorable to us is attainable."

This treaty provided for the establishment of three boards of
commissioners; one to determine the eastern boundary of the United
States, by deciding which was the river St. Croix named in the treaty of
peace in 1783; another to ascertain the amount of losses which British
subjects had experienced in consequence of legal impediments to the
recovery of debts due them by citizens of the United States, contracted
before the Revolution--such amount, on their report being made, to be
paid by the government of the United States; and a third to estimate the
losses sustained by American citizens in consequence of irregular and
illegal captures by British cruisers, for which the sufferers had no
adequate remedy in suits of law--such losses to be paid by the British

It was provided that the western posts should be given up to the United
States on the first of June, 1796, in consideration of the adjustment of
the ante-revolutionary debts, the then residents in their respective
neighborhoods having the option of remaining, or of becoming American
citizens. The important Indian traffic in the interior was left open to
both nations, by a mutual reciprocity of inland trade and free
intercourse between the North American territories of the two nations,
including the navigation of the Mississippi. The British were to be
allowed to enter all American harbors, with the right to ascend all
rivers to the highest port of entry. This reciprocity did not extend to
the possessions of the Hudson's Bay company, nor to the admission of
American vessels into the harbors of the British North American
colonies, nor to the navigation of the rivers of those colonies below
the highest port of entry.

It was stipulated that the subjects or citizens of one government,
holding lands in the dominions of the other government, should continue
to hold them without alienage; nor, in the event of war or other
national differences, should there be any confiscation by either party
of debts, or of public or private stocks, due to or held by the citizens
or subjects of the other. In a word, there should be no disturbance of
existing conditions of property; and merchants and traders on each side
should enjoy the most complete protection and security for their

The foregoing is the material substance of the first ten articles of the
treaty, which it was declared should be perpetual; the remaining
eighteen, having reference chiefly to the regulation of commerce and
navigation between the two countries, were limited in their operations
to two years after the termination of the war in which Great Britain was
then engaged.

The commercial portion of the treaty provided for the admission of
American vessels into British ports in Europe and the East Indies, on
terms of equality with British vessels. But participation in the East
Indian coasting trade, and the trade between European and British East
Indian ports, was left to rest on the contingency of British permission.
The right was also reserved to the British to meet the existing
discrimination in the American tonnage and import duties by
countervailing measures. American vessels, not exceeding seventy tons
burden, were to be allowed to trade to the British West Indies, but only
on condition of a renunciation, during the continuance of the treaty, of
the right to transport from America to Europe any of the principal
colonial products. British vessels were to be admitted into American
ports without any further addition to the existing discriminating
duties, and on terms equal to the most favored nations.

It was also stipulated that privateers should give bonds, with security,
to make equivalent restitution for any injury they might inflict upon
neutrals, in the event of the condemnation of any prize. Other
provisions, favorable to neutral property captured by privateers, were
made; and it was determined that the list of contraband articles should
include, besides ammunition and warlike implements, all articles serving
directly for the equipment of vessels, except unwrought iron and

It was also provided that no vessel attempting to enter a blockaded
port should be captured, unless previously notified of the blockade;
that neither nation should allow enlistments within its territory by any
third nation at war with the other; nor should the citizens or subjects
of either be allowed to accept commissions from such third nation, or to
enlist in its service--citizens or subjects acting contrary to this
stipulation to be treated as pirates. Provision was also made for the
exercise of hospitality and courtesy between ships-of-war and privateers
of the two countries; also for prohibiting the arming of privateers of
any nation at war with either of the contracting parties, or fitting
them out in the ports of the other; and for excluding the privateers of
a third nation from the ports of the contracting parties, which had made
prizes of vessels belonging to citizens or subjects of either country.
It was also agreed that neither nation should allow vessels or goods of
the other to be captured in any of its bays or other waters, or within
cannon-shot of its coast.

It was further stipulated, that in the event of war between the two
nations, the citizens or subjects of each, residing within the limits of
the other, should be allowed to continue peaceably in their respective
employments, so long as they should behave themselves properly. It was
also provided that fugitives from justice, charged with murder or
forgery, should be mutually given up.

Such was the substance of the famous treaty, the ratification of which
caused a tempest in the political atmosphere, whose fury shook the Union
to its foundation, and proved to the utmost test the stability of the
character and popularity of Washington.

Rumors of the conclusion of a treaty reached the Congress before its
adjournment in March, 1795; but the treaty itself did not arrive until
two days afterward. The president received it on the fifth of March, but
its contents were kept a profound secret for several months. Washington
studied it carefully, fully digested every article, and resolved to
ratify it, should it be approved by the senate. Parts of it he approved,
parts he disapproved; but he saw in it the basis for a satisfactory
adjustment of the relations of the two governments, and a guaranty of

The president issued a circular calling the senate together in June, for
the purpose of considering the treaty. He resolved to keep its
provisions a secret until that time, because there was a predisposition
in the public mind to condemn it. Already, as we have seen, the
appointment of a special envoy to negotiate with Great Britain had been
denounced as a cowardly overture, and degrading to the United States;
and it was declared that the mission of a special envoy, if one was to
be sent, should be to make a formal and unequivocal demand of reparation
for wrongs inflicted on our commerce, the payment of damages to owners
of slaves carried away, and the immediate surrender of the western

A large party in the United States had resolved that the treaty,
whatever it might be, especially if it should remove all pretexts for a
war with Great Britain, should be rejected; and, even before its
arrival, preparations for opposition were made. In the course of a few
days after Washington received it, and had submitted it, under the seal
of strict privacy, to Mr. Randolph, the secretary of state, sufficient
information concerning it leaked out to awaken public distrust, and yet
not enough was known for the formation of any definite opinion
concerning it. But instantly the opposition press commenced a crusade
against it.

"Americans, awake!" cried a writer in one of these. "Remember what you
suffered during a seven-years' war with the satellites of George the
Third (and I hope the last). Recollect the services rendered by your
allies, now contending for liberty. Blush to think that America should
degrade herself so much as to enter into _any kind of treaty_ with a
power, now tottering on the brink of ruin, whose principles are directly
contrary to the spirit of republicanism.

"The United States are a republic. Is it advantageous to a republic to
have a connection with a monarch? Treaties lead to war, and war is the
bane of a republican government. If the influence of a treaty is added
to the influence which Great Britain has already in our government, we
shall be colonized anew.

"Commercial treaties are an artificial means to obtain a natural
end--they are the swathing bands of commerce that impede the free
operations of nature. Treaties are like partnerships; they establish
intimacies which sometimes end in profligacy, and sometimes in ruin and
bankruptcy, distrust, strife, and quarrel.

"_No treaty_ ought to have been made with Great Britain, for she is
famed for perfidy and double dealing; her polar star is interest;
artifice, with her, is a substitute for nature. To make a treaty with
Great Britain is forming a connection with a monarch; and the
introduction of the fashions, forms, and precedents of monarchical
governments has ever accelerated the destruction of republics.

"If foreign connections are to be formed, they ought to be made with
nations whose influence would not poison the fountain of liberty, and
circulate the deleterious streams to the destruction of the rich harvest
of our Revolution. _France_ is our natural ally; she has a government
congenial with our own. There can be no hazard of introducing from her,
principles and practices repugnant to freedom. That gallant nation,
whose proffers we have neglected, is the sheet-anchor that sustains our
hopes; and should her glorious exertions be incompetent to the great
object she has in view, we have little to flatter ourselves with from
the faith, honor, or justice of Great Britain. The nation on whom _our
political existence depends_, we have treated with indifference
bordering on contempt. _Citizens_, your only security depends on
_France_; and, by the conduct of your government, that security has
become precarious.

"To enter into a treaty with Great Britain at the moment when we have
evaded a treaty with France; to treat with an enemy against whom France
feels an implacable hatred, an enemy who has neglected no means to
desolate that country and crimson it with blood, is certainly insult.
Citizens of America, sovereigns of a free country, your hostility to the
French republic has been spoken of in the National Convention, and a
motion for an inquiry into it has been only suspended from prudential
motives--the book of account may soon be opened against you. What then,
alas, will be your prospects! To have your friendship questioned by that
nation is indeed alarming!"

Such was the logic--or rather the mad, seditious cry of
faction--employed to forestall public opinion, and defeat the noble and
humane intentions of the government. The Democratic Societies, though
infirm and tottering, joined in the clamor. One of these in Virginia
exclaimed, "Shall we Americans, who have kindled the spark of liberty,
stand aloof and see it extinguished when burning a bright flame in
France, which hath caught it from us? If all tyrants unite against a
free people, should not all free people unite against tyrants? Yes, let
us unite with France, and stand or fall together."

The Massachusetts Society, in an address to all sister societies of the
Union, put forth similar sentiments, and declared that the political
interests of the United States and France were "one and indivisible."
The Pennsylvania Society exhorted that of New York to be ready and
oppose the treaty if its provisions should be found dishonorable to the
country; and newspapers and pamphleteers joined in the general cry of
factious opposition.

The senate, pursuant to proclamation, assembled at Philadelphia on the
eighth of June. Some changes had taken place in the material of that
body, favorable to the government. Mr. Jay's treaty, with accompanying
documents, was laid before it on the first day of the session. That
gentleman had arrived from England a fortnight previously, and found
himself elected governor of the state of New York by a large majority;
and when he landed, he was greeted by thousands of his fellow-citizens,
who gathered to welcome their new chief magistrate, and to testify their
respect to the envoy who had so faithfully, as they believed, executed a
mission of peace. A great crowd attended him to his dwelling, and the
firing of cannon and ringing of bells attested the public joy. He
immediately resigned his seat as chief justice of the United States, and
three days after his arrival home he took the oath of office as governor
of the state of New York.

The senate held secret sessions when considering the treaty, and for a
fortnight it was discussed in that body with the greatest freedom and
candor. Finally, on the twenty-fourth of June, the senate by a vote of
twenty to ten--precisely a constitutional majority--advised the
ratification of the treaty, that article excepted which related to the
West India trade.

"An insuperable objection," says Marshall, "existed to an article
regulating the intercourse with the British West Indies, founded on a
fact which is understood to have been unknown to Mr. Jay. The intention
of the contracting parties was to admit the direct intercourse between
the United States and those islands, but not to permit the productions
of the latter to be carried to Europe in the vessels of the former. To
give effect to this intention, the exportation from the United States of
those articles which were the principal productions of the islands was
to be relinquished. Among these was cotton. This article, which a few
years before was scarcely raised in sufficient quantity for domestic
consumption, was becoming one of the richest staples of the southern
states. The senate, being informed of this fact, advised and consented
that the treaty should be ratified on condition that an article be added
thereto, suspending that part of the twelfth article which related to
the intercourse with the West Indies.

"Although, in the mind of the president, several objections to the
treaty had occurred, they were overbalanced by its advantages; and,
before transmitting it to the senate, he had resolved to ratify it, if
approved by that body. The resolution of the senate presented
difficulties which required consideration. Whether they could advise and
consent to an article which had not been laid before them, and whether
their resolution was to be considered as the final exercise of their
power, were questions not entirely free from difficulty. Nor was it
absolutely clear that the executive could ratify the treaty, under the
advice of the senate, until the suspending article should be introduced
into it. A few days were employed in the removal of these doubts; at the
expiration of which, intelligence was received from Europe which
suspended the resolution which the president had formed.

"The English papers contained an account, which, though not official,
was deemed worthy of credit, that the order of the eighth of June,
1793, for the seizure of provisions going to French ports, was renewed.
In the apprehension that this order might be construed and intended as a
practical construction of that article in the treaty which seemed to
favor the idea that provisions, though not generally contraband, might
occasionally become so, a construction in which he had determined not to
acquiesce, the president thought it wise to reconsider his decision. Of
the result of this reconsideration there is no conclusive testimony. A
strong memorial against this objectionable order was directed; and the
propositions to withhold the ratification of the treaty until the order
should be repealed; to make the exchange of ratifications dependent upon
that event; and to adhere to his original purpose of pursuing the advice
of the senate, connecting with that measure the memorial which had been
mentioned, as an act explanatory of the sense in which his ratification
was made, were severally reviewed by him. In conformity with his
practice of withholding his opinion on controverted points until it
should become necessary to decide them, he suspended his determination
on these propositions until the memorial should be prepared and laid
before him."[78]

The senate, on voting to recommend the ratification of the treaty,
removed the seal of secrecy, but forbade any publication of the treaty
itself. Regardless alike of the rules of the senate, and of official
decorum, Senator Mason, of Virginia, sent to Bache, the editor of the
_Aurora_ (the democratic newspaper) a full abstract of the treaty, which
was published on the second of July. In this, Mason had only anticipated
Washington, who, to counteract statements concerning the contents of the
treaty, and malignant comments which began to appear, had resolved to
have the whole document published.


[75] Life of Washington, ii, 360.

[76] His son, William Jay.

[77] Life and Writings of John Jay, by his Son, William Jay, i, 323.

[78] Life of Washington, ii, 361.



The publication of the contents of the treaty produced a blaze of
excitement throughout the country. The author of the treaty, the
senators who approved of its ratification, and the president, were all
vehemently denounced. Great indignation had already been expressed
because the entire negotiation had been involved in mysterious secrecy;
because the document had not been immediately made public on its
reception by the president; and because the senate deliberated upon it
with closed doors. The partisans of France had used every effort, during
the spring and summer, to excite the people against Great Britain; and
it was evident, from the tone of opposition writers and declaimers, that
no possible adjustment of difficulties with that country, which might
promise a future friendly intercourse between the two nations, would be

It was asserted that any treaty of amity and commerce with Great Britain
under the circumstances, whatever might be its principles, was a
degrading insult to the American people, a pusillanimous surrender of
their honor, and a covert injury to France. They affected to regard the
compact as an alliance; an abandonment of an ancient ally of the United
States, whose friendship had given them independence, and whose current
victories, at that moment challenging the admiration of the world, still
protected them, for an alliance with the natural enemy of that friend,
and with an enemy of human liberty. They spoke of the court of Great
Britain as the most faithless and corrupt in the world, and denounced
the result of Jay's mission as a surrender of every just claim upon a
rapacious enemy for restitution on account of great wrongs.

These denunciations had great immediate effect. All acknowledged that
the treaty was not as favorable to the United States as the latter had a
right to expect; and "public opinion did receive a considerable shock,"
says Marshall. Men unaffected by the spirit of faction felt some
disappointment on its first appearance; therefore, when exposed to the
public view, continues Marshall, "it found one party prepared for a bold
and intrepid attack, but the other not ready in its defence. An appeal
to the passions, prejudices, and feelings of the nation might
confidently be made by those whose only object was its condemnation;
while reflection, information, and consequently time, were required by
men whose first impressions were not in its favor, but who were not
inclined to yield absolutely to those impressions."

As we have observed, Washington, for a specific purpose, withheld his
signature in ratification of the treaty. The vote of the senate
recommending its ratification, with the stipulation that one article
should be added, suspending so much of another as seemed requisite, and
requesting the president to open without delay further negotiation on
that head, presented serious questions to his mind. He had no precedent
for his guide. Could the senate be considered to have ratified the
treaty before the insertion of the new article? Was the act complete and
final, so as to make it unnecessary to refer it back to that body? Could
the president affix his official seal to an act before it should be
complete? These were important questions, and demanded serious

The opponents of the treaty, aware of the cause of the delay in its
ratification, resolved to endeavor to intimidate the president and
prevent his signing it. The most violent demonstrations, by word and
deed, were made against it. On the fourth of July, a great mob assembled
in Philadelphia, and paraded the streets with effigies of Jay and the
ratifying senators. That of Jay bore a pair of scales: one was labelled
"_American Liberty and Independence_;" and the other, which greatly
preponderated, "_British Gold_." From the mouth of the figure proceeded
the words, "_Come up to my price, and I will sell you my country_." The
effigies were committed to the flames amid the most frightful yells and

Public meetings were assembled all over the country to make formal
protests against the treaty. They were called ostensibly to "deliberate
upon it," but they were frequently tumultuous, and always declamatory. A
large meeting was held in Boston on the tenth of July. The chief actors
there denounced the treaty as not containing one single article
honorable or beneficial to the United States. It was disapproved of by
unanimous vote, and a committee of fifteen, appointed to state
objections, in an address to the president, reported no less than
twenty. They were adopted by the meeting without debate, and were sent
to the president accompanied by a letter from the selectmen of Boston.
Only a few of the stable inhabitants of Boston appear to have been
concerned in this matter, and the wealthy merchants and some other rich
men who attended the meeting, and whose fears were excited by the
leaders of the opposition, were made mere tools of on the occasion.

A meeting for a similar purpose was held in front of the city-hall, in
Wall street, New York, on the eighteenth of July, pursuant to a call of
an anonymous handbill. There the opposition gathered in great numbers,
and there also was a large number of the friends of the treaty, who
succeeded at first in electing a chairman. They were then about to
adjourn to some more convenient place, when Brockholst Livingston, Mr.
Jay's brother-in-law, and a leader of the opposition, urged the meeting
to proceed instantly, as the president might ratify the treaty at any
moment. Indeed, the whole Livingston family, with the eminent chancellor
at their head, were now in the ranks of the opposition, and exerted a
powerful influence. "With more than thoughtless effrontery," says Doctor
Francis, "they fanned the embers of discontent."

Hamilton, Rufus King, and other speakers, occupied the balcony of the
city-hall. The former, with sweet and persuasive tones, had uttered
conciliatory words, and spoken in favor of adjournment, when the
meeting became a good deal disturbed by conflicting sentiments and
stormy passions. Just then an excited party of the opposition, who had
held a meeting at the Bowling Green, with William L. Smith, a son-in-law
of Vice-President Adams, as chairman, and who had burned a copy of the
treaty in front of the government house, marched up Broadway, with the
American and French flags unfurled, and joined the meeting. The
turbulence of the assembly was greatly increased by this addition; and
while Hamilton and King "were addressing the people in accents of
friendship, peace, and reconciliation, they were treated in return with
a shower of stones, levelled at their persons, by the exasperated mob
gathered in front of the city-hall."[80]

"These are hard arguments," said Hamilton, who was hit a glancing blow
upon the forehead by one of the stones. A question was finally taken on
a motion to leave the decision on the treaty to the president and
senate, when both sides claimed a majority. Then some person, utterly
ignoring the presence of a chairman, moved the appointment of a
committee of fifteen, to report to another meeting (to be held two days
afterward) objections to the treaty. He read a list of names of
gentlemen that should form that committee, and, at the close of
clamorous shouts, he declared them duly appointed by the vote. The
meeting finally broke up in great confusion. The adjourned meeting was
attended by only the opponents of the treaty; and Brockholst Livingston,
chairman of the committee of fifteen, reported twenty-eight condemnatory
resolutions, which were adopted by unanimous vote.

"These resolutions," says Hildreth, "while expressing great confidence
in the president's wisdom, patriotism, and independence, were equally
confident that his 'own good sense' must induce him to reject the
treaty, as 'invading the constitution and legislative authority of the
country; as abandoning important and well-founded claims against the
British government; as imposing unjust and impolitic restraints on
commerce; as injurious to agriculture; as conceding, without an
equivalent, important advantages to Great Britain; as hostile and
ungrateful to France; as committing our peace with that great republic;
as unequal toward America in every respect; as hazarding her internal
peace and prosperity; and as derogatory from her sovereignty and

On the very next day (July 22), the New York Chamber of Commerce,
representing the commercial interests of that city, adopted resolutions
diametrically opposed to those offered by Livingston. These set forth
that the treaty contained as many features of reciprocity as, under the
circumstances, might be expected; that the arrangements respecting
British debts were honest and expedient; and that the agreement
concerning the surrender of the western posts and for compensation for
spoliations, and their prevention in future, were wise and beneficial.
If the treaty had been rejected, they said, war with all its attendant
calamities would have ensued, and they were satisfied with what had been

On the twenty-fourth of July a similar meeting was held in Philadelphia.
Among the leaders who denounced the treaty by speech and acts were
Chief-Justice M'Kean, Alexander J. Dallas (the secretary of the
commonwealth), General Muhlenburg (late speaker of the house of
representatives), and John Swanwick (representative elect in Congress).
A committee of fifteen was appointed by the meeting to convey the
sentiments of the assemblage to the president, who was then at Mount
Vernon, in the form of a memorial. That instrument was read twice and
agreed to without debate. The treaty was then thrown to the
populace--consisting chiefly, as Wolcott said in a letter to the
president, of "the ignorant and violent classes"--who placed it upon a
pole, and, proceeding to the house of the British minister, burned it in
the street in front of it. They performed a like ceremony in front of
the dwelling of the British consul, and also of Mr. Bingham, an
influential federalist, with loud huzzas, yells, and groans.

At the South, equally hostile feelings toward the treaty and its friends
were manifested. John Rutledge, then chief justice of South Carolina,
denounced the treaty in violent language at a public meeting. He said it
was destitute of a single article that could be approved, and reproached
Jay with being either a knave or a fool--with corruption or
stupidity--in having signed it. The stanch old patriot, Christopher
Gadsden, denounced it in terms equally decisive; and Charles Cotesworth
Pinckney, at the close of a violent harangue, moved to request the
president to take steps to have Jay impeached. "If he had not made this
public exposure of his conduct and principles," said Pinckney, "he might
one day have been brought forward, among others, as a candidate for our
highest office: but the general and deserved contempt which his
negotiations have brought both his talents and principles into, would
for ever, he trusted, secure his fellow-citizens from the dangerous and
unwise use which such a man would have made of the powers vested in a

The meeting appointed a committee of fifteen to report their sentiments
at another gathering. It was done on the twenty-second of July. The
report contained severe criticisms upon the several articles of the
treaty, and recommended a memorial to the president, asking him not to
ratify it. Meanwhile the populace trailed a British flag through the
streets, and then burned it at the door of the British consul.

While these meetings were occurring in the principal cities, the
opposition press all over the country was alive with the subject, and
its denunciations were sometimes so violent that it was difficult to
find words strong enough to express them. The Democratic Societies,
vivified by the excitement, were also active with a sort of galvanic
life. One of these in South Carolina resolved, "That we pledge ourselves
to our brethren of the republican societies throughout the Union, as far
as the ability and individual influence of a numerous society can be
made to extend, that we will promote every constitutional mode to bring
John Jay to trial and to justice. He shall not escape, if guilty, that
punishment which will at once wipe off the temporary stain laid upon us,
and be a warning to traitors hereafter how they sport with the
interests and feelings of their fellow-citizens. He was instructed, or
he was not: if he was, we will drop the curtain; if not, and he acted of
and from himself, we shall lament the want of a GUILLOTINE."

The Pendleton Society of the same state declared their "abhorrence and
detestation of a treaty which gives the English government more power
over us as states than it claimed over us as colonists--a treaty,
involving in it pusillanimity, stupidity, ingratitude, and treachery."

In Virginia, the grand panacea for all political evils of the federal
government, DISUNION, was again presented. The following specimen of the
prescription, taken from a Virginia newspaper, will suffice as an

     "Notice is hereby given, that in case the treaty entered into by
     that damned arch-traitor, John Jay, with the British tyrant should
     be ratified, a petition will be presented to the next general
     assembly of Virginia at their next session, praying that the said
     state may recede from the Union, and be under the government of one
     hundred thousand free and independent Virginians.

     "P. S. As it is the wish of the people of the said state to enter
     into a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, with any other
     state or states of the present Union who are averse to returning
     again under the galling yoke of Great Britain, the printers of the
     (at present) United States are requested to publish the above
     notification.--_Richmond, July 31, 1795_."

Even at that early period of the republic, neither newspaper editors,
nor political combinations, nor gatherings of clamorous assemblies,
could make any sensible impression on the real strength of the Union.

Nor did these individual or public demonstrations move Washington from
his steady march in the line of duty, or in his allegiance to what he
discerned to be truth and justice. On his way to his home on the
Potomac, he was overtaken at Baltimore, on the eighteenth of July, by
the committee from Boston, bearing to him the proceedings of the great
public meeting there on the subject of the treaty. He immediately sent
the papers back to Mr. Randolph, the secretary of state, with a request
that he would confer upon the subject with the other two secretaries and
the attorney-general, and transmit the opinion of the cabinet to him as
early as possible. The whole affair, he had no doubt, was intended to
place him "in an embarrassed situation." The cabinet members, after
consultation, wrote out replies to the Boston authorities in accordance
with their views, and sent them to the president. He weighed them
carefully, and on the twenty-eighth of July he addressed the following
letter to the selectmen of Boston:--[82]

     "In every act of my administration I have sought the happiness of
     my fellow-citizens. My system for the attainment of this object has
     uniformly been to overlook all personal, local, and partial
     considerations; to contemplate the United States as one great
     whole; to consider that sudden impressions, when erroneous, would
     yield to candid reflection; and to consult only the substantial and
     permanent interests of our country.

     "Nor have I departed from this line of conduct, on the occasion
     which has produced the resolutions contained in your letter of the
     thirteenth instant.

     "With a predilection for my own judgment, I have weighed with
     attention every argument which has at any time been brought into
     view. But the constitution is the guide, which I never can 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-informed 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."

To these noble sentiments Washington firmly adhered, and they were the
basis of his replies to all similar communications. Before this letter
was sent, Washington received many private and public letters on the
subject, as well as newspaper accounts of meetings all over the country.
He perceived that a crisis had arrived, when he must act promptly and
energetically, in accordance with his convictions of right. He saw that
the excitement throughout the Union was becoming formidable, and he
resolved to return to Philadelphia immediately, summon his cabinet, and
propose to ratify the treaty without delay--notwithstanding such return
would be to him a great personal sacrifice. "Whilst I am in office," he
said to Randolph in his letter announcing his determination to return,
"I shall never suffer private convenience to interfere with what I
conceive to be my official duty." This was one of the great maxims of
his life.

"I view the opposition," he said, "which the treaty is receiving from
the meetings in different parts of the Union, in a very serious light;
not because there is more weight in any of the objections which are made
to it than was foreseen at first, for there is none in some of them, and
gross misrepresentations in others; nor as it respects myself
personally, for this shall have no influence on my conduct, plainly
perceiving, and I am accordingly preparing my mind for it, the obloquy
which disappointment and malice are collecting to heap upon me. But I am
alarmed at the effect it may have on, and the advantage the French
government may be disposed to make of, the spirit which is at work to
cherish a belief in them that the treaty is calculated to favor Great
Britain at their expense. Whether they believe or disbelieve these
tales, the effect it will have upon the nation will be nearly the same;
for, whilst they are at war with that power, or so long as the
animosity between the two nations exists, it will, no matter at whose
expense, be their policy, and it is to be feared will be their conduct,
to prevent us from being on good terms with Great Britain, or her from
deriving any advantages from our trade, which they can hinder, however
much we may be benefitted thereby ourselves. To what length this policy
and interest may carry them is problematical; but when they see the
people of this country divided, and such a violent opposition given to
the measures of their own government pretendedly in their favor, it may
be extremely embarrassing, to say no more of it.

"To sum the whole up in a few words, I have never, since I have been in
the administration of the government, seen a crisis, which in my
judgment has been so pregnant with interesting events, nor one from
which more is to be apprehended, whether viewed on one side or the
other. From New York there is, and I am told will further be, a counter
current; but how formidable it may appear I know not. If the same does
not take place at Boston and other towns, it will afford but too strong
evidence that the opposition is in a manner universal, and would make
the ratification a very serious business indeed. But, as it respects the
French, even counter resolutions would, for the reasons I have already
mentioned, do little more than weaken in a small degree the effect the
other side would have."

Two days afterward (the thirty-first of July) he wrote to Mr. Randolph,
informing him that he should not set out for Philadelphia until he
should receive answers to some letters, and then said:--

     "To be wise and temperate, as well as firm, the present crisis most
     eminently calls for. There is too much reason to believe, from the
     pains which have been taken, before, at, and since the advice of
     the senate respecting the treaty, that the prejudices against it
     are more extensive than is generally imagined. This I have lately
     understood to be the case in this quarter, from men who are of no
     party, but well disposed to the present administration. How should
     it be otherwise, when no stone has been left unturned that could
     impress on the minds of the people the most arrant
     misrepresentation of facts; that their rights have not only been
     _neglected_, but absolutely _sold_; that there are no reciprocal
     advantages in the treaty; that the benefits are all on the side of
     Great Britain; and, what seems to have had more weight with them
     than all the rest and to have been most pressed, that the treaty is
     made with the design to oppress the French, in open violation of
     our treaty with that nation, and contrary, too, to every principle
     of gratitude and sound policy? In time, when passion shall have
     yielded to sober reason, the current may possibly turn; but, in the
     meanwhile, this government, in relation to France and England, may
     be compared to a ship between the rocks of Scylla and Charybdis. If
     the treaty is ratified, the partisans of the French, or rather of
     war and confusion, will excite them to hostile measures, or at
     least to unfriendly sentiments; if it is not, there is no
     foreseeing all the consequences which may follow as it respects
     Great Britain.

     "It is not to be inferred from hence that I am disposed to quit the
     ground I have taken, unless circumstances more imperious than have
     yet come to my knowledge should compel it; for there is but one
     straight course, and that is, to seek truth and pursue it steadily.

     "But these things are mentioned to show that a close investigation
     of the subject is more than ever necessary, and that they are
     strong evidences of the necessity of the most circumspect conduct
     in carrying the determination of government into effect, with
     prudence as it respects our own people, and with every exertion to
     produce a change for the better from Great Britain."

Randolph, at Washington's request, had made a rough draft of a memorial,
intended to meet all objections to the treaty. This had been sent to
Mount Vernon, and in reference to it the president said:--

     "The memorial seems well designed to answer the end proposed; and
     by the time it is revised and new-dressed, you will probably
     (either in the resolutions, which are or will be handed to me, or
     in the newspaper publications, which you promised to be attentive
     to) have seen all the objections against the treaty which have any
     real force in them, and which may be fit subjects for
     representation in the memorial, or in the instructions, or both.

     "But how much longer the presentation of the memorial can be
     delayed without exciting unpleasant sensations here, or involving
     serious evils elsewhere, you, who are at the scene of information
     and action, can decide better than I. In a matter, however, so
     interesting and pregnant with consequences as this treaty, there
     ought to be no precipitation; but, on the contrary, every step
     should be explored before it is taken, and every word weighed
     before it is uttered or delivered in writing."

Washington arrived at Philadelphia on the eleventh of August. His return
was hastened by a mysterious letter from Colonel Pickering, the
secretary of war, dated the thirty-first of July. "On the subject of the
treaty," he said, "I confess I feel extreme solicitude, and for a
_special reason_, which can be communicated to you only in person. I
entreat, therefore, that you will return with all convenient speed to
the seat of government. In the meantime, for the reason above referred
to, I pray you to decide on no important political measure, in whatever
form it may be presented to you. Mr. Wolcott and I (Mr. Bradford
concurring) waited on Mr. Randolph, and urged his writing to request
your return. He wrote in our presence, but we concluded a letter from
one of us also expedient."

On the day after his arrival, the president called a cabinet meeting.
Mr. Pickering had already explained the mysterious hints in his letter,
by handing to Washington some papers which had excited suspicions
concerning Secretary Randolph's conduct. When the cabinet had convened,
the president submitted the question, "What shall be done with the
treaty?" Randolph not only insisted upon the repeal of the provision
order already alluded to, as a preliminary to ratification, but took the
ground that the treaty ought not to be ratified at all, pending the war
with Great Britain and France. The other members of the cabinet were in
favor of immediate ratification, with a strong memorial against the
provision order. In this opinion Washington coincided, and on the
eighteenth the ratification was signed by the president. Randolph was
directed to complete the memorial which he had commenced, and also
instructions for further negotiations.

Washington's feelings had been deeply moved by the papers which
Pickering placed in his hands. The chief of these was a despatch of M.
Fauchet, the French minister, to his government, late in the autumn of
1794, and which had been intercepted. In that despatch, Fauchet gave a
sketch of the rise of parties in the United States, in substantial
accordance with Jefferson's views, and then he commented freely upon the
Whiskey Insurrection in western Pennsylvania, then drawing to a close.
Echoing the sentiments of the democratic leaders, Fauchet, professing to
have his information from Randolph, declared that the insurrection grew
out of political hostility to Hamilton. It was Hamilton's intention, he
said, in enforcing the excise, "to mislead the president into unpopular
courses, and to introduce absolute power under pretext of giving energy
to the government."

In his further comments, the minister, in deprecation of the conduct of
professed republicans, and the general co-operation with the president
in putting down the insurrection, said: "Of the governors whose duty it
was to appear at the head of the requisitions, the governor of
Pennsylvania alone [Mifflin] enjoyed the name of republican. His
opinions of the secretary of the treasury, and of his systems, were
known to be unfavorable. The secretary of this state [Dallas] possessed
great influence in the popular society of Philadelphia, which in its
turn influenced those of other states; of course he merited attention.
It appears that these men, with others unknown to me, were balancing to
decide on their party. Two or three days before the proclamation was
published, and of course before the cabinet had resolved on its
measures, Mr. Randolph came to me with an air of great eagerness, and
made to me the overtures of which I have given an account in my No.

"Thus, with some thousands of dollars, the republic could have decided on
civil war or on peace! Thus the consciences of the pretended patriots of
America already have their prices! What will be the old age of this
government, if it is thus already decrepit?"

After speaking of Hamilton's financial schemes as the instrument of
making "of a whole nation a stock-jobbing, speculating, and selfish
people," and asserting that "riches alone here fix consideration, and,
as no one likes to be despised, they are universally sought after," he
makes some exceptions among the leading republicans by name, and

"As soon as it was decided that the French republic purchased no men to
do their duty, there were to be seen individuals, about whose conduct
the government could at least form uneasy conjectures, giving themselves
up with scandalous ostentation to its views, and ever seconding its
declarations. The popular societies [democratic] soon emitted
resolutions stamped with the same spirit, which, although they may not
have been prompted by love of order, might nevertheless have been
omitted, or uttered with less solemnity. Then were seen, coming from the
very men whom we have been accustomed to regard as having little
friendship for the treasurer, harangues without end, in order to give a
new direction to the public mind."

This despatch had been intercepted at sea, found its way to the British
cabinet, and was forwarded to Mr. Hammond, the British minister at
Philadelphia. He placed it in the hands of Mr. Wolcott, the secretary of
the treasury, for he ascribed the delay in the ratification of the
treaty to Randolph's influence. It was translated by Mr. Pickering, and
he, as we have seen, submitted it to the president on his arrival at the
seat of government. Washington revolved it in his mind with great
concern; but other matters of greater moment demanding his immediate
attention after his arrival, he postponed all action upon it until the
question of ratifying the treaty should be settled. On the day after the
signing of that instrument, the president, in the presence of all the
cabinet officers, handed the intercepted despatch to Mr. Randolph, with
a request that he should read it and make such explanations as he might
think fit.

This was the first intimation Mr. Randolph had of the existence of such
a letter. He perused it carefully without perceptible emotion, and with
equal composure he commented upon each paragraph in order. He declared
that he had never asked for, nor received, any money from the French
minister for himself or others, and had never made any improper
communications to Fauchet of the measures of the government. He said
that he wished more leisure to examine the letter, and he proposed to
put further observations in writing. He complained, perhaps justly, of
the president's manner in bringing the subject to his notice, without
any private intimation of such intention; and he added, that in
consideration of the treatment he had received, he could not think of
remaining in office a moment longer.

On the same day Randolph tendered his resignation to the president. In
his letter accompanying it, he said, "Your confidence in me, sir, has
been unlimited, and, I can truly affirm, unabused. My sensations, then,
can not be concealed, when I find that confidence so suddenly withdrawn,
without a word or distant hint being previously dropped to me. This,
sir, as I mentioned in your room, is a situation in which I can not hold
my present office, and therefore I hereby resign it.

"It will not, however, be concluded from hence that I mean to relinquish
the inquiry. No, sir--very far from it. I will also meet any inquiry;
and to prepare for it, if I learn there is a chance of overtaking Mr.
Fauchet before he sails, I will go to him immediately.[84]

"I have to beg the favor of you to permit me to be furnished with a
copy of the letter, and I will prepare an answer to it; which I perceive
that I can not do with the few hasty memoranda which I took with my
pencil. I am satisfied, sir, that you will acknowledge one piece of
justice to be due on this occasion, which is, that until an inquiry can
be made, the affair shall continue in secrecy under your injunction.
For, after pledging myself for a more specific investigation of all the
suggestions, I here most solemnly deny that any overture came from me,
which was to produce money to me or any others for me; and that in any
manner, directly or indirectly, was a shilling ever received by me; nor
was it ever contemplated by me that one shilling should be applied by
Mr. Fauchet to any purpose relative to the insurrection."

On the following day, Washington wrote to Mr. Randolph: "Whilst you are
in pursuit of means to remove the strong suspicions arising from this
letter, no disclosure of its contents will be made by me, and I will
enjoin the same on the public officers who are acquainted with the
purport of it, unless something will appear to render an explanation
necessary on the part of the government, and of which I will be the
judge." He afterward said, "No man would rejoice more than I, to find
that the suspicions which have resulted from the intercepted letter were
unequivocally and honorably removed."

A message from Randolph reached Fauchet before he was ready to embark,
and the minister wrote to the late secretary, a declaration, denying
that the latter had ever indicated a willingness to receive money for
his own use, and also affirming that, in his letter to his government,
he did not say anything derogatory to Mr. Randolph's character. With
this declaration from the retiring French minister, and a reliance upon
the general tenor of his conduct while in the cabinet, Randolph
proceeded to prepare his vindication, at the same time publicly boasting
to his friends, with a vindictive spirit, that he would bring things to
view which would affect Washington more than anything which had yet
appeared. Among other things which he proposed to do, in order to damage
the reputation of Washington, was, to undertake to show, by the
president's own letter to him on the twenty-second of July, that he
(Washington) was opposed to the treaty which he had now so eagerly
signed; and that the intercepted despatch had been communicated to
Washington as part of a scheme concocted between the British minister
and the cabinet officers to insure the ratification of the treaty, to
drive Randolph from office, and to crush the republican party in the
United States.

The paragraph in Washington's letter on which Randolph intended to base
this charge was as follows: "My opinion respecting the treaty is the
same now that it was; namely, not favorable to it, but that it is better
to ratify it in the manner the senate have advised, and with the
reservation already mentioned, than to suffer matters to remain as they
are, unsettled." The letter from which this is copied was on file in the
office of the secretary of state; and Randolph, with evidences of a
strangely bitter feeling toward Washington, applied to him for a copy of
it, that he might publish it in his vindication. "You must be sensible,
sir," he said, "that I am inevitably driven to the discussion of many
confidential and delicate points. I could, with safety, immediately
appeal to the people of the United States, who can be of no party. But I
shall wait for your answer to this letter, so far as it respects the
paper desired, before I forward to you my general letter, which is
delayed for no other cause. I shall also rely that any supposed error in
the general letter in regard to facts will be made known to me, that I
may correct it if necessary, and that you will consent to the whole
affair, howsoever confidential and delicate, being exhibited to the
world. At the same time, I prescribe to myself the condition not to
mingle anything which I do not seriously conceive to belong to the

Utterly mistaking the character of Washington, and ungenerously
presuming that the president would withhold his consent to the
publication of the letter referred to, Randolph published in the
_Philadelphia Gazette_, two days after he wrote to Washington, the
paragraph in his application which has just been quoted, and with it a
note to the editor, saying, "The letter from which the enclosed is an
extract relates principally to the requisition of a particular paper.
My only view at present is to show to my fellow-citizens what is the
state of my vindication."

Washington was then at Mount Vernon, and the letter, an extract from
which was published, could not have reached him when that paragraph was
made public. It passed Washington while on his way to Philadelphia, and
he did not receive it until the twentieth of October, twelve days after
it was written. On the following day, Washington, with a perfect
consciousness of his own rectitude at all times and under all
circumstances, and with a noble generosity to which his assailant showed
himself a stranger, wrote to him as follows:--

"It is not difficult, from the tenor of your letter, to perceive what
your objects are. But, that you may have no cause to complain of the
withholding of any paper, however private and confidential, which you
shall think necessary in a case of so serious a nature, I have directed
that you should have the inspection of my letter of the twenty-second of
July, agreeably to your request; and you are at full liberty to publish
without reserve _any_ and _every_ private and confidential letter I ever
wrote to you; nay, more--every word I ever uttered to you, or in your
hearing, from whence you can derive any advantage in your vindication. I
grant this permission, inasmuch as the extract alluded to manifestly
tends to impress on the public mind an opinion that something has passed
between us, which you should disclose with reluctance, from motives of
delicacy with respect to me."

In reference to Randolph's proposition to submit his vindication to the
inspection of Washington, the latter remarked, "As you are no longer an
officer of the government, and propose to submit your vindication to the
public, it is not my desire, nor is it my intention, to receive it
otherwise than through the medium of the press. Facts you can not
mistake, and, if they are fairly and candidly stated, they will invite
no comments."

In December the pamphlet appeared, entitled, "A Vindication of Mr.
Randolph's Resignation," in which was a narrative of the principal
events which we have just been considering, the correspondence between
the president and Randolph, the whole of Fauchet's letter, and
Randolph's remarks. "From the nature of the circumstances," says Sparks,
"Mr. Randolph had a difficult task to perform, as he was obliged to
prove a negative, and to explain vague expressions and insinuations
connected with his name in Fauchet's letter." The statements which he
made in proof of his innocence were not such as to produce entire
conviction. "He moreover," continues Sparks, "allowed himself to be
betrayed into a warmth of temper and bitterness of feeling not
altogether favorable to his candor. After all that has been made known,
the particulars of his conversations with Fauchet and his designs are
still matters of conjecture."

In after life, Mr. Randolph deeply regretted the course that he pursued
toward Washington at this time. In a letter to Judge Bushrod Washington,
written in the summer of 1810, he said: "I do not retain the smallest
degree of that feeling which roused me fifteen years ago against some
individuals. For the world contains no treasure, deception, or charm,
which can seduce me from the consolation of being in a state of good
will towards all mankind; and I should not be mortified to ask pardon of
any man with whom I have been at variance, for any injury which I may
have done him. If I could now present myself before your venerated
uncle, it would be my pride to confess my contrition, that I suffered my
irritation, let the cause be what it might, to use some of those
expressions respecting him, which, at this moment of my indifference to
the ideas of the world, I wish to recall, as being inconsistent with my
subsequent conviction."[85]

It was thus with all the assaults ever made upon the character of
Washington. They always failed to injure it in the slightest degree; and
the sharpest and best-tempered shafts of malignity fell blunted and
harmless from the invulnerable shield of his spotless integrity.


[79] At a civic feast in Philadelphia, on the first of May, which was
attended by a great number of American citizens, to celebrate the recent
victories of France, the subjoined toasts were given. The managers of
the feast sent the following invitation to President Washington:--

     "SIR: The subscribers, a committee in behalf of a number of
     American, French, and Dutch citizens, request the honor of your
     company to a civic festival, to be given on Friday, the seventeenth
     of April, appointed to celebrate the late victories of the French
     republic, and the emancipation of Holland." The feast was postponed
     until the first of May. Washington did not attend; but the occasion
     was honored by the presence of the French minister and consul, and
     the consul of Holland. The following are the toasts:--

     "1. The republic of France, whose triumphs have made this day a
     jubilee; may she destroy the race of kings, and may their broken
     sceptres and crowns, like the bones and teeth of the mammoth, be
     the only evidence that such monsters ever infested the earth.

     "2. The republic of France; may the shores of Great Britain soon
     hail the tri-colored standard, and the people rend the air with
     shouts of 'Long live the republic!'

     "3. The republic of France; may her navy clear the ocean of
     pirates, that the common high way of nations may no longer, like
     the highways of Great Britain, be a receptacle for robbers.

     "4. The republic of France; may all free nations learn of her to
     transfer their attachment from men to principles, and from
     individuals to the people.

     "5. The republic of France; may her example, in the abolition of
     titles and splendor, be a lesson to all republics to destroy those
     leavens of corruption.

     "6. The republic of Holland; may the flame of liberty which they
     have rekindled never be permitted to expire for want of vigilance
     and energy.

     "7. The republic of Holland; may her two sisters, the republics of
     France and America, form with her an invincible triumvirate in the
     cause of liberty.

     "8. The republic of Holland; may she again give birth to a Van
     Tromp and a De Ruyter, who shall make the satellites of George
     tremble at their approach, and seek their safety in flight.

     "9 The republic of Holland; may that fortitude which sustained her
     in the dire conflict with Philip the Second, and the success that
     crowned her struggles, be multiplied upon her in the hour of her

     "10. The republic of Holland; may that government which they are
     about establishing have neither the balances of aristocracy nor the
     checks of monarchy.

     "11. The republic of America; may the sentiment that impelled her
     to resist a British tyrant's will, and the energy which rendered it
     effectual, prompt her to repel usurpation in whatever shape it may
     assail her.

     "12. The republic of America; may the aristocracy of wealth,
     founded upon the virtues, the toils, and the blood of her
     Revolutionary armies, soon vanish, and, like the baseless fabric of
     a vision, leave not a wreck behind.

     "13. The republic of America; may her government have public good
     for its object, and be purged of the dregs of sophisticated

     "14. The republic of America; may the alliance formed between her
     and France acquire vigor with age, and that man be branded as the
     enemy of liberty who shall endeavor to weaken or unhinge it.

     "15. The republic of America; may her administration have virtue
     enough to defy the ordeal of patriotic societies, and patriotism
     enough to cherish instead of denouncing them."

[80] _Old and New York_, by J. W. Francis, M. D., LL.D. "Edward
Livingston," says Doctor Francis, (afterwards so celebrated for his
Louisiana Code,) "was, I am informed, one of the violent numbers by whom
the stones were thrown."

[81] History of the United States, Second Series, i, 550.

[82] The names of the selectmen who addressed him were Ezekiel Price,
Thomas Walley, William Boardman, Ebenezer Seaver, Thomas Crafts, Thomas
Edwards, William Little, William Scollay, and Jesse Putnam.

[83] In "No. 6," written, it is supposed, some time in August, Fauchet,
alluding to the breaking out of the Whiskey Insurrection, said: "Scarce
was the commotion known when the secretary of state [Mr. Randolph] came
to my house. All his countenance was grief. He requested of me a private
conversation. 'It is all over,' he said to me; 'a civil war is about to
ravage our unhappy country. Four men, by their talents, their influence,
their energy, may save it. But--debtors of English merchants--they will
be deprived of their liberty if they take the smallest step. Could you
lend them instantaneous funds sufficient to shelter them from English
persecution?' This inquiry astonished me. It was impossible for me to
make a satisfactory answer. You know my want of power and my defect of
pecuniary means. I shall draw myself from the affair by some
common-place remarks, and by throwing myself on the pure and
disinterested principles of the republic."

[84] Fauchet had been superseded by M. Adet, and had gone to New York to
embark for France, when this difficulty occurred.

[85] Marshall's _Life of Washington_, ii. Appendix, Note xx.



The ratification of the treaty increased the violence of party spirit.
The batteries of fiercest vituperation were now opened upon the
president, and the habitual courtesy with which he had been treated was
lost sight of in the fury of party hate.

The opponents of the treaty saw only one more expedient to defeat it,
now that they had failed to intimidate Washington or cause him to
withhold his signature. They started the idea, as a forlorn hope, that
although the president might ratify, it still rested with the house of
representatives to refuse, if they chose, the pecuniary means to carry
the treaty into effect, and thus to nullify it. They, therefore,
resolved to use every effort to accomplish their purposes in this way.
The elections in the several states were not yet completed, and they
felt confident that a majority had already been chosen who were hostile
to the treaty.

The most inflammatory addresses were circulated, to influence the people
against the president and the treaty, and to form a public opinion that
should bear with potency upon the supreme legislature. "The president,"
said one of these addresses, "has thrown the gauntlet, and shame on the
coward heart that refuses to take it up. He has declared war against the
people, by treating their opinions with contempt; he has forfeited his
claim to their confidence, by acting in opposition to their will. Our
liberties are in jeopardy, and we must either rescue them from the
precipice or they will be lost for ever. One hope offers itself to us,
and a consolatory one, too--the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED
STATES. As we have looked in vain for patriotism from the president, let
us turn our eyes toward that body; they are our immediate
representatives; they feel our wants, participate in our injuries, and
sympathize in our distresses. They never will submit to have our country
degraded; they never will be passive under the outrages upon our
constitution; they never will be the instruments of voting away the
people's rights. As our application to the president has been treated
with scorn, let us make our appeal to that body which has the power of
IMPEACHMENT, and we shall not find them step-fathers of their country. A
treaty which has bartered away their rights can not, will not, be
submitted to. Let us then, fellow-citizens, rally round our
representatives, and we may still be free!"

Such appeals had a powerful effect; and a writer in the _Aurora_ went so
far as to charge Washington with having used the public money for his
own private use! The charge was maintained with the most unblushing
effrontery. When Congress met, petitions were forwarded to the house of
representatives from all parts of the Union, bitterly denouncing the
treaty, and praying that body to stand in the breach and rescue the
country from the usurpations of the president and senate. The newspapers
discussed the subject with great warmth; and Brockholst Livingston, over
the signature of "Decius," assailed the treaty with great ability. This
aroused Hamilton, who had both spoken and written in favor of the
treaty. He came to the tournament most gallantly, and, over the
signature of "Camillus," he dealt such powerful blows with his
battle-axe of fact and logic; that "Decius" was quickly unhorsed.
Jefferson, with his eagle vision, had watched the combat with intense
interest from his eyry at Monticello; and when he saw the force of
Hamilton's reasoning, and the power it must have upon the people, he
shouted to Madison to join the lists and do battle against "Camillus,"
and a smaller champion called "Curtius." "Hamilton," he exclaimed in a
letter to Madison on the twenty-first of September, "is really a
colossus to the anti-republican party. Without numbers, he is a host
within himself. They have got themselves into a defile, where they might
be finished; but too much security on the republican part will give time
to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only
middling performers to oppose to him. In truth, when he comes forward,
there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries have
begun the attack, he has the advantage of answering them, and remains
unanswered himself. A solid reply might yet completely demolish what was
too feebly attacked, and has gathered strength from the weakness of the
attack." With his usual alarm-bell notes, Jefferson then spoke of
"Hamilton, Jay," etc., as engaged "in the boldest act they ever ventured
on to undermine the government;" and exclaimed, in conclusion, "For
God's sake, take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to 'Curtius'
and 'Camillus.'"[86]

The opposition found other champions of the treaty to meet than
newspaper writers. The friends of that instrument and the government
rallied in various forms. A few days before the president signed the
ratification, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, like that of New York,
representing a large and influential class to be affected by the treaty,
passed a resolution, with only one dissenting voice, in favor of
ratification. Some violent Boston republicans, to counteract these
expressions, used the mobocratic argument and paraded an effigy of Jay
in the streets, and concluded the performance by burning it, attacking
the house of the editor of a federal paper (from which they were
repulsed by firearms), and keeping the New England capital in a
disturbed state for several days. Philadelphia merchants, on the
contrary, in large numbers, signed a memorial taking ground in favor of
the treaty. This was imitated elsewhere, and these memorials went into
the house of representatives with the denunciatory petitions.

In the midst of all this storm, Washington remained calm, with his hand
firmly resting upon the helm of state, and his eye steadily fixed upon
the great compass and chart of integrity by which his course was always
determined. In a reply to a friendly letter from General Knox, who
assured him of a changing opinion in New England in favor of the treaty,
he said:--

     "Next to a conscientious discharge of my public duties, to carry
     along with me the approbation of my constituents would be the
     highest gratification my mind is susceptible of; but, the latter
     being secondary, I can not make the former yield to it, unless some
     criterion more infallible than partial (if they are not party)
     meetings can be discovered, as the touchstone of public sentiment.
     If any power on earth could, or the great Power above would, erect
     the standard of infallibility in political opinions, there is no
     being that inhabits this terrestrial globe that would resort to it
     with more eagerness than myself, so long as I remain a servant of
     the public. But as I have found no better guide, hitherto, than
     upright intentions and close investigation, I shall adhere to those
     maxims while I keep the watch, leaving it to those who will come
     after me to explore new ways, if they like or think them better."

During the autumn, while these public discussions were at their height,
Washington was called upon to reconstruct his cabinet on account of the
resignation of Randolph, the secretary of state, and the death of
Bradford, the attorney-general, both events having occurred in August.
The president found some difficulty in filling Randolph's place. "In the
appointment of the great officers of government," Washington wrote to
Colonel Carrington in October, "my aim has been to combine geographical
situation, and sometimes other considerations, with abilities and
fitness of _known_ characters." He had offered the place successively to
Judge Paterson, of New Jersey, Thomas Johnson, of Maryland, Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, and Patrick Henry, of Virginia;
but they all declined. In his letter to Henry, who, it was understood,
was not very well pleased with the treaty, Washington said:--

     "I persuade myself, sir, it has not escaped your observation that
     a crisis is approaching, that must, if it can not be arrested, soon
     decide whether order and good government shall be preserved, or
     anarchy and confusion ensue. I can most religiously aver, I have no
     wish that is incompatible with the dignity, happiness, and true
     interest of the people of this country. My ardent desire is, and my
     aim has been, as far as depended upon the executive department, to
     comply strictly with all our engagements, foreign and domestic; but
     to keep the United States free from political connection with every
     other country, to see them independent of all, and under the
     influence of none. In a word, I want an _American_ character, that
     the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for _ourselves_, and
     not for others. This, in my judgment, is the only way to be
     respected abroad and happy at home; and not, by becoming the
     partisans of Great Britain or France, create dissentions, disturb
     the public tranquillity, and destroy, perhaps for ever, the cement
     which binds the Union."

After considerable delay, Colonel Pickering was transferred to the
department of state, and James M'Henry, of Maryland, was appointed
secretary of war. At the close of November, Charles Lee, of Virginia,
accepted the office of attorney-general, as the successor of Bradford,
and at the opening of Congress the cabinet was in working order, with
apparently harmonious elements.

It was during these political agitations that George Washington
Lafayette, a son of the marquis, arrived in the United States, to claim
an asylum at the hands of Washington. He could not have appeared at a
more inopportune moment; for political reasons rendered it inexpedient
for the president, as such, to receive him; and to place him in his
family might cause perplexities, connected with political affairs,
prejudicial to the public tranquillity.

We have already noticed the flight of Lafayette from France before the
fury of Jacobin fanaticism, and his incarceration in an Austrian
dungeon, while his family were left to be the sport of fortune. In that
dungeon the marquis was confined almost three years, in a cell three
paces broad and five and a half long, containing no other ornament than
two French verses which rhymed with the words "to suffer and to die."
And yet his great soul went out to his suffering fellow-man as free as
the air of heaven; and with a toothpick (for he was deprived of pen and
ink) he wrote to a princess, who sympathized with him, on a scrap of
paper which came to him almost miraculously, and with soot and water,
these noble words: "I know not what disposition has been made of my
plantation at Cayenne, but I hope Madame Lafayette will take care that
the negroes who cultivate it shall preserve their liberty." He had set
them all free.

The marchioness, as soon as she was allowed the privilege, hastened to
Olmutz with her daughters to share the dungeon with the husband and
father; while their son, whom they had named in honor of their
illustrious friend, came to the United States with his tutor, M.
Frestel, consigned to the fatherly care of Washington. Young Lafayette
was then about seventeen years of age.

The two exiles arrived at Boston at the close of the summer of 1795, and
they immediately sent information of the fact to the president, who was
just on the point of leaving Philadelphia for Mount Vernon. Washington's
first impulse was to take the young man to his bosom and cherish him as
a son; but, as we have observed, grave reasons of state denied him that
pleasure. After brief reflection, he sent the letters of the exiles, to
Senator Cabot, of Boston, saying:--

     "To express all the sensibility which has been excited in my breast
     by the receipt of young Lafayette's letter, from the recollection
     of his father's merits, services and sufferings, from my friendship
     for him, and from my wishes to become a friend and father to his
     son, is unnecessary."[87] Let me in a few words declare that I will
     be his friend; but the manner of becoming so, considering the
     obnoxious light in which his father is viewed by the French
     government, and my own situation as the executive of the United
     States, requires more time to consider, in all its relations, than
     I can bestow on it at present, the letters not having been in my
     hands more than an hour, and I myself on the point of setting out
     for Virginia to fetch my family back, whom I left there about the
     first of August.

     "The mode, which at the first view strikes me as the most eligible
     to answer his purposes and to save appearances, is, first, to
     administer all the consolation to the young gentleman that he can
     derive from the most unequivocal assurances of my standing in the
     place of, and becoming to him, a father, friend, protector, and
     supporter. But, secondly, for prudential motives, as they relate to
     myself, his mother and friends whom he has left behind, and to my
     official character, it would be best not to make these sentiments
     public; and of course it would be ineligible that he should come to
     the seat of the general government, where all the foreign
     characters (particularly those of his own nation) are residents,
     until it is seen what opinions will be excited by his arrival;
     especially, too, as I shall be necessarily absent five or six weeks
     from it, on business in several places. Thirdly, considering how
     important it is to avoid idleness and dissipation, to improve his
     mind, and to give him all the advantages which education can
     bestow, my opinion and my advice to him are, if he is qualified for
     admission, that he should enter as a student in the university in
     Cambridge, although it should be for a short time only; the expense
     of which, as also for every other means for his support, I will
     pay.... Let me pray you, my dear sir, to impress upon young
     Lafayette's mind, and indeed upon that of his tutor, that the
     reasons why I do not urge him to come to me have been frankly
     related, and that their prudence must appreciate them with caution.
     My friendship for his father, so far from being diminished, has
     increased in the ratio of his misfortunes; and my inclination to
     serve the son will be evidenced by my conduct."

General Knox, then in Boston, took much interest in the young
Lafayette. In a letter to Washington, on the twenty-first of September,
he said, "He goes by the name of Motier [a family name of his father],
concealing his real name, lest some injury should arise to his mother,
or to a young Mr. Russell of this town, now in France, who assisted in
his escape." Knox spoke of the exile as "a lovely young man, of
excellent morals and conduct."

Mr. Cabot readily undertook the duty solicited by Washington. He found
Lafayette and his tutor in much perplexity. The attempt at concealment
was futile. "Already M. Motier is known to too many persons," wrote Mr.
Cabot, "and a public festival announced by the French consul for Monday
next, at which all their citizens in this vicinity are expected to
attend, occasions serious embarrassments; to which is added, that some
circumstances of delicacy relative to the family in which they are
placed, make an immediate removal proper." He further informed him that
they were about to depart for New York, where they expected to be
accommodated in the country-house of a French gentleman, their friend,
where they would remain in retirement, until they should receive further
directions from Washington. Mr. Cabot gave them letters to Colonel
Wadsworth and Colonel Hamilton, and they departed.

In November, soon after his return to Philadelphia, Washington wrote an
affectionate letter to young Lafayette, in which, after telling him the
causes which rendered it necessary for them both to be circumspect, and
desiring him to repair with his tutor to Colonel Hamilton, in the city
of New York, who would see that they were well provided for, he said:--

     "How long the causes which have withheld you from me may continue,
     I am not able at this moment to decide; but be assured of my wishes
     to embrace you, so soon as they shall have ceased, and that,
     whenever the period arrives, I shall do it with fervency. In the
     meantime, let me begin with fatherly advice to you to apply closely
     to your studies, that the season of your youth may be improved to
     the utmost, that you may be found the deserving son of a
     meritorious father." To M. Frestel, Washington wrote at the same
     time, after directing him to read his letter to his pupil: "To the
     above I shall just add, that, as the preceptor and friend of M. de
     Lafayette, I pray you to count upon my attentions and friendship,
     and learn that it is my expectation that you will accompany him in
     whatever situation he may be placed; and moreover that you will let
     me know, at all times, what he has occasion for."

The Congress at length took official notice of the presence of the son
of Lafayette; and on the eighteenth of March, 1796, the house of
representatives passed the following resolution and order:--

     "Information having been given to this house that a son of General
     Lafayette is now within the United States; _Resolved_, that a
     committee be appointed to inquire into the truth of the said
     information, and report thereon; and what measures it would be
     proper to take if the same be true, to evince the grateful sense
     entertained by the country for the services of his father.

     "Ordered, that Mr. Livingston, Mr. Sherburne, and Mr. Murray, be
     appointed a committee pursuant to the said resolution."

As chairman of the committee, Mr. Livingston wrote to young Lafayette as

     "SIR: Actuated by motives of gratitude to your father, and eager to
     seize every opportunity of showing their sense of his important
     services, the house of representatives have passed the resolution
     which I have the pleasure to communicate. The committee being
     directed to inquire into the fact of your arrival within the United
     States, permit me to advise your immediate appearance at this
     place, that the legislature of America may no longer be in doubt,
     whether the son of Lafayette is under their protection, and within
     the reach of their gratitude.

     "I presume to give this advice as an individual personally attached
     to your father, and very solicitous to be useful to any person in
     whose happiness he is interested. If I should have that good
     fortune on this occasion, it will afford me the greatest

This letter, and the resolutions of the house of representatives, young
Lafayette forwarded to President Washington, and asked his advice as to
the course he should pursue. Washington advised him to come to
Philadelphia at the opening of the next session of Congress, occupy a
room in his house, but to avoid society as much as possible. He
complied, and remained in Philadelphia until the following spring, when
Washington, on becoming a private citizen, embraced the son of his
friend as if he had been his own child, and bore him to his home on the
Potomac. There he remained until early in October, when the joyful news
of the release of his father from confinement, and his restoration to
his country and friends, caused him to leave for the seaboard to depart
for France. He and M. Frestel sailed from New York on the twenty-sixth
of October, 1797.

As young Lafayette was about to leave Mount Vernon, Washington placed a
letter in his hands for his father, in which he said:--

     "From the delicate and responsible situation in which I stood as a
     public officer, but more especially from a misconception of the
     manner in which your son had left France, till explained to me in a
     personal interview with himself, he did not come immediately into
     my family on his arrival in America, though he was assured, in the
     first moments of it, of my protection and support. His conduct,
     since he first set his feet on American ground, has been exemplary
     in every point of view, such as has gained him the esteem,
     affection, and confidence of all who have had the pleasure of his
     acquaintance. His filial affection and duty, and his ardent desire
     to embrace his parents and sisters in the first moments of their
     release, would not allow him to wait the authentic account of this
     much-desired event; but, at the same time that I suggested the
     propriety of this, I could not withhold my assent to the
     gratification of his wishes to fly to the arms of those whom he
     holds most dear, persuaded as he is, from the information he has
     received, that he shall find you all in Paris.

     "M. Frestel has been a true Mentor to George. No parent could have
     been more attentive to a favorite son; and he richly merits all
     that can be said of his virtues, of his good sense, and of his
     prudence. Both your son and he carry with them the vows and regrets
     of this family and all who know them. And you may be assured that
     yourself never stood higher in the affections of the people of this
     country than at the present moment."[88]


[86] Randall's Life of Jefferson, ii, 268.

[87] The late Richard Rush relates an interesting incident, illustrative
of the feelings of Washington on account of the misfortunes of his noble
friend. Mr. Bradford, the attorney-general, who lived directly opposite
the residence of Washington, was spending an evening with the president,
when the conversation reverted to Lafayette. Washington spoke with great
seriousness, contrasted the marquis's hitherto splendid career with that
of his present forlorn and suffering condition; and at length became so
deeply affected that his eyes filled with tears, and his whole great
soul was stirred to its very depths. "Magnanimous tears they were," says
Mr. Rush, "fit for the first of heroes to shed--virtuous, honorable,
sanctified!" Mr. Bradford, who deeply sympathized with the feelings of
Washington, was much affected at the spectacle, and, retiring to his own
house, wrote some simple and touching verses, called the "Lament of
Washington." They were an impromptu effusion from his heart.

[88] See _Mount Vernon and its Associations_, pages 285-293, inclusive.



On the eighth of December, 1795, Washington read his seventh annual
address to the assembled Congress. It contained a gratifying summary of
the events of the year in which his government and country were
concerned. He had the pleasure of informing them officially of the
"termination of the long, expensive, and distressing war," in which the
army had been engaged with the Indians of the Northwest Territory, by
the treaty made by Wayne at Grenville, to which we have already alluded.
That treaty was doubtless more easily consummated, after Wayne's
victories, because of the knowledge that the western posts were about to
be given up to the United States. By that treaty, a tract of twenty-five
thousand square miles was ceded to the United States, lying in one body
east of a defined line, and including the eastern and southern part of
the present state of Ohio. They also ceded sixteen detached portions of
territory in the region westward of that line, most of them two miles
square, but several of them much larger. These included the sites of
some of our most flourishing villages and cities in the West. As an
equivalent for these cessions, the Indians were to receive goods to the
amount of twenty thousand dollars in presents, and an annual allowance
of articles to the value of nine thousand, five hundred dollars, to be
distributed proportionately among the tribes who were parties to the

"At the exchange of prisoners which took place on this occasion,"
(conclusion of the treaty,) says Hildreth, "many affecting incidents
occurred. The war as against Kentucky had lasted for almost twenty
years, during which period a large number of white people had been
carried into captivity. Wives and husbands, parents and children, who
had been separated for years, were now restored to each other. Many of
the younger captives had quite forgotten their native language, and some
of them absolutely refused to leave the savage connections, into whose
families they had been taken by adoption."[89]

The Indian relations on the southwestern frontier were not so
satisfactory. Former treaties had been confirmed, and there were signs
of permanent peace; but the reckless violence of some of the white
settlers, in perpetrating bloody outrages upon the Indians, kept that
section of the Union in a state of great inquietude.

In his message, the president announced amicable relations with the new
emperor of Morocco, who in a letter had certified his recognition of a
treaty made with his father. "With peculiar satisfaction I add," said
Washington, "that information has been received from an agent deputed on
our part to Algiers, importing that the terms of a treaty with the dey
and regency of that country had been adjusted, in such a manner as to
authorize the expectation of a speedy peace, and the restoration of our
unfortunate fellow-citizens from a grievous captivity."

We have already observed the appointment of Colonel Humphreys as the
agent to Algiers alluded to. He was then diplomatic agent of the United
States at Lisbon. He came home for the special purpose of making
arrangements for his negotiation, and returned to Lisbon deputed to
purchase a peace of the Barbary powers. From Lisbon, Humphreys proceeded
to Paris to confer with Mr. Monroe, and to solicit the mediation of the
French government, leaving discretionary powers with Mr. Donaldson, who
had accompanied him as consul to Tunis and Tripoli; to conclude a peace
upon the best terms to be obtained, when a favorable opportunity should
occur. On the fifth of September, 1795, Donaldson signed a treaty, by
which, in consideration of the release of the American captives and a
guaranty of peace in the future, it was agreed to pay to the dey of
Algiers the sum of seven hundred and sixty-three thousand dollars,
besides an annual tribute in stores, which, at their real value,
amounted to about forty-eight thousand dollars. Besides these sums, a
biennial present of nine or ten thousand dollars was required, and
twenty thousand more on the appointment of a consul.

The president also announced that Mr. Pinckney, who had been sent on a
special mission to Spain concerning the navigation of the Mississippi
river, had been successful, the stipulation being that it should be free
to both parties throughout its entire length. He believed this would
lead the way to the settlement of "a foundation of lasting harmony with
a power whose friendship the United States had uniformly and sincerely
desired to cultivate."

The treaty which had caused so much commotion throughout the Union was
alluded to in a manner almost as if incidental. "Though not before
officially disclosed to the house of representatives," the president
said, "you, gentlemen, are all apprized that a treaty of amity,
commerce, and navigation has been negotiated with Great Britain, and
that the senate have advised and consented to its ratification upon a
condition which excepts part of one article. Agreeably thereto, and to
the best judgment I was able to form of the public interest, after full
and mature deliberation, I have added my sanction. The result on the
part of his Britannic majesty is unknown. When received, the subject
will without delay be placed before Congress."

In contemplation of the general relations of the United States, the
president said: "While many of the nations of Europe, with their
American dependencies, have been involved in a contest unusually bloody,
exhausting, and calamitous, in which the evils of foreign war have been
aggravated by domestic convulsion and insurrection, in which many of
the arts most useful to society have been exposed to discouragement and
decay; in which scarcity of subsistence has embittered other sufferings;
while even the anticipations of a return of the blessings of peace and
repose are alloyed by the sense of heavy and accumulating burdens, which
press upon all the departments of industry, and threaten to clog the
future springs of government, our favored country, happy in a striking
contrast, has enjoyed general tranquillity--a tranquillity the more
satisfactory because maintained at the expense of no duty. Faithful to
ourselves, we have violated no obligation to others. Our agriculture,
commerce, and manufactures prosper beyond example, the molestations of
our trade (to prevent a continuance of which, however, very pointed
remonstrances have been made) being overbalanced by the aggregate
benefit which derives from a neutral position. Our population advances
with a celerity which, exceeding the most sanguine calculations,
proportionally augments our strength and resources, and guaranties our
future security. Every part of the Union displays indications of rapid
and various improvement; and with burdens so light as scarcely to be
perceived, with resources fully adequate to our present exigencies, with
governments founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, and
with mild and wholesome laws, is it too much to say that our country
exhibits a spectacle of national happiness never surpassed, if ever
before equalled."

With such a picture before them, a picture faithful and true in form and
coloring, how pitiful must have appeared to the wise, and thoughtful,
and generous, those miserable party feuds and personal animosities which
disturbed the peace of the commonwealth--mere loathsome cobwebs, spun by
selfishness, across a piece of gorgeous tapestry--spots upon the sun of
a glorious national career!

Foreseeing the heats of party strife in the national legislature, the
president, after commending to their consideration several important
objects, counselled temperate discussion, "and mutual forbearance where
there may be a difference of opinion." This advice, always timely, was
especially apposite at that time.

The senate gave a cordial response to the message; but the opposition
being in the majority in the lower house, a clause in the response
reported by a committee appointed to prepare it, in which was expressed
"undiminished confidence" in the president, was objected to. The
opposition also desired to strike out from the senate's address the
expression of a belief that the president's foreign policy was an
"enlightened, firm, and persevering endeavor to preserve peace, freedom,
and prosperity." Some members affirmed that their confidence in the
president had been very much diminished by "a late transaction" (signing
the ratification of Jay's treaty); and that they believed such was the
case among the people at large. The address of the representatives was
finally, after much debate, recommitted, and the objectionable clause
was modified so as to read thus: "In contemplating that spectacle of
national happiness which our country exhibits, and of which you, sir,
have been pleased to make an interesting summary, permit us to
acknowledge and declare the very great share which your zealous and
faithful services have contributed to it, and to express the
affectionate attachment which we feel for your character."

Already the legislatures of the different states had taken action on the
treaty. Governor Shelby, in his message to the legislature of Kentucky,
assailed it as containing stipulations that were unconstitutional. The
lower house agreed with him, but the senate would not concur. The
Virginia house of delegates approved of the action of their senators in
voting against the treaty, and rejected a resolution declaring
undiminished confidence in the president. The Maryland legislature
denounced the assaults on the president, and declared their "unabated
reliance on his integrity, judgment, and patriotism." The Pennsylvania
senate took similar action; and the legislature of New Hampshire
denounced the seditious declaimers against the treaty and the
administration. North Carolina would not stand by Virginia in her
action; but the South Carolina legislature declared the treaty "highly
injurious to the general interests of the United States." The matter was
not acted upon by the senate, however, and the subject was not again
taken up. The legislature of Delaware approved of the treaty; while
Governor Samuel Adams, in his address to the general court of
Massachusetts, spoke of the treaty as "pregnant with evil." The
Massachusetts senate considered any action on the subject as an
interference with the powers delegated to the general government; while
the house, by a decided vote, suggested that "respectful submission on
the part of the people to the constituted authorities," was "the surest
means of enjoying and perpetuating the invaluable blessings of our free
and representative government." Rhode Island approved of the action of
the senate and the chief magistrate; and in New York, as well as in
Rhode Island and Massachusetts, a proposition made by resolutions in the
Virginia legislature, that the constitution of the United States should
be so amended as to admit the house of representatives to a share in the
treaty-making power, and otherwise abridging the powers of the
government, was rejected or laid on the table.

The tardiness of the British government in the performance of its acts
of justice toward the United States, and the present apparent hesitation
in ratifying the treaty, perplexed Washington; for this seeming
unfriendliness was used as a weapon by the opposition. Accordingly,
toward the close of the year, he attempted to remind that government of
its duty, in an unofficial way, through Gouverneur Morris, who, having
been succeeded by Mr. Monroe as minister to the French republic, was now
in England, and on quite intimate terms with Lord Grenville and other
ministers, and members of the privy council. In a letter to Morris, on
the twenty-second of December, after giving at much length a narrative
of the causes of complaint against the British government, Washington

     "I give you these details (and if you should again converse with
     Lord Grenville on the subject, you are at liberty unofficially to
     mention them, or any of them, according to circumstances) as
     evidences of the impolitic conduct of the British government
     towards these United States, that it may be seen how difficult it
     has been for the executive, under such an accumulation of
     irritating circumstances, to maintain the ground of neutrality
     which had been taken; and at a time when the remembrance of the
     aid we had received from France in the Revolution was fresh in
     every mind, and while the partisans of that country were
     continually contrasting the affections of _that_ people with the
     unfriendly disposition of the _British government_. And that, too,
     as I have observed before, while _their own_ sufferings during the
     war with the latter had not been forgotten.

     "It is well known that peace has been (to borrow a modern phrase)
     the order of the day with me since the disturbances in Europe first
     commenced. My policy has been, and will continue to be while I have
     the honor to remain in the administration, to maintain friendly
     terms with, but be independent of, all the nations of the earth; to
     share in the broils of none; to fulfil our own engagements; to
     supply the wants and be carriers for them all, being thoroughly
     convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so. Nothing
     short of self-respect, and that justice which is so essential to a
     national character, ought to involve us in war; for sure I am, if
     this country is preserved in tranquillity twenty years longer, it
     may bid defiance in a just career to any power whatever; such, in
     that time, will be its population, wealth, and resources....

     "In a government as free as ours, where the people are at liberty
     and will express their sentiments (oftentimes imprudently, and, for
     want of information, sometimes unjustly), allowances must be made
     for occasional effervescences; but, after the declaration I have
     here made of my political creed, you can run no hazard in asserting
     that the executive branch of this government never has suffered,
     nor will suffer while I preside, any improper conduct of its
     officers to escape with impunity, nor give its sanction to any
     disorderly proceedings of its citizens.

     "By a firm adherence to these principles, and to the neutral policy
     which has been adopted, I have brought on myself a torrent of abuse
     in the factious papers of this country, and from the enmity of the
     discontented of all descriptions. But, having no sinister objects
     in view, I shall not be diverted from my course by these, nor any
     attempts which are or shall be made to withdraw the confidence of
     my constituents from me. I have nothing to ask; and, discharging
     my duty, I have nothing to fear from invective. The acts of my
     administration will appear when I am no more, and the intelligent
     and candid part of mankind will not condemn my conduct without
     recurring to them."

Fortified by such conscious rectitude, Washington was well prepared to
meet whatever action the supreme legislature of his country might take
concerning the great question at issue.

We have already observed the cordial reception of Mr. Monroe by the
French government, and the decree of the National Convention that the
respective flags of the American and French republics should be united
and suspended in their hall, as a token of eternal friendship between
the two nations. Mr. Monroe, it will be remembered, reciprocated this
generous feeling, by presenting to the Assembly the flag of the United
States. When, afterward, Mr. Adet came to America as the successor of
Fauchet, the French minister, he bore a letter from the Committee of
Safety to the Congress, and the banner of the French republic for the
government of the United States. He arrived in the summer of 1795, when
the whole country was in a ferment respecting the treaty with Great
Britain; and partly on that account, but chiefly because he supposed his
communication on the subject of the flag must be made to the Congress
direct, he did not announce to the president that complimentary portion
of his mission until late in December. Adet had then been made aware
that the presentation of the colors to the government must be made
through the president only; and as that presentation would be an
occasion for rejoicing, because of a friendly feeling between the two
nations, Washington appointed the first of January, 1796--"a day of
general joy and congratulation"--as the time when he would receive the
token of amity.

The colors of France were presented to the president for his country,
together with the letter of the French Committee of Safety to the
Congress, at Washington's residence, in the presence of a large number
of distinguished characters. Adet, in a speech on the occasion,
presented in glowing colors the position of France as the great
dispensatory of free opinions in the old world--as "struggling not only
for her own liberty, but for that of the human race. Assimilated to, or
rather identified with, free people by the form of her government," he
said, "she saw in them only friends and brothers. Long accustomed to
regard the American people as her most faithful allies, she sought to
draw closer the ties already formed in the fields of America, under the
auspices of victory, over the ruins of tyranny."

A reply to this address, under the peculiar circumstances in which
Washington was placed, required the exercise of much discretion. It was
necessary to express generous feelings adapted to the occasion, without
the utterance of sentiments, concerning the powers then at war,
inconsistent with the position of neutrality which the United States had
assumed. The president accordingly said:--

     "Born, sir, in a land of liberty; having early learned its value;
     having engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it; having, in a
     word, devoted the best years of my life to its permanent
     establishment in my own country, my anxious recollections, my
     sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes, are irresistibly
     attracted wheresoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation
     unfurl the banners of freedom. But, above all, the events of the
     French Revolution have produced the deepest solicitude, as well as
     the highest admiration. To call your nation brave, were to
     pronounce but common praise. Wonderful people! Ages to come will
     read with astonishment the history of your brilliant exploits. I
     rejoice that the period of your toils and your immense sacrifices
     is approaching. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary
     movements of so many years have issued in the formation of a
     constitution,[90] designed to give permanency to the great object
     for which you have contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you
     have so long embraced with enthusiasm--liberty, of which you have
     been the invincible defenders--now finds an asylum in the bosom of
     a regularly organized government; a government which, being formed
     to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the
     ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every
     citizen of the United States by its resemblance to their own. On
     these glorious events, accept, sir, my sincere congratulations.

     "In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own
     feelings only, but those of my fellow-citizens, in relation to the
     commencement, the progress, and the issue of the French Revolution;
     and they will certainly join with me in purest wishes to the
     Supreme Being, that the citizens of our sister-republic, our
     magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy in peace that liberty which they
     have purchased at so great a price, and all the happiness that
     liberty can bestow.

     "I receive, sir, with lively sensibility the symbol of the triumphs
     and of the enfranchisements of your nation, the colors of France,
     which you have now presented to the United States. The transaction
     will be announced to Congress, and the colors will be deposited
     with the archives of the United States, which are at once the
     evidence and the memorials of their freedom and independence. May
     these be perpetual, and may the friendship of the two republics be
     commensurate with their existence!"

Washington transmitted to Congress the letter from the Committee of
Safety, the French colors, and copies of the speeches of Adet and
himself at the presentation, on the fourth of January; whereupon, the
house of representatives, by resolution, requested the president to make
known to the representatives of the French people "the most sincere and
lively sensibility" which was excited by this honorable testimony of the
existing sympathy and affections of the two republics; that the house
rejoiced "in the opportunity thereby afforded to congratulate the French
nation upon the brilliant and glorious achievements" which they had
accomplished during the present afflictive war; and hoped that those
achievements would be attended with a perfect attainment of their
object, and "the permanent establishment of the liberty and happiness of
a great and magnanimous people."

On the sixth of January, the senate also passed resolutions expressive
of the pleasure they felt on the reception of this evidence of the
continued friendship of the French republic, and of a desire that the
"symbol of the triumphs and enfranchisement of that great people," as
expressed by Washington in his reply to the French minister, might
contribute to cherish and perpetuate the sincere affection by which the
two republics were so happily united. It was at first proposed, in a
resolution offered in the senate, that the president should communicate
the sentiments of that body to the proper organ of the French
government; but this was opposed, because, it was said, the
complimentary correspondence between the two nations had reached a point
where, if ever, it ought to cease. This amendment was carried by a
strict party vote.


[89] History of the United States, second series, i, 566.

[90] The letter brought by Adet was from the Committee of Safety, which,
under the revolutionary system in France, was the department charged
with foreign intercourse. After his departure a new order of things was
established. On the thirty-first of May, 1795, the revolutionary
tribunal was, by a decree of the National Convention, abolished in
France. On the twenty-third of June, a committee, appointed for the
purpose, presented the draft of a new constitution, modelled in many
respects after that of the United States. The reading of it, which
occupied several hours, was frequently interrupted by the loudest bursts
of applause. At the conclusion, it was decreed that the discussion of
the instrument should be opened on the fourth of July. On the sixth of
September, the people of France met in primary assemblies for the
purpose of accepting or rejecting the new constitution. The armies of
the eastern and western Pyrenees accepted it on that day, and so did a
great majority of the French nation. The result was announced in the
convention on the tenth of September, with information that two thirds
of the members of that body had been re-elected. In consequence of that
acceptance, a dreadful riot broke out in Paris on the sixth of October,
which lasted several days; but the insurgents were finally overpowered
by the convention troops. Many persons were slain on both sides, and
ringleaders of the riot were soon afterward executed.

The French constitution established an Executive Directory, composed of
five members, who ruled in connection with two legislative chambers,
called respectively The Council of Ancients, and the Council of Five
Hundred. The directory were formally installed at the Luxembourg, in
Paris, on the first of November, 1795. On the same day a pen-picture of
the convention was published at Paris, signed REAL. "The convention," he
said, "has terminated its sittings. Where is the Tacitus who shall write
the history of its glorious actions and its abominable excesses? Obscure
men, sent to devise laws, have during a dictation of three years
displayed an energy, a greatness, and a ferocity, which no longer allow
us to envy either the virtues of ancient Rome or the wild atrocities of
the first Cesars. Physicians, lawyers, and attorneys' clerks, became
suddenly professed legislators, and warriors full of boldness. They have
overturned all Europe, and changed its system.

"With a daring hand they have signed the death-warrant of the successor
of an hundred kings, and in one day broken the sceptre for which an
existence of fourteen centuries had procured a religious and fanatical
veneration. On that day they threw down the gauntlet before astonished
Europe; and William the Conqueror, when he burnt his fleet, did not
place himself with more audaciousness between victory and death. Without
money, without credit, without arms, artillery, saltpetre, and armies;
betrayed by Dumorier; Valenciennes being taken by the Austrians; Toulon
in the hands of the English; the king of Prussia under the walls of
Landau, and a country of ninety leagues extent devoured by one hundred
and fifty thousand Vendeans, they published a decree, and on a sudden
all France became a vast manufactory of arms and saltpetre; one million,
four hundred thousand men sprang up ready armed; the king of Prussia was
defeated near Landau, the Austrians repulsed near Maubenge, the English
routed near Hondschoote, the Vendeans annihilated at Lavenay, and the
tri-colored flag was hoisted on the walls of Toulon.

"Their folly disconcerted the wisdom of ancient politics; songs and the
charging step defeated the celebrated tactics of the Germans; generals
just left the ranks--obscure generals, who but a few months before were
simple sergeants--conceived and executed the plan of the campaign of
1795 which will always remain the admiration of military men, and
defeated the most celebrated generals, the pupils and companions of the
great Frederick. Holland was conquered in January by the inexperienced
troops; and what Louis XIV, in the zenith of his glory, did not dare to
conceive, the French, by founding a republic, have carried into effect,
and planted the tri-colored standard on the banks of the Rhine.

"It is amidst this long tempest, amidst proscriptions and scaffolds,
this dreadful convention has opened the road to glory; after having
desolated the world, it has exhausted against itself its devouring
energy. Two parties, by turns victorious and vanquished, have been sent
to the scaffold by a third, which, embracing always the cause of the
strongest, preserved itself by sometimes striking against the mountain,
sometimes against the plain.

"Voracious men! your pernicious versatility has produced all the evils
which have devastated France; your wickedness, which you call wisdom,
has overflowed my native land with blood; and posterity will ask, with
wonder, 'What was the political opinion of those who condemned Danton,
Brissot, Lacroix, and Ducos; who advised with Robespierre and Lanjunais,
Billaud de Varennes, and Barrere?' Voracious men! you will be despised
by the present generation, and detested by posterity. Convention! the
murders and atrocities which thy reign has produced will be handed down
to posterity, and will not be credited."

Such was a life-picture, drawn by a master-hand, of the men and the
government with whose operations the leaders of a strong party in the
United States endeavored with mad zeal, for three years, to involve
their own government; a catastrophe prevented only, so far as human
agency was concerned, by the fearless courage and profound wisdom of
Washington in maintaining neutrality.



The treaty with Great Britain, ratified by King George, was returned to
the United States government in February, much to the relief of its
friends, and indeed of all parties. "We are wasting our time in the most
insipid manner, waiting for the treaty," wrote John Adams to his wife on
the tenth of January. "Nothing of any consequence will be done till that
arrives, and is mauled and abused, and then acquiesced in. For the
_antis_ must be more numerous than I believe them, and made of sterner
stuff than I conceive, if they dare hazard the surrender of the posts
and the payment for spoliations, by any resolution of the house that
shall render precarious the execution of the treaty on our part."

The federal constitution declaring a treaty, when duly ratified by the
contracting powers, to be the law of the land, Washington, on the last
day of February, issued a proclamation announcing the one just concluded
with Great Britain, as such. This had been a mooted point. The
president's proclamation decided that the treaty was law without further
action of Congress; and it now remained for that body to make provision
for carrying it into effect. The president sent it to both houses on the
first day of March, with the following brief message:--

     "The treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation concluded between
     the United States and his Britannic majesty having been duly
     ratified, and the ratifications having been exchanged at London on
     the twenty-eighth of October, one thousand, seven hundred and
     ninety-five, I have directed the same to be promulgated, and
     herewith transmit a copy thereof for the information of Congress."

This action was the signal for both parties to prepare for a great
struggle. The opposition, who had openly denied the right of the
president to even _negotiate_ a treaty of commerce, because, they said,
it practically gave to the executive and senate the power to regulate
commerce, were highly offended because the president had ventured to
issue this proclamation before the sense of the house of representatives
had been declared on the obligations of the instrument. This feeling
assumed tangible form when, on the seventh of March, Edward Livingston,
of New York, offered a resolution calling upon the president for copies
of all papers relating to the treaty. This resolution, as modified on
motion of Madison, was as follows:--

     "_Resolved_, That the president of the United States be requested
     to lay before this house a copy of the instructions given to the
     minister of the United States, who negotiated the treaty with Great
     Britain, communicated by his message of the first instant, together
     with the correspondence and documents relating to the said treaty,
     excepting such of said papers as any existing negotiation may
     render improper to be disclosed."

A warm debate immediately arose, and speedily took the form of a
discussion on the nature and extent of the treaty-making power. "The
friends of the administration maintained," says Marshall, "that a treaty
was a contract between two nations, which, under the constitution, the
president, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, had a right
to make; and that it was made when, by and with such advice and consent,
it had received his final act. Its obligations then became complete on
the United States, and to refuse to comply with its stipulations was to
break the treaty and to violate the faith of the nation.

"The opposition contended that the power to make treaties, if
applicable to every object, conflicted with powers which were vested
exclusively in Congress. That either the treaty-making power must be
limited in its operations, so as not to touch objects committed by the
constitution to Congress, or the assent and co-operation of the house of
representatives must be required to give validity to any compact, so far
as it might comprehend those objects. A treaty, therefore, which
required an appropriation of money or any act of Congress to carry it
into effect, had not acquired its obligatory form until the house of
representatives had exercised its powers in the case. They were at full
liberty to make, or to withhold, such appropriation, or other law,
without incurring the imputation of violating any existing obligation,
or breaking the faith of the nation."[91]

At the outset, a member had inquired the object of Mr. Livingston's
motion, since on that would depend its propriety. It was contended, that
if the impeachment of either Mr. Jay or the president was intended, it
was a proper motion; but not so if the constitutionality of the treaty
was to be questioned, because that must depend on the treaty itself. It
was further inquired whether the house proposed to consider whether a
better treaty might not have been made. Mr. Livingston did not disavow
either of the objects suggested, but stated as his principal reason, a
firm conviction that the house was vested with a discretionary power,
allowing it to carry the treaty into execution or not. This
consideration was made the chief point in the debate, in which Albert
Gallatin took a leading part in favor of the resolution, well supported
by Madison, Livingston, Giles, and Baldwin, and others of less note. It
was opposed by Smith, of South Carolina, Murray, Harper, Hillhouse, and
others. About thirty speeches on either side were made, and the debate
did not terminate until the twenty-fourth of the month.

During this debate, the eloquent Fisher Ames was a member of the house,
but was compelled by ill health to be silent. It was a great trial for
the patriot, for he saw the need of soldiers for the contest. He had
been, from the beginning, a warm friend of the government; and now, at
what he deemed a crisis, he wished to lift up his voice in defence of
its measures. To a friend in Springfield he wrote on the ninth of March,

     "I sit now in the house; and, that I may not lose my temper and my
     spirits, I shut my ears against the sophisms and rant against the
     treaty, and divert my attention by writing to you.

     "Never was there a time when I so much desired the full use of my
     faculties, and it is the very moment when I am prohibited even
     attention. To be silent, neutral, useless, is a situation not to be
     envied. I almost wish ***** was here, and I at home, sorting squash
     and pumpkin seeds for planting.

     "It is a new post for me to be in. I am not a sentry, not in the
     ranks, not in the staff. I am thrown into the wagon as part of the
     baggage. I am like an old gun that is spiked or the trunnions
     knocked off, and yet am carted off, not for the worth of the old
     iron, but to balk the enemy of a trophy. My political life is
     ended, and I am the survivor of myself, or rather the troubled
     ghost of a politician, that am condemned to haunt the field of
     battle where I fell. Whether the government will long outlive me is
     doubtful. I know it is sick, and, many of the physicians say, of a
     mortal disease. A crisis now exists, the most serious I ever
     witnessed, and the more dangerous because it is not dreaded. Yet, I
     confess, if we should navigate the federal ship through this
     strait, and get out again into the open sea, we shall have a right
     to consider the chance of our government as mended. We shall have a
     lease for years--say four or five; not a freehold--certainly not a
     fee simple.

     "How will the Yankees feel and act when the day of trial comes? It
     is not, I fear, many weeks off. Will they let the casuists quibble
     away the very words, and adulterate the generous spirit of the
     constitution? When a measure passes by the proper authorities,
     shall it be stopped by force? Sophistry may change the form of the
     question, may hide some of the consequences, and may dupe some into
     an opinion of its moderation when triumphant; yet the fact will
     speak for itself. The government can not go to the halves. It would
     be another, a worse government, if the mob, or the leaders of the
     mob in Congress,[92] can stop the lawful acts of the president, and
     unmake a treaty. It would be, either no government, or instantly a
     government of usurpation and wrong.... I think we shall beat our
     opponents in the end, but the conflict will light up a fierce war."

Ames grew stronger; and at length, in the final debate in Congress upon
the subject of the treaty, his eloquence was heard, like the tones of a
trumpet, and with great effect, as we shall presently observe.

Livingston's motion was carried, on the twenty-fourth of March, by the
decisive vote of sixty-two to thirty-seven. A committee of the house,
deputed for the purpose, carried the vote to the president, who replied
that he would take the request into consideration. He immediately
summoned a cabinet council, and laid the matter before them in the form
of two queries; first, on the right of the house, under the
circumstances, to make such a call; and secondly, whether it would be
expedient to furnish the papers, even though the belief might be
entertained that the house had no right to call for them. He also
referred the matter to Colonel Hamilton for his opinion.

The cabinet members were unanimous in opinion, that he ought not to
comply with the requisitions of the house. Each of them stated, in
writing, the grounds of his opinion; and Chief-Justice Ellsworth, who
had lately been appointed to the bench of the supreme court of the
United States, had, while the debate was in progress, drawn up an
opinion coincident with the views of Washington and his cabinet.
Hamilton also transmitted to the president a long and able paper, in
which, with his usual force of unanswerable logic, he sustained the
action of the cabinet, and fortified the president's views. In
acknowledging the receipt of this paper on the thirty-first of March,
the president said:--

     "I had from the first moment, and from the fullest conviction in my
     own mind, resolved to _resist the principle_, which was evidently
     intended to be established by the call of the house of
     representatives; and only deliberated on the manner in which this
     could be done with the least bad consequences. To effect this,
     three modes presented themselves. First, a denial of the papers _in
     toto_, assigning concise but cogent reasons for that denial;
     secondly, to grant them in whole; or, thirdly, in part; accompanied
     in both the last-mentioned cases with a pointed protest against the
     right of the house to control treaties, or to call for papers
     without specifying their object, and against the compliance being
     drawn into a precedent.

     "I had as little hesitation in deciding that the first was the most
     tenable ground; but, from the peculiar circumstances of the case,
     it merited consideration, if the _principle_ could be saved,
     whether facility in the provision might not result from a
     compliance. An attentive examination of the subject and papers,
     however, soon convinced me that to furnish _all_ the papers would
     be highly improper, and that a partial delivery of them would leave
     the door open for as much calumny as a refusal of them altogether;
     perhaps more, as it might, and I have no doubt would, be said that
     all such as were essential to the purposes of the house were

     "Under these impressions, I proceeded, with the heads of
     departments and the attorney-general, to collect materials, and to
     prepare an answer, subject, however, to revision and change
     according to circumstances. This was ready on Monday, and proposed
     to be sent in on Tuesday; but it was delayed until I should hear
     from you, which happened on that day about noon. This induced a
     further postponement until yesterday, notwithstanding the apparent
     and anxious solicitude, which was visible in all quarters, to learn
     the result of the application.

     "Finding that the draft which I had prepared embraced the most if
     not all the principles, which were detailed in yours of yesterday,
     though not the reasonings; that it would take considerable time to
     copy yours; and, above all, having understood that if the papers
     were refused, a fresh demand with strictures on my conduct was to
     be expected, I sent in the answer, which was ready, and have
     reserved yours, as a copious resource, in case the matter should go
     any further."[93]

Washington gave a decided negative to the request of the house. It
appears to have been unexpected. The opposition were not prepared for
such boldness and firmness on the part of the executive, and it
"appeared to break," says Marshall, "the last cord of that attachment
which had theretofore bound some of the active leaders of the opposition
to the person of the president." Amid all the excitements of party
contests, there was real affection and respect for Washington on the
part of those who were politically opposed to him; but this act, so much
like defiance of the popular will as expressed by the house of
representatives, in the eyes of the unreflecting, seemed, for the
moment, to extinguish every lingering spark of affection in the bosom of
his old friends, now his political enemies.

After a week's delay, the president's message was taken up in committee
of the whole, with two resolutions offered by Blount, of North Carolina,
declaratory of the sense of the house respecting its own power on the
subject of treaties. These embodied doctrines contrary to those
expressed in the message. The first, after disclaiming any pretensions
on the part of the house to "any agency in making treaties," asserted,
that "when a treaty stipulated regulations on any of the subjects
submitted by the constitution to the power of Congress, it must depend
for its execution, as to such stipulations, on a law to be passed by
Congress," and that the house had a right to deliberate on the
expediency or inexpediency of such law, and pass or reject it as they
might determine. The second resolution asserted, that in applications to
the president for information, the house was not bound to specify for
what purpose such information was wanted.

These resolutions took a rather less untenable position than had been
maintained in argument, and were quite inexplicit on an essential part
of the question. After a brief debate, in which Madison was chief
speaker in favor of the resolutions, they were adopted by a vote of
fifty-seven to thirty-five.

While this exciting subject was before Congress, the treaties with the
Indians, with the dey of Algiers, and with Spain respecting the
navigation of the Mississippi, had been ratified by the president and
senate, and communicated to the house of representatives. It was moved
to refer them to the committee of the whole house; but, for several days
in succession, the motion was voted down. It was finally carried; and on
the thirteenth of April, the moment the committee of the whole was
organized by the chairman taking his seat, Mr. Sedgwick, of
Massachusetts, arose and moved "that provision ought to be made by law
for carrying into effect, with good faith, the treaties lately concluded
with the dey and regency of Algiers, the king of Great Britain, the king
of Spain, and certain Indian tribes northwest of the Ohio." The
opposition were completely surprised by this unexpected movement, and an
angry altercation ensued. They complained loudly of the manner in which
an attempt was made to force action upon the four treaties together, and
resented what they deemed the ungenerous sharp practice of their
opponents, because it was in contravention of the solemn vote of the
house lately recorded upon their journals, declaratory of their right to
exercise a free discretion over the subject. It was contended, on the
other hand, that, as the four treaties formed part of one system, if one
was rejected, it might be expedient to reject the others also. After a
warm debate, it was agreed to dispose of the other treaties before
taking up that with Great Britain. In accordance with this
determination, the action of the house on the other treaties was such as
not to contradict the claim set up by Blount's resolutions, and they
were disposed of without any difficulty.

The treaty with Great Britain was taken up on the fifteenth of April.
Its friends, in and out of Congress, supposing that on a subject which
had so long agitated the community, the mind of every member was
settled, and that an attempt to make converts by either party through
debates would be futile, urged an immediate decision of the matter. They
felt confident that the majority would not dare to meet the country on
such an issue as the withholding of means for the execution of the
treaty; but that majority, though knowing they had the power to break
the treaty, were unwilling to do so without first embracing an
opportunity for giving satisfactory reasons for their action. They
therefore called for discussion. "The expectation," says Marshall,
"might not unreasonably be entertained, that the passions belonging to
the subject would be so inflamed by debate as to produce the expression
of a public sentiment favorable to their wishes; and if in this they
should be disappointed, it would be certainly unwise, either as a party
or as a branch of the legislature, to plunge the nation into
embarrassments in which it was not disposed to entangle itself, and from
which the manner of extricating it could not be distinctly perceived."

The friends of the treaty did not shrink from discussion; and the
debate, which lasted a fortnight, was opened by Madison with a speech,
elaborate in its details and carefully prepared. He maintained that
there was the grossest want of reciprocity exhibited in that part of the
treaty that related to the settlement of disputes growing out of the
compact of 1783. The British, he asserted, got all they asked--the debts
due their merchants with damages in the shape of interest. We got
nothing, he said, for the valuable negroes carried away, and we received
nothing for damages accruing from the long detention of the western
posts. And they, he said, were received with conditions respecting the
Indian trade which made them almost useless to us, as to influence over
the savage tribes, in which alone their greatest value consisted; and he
considered the agreement to pay the American claims for spoliations as
no offset for the loss of the negroes.

The same want of reciprocity, he said, prevailed in the portion of the
treaty respecting neutral rights and the law of nations. By it we
yielded the favorite principle, long ago enunciated, that "free ships
make free goods," and had actually added naval stores and even
provisions to the list of contraband articles. He severely animadverted
upon the provisions which conceded to British subjects the right to hold
lands within the territory of the United States; the stipulation
concerning the navigation of the Mississippi; and the permission to open
all American ports to British shipping, while our own vessels were
excluded from the colonial harbors.

The latter measure, allowing Great Britain to retain her colonial
monopoly and preserve intact her colonial system, he denounced as "a
phenomenon which had filled him with more surprise than he knew how to
express." And more vehement than all, because it interfered with his
favorite scheme of commercial coercion, was Madison's denunciations of
the provisions which prevented the Americans from retaliating upon the
British, in the event of their making commercial restrictions to our
disadvantage by further discriminations. He concluded with scouting the
idea that war would ensue if the treaty should be rejected, because the
hostilities England were then waging with France were quite as much as
she was able to manage at that time.

Madison's speech alarmed the country, especially the sensitive
mercantile classes, for whose losses, by spoliations, the treaty made
provision, and those who were dependant upon trade, because they feared
its influence in causing the inexecution of the treaty, and consequent
war with Great Britain, by which their interests would be seriously
effected. Other classes were also alarmed; indeed, all who loved peace
and deprecated quarrels, much less physical contests, with other
nations, trembled for the fate of the treaty. The country was violently
agitated. Public meetings were held in all parts of the United States,
and the strength of parties was once more fully tried. Petitions were
sent in to Congress from all the great marts of business in the country
in favor of ratification; while counter meetings were held and counter
petitions were sent in from various places. Insurance against captures
on the high seas could no longer be obtained for vessels or goods; and a
sudden blow was given to commerce, which threatened financial ruin.

To add to the confusion, Bond, the British _chargé des affaires_, had
intimated, that if the house of representatives, refused the necessary
appropriation to carry the treaty into effect, the western posts would
not be given up at the stipulated time, now near at hand. He also took
that occasion to insist upon an explanatory article concerning a clause
in Wayne's treaty with the Indians, by which they had agreed to allow no
trader to reside among them, unless licensed by the authorities of the
United States; for it seemed to be in contradiction with the provisions
of the treaty under consideration, a mutual free-trade with the Indian
tribes being guarantied thereby. This menace and this demand created
much irritation; yet it did not in the least affect the tide of popular
sentiment in favor of the treaty which was continually rising. This fact
was clearly discerned by both parties, and the friends of the treaty
protracted the debate, in order that, before the vote should be taken,
public opinion might be so expressed, as to have an omnipotent effect in
its favor.

At this moment, when the debate had been going on for several days and
the spirit of the opposition began to flag, Albert Gallatin came to the
support of his party, in a speech which at once gave him the position of
republican leader in the house, the honor of which had been divided
between Madison and Giles, of Virginia. Gallatin was a native of Geneva,
in Switzerland, and then only thirty years of age. He had been only
eleven years in the country, two of which he had served the people of
his adoption in a military capacity. After the Revolution he established
himself on the Monongahela, in western Pennsylvania, where his talents
soon caused him to be called into public life. He was engaged, as we
have seen, in the Whiskey Insurrection, but with patriotic intentions,
as he alleged; and by a large popular vote he was elected to a seat in
the house of representatives. Although a foreign accent was plainly
visible when he spoke, he was so fluent in language, so earnest in
manner, and so logical in argument, that his youth and foreign birth
were forgotten for the moment, and he was listened to with the greatest

Gallatin had heard the speeches on both sides with marked attention, and
was prepared to take new ground in his own. Quoting from Vattel on the
law of nations, he went on to show that slaves, being real estate, were
not a subject of booty, but, on the restoration of peace, fell back to
their former owners, like the soil to which they were attached. He
attempted to excite, evidently for party purposes, sectional hatred by
declaring that while the rights of the South and West had been
sacrificed by the treaty, in respect to negroes, the Indian trade, and
the navigation of the Mississippi, means had been found to protect the
commercial interests of the North. With the same breath, however, he
denounced the commercial articles of the treaty as utterly worthless,
and adroitly charged the senate, by insinuation, with ignorance
respecting the East Indian trade, falsely assuming that because the
treaty did not, by express provisions, secure the East Indian coasting
trade, and the direct voyage from India to Europe by American vessels,
that these privileges had been relinquished.

Like Madison, he regarded the provision respecting neutrals as yielding
everything to the semi-piratical policy of Great Britain. He contended
strenuously for the dishonest measure of sequestration of private debts
due to British subjects, as a means of coercion, and condemned that most
just provision of the treaty, bearing upon that subject, without stint.
While we have promised full indemnity to England, he said, for every
possible claim against us, we had abandoned every claim of a doubtful
nature, and agreed to receive the western posts under the most degrading
restrictions concerning the trade with the Indians. We had gained
nothing, he said, by the arrangements respecting trade and navigation,
while we had parted with "every pledge in our hands, every power of
restriction, every weapon of self-defence."

He admitted that if this treaty should be rejected, another as favorable
might not be obtained; but he argued, that while the United States would
lose the western posts and the indemnity for spoliations, they would be
pecuniary gainers by escaping the payment of the British debts. He did
not wish, nor did his party, an utter rejection of the treaty, but a
suspension or postponement of it, until the British should cease their
encroachments, and reparations for such wrongs might be obtained. He
scouted as utterly chimerical, the idea that war would necessarily
follow such postponement, or even a positive rejection; and he treated
the menaces of the dissolution of the Union with scorn. He significantly
asked, Who will dissolve the government? The opposition majority had no
motive for doing it, and he did not believe that the federalists would,
at the first failure of their power, revenge themselves by overthrowing
the government. He expressed his belief that the people, from one end of
the Union to the other, were strongly attached to the constitution, and
that they would punish any party or set of men who should attempt to
subvert it. He rested in full security on the people, against any
endeavor to destroy the Union or the government. He regarded the cry of
disunion and of war as designed only to work upon the fears of Congress,
and force an acquiescence in the treaty. "It was the fear of being
involved in a war," he said, "that the negotiations with Great Britain
had originated; under the impression of fear the treaty had been
negotiated and signed; fear had promoted its ratification; and now,
every imaginary mischief was conjured up to frighten the house, to
deprive it of that discretion which it had the right to exercise, to
force it to carry this treaty into effect." He also charged the
merchants of Philadelphia and other seaports[94] with having formed a
combination to produce alarm, and to make their efforts more effectual,
had also combined to cease insuring vessels, purchasing produce, or
transacting any business, to induce the people to join in the attempt to
force the house to pass laws for carrying the treaty into effect.

"To listen calmly to this denunciation of Washington and Jay," says
Hildreth, "as having pusillanimously surrendered the honor of their
country--Washington in setting on foot and in ratifying, and Jay in
having negotiated, the treaty--coming as it did from the mouth of one
whose evident youth and foreign accent might alone serve to betray him
as an adventurer, whose arrival in the country could hardly have been
long anterior to the termination of the Revolutionary struggle, was
somewhat too much for human nature to bear. There was also something a
little provoking in the denunciation of the merchants as having
conspired to terrify the house, coming from a man who had first obtained
general notoriety, it was now hardly four years since, by the
publication of his name at the bottom of a series of resolutions, of
which the avowed object was to frighten public officers from the
discharge of their duty by threats of a social interdict and
non-intercourse--a method of proceeding which had ended in violent
resistance to the laws and armed insurrection. Nor is it very
surprising, all things considered, that many of the federalists were
inclined to look on Gallatin as a foreign emissary, a tool of France,
and employed and paid to make mischief."[95]

Tracy, of Connecticut, replied to the most prominent points of
Gallatin's speech. He denied that Vattel gave any such opinion as to
slaves, as set forth by Gallatin; and called attention to the fact that
the British did not refuse to restore them as booty, but because they
were men set free by having joined the British standard, that freedom
being the chief inducement held out to them. Other points he commented
upon with equal force. He warmed with his theme, and at length became
severely personal. The opposition, he said, ask, with an air of
triumphant complacency, How is there to be war, if we are not disposed
to fight, and Great Britain has no motive for hostilities? "But look at
the probable state of things," he continued: "Great Britain is to
retain the western posts, and with them, the confidence of the Indians;
she makes no compensation for the millions spoliated from our commerce,
but adds new millions to our already heavy losses. Would Americans
quietly see their government strut, look big, call hard names, repudiate
treaties, and then tamely put up with new and aggravated injuries?
Whatever might be the case in other parts of the Union, his constituents
were not of a temper to dance round a whiskey-pole one day, cursing the
government, and to sneak, the next day, into a swamp, on hearing that a
military force was marching against them. They knew their rights, and,
if the government were unable, or unwilling, to give them protection,
they would find other means to secure it. He could not feel thankful to
any gentleman for coming all the way from Geneva to accuse Americans of

This allusion to Gallatin elicited cries of order from many of the
opposition, and for awhile the excitement in the house was intense. The
chairman decided that Mr. Tracy was in order, and desired him to go on.
He disclaimed any intention to be personal, asked pardon for any
improprieties of which he might have been guilty in the heat of debate,
and excused himself with the plea, that such charges against the
American government and people, from such a source, were naturally very

Fourteen days had now been occupied with this debate, when Fisher Ames,
of Massachusetts, whose feebleness of health had kept him away from the
house a part of the session, and made him a quiet spectator until now,
arose in his place, and addressed the assemblage on the great subject.
It was known that he was to speak on that day (twenty-eighth of April),
and the house was crowded with an audience eager to hear the orator. He
was pale, tottering, hardly able to stand on his feet, when he first
arose, but as he became warmed with the subject, his whole being seemed
to gather strength every moment, and he delivered a speech which was
never forgotten by those who heard it. It was the great speech of the
session, exhibiting a wonderful comprehension of human nature and the
springs of political action; logic the most profound; the most biting
ridicule, and pathetic eloquence. His speech exhibits such a summary, in
its allusions, to the scope of the arguments of the opposition, and
throws such light upon the growth and state of parties, that we make
long extracts from it.

"The suggestion a few days ago," he said, "that the house manifested
symptoms of heat and irritation, was made and retorted as if the charge
ought to create surprise, and would convey reproach. Let us be more just
to ourselves and the occasion. Let us not effect to deny the existence
and the intrusion of some portion of prejudice and feeling into the
debate, when, from the very structure of our own nature, we ought to
anticipate the circumstance as a probability; and when we are admonished
by the evidence of our senses that it is a fact, how can we make
professions for ourselves, and offer exhortations to the house, that no
influence should be felt but that of duty, and no guide respected but
that of the understanding, while the peal to rally every passion of man
is continually ringing in our ears? Our understandings have been
addressed, it is true, and with ability and effect; but, I demand, has
any corner of the heart been unexplored? It has been ransacked to find
auxiliary arguments; and, when that attempt failed, to awaken the
sensibility that would require none. Every prejudice and feeling has
been summoned to listen to some peculiar style of address; and yet we
seem to believe and to consider a doubt as an affront, that we are
strangers to any influence but that of unbiassed reason.... It is very
unfairly pretended, that the constitutional right of this house is at
stake, and to be asserted and preserved only by a vote in the negative.
We hear it said, that this is a struggle for liberty, a manly resistance
against the design to nullify the existence of this assembly, and to
make it a cypher in the government; that the president and senate, the
numerous meetings in the cities, and the influence of the general alarm
of the country, are the agents and instruments of a scheme of coercion
and terror, and in spite of the clearest convictions of duty and

"It is necessary to pause here, and inquire whether suggestions of this
kind be not unfair in their very texture and fabric, and pernicious in
all their influences. They oppose an obstacle in the path of inquiry,
not simply discouraging, but absolutely insurmountable. They will not
yield to argument; for, as they were not reasoned up, they can not be
reasoned down. They are higher than a Chinese wall in truth's way, and
built of materials that are indestructible. While this remains, it is
vain to say to this mountain, be thou cast into the sea. For I ask of
the men of knowledge of the world, whether they would not hold him for a
blockhead, that should hope to prevail in an argument, whose scope and
object is to mortify the self-love of the expected proselyte? I ask
further, when such attempts have been made, whether they have not failed
of success? The indignant heart repels the conviction that is believed
to debase it.... Let me expostulate with gentlemen to admit, if it be
only by way of supposition, and for a moment, that it is barely possible
they have yielded too suddenly to their own alarms for the powers of
this house; that the addresses which have been made with such variety of
forms, and with so great dexterity in some of them, to all that is
prejudice and passion in the heart, are either the effects or the
instruments of artifice and deception, and then let them see the subject
once more in its singleness and simplicity....

     "The doctrine has been avowed, that the treaty, though formally
     ratified by the executive power of both nations, though published
     as a law for our own by the president's proclamation, is still a
     mere proposition submitted to this assembly, no way
     distinguishable, in point of authority or obligation, from a motion
     for leave to bring in a bill, or any other original act of ordinary
     legislation. This doctrine, so novel in our country, yet so dear to
     many precisely for the reason, that in the contention for power,
     victory is always dear, is obviously repugnant to the very terms,
     as well as the fair interpretation of our own resolution (Mr.
     Blount's). We declare, that the treaty-making power is exclusively
     vested in the president and senate, and not in the house. Need I
     say that we fly in the face of that resolution, when we pretend
     that the acts of that power are not valid until we have concurred
     in them. It would be nonsense, or worse, to use the language of the
     most glaring contradiction, and to claim a share in a power which
     we at the same time disclaim, as exclusively vested in other
     departments. What can be more strange than to say, that the
     compacts of the president and senate with foreign nations are
     treaties without our agency, and yet, that those compacts want all
     power and obligation until they are sanctioned by our concurrence.
     It is not my design, in this place, if at all, to go into a
     discussion of this part of the subject. I will, at least for the
     present, take it for granted that this monstrous opinion stands in
     little need of remark, and, if it does, lies almost out of the
     reach of refutation."

After discussing the subject of bad faith on the part of the United
States, in refusing to execute the treaty, with a clear and
comprehensive view of the obligations of nations, Mr. Ames continued:--

     "I shall be asked, why a treaty so good in some articles, and so
     harmless in others, has met with such unrelenting opposition? and
     how the clamors against it, from New Hampshire to Georgia, can be
     accounted for? The apprehensions so extensively diffused on its
     first publication, will be vouched as proof that the treaty is bad,
     and that the people held it in abhorrence.

     "I am not embarrassed to find an answer to this insinuation.
     Certainly a foresight of its pernicious operation could not have
     created all the fears that were felt or effected: the alarm spread
     faster than the publication of the treaty; there were more critics
     than readers. Besides, as the subject was examined, those fears
     have subsided. The movements of passion are quicker than those of
     the understanding: we are to search for the causes of first
     impressions, not in the articles of this obnoxious and
     misrepresented instrument, but in the state of the public feeling.

     "The fervor of the Revolutionary war had not entirely cooled, nor
     its controversies ceased, before the sensibility of our citizens
     was quickened with a tenfold vivacity, by a new and extraordinary
     subject of irritation. One of the two great nations of Europe
     underwent a change which has attracted all our wonder, and
     interested all our sympathy. Whatever they did, the zeal of many
     went with them, and often went to excess. These impression met with
     much to inflame, and nothing to restrain them. In our newspapers,
     in our feasts, and some of our elections, enthusiasm was admitted a
     merit, a test of patriotism; and that made it contagious. In the
     opinion of party, we could not love or hate enough. I dare say, in
     spite of all the obloquy it may provoke, we were extravagant in
     both. It is my right to avow, that passions so impetuous,
     enthusiasm so wild, could not subsist without disturbing the sober
     exercise of reason, without putting at risk the peace and precious
     interests of our country. They were hazarded. It will not exhaust
     the little breath I have left, to say how much, nor by whom, or by
     what means they were rescued from the sacrifice. Shall I be called
     upon to offer my proofs? They are here. They are everywhere. No one
     has forgotten the proceedings of 1794. No one has forgotten the
     capture of our vessels, and the imminent danger of war. The nation
     thirsted, not only for reparation, but vengeance. Suffering such
     wrongs, and agitated by such resentments, was it in the power of
     any words of compact, or could any parchment, with its seals,
     prevail at once to tranquillize the people? It was impossible.
     Treaties in England are seldom popular, and least of all, when the
     stipulations of amity succeed to the bitterness of hatred. Even the
     best treaty, though nothing be refused, will choke resentment, but
     not satisfy it. Every treaty is as sure to disappoint extravagant
     expectations, as to disarm extravagant passions; of the latter,
     hatred is one that takes no bribes; they who are animated by a
     spirit of revenge, will not be quieted by the possibility of

     "Why do they complain that the West Indies are not laid open? Why
     do they lament that any restriction is stipulated on the commerce
     of the East Indies? Why do they pretend, that if they reject this,
     and insist upon more, more will be accomplished? Let us be
     explicit--more would not satisfy. If all was granted, would not a
     treaty of amity with Great Britain still be obnoxious? Have we not
     this instant heard it urged against our envoy, that he was not
     ardent enough in his hatred of Great Britain? A treaty of amity is
     condemned because it was not made by a foe, and in the spirit of
     one. The same gentleman, at the same instant, repeats a very
     prevailing objection, that no treaty should be made with the enemy
     of France. 'No treaty,' exclaim others, 'should be made with a
     monarch or a despot; there will be no naval security while those
     sea-robbers prevail on the ocean; their den must be destroyed; that
     nation must be extirpated.'

     "I like this, sir, because it is sincerity. With feelings such as
     these we do not pant for treaties. Such passions seek nothing, and
     will be content with nothing, but the destruction of their object.
     If a treaty left King George his island it would not answer, not if
     he stipulated to pay rent for it. It has been said, the world ought
     to rejoice if Great Britain was sunk in the sea; if, where there
     are now men, and wealth, and laws, and liberty, there were no more
     than a sandbank, for the sea-monsters to fatten on--a space for the
     storms of the ocean to mingle in conflict.

     "I object nothing to the good sense or humanity of all this. I
     yield the point that this is a proof that the age of reason is in
     progress. Let it be philanthropy, let it be patriotism, if you
     will; but it is no indication that any treaty would be approved.
     The difficulty is not to overcome the objections to the terms; it
     is to restrain the repugnance to any stipulations of amity with the

     "Having alluded to the rival of Great Britain, I am not unwilling
     to explain myself. I effect no concealment, and I have practised
     none. While those two great nations agitate all Europe with their
     quarrels, they will both equally endeavor to create an influence in
     America; each will exert all its arts to range its strength on its
     own side. How is this to be effected? Our government is a
     democratical republic; it will not be disposed to pursue a system
     of politics, in submission to either France or England, in
     opposition to the general wishes of the citizens; and if Congress
     should adopt such measures, they would not be pursued long, nor
     with much success. From the nature of our government, popularity is
     the instrument of foreign influence. Without it, all is labor and
     disappointment. With that auxiliary, foreign intrigue finds agents,
     not only volunteers, but competitors for employment, and anything
     like reluctance is understood to be a crime. Has Britain this means
     of influence? Certainly not. If her gold could buy adherents, their
     becoming such would deprive them of all political power and
     importance. They would not wield popularity as a weapon, but would
     fall under it. Britain has no influence, and, for reasons just
     given, can have none. She has enough; and God forbid she ever
     should have more. France, possessed of popular enthusiasm, of party
     attachments, has had, and still has, too much influence on our
     politics. Any foreign influence is too much, and ought to be
     destroyed. I detest the man, and disdain the spirit, that can bend
     to a mean subserviency to the views of any nation. It is enough to
     be American; that character comprehends our duties, and ought to
     engross our attachments.

     "But I would not be misunderstood. I would not break the alliance
     with France. I would not have the connection between the two
     countries even a cold one. It should be cordial and sincere; but I
     would banish that influence, which, by acting on the passions of
     the citizens, may acquire a power over the government."

The speaker then drew a picture of the national disgrace, in the eyes of
the world, that would be caused by a breach of national faith; and he
appealed with inexpressible power to the hearts and understandings of
the members, on this all-important consideration. He probed, with keen
and searching precision, the Jesuitical position assumed by the house,
in disclaiming any participation in the treaty-making power, and yet
claiming the right to decide upon the merits of a treaty, and to defeat
its execution. He then dwelt upon the evils that would accrue, in the
form of a loss to the mercantile community, of five millions of dollars
promised in payment for spoliations; and the renewal of Indian wars on
the frontier, if the western posts should not be given up.

"On this theme," he said, "my emotions are unutterable. If I could find
words for them, if my powers bore any proportion to my zeal, I would
swell my voice to such a note of remonstrance, it should reach every
log-house beyond the mountains. I would say to the inhabitants, wake
from your false security--your cruel dangers; your more cruel
apprehensions are soon to be torn open again. In the daytime your path
through the woods will be ambushed; the darkness of midnight will
glitter with the blaze of your dwellings. You are a father--the blood of
your sons shall fatten your cornfields. You are a mother--the war-whoop
shall waken the sleep of the cradle.

"On this subject you need not expect any deception on your feelings. It
is a spectacle of horror which can not be overdrawn. If you have nature
in your hearts, they will speak a language, compared with which, all I
have said, or can say, will be poor and frigid.... By rejecting the
posts, we light the savage fires--we bind the victims. This day we
undertake to render account to the widows and orphans our decision will
make--to the wretches that will be roasted at the stake--to our
country--and I do not deem it too serious to say, to conscience and to
God. We are answerable; and if duty be anything more than a word of
imposture, if conscience be not a bugbear, we are preparing to make
ourselves as wretched as our country....

"The idea of war has been treated as a bugbear. This levity is, at
least, unseasonable, and, most of all, unbecoming some who resort to it.
Who has forgotten the philippics of 1794? The cry then was,
reparation--no envoy--no treaty--no tedious delays. Now, it seems, the
passion subsides, or, at least, the hurry to satisfy it. Great Britain,
they say, will not wage war upon us.

"In 1794, it was urged by those who now say, no war, that if we built
frigates, or resisted the piracies of Algiers, we could not expect
peace. Now they give excellent comfort truly. Great Britain has seized
our vessels and cargoes to the amount of millions; she holds the posts;
she interrupts our trade, say they, as a neutral nation; and these
gentlemen, formerly so fierce for redress, assure us, in terms of the
sweetest consolation, Great Britain will bear all this patiently. But
let me ask the late champions of our rights, will our nation bear it?
Let others exult because the aggressor will let our wrongs sleep for
ever. Will it add, it is my duty to ask, to the patience and quiet of
our citizens, to see their rights abandoned? Will not the disappointment
of their hopes, so long patronized by the government, now in the crisis
of their being realized, convert all their passions into fury and

"Look again at this state of things. On the seacoast, vast losses
uncompensated; on the frontier, Indian war and actual encroachment on
our territory; everywhere discontent; resentments tenfold more fierce
because they will be more impotent and humbled; national discord and
abasement. The disputes of the old treaty of 1783, being left to rankle,
will revive the almost extinguished animosities of that period. Wars in
all countries, and most of all in such as are free, arise from the
impetuosity of the public feelings. The despotism of Turkey is often
obliged by clamor to unsheathe the sword. War might, perhaps, be delayed,
but could not be prevented. The causes of it would remain, would be
aggravated, would be multiplied, and soon become intolerable. More
captures, more impressments would swell the list of our wrongs, and the
current of our rage. I make no calculation of the arts of those whose
employment it has been, on former occasions, to fan the fire; I say
nothing of the foreign money and emissaries that might foment the spirit
of hostility, because this state of things will naturally run to
violence. With less than their former exertion they would be successful.

"Will our government be able to temper and restrain the turbulence of
such a crisis? The government, alas! will be in no capacity to govern. A
divided people, and divided councils! Shall we cherish the spirit of
peace, or show the energies of war? Shall we make our adversary afraid
of our strength, or dispose him, by the measures of resentment and
broken faith, to respect our rights? Do gentlemen rely on the state of
peace because both nations will be more disposed to keep it? because
injuries and insults still harder to endure, will be mutually

"Is there anything in the prospect of the interior state of the
country, to encourage us to aggravate the dangers of a war? Would not
the shock of that evil produce another, and shake down the feeble and
then unbraced structure of our government? Is this a chimera? Is it
going off the ground of matter of fact to say, the rejection of the
appropriation proceeds upon the doctrine of a civil war of the
departments? Two branches have ratified a treaty, and we are going to
set it aside. How is this disorder in the machine to be rectified? While
it exists its movements must stop; and when we talk of a remedy, is that
any other than the formidable one of a revolutionary interposition of
the people? And is this, in the judgment even of my opposers, to
execute, to preserve the constitution, and the public order? Is this the
state of hazard, if not of convulsion, which they can have the courage
to contemplate and to praise; or beyond which their penetration can
reach and see the issue? They seem to believe, and they act as if they
believed, that our union, our peace, our liberty, are invulnerable and
immortal; as if our happy state was not to be disturbed by our
dissentions, and that we are not capable of falling from it by our
unworthiness. Some of them have, no doubt, better nerves and better
discernment than mine. They can see the bright aspects and happy
consequences of all this array of horrors. They can see intestine
discords, our government disorganized, our wrongs aggravated,
multiplied, and un-redressed, peace with dishonor, or war without
justice, union, or resources, in 'the calm lights of mild

"Let me cheer the mind, weary, no doubt, and ready to despond on this
prospect, by presenting another which it is in our power to realize. Is
it possible for a real American to look at the prosperity of this
country without some desire for its continuance, without some respect
for the measures which, many will say, produced, and all will confess,
have preserved it? Will he not feel some dread that a change of system
will reverse the scene? The well-grounded fears of our citizens, in
1794, were removed by the treaty, but are not forgotten. Then they
deemed war nearly inevitable, and would not this adjustment have been
considered, at that day, as a happy escape from the calamity? The great
interest and the general desire of our people was to enjoy the
advantages of neutrality. This instrument, however misrepresented,
affords Americans that inestimable security. The cause of our disputes
are either cut up by the roots, or referred to a new negotiation after
the end of the European war. This was gaining everything. This, alone,
would justify the engagements of the government. For, when the fiery
vapors of war lowered in the skirts of our horizon, all our wishes were
concentrated in this one, that we might escape the desolation of the
storm. This treaty, like a rainbow on the edge of the cloud, marked to
our eyes the space where it was raging, and afforded, at the same time,
the sure prognostic of fair weather. If we reject it the vivid colors
will grow pale; it will be a baleful meteor, portending tempest and war.

"Let us not hesitate, then, to agree to this appropriation to carry it
into faithful execution. Thus we shall save the faith of our nation,
secure its peace, and diffuse the spirit of confidence and enterprise
that will augment its prosperity. The progress of wealth and improvement
is wonderful, and some will think, too rapid. The field for exertion is
fruitful and vast; and if peace and good government should be preserved,
the acquisitions of our citizens are not so pleasing as the proofs of
their industry, as the instruments of their future success. The rewards
of exertion go to augment its power. Profit is every hour becoming
capital. The vast crop of our neutrality is all seed-wheat, and is sown
again, to swell, almost beyond calculation, the future harvest of
prosperity. In this progress what seems to be fiction is found to fall
short of experience.... When I come to the moment of deciding the vote,
I start back with dread from the edge of the pit into which we are
plunging. In my view, even the minutes I have spent in expostulation,
have their value, because they protract the crisis, and the short period
in which alone we may resolve to escape it.

"I have thus been led by my feelings to speak more at length than I had
intended. Yet I have, perhaps, as little personal interest in the event
as any one here. There is, I believe, no member who will not think his
chance to be a witness of the consequences greater than mine. If,
however, the vote should pass to reject, and a spirit should rise, as it
will, with the public disorders, to make 'confusion worse confounded,'
even I, slender and almost broken as my hold upon life is, may outlive
the government and constitution of my country."

With this touching peroration Mr. Ames closed his remarkable speech, and
sat down. For a brief moment there was perfect silence in the house.
"Judge Iredell and I happened to sit together," wrote Vice-President
Adams, describing the scene. "Our feelings beat in unison. 'My God! how
great he is,' says Iredell; 'how great he has been!'--'Noble!' said I.
After some time Iredell breaks out, 'Bless my stars! I never heard
anything so great since I was born.'--'Divine!' said I; and thus we went
on with our interjections, not to say tears, to the end. Tears enough
were shed. Not a dry eye, I believe, in the house, except some of the
jackasses who had occasioned the necessity of the oratory. These
attempted to laugh, but their visages 'grinned horribly ghastly smiles.'
They smiled like Foulon's son-in-law when they made him kiss his
father's dead and bleeding hand. Perhaps the speech may not read as
well. The situation of the man excited compassion, and interested all
hearts in his favor. The ladies wished his soul had a better body."[96]

The vote was about to be taken, immediately after the conclusion of
Ames's speech, when the opposition, alarmed on account of the effect it
had probably produced, carried an adjournment. There was a little
speaking upon the subject the next day, but no one dared to attempt an
answer to Ames's words, or assail his positions. The vote stood
forty-nine to forty-nine, when General Muhlenburg, chairman of the
committee of the whole, decided the matter by casting his vote for the
resolution. It was reported to the house on the thirteenth of May, and,
after some delay, the resolution, unamended, declaring that it was
expedient to pass laws necessary for carrying the treaty into effect,
was adopted, fifty-one to forty-eight, the northern members voting for
and the southern against it.


[91] Life of Washington.

[92] He referred to Livingston, the author of the resolutions before the
house, who was one of the leaders of the populace in New York when
Hamilton and King were stoned, while speaking in favor of the treaty, at
a public meeting.

[93] The following is a copy of Washington's message to the house of
representatives on the thirtieth of March, 1796, assigning his reasons
for not complying with their resolution of the twenty-fourth:--

     "With the utmost attention I have considered your resolution of the
     twenty-fourth instant, requiring me to lay before your house a copy
     of the instructions to the minister of the United States who
     negotiated the treaty with the king of Great Britain, together with
     a correspondence and other documents relative to that treaty,
     excepting such of the said papers as any existing negotiation may
     render improper to be disclosed.

     "In deliberating upon this subject, it was impossible to lose sight
     of the principle, which some have avowed in its discussion, or to
     avoid extending my views to the consequences which must flow from
     the admission of that principle.

     "I trust that no part of my conduct has ever indicated a
     disposition to withhold any information which the constitution has
     enjoined upon the president as a duty to give, or which could be
     required of him by either house of Congress as a right; and with
     truth I affirm that it has been, as it will continue to be while I
     have the honor to preside in the government, my constant endeavor
     to harmonize with the other branches thereof, so far as the trust
     delegated to me by the people of the United States, and my sense of
     the obligation it imposes to 'preserve, protect, and defend the
     constitution,' will permit.

     "The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their
     success must often depend on secrecy; and, even when brought to a
     conclusion, a full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or
     eventual concessions, which may have been proposed or contemplated,
     would be extremely impolitic; for this might have a pernicious
     influence on future negotiations, or produce immediate
     inconveniences, perhaps danger and mischief, in relation to other
     powers. The necessity of such caution and secrecy was one cogent
     reason for vesting the power of making treaties in the president,
     with the advice and consent of the senate; the principle on which
     that body was formed confining it to a small number of members. To
     admit, then, a right in the house of representatives to demand, and
     to have, as a matter of course, all the papers respecting a
     negotiation with a foreign power, would be to establish a dangerous

     "It does not occur that the inspection of the papers asked for can
     be relative to any purpose under the cognizance of the house of
     representatives, except that of an impeachment, which the
     resolution has not expressed. I repeat, that I have no disposition
     to withhold any information which the duty of my situation will
     permit, or the public good shall require, to be disclosed; and, in
     fact, all the papers affecting the negotiation with Great Britain
     were laid before the senate when the treaty itself was communicated
     for their consideration and advice.

     "The course which the debate has taken on the resolution of the
     house, leads to some observations on the mode of making treaties
     under the constitution of the United States.

     "Having been a member of the general convention, and knowing the
     principles on which the constitution was formed, I have ever
     entertained but one opinion on this subject; and, from the first
     establishment of the government to this moment, my conduct has
     exemplified that opinion--that the power of making treaties is
     exclusively vested in the president, by and with the advice and
     consent of the senate, provided two thirds of the senators present
     concur; and that every treaty, so made and promulgated,
     thenceforward became the law of the land. It is thus that the
     treaty-making power has been understood by foreign nations; and, in
     all the treaties made with them, we have declared, and they have
     believed, that when ratified by the president, with the advice and
     consent of the senate, they became obligatory. In this construction
     of the constitution, every house of representatives has heretofore
     acquiesced; and, until the present time, not a doubt or suspicion
     has appeared, to my knowledge, that this construction was not the
     true one. Nay, they have more than acquiesced; for, till now,
     without controverting the obligations of such treaties, they have
     made all the requisite provisions for carrying them into effect.

     "There is also reason to believe that this construction agrees with
     the opinions entertained by the state conventions, when they were
     deliberating on the constitution; especially by those who objected
     to it because there was not required, in _commercial treaties_, the
     consent of two thirds of the whole number of the members of the
     senate, instead of two thirds of the senators present; and because,
     in treaties respecting territorial and certain other rights and
     claims, the concurrence of three fourths of the whole number of
     both houses respectively was not made necessary.

     "It is a fact decided by the general convention, and universally
     understood, that the constitution of the United States was the
     result of a spirit of amity and mutual concession.

     "And it is well known that, under this influence, the smaller
     states were admitted to an equal representation in the senate with
     the larger states, and that this branch of the government was
     invested with great powers; for on the equal participation of those
     powers the sovereignty and political safety of the smaller states
     were deemed essentially to depend.

     "If other proofs than these, and the plain letter of the
     constitution itself, be necessary to ascertain the point under
     consideration, they may be found in the journals of the general
     convention, which I have deposited in the office of the department
     of state. In those journals it will appear that a proposition was
     made, 'that no treaty should be binding on the United States which
     was not ratified by a law,' and that the proposition was explicitly

     "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. GEORGE WASHINGTON."

[94] Earnest petitions from these had been sent in to Congress,
representing that the property of merchants of the United States, to the
amount of five millions of dollars, had been taken from them by the
subjects of Great Britain, for which they wanted restitution, and, for
that purpose, prayed for measures to execute the provisions of the

[95] History of the United States, second series, i, 603.

[96] Letter to Mrs. Adams, April 30, 1796.



According to the prediction of Vice-President Adams, the British
treaty, after having been "mauled and abused," was "acquiesced in."
"The treaty will go into operation, and be supported by a great
majority of the people," wrote Jay on the first of May; "a majority
comprising the greater part of the men most distinguished by talents,
worth, and weight."[97]

But there were many honest men--men who loved their country, were
jealous of its honor, and ready to make personal sacrifices, if
necessary, for the commonwealth--who regarded the triumph of the
government party, on this occasion, as a public calamity. Among these
was Mr. Jefferson, who, from his retirement at Monticello, sent forth,
now and then, the thunderbolts of his wrath against political opponents
and their measures. He had watched the progress of the treaty in every
stage of the ordeal to which it was subjected in Congress, and
occasionally gave his views to his friends. He was deeply enamored of
Gallatin, and with acute perception, as time demonstrated, he foresaw
the value of the young Genevese to his adopted country. "If Mr.
Gallatin," he said, in a letter to Madison on the sixth of March,
concerning the operations of the treasury, "would undertake to reduce
this chaos to order, present us with a clear view of our finances, and
put them into a form as simple as they will admit, he will merit
immortal honor."

After Gallatin's speech on the treaty, Mr. Jefferson again wrote to
Madison, saying, "It is worthy to be printed at the end of the
Federalist, as the only rational commentary on the part of the
constitution to which it relates." In reference to the power of the
house of representatives, in the matter of treaties, Mr. Jefferson
remarked in the same letter, "I see no harm in rendering their sanction
necessary, and 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 your co-operation in any case of treaty, I wonder on what
occasion it is to be used, if not in one where the rights, the interest,
the honor, and faith of our nation are so grossly sacrificed; when 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 corruption of the first agent, the
revolutionary machinations of others, and the incomprehensible
acquiescence of the only honest man [the president] 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

On the twenty-fourth of April, in a letter to his friend, Philip
Mazzei,[99] then in Florence--a letter which afterward drew down upon
the author the most severe comments--he said, "The aspect of our
politics has wonderfully changed since you left us. In place of that
noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us
triumphantly through the war, an Anglican monarchical and aristocratical
party has sprung up, whose avowed object is, to draw over us the
substance, as they have already done the form, of the British
government. The main body of our citizens, however, remain true to their
republican principles; the whole landed interest is republican, and so
is a great mass of talent. Against us are the executive; the judiciary;
two out of three branches of the legislature; all the officers of the
government; all who want to be officers; all timid men who prefer the
calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty; British merchants,
and Americans trading on British capital; speculators and holders in the
banks and public funds, a contrivance invented for the purposes of
corruption, and for assimilating us in all things to the rotten as well
as the sound parts of the British model. It would give you a fever were
I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to these heresies; men
who were Samsons in the field and Solomons in the council, but who have
had their heads shorn by the harlot England. In short, we are likely to
preserve the liberty we have obtained, only by unremitting labors and
perils. But we shall preserve it; and our mass of weight and wealth on
the good side is so great, as to leave no danger that force will ever be
attempted against us. We have only to awake and snap the Lilliputian
cords with which they have been entangling us during the first sleep
which succeeded our labors."[100]

A little later, when the government had triumphed in the matter of the
treaty, and the public acquiesced, Mr. Jefferson wrote to Monroe, in
Paris; "You will have seen, by their proceedings, the truth of what I
have always observed to you, that one man outweighs them all in
influence over the people, who have supported his judgment against their
own, and that of their representatives. Republicanism must lie on its
oars, resign the vessel to its pilot, and themselves to the course he
thinks best for them." In this manner the professedly retired statesman,
deceived by demagogues, taking Bache's abusive and unscrupulous "Aurora"
as his compass in current politics, and with his judgment sadly warped
by his prejudices, he threw out, in various directions, ungenerous
insinuations against Washington, who, at that moment, was confiding
implicitly in Jefferson's integrity, justice, sincerity, and personal
friendship. He would not allow himself to be even suspicious of any
duplicity or dishonor on the part of his late secretary, even when that
gentleman himself supposed Washington had reason to suspect him.

In Bache's "Aurora," on the ninth of June, were disclosed, by an
anonymous writer, a series of questions submitted by Washington, in
strict confidence, to the cabinet in 1793, concerning the reception of
Genet, and the force of the treaty with France. These were published
with the evident design to prejudice the executive in the public mind.
This startled Jefferson, and he thought it necessary to put in an
immediate disclaimer of all participation in the matter. He wrote to
Washington on the nineteenth of June, saying, in reference to the
document, "It having been confided to but few hands, makes it truly
wonderful how it should have got there. I can not be satisfied as to my
own part, till I relieve my mind by declaring--and I attest everything
sacred and honorable to the declaration--that it has got them, neither
through me nor the paper confided to me. This has never been from under
my own lock and key, or out of my own hands. No mortal ever knew from me
that these questions had been proposed." Mr. Jefferson then expressed
his belief, that one who had been their mutual friend "thought it worth
while to sow tares" between the president and himself, and denounced him
as an "intriguer, dirtily employed in sifting the conversations of his
table, where, alone, he could hear him."[101] The person here alluded to
was General Henry Lee, of Virginia, who had lately become attached to
the federal party, and incurred the political enmity of Jefferson.

This letter drew from Washington a most noble reply. On the sixth of
July he wrote: "If I had entertained any suspicions before, that the
queries, which have been published in Bache's paper, proceeded from you,
the assurances you have given of the contrary would have removed them;
but the truth is, I harbored none. I am at no loss to conjecture from
what source they flowed, through what channel they were conveyed, and
for what purpose they and similar publications appear. They were known
to be in the hands of Mr. Parker in the early part of the last session
of Congress. They were shown about by Mr. Giles during the session, and
they made their public exhibition about the close of it.

     "Perceiving and, probably, hearing, that no abuse in the gazettes
     would induce me to take notice of anonymous publications against
     me, those who were disposed to do me _such friendly offices_, have
     embraced, without restraint, every opportunity to weaken the
     confidence of the people; and, by having the whole game in their
     hands, they have not scrupled to publish things that do not, as
     well as those which do exist, and to mutilate the latter, so as to
     make them subserve the purposes which they have in view.

     "As you have mentioned the subject yourself, it would not be
     frank, candid, or friendly, to conceal, that your conduct has been
     represented as derogating from that opinion I had conceived you
     entertained of me; that, to your particular friends and connections
     you have described, and they have denounced, me as a person under a
     dangerous influence; and that, if I would listen more to some other
     opinions, all would be well. My answer invariably has been, that I
     had never discovered anything in the conduct of Mr. Jefferson to
     raise suspicion in my mind of his insincerity; that, if he would
     retrace my public conduct while he was in the administration,
     abundant proofs would occur to him, that truth and right decisions
     were the sole objects of my pursuit; that there were as many
     instances, within his own knowledge, of my having decided
     _against_, as in _favor_, of the opinions of the persons evidently
     alluded to; and, moreover, that I was no believer in the
     infallibility of the politics or measures of any man living. In
     short, that I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my
     heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them."

This portion of Washington's letter must have been felt by Mr. Jefferson
as a severe rebuke of his real insincerity, in throwing out precisely
such insinuations as Washington here alludes to. Washington continued:--

     "To this I may say, and very truly, that, until within the last
     year or two, I had no conception that parties would, or even could,
     go the length I have been witness to; nor did I really believe,
     until lately, that it was within the bounds of probability, hardly
     within those of possibility, that, while I was using my utmost
     exertions to establish a national character of our own,
     independent, as far as our obligations and justice would permit, of
     every nation of the earth, and wished, by steering a steady course,
     to preserve this country from the horrors of a desolating war, I
     should be accused of being the enemy of one nation, and subject to
     the influence of another; and, to prove it, that every act of my
     administration would be tortured, and the grossest and most
     insidious misrepresentations of these be made, by giving one side
     only of a subject, and that, too, in such exaggerated and indecent
     terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious
     defaulter, or even to a common pickpocket. But enough of this, I
     have already gone further in the expression of my feelings than I

When Congress had disposed of the treaty by voting appropriations for
the purpose of executing it, nothing remained to complete the business
but the appointment of the several officers to carry out its provisions.
These were immediately made. David Howell, of Rhode Island, was made
commissioner for ascertaining the true river St. Croix; Messrs.
Fitzsimons and Innes (the latter soon succeeded by Mr. Sitgreaves) were
appointed commissioners on the subject of British debts; and Messrs.
Gore and Pinckney commissioners for settling claims for British

Some diplomatic changes were made at about this time; Rufus King was
appointed minister to England, in place of Thomas Pinckney, who wished
to return home; Colonel Humphreys was appointed minister to Spain, in
place of Mr. Carmichael, deceased; John Quincy Adams, son of the
vice-president, left the Hague, to which he had been accredited, and
succeeded Humphreys at Lisbon; and Mr. Murray took Adam's place in
Holland. The president was authorized to appoint two or more agents, one
to reside in Great Britain, the others at such points as the executive
might choose, to investigate and report concerning all impressments of
American seamen by British cruisers.

The interesting session of Congress during which Jay's treaty had been
the chief topic of debate, was now drawing to a close, and Washington
looked to the brief period of repose from public duties, at Mount
Vernon, that would succeed the legislative turmoil, with the greatest
pleasure. That moment of release came on the first day of June, when the
Congress adjourned.

The president's thoughts now turned toward his long-tried friends, and
the sweet enjoyments of private life toward which he was hastening.
Among the former, the Marquis de Lafayette held a prominent place in his
heart. He was yet a prisoner in a far-off dungeon, and his family in
exile. Feeble was the arm of any man to give him liberty, especially one
stretched toward him from the new republic beyond the sea. Yet
Washington left no means untried to liberate his friend. Compelled by
circumstances and state policy to be cautious, he was, nevertheless,
persevering in his efforts. He well knew that his formal interposition
in behalf of the illustrious captive would be unavailing. But he
employed the American ministers at European courts in expressing, on
every convenient opportunity, unofficially, the interest which the
president took in the fate of his friend, and to use every fair means in
their power to obtain his release.

While Lafayette was in the hands of the Prussian authorities, James
Marshall was sent to Berlin as a special and confidential agent to
solicit his discharge. Before Marshall's arrival, Lafayette had been
delivered by the king of Prussia into the hands of the emperor of
Germany. Mr. Pinckney, the United States minister in London, was then
instructed to indicate the wishes of the president concerning the
prisoner, to the Austrian minister in England, and to solicit the
powerful mediation of the British cabinet. These efforts failed, and
Washington, disdaining to make further application to the deputies of
sovereignty, whose petty tyranny was proverbial, determined to go to the
fountain-head of power in the dominion where his friend was suffering,
and, on the fifteenth of May, he wrote as follows to the emperor of

     "It will readily occur to your majesty, that occasions may
     sometimes exist, on which official considerations would constrain
     the chief of a nation to be silent and passive in relation even to
     objects which affect his sensibility, and claim his interposition
     as a man. Finding myself precisely in this situation at present, I
     take the liberty of writing this private letter to your majesty,
     being persuaded that my motives will also be my apology for it.

     "In common with the people of this country, I retain a strong and
     cordial sense of the services rendered to them by the Marquis de
     Lafayette; and my friendship for him has been constant and sincere.
     It is natural, therefore, that I should sympathize with him and his
     family in their misfortunes, and endeavor to mitigate the
     calamities which they experience; among which, his present
     confinement is not the least distressing.

     "I forbear to enlarge on this delicate subject. Permit me only to
     submit to your majesty's consideration, whether his long
     imprisonment, and the confiscation of his estates, and the
     indigence and dispersion of his family, and the painful anxieties
     incident to all these circumstances, do not form an assemblage of
     sufferings which recommend him to the mediation of humanity? Allow
     me, sir, on this occasion to be its organ, and to entreat that he
     may be permitted to come to this country, on such conditions, and
     under such restrictions, as your majesty may think it expedient to

     "As it is a maxim with me not to ask what, under similar
     circumstances, I would not grant, your majesty will do me the
     justice to believe, that this request appears to me to correspond
     with those great principles of magnanimity and wisdom which form
     the basis of sound policy and durable glory.

     "May the Almighty and Merciful Sovereign of the universe keep your
     majesty under his protection and guidance."

This letter was transmitted to Mr. Pinckney, and by him sent to the
emperor, through his minister in Great Britain. "How far it operated,"
says Marshall, "in mitigating immediately the rigor of Lafayette's
confinement, or in obtaining his liberation, remains unascertained."

Washington left Philadelphia for Mount Vernon on the thirteenth of June,
accompanied by his family, and remained there about two months. During
that retirement he made his final arrangements for leaving public life
for ever at the close of his term of office, which would occur in March
following. We have observed his great reluctance to consent to a second
nomination for the chief-magistracy of the republic. The best interests
of the commonwealth seemed to require the sacrifice on his part, and it
was given, but with a full determination not to yield again, unless
there appeared greater danger hovering over his beloved country, which
his instrumentality might avert. To this determination he had adhered;
and it was always with inexpressible satisfaction that he looked forward
to the day when his public labors should cease. But, for cogent reasons,
he never made this declaration publicly, until within the last few
months of his second administration. His confidential friends well knew
his determination, however, and the people generally suspected it.
"Those who dreaded a change of system," says Marshall, "in changing the
person of the chief-magistrate, manifested an earnest desire to avoid
this hazard, by being permitted once more to offer to the public choice
a person, who, amidst all the fierce conflicts of party, still remained
the object of public veneration." But his resolution was fixed. The
safety of the nation did not, at that time, seem to require him to
remain at its head, notwithstanding there were many and great perils
besetting it; and while he was at Mount Vernon he completed the final
draft of a "Farewell Address to the people of the United States," to be
published in time for them to choose his successor at the appointed

That address had been the subject of deep and anxious thought; and, at
the special request of the president, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jay,
and perhaps others, had given him suggestions in writing, topical and
verbal. These he took with him to Mount Vernon, and in the quiet of his
library he arranged the address in proper form, using the suggestions of
Madison and Hamilton very freely. In the form in which it finally
appeared, it remains the noblest production of Washington's mind and
heart; and has been pronounced by Alison, the eminent British historian,
unequalled by any composition of uninspired wisdom. It is a political
legacy which not only the countrymen of Washington, but the inhabitants
of the civilized world ought to value as one of the most precious gifts
ever bestowed by man upon his race. It is permeated with the immortal
spirit of a true MAN, a true PATRIOT, and a true CHRISTIAN.[103]


[97] Letter to Lord Grenville.

[98] Jefferson's Memoirs and Correspondence, iii., 330.

[99] Mazzei was an Italian, who came to Virginia just before the War for
Independence commenced, bringing with him about a dozen experienced
grape culturists of his own country, for the purpose of attempting that
business in America, and the manufacture of wine. He formed a stock
company, of whom Mr. Jefferson was one, and a considerable sum was
raised for the undertaking. An estate adjoining Mr. Jefferson's was
purchased for the experiment, but the scheme failed. Mazzei went to
Europe as an agent of some kind for the state of Virginia, leaving his
family in America, and did not return. His wife died, and Mazzei wrote
to Mr. Jefferson for legal evidence of her death, and other important
information. In his reply, the strong language concerning political
affairs in America, which we have quoted, was incidentally used in the
conclusion. Mazzei was an ardent republican. He translated that portion
of the letter into Italian, and without asking Jefferson's permission to
do so, published it in a Florentine journal. It was republished in the
French journals, translated into English, and, about a year after it was
written, it appeared in the American federal newspapers, with, it was
alleged, many errors and interpolations. It placed Jefferson in an
unpleasant dilemma, yet he had such faith in Washington's confidence in
him, that he conceived that that great and good man would not construe
any portion of his remarks as aimed at the president, and, by the advice
of his friends, he kept silent, neither avowing or disavowing the letter
as his. It became the subject of fierce attacks for a long time, even
through the canvass in 1800, which resulted in the election of Mr.
Jefferson to the presidency of the United States.

I have before me a caricature, published as a frontispiece to Robert G.
Harper's "Observations on the Dispute between the United States and
France," printed in 1798, in which is represented Mr. Jefferson on
bended knee before an altar, on which is a flame, fed by papers bearing
the names of _Age of Reason_, _Godwin_, _Aurora_, _Chronicle_, _J. J.
Rousseau_, _Voltaire_, _Ruins of Volney_, _Helvetius_, &c. On the short
shaft is inscribed, "ALTAR TO GALLIC DESPOTISM." It is entwined by a
serpent, who seems to be the instrument of the devil, whose horned head
is seen rising behind the platform of the altar, upon which lies sacks
for consumption, marked, _American spoliations_, _Dutch restitution_,
_Sardinia_, _Flanders_, _Venice_, _Spain_, _Plunder_, &c. Over the flame
on the altar hovers an angry American eagle, gazed upon by the
all-seeing eye. The eagle has just snatched from the hand of Mr.
Jefferson a scroll, on which is written _Constitution and Independence,
U. S. A_., that he was about to commit to the flames. From his other
hand is falling another scroll, inscribed, _To Mazzei_. The composition

[100] Jefferson's Memoirs and Correspondence, iii., 333.

[101] Jefferson's Memoirs and Correspondence, iii., 336.

[102] Sparks's "Life and Writings of Washington," xi., 137. In a note to
this letter, Mr. Sparks says: "No correspondence, after this date,
between Washington and Jefferson appears in the letter-books, except a
brief note the month following, upon an unimportant matter. It has been
reported and believed, that letters and papers, supposed to have passed
between them, or to relate to their intercourse with each other at
subsequent dates, were secretly withdrawn from the archives of Mount
Vernon, after the death of the former."

Washington's unlimited confidence in Mr. Jefferson's sincerity appears
to have been finally shaken. In a letter to John Nicholson, in March,
1798, he said, "Nothing short of the evidence you have adduced,
corroborative of intimations which I had received long before through
another channel, could have shaken my belief in the sincerity of a
friendship which I had conceived was possessed for me by the person to
whom you allude."

[103] The following is a copy of Washington's "Farewell Address." It was
first published in the "Philadelphia Advertiser," in September, 1796. It
occupied, in manuscript, thirty-two pages of quarto letter-paper, sewed
together as a book.

     "FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:--The period for a new election of a
     citizen, to administer the executive government of the United
     States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when
     your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to
     be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper,
     especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the
     public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I
     have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those
     out of whom a choice is to be made.

     "I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured,
     that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to
     all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a
     dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender
     of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am
     influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no
     deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am
     supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with

     "The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to
     which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform
     sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference
     for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it
     would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives
     which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that
     retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of
     my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even
     led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but
     mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our
     affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons
     entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

     "I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as
     internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible
     with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded,
     whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that in the
     present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my
     determination to retire.

     "The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust,
     were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this
     trust, I will only say, that I have with good intentions,
     contributed towards the organization and administration of the
     government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment
     was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of
     my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in
     the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of
     myself; and, every day, the increasing weight of years admonishes
     me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me
     as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have
     given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have
     the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite
     me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

     "In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate
     the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to
     suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I
     owe to my beloved country, for the many honors it has conferred
     upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has
     supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of
     manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and
     persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits
     have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be
     remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our
     annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in
     every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances
     sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in
     situations in which not infrequently want of success has
     countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support
     was the essential prop of the efforts, and the guaranty of the
     plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this
     idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement
     to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest
     tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection
     may be perpetual; that the free constitution, which is the work of
     your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in
     every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in
     fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the
     auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a
     preservation, and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will
     acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the
     affection and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger
     to it.

     "Here, perhaps I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare,
     which can not end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger,
     natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the
     present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to
     your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much
     reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to
     me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a People.
     These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only
     see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can
     possibly have no personal motives to bias his counsel. Nor can I
     forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my
     sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion. Interwoven as
     is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no
     recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the

     "The unity of Government which constitutes you one people is also
     now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the
     edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity
     at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of
     that very Liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to
     foresee, that from different causes and from different quarters,
     much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in
     your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in
     your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and
     external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often
     covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that
     you should properly estimate the immense value of your national
     Union, to your collective and individual happiness; that you should
     cherish a cordial, habitual and immovable attachment to it;
     accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium
     of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its
     preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may
     suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and
     indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to
     alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble
     the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

     "For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest.
     Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has
     a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which
     belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the
     just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from
     local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have
     the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You
     have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the
     Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint councils
     and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
     But these considerations, however powerfully they address
     themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those
     which apply more immediately to your interest. Here, every portion
     of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully
     guarding and preserving the Union of the whole.

     "The _North_, in an unrestrained intercourse with the _South_,
     protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the
     productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime
     and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing
     industry. The _South_ in the same intercourse, benefiting by the
     agency of the _North_, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce
     expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the
     _North_, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and while
     it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the
     general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the
     protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally
     adapted. The _East_, in a like intercourse with the _West_, already
     finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior
     communications by land and water, will more and more find, a
     valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or
     manufactures at home. The _West_ derives from the _East_ supplies
     requisite to its growth and comfort; and, what is perhaps of still
     greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the _secure_
     enjoyment of indispensable _outlets_ for its own productions to the
     weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic
     side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of
     interest as ONE NATION. Any other tenure by which the _West_ can
     hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own
     separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection
     with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

     "While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and
     particular interest in Union, all the parties combined can not fail
     to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength,
     greater resource, proportionably greater security from external
     danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign
     nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from
     Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves,
     which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together
     by the same governments; which their own rivalships alone would be
     sufficient to produce, but which, opposite foreign alliances,
     attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence,
     likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military
     establishments which, under any form of government, are
     inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as
     particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is,
     that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your
     liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the
     preservation of the other.

     "These considerations speak a persuasive language to every
     reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the
     UNION as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt
     whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let
     experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case
     were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization
     of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the
     respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue of the
     experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such
     powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting all parts of our
     country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its
     impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the
     patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its

     "In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs
     as a matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been
     furnished for characterizing parties by _Geographical_
     discriminations, _northern_ and _southern_, _Atlantic_ and
     _western_; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief
     that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One
     of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular
     districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other
     districts. You can not shield yourselves too much against the
     jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these
     misrepresentations: they tend to render alien to each other those
     who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The
     inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson
     on this head: they have seen in the negotiation by the Executive,
     and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate of the treaty with
     Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event throughout
     the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the
     suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General
     Government and in the Atlantic states, unfriendly to their
     interests in regard to the MISSISSIPPI: they have been witnesses to
     the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain and that
     with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in
     respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their
     prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the
     preservation of these advantages on the UNION by which they were
     procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if
     such there are, who would sever them from their brethren, and
     connect them with aliens?

     "To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the
     whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the
     parts, can be an adequate substitute: they must inevitably
     experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in
     all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you
     have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a
     Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for
     an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your
     common concerns. This Government, the offspring of our own choice,
     uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature
     deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the
     distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and
     containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a
     just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its
     authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures,
     are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The
     basis of our political systems is, the right of the people to make
     and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the
     Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit
     and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon
     all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to
     establish Government, presupposes the duty of every individual to
     obey the established Government.

     "All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations
     and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real
     design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular
     deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are
     destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.
     They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and
     extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of
     the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and
     enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the
     alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public
     administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous
     projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and
     wholesome plans, digested by common councils, and modified by
     mutual interests. However combinations or associations of the above
     description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely,
     in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by
     which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to
     subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the
     reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which
     have lifted them to unjust dominions.

     "Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of
     your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you
     steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged
     authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of
     innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One
     method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the
     constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the
     system, and thus to undermine what can not be directly overthrown.
     In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time
     and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of
     governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the
     surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing
     constitution of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit
     of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change from
     the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember,
     especially, that for the efficient management of your common
     interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as
     much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty,
     is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government,
     with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian.
     It is indeed little else than a name, where the government is too
     feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each
     member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and
     to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights
     of person and property.

     "I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the
     state, with particular reference to the founding of them on
     geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive
     view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful
     effects of the spirit of party, generally. This spirit,
     unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in
     the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different
     shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled or
     repressed; but in those of the popular form, it is seen in its
     greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy. The alternate
     domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of
     revenge, natural to party dissention, which, in different ages and
     countries, has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a
     frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and
     permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result,
     gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in
     the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief
     of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his
     competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own
     elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

     "Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which
     nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and
     continual mischiefs of the spirit of party, are sufficient to make
     it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and
     restrain it.

     "It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the
     Public Administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded
     jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part
     against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It
     opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a
     facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of
     party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are
     subjected to the policy and will of another.

     "There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful
     checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep
     alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably
     true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look
     with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But
     in those of a popular character, in Governments purely elective, it
     is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it
     is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every
     salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the
     effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and
     assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform
     vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of
     warning, it should consume.

     "It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free
     country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its
     administration, to confine themselves within their respective
     constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of the powers of
     one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of
     encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments
     in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a
     real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and
     proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is
     sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The
     necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power,
     by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and
     constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions
     of the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern:
     some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve
     them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion
     of the people, the distribution or modification of the
     constitutional powers be, in any particular, wrong, let it be
     corrected by an amendment in the way, which the constitution
     designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though
     this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the
     customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The
     precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any
     partial or transient benefit, which the use can, at any time,

     "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political
     prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In
     vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should
     labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these
     firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere
     Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to
     cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with
     private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the
     security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of
     religious obligation _desert_ the oaths, which are the instruments
     of investigation in Courts of Justice; and let us with caution
     indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without
     religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined
     education on minds of peculiar structure; reason and experience
     both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in
     exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that
     virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The
     rule, indeeds, extends with more or less force to every species of
     free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with
     indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

     "Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions
     for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the
     structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is
     essential that public opinion should be enlightened. As a very
     important source of strength and security, cherish public credit.
     One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible;
     avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but
     remembering, also, that timely disbursements to prepare for danger,
     frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it;
     avoiding, likewise, the accumulations of debt, not only by shunning
     occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to
     discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned,
     not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we
     ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to
     your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion
     should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their
     duty, it is essential you should practically bear in mind, that
     toward the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have
     Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are
     not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic
     embarrassments inseparable from the selection of the proper object
     (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive
     motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government
     in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for
     obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time

     "Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate
     peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this
     conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin
     it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant
     period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too
     novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and
     benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things,
     the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary
     advantages, that might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it
     be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a
     Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by
     every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered
     impossible by its vices?

     "In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than
     that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations,
     and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and
     that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings toward all
     should be cultivated. The nation, which indulges toward another an
     habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some decree a
     slave. It is a slave to its animosity, or to its affection, either
     of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its
     interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each
     more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight
     causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when
     accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent
     collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation,
     prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the
     Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The
     Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and
     adopts, through passion, what reason would reject; at other times,
     it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of
     hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and
     pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty,
     of Nations has been the victim.

     "So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another
     produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation,
     facilitating the allusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases
     where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the
     enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in
     the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or
     justification. It leads, also, to concessions to the favorite
     Nation, of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to
     injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting
     with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy,
     ill will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom
     equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious,
     corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the
     favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of
     their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity;
     gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a
     commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for
     public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition,
     corruption, or infatuation.

     "As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such
     attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and
     independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to
     tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction,
     to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils!
     Such an attachment of a small or weak, toward a great and powerful
     nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter. Against
     the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe
     me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be
     _constantly_ awake; since history and experience prove that foreign
     influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.
     But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes
     the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a
     defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation,
     and excessive dislike for another, cause those whom they actuate to
     see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the
     arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the
     intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and
     odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence
     of the people, to surrender their interests. The great rule of
     conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our
     commercial relations, to have with them as little _political_
     connection as possible. So far as we have already formed
     engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here
     let us stop.

     "Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a
     very remote relation. Hence she most be engaged in frequent
     controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our
     concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate
     ourselves, by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her
     politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her
     friendships or enmities. Our detached and distant situation invites
     and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one
     people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off,
     when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we
     may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at
     any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when
     belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions
     upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we
     may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall

     "Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our
     own to stand on foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny
     with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity
     in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or
     caprice? It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent
     alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as
     we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as
     capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold
     the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs,
     that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let
     those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my
     own opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be unwise to extend them.
     Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments,
     on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to
     temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

     "Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by
     policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy
     should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor
     granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural
     course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the
     streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers
     so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the
     rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support
     them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present
     circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and
     liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience
     and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that
     it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from
     another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for
     whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such
     acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given
     equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with
     ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than
     to expect, or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It
     is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride
     ought to discard.

     "In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and
     affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and
     lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual
     current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the
     course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I
     may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some
     partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then
     recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the
     mischiefs of foreign intrigues, to guard against the impostures of
     pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the
     solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated. How
     far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by
     the principles which have been delineated, the public records and
     other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world.
     To myself, the assurance of my own conscience, that I have at least
     believed myself to be guided by them.

     "In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation
     of the twenty-second of April, 1793, is the index to my Plan.
     Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your
     representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that
     measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts
     to deter or divert me from it. After deliberate examination, with
     the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied
     that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a
     right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a
     neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should
     depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and

     "The considerations, which respects the right to hold this conduct,
     it is not necessary, on this occasion, to detail. I will only
     observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that
     right, so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers,
     has been virtually admitted by all. The duty of holding a neutral
     conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation
     which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in
     which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of
     peace and amity toward other nations. The inducements of interest
     for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own
     reflection and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been
     to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its
     yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to
     that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give
     it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

     "Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am
     unconscious of intentional error: I am, nevertheless, too sensible
     of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed
     many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty
     to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also
     carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view
     them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life
     dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of
     incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must
     soon be to the mansions of rest. Relying on its kindness in this as
     in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it,
     which is so natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of
     himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate
     with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself
     to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the
     midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws
     under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and
     the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and

     "_September 17, 1796_."

There has been some discussion, within a few years past, concerning the
authorship of Washington's Farewell Address, it having been claimed for
General Hamilton, because a draught of it, varying but little in form
and substance from the document under that title which we have given in
the preceding pages, was found, in Hamilton's handwriting, among his
papers, soon after his death in 1804.

The subject has been thoroughly examined by Horace Binney, Esq., of
Philadelphia, in a volume of two hundred and fifty pages, published in
the autumn of 1859. After a most searching analysis of every fact
bearing upon the subject to be found in the writings of Washington,
Madison, Hamilton, and others, he arrives at an inevitable conclusion,
which he gives in the following words:--

     "Washington was, undoubtedly, the original designer of the Farewell
     Address; and not merely by general or indefinite intimations, but
     by the suggestion of perfect