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George Washington, Vol. II by Henry Cabot Lodge

Part 3 out of 7

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Secretary of State: "A kind of fatality seems to have pursued this
negotiation, and, in short, all our concerns with Spain, from the
appointment of Mr. Carmichael, under the new government, as minister
to that country, to the present day.... Enough, however, appears
already to show the temper and policy of the Spanish court, and its
undignified conduct as it respects themselves, and insulting as it
relates to us; and I fear it will prove that the late treaty of peace
with France portends nothing favorable to these United States."
Washington's patience had been sorely tried by the delays and shifty
evasions of Spain, but he was now on the brink of success, just as he
concluded that negotiation was hopeless.

He had made a good choice in Thomas Pinckney, better even than he
knew. Triumphing over all obstacles, with persistence, boldness, and
good management, Pinckney made a treaty and brought it home with him.
Still more remarkable was the fact that it was an extremely good
treaty, and conceded all we asked. By it the Florida boundary was
settled, and the free navigation of the Mississippi was obtained. We
also gained the right to a place of deposit at New Orleans, a pledge
to leave the Indians alone, a commercial agreement modeled on that
with France, and a board of arbitration to settle American claims.
All this Pinckney obtained, not as the representative of a great and
powerful state, but as the envoy of a new nation, distant, unknown,
disliked, and embroiled in various complications with other powers.
Our history can show very few diplomatic achievements to be compared
with this, for it was brilliant in execution, and complete and
valuable in result. Yet it has passed into history almost unnoticed,
and both the treaty and its maker have been singularly and most
unjustly neglected. Even the accurate and painstaking Hildreth omits
the date and circumstances of Pinckney's appointment, while the last
elaborate history of the United States scarcely alludes to the matter,
and finds no place in its index for the name of its author. It was
in fact one of the best pieces of work done during Washington's
administration, and perfected its policy on a most difficult and
essential point. It is high time that justice were done to the gallant
soldier and accomplished diplomatist who conducted the negotiation and
rendered such a solid service to his country. Thomas Pinckney, who
really did something, who did work worth doing and without many words,
has been forgotten, while many of his contemporaries, who simply made
a noise, are freshly remembered in the pages of history.

There was, however, another nation out on our western and northern
border more difficult to deal with than Spain; and in this quarter
there was less evasion and delay, but more arrogance and bad temper.
It was to England that Washington turned first when he took up the
presidency, and it was in her control of the western posts and her
influence among the Indian tribes that he saw the greatest dangers
to the continental movement of our people. Morris, as we have seen,
sounded the British government with but little success. Still they
promised to send a minister, and in due time Mr. George Hammond
arrived in that capacity, and opened a long and somewhat fruitless
correspondence with the Secretary of State on the various matters of
difference existing between the two countries. This interchange of
letters went on peaceably and somewhat monotonously for many months,
and then suddenly became very vivid and animated. This was the effect
of the arrival of Genet; and at this point begins the long series of
mistakes made by Great Britain in her dealings with the United States.

The principle of the declaration of neutrality could be easily upheld
on broad political grounds, but technically its defense was by no
means so simple. By the treaty of commerce with France we were bound
to admit her privateers and prizes to our ports; and here, as any one
could see, and as the sequel amply proved, was a fertile source of
dangerous complications. Then by the treaty of alliance we guaranteed
to France her West Indian possessions, binding ourselves to aid her
in their defense; and a proclamation of neutrality when France was
actually at war with a great naval power was an immediate and obvious
limitation upon this guarantee. Hamilton argued that while France had
an undoubted right to change her government, the treaty applied to a
totally different state of affairs, and was therefore in suspense. He
also argued that we were not bound in case of offensive war, and that
this war was offensive. Jefferson and Randolph held that the treaties
were as binding and as much in force now as they had ever been; but
they both assented to the proclamation of neutrality. There can be
little question that on the general legal principle Jefferson and
Randolph were right. Hamilton's argument was ingenious and very
fine-spun. But when he made the point about the character of the war
as relieving us from the guarantee, he was unanswerable; and this of
itself was a sufficient ground. He went beyond it in order to make his
reasoning fit existing conditions consistently and throughout, and
then it was that his position became untenable. In reality the French
revolution was showing itself so wholly abnormal and was so rapid in
its changes, that as a matter of practical statesmanship it was
worse than idle even to suppose that previous treaties, made with an
established government, were in force with this ever-shifting thing
which the revolution had brought forth. Still the general doctrine as
to the binding force of treaties remained unaltered, and this conflict
between fact and principle was what constituted the great difficulty
in the way of Washington and Hamilton. The latter met it with one
clever and adroit argument which it was difficult to sustain, and
avoided it with a second, which was narrower, but at the same time
sound and all-sufficient, as to the character of the war. Jefferson
and Randolph stood by the general principle, but abandoned it in
practice under pressure of imperious facts, as men generally do, while
France herself soon removed all technical difficulties by abrogating
by her measures the treaty of commerce, an act which relieved us of
any further obligations and justified Hamilton's position. But in
the beginning this was not known, and yet action was none the less

The result was right, and Washington had his way, which it must be
confessed he had fully determined on before his cabinet supplied him
with technical arguments.

All these points must have been plain enough to Hammond and the
English ministry. They could not see the full scope of the neutrality
policy in its national meaning, and they very naturally failed to
perceive that it marked the rise of a new power wholly disconnected
from Europe, to which their own views were confined. But they were
quite able to understand the immediate aspect of the case. They saw
Washington adopt and carry out a policy of dignified impartiality;
they were well able to value rightly the technical objections which
stood in his path, and they could see also that this policy was at the
outset very unpopular in America. The remembrance of old injuries and
of the war for independence was still fresh, and the hatred of England
was well nigh universal in the United States. On the other hand, a
lively sense of gratitude to France, and a sympathy with the objects
of the revolution, made affection for that country uniform and
general. The easy and popular course was for our government to range
itself more or less directly with the French, and the refusal to do so
was bold and in the highest degree creditable to the administration.
It was, moreover, an important advantage to England that the United
States should not ally themselves with her enemy, for next to herself,
the Americans were the great seafaring people of the world, and were
in a position to ravage her commerce, and, aided by France, to break
up her West Indian possessions. If the United States had followed the
natural prejudices of the time and had espoused the cause of France,
it would have been wise and right for England to attack them and break
them down if possible. But when, from a sense of national dignity and
of fair dealing, the United States stood apart from the conflict
and placed their former foe on the same footing as their friend and
ancient ally, a very small allowance of good sense would have led
the British ministry to encourage them in so doing. By favorable
treatment, and by a friendly and conciliatory policy, they should have
helped Washington in his struggle against popular prejudices, and
endeavored by so doing to keep the United States neutral, and
lead them, if possible, to their side; but with a fatuity almost
incomprehensible they pursued an almost exactly opposite course. By
similar conduct England had brought on the war for independence, which
ended in the division of her empire. In precisely the same way she now
proceeded to make it as arduous as possible for Washington to maintain
neutrality, and thereby played directly into the hands of the party
that supported France. The true policy demanded no sacrifices on the
part of Great Britain. Civility and consideration in her dealings,
and a careful abstention from wanton aggression and insult, were
all-sufficient. But England disliked us, as was quite natural; she did
not wish us to thrive and prosper, and she knew that we were weak and
not in a position to enter upon an offensive war.

As soon as it became known that Genet's privateers, manned by seamen
enlisted in our ports, were preying on British commerce, and that the
French man-of-war L'Ambuscade had taken an English vessel, The Grange,
within the capes of the Delaware, Hammond filed a memorial in regard
to these incidents. In so doing he was of course quite right, and the
government responded immediately, and proceeded in good faith to make
every effort to repair these breaches of neutrality, and to redress
the wrongs suffered by Great Britain. Hammond, however, instead of
doing all in his power, not merely to gain his own ends, but to
make it easy for our government to satisfy him, assumed at once a
disagreeable tone with a strong flavor of bullying, which was not
calculated to conciliate the statesmen with whom he was dealing. It
was a small matter enough, but unfortunately it was an indication of
what was to come.

On November 6, 1793, a British order in council was passed, but not
immediately published, directing the seizure of all vessels carrying
the produce of the French islands, or loaded with provisions for the
use of the French colonies. The object of the order was to destroy all
neutral trade, and it was aimed particularly at the commerce of the
United States. The moment selected for its adoption was when the
troubles with Genet had culminated, when we were on the point of
getting rid of that very objectionable person, and when we had proved
that we meant to maintain an honest and a real neutrality. It was as
well calculated as any move could have been to drive us back into the
arms of France, yet the manner of executing the order was far worse
than the order itself. Our merchantmen and traders had been quick to
take advantage of the opening of the French ports, and they had gone
in swarms to the French islands. Now, without a word of warning, their
vessels were seized by the cruisers of a nation with which we were
supposed to be at peace. Every petty governor of an English island sat
as a judge in admiralty. Many of them were corrupt, all were unfit for
the duty, and our vessels were condemned and pillaged. The crews were
made prisoners, and in many cases thrown into loathsome and unhealthy
places of confinement, while the ships were left to rot in the
harbors. The tale of the outrages and miseries thus inflicted on
citizens of the United States without any warning, and by a nation
considered to be at peace with us, fills an American with shame and
anger even to-day. If our people remonstrated, they were told that
England meant to have no neutrals, and that six of their frigates
could blockade our coast. A course of kind treatment would have made
us the friends of Great Britain, but the experiment was not even
tried. The truth was that we were weak, and this was not only a
misfortune but apparently an unpardonable sin. England could not
conquer us, but she could harry our coasts, and let loose her Indians
on our borders; and we had no navy with which to retaliate. She meant
that there should be no neutrals, and so adopted a policy which would
make us the active ally of France. It was no answer to say, what was
perfectly true, that French privateers preyed upon our commerce with
that fine indifference to rights and treaties which characterized
the governments of the Revolution. If both sides maltreated us, the
natural course was to unite with the power to which we at least owed a
debt of gratitude.

About the same time a speech was reported from Quebec, in which Lord
Dorchester told the Indians that they should soon take the war-path
for England against the United States. Lord Grenville denied in
Parliament, and subsequently to Jay, that the ministry had ever taken
any step to incite the Indians against the United States, and the
authenticity of Lord Dorchester's utterances has been questioned in
later days; but it was not disavowed at the time, even by Hammond in
a sharp correspondence which he held on that and other topics with
Randolph. The speech, as is now known and proved, was probably made,
whether it was authorized or not, and it was universally accepted at
the moment as both true and authoritative.

This menace of desolating savage war in the West, in addition to the
unquestioned outrages to our seamen, the loss of our ships, and the
destruction of our commerce, with consequent ruin to all our seaboard
towns, led to a general outburst of indignation from men of all
parties, and Congress began to prepare for war. Many of the methods
suggested were feeble and inadequate, but there could be no doubt of
either the spirit or intentions which dictated them. News that an
order of January 8, 1794, modified that of November 6, and confined
the seizure to vessels carrying French property, and reports that
some of our vessels were being restored, moderated the movements of
Congress, but it was nevertheless evident that a resolution cutting
off commercial intercourse with Great Britain would soon pass. In the
existing state of things such a step in all probability meant war, and
Washington was thus brought face to face with the most serious problem
of his administration. It did not take him unawares, nor find him
unprepared, for he had anticipated the situation, and his mind was
made up. He had no intention of letting the country drift into war
without a great effort to prevent it, and the time for that effort had
now come. As in the case of Spain, he was resolved to send a special
envoy to make a treaty. His first choice for this important mission
was Hamilton, which, like most of his selections, would have been
the best choice that could have been made. Hamilton, however, was so
conspicuous as the great leader of the party which supported both the
foreign and domestic policy of the administration, and he was so hated
by the opposition, that a loud outcry was at once raised against his
appointment. At that particular juncture it was very important that
the envoy should depart with as much general good-will and public
confidence as possible, so Hamilton sacrificed himself to this
necessity, and withdrew his name voluntarily. His withdrawal was a
mistake, but it was a wholly natural one under the circumstances.
Washington then made the next best choice, and appointed John Jay,
who was a man of most spotless character, honorable, high-minded, and
skilled in public affairs. He was chief justice of the United States,
and that fact gave additional weight to the mission. The only point in
which he fell behind Hamilton was in aggressiveness of character, and
this negotiation demanded, not merely firmness and tact, which Jay
had in abundance, but a boldness verging on audacity. The immediate
purpose, however, was answered, and Jay set forth on his journey with
much good feeling toward himself, and with a very solemn sense among
the people of the gravity of his undertaking. Washington himself saw
Jay depart with many misgivings, and the act of sending such a mission
at all was very trying to him, for the conduct of England galled him
to the quick. He had long suspected Great Britain, as well as Spain,
of inciting the Indians secretly to assail our settlements, and
knowing as he did the character of savage warfare, and feeling deeply
the bloodshed and expense of our Indian wars, he cherished a profound
dislike for those who could be capable of promoting such misery to the
injury of a friendly and-civilized nation. As England became more and
more hostile, he made up his mind that she was bent on attacking us,
and in March, 1794, he wrote to Governor Clinton that he had no doubts
as to the authenticity of Lord Dorchester's speech, and that he
believed England intended war. He therefore urged the governor to
inquire carefully into the state of feeling in Canada, and as to the
military strength of the country, especially on the border. He put no
trust in the disclaimers of the ministry when he saw the long familiar
signs of hostile intrigue among the Indians, and he was quite
determined that, if war should come, all the suffering should not be
on one side.

This belief in the coming of war, however, only strengthened him in
his well-matured plans to leave nothing undone to prevent it. It was
in this spirit that he despatched the special mission, although his
first letter to Jay shows that he had no very strong hopes of peace,
and that his uppermost thoughts were of the wrongs which had been
perpetrated, and of the perils which hung over the border. He did not
wish the commissioner to mince matters at all. "There does not remain
a doubt," he wrote, "in the mind of any well-informed person in this
country, not shut against conviction, that all the difficulties we
encounter with the Indians, their hostilities, the murder of helpless
women and innocent children along our frontiers, result from the
conduct of the agents of Great Britain in this country.... Can it
be expected, I ask, so long as these things are known in the United
States, or at least firmly believed, and suffered with impunity by
Great Britain, that there ever will or can be any cordiality between
the two countries? I answer, No. And I will undertake, without the
gift of prophecy, to predict that it will be impossible to keep this
country in a state of amity with Great Britain long, if the posts are
not surrendered. A knowledge of these being my sentiments would have
little weight, I am persuaded, with the British administration, and
perhaps not with the nation, in effecting the measure; but both may
rest satisfied that, if they want to be in peace with this country,
and to enjoy the benefits of its trade, to give up the posts is the
only road to it. Withholding them, and the consequences we feel at
present continuing, war will be inevitable."

Jay meantime had been well received in England. Lord Grenville
expressed the most friendly feelings, and every desire that the
negotiation might succeed. Jay was also received at court, where he
was said to have kissed the queen's hand, a crime, so the opposition
declared, for which his lips ought to have been blistered to the bone,
a difficult and by no means common form of punishment. Receptions,
dinner parties, and a ready welcome everywhere, did not, however,
make a treaty. When it came to business, the English did not differ
materially from their neighbors whom Canning satirized.

"The fault of the Dutch
Is giving too little and asking too much."

So the Americans now found it with Lord Grenville. There were many
subjects of dispute, some dangerous, and all requiring settlement for
the benefit of both countries. Boundaries, negro claims, and British
debts were easily disposed of by reference to boards of arbitration.
Two others, awkward and threatening, but not immediately pressing,
were the impressment of British seamen, real or pretended, from
American ships, and the exclusion of American vessels from the trade
of the British West Indies. The latter circumstance was no doubt
disagreeable to us, and deprived us of profit; but it is difficult to
see what right we had to complain of it, for the ports of the British
West Indies belonged to Great Britain, and if she chose to close
them to us, or anybody else, she was quite within her rights. At all
events, Lord Grenville declined to let us in, except in a very limited
way and under most onerous conditions. The right of search and the
right of impressment were simply the rights of the powerful over the
weak. England wanted to get seamen where she could for her navy; and
so long as she could violate our flag and carry off as recruits any
able-bodied seaman who spoke English, she meant to do it. It was worse
than idle to negotiate about it. When we should be ready and willing
to fight we could settle that question, but not before. In due time we
were ready to fight. England defeated us in various battles, ravaged
our coasts, and burned our capital; while we whipped her frigates
and lake flotillas, and repulsed her Peninsula veterans with heavy
slaughter at New Orleans. Impressment was not mentioned in the treaty
which concluded that war, but it ended at that time. The English are a
brave and combative people, but rather than get into wars with nations
that will fight, and fight hard, they will desist from wanton and
illegal aggressions, in which they do not differ greatly from the rest
of mankind; and so the practical abandonment of impressment came with
the war of 1812. The fact was officially stated by Webster, not many
years later, when he announced that the flag covered and protected all
those who lived or traded under it.

But in 1794 impressment was a negotiable question, because we were not
ready to go to war about it then and there. So Jay, wisely enough,
allowed this especial from of bullying to drift aside, along with the
exclusion from the West India trade, and addressed himself to the
two points which it was essential to have settled at that particular
moment. These questions were: the retention of the western posts, and
neutral rights at sea. In return for the agreement on our part to pay
the British debts, as determined by arbitration, England agreed
to surrender the posts on June 1, 1796. There was to be mutual
reciprocity in inland trade on the North American continent; but
coastwise, while we opened all our harbors and rivers to the British,
they shut us out from theirs in the colonies and the territory of the
Hudson's Bay Company. In the eighteen articles, limited in duration
to two years after the conclusion of the existing war, a treaty of
commerce was practically formed and neutral rights dealt with. We were
to be admitted to British ports in Europe and the East Indies on terms
of equality with British vessels, but we were refused admission to the
East Indian coasting trade, and to that between East India and Europe.
We gained the right to trade to the West Indies, but only on condition
that we should give up the transportation from America to Europe of
any of the principal products of the colonies. These were enumerated,
and besides sugar, molasses, coffee, and cocoa, included cotton, which
had just become an export from the southern States, and which already
promised to assume the importance that it afterwards reached. The
vexed questions of privateers, prizes, and contraband of war were also
settled and determined.

The treaty as a whole was not a very brilliant one for the United
States, but its treatment was far worse than its deserts, and it was
received with such a universal outburst of indignation that even to
this day it has never freed itself from the bad name it then acquired.
Nobody, not even its supporters, liked it, and yet it may be doubted
whether anything materially better was possible at the time. The
admirers of Hamilton, from that day to this, have believed that if
he had been sent, his boldness, ability, and force would have wrung
better terms from England. This is not at all improbable; but that
they would have been materially improved, even by Hamilton, does not
seem very likely. The treaty, in reality, was by no means bad; on the
contrary, it had many good points. It disposed satisfactorily and
fairly of all the minor questions which were vexatious and threatening
to the peaceful relation of the two countries. It settled the British
debts, gave us the western posts, which was a matter of the utmost
importance, and arranged the disputed and thorny question of neutral
rights, for the time being at least. It left impressment totally
unsettled, simply because we were still too weak to be ready to fight
England profitably on that theme. It opened to us the West Indian
ports, which was the matter most nearly affecting our interests and
our pockets, but it did so under limitations and concessions which
were excessive and even humiliating. We were obliged to pay a price
far too high for this coveted privilege, and it was on this point that
the controversy finally hinged.

The treaty reached Philadelphia on March 7. Nothing was said of its
arrival, which does not seem to have been known to any one but the
President and Randolph, who had meantime succeeded Jefferson as
Secretary of State. Three months later, on June 8, the Senate was
called together in special session, and the treaty was laid before
them. Washington did not like it and never changed his feeling in that
respect, but he had made up his mind upon full reflection to accept
it; and the Senate, after most careful consideration, voted by exactly
the necessary two thirds to ratify it, provided that the objectionable
West Indian article could be modified. On no terms could we consent to
forego the exportation of cotton, and it is difficult to see how
the Senate could have taken any other ground upon this point. Their
action, however, opened some delicate questions. Washington wrote to
Randolph: "First, is or is not that resolution intended to be the
final act of the Senate; or do they expect that the new article which
is proposed shall be submitted to them before the treaty takes effect?
Secondly, does or does not the Constitution permit the President to
ratify the treaty, without submitting the new article, after it shall
be agreed to by the British King, to the Senate for their further
advice and consent?"

These questions were carefully considered, and Washington had made
up his mind to ratify conditionally on the modification of the West
Indian article, when news arrived which caused him to suspend action.
England, having made the treaty, and before any news could have been
received of our attitude in regard to it, took steps to render its
ratification both difficult and offensive, if not impossible. The mode
adopted was to renew the "provision order," as it was called, which
directed the seizure of all vessels carrying food products to France,
and thus give to the Jay treaty the interpretation it was designed to
avoid, that provisions could be declared contraband at the pleasure of
one of the belligerents. It was a stupid thing to do, for if England
desired to have peace with us, as her making the treaty indicated,
she should not have renewed the most irritating of all her past
performances before we had had opportunity even to sign and ratify.
Washington, on hearing of this move, withheld his signature, bade
Randolph prepare a strong memorial against the provision order, and
then betook himself to Mount Vernon on some urgent private business.

Before he started, however, the storm of popular rage had begun to
break. Bache had the substance of the treaty in the "Aurora" on June
29, and Mr. Stevens Thomson Mason, senator from Virginia, was so
pained by some slight inaccuracies in this version that he wrote Mr.
Bache a note, and sent him a copy of the treaty despite the injunction
of secrecy by which he as a senator was bound. Mr. Mason gained great
present glory by this frank breach of promise, and curiously enough
this single discreditable act is the only thing that keeps his name
and memory alive in history. All that he achieved at the moment was to
hurry the inevitable disclosure of the contents of a treaty which no
one desired to conceal, except in deference to official form. Mason's
note and copy of the treaty, made up into a pamphlet, were issued
from Bache's press on July 2, and hundreds of copies were soon being
carried by eager riders north and south throughout the Union.

Everywhere, as the treaty traveled, the popular wrath was kindled. The
first explosion came in Boston, Federalist Boston, devoted beyond any
other town in the country to Washington and his administration. There
was a town meeting in Faneuil Hall, violent speeches were made, and a
committee was appointed to draw up a memorial to the President against
ratification. This remonstrance was despatched at once by special
messenger, who seemed to carry the torch of Malise instead of a set of
dry resolutions. Everywhere the anger and indignation flamed forth.
The ground had been carefully prepared, for, ever since Jay sailed,
the partisans of the French had been denouncing him and his mission,
predicting failure, and, in one case at least, burning him in effigy
before it was known whether he had done anything at all. As soon as
the news spread that the treaty had actually arrived, the attacks
were multiplied in number and grew ever more bitter as the Senate
consulted. The popular mind was so worked up that in Boston a British
vessel had been burned on suspicion that she was a privateer, while in
New York there had been street fights and rioting because of an insult
to a French flag. In such a state of feeling, artificially stimulated
and ingeniously misled, the most brilliant diplomatic triumph would
have had but slight chance of approval. Jay's moderate achievement
was better than his enemies expected, but it was sufficient for their
purpose, and the popular fury blazed up and ran through the country,
like a whirlwind of fire over the parched prairie. Everywhere the
example of Boston was followed, meetings were held, committees
appointed, and memorials against the treaty sent to the President. In
New York Hamilton was stoned when he attempted to speak in favor of
ratification; and less illustrious persons, who ventured to differ
from the crowd, were ducked and otherwise maltreated. Jay was hanged
and burned in effigy in every way that imagination could devise,
and copies of his treaty suffered the same fate at the hands of the
hangman. Feeling ran highest in the larger towns where there was a
mob, but even some of the smaller places and those most Federal in
their politics were carried away. The excitement seems also to have
been confined for the most part to the seaboard, but after all that
was where the bulk of the population lived. The crowd, moreover,
was not led by obscure agitators or by violent and irresponsible
partisans. The Livingstons in New York, Rodney in Delaware, Gadsden
and the Rutledges in South Carolina, were some of the men who guided
the meetings and denounced the treaty. On the other hand, the friends
and supporters of the administration appeared stunned, and for weeks
no opposition to the popular movement except that attempted by
Hamilton was apparent. Even the administration was divided, for
Randolph was as hostile to the treaty as it was possible for a man of
his temperament to be.

The crisis was indeed a serious one. There have been worse in our
history, but this was one of the gravest; and never did a President
stand, so far as any one could see, so utterly alone. With his own
party silenced and even divided, with the opposition rampant, and with
popular excitement at fever heat, Washington was left to take his
course alone and unsupported. It was the severest trial of his
political life, but he met it, as he met the reverses of 1776,
calmly and without flinching. He was always glad to have advice and
suggestions. No man ever sought them or benefited from them more
than he; yet no man ever lived so little dependent on others and so
perfectly capable of standing alone as Washington. After the Senate
had acted, he made up his mind to conditional ratification. He
withheld his signature on hearing of the provision order, and was
ready to sign as soon as that order was withdrawn. Whether he would
make its withdrawal another condition of his signature he had not
determined when he left Philadelphia for Mount Vernon, and on his
arrival he wrote to Randolph: "The conditional ratification (if the
late order, which we have heard of, respecting provision vessels
is not in operation) may, on all fit occasions, be spoken of as my
determination. Unless, from anything you have heard or met with since
I left you, it should be thought more advisable to communicate further
with me on the subject, 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." He had already received the Boston resolutions,
and had sent them to his cabinet for their consideration. He did not
for a moment underrate their importance, and he saw that they were
the harbingers of others of like character, although he could not yet
estimate the full violence of the storm of popular disapprobation. On
July 28 he sent his answer to the selectmen of Boston, and it is such
an important paper that it must be given in full. It was as follows:--

UNITED STATES, _28th of July_, 1795.

GENTLEMEN: 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 confide that sudden impressions, and
erroneous, would yield to candid reflections; 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
13th inst.

Without 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
convictions 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
fully 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. With due respect, I am, etc.

It will be noticed that this letter is dated "The United States, 28th
of July," which is, I think, the only instance of the sort to be found
in his letters. In all his vast correspondence there possibly may be
other cases in which he used this method of dating, but one cannot
help feeling that on this occasion at least it had a particular
significance. It was not George Washington writing from Mount Vernon,
but the President, who represented the whole country, pointing out
to the people of Boston that the day of small things and of local
considerations had gone by. This letter served also as a model for
many others. The Boston address had a multitude of successors, and
they were all answered in the same strain. Washington was not a man to
underrate popular feeling, for he knew that the strongest bulwark of
the government was in sound public opinion. On the other hand, he
was one of the rare men who could distinguish between a temporary
excitement, no matter how universal, and an abiding sentiment. In this
case he quietly resisted the noisy popular demand, believing that the
sober second thought of the people would surely be with him; but at
the same time the outcry against the treaty, while it could not make
him waver in his determination to do what he believed to be right,
caused him deep anxiety. The day after he sent his answer to Boston he
wrote to Randolph:--

"I view the opposition 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.... To sum the whole up in a few words I have never,
since I have been in the administration of the government,
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."

He already felt that it might be necessary for him to return to
Philadelphia at any moment; and, writing to Randolph to this effect
two days later, he 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.
Nor 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 mean while, 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, 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 there 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

"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 promise 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 a 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.

"The form of the ratification requires more diplomatic experience
and legal knowledge than I possess, or have the means of acquiring
at this place, and therefore I shall say nothing about it."

Three days later, on August 3, he wrote again to Randolph to say that
the mails had been delayed, and that he had not received the Baltimore
resolutions. He then continued:--

"The like may be expected from Richmond, a meeting having been
had there also, at which Mr. Wythe, it is said, was seated as
moderator; by chance more than design, it is added. A queer chance
this for the chancellor of the state.

"All these things do not shake my determination with respect to
the proposed ratifications, nor will they, unless something more
imperious and unknown to me should, in the judgment of yourself
and the gentlemen with you, make it advisable for me to pause."

A few days later Washington was recalled by a letter from Randolph,
and also by a private note from Pickering, which said, mysteriously,
that there was a "special reason" for his immediate return. He had
been expecting to be recalled at any moment, and he now hastened to
Philadelphia, reaching there on August 11. He little dreamed, however,
of what had led his two secretaries, one ignorantly and the other
wittingly, to hasten his return. On the very day when he dated his
letter to the selectmen of Boston as from the United States, the
British minister placed in the hands of Mr. Wolcott, the Secretary of
the Treasury, an intercepted letter from Fauchet, the French minister,
to his own government. This dispatch, bearing the number 10, had come
into the possession of Mr. Hammond by a series of accidents; but the
British government and its representatives were quick to perceive that
the chances of the sea had thrown into their hands a prize of much
more value than many French merchantmen. The dispatch thus rescued
from the water, where its bearer had cast it, was filled with a long
and somewhat imaginative dissertation on political parties in the
United States, and with an account of the whiskey rebellion. It also
gave the substance of some conversations held by the writer with the
Secretary of State. This is not the place, nor would space serve, to
examine the details of this famous dispatch, with reference to the
American statesman whom it incriminated. On its face it showed that
Randolph had held conversations with the French minister which no
American Secretary of State ought to have held with any representative
of a foreign government, and it appeared further that the most obvious
interpretation of certain sentences, in view of the readiness of man
to think ill of his neighbor, was that Randolph had suggested corrupt
practices. Such was the document, implicating in a most serious way
the character of his chief cabinet officer, which Pickering and
Wolcott placed in Washington's hands on his arrival in Philadelphia.

Mr. Conway, in his biography of Randolph, devotes many pages to
explaining what now followed. His explanations show, certainly, a most
refined ingenuity, and form the most elaborate discussion of this
incident that has ever appeared. All this effort and ingenuity are
needless, however, unless the object be to prove that Randolph was
wholly without fault, which is an impossible task. There was
nothing complicated about the affair, and nothing strange about the
President's course, if we confine ourselves to the plain facts and the
order of their occurrence.

Before the treaty went to the Senate, Washington made up his mind to
sign it, and when the Senate ratified conditionally, he still adhered
to his former opinion. Then came the news of the provision order,
and thereupon he paused and withheld his signature, at the same time
ordering a memorial against the order to be prepared. But there is no
evidence whatever that he changed his mind, or that he had determined
to make his signature conditional upon the revocation of the order.
To argue that he had is, in fact, misrepresentation. In the letter
of July 22, on which so much stress was laid afterwards by Randolph,
Washington said that his intention to ratify conditionally was to be
announced, if the provision order was not in operation. Put in the
converse form, his intention was not to be announced if the order
was in operation; but this is very different from saying that his
intention had altered, and that he would not sign unless the order was
revoked. This last idea was Randolph's, but not Washington's. Indeed,
in the very next lines of the same letter he said expressly that his
opinion had not changed, that he did not like the treaty, but that
it was best to ratify. It is a fair inference, no doubt, that he
was considering whether he should change his intention and make his
signature conditional; but if this was the case, it is sure beyond a
peradventure that his original opinion was only confirmed as the days
went by.

He examined with the utmost care all the remonstrances and addresses
that were poured in upon him, and found few solid objections, and none
that he had not already weighed and disposed of. On July 31 he wrote
to Randolph that it was not to be inferred that he was disposed to
quit his ground unless more imperious circumstances than had yet come
to his knowledge should compel him to do so. The provision order was
of course within his knowledge, and therefore had not led him to
change his mind. On August 3 he wrote even more strongly that nothing
had come to his knowledge to shake his determination. In his letter to
Randolph of October 21, giving him full liberty to have and publish
everything he desired for his vindication, Washington said: "You
know that it was my determination to ratify before submission to the
Senate; that the doubts which arose proceeded from the provision
order." Doubts are mentioned here, and not changes of intention. If
he had changed his mind at any time he would have said so, for he was
neither timid nor dishonest, but as a matter of fact he never had
changed his mind. He came to Philadelphia with his mind made up to
ratify, and that being the case, it was clear that further delay would
be wrong and impolitic. The surest way to check the popular excitement
and rally the friends of the administration was to act. Suspense
fostered opposition more than ratification, for most people accept the
inevitable when the deed is done.

The Fauchet letter, therefore, although its revelations astounded and
grieved him, had no effect upon his action, which would have been the
same in any event; for he had said over and over again that he had not
changed his first opinion. In the letter to Randolph, just quoted,
he also said: "And finally you know the grounds on which my ultimate
decision was taken, as the same were expressed to you, the other
secretaries of departments, and the late attorney-general, after a
thorough investigation of the subject in all the aspects in which it
could be placed." As the Fauchet letter was not disclosed to Randolph
until after the treaty had been signed, it was impossible that it
should have been one of the grounds of the President's decision, for
Washington said to him, "You knew the grounds." If we are to suppose
that the Fauchet letter had anything to do with the ratification so
far as the President himself was concerned, we must, in the face of
this letter, set Washington down as a deliberate liar, which is so
wholly impossible that it disposes at once of the theory that he was
driven into signing by a clever British intrigue.

Here as elsewhere the simple and obvious explanation is the true one,
although the whole matter is sufficiently plain on the mere narration
of facts. The treaty was a great public question, to be decided on its
merits, and the only new point raised by the Fauchet dispatch was how
to deal with Randolph himself at this particular juncture. To have
shown the letter to him at once would have been to break the cabinet,
with the treaty unsigned. It would have resulted in much delay,
extending to weeks, unless the President was ready to have an acting
secretary sign both treaty and memorial; and it would have added
during the continued suspense a fresh subject of excitement to the
popular mind. Washington's duty plainly was to carry out his policy
and bring the matter to an immediate conclusion, and, as was his
custom, he did his duty. If, as Mr. Conway thinks, the Fauchet letter
was what compelled the ratification, Washington would have given it
to the world at once, and then, having by this means discredited the
opposition and roused a feeling against the French, would have signed
the treaty. England, of course, had taken advantage of this letter,
and equally of course her minister and his influence were against
Randolph, who was thought to be unfriendly. Hammond intrigued with our
public men just as all the French ministers did. It is humiliating
that such should have been the case, but it was due to our recent
escape from a colonial condition, and to the way in which we allowed
our politics to turn on foreign affairs. Having made up his mind to
ratify and end the question, Washington very properly kept silence
as to the Fauchet letter until the work was done. To do this, it was
necessary of course that he should make no change in his personal
attitude toward Randolph, nor was he obliged to do so, for he was too
just a man to assume Randolph's guilt until his defense had been made.
The ratification was brought before the cabinet at once. There was a
sharp discussion, in which it appeared that Randolph had advanced a
good deal in his hostility to the treaty, a fact not tending to make
the Fauchet business look better; and then ratification was voted, and
a memorial against the provision order was adopted. On August 18 the
treaty was signed, and on the 19th, Washington, in the presence of his
cabinet, placed the Fauchet letter in Randolph's hands. Randolph read
it, made some comments, and asked time to offer suitable explanations.
He then withdrew, and in a few hours sent in his resignation.

There would be no need, so far as Washington is concerned, to say more
on this unfortunate affair of the Secretary of State, were it not for
the recent statements made by Randolph's biographer. In order to clear
his hero, Mr. Conway represents that Washington, knowing Randolph to
be innocent, sacrificed him in great anguish of heart to an imperious
political necessity, while the fact was, that nobody sacrificed
Randolph except himself. He was represented in a dispatch written by
the French minister in a light which, as Washington said, gave rise to
strong suspicions; a moderate statement in which every candid man
who knew anything about the matter has agreed from that day to this.
According to Fauchet, Randolph not only had held conversations wholly
unbecoming his position, but on the same authority he was represented
to have asked for money. That the Secretary of State was corrupt, no
one who knew him, as Jefferson said, for one moment believed. Whether
he disposed of this charge or not, it was plain to his friends, as
it is to posterity, that Randolph was a perfectly honorable man. But
neither his own vindication nor that of his biographer have in the
least palliated or even touched the real error which he committed.

As Secretary of State, the head of the cabinet, and in charge of our
foreign relations, he had, according to Fauchet's dispatch and to his
own admissions, entered into relations with a foreign minister which
ought to have been as impossible as they were discreditable to an
American statesman. That Fauchet believed that Randolph deceived him
did not affect the merits of the case, nor, if true, did it excuse
Randolph, especially as everybody with whom he was brought into
close contact seems at some time or other to have had doubts of his
sincerity. As a matter of fact, Randolph could find no defense except
to attack Washington and discuss our foreign relations, and his
biographer has followed the same line. What was it then that
Washington had actually done which called for assault? He had been put
in possession of an official document which on its face implicated
his Secretary of State in the intrigues of a foreign minister, and
suggested that he was open to corruption. These were the views which
the public, having no personal knowledge of Randolph, would be sure to
take, and as a matter of fact actually took, when the affair became
known. There was a great international question to be settled, and
settled without delay. This was done in a week, during which time
Washington kept silent, as his public duty required. The moment the
treaty was signed he handed Fauchet's dispatch to Randolph and asked
for an explanation. None knew of the dispatch except the cabinet
officers, through whom it had necessarily come. Washington did not
prejudge the case; he did not dismiss Randolph with any mark of his
pleasure, as he would have been quite justified in doing. He simply
asked for explanation, and threw open his own correspondence and
the archives of the department, so that Randolph might have every
opportunity for defense. It is difficult to see how Washington could
have done less in dealing with Randolph, or in what way he could have
shown greater consideration.

Randolph resigned of his own motion, and then cried out against
Washington because he had been obliged to pay the penalty of his own
errors. When it is considered that Washington did absolutely nothing
to Randolph except to hand him Fauchet's dispatch and accept his
consequent resignation, the talk about Randolph's forgiving him
becomes simply ludicrous. Randolph saw his own error, was angry with
himself, and, like the rest of humanity, proceeded to vent his anger
on somebody else, but unfortunately he had the bad taste to turn at
the outset to the newspapers. Like Mr. Snodgrass, he took off his coat
in public and announced in a loud voice that he was going to begin.
The President's only response was to open the archives and bid him
publish everything he desired. Randolph then wrote the President a
private letter, which was angry and impertinent; "full of innuendoes,"
said the recipient. Washington drafted a sharp reply, and then out
of pure kindness withheld it, and let the private letter drop into
silence, whither the bulky "Vindication," which vindicated nobody,
soon followed it. The fact was, that Washington treated Randolph with
great kindness and forbearance. He had known him long; he was fond
of him on his own account as well as his father's; he appreciated
Randolph's talents; but he knew on reading that dispatch, if he had
never guessed it before, that Randolph, although honest and clever,
and certainly not bad, was a dangerously weak man. Others among
our public men had put themselves into relations with foreign
representatives which it is now intolerable to contemplate, but
Randolph, besides being found out at the moment, had, after the
fashion of weak natures, gone further and shown more feebleness than
any one else had. Washington's conduct was so perfectly simple, and
the facts of the case were so plain, that it would seem impossible to
complicate them. The contemporary verdict was harsh, crushing, and
unjust in many respects to Randolph. The verdict of posterity, which
is both gentler and fairer to the secretary, will certainly at the
same time sustain Washington's course at every point as sensible,
direct, and proper.

Only one question remains which demands a word before tracing briefly
the subsequent fate of the Jay treaty, and that is, to know exactly
why the President signed it. The answer is fortunately not difficult.
There was a choice of evils. When Washington determined to send a
special envoy, he said: "My objects are, to prevent a war, if justice
can be obtained by fair and strong representations (to be made by a
special envoy) of the injuries which this country has sustained from
Great Britain in various ways; to put it into a complete state
of military defense; and to provide eventually such measures for
execution as seem to be now pending in Congress, if negotiation in
a reasonable time proves unsuccessful." From these views he never
varied. The treaty was not a perfect one, but it had good features and
was probably, as has been said, the best that could then be obtained.
It settled some vexed questions, and it gave us time. If the United
States could only have time without making undue sacrifice, they could
pass beyond the stage when a foreign war with its consequent suffering
and debt would endanger our national existence. If they could only
have time to grow into a nation, there would be no difficulty in
settling all their disputes with other people satisfactorily, either
by war or negotiation. But if the national bonds were loosened, then
all was lost. It was in this spirit that Washington signed the Jay
treaty; and although there was much in it that he did not like,
and although men were bitterly divided about the ratification, a
dispassionate posterity has come to believe that he was right at the
most difficult if not the most perilous crisis in his career.

The signature of the treaty, however, did not put an end to the
attacks upon it, or upon the action of the Senate and the Executive.
Nevertheless, it turned the tide, and, as Washington foresaw, brought
out a strong movement in its favor. Hamilton began the work by the
publication of the letters of "Camillus." The opposition newspapers
sneered, but after Jefferson had read a few numbers he begged Madison
in alarm to answer them. His fears were well grounded, for the letters
were reprinted in newspapers throughout the country, and their
powerful and temperate arguments made converts and strengthened the
friends of the administration everywhere. The approaching surrender of
the posts gratified the western people when they at last stopped to
think about it. The obnoxious provision order was revoked, and the
traders and merchants found that security and commerce even under
unpleasant restrictions were a great deal better than the uncertainty
and the vexatious hostilities to which they had before been exposed.
Those who had been silent, although friendly to the policy of the
government, now began to meet in their turn and send addresses to
Congress; for in the House of Representatives the last battle was to
be fought.

That body came together under the impression of the agitation and
excitement which had been going on all through the summer. There was a
little wrangling at the opening over the terms to be employed in the
answer to the President's message, and then the House relapsed into
quiet, awaiting the formal announcement of the treaty. At last the
treaty arrived with the addition of the suspending article, and the
President proclaimed it to be the law of the land, and sent a copy to
the House. Livingston, of New York, at once moved a resolution, asking
the President to send in all the papers relating to the negotiation,
and boldly placed the motion on the ground that the House was vested
with a discretionary power as to carrying the treaty into execution.
On this principle the debate went on for three weeks, and then the
resolution passed by 62 to 37. A great constitutional question was
thus raised, for there was no pretense that the papers were really
needed, inasmuch as committees had seen them all, and they contained
practically nothing which was not already known.

Washington took the request into consideration, and asked his cabinet
whether the House had the right, as set forth in the resolutions, to
call for the papers, and if not, whether it was expedient to furnish
them. Both questions were unanimously answered in the negative. The
inquiry was largely formal, and Washington had no real doubts on the
point involved. He wrote to Hamilton: "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."
His only question was as to the method of resistance, and he finally
decided to refuse absolutely, and did so in a message setting forth
his reasons. He said that the intention of the constitutional
convention was known to him, and that they had intended to vest the
treaty-making power exclusively in the Executive and Senate. On
that principle he had acted, and in that belief foreign nations had
negotiated, and the House had hitherto acquiesced. He declared further
that the assent of the House was not necessary to the validity of
treaties; that they had all necessary information; and "as it is
essential to the due administration of the government that the
boundaries fixed by the Constitution should be preserved, a just
regard to the Constitution and to the duty of my office, under all the
circumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with your request."
The question was a difficult one, but there could be no doubt as to
Washington's opinion, and the weight of authority has sustained his
view. From the practical and political side there can be little
question that his position was extremely sound. In a letter to
Carrington he gave the reasons for his action, and no better statement
of the argument in a general way has ever been made. He wrote:--

"No candid man in the least degree acquainted with the progress
of this business will believe for a moment that the _ostensible_
dispute was about papers, or whether the British treaty was a good
one or a bad one, but whether there should be a treaty at all
without the concurrence of the House of Representatives. This
was striking at once, and that boldly, too, at the fundamental
principles of the Constitution; and, if it were established, would
render the treaty-making power not only a nullity, but such an
absolute absurdity as to reflect disgrace on the framers of it.
For will any one suppose that they who framed, or those who
adopted, that instrument ever intended to give the power to the
President and Senate to make treaties, and, declaring that when
made and ratified they should be the supreme law of the land,
would in the same breath place it in the power of the House of
Representatives to fix their vote on them, unless apparent marks
of fraud or corruption (which in equity would set aside any
contract) accompanied the measure, or such striking evidence of
national injury attended their adoption as to make a war or any
other evil preferable? Every unbiased mind will answer in the

"What the source and what the object of all this struggle is, I
submit to my fellow-citizens. Charity would lead me to hope that
the motives to it would be pure. Suspicions, however, speak
a different language, and my tongue for the present shall be

No man who has ever held high office in this country had a more real
deference for the popular will than Washington. But he also had always
a keen sensitiveness to the dignity and the prerogatives of the office
which he happened to hold, whether it was that of president or general
of the armies. This arose from no personal feeling, for he was too
great a man ever to worry about his own dignity; but he esteemed the
great offices to which he was called to be trusts, which were to
suffer no injury while in his hands. He regarded the attempt of the
House of Representatives to demand the papers as a matter of right
as an encroachment on the rights of the Executive Department, and he
therefore resisted it at once, and after his usual fashion left no one
in any doubt as to his views. So far as the President was concerned,
the struggle ended here; but it was continued for some time longer in
the House, where the debate went on for a fortnight, with the hostile
majority surely and steadily declining. The current out-doors ran more
and more strongly every day in favor of the administration, until
at last the contest ended with Ames's great speech, and then the
resolution to carry out the treaty prevailed. Washington's policy had
triumphed, and was accepted by the country.

The Jay treaty and its ratification had, however, other results
than mere domestic conflicts. Spain, acting under French influence,
threatened to rescind the Pinckney treaty which had just been made
so advantageously to the United States; but, like most Spanish
performances at that time, these threats evaporated in words, and the
Mississippi remained open. With France, however, the case was very
different. Our demand for the recall of Genet had been met by a
counter-demand for the recall of Morris, to which, of course, we were
obliged to accede, and the question as to the latter's successor was
a difficult and important one. Washington himself had been perfectly
satisfied with the conduct of Morris, but he was also aware that the
known dislike of that brilliant diplomatist to the revolutionary
methods then dominant in Paris had seriously complicated our relations
with France. He wished by all fair means to keep France in good humor,
and he therefore determined that Morris's successor should be a man
whose friendship toward the French republic was well known. His first
choice was Madison, which would have answered admirably, for Madison
was preeminently a safe man. Very unluckily, however, Madison either
could not or would not go, and the President's final choice was by no
means equally good.

It was, of course, most desirable that the new minister should be
_persona grata_ to the republic, but it was vastly more important that
he should be in cordial sympathy with the administration at home,
for no administration ought ever to select for a foreign mission,
especially at a critical moment, any one outside the ranks of its own
supporters. This was the mistake which Washington, from the best of
motives, now committed by appointing James Monroe to be minister to
France. It is one of the puzzles of our history to reconcile the
respectable and common-place gentleman, who for two terms as President
of the United States had less opposition than ever fell to the lot
of any other man in that office, with the violent, unscrupulous, and
extremely light-headed politician who figured as senator from Virginia
and minister to France at the close of the last century. Monroe at
the time of his appointment had distinguished himself chiefly by his
extreme opposition to the administration, and by his intrigues against
Hamilton, which were so dishonestly conducted that they ultimately
compelled the publication of the "Reynolds Pamphlet," a sore trial to
its author, and a lasting blot on the fame of the enemy who made the
publication necessary. From such a man loyalty to the President who
appointed him was hardly to be expected. But there was no reason
to suppose that he would lose his head, and forget that he was an
American, and not a French citizen.

Monroe reached Paris in the summer of 1794. He was publicly received
by the Convention, made an undignified and florid speech, received
the national embrace from the president of the Convention, and then
effected an exchange of flags with more embracings and addresses.
But when he came to ask redress for the wrongs committed against our
merchants, he got no satisfaction. So far as he was concerned, this
appears to have been a matter of indifference, for he at once occupied
himself with the French proposition that we should lend France five
millions of dollars, and France in return was to see to it that we
obtained control of the Spanish possessions in North America. Monroe
fell in with this precious scheme to make the United States a
dependency of France, and received as a reward vast promises as to
what the great republic would do for us. Meantime he regarded with
suspicion Jay's movements in England, and endeavored to obtain
information, if not control, of that negotiation. In this he
completely failed; but he led the French government to believe, first,
that the English treaty would not be made, then that it would not be
ratified, and finally that the House would not make the appropriations
necessary to carry it into effect; and all the time he was
compromising his own government by his absurd efforts to involve it in
an offensive alliance with France. The upshot of it all was that he
was disowned at home, discredited in France, and brought our relations
with that nation into a state of dangerous complication, without
obtaining any redress for our injuries.

Washington at first, little as he liked the theatrical performances
with which Monroe opened his mission, wrote about him with great
moderation to Jay, who was naturally much annoyed by the manner in
which Monroe had tried to interfere with his negotiations. Six months
later, however, Washington saw only too plainly that he had been
mistaken in his minister to France. He wrote to Randolph on July 24,
1795: "The conduct of Mr. Monroe is of a piece with that of the other;
and one can scarcely forbear thinking that these acts are part of a
premeditated system to embarrass the executive government." When it
became clear that Monroe had omitted to explain properly our reasons
for treating with England, that he had held out hopes to the French
government which were totally unauthorized, that he had brought on a
renewal of the hostilities of that government, and that he had placed
us in all ways in the most unenviable light, Washington recalled him,
and appointed Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in his place. By this time
too he was thoroughly disgusted with Monroe's performances, and in his
letter to Pinckney, on July 8, 1796, offering him the appointment to
Paris, he said: "It is a fact too notorious to be denied that the
greatest embarrassments under which the administration of this
government labors proceed from the counter-action of people among
ourselves, who are more disposed to promote the views of another
nation than to establish a national character of their own; and that,
unless the virtuous and independent men of this country will come
forward, it is not difficult to predict the consequences. Such is my
decided opinion." He felt, as he wrote to Hamilton at the close of his
administration, that "the conduct of France towards this country is,
according to my ideas of it, outrageous beyond conception; not to
be warranted by her treaty with us, by the law of nations, by any
principle of justice, or even by a regard to decent appearances." This
was after we had begun to reap the humiliations which Monroe's folly
had prepared for us, and it is easy to understand that Washington
regarded their author with anything but satisfaction or approval.

The culprit himself took a very different view, came home presently
in great wrath, and proceeded to pose as a martyr and compile
a vindication, which he entitled "A View of the Conduct of the
Executive," and which surpassed in bulk any of the vindications in
which that period of our history was prolific. It was published after
Washington had retired to private life, and did not much disturb his
serenity. In a letter to Nicholas, on March 8, 1798, he said: "If the
executive is chargeable with 'premeditating the destruction of Mr.
Monroe in his appointment, because he was the _centre_ around which
the Republican party rallied in the Senate' (a circumstance quite new
to me), it is to be hoped he will give it credit for its lenity toward
that gentleman in having designated several others, not of the Senate,
as victims to this office _before_ the sacrifice of Mr. Monroe was
even had in contemplation. As this must be some consolation to him and
his friends, I hope they will embrace it."

Washington apparently did not think Monroe was worthy of anything more
serious than a little sarcasm, and he was quite content, as he said,
to leave the book to the tribunal to which the author himself had
appealed. He read the book, however, with care, and in his methodical
way he appended a number of notes, which are worth consideration
by all persons interested in the character of Washington. They are
especially to be commended to those who think that he was merely good
and wise and solemn, for it would be difficult to find a better piece
of destructive criticism, or a more ready and thorough knowledge of
complicated foreign relations, than are contained in these brief
notes. His own opinion of Monroe is concisely stated in one of them.
Referring to one of that gentleman's statements he said: "For this
there is no better proof than his own opinion; whilst there is
abundant evidence of his being a mere tool in the hands of the French
government, cajoled and led away always by unmeaning assurances of
friendship." With this brief comment we may leave the Monroe incident.
His appointment was a mistake, and increased existing complications,
which were not finally settled until the next administration.

Monroe's recall was the last act, however, in the long contest of the
Jay treaty, and it was also, as it happened, the last important act in
Washington's foreign policy. That policy has been traced here in its
various branches, but it is worth while to look at it as a whole
before leaving it, in order to see just what the President aimed at
and just what he effected. The guiding principle, which had been with
him from the day when he took command of the army at Cambridge, was to
make the United States independent. The war had achieved this so far
as our connection with England was concerned, but it still remained to
prove to the world that we were an independent nation in fact as well
as in name. For this the neutrality policy was adopted and carried
out. We were not only to cease from dependence on the nations of
Europe, but we were to go on our own way with a policy of our own
wholly apart from them. It was also necessary to lift up our own
politics, to detach our minds from those of other nations, and to make
us truly Americans. All this Washington's policy did so far as it was
possible to do it in the time given to him. A new generation had to
come upon the stage before our politics were finally taken out of
colonialism and made national and American, but the idea was that
of the first President. It was the foresight and the courage of
Washington which at the outset placed the United States in their
relations with foreign nations on the ground of a firm, independent,
and American policy.

His foreign policy had, however, some immediate practical results
which were of vast importance. In December, 1795, he wrote to Morris:
"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 to be independent of, all the nations of the earth; to share
in the broils of none; to fulfill 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 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 cause
to any power whatever; such in that time would be its population,
wealth, and resources."

He wanted time, but he wanted space also for his country; and if we
look for a moment at the results of his foreign policy we see clearly
how he got both. The time gained by peace without any humiliating
concessions is plain enough. If we look a little further and a little
deeper, we can see how he compassed his other object. The true and the
first mission of the American people was, in Washington's theory, the
conquest of the continent which stretched away wild and silent behind
them, for in that direction lay the sure road to national greatness.
The first step was to bind by interest, trade, and habit of
communication the Atlantic States with the settlements beyond the
mountains, and for this he had planned canals and highways in the days
of the confederation. The next step was to remove every obstacle which
fettered the march of American settlement; and for this he rolled
back the Indian tribes, patiently negotiated with Spain until the
Mississippi was opened, and at great personal sacrifice and trial
signed the Jay treaty, and obtained the surrender of the British
posts. When Washington went out of office, the way was open to the
western movement; the dangers of disintegration by reason of foreign
intrigues on the frontier were removed; peace had been maintained; and
the national sentiment had had opportunity for rapid growth. France
had discovered that, although she had been our ally, we were not her
dependants; other nations had been brought to perceive that the United
States meant to have a foreign policy all its own; and the American
people were taught that their first duty was to be Americans and
nothing else. There is no need to comment on or to praise the
greatness of a policy with such objects and results as these. The mere
summary is enough, and it speaks for itself and for its author in a
way which makes words needless.



Washington was not chosen to office by a political party; he
considered parties to be perilous things, and he entered the
presidency determined to have nothing to do with them. Yet, as has
already been pointed out, he took the members of his cabinet entirely
from one of the two parties which then existed, and which had been
produced by the divisions over the Constitution and its adoption. To
this charge he would no doubt have replied that the parties caused
by the constitutional differences had ceased to exist when that
instrument went into operation, and that it was to be supposed that
all men were then united in support of the government. Accepting this
view of it, it only remains to see how he fared when new and purely
political parties, as was inevitable, sprang into active life.

Whatever his own opinions may have been as to parties and
party-strife, Washington was under no delusions in regard either to
human nature or to himself, and he had no expectation that everything
he said or did would meet with universal approbation. He well knew
that there would be dissatisfaction, and no man ever took high office
with a mind more ready to bear criticism and to profit by it. Three
months after his inauguration he wrote to his friend David Stuart:
"I should like to be informed of the public opinion of both men and
measures, and of none more than myself; not so much of what may be
thought commendable parts, if any, of my conduct, as of those which
are conceived to be of a different complexion. The man who means to
commit no wrong will never be guilty of enormities; consequently he
can never be unwilling to learn what are ascribed to him as foibles.
If they are really such, the knowledge of them in a well-disposed mind
will go half-way towards a reform. If they are not errors, he can
explain and justify the motives of his actions." This readiness
to hear criticism and this watching of public opinion were
characteristic, for his one desire was to know the truth and never
deceive himself. His journey through New England in the autumn of that
year, his visit to Rhode Island a year later, and his trip through the
southern States in the spring of 1791, had a double motive. He wished
to bring home to the people the existence and the character of the new
government by his appearance among them as its representative; and he
desired also to learn from his own observation, and from inquiries
made on the spot, what the people thought of the administration and
its policies, and of the doings of Congress. He was a keen observer
and a good gatherer of information; for he was patient and persistent,
and had that best of all gifts for getting at public opinion, an
absolute and cheerful readiness to listen to advice from any one. His
travels all had the same result. In the South as in New England he
found that the people were pleased with the new government, and
contented with the prosperity which began at once to flow from the
adoption of a stable national system.

More credit, if anything, was given to it than it really deserved;
for, as he had written to Lafayette before the Constitution went into
effect, "Many blessings will be attributed to our new government which
are now taking their rise from that industry and frugality into which
the people have been forced from necessity." Whether this were true or
not, the new government was entitled to the benefit of all accidents,
and Washington's correct conclusion was that the great body of the
people were heartily with him and his administration. But he was
also quite aware that all the criticism was not friendly, and as
the measures of the government one by one passed Congress, he saw
divisions of sentiment appear, slight at first, but deepening and
hardening with each successive contest. Indeed, he had not been in
office a year when he wrote a long letter to Stuart deploring the
sectionalism which had begun to show itself. The South was complaining
that everything was done in the interest of the northern and eastern
States, and against this idea Washington argued with great force. He
was especially severe on the unreasonable and childish character of
such grievances, and he attributed the feeling in certain States
largely to the outcries of persons who had come home disappointed
in some personal matter from the seat of government. "It is to be
lamented," he said, "that the editors of the different gazettes in the
Union do not more generally and more correctly (instead of stuffing
their papers with scurrility and nonsensical declamation, which few
would read if they were apprised of the contents) publish the debates
in Congress on all great national questions. And this, with no
uncommon pains, every one of them might do." Washington evidently
believed that there was no serious danger of the people going wrong
if they were only fully informed. But the able editors of that day no
doubt felt that they and their correspondents were better fitted to
enlighten the public than any one else could be, and there is no
evidence that any of them ever followed the President's suggestion.

The jealousies and the divisions in Congress, which Washington watched
with hearty dislike on account of their sectional character, began, as
is well known, with the financial measures of the Treasury. As time
went on they became steadily more marked and better defined, and at
last they spread to the cabinet. Jefferson had returned to take his
place as Secretary of State after an absence of many years, and
during that time he had necessarily dropped out of the course of
home politics. He came back with a very moderate liking for the
Constitution, and an intention undoubtedly to do his best as a member
of the cabinet. His first and most natural impulse, of course, was
to fall in with the administration of which he was a part; and so
completely did he do this that it was at his table that the famous
bargain was made which assumed the state debts and took the capital to
the banks of the Potomac.

Exactly what led to the first breach between Jefferson and Hamilton,
whose financial policy was then in the full tide of success, is not
now very easy to determine. Jefferson's action was probably due to a
mixture of motives and a variety of causes, as is generally the case
with men, even when they are founders of the democratic party. In the
first place, Jefferson very soon discovered that Hamilton was
looked upon as the leader in the cabinet and in the policies of the
administration, and this fact excited a very natural jealousy on his
part, because he was the official head of the President's advisers.
In the second place, it was inevitable that Jefferson should dislike
Hamilton, for there never were two men more unlike in character and in
their ways of looking at things. Hamilton was bold, direct, imperious,
and masculine; he went straight to his mark, and if he encountered
opposition he either rode over it or broke it down. When Jefferson
met with opposition he went round it or undermined it; he was adroit,
flexible, and extremely averse to open fighting. There was also good
ground for a genuine difference of opinion between the two secretaries
in regard to the policy of the government. Jefferson was a thorough
representative of the great democratic movement of the time. At bottom
his democracy was of the sensible, practical American type, but he
had come home badly bitten by many of the wild notions which at that
moment pervaded Paris. A man of much less insight than Jefferson would
have had no difficulty in perceiving that Hamilton and his
friends were not in sympathy with these ideas. They hoped for the
establishment of a republic, but they desired for it a highly
energetic and centralized government not devoid of aristocratic
tendencies. This fundamental difference of opinion, increased as it
was by personal jealousies, soon put Jefferson, therefore, into an
attitude of hostility to the men who were then guiding the policy of
the government. The new administration had been so successful that
there was at first practically no party of opposition, and the task
before Jefferson involved the creation of a party, the formulation of
principles, and the definition of issues, with appropriate shibboleths
for popular consumption. Jefferson knew that Hamilton and all who
fought with him were as sincerely in favor of a republic as he himself
was; but his unerring genius in political management told him that he
could never raise a party or make a party-cry out of the statement
that, while he favored a democratic republic, the men to whom he was
opposed preferred one of a more aristocratic caste. It was necessary
to have something much more highly seasoned than this. So he took the
ground that his opponents were monarchists, bent on establishing a
monarchy in this country, and were backed by a "corrupt squadron"
in Congress in the pay of the Treasury. This was of course utter
nonsense, but it served its purpose admirably. Jefferson, indeed,
shouted these cries so much that he almost came to believe in them
himself, and sympathetic writers to this day repeat them as if they
had reality instead of having been mere noise to frighten the unwary.
The prime object of it all was to make the great leaders odious by
connecting them in the popular mind with the royal government that had
been overthrown.

Jefferson's first move was a covert one. In the spring of 1791 he
received Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man," and straightway sent the
pamphlet to the printer with a note of approbation reflecting upon
John Adams. The pamphlet promptly appeared in a reprint with the
note prefixed. It made much stir, and the published approval of the
Secretary of State excited a great deal of criticism, much of which
was very hostile. Jefferson thereupon expressed extreme surprise that
his note had been printed, and on the plea of explaining the matter
wrote to Washington a letter, in which he declared that his friend
Mr. Adams, for whom he had a most cordial esteem, was an apostate to
hereditary monarchy and nobility. He further described his old friend
as a political heretic and as the bellwether Davila, upon whom and
whose writings Mr. Adams had recently been publishing some discourses.
It is but fair to say that no more ingenious attack on the
Vice-President could have been made, but the purpose of it was simply
to arrest the public attention for the real struggle which was to

The true object of all these movements was to rally a party and break
down Jefferson's great colleague in the cabinet. The "Rights of Man"
served to start the discussion; and the next step was to bring on from
New York Philip Freneau, a verse-writer and journalist, and make him
translating clerk in the State Department, and editor of an opposition
newspaper known as the "National Gazette." The new journal proceeded
to do its work after the fashion of the time. It teemed with abuse
not only of Hamilton and Adams and all the supporters of the treasury
measures, denouncing them as "monarchists," "aristocrats," and "a
corrupt squadron," but it even began a series of coarse assaults
upon the President himself. Jefferson, of course, denied that he had
anything to do with the writing in the newspaper, and Freneau made
oath at the time that the Secretary wrote nothing; but in his old age
he declared that Jefferson wrote or dictated all the most abusive
articles, and he showed a file of the "Gazette" with these articles
marked. Strict veracity was not the strongest characteristic of either
Freneau or Jefferson, and it is really of but little consequence
whether Freneau was lying in his old age or in the prime of life. The
undoubted facts of the case are enough to fix the responsibility upon
Jefferson, where it belongs. The editor of a newspaper devoted
to abusing the administration was brought to Philadelphia by the
Secretary of State, was given a place in his department, and was his
confidential friend. Jefferson himself took advantage of his
position to gather material for attacks upon his chief, and upon his
colleagues, to whom he was bound to be loyal by every rule which
dictates the conduct of honorable men. He did not, moreover, content
himself with this outside work. It has been too much overlooked that
Jefferson, in addition to forming a party and organizing attacks upon
the Secretary of the Treasury and his friends, sought in the first
instance to break down Hamilton in the cabinet, to deprive him of the
confidence of Washington, and by driving him from the administration
to get control himself. At no time did Jefferson ever understand
Washington, but he knew him well enough to be quite aware that he
would never give up a friend like Hamilton on account of any newspaper
attacks. He therefore took a more insidious method.

Knowing that Washington was in the habit of consulting with old
friends at home of all shades of opinion in regard to public affairs,
he contrived through their agency to have his own charges against
Hamilton laid before the President. He also, to make perfectly sure,
wrote himself to Washington, candidly setting forth outside criticism,
and his letter took the form of a well-arranged indictment of the
Treasury measures. This method had the advantage of assailing Hamilton
without incurring any responsibility, and the charges were skilfully
formulated and ingeniously constructed to raise in the mind of the
reader every possible suspicion. At this point Washington comes for
the first time into the famous controversy from which our two great
political parties were born. He did exactly what Jefferson would not
have done, sent the charges all duly formulated to Hamilton, and asked
him his opinion about them. As the accusations thus made against the
policies of the government and the Secretary of the Treasury were all
mere wind of the "monarchist" and "corrupt squadron" order, Hamilton
disposed of them with very little difficulty. The whole proceeding,
if Jefferson was aware of it at the time, must have been a great
disappointment to him. But his mistake was the natural error of an
ingenious man wasting his efforts on one of great directness and
perfect simplicity of character. Hamilton's answer was what Washington
undoubtedly expected. He knew the hollowness of the attack, but none
the less he was made anxious by it as an indication of the serious
party divisions rising about him. This, however, was but the
beginning, and he was soon to have much more direct evidence of the
grave nature of a political conflict, which he then could not bring
himself to believe was irrepressible.

Hamilton, on his side, was not the most patient of men, and although
he bore the attacks of Frenean for some time in silence he finally
retaliated. He did not get any one to do his fighting for him, but
under a thin disguise proceeded to answer in Fenno's newspaper the
abuse of the "National Gazette." He was the best political writer in
the country, and when he struck, his blows told. Jefferson winced and
cried out under the punishment, but it would have been more dignified
in Hamilton to have kept out of the newspapers. Still there was the
fight. It had gone from the cabinet to the press, and the public knew
that the two principal secretaries were at swords' points and were
marshaling behind them strong political forces. The point had been
reached where the President was compelled to interfere unless he
wished his administration to be thoroughly discredited by the bitter
and open conflicts of its members.

He wrote to both secretaries in a grave and almost pathetic tone of
remonstrance, urging them to abandon their quarrel, and, sinking minor
differences, to work with him for the success of the Constitution to
which they were both devoted. Each man replied after his fashion.
Hamilton's letter was short and straight-forward. He could not profess
to have changed his opinion as to the conduct or purpose of his
colleague, but he regretted the strife which had arisen, and promised
to do all that was in his power to allay it by ceasing from further
attacks. Jefferson wrote at great length, controverting Hamilton's
published letters in a way which showed that he was still smarting
from the well-aimed shafts. He also contrived to make his own defense
the vehicle for a renewal of all his accusations against the Treasury,
and he wound up by saying that he looked forward to retirement with
the longing of "a wave-worn mariner," and that he should reserve any
further fighting that he had to do until he was out of office. Soon
after he followed this letter with another, containing a collection
of extracts from his own correspondence while in Paris, to show his
devotion to the Constitution. One is irresistibly reminded by all
this of the Player Queen--"The lady protests too much, methinks."
Washington had not accused Jefferson of lack of loyalty to the
Constitution, indeed he had made no accusations against him of any
kind; but Jefferson knew that his own position was a false one, and
he could not refrain from taking a defensive tone. Washington, in his
reply, said that he needed no proofs of Jefferson's fidelity to the
Constitution, and reiterated his earnest desire for an accommodation
of all differences. "I will frankly and solemnly declare," he said,
"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.... 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."

The difficulty was that there was not only discordance in the views of
the two secretaries, but a fundamental political difference, extending
throughout the people, which they typified. The accommodation of views
and the support of the Constitution could only mean a support of
Washington's administration and its measures. Those measures not
only had the President's approval, but they were in many respects
peculiarly his own, and in them he rightly saw the success and
maintenance of the Constitution. But, unfortunately for the interests
of harmony, these measures were either devised or ardently sustained
by the Secretary of the Treasury. They were not the measures of the
Secretary of State, and received from him either lukewarm support
or active, if furtive, hostility. The only peace possible was in
Jefferson's giving in his entire adherence to the policies of
Washington and Hamilton, which were radically opposed to his own. In
one word, a real, profound, and inevitable party division had come,
and it had found the opposing chiefs side by side in the cabinet.

Against this conclusion Washington struggled hard. He had come in as
the representative and by the votes of the whole people, and he shrank
from any step which would seem to make him lean on a party for support
in his administration. He had made up his cabinet with what he very
justly considered the strongest material. He believed that a breaking
up of the cabinet or a change in its membership would be an injury to
the cause of good government, and he was so entirely single-minded
in his own views and wishes, that, with all his knowledge of human
nature, he found it difficult to understand how any one could differ
from him materially. Moreover, having started with the firm intention
of governing without party, he determined, with his usual persistence,
to carry it through, if it were possible. When party feeling had
once developed, and division had sprung up between the two principal
officers of his cabinet, no greater risk could have been run than
that which Washington took in refusing to make the changes which were
necessary to render the administration harmonious. With any lesser
man, such a perilous experiment would have failed and brought with it
disastrous consequences. There is no greater proof of the force of his
will and the weight and strength of his character than the fact that
he held in his cabinet Jefferson and Hamilton, despite their hatred
for each other and each other's principles, and that he not only
prevented any harm, but actually drew great results from the
talents of each of them. Yet, with all his strength of grasp, this
ill-assorted combination could not last, although Washington resisted
the inevitable in a surprising way, and he even begged Jefferson to
remain when the impossibility of doing so had become quite clear to
that gentleman.

The remonstrance in regard to the Freneau matter had but a temporary
effect. Hamilton stopped his attacks, it is true; but Jefferson did
not discontinue his, and he set on foot a movement which was designed
to destroy his rival's public and private reputation. Hamilton met
this attack in Congress, where he refuted it signally; and although
the ostensible movers were members of the House, the defeat recoiled
on the Secretary of State. Having failed in Congress and before the
public to ruin his opponent, and having failed equally to shake
Washington's confidence in Hamilton or the latter's influence in the
administration, Jefferson made up his mind that the cabinet was no
longer the place for him. He became more than ever satisfied that
he was a "wave-worn mariner," and after some hesitation he finally
resigned and transferred his political operations to another field. A
year later Hamilton, from very different reasons of a purely private
character, followed him.

Meantime many events had occurred which all tended to show the growing
intensity of party divisions, and which were not without their effect
upon the mind of the President. In 1792 it became necessary to
consider the question of the approaching election, and all elements
united in urging upon Washington the absolute necessity of accepting
the presidency a second time. Hamilton and the Federalists, of course,
desired Washington's reelection, because they regarded him as their
leader, as the friend and supporter of their measures, and as the
great bulwark of the government. Jefferson, who was equally urgent,
felt that in the unformed condition of his own party the withdrawal of
Washington, in addition to its injury to the general welfare,
would leave his incoherent forces at the mercy of an avowed and
thorough-going Federalist administration.

So it came about that Washington received another unanimous election.
He had no great longing for public office, but at this time he seems
to have been not without a desire to continue President, in order that
he might carry his measures to completion. In the unanimity of the
choice he took a perfectly natural pleasure, for besides the personal
satisfaction, he could not but feel that it greatly strengthened his
hands in doing the work which he had at heart. On January 20, 1793,
he wrote to Henry Lee: "A mind must be insensible, indeed, not to be
gratefully impressed by so distinguished and honorable a testimony of
public approbation and confidence; and as I suffered my name to be
contemplated on this occasion, it is more than probable that I should,
for a moment, have experienced chagrin if my reelection had not been
by a pretty respectable vote. But to say I feel pleasure from the
prospect of commencing another tour of duty would be a departure from
the truth." Some time was still to pass before Washington, either by
word or deed, would acknowledge himself to be the chief or even a
member of a party; but before he entered the presidency a second time,
he had no manner of doubt that a party existed which was opposed to
him and to all his measures.

The establishment of the government and the treasury measures had
very quickly rallied a strong party, which kept the name that it had
adopted while fighting the battles of the Constitution. They were
known in their own day, and have been known ever since to history, as
the Federalists. The opposition, composed chiefly of those who had
resisted the adoption of the Constitution, were discredited at the
very start by the success of the union and the new government. When
Jefferson took hold of them they were disorganized and even nameless,
having no better appellation than that of "Anti-Federalists." In
the process of time their great chief gave them a name, a set of
principles, a war-cry, an organization, and at last an overwhelming
victory. They began to take on something like form and coherence in
resisting Hamilton's financial measures; but the success of his policy
was so dazzling that they were rather cowed by it, and were left by
their defeat little better off in the way of discipline than before.
The French Revolution and its consequences, including a war with
England, gave them a much better opportunity. It is melancholy to
think that American parties should have entered upon their first
struggle purely on questions of foreign politics. The only explanation
is to repeat that we were still colonists in all but name and
allegiance, and it was Washington's task not only to establish a
dignified and independent policy of his own abroad, but to beat down
colonial politics at home.

In the first burst of rejoicing over the uprising of the French
people, no divisions were apparent; but the arrival of Genet was the
signal for their beginning. The extraordinary spectacle was then
presented of an American party arrayed against the administration
under the lead of the French minister, and with the strong, although
covert sympathy of the Secretary of State. The popular feeling in fact
was so strongly with France that the new party seemed on the
surface to have almost universal support. The firm attitude of the
administration and Washington's unyielding adherence to his policy of
neutrality gave them their first serious check, but also embittered
their attacks. In the first three years of the government almost every
one refrained from attacking Washington personally. The unlimited love
and respect in which he was held were the principal causes of this
moderation, but even those opponents who were not influenced by
feelings of respect were restrained by a wholesome prudence from
bringing upon themselves the odium of being enemies of the President.

The fiction that the king could do no wrong was carried to the last
extreme by the Long Parliament when they made war on Charles in order
to remove him from evil counselors. It was, no doubt, the exercise of
a wise conservatism in that instance; but in the United States, and
in the ordinary condition of politics, such a position was of course
untenable. The President was responsible for his cabinet and for the
measures of his administration, and it was impossible to separate them
long, even when the chief magistrate was so great and so well-beloved
as Washington. Freneau, editing his newspaper from the office of the
Secretary of State, seems to have been the first to break the line. He
passed speedily from attacks on measures to attacks on men, and among
the latter he soon included the President. Washington had had too much
experience of slander and abuse during the revolutionary war to be
worried by them. But Freneau took pains to send him copies of his
newspapers, a piece of impertinence which apparently led to a little
vigorous denunciation, the account of which seems probable, although
our only authority is in Jefferson's "Ana." As the attacks went on and
were extended, and when Bache joined in with the "Aurora," Washington
was not long in coming to the unpleasant conclusion that all this
opposition proceeded from a well-formed plan, and was the work of
a party which designed to break down his measures and ruin his
administration. All statesmen intrusted in a representative system
with the work of government are naturally prone to think that their
opponents are also the enemies of the public welfare, and Washington
was no exception to the rule. Such an opinion is indeed unavoidable,
for a public man must have faith that his own measures are the best
for the country, and if he did not, he would be but a faint-hearted
representative, unfit to govern and unable to lead. History has agreed
with Washington in his view of the work of his administration, and has
set it down as essential to the right and successful foundation of the
government. It is not to be wondered at that at the moment Washington
should regard a party swayed by the French minister and seeking to
involve us in war as unpatriotic and dangerous. He even thought that
one probable solution of Genet's conduct was that he was the tool and
not the leader of the party which sustained him. In fact, his general
view of the opposition was marked by that perfect clearness which was
characteristic of all his opinions when he had fully formed them. In
July, 1793, he wrote to Henry Lee:--

"That there are in this as well as in all other countries,
discontented characters, I well know; as also that these characters
are actuated by very different views: some good, from an opinion that
the general measures of the government are impure; some bad, and, if I
might be allowed to use so harsh an expression, diabolical, inasmuch
as they are not only meant to impede the measures of that government
generally, but more especially, as a great means toward the
accomplishment of it, to destroy the confidence which it is necessary
for the people to place, until they have unequivocal proof of demerit,
in their public servants. In this light I consider myself whilst I
am an occupant of office; and if they were to go further and call me
their slave during this period, I would not dispute the point.

"But in what will this abuse terminate? For the result, as it respects
myself, I care not; for I have a consolation within that no earthly
efforts can deprive me of, and that is, that neither ambition
nor interested motives have influenced my conduct. The arrows of
malevolence, therefore, however barbed and well pointed, never can
reach the most vulnerable part 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 are 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."

He was not much given, however, to talking about his assailants. If he
said anything, it was usually only in the way of contemptuous sarcasm,
as when he wrote to Morris: "The affairs of this country _cannot go
amiss_. There are _so many watchful guardians of them_, and such
_infallible guides_, that one is at no loss for a director at every
turn. But of these matters I shall say little." If these attacks had
any effect on him, it was only to make him more determined in carrying
out his purposes. In the first skirmish, which ended in the recall
of Genet, he not only prevailed, but the French minister's audacity
especially in venturing to appeal to the people against their
President, demoralized the opposition and brought public opinion round
to the side of the administration with an overwhelming force.

Genet's mischief, however, did not end with him. He had sown the seeds
of many troubles, and among others the idea of societies on the model
of the famous Jacobin Club of Paris. That American citizens should
have so little self-respect as to borrow the political jargon and ape
the political manners of Paris was sad enough. To put on red caps,
drink confusion to tyrants, sing _Ca ira_, and call each other
"citizen," was foolish to the verge of idiocy, but it was at least
harmless. When, however, they began to form "democratic societies"
on the model of the Jacobins, for the defense of liberty against a
government which the people themselves had made, they ceased to be
fatuous and became mischievous. These societies, senseless imitations
of French examples, and having no real cause to defend liberty, became
simply party organizations, with a strong tendency to foster license
and disorder. Washington regarded them with unmixed disgust, for he
attributed to them the agitation and discontent of the settlers beyond
the mountains, which threatened to embroil us with Spain, and he
believed also that the much more serious matter of the whiskey
rebellion was their doing. After having exhausted every reasonable
means of concession and compromise, and having concentrated the best
public opinion of the country behind him, he resolved to put down this
"rebellion" with a strong hand, and he wrote to Henry Lee, just as
he was preparing to take the last step: "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
or otherwise, to attack the general government; and even among these
there is not a spirit hardy enough yet openly to justify the daring
infractions of law and order; but by palliatives they are attempting
to suspend all proceedings against the insurgents, until Congress
shall have decided on the case, thereby intending to gain time, and,
if possible, to make the evil more extensive, more formidable, and, of
course, more difficult to counteract and subdue.

"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."

The insurrection vanished on the advance of the forces of the United
States. It had been formidable enough to alarm all conservative
people, and its inglorious end left the opposition, which had given it
a certain encouragement, much discredited. This matter being settled,
Washington determined to strike next at what he considered the chief
sources of the evil, the clubs, which, to use his own words, "were
instituted for the express purpose of poisoning the minds of the
people of this country, and making them discontented with the
government." Accordingly, in his speech to the next Congress he
denounced the democratic societies. After tracing the course of the
whiskey rebellion, he said:--

"And when in the calm moments of reflection they [the citizens of
the United States] 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 cannot always appease a civil
convulsion, have disseminated, from an ignorance or perversion
of facts, suspicions, jealousies, and accusations of the whole

The opposition both in Congress and in the newspapers shrieked loudly
over this plain speaking; but when Washington struck a blow, it was
usually well timed, and the present instance was no exception. Coming
immediately after the failure of the insurrection, and the triumph of
the government, this strong expression of the President's disapproval
had a fatal effect upon the democratic societies. They withered away
with the rapidity of weeds when their roots have been skillfully cut.

After this, even if Washington still refused to consider himself the
head of a party, the opposition no longer had any doubts on that
point. They not only regarded him as the chief of the Federalists, but
also, and with perfect justice, as their own most dangerous enemy,
and the man who had dealt them and their cause the most deadly blows.
Whatever restraint they may have hitherto placed upon themselves in
dealing with him personally, they now abandoned, and the opportunity
for open war soon came to them in the vexed question of the British
treaty, where they occupied much better ground than in the Genet
affair, and commanded much more popular sympathy. Their orators did
not hesitate to say that the conduct of the President in this affair
had been improper and monarchical, and that he ought to be impeached.
After the treaty was signed, the "Aurora" declared that the President
had violated the Constitution, and made a treaty with a nation
abhorred by our people; that he answered the respectful remonstrances
of Boston and New York as if he were the omnipotent director of a
seraglio, and had thundered contempt upon the people with as much
confidence as if he sat upon the throne of "Industan."

All these remarks and many more of like tenor have been gathered
together and very picturesquely arranged by Mr. McMaster, in whose
volumes they may be studied with advantage by any one who has doubts
as to Washington's political position. It is not probable that the
writer of the brilliant diatribe just quoted had any very distinct
idea about either seraglios or "Industan," but he, and others of like
mind, probably took pleasure in the words, as did the old woman who
always loved to hear Mesopotamia mentioned. Other persons, however,
were more definite in their statements. John Beckley, who had once
been clerk of the House, writing under the very opposite signature of
"A Calm Observer," declared that Washington had been overdrawing his
salary in defiance of law, and had actually stolen in this way $4,750.
Such being the case, the "Calm Observer" very naturally inquired:
"What will posterity say of the man who has done this thing? Will it
not say that the mask of political hypocrisy has been worn by Caesar,
by Cromwell, and by Washington?" Another patriot, also of the
Democratic party, declared that the President had been false to
a republican government. He said that Washington maintained the
seclusion of a monk and the supercilious distance of a tyrant; and
that the concealing carriage drawn by supernumerary horses expressed
the will of the President, and defined the loyal duty of the people.

The support of Genet, the democratic societies, and now this concerted
and bitter opposition to the Jay treaty, convinced Washington, if
conviction were needed, that he could carry on his administration only
by the help of those who were thoroughly in sympathy with his policy
and purposes. When Jefferson left the State Department, the President
promoted Randolph, and put Bradford, a Federalist, in the place of
Attorney-General. When Hamilton left the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott,
Hamilton's right-hand man, and the staunchest of party men, was
given the position thus left vacant. If Randolph had remained in the
cabinet, he would have become a Federalist. Like all men disposed to
turn, when he was compelled to jump he sprang far, as was shown by
his signing the treaty and memorial, both of which he strongly
disapproved. He was quite ready to fall in with the rest of the
cabinet, but on account of the Fauchet dispatch he resigned. Then
Washington, after offering the portfolio to several persons known to
be in hearty sympathy with him, took the risk of giving it to Timothy
Pickering, who was by no means a safe leader, rather than take any
chance of getting another adviser who was not entirely of his own way
of thinking. At the same time he gave the secretaryship of war to
James McHenry, a most devoted personal friend and follower. He still
held back from calling himself a party chief, but he had discovered,
as William of Orange discovered, that he could not, even with his iron
will and lofty intent, overcome the impossible, alter human nature,
or carry on a successful government under a representative system,
without the assistance of a party. He stated his conclusion with his
wonted plainness in a letter to Pickering written in September, 1795,
in the midst of the struggle over the treaty. "I shall not," he said,
"whilst I have the honor to administer the government, bring a man
into any office of consequence knowingly, whose political tenets are
adverse to the measures which the general government are pursuing; for
this, in my opinion, would be a sort of political suicide. That it
would embarrass its movements is most certain." A terser statement of
the doctrine of party government it would be difficult to find, and
in the conduct of Monroe and the course of the opposition journals
Washington had ample proofs of the soundness of his theory.

If he had needed to be strengthened in his determination, his
opponents furnished the requisite aid. In February, 1796, the House
refused to adjourn on his birthday for half an hour, in order to go
and pay him their respects, as had been the pleasant custom up to that
time. The Democrats of that day were in no confusion of mind as to the
party to which Washington belonged, and they did not hesitate to put
this deliberate slight upon him in order to mark their dislike. This
was not the utterance of a newspaper editor, but the well-considered
act of the representatives of a party in Congress. Party feeling,
indeed, could hardly have gone further; and this single incident is
sufficient to dispel the pleasing delusion that party strife and
bitterness are the product of modern days, and of more advanced forms
of political organization.

Yet despite all these attacks there can be no doubt that Washington's
hold upon the masses of the people was substantially unshaken. They
would have gladly seen him assume the presidency for the third time,
and if the test had been made, thousands of men who gave their votes
to the opposition would have still supported him for the greatest
office in their gift. But this time Washington would not yield to the
wishes of his friends or of the country. He felt that he had done his
work and earned the rest and the privacy for which he longed above all
earthly things. In September, 1796, he published his farewell address,
and no man ever left a nobler political testament. Through much
tribulation he had done his great part in establishing the government
of the Union, which might easily have come to naught without his
commanding influence. He had imparted to it the dignity of his own
great character. He had sustained the splendid financial policy of
Hamilton. He had struck a fatal blow at the colonial spirit in our
politics, and had lifted up our foreign policy to a plane worthy of an
independent nation. He had stricken off the fetters which impeded the
march of western settlement, and without loss of honor had gained time
to enable our institutions to harden and become strong. He had made
peace with our most dangerous enemies, and, except in the case of
France, where there were perilous complications to be solved by his
successor, he left the United States in far better and more honorable
relations with the rest of the world than even the most sanguine would
have dared to hope when the Constitution was formed. Now from the
heights of great achievement he turned to say farewell to the people
whom he so much loved, and whom he had so greatly served. Every word
was instinct with the purest and wisest patriotism. "Be united," he
said; "be Americans. The name which belongs to you, in your national
capacity, must exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any
appellation derived from local discriminations. Let there be no
sectionalism, no North, South, East or West; you are all dependent one
on another, and should be one in union. Beware of attacks, open or
covert, upon the Constitution. Beware of the baneful effects of
party spirit and of the ruin to which its extremes must lead. Do not
encourage party spirit, but use every effort to mitigate and assuage
it. Keep the departments of government separate, promote education,
cherish the public credit, avoid debt. Observe justice and good faith
toward all nations; have neither passionate hatreds nor passionate
attachments to any; and be independent politically of all. In one
word, be a nation, be Americans, and be true to yourselves."

His admonitions were received by the people at large with profound
respect, and sank deep into the public mind. As the generations have
come and gone, the farewell address has grown dearer to the hearts of
the people, and the children and the children's children of those to
whom it was addressed have turned to it in all times and known that
there was no room for error in following its counsel.

Yet at the moment, notwithstanding the general sadness at Washington's
retirement and the deep regard for his last words of advice, the
opposition was so thoroughly hostile that they seized on the address
itself as a theme for renewed attack upon its author. "His character,"
said one Democrat, "can only be respectable while it is not known; he
is arbitrary, avaricious, ostentatious; without skill as a soldier, he
has crept into fame by the places he has held. His financial measures
burdened the many to enrich the few. History will tear the pages
devoted to his praise. France and his country gave him fame, and they
will take that fame away." "His glory has dissolved in mist," said
another writer, "and he has sunk from the high level of Solon or
Lycurgus to the mean rank of a Dutch Stadtholder or a Venetian
Doge. Posterity will look in vain for any marks of wisdom in his

To thoughtful persons these observations are not without a curious
interest, as showing that even the wisest of men may be in error. The
distinguished Democrat who uttered these remarks has been forgotten,
and the page of history on which Washington's name was inscribed is
still untorn. The passage of the address, however, which gave the most
offense, as Mr. McMaster points out, was, as might have been expected
from the colonial condition of our politics, that which declared it
to be our true policy "to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world." This, it was held, simply meant that,
having made a treaty with England, we were to be stopped from making
one with France. Another distinguished editor declared that the
farewell address came from the meanest of motives; that the President
knew he could not be reelected because the Republicans would have
united to supersede him with Adams, who had the simplicity of a
Republican, while Washington had the ostentation of an Eastern Pasha,
and it was in order to save himself from this humiliation that he had
cunningly resigned.

When Washington met his last Congress, William Giles of Virginia took
the opportunity afforded by the usual answer to the President's speech
to assail him personally. It would be of course a gross injustice to
suppose that a coarse political ruffian like Giles really represented
the Democratic party. But he represented the extreme wing, and after
he had declared in his place that Washington was neither wise nor
patriotic, and that his retirement was anything but a calamity, he got
twelve of his party friends to sustain his sentiments by voting
with him. The press was even more unbridled, and it was said in the

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