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Life And Times Of Washington, Volume 2 by John Frederick Schroeder and Benson John Lossing

Part 13 out of 16

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Without noticing a want of decorum in some of the expressions which
Genet had employed, he was informed that the subjects on which his
letter treated had, from respect to him, been reconsidered by the
executive; but that no cause was perceived for changing the system
which had been adopted. He was further informed that, in the opinion of
the President, the United States owed it to themselves and to the
nations in their friendship, to expect, as a reparation for the offense
of infringing their sovereignty, that the vessels thus illegally
equipped would depart from their ports.

Genet was not disposed to acquiesce in these decisions. Adhering to his
own construction of the existing treaty, he affected to consider the
measures of the American government as infractions of it, which no
power in the nation had a right to make, unless the United States in
Congress assembled should determine that their solemn engagements
should no longer be performed. Intoxicated with the sentiments
expressed by a great portion of the people, and unacquainted with the
firm character of Washington, he seems to have expected that the
popularity of his nation would enable him to overthrow the
administration, or to render it subservient to his views. It is
difficult otherwise to account for his persisting to disregard its
decisions, and for passages with which his letters abound, such as the

"Every obstruction by the government of the United States to the arming
of French vessels must be an attempt on the rights of man, upon which
repose the independence and laws of the United States; a violation of
the ties which unite the people of France and America; and even a
manifest contradiction of the system of neutrality of the President;
for, in fact, if our merchant vessels, as others, are not allowed to
arm themselves, when the French alone are resisting the league of all
the tyrants against the liberty of the people, they will be exposed to
inevitable ruin in going out of the ports of the United States, which
is certainly not the intention of the people of America. Their
fraternal voice has resounded from every quarter around me, and their
accents are not equivocal. They are pure as the hearts of those by whom
they are expressed, and the more they have touched my sensibility, the
more they must interest in the happiness of America the nation I
represent;--the more I wish, sir, that the Federal government should
observe, as far as in their power, the public engagements contracted by
both nations; and that, by this generous and prudent conduct, they will
give at least to the world the example of a true neutrality, which does
not consist in the cowardly abandonment of their friends in the moment
when danger menaces them, but in adhering strictly, if they can do no
better, to the obligations they have contracted with them. It is by
such proceedings that they will render themselves respectable to all
the powers; that they will preserve their friends and deserve to
augment their numbers."

A few days previous to the reception of the letter from which the above
is an extract, two citizens of the United States, who had been engaged
by Genet in Charleston to cruise in the service of France, were
arrested by the civil magistrate, in pursuance of the determination
formed by the executive for the prosecution of persons having thus
offended against the laws. Genet demanded their release in the
following extraordinary terms:

"I have this moment been informed that two officers in the service of
the republic of France, citizen Gideon Henfield and John Singletary,
have been arrested on board the privateer of the French republic, the
Citizen Genet, and conducted to prison. The crime laid to their
charge--the crime which my mind cannot conceive, and which my pen
almost refuses to state--is the serving of France, and defending with
her children the common glorious cause of liberty.

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

Such an insolent style of address as this could not be otherwise than
deeply offensive to Washington. He must have regarded this, and most of
the other effusions of Genet, as studied insults, net only to himself,
but to the country of which he was the chief magistrate. Yet, in no
single instance did the administration in its communications with
Genet, permit itself to be betrayed into the use of one intemperate
expression. The firmness with which his extravagant pretensions were
resisted, proceeding entirely from a sense of duty and conviction of
right, was unaccompanied with any marks of that resentment which his
language and his conduct were alike calculated to inspire.

Genet's intemperate language and insolent conduct arose from a belief
that the people were ready to support his pretensions, in opposition to
their own government. This belief was strengthened by the proceedings
and publications of the party opposed to the administration. Civic
festivals and other public assemblages of people, at which the ensigns
of France were displayed in union with those of America--at which the
red cap, as a symbol of French liberty and fraternity, triumphantly
passed from head to head--at which toasts were given expressive of a
desire to identify the people of America with those of France, and,
under the imposing guise of adhering to principles not to men,
containing allusions to the influence of the President which could not
be mistaken--appeared to Genet to indicate a temper extremely
favorable to his hopes, and very different from that which would be
required for the preservation of an honest neutrality.

Through the medium of the press, these sentiments were communicated to
the public, and were represented as flowing from the hearts of the
great body of the people.

Soon after the arrival of Genet, a democratic society was formed in
Philadelphia on the model of the Jacobin clubs in Paris. An anxious
solicitude for the preservation of freedom, the very existence of which
was menaced by a "European confederacy transcendent in power and
unparalleled in iniquity," which was endangered also by "the pride of
wealth and arrogance of power" displayed within the United States, was
the motive assigned for the association. "A constant circulation of
useful information, and a liberal communication of republican
sentiments, were thought to be the best antidotes to any political
poison with which the vital principle of civil liberty might be
attacked;" and to give the more extensive operation to their labors, a
corresponding committee was appointed, through whom they would
communicate with other societies which might be established on similar
principles throughout the United States.

Faithful to their founder, and true to the real objects of their
association, these societies continued during the term of their
existence to be the resolute champions of all the encroachments
attempted by the agents of the French republic on the government of the
United States, and the steady defamers of the views and measures of the
American executive.

Thus strongly supported, Genet persisted in his construction of the
treaties between the two nations, and, in defiance of the positive
determination of the government, continued to act according to that

At this period Washington was called to Mount Vernon by urgent
business, which detained him less than three weeks; and, in his
absence, the heads of departments superintended the execution of those
rules which had been previously established.

In this short interval a circumstance occurred, strongly marking the
rashness of Genet, and his disrespect to the executive of the United

The Little Sarah, an English merchantman, had been captured by a French
frigate and brought into the port of Philadelphia, where she was
completely equipped as a privateer, and was just about to sail on a
cruise, under the name of le Petit Democrat, when Hamilton communicated
her situation to Jefferson and Knox, the Secretaries of State and of
War; in consequence of which, Governor Mifflin was desired to cause an
examination of the fact. The warden of the port was directed to
institute the proper inquiries, and, late in the evening of the 6th of
July, he reported her situation, and that she was to sail the next day.

In pursuance of the instructions which had been given by the President,
the governor immediately sent Secretary Dallas for the purpose of
prevailing on Genet to relieve him from the employment of force, by
detaining the vessel in port until the arrival of Washington, who was
then on his way from Mount Vernon. Mr. Dallas communicated this message
to the French minister in terms as conciliatory as its nature would
permit. On receiving it, he gave aloose to the most extravagant
passion. After exclaiming with vehemence against the measure, he
complained, in strong terms, and with many angry epithets, of the ill
treatment which he had received from some of the officers of the
general government, which he contrasted with the cordial attachment
that was expressed by the people at large for his nation. He ascribed
the conduct of those officers to principles inimical to the cause of
France and of liberty. He insinuated that, by their influence,
Washington had been misled, and observed, with considerable emphasis,
that the President was not the sovereign of this country. The powers of
peace and war being vested in Congress, it belonged to that body to
decide those questions growing out of treaties which might involve
peace or war, and the President, therefore, ought to have assembled the
national Legislature before he ventured to issue his proclamation of
neutrality, or to prohibit, by his instructions to the State governors,
the enjoyment of the particular rights which France claimed under the
express stipulations of the treaty of commerce. The executive
construction of that treaty was neither just nor obligatory, and he
would make no engagement which might be construed into a relinquishment
of rights which his constituents deemed indispensable. In the course of
this vehement and angry declamation, he spoke of publishing his
correspondence with the officers of government, together with a
narrative of his proceedings, and said that, although the existing
causes would warrant an abrupt departure, his regard for the people of
America would induce him to remain here, amidst the insults and
disgusts that he daily suffered in his official character from the
public officers, until the meeting of Congress, and if that body should
agree in the opinions and support the measures of the President, he
would certainly withdraw, and leave the dispute to be adjusted between
the two nations themselves. His attention being again called by Mr.
Dallas to the particular subject, he peremptorily refused to enter into
any arrangements for suspending the departure of the privateer, and
cautioned him against any attempt to seize her, as she belonged to the
republic, and, in defense of the honor of her flag, would
unquestionably repel force by force.

On receiving the report of Mr. Dallas, Governor Mifflin ordered out 120
militia, for the purpose of taking possession of the privateer, and
communicated the case, with all its circumstances, to the officers of
the executive government. On the succeeding day, Jefferson waited on
Genet, in the hope of prevailing on him to pledge his word that the
privateer should not leave the port until the arrival of the President.
The minister was not less intemperate with Jefferson than he had been
with Dallas. He indulged himself in a repetition of nearly the same
passionate language, and again spoke, with extreme harshness of the
conduct of the executive. He persisted in refusing to make any
engagements for the detention of the vessel, and, after his rage had in
some degree spent itself, he entreated that no attempt might be made to
take possession of her, as her crew was on board, and force would be
repelled by force.

He then also said that she was not ready to sail immediately. She would
change her position and fall down the river a small distance on that
day, but was not yet ready to sail.

In communicating this conversation to Governor Mifflin, Jefferson
stated his conviction that the privateer would remain in the river
until the President should decide on her case, in consequence of which,
the governor dismissed the militia, and requested the advice of the
heads of departments on the course which it would be proper for him to
pursue. Both the governor and Jefferson stated, that in reporting the
conversation between Genet and himself, Dallas had said that Genet
threatened, in express terms, "to appeal from the President to the

Thus braved and insulted in the very heart of the country, Hamilton and
Knox were of opinion that it was expedient to take immediate measures
for establishing a battery on Mud Island, under cover of a party of
militia, with directions, that if the vessel should attempt to depart
before the pleasure of the President should be known concerning her,
military coercion should be employed to arrest her progress.

The Secretary of State dissenting from this opinion, the measure was
not adopted. The vessel fell down to Chester before the arrival of
Washington and sailed on her cruise before the power of the government
could be interposed.

On the 11th of July (1793), Washington reached Philadelphia, and
requested that the Cabinet ministers would convene at his house the
next day at 9 in the morning.

Among the important papers placed in his hands, which required
immediate attention were those which related to the Little Democrat. On
reading them, a messenger was immediately dispatched for Jefferson, but
he had retired, indisposed, to his seat in the country. Upon hearing
this, the President instantly addressed a letter to him, of which the
following is an extract:

"What is to be done in the case of the Little Sarah, now at Chester? Is
the minister of the French republic to set the acts of this government
at defiance with impunity and then threaten the executive with an
appeal to the people? What must the world think of such conduct, and of
the government of the United States in submitting to it?

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

In answer to this letter, Jefferson stated the assurances which had on
that day been given to him by Genet, that the vessel Would not sail
before the President's decision respecting her should be made. In
consequence of this information, immediate coercive measures were
suspended, and in the council of the succeeding day it was determined
to retain in port all privateers which had been equipped by any of the
belligerent powers within the United States. Genet was informed of this
determination, but in contempt of it, the Little Democrat proceeded on
her cruise. This proceeding furnished a subject of exultation to the
opponents of the government, as did also the acquittal by a Charleston
jury of Gideon Henfield, who had been arrested for shipping on board a
French privateer, he being an American citizen.

While the correspondence between Genet and Jefferson concerning this
affair was still going on, the former obtained cause of complaint on
his part, and urged that the British were in the habit of taking French
property out of American vessels, in contravention of the principles of
neutrality avowed by the rest of Europe. His letters to Jefferson on
this subject were still more insulting than those which had preceded
them. On the 9th of July (1793), he wrote to Jefferson, demanding
an instant answer to the question--What measures the President had
taken, or would take, to cause the American flag to be respected?
Receiving no answer, toward the end of July he again addressed the
Secretary of State on the subject. In this extraordinary letter, after
complaining of the insults offered to the American flag by seizing the
property of Frenchmen confided to its protection, he added: "Your
political rights are counted for nothing. In vain do the principles of
neutrality establish that friendly vessels make friendly goods; in
vain, sir, does the President of the United States endeavor, by his
proclamation, to reclaim the observation of this maxim; in vain does
the desire of preserving peace lead to sacrifice the interests of
France to that of the moment; in vain does the thirst of riches
preponderate over honor in the political balance of America--all this
management, all this condescension, all this humility, end in nothing;
our enemies laugh at it; and the French, too confident, are punished
for having believed that the American nation had a flag, that they had
some respect for their laws, some conviction of their strength, and
entertained some sentiment of their dignity. It is not possible for me,
sir, to paint to you all my sensibility at this scandal, which tends to
the diminution of your commerce, to the oppression of ours, and to the
debasement and vilification of republics. It is for the Americans to
make known their generous indignation at this outrage, and I must
confine myself to demand of you, a second time, to inform me of the
measures which you have taken in order to obtain restitution of the
property plundered from my fellow-citizens under the protection of your
flag. It is from our government they have learned that the Americans
were our allies, that the American nation was sovereign, and that they
knew how to make themselves respected. It is then under the very same
sanction of the French nation that they have confided their property
and persons to the safeguard of the American flag, and on her they
submit the care of causing those rights to be respected. But if our
fellow-citizens have been deceived, if you are not in a condition to
maintain the sovereignty of your people, speak; we have guaranteed it
when slaves, we shall be able to render it formidable, having become

On the day preceding the date of this offensive letter, Jefferson had
answered that of the 9th of July, and, without noticing the unbecoming
style in which the decision of the executive was demanded, had avowed
and defended the opinion that, "by the general law of nations, the goods
of an enemy found in the vessels of a friend, are lawful prize." This
fresh insult might therefore be passed over in silence.

While a hope remained that the temperate forbearance of the President,
and the unceasing manifestations of his friendly dispositions toward
the French republic might induce the minister of that nation to respect
the rights of the United States, and to abstain from violations of
their sovereignty, an anxious solicitude not to impair the harmony
which he wished to maintain between the two republics had restrained
him from adopting those measures respecting Genet which his conduct
required. He had seen a foreign minister usurp, within the territories
of the United States, some of the most important rights of sovereignty,
and persist, after the prohibition of the government in the exercise of
those rights. In asserting this extravagant claim, so incompatible with
national independence, the spirit in which it originated had been
pursued, and the haughty style of a superior had been substituted for
the respectful language of diplomacy. He had seen the same minister
undertake to direct the civil government, and to pronounce, in
opposition to the decisions of the executive, in what departments the
constitution of the United States had placed certain great national
powers. To render this state of things more peculiarly critical and
embarrassing, the person most instrumental in producing it had, from
his arrival, thrown himself into the arms of the people, stretched out
to receive him, and was emboldened by their favor to indulge the hope
of succeeding in his endeavors, either to overthrow their government,
or to bend it to his will. But the' full experiment had now been made,
and the result was a conviction not to be resisted, that moderation
would only invite additional injuries, and that the present
insufferable state of things could be terminated only by procuring the
removal of the French minister, or by submitting to become, in his
hands, the servile instrument of hostility against the enemies of his
nation. Information was continually received from every quarter of
fresh aggressions on the principles established by the government, and,
while the executive was thus openly disregarded and contemned, the
members of the administration were reproached, in all the papers of an
active and restless opposition, as the violators of the national faith,
the partisans of monarchy, and the enemies of liberty and of France.

The unwearied efforts to preserve that station in which the various
treaties in existence had placed the nation were incessantly
calumniated as infractions of those treaties, and ungrateful attempts
to force the United States into a war against France.

The judgment of Washington was never hastily formed, but, once made up,
it was seldom to be shaken. Before the last letter of Genet was
communicated to him he had decided to terminate future intercourse with

In a Cabinet council the whole matter was carefully reviewed, and it
was unanimously agreed that Gouverneur Morris, the American minister at
Paris, should present the whole case to the French government and
request Genet's recall. The faction by whom he had been originally sent
out having passed out of power, this was easily effected.

At the same time the Cabinet, under Washington's direction, drew up a
system of rules to be observed by the belligerents in the ports of the
United States. These rules evidence the settled purpose of the
executive faithfully to observe all the national engagements and
honestly to perform the duties of that neutrality in which the war
found them and in which those engagements left them free to remain.

Neutrality between belligerents is a difficult and delicate part to
sustain. It was not France alone that advanced extraordinary
pretensions. The British government issued orders for stopping all
neutral ships, laden with provisions, bound for the ports of France,
thus declaring that country in a state of blockade. The National
Convention of France had, indeed, set the example of this by an act of
the same tendency, doubly rash, because impotent. But this, however
strong a plea for retaliating upon France, was none for making America
suffer. Corn, indeed, formed the chief export of the United States, and
to prohibit them from shipping it at all--for the new regulation
amounted in fact to this--was a grievance which the most pacific
neutral could scarcely submit to. Another continually recurring source
of complaint on the part of the United States against England was the
pressing of their seamen, which the difficulty of distinguishing
between natives of the two countries rendered of frequent occurrence
and tardy rectification. These causes came to swell the tide of faction
in America as the enemies of England and of authoritative institutions
took advantage of them to raise their cry, whilst the anti-gallican, on
the other hand, were as indignant against the arrogance of the French
and of their envoy.

Genet was in New York receiving all sorts of demonstrations of
approbation and attachment from his political friends when he received
notice of his recall (September, 1793). His rage was indescribable. He
wrote to Jefferson a letter full of the most atrocious abuse of
Washington and the administration generally, in which Jefferson himself
was not spared. But as his powers of mischief were now at an end very
slight notice was taken of his splenetic effusions. It appeared in the
sequel, however, that he had not confined his attempts to employ the
force of America against the enemies of his country to maritime
enterprises. On his first arrival he is understood to have planned an
expedition against the Floridas, to be carried on from Georgia, and
another against Louisiana, to be carried on from the western parts of
the United States. Intelligence was received that the principal
officers were engaged, and the temper of the people inhabiting the
western country was such as to furnish some ground for the apprehension
that the restraints which the executive was capable of imposing, would
be found too feeble to prevent the execution of this plan. The
remonstrances of the Spanish commissioners on this subject, however,
were answered with explicit assurances that the government would
effectually interpose to defeat any expedition from the territories of
the United States against those of Spain, and the governor of Kentucky
was requested to cooperate in frustrating this improper application of
the military resources of his State.

While Genet was in New York a schooner, brought as a prize into the
port of Boston by a French privateer, was claimed by the British owner,
who instituted proceedings at law against her for the purpose of
obtaining a decision on the validity of her capture. She was rescued
from the possession of the marshal by an armed force, acting under the
authority of Mr. Duplaine, the French consul, which was detached from a
frigate then lying in port. Until the frigate sailed she was guarded by
a part of the crew, and, notwithstanding the determination of the
American government that the consular courts should not exercise a
prize jurisdiction within the territories of the United States, Mr.
Duplaine declared his purpose to take cognizance of the case.

To this act of open defiance it was impossible for Washington to
submit. The facts being well attested, the exequatur which had been
granted to Mr. Duplaine was revoked and he was forbidden further to
exercise the consular functions. It will excite surprise that even this
necessary measure could not escape censure. The self-proclaimed
champions of liberty discovered in it a violation of the constitution
and a new indignity to France.

Meantime events were transpiring in Europe which added not a little to
the excitement in the public mind against Great Britain. For many years
war had existed between Portugal and Algiers. In consequence of this
Algerian cruisers had been confined to the Mediterranean by a
Portuguese fleet, and the commerce of the United States, as well as
that of Portugal herself, had been protected in the Atlantic from
piratical depredations. In September, 1793, an unexpected truce for a
year was concluded between Portugal and Algiers. The Dey's cruisers,
therefore, immediately, and without previous notice, passed into the
Atlantic, and American vessels, while on their way to Portugal and
other parts of Europe, and without the smallest suspicion of danger,
became a prey to these lawless freebooters, and many American seamen
were doomed to slavery. There was no reasonable doubt that England had
a great deal to do with this matter and that, besides her determination
to carry on war against France, she was not very unwilling that the
United States should also suffer the evils incident to their commerce
being entirely unprotected by any naval force.

The causes of discontent which were furnished by Spain, as Marshall
states, though less the theme of public declamation, continued to be
considerable. That which related to the Mississippi was peculiarly
embarrassing. The opinion had been industriously circulated that an
opposition of interests existed between the eastern and the western
people, and that the endeavors of the executive to open this great
river were feeble and insincere. At a meeting of the Democratic Society
in Lexington, Kentucky, this sentiment was unanimously avowed in terms
of extreme disrespect to the government, and a committee was appointed
to open a correspondence with the inhabitants of the entire west for
the purpose of uniting them on this subject and of preparing a
remonstrance to the President and Congress of the United States, to be
expressed "in the bold, decent, and determined language proper to be
used by injured freemen when they address the servants of the people."
They claimed much merit for having thus long abstained from using the
means they possessed, for the assertion of "a natural and unalienable
right," and indicated their opinion that this forbearance could not be
long continued. The probability that the public expression of these
dangerous dispositions would perpetuate the evil could not moderate
them. This restless temper gave additional importance to the expedition
of Genet projected against Louisiana.

Private communications strengthened the apprehensions entertained by
the President that hostilities with Spain were not far distant. The
government had received intelligence from their ministers in Europe
that propositions had been made by the Cabinet of Madrid to that of
London, the object of which was the United States. The precise nature
of these propositions was not ascertained, but it was understood
generally that their tendency was hostile, and Washington, writing to
the Secretary of War, in June, urged the importance of ascertaining the
Spanish force in the Floridas and such other matters as might be
necessary in view of the possible outbreak of a contest with Spain.

We must now return to Washington, who, the reader will have perceived,
surrounded by the urgent nature of his official duties and the
disturbed state of public affairs, had been detained at Philadelphia
during a great portion of the recess of Congress. He left that place
for Mount Vernon toward the end of September, after the ravages of the
terrible yellow fever of 1793 had already commenced in the city. He
remained at Mount Vernon till near the end of October. [4]

During this time he was in constant correspondence with the members of
the Cabinet, of whom Jefferson appears to have retired to Virginia and
the other heads of departments to other places to avoid the contagion
of the fever.

The principal topic discussed in this correspondence was the
constitutional power of the President to change the place in which
Congress were to reassemble in December--Philadelphia being considered
unsafe. Germantown, Wilmington, Trenton, Annapolis, Reading, and
Lancaster were suggested each in turn as suitable places, but the power
of the President to change the place was doubted on all hands. As the
fever subsided, however, the meeting actually took place in
Philadelphia on the day appointed by adjournment.

Among those whom Washington consulted on the subject of the
constitutional power to change the place for the meeting of Congress
was Mr. Madison. Washington's letter to him, dated Mount Vernon,
October 14, 1793, evinces his anxiety to avoid a violation of the
constitution, while it presents a lively picture of the state of
disorder in the departments, occasioned by the pestilence at the seat
of government. "The calamitous situation of Philadelphia," he writes,
"and the little prospect, from the present appearance, of its
eligibility to receive Congress by the first Monday in December,
involve a serious difficulty. It has been intimated by some that the
President ought, by proclamation, to convene Congress a few days before
the above-mentioned period, at some other place, and by others that,
although in extraordinary cases he has the power to convene, he has
none to change the place. Mr. Jefferson, when here on his way home, was
of the latter opinion, but the laws were not fully examined, nor was
the case at that time so serious as it now is. From the Attorney-
General (Randolph), to whom I have since written on this subject,
requesting an official opinion, I have received no answer, nor is it
likely I shall soon, as I believe he has no communication with
Philadelphia. Time presses and the malady at the usual place of meeting
is becoming more and more alarming. What then do you think is the most
advisable course for me to pursue in the present exigency--summon
Congress to meet at a certain time and place in their legislative
capacity? Simply state facts and say that I will meet the members at
the time and place just mentioned for ulterior arrangements? Or leave
matters as they are if there is no power in the executive to alter the
place legally? In the first and second cases, especially the first, the
delicacy of my naming a place will readily occur to you. My wish would
be that Congress could be assembled at Germantown to show that I meant
no partiality, leaving it to themselves, if there should be no prospect
of getting into Philadelphia soon, to decide what should be done
thereafter. But accounts say that some people have died in Germantown
also of the malignant fever. Every death, now, however, is ascribed to
that cause, be the disorder what it may. Wilmington and Trenton are
almost equidistant from Philadelphia in opposite directions, but both
are on the great thoroughfare and equally exposed to danger from the
multitude of travelers, and neither may have a chamber sufficient for
the House of Representatives. Annapolis and Lancaster are more secure
and both have good accommodations. But to name either of them,
especially the first, would be thought to favor the southern
convenience, and, perhaps, might be attributed to local views,
especially as New York is talked of for this purpose. Reading, if there
are proper conveniences there, would favor neither the southern nor
northern interest most, but would be alike to both.

"I have written to Mr. Jefferson on this subject. Notwithstanding
which, I would thank you for your opinion and that fully, as you see my
embarrassment. I even ask more. I would thank you, not being acquainted
with forms, to sketch some instrument for publication, adapted to the
course you may think it would be most expedient for me to pursue in the
present state of things, if the members are called together as before

"The difficulty of keeping clerks in the public offices had in a manner
put a stop to business before I left Philadelphia, and the heads of
departments having matters of their own, which called them away, has
prevented my return thither longer than I had intended. I have now
desired the different secretaries to meet me there, or in the vicinity,
the 1st of next month, for which I shall set out the 27th or the 28th
of the present.

"The accounts from the city are really affecting. Two gentlemen now
here from New York, Colonels Platt and Sergeant, say that they were
told at the Swede's ford of Schuylkill, by a person who had it from
Governor Mifflin, that, by an official report from the mayor of the
city, upward of 3,500 had died, and that the disorder was raging more
violently than ever. If cool weather, accompanied by rain, does not put
a stop to the malady, distressing indeed must be the case of that city,
now almost depopulated by removals and deaths." [5]

1. Footnote: The precise return was: For President George Washington,
132. For Vice-President--John Adams, 77; George Clinton, 50; Thomas
Jefferson, 4; Aaron Burr, 1.

2. Footnote: Published in Arthur's "Home Gazette."

3. Footnote: John Quincy Adams on Washington's Proclamation of

4. Footnote: On the 8th of October John Hancock died at Boston.

5. Footnote: The whole number that died during the prevalence of the
yellow fever in Philadelphia was over 4,000.



The time appointed for the reassembling of Congress was the first
Monday in December. Washington had arrived at Philadelphia, and the
heads of departments were at their posts before the end of November.

Although the fear of contagion was not entirely dispelled when the time
for the meeting of Congress arrived, yet, such was the active zeal of
parties, and such the universal expectation that important executive
communications would be made, and that legislative measures not less
important would be founded on them, that both Houses were full on the
first day, and a joint committee waited on the President with the usual
information that they were ready to receive his communications.

On the 4th of December (1793), at 12, the President met both Houses in
the Senate chamber. His speech was moderate, firm, dignified, and
interesting. It commenced with his own re-election, his feelings at
which were thus expressed:

"Since the commencement of the term for which I have been again called
into office, no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow-
citizens at large, the deep and respectful sense which I feel of the
renewed testimony of public approbation. While, on the one hand, it
awakened my gratitude for all those instances of affectionate
partiality with which I have been honored by my country, on the other,
it could not prevent an earnest wish for that retirement, from which no
private consideration could ever have torn me. But, influenced by the
belief that my conduct would be estimated according to its real
motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from them,
would support exertions having nothing personal for their object, I
have obeyed the suffrage which commanded me to resume the executive
power, and I humbly implore that Being on whose will the fate of
nations depends, to crown with success our mutual endeavors for the
general happiness." Passing to those measures which had been adopted by
the executive for the regulation of its conduct toward the belligerent
nations, he observed: "As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those
powers with whom the United States have the most extensive relations,
there was reason to apprehend that our intercourse with them might be
interrupted, and our disposition for peace drawn into question by
suspicions too often entertained by belligerent nations. It seemed
therefore to be my duty to admonish our citizens of the consequence of
a contraband trade, and of hostile acts to any of the parties, and to
obtain, by a declaration of the existing state of things, an easier
admission of our rights to the immunities belonging to our situation.
Under these impressions the proclamation which will be laid before you
was issued.

"In this posture of affairs, both new and delicate, I resolved to adopt
general rules which should conform to the treaties, and assert the
privileges of the United States. These were reduced into a system which
shall be communicated to you."

After suggesting those legislative provisions on this subject, the
necessity of which had been pointed out by experience, he proceeded to

"I cannot recommend to your notice measures for the fulfillment of our
duties to the rest of the world, without again pressing upon you the
necessity of placing ourselves in a condition of complete defense, and
of exacting from them the fulfillment of their duties toward us. The
United States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the
order of human events, they will forever keep at a distance those
painful appeals to arms with which the history of every nation abounds.
There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be
withheld, if not absolutely lost by the reputation of weakness. If we
desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it: if we desire to
secure peace--one of the most powerful instruments of our prosperity--
it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."

These observations were followed by a recommendation to augment the
supply of arms and ammunition in the magazines, and to improve the
militia establishment.

After referring to a communication to be subsequently made for
occurrences relative to the connection of the United States with
Europe, which had, he said, become extremely interesting, and, after
reviewing Indian affairs, he particularly addressed the House of
Representatives. Having presented to them in detail some subjects of
which it was proper they should be informed, he added:

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption
and discharge of the public debt; on none can delay be more injurious,
or an economy of time more valuable.

"The productiveness of the public revenues hitherto has continued to be
equal to the anticipations which were formed of it; but it is not
expected to prove commensurate with all the objects which have been
suggested. Some auxiliary provisions will therefore, it is presumed, be
requisite; and it is hoped that these may be made consistently with a
due regard to the convenience of our citizens who cannot but be
sensible of the true wisdom of encountering a small present addition to
their contributions, to obviate a future accumulation of burdens."

The speech was concluded with the following impressive exhortation:

"The several subjects to which I have now referred, open a wide range
to your deliberations and involve some of the choicest interests of our
common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of
your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of the
government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with
freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But as the legislative
proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for
the want of temper or of candor, so shall not the public happiness
languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest cooperation."

The day succeeding that on which this speech was delivered, a special
message was sent to both houses containing some of the promised
communications relative to the connection of the United States with
foreign powers.

After suggesting, as a motive for this communication, that it not only
disclosed "matter of interesting inquiry to the Legislature," but
"might indeed give rise to deliberations to which they alone were
competent," the President added:

"The representative and executive bodies of France have manifested
generally a friendly attachment to this country; have given advantages
to our commerce and navigation; and have made overtures for placing
these advantages on permanent ground. A decree, however, of the
National Assembly, subjecting vessels laden with provisions to be
carried into their ports, and making enemy goods lawful prize in the
vessel of a friend, contrary to our treaty, though revoked at one time
as to the United States, has been since extended to their vessels also,
as has been recently stated to us. Representations on the subject will
be immediately given in charge to our minister there, and the result
shall be communicated to the Legislature.

"It is with extreme concern I have to inform you that the person whom
they have unfortunately appointed their minister plenipotentiary here,
has breathed nothing of the friendly spirit of the nation which sent
him. Their tendency, on the contrary, has been to involve us in a war
abroad and discord and anarchy at home. So far as his acts, or those of
his agents, have threatened an immediate commitment in the war, or
flagrant insult to the authority of the laws, their effect has been
counteracted by the ordinary cognizance of the laws and by an exertion
of the powers confided to me. Where their danger was not imminent, they
have been borne with, from sentiments of regard of his nation, from a
sense of their friendship toward us, from a conviction that they would
not suffer us to remain long exposed to the actions of a person who has
so little respected our mutual dispositions, and, I will add, from a
reliance on the firmness of my fellow-citizens in their principles of
peace and order. In the meantime I have respected and pursued the
stipulations of our treaties, according to what I judged their true
sense, and have withheld no act of friendship which their affairs have
called for from us, and which justice to others left us free to
perform. I have gone further. Rather than employ force for the
restitution of certain vessels which I deemed the United States bound
to restore, I thought it more advisable to satisfy the parties by
avowing it to be my opinion that, if restitution were not made, it
would be incumbent on the United States to make compensation."

The message next proceeded to state that inquiries had been instituted
respecting the vexations and spoliations committed on the commerce of
the United States, the result of which, when received, would be

The order issued by the British government on the 8th of June (1793),
and the measures taken by the executive of the United States in
consequence thereof, were briefly noticed, and the discussions which
had taken place in relation to the nonexecution of the treaty of peace,
were also mentioned. The message was then concluded with a reference to
the negotiations with Spain. "The public good," it was said, "requiring
that the present state of these should be made known to the Legislature
in confidence only, they would be the subject of a separate and
subsequent communication."

This message was accompanied with copies of the correspondence between
the Secretary of State and the French minister, on the points of
difference which subsisted between the two governments, together with
several documents necessary for the establishment of particular facts,
and with the letter written by Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Morris, which
justified the conduct of the United States by arguments too clear to be
misunderstood, and too strong ever to be controverted.

The extensive discussions which had taken place relative to the
nonexecution of the treaty of peace, and the correspondence produced by
the objectionable measures which had been adopted by the British
government during the existing war, were also laid before the

In a popular government the representatives of the people may generally
be considered as a mirror, reflecting truly the passions and feelings
which govern their constituents. In the late elections, the strength of
parties had been tried, and the opposition had derived so much aid from
associating the cause of France with its own principles, as to furnish
much reason to suspect that, in one branch of the Legislature at least,
it had become the majority. The first act of the House of
Representatives served to strengthen this suspicion. By each party a
candidate for the chair was brought forward, and Mr. Muhlenberg, who
was supported by the opposition, was elected by a majority of ten
votes, against Mr. Sedgewick, whom the Federalists supported.

The answer, however, to Washington's speech, bore no tinge of that
malignant and furious spirit which had infused itself into the
publications of the day. Breathing the same affectionate attachment to
his person and character which had been professed in other times, and
being approved by every part of the House, it indicated that the
leaders, at least, still venerated their chief magistrate, and that no
general intention as yet existed to involve him in the obloquy directed
against his measures.

Noticing that unanimous suffrage by which he had been again called to
his present station, "it was," they said, "with equal sincerity and
promptitude they embraced the occasion for expressing to him their
congratulations on so distinguished a testimony of public approbation,
and their entire confidence in the purity and patriotism of the motives
which had produced this obedience to the voice of his country. It is,"
proceeded the address, "to virtues which have commanded long and
universal reverence, and services from which have flowed great and
lasting benefits, that the tribute of praise may be paid without the
reproach of flattery; and it is from the same sources that the fairest
anticipations may be derived in favor of the public happiness."

The proclamation of neutrality was approved in guarded terms, and the
topics of the speech were noticed in a manner which indicated
dispositions cordially to cooperate with the executive.

On the part of the Senate, also, the answer to the speech was
unfeignedly affectionate. In warm terms they expressed the pleasure
which the re-election of Washington gave them. "In the unanimity," they
added, "which a second time marks this important national act, we trace
with particular satisfaction, besides the distinguished tribute paid to
the virtues and abilities which it recognizes, another proof of that
discernment, and constancy of sentiments and views, which have hitherto
characterized the citizens of the United States." Speaking of the
proclamation, they declared it to be "a measure well timed and wise,
manifesting a watchful solicitude for the welfare of the nation, and
calculated to promote it."

In a few days a confidential message from Washington was delivered,
communicating the critical situation of affairs with Spain. The
negotiations attempted with that power in regard to the interesting
objects of boundary, navigation, and commerce, had been exposed to much
delay and embarrassment, in consequence of the changes which the French
revolution had effected in the political state of Europe. Meanwhile,
the neighborhood of the Spanish colonies to the United States had given
rise to various other subjects of discussion, one of which had assumed
a very serious aspect.

Having the best reason to suppose that the hostility of the southern
Indians was excited by the agents of Spain, Washington had directed the
American commissioners at Madrid to make the proper representations on
the subject and to propose that each nation should, with good faith,
promote the peace of the other with their savage neighbors.

About the same time the Spanish government entertained, or affected to
entertain, corresponding suspicions of like hostile excitements by the
agents of the United States, to disturb their peace with the same
nations. The representations which were induced by these real or
affected suspicions were accompanied with pretensions and made in a
style to which the American executive could not be inattentive. The
King of Spain asserted these claims as a patron and protector of those
Indians. He assumed a right to mediate between them and the United
States, and to interfere in the establishment of their boundaries. At
length, in the very moment when those savages were committing daily
inroads on the American frontier, at the instigation of Spain, as was
believed, the representatives of that power, complaining of the
aggressions of American citizens on the Indians, declared "that the
continuation of the peace, good harmony, and perfect friendship of the
two nations was very problematical for the future, unless the United
States should take more convenient measures, and of greater energy than
those adopted for a long time past."

Notwithstanding the zeal and enthusiasm with which the pretensions of
the French republic, as asserted by their minister Genet, continued to
be supported out of doors, they found no open advocate in either branch
of the Legislature. This circumstance is, in a great measure, to be
ascribed to the temperate conduct of the executive, and to the
convincing arguments with which its decisions were supported.

But when it is recollected that the odium which these decisions excited
sustained no diminution; that the accusation of hostility to France and
to liberty, which originated in them, was not retracted; that, when
afterwards many of the controverted claims were renewed by France, her
former advocates still adhered to her; it is not unreasonable to
suppose that other considerations mingled themselves with the
conviction which the correspondence laid before the Legislature was
calculated to produce.

An attack on the administration could be placed on no ground more
disadvantageous than on its controversy with Mr. Genet. The conduct and
language of that minister were offensive to reflecting men of all
parties. The President had himself taken so decisive a part in favor of
the measures which had been adopted that they must be ascribed to him,
not to his Cabinet, and, of consequence, the whole weight of his
personal character must be directly encountered in an attempt to
censure those measures. From this censure it would have been difficult
to extricate the person who was contemplated by the party in opposition
as its chief; for the Secretary of State had urged the arguments of the
administration with a degree of ability and earnestness, which ought to
have silenced the suspicion that he might not feel their force. [1]

The expression of a legislative opinion, in favor of the points
insisted on by the French minister, would probably have involved the
nation in a calamitous war, the whole responsibility for which would
rest on them. To these considerations was added another, which could
not be disregarded. The party in France, to which Mr. Genet owed his
appointment, had lost its power, and his fall was the inevitable
consequence of the fall of his patrons. That he would probably be
recalled was known in America, and that his conduct had been
disapproved by his government, was generally believed. The future
system of the French republic, with regard to the United States, could
not be foreseen, and it would be committing something to hazard not to
wait its development.

These objections did not exist to an indulgence of the partialities and
prejudices of the nation towards the belligerent powers in measures
suggested by its resentment against Great Britain. But, independent of
these considerations, it is scarcely possible to doubt that Congress
really approved the conduct of the executive with regard to France, and
was also convinced that a course of hostility had been pursued by Great
Britain which the national interest and national honor required them to
repel. In the irritable state of the public mind, it was not difficult
to produce this opinion.

Early in the session a report was made by Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of
State, in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Representatives,
passed on the 23d of February, 1791, requiring him "to report to
Congress the nature and extent of the privileges and restrictions of
the commercial intercourse of the United States with foreign nations,
and the measures which he should think proper to be adopted for the
improvement of the commerce and navigation of the same."

This report stated the exports of the United States in articles of
their own produce and manufacture, at $19,587,055, and the imports at

Of the exports, nearly one-half was carried to the kingdom of Great
Britain and its dominions; of the imports, about four-fifths were
brought from the same countries. The American shipping amounted to
277,519 tons, of which not quite one-sixth was employed in the trade
with Great Britain and its dominions.

In all the nations of Europe, most of the articles produced in the
United States were subject to heavy duties, and some of them were
prohibited. In England, the trade of the United States was in general
on as good a footing as the trade of other countries, and several
articles were more favored than the same articles, the growth of other

The statements and arguments of this report tended to enforce the
policy of making discriminations which might favor the commerce of the
United States with France and discourage that with England, and which
might promote the increase of American navigation as a branch of
industry and a resource of defense.

This was the last official act of the Secretary of State. Early in the
preceding summer he had signified to the President his intention to
retire in September from the public service, and had, with some
reluctance, consented to postpone the execution of this intention to
the close of the year. Retaining his purpose, he resigned his office on
the last day of December. He was succeeded by Edmund Randolph, whose
place as Attorney-General was supplied by William Bradford, of

On the 4th of January (1794), the House resolved itself into a
committee of the whole, on the report of the Secretary of State,
relative to the restrictions of the commerce of the United States, when
Mr. Madison, after some prefatory observations, laid on the table a
series of resolutions for the consideration of the members.

These memorable resolutions embraced almost completely the idea of the
report. They imposed an additional duty on the manufactures, and on the
tonnage of vessels of nations having no commercial treaty with the
United States; while they reduced the duties already imposed by law on
the tonnage of vessels belonging to nations having such commercial
treaty, and they reciprocated the restrictions which were imposed on
American navigation.

The resolutions were taken up on the 13th of January (1794), and the
consideration of them led to protracted and very animated debates. The
friends of the administration regarded Mr. Madison's scheme as directly
hostile to England and subservient to the views of France, in a degree
utterly inconsistent with the policy of neutrality. On the other hand,
the opposition insisted that the proposed measures were absolutely
necessary to protect the commerce of the country from aggression and

Mr. Madison, in advocating the views which he held, looked especially
to measures correspondent to the British navigation act, which had
given England the command of the sea. He contended that America would
thrive more from exclusion and contest, than from conciliating and
stooping to a power that slighted her; and that now was the moment, if
ever, when England was engaged in mortal strife with France, to bring
her to reason. [2] Mr. Madison's plan was debated at different periods
of the session, and underwent considerable modification in its progress
through the House, where a resolution was finally adopted retaining the
principle of commercial restrictions. It was rejected in the Senate by
the casting vote of Mr. Adams, the Vice-President.

Early in January, a resolution was agreed to in the House, declaring
"that a naval force, adequate to the protection of the commerce of the
United States against the Algerine corsairs, ought to be provided." The
force proposed was to consist of six frigates.

This measure was founded on the communications of the President
respecting the improbability of being able to negotiate a peace with
the Dey of Algiers; and on undoubted information that these pirates
had, during their first short cruise in the Atlantic, captured eleven
American merchantmen, and made upwards of 100 prisoners, and were
preparing to renew their attack on the unprotected vessels of the
United States. This bill was strongly opposed, but finally passed both
houses, and was approved by the President.

While these debates were going on, the news of the British order in
council of the 6th of November (which had not become known to the
American minister in England until the close of December, 1793),
relative to the French West India trade, arrived in the United States,
and roused afresh the hostility against England. Such was the
threatening aspect of affairs, that early in the session a committee of
the House was instructed to prepare and report an estimate of the
expense requisite to place the principal seaports of the country in a
state of defense.

That some steps should be taken to resist aggressions on the part of
England, was very evident; but the members of Congress differed as to
what measures ought to be adopted. The opponents of the administration
urged the adoption of commercial restrictions, while its supporters,
with the President himself, were in favor of a different course.
Various plans were submitted to the House by members, in accordance
with their different views of the subject.

On the 12th of March (1794) Mr. Sedgwick moved several resolutions, the
objects of which were to raise a military force, and to authorize the
President to lay an embargo. The armament was to consist of 15,000 men,
who should be brought into actual service in case of war with any
European power, but not until war should break out. In the meantime
they were to receive pay while assembled for the purpose of discipline,
which was not to exceed twenty-four days in each year.

After stating the motives which led to the introduction of these
resolutions they were laid on the table for the consideration of the

On the 21st of March Mr. Sedgwick's motion, authorizing the President
to lay an embargo, was negatived by a majority of two votes, but in a
few days the consideration of that subject was resumed, and a
resolution passed prohibiting all trade from the United States to any
foreign port or place for thirty days, and empowering the President to
carry the resolution into effect.

On the 27th of March Mr. Dayton moved a resolution for sequestering all
debts due to British subjects, and for taking means to secure their
payment into the treasury, as a fund out of which to indemnify the
citizens of the United States for depredations committed on their
commerce by British cruisers, in violation of the laws of nations.

The debate on this resolution was such as was to be expected from the
irritable state of the public mind. The invectives against the British
nation were uttered with peculiar vehemence, and were mingled with
allusions to the exertions of the government for the preservation of
neutrality, censuring strongly the system which had been pursued.

Before any question was taken on the proposition for sequestering
British debts, and without a decision on those proposed by Mr. Madison,
Mr. Clarke moved a resolution which in some degree suspended the
commercial regulations that had been so earnestly debated. This was to
prohibit all intercourse with Great Britain until her government should
make full compensation for all injuries done to the citizens of the
United States by armed vessels, or by any person or persons acting
under the authority of the British King, and until the western posts
should be delivered up.

On the 4th of April (1794) before any decision was made on the several
propositions which have been stated, the President laid before Congress
a letter just received from Thomas Pinckney, the minister of the United
States at London, communicating additional instructions to the
commanders of British armed ships, which were dated the 8th of January.
These instructions revoked those of the 6th of November (1793), and,
instead of bringing in for adjudication all neutral vessels trading
with the French islands, British cruisers were directed to bring in
those only which were laden with cargoes the produce of the French
islands, and were on a direct voyage from those islands to Europe.

The letter detailed a conversation with Lord Grenville on this subject,
in which his lordship explained the motives which had originally
occasioned the order of the 6th of November, and gave to it a less
extensive signification than it had received in the courts of vice-

It was intended, he said, to be temporary and was calculated to answer
two purposes. One was to prevent the abuses which might take place in
consequence of the whole of the St. Domingo fleet having gone to the
United States; the other was on account of the attack designed upon the
French West India islands by the armament under Sir John Jervis and Sir
Charles Grey; but it was now no longer necessary to continue the
regulations for those purposes. His lordship added that the order of
the 6th of November did not direct the confiscation of all vessels
trading with the French islands, but only that they should be brought
in for legal adjudication, and he conceived that no vessel would be
condemned under it which would not have been previously liable to the
same sentence.

The influence of this communication on the party in the Legislature
which was denominated Federal was very considerable. Believing that the
existing differences between the two nations still admitted of
explanation and adjustment, they strenuously opposed all measures which
were irritating in their tendency or which might be construed into a
dereliction of the neutral character they were desirous of maintaining,
but they gave all their weight to those which, by putting the nation in
a posture of defense, prepared it for war should negotiation fail.

On the opposite party no change of sentiment or of views appears to
have been produced. Their system seems to have been matured, and not to
have originated in the feelings of the moment. They adhered to it,
therefore, with inflexible perseverance, but seemed not anxious to
press an immediate determination of the propositions which had been
made. These propositions were discussed with great animation, but,
notwithstanding an ascertained majority in their favor, were permitted
to remain undecided, as if their fate depended on some extrinsic

Meanwhile, great exertions were made to increase the public agitation
and to stimulate the resentments which were felt against Great Britain.
The artillery of the press was played with unceasing fury on the
minority of the House of Representatives and the democratic societies
brought their whole force into operation. Language will scarcely afford
terms of greater outrage than were employed against those who sought to
stem the torrent of public opinion and to moderate the rage of the
moment. They were denounced as a British faction, seeking to impose
chains on their countrymen. Even the majority was declared to be but
half roused and to show little of that energy and decision which the
crisis required.

The proceedings of Congress continued to manifest a fixed purpose to
pursue the system which had been commenced, and the public sentiment
seemed to accord with that system. That the nation was advancing
rapidly to a state of war was firmly believed by many intelligent men,
who doubted the necessity and denied the policy of abandoning the
neutral position which had been thus long maintained. In addition to
the extensive calamities which must, in any state of things, result to
the United States from a rupture with a nation which was the mistress
of the ocean, and which furnished the best market for the sale of their
produce and the purchase of manufactures of indispensable necessity,
there were considerations belonging exclusively to the moment, which,
though operating only in a narrow circle, were certainly entitled to
great respect. [3]

That war with Britain, during the continuance of the passionate and
almost idolatrous devotion of a great majority of the people to the
French republic, would throw America so completely into the arms of
France as to leave her no longer mistress of her own conduct, was not
the only fear which the temper of the day suggested. That the spirit
which triumphed in that nation and deluged it with the blood of its
revolutionary champions might cross the Atlantic, and desolate the
hitherto safe and peaceful dwellings of the American people, was an
apprehension not so entirely unsupported by appearances as to be
pronounced chimerical. With a blind infatuation, which treated reason
as a criminal, immense numbers applauded a furious despotism, trampling
on every right, and sporting with life as the essence of liberty; and
the few who conceived freedom to be a plant which did not flourish the
better for being nourished with human blood, and who ventured to
disapprove the ravages of the guillotine, were execrated as the tools
of the coalesced despots, and as persons who, to weaken the affection
of America for France, became the calumniators of that republic.
Already had an imitative spirit, captivated with the splendor, but
copying the errors, of a great nation, reared up in every part of the
continent self-created corresponding societies, who, claiming to be the
people, assumed a control over the government and were loosening its
bands. Already were the Mountain, [4] and a revolutionary tribunal,
favorite toasts, and already were principles familiarly proclaimed,
which, in France, had been the precursors of that tremendous and savage
despotism, which, in the name of the people and by the instrumentality
of affiliated societies, had spread its terrific sway over that fine
country and had threatened to extirpate all that was wise and virtuous.
That a great majority of those statesmen who conducted the opposition
would deprecate such a result furnished no security against it. When
the physical force of a nation usurps the place of its wisdom, those
who have produced such a state of things no longer control it.

These apprehensions, whether well or ill founded, produced in those who
felt them an increased solicitude for the preservation of peace. Their
aid was not requisite to confirm the judgment of Washington on this
interesting subject. Fixed in his purpose of maintaining the neutrality
of the United States until the aggressions of a foreign power should
clearly render neutrality incompatible with honor, and conceiving from
the last advices received from England that the differences between the
two nations had not yet attained that point, he determined to make one
decisive effort, which should either remove the ostensible causes of
quarrel or demonstrate the indisposition of Great Britain to remove
them. This determination was executed by the nomination of an envoy
extraordinary to his Britannic majesty, which was announced to the
Senate on the 16th of April (1794), in the following terms:

"The communications which I have made to you during your present
session, from the dispatches of our minister in London, contain a
serious aspect of our affairs with Great Britain. But as peace ought to
be pursued with unremitted zeal, before the last resource--which has so
often been the scourge of nations and cannot fail to check the advanced
prosperity of the United States--is contemplated, I have thought proper
to nominate and do hereby nominate John Jay as envoy extraordinary of
the United States to his Britannic majesty. [5]

"My confidence in our minister plenipotentiary in London continues
undiminished. But a mission like this, while it corresponds with the
solemnity of the occasion, will announce to the world a solicitude for
the friendly adjustment of our complaints and a reluctance to
hostility. Going immediately from the United States, such an envoy will
carry with him a full knowledge of the existing temper and sensibility
of our country, and will thus be taught to vindicate our rights with
firmness and to cultivate peace with sincerity."

To those who believed the interests of the nation to require a rupture
with England and a still closer connection with France nothing could be
more unlooked for or more unwelcome than this decisive measure. That it
would influence the proceedings of Congress could not be doubted, and
that it would materially affect the public mind was probable. Evincing
the opinion of the executive that negotiation, not legislative
hostility, was still the proper medium for accommodating differences
with Great Britain, it threw on the Legislature a great responsibility,
if they should persist in a system calculated to defeat that
negotiation. By showing to the people that their President did not yet
believe war to be necessary, it turned the attention of many to peace,
and, by suggesting the probability, rekindled the almost extinguished
desire of preserving that blessing.

Scarcely has any public act of the President drawn upon his
administration a greater degree of censure than this. That such would
be its effect could not be doubted by a person who had observed the
ardor with which opinions that it thwarted were embraced, or the
extremity to which the passions and contests of the moment had carried
all orders of men. But it is the province of real patriotism to consult
the utility more than the popularity of a measure, and to pursue the
path of duty, although it may be rugged.

In the Senate the nomination was approved by a majority of ten votes,
and, in the House of Representatives, it was urged as an argument
against persevering in the system which had been commenced. On the 18th
of April a motion for taking up the report of the committee of the
whole house on the resolution for cutting off all commercial
intercourse with Great Britain was opposed chiefly on the ground that,
as an envoy had been nominated to the court of that country, no
obstacle ought to be thrown in his way. The adoption of the resolution
would be a bar to negotiation, because it used the language of menace
and manifested a partiality to one of the belligerents which was
incompatible with neutrality. It was also an objection to the
resolution that it prescribed the terms on which alone a treaty should
be made, and was, consequently, an infringement of the right of the
executive to negotiate, and an indelicacy to that department.

The resolution having undergone some modifications, a bill in
conformity with it was brought in and carried by a considerable
majority. In the Senate it was lost by the casting vote of Mr. Adams,
the Vice-President. The system which had been taken up in the House of
Representatives was pressed no further.

A bill for punishing infringements of the neutrality laws and
prohibiting the condemnation and sale of prizes in the ports of the
United States, brought in by the belligerent powers, was suggested by
Washington and reported in the Senate, where it met a violent
opposition and was finally passed by the casting vote of the
Vice-President. In the House of Representatives it was passed after
striking out the provision relative to the sale of prizes. In
maintaining his system of strict neutrality Washington had to fight
every inch of the ground. The opposition omitted no means of bringing
the administration into discredit. Attacks in Congress on the executive
officers of the government was resorted to.

In both houses inquiries were set on foot respecting the treasury
department, which obviously originated in the hope of finding some
foundation for censuring Mr. Hamilton, the secretary, but which failed
entirely. In a similar hope, as respected Gouverneur Morris, the
minister of the United States at Paris, the Senate passed a vote
requesting the President to lay before that body his correspondence
with the French republic, and also with the Department of State.

As a war with Great Britain seemed inevitable should the mission of Mr.
Jay prove unsuccessful, Congress did not adjourn without passing the
absolutely necessary laws for putting the country in a state of
defense. Provision was made for fortifying the principal harbors, and
80,000 militia were ordered to be in readiness for active service. Arms
and munitions of war were allowed to be imported free of duty, and the
President was authorized to purchase galleys and lay an embargo if he
should deem that the public interest required it. To meet the expenses
thus incurred duties were levied on a number of additional articles of

On the 9th of June (1794) this active and stormy session was closed by
an adjournment to the first Monday in the succeeding November.

"The public," says Marshall, "was not less agitated than the
Legislature had been by those interesting questions which had
occasioned some of the most animated and eloquent discussions that had
ever taken place on the floor of the House of Representatives. Mr.
Madison's resolutions especially continued to be the theme of general
conversation, and, for a long time, divided parties throughout the
United States. The struggle for public opinion was ardent, and each
party supported its pretensions, not only with those arguments which
each deemed conclusive, but also by those reciprocal criminations
which, perhaps, each in part believed.

"The opposition declared that the friends of the administration were an
aristocratic and corrupt faction, who, from a desire to introduce
monarchy, were hostile to France, and under the influence of Britain;
that they sought every occasion to increase expense, to augment debt,
to multiply the public burdens, to create armies and navies, and, by
the instrumentality of all this machinery, to govern and enslave the
people; that they were a paper nobility, whose extreme sensibility at
every measure which threatened the funds, induced a tame submission to
injuries and insults, which the interest and the honor of the nation
required them to resist.

"The friends of the administration retorted that the opposition was
prepared to sacrifice the best interests of their country on the altar
of the French revolution; that they were willing to go to war for
French, not for American objects; that while they urged war they
withheld the means of supporting it in order the more effectually to
humble and disgrace the government; that they were so blinded by their
passion for France as to confound crimes with meritorious deeds, and to
abolish the natural distinction between virtue and vice; that the
principles which they propagated and with which they sought to
intoxicate the people were, in practice, incompatible with the
existence of government; that they were the apostles of anarchy, not of
freedom, and were, consequently, not the friends of real and rational

Immediately after the adjournment of Congress, Washington paid a short
visit to Mount Vernon. On the 19th of June he writes from Baltimore to
Randolph, Secretary of State, respecting the commission and letters of
credence of John Quincy Adams, whom he had recently appointed minister
resident to the United Netherlands. From the same place, on the same
day, he writes to Gouverneur Morris, who had recently been recalled
from France at the request of the revolutionary authorities, he having
pretty openly expressed his disapprobation of the excesses of the party
in power. Washington had appointed as his successor James Monroe, who,
as senator, had uniformly opposed the measures of the administration.
Such an act of magnanimity in these times would excite considerable

On the 25th of June (1794), after his arrival at Mount Vernon,
Washington again writes to Gouverneur Morris, who still retained his
warm friendship and confidence. Speaking of his political course, he
says: "My primary objects, to which I have steadily adhered, have been
to preserve the country in peace if I can, and to be prepared for war
if I cannot; to effect the first upon terms consistent with the respect
which is due to ourselves and with honor, justice, and good faith to
all the world."

On the same day he writes to Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State: "I
shall endeavor to be back by the time I allotted before I left
Philadelphia, if I am able, but an exertion to save myself and horse
from falling among the rocks at the lower falls of the Potomac, whither
I went on Sunday morning to see the canal and locks, has wrenched my
back in such a manner as to prevent my riding, and hitherto has
defeated the purposes for which I came home. My stay here will only be
until I can ride with ease and safety, whether I accomplish my own
business or not."

In July (1794) Washington returned to Philadelphia, where very weighty
matters were demanding his attention.

1. Footnote: Marshall.

2. Footnote: Madison, on this and other occasions, appears to have been
earnestly desirous to build up an extensive mercantile marine, with a
view to the formation of an efficient navy. It is pleasant to recollect
that, under his administration as President, the proudest triumphs of
our navy were achieved.

3. Footnote: Marshall.

4. Footnote: A well-known term designating the most violent party in

5. Footnote: Mr. Jay's secretary on this mission was Col. John
Trumbull. Colonel Trumbull may be considered one of the most
interesting among the many remarkable characters called into action and
developed by our Revolutionary War. All that we know of him tends to
raise him in our estimation as a soldier, a gentleman, and an artist.
When accidentally, as he thought, but providentially, as the event
proved, he was excluded from the army, he deemed it a great misfortune,
but it forced upon him the cultivation of his art, and made him the
painter of the Revolution. His noble historical paintings are the most
precious relics of that heroic age which the nation possesses. They are
justly prized above all price; and the latest posterity will rejoice
that Trumbull laid down the sword to take up the pallet and pencil.



While Congress was in session several important matters had claimed the
consideration of Washington, to which we will now call the reader's
attention. It will be recollected that a request of the executive for
the recall of Mr. Genet had been transmitted to the French government.
During the time which elapsed before an answer could be returned
Genet's proceedings had been such as to call for all the prudence,
foresight, and moderation of Washington.

In that spirit of conciliation which adopts the least irritating means
for effecting its objects, Washington had resolved to bear with the
insults, the resistance, and the open defiance of Genet until his
appeal to the friendship and the policy of the French republic should
be fairly tried. Early in January (1794) this resolution was shaken by
fresh proofs of the perseverance of that minister in a line of conduct
not to be tolerated by a nation which has not surrendered all
pretensions to self-government. Genet had meditated and deliberately
planned two expeditions, to be carried on from the territories of the
United States against the dominions of Spain, and had, as minister of
the French republic, granted commissions to citizens of the United
States, who were privately recruiting troops for the proposed service.
The first was destined against Florida and the second against
Louisiana. The detail of the plans had been settled. The pay, rations,
clothing, plunder, and division of the conquered lands to be allotted
to the military and the proportion of the acquisitions to be reserved
to the republic of France were arranged. The troops destined to act
against Florida were to be raised in the three southern States, were to
rendezvous in Georgia, were to be aided by a body of Indians, and were
to cooperate with the French fleet, should one arrive on the coast.
This scheme had been the subject of a correspondence between the
executive and Genet, but was in full progress in the preceding
December, when, by the vigilance of the Legislature of South Carolina,
it was more particularly developed, and some of the principal agents
were arrested.

About the same time, intelligence less authentic, but wearing every
circumstance of probability, was received, stating that the expedition
against Louisiana, which was to be carried on down the Ohio from
Kentucky, was in equal maturity.

This intelligence seemed to render a further forbearance incompatible
with the dignity of the United States. The question of superseding the
diplomatic functions of Genet and depriving him of the privileges
attached to that character was brought before the Cabinet, and a
message to Congress was prepared, communicating these transactions and
avowing a determination to adopt that measure, unless one or the other
House should signify the opinion that it was not advisable so to do,
when the business was arrested by receiving a letter from Mr. Morris
announcing officially the recall of this rash minister. Mr. Fauchet,
the successor of Genet, arrived in February (1794), and brought with
him strong assurances that his government totally disapproved the
conduct of his predecessor. He avowed a determination to avoid whatever
might be offensive to those to whom he was deputed, and a wish to carry
into full effect the friendly dispositions of his nation toward the
United States. For some time his actions were in the spirit of these

Not long after the arrival of Mr. Fauchet, the executive government of
France requested the recall of Gouverneur Morris. With this request
Washington, as we have already seen, immediately complied, and James
Monroe was appointed to succeed him.

The discontents which had been long fomented in the western country had
assumed a serious and alarming appearance. A remonstrance to the
President and Congress of the United States from the inhabitants of
Kentucky, respecting the navigation of the Mississippi, was laid before
the executive and each branch of the Legislature. The style of this
paper accorded well with the instructions under which it had been
prepared. It demanded the free navigation of the Mississippi as a
right, and arraigned the government for not having secured its
enjoyment. The paper was submitted to both Houses of Congress.

In the Senate the subject was referred to a committee who reported
"that in the negotiation now carrying on at Madrid between the
United States and Spain, the right of the former to the free navigation
of the Mississippi is well asserted and demonstrated, and their claim
to its enjoyment is pursued with all the assiduity and firmness which
the magnitude of the subject demands, and will doubtless continue to be
so pursued until the object shall be obtained or adverse circumstances
shall render the further progress of the negotiation impracticable.
That in the present state of the business it would improper for
Congress to interfere, but, in order to satisfy the citizens of the
United States more immediately interested in the event of this
negotiation, that the United States, have uniformly asserted their
right to the free use of the navigation of the river Mississippi, and
have employed and will continue to pursue such measures as are best
adapted to obtain the enjoyment of this important territorial right,
the committee recommend that it be resolved by the Senate:

"That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is requested
to cause to be communicated to the executive of the State of Kentucky,
such part of the existing negotiation between the United States and
Spain relative to this subject, as he may deem advisable and consistent
with the course of the negotiation."

In the House of Representatives also a resolution was passed,
expressing the conviction of the House, that the executive was urging
the claim of the United States to the navigation of the Mississippi in
the manner most likely to prove successful.

This answer was not satisfactory to the Kentuckians. Later developments
showed that they had a different object from that of obtaining the free
navigation of the Mississippi by negotiation.

In October, 1793, it was alleged by the Spanish commissioners that four
Frenchmen had left Philadelphia, empowered by the minister of the
French republic to prepare an expedition, in Kentucky, against New
Orleans. This fact was immediately communicated by Mr. Jefferson to the
governor of that State, with a request that he would use those means of
prevention which the law enabled him to employ. This letter was
accompanied by one from the Secretary of War, conveying the request of
the President, that, if preventive means should fail, effectual
military force should then be employed to arrest the expedition, and
General Wayne was ordered to hold a body of troops at the disposal of
the governor should he find the militia insufficient for his purpose.

The governor had already received information that a citizen of
Kentucky was in possession of a commission appointing him
Commander-in-Chief of the proposed expedition; and that the Frenchmen
alluded to in the letter of Mr. Jefferson had arrived, and, far from
affecting concealment, declared that they only waited for money, which
they expected soon to receive, in order to commence their operations.

The governor, however, in a letter, containing very singular views of
his duty in the affair, declined to interfere with the proposed

Upon the receipt of this extraordinary letter, Washington directed
General Wayne to establish a military post at Fort Massac, on the Ohio,
for the purpose of stopping by force, if peaceful means should fail,
any body of armed men who should be proceeding down that river.

This precaution appears to have been necessary. The preparations for
the expedition were, for some time, carried on with considerable
activity; and there is reason to believe that it was not absolutely
relinquished until the war ceased between France and Spain.

It will be recollected that, in the preceding year, the attempt to
treat with the hostile Indians had suspended the operations of General
Wayne until the season for action had nearly passed away. After the
total failure of negotiation, the campaign was opened with as much
vigor as a prudent attention to circumstances would permit.

The Indians had expected an attempt upon their villages, and had
collected in full force, with the apparent determination of risking a
battle in their defense. A battle was desired by the American general,
but the consequences of another defeat were too serious to warrant him
in putting more to hazard by precipitate movements than the
circumstances of the war required. The negotiations with the Indians
were not terminated till September, and it was then too late to
complete the preparations which would enable General Wayne to
accomplish his object. He, therefore, contented himself with collecting
his army and penetrating about six miles in advance of Fort Jefferson,
where he established himself for the winter in a camp called
Greensville. After fortifying his camp, he took possession of the
ground on which the Americans had been defeated in 1791, where he
erected Fort Recovery. These positions afforded considerable protection
to the frontiers, and facilitated the opening of the ensuing campaign.

Seeing only the dark side of every measure adopted by the government,
and not disinclined to militia expeditions made at the expense of the
United States, the people of Kentucky loudly charged the President with
a total disregard of their safety, pronounced the Continental troops
entirely useless, declared that the Indians should be kept in awe alone
by the militia, and insisted that the power should be deposited with
some person in their State to call them out at his discretion, at the
charge of the United States.

Meanwhile, some steps were taken by the Governor of Upper Canada, which
were well calculated to increase suspicions respecting the dispositions
of Great Britain.

It was believed by Washington, not without cause, that the cabinet of
London was disposed to avail itself of the nonexecution of that article
of the treaty of peace which stipulates for the payment of debts, to
justify a permanent detention of the posts on the southern side of the
lakes, and to establish a new boundary line, whereby those lakes should
be entirely comprehended in Upper Canada. Early in the spring a
detachment from the garrison of Detroit repossessed and fortified a
position nearly fifty miles south of that station, on the Miami, a
river which empties into Lake Erie at its westernmost point.

This movement, and other facts which strengthened the belief that the
hostile Indians were at least countenanced by the English, were the
subjects of a correspondence between the Secretary of State and Mr.
Hammond, in which crimination was answered by recrimination, in which a
considerable degree of mutual irritation was displayed, and in which
each supported his charges against the nation of the other, much better
than he defended his own. It did not, however, in any manner, affect
the operations of the army.

The delays inseparable from the transportation of necessary supplies
through an uninhabited country, infested by an active enemy peculiarly
skilled in partisan war, unavoidably protracted the opening of the
campaign until near midsummer. Meanwhile several sharp skirmishes took
place, in one of which a few white men were stated to be mingled with
the Indians.

On the 8th of August (1794) General Wayne reached the confluence of the
Au Glaize, where he threw up some works of defense and protection for
magazines. The richest and most extensive settlements of the western
Indians lay about this place.

The mouth of the Au Glaize is distant about thirty miles from the post
occupied by the British, in the vicinity of which the whole strength of
the enemy, amounting, according to intelligence on which General Wayne
relied, to rather less than 2,000 men, was collected. The Continental
legion was not much inferior in number to the Indians, and a
reinforcement of about 1,100 mounted militia from Kentucky, commanded
by General Scott, gave a decided superiority of strength to the army of
Wayne. That the Indians had determined to give him battle was well
understood, and the discipline of his legion, the ardor of all his
troops, and the superiority of his numbers, authorized him confidently
to expect a favorable issue. Yet, in pursuance of that policy by which
the United States had been uniformly actuated, he determined to make
one more effort for the attainment of peace without bloodshed.
Messengers were dispatched to the several hostile tribes who were
assembled in his front, inviting them to appoint deputies to meet him
on his march, in order to negotiate a lasting peace.

On the 15th of August (1794) the American army advanced down the Miami,
with its right covered by that river, and on the 18th arrived at the
rapids. Here they halted on the 19th, in order to erect a temporary
work for the protection of the baggage and to reconnoiter the situation
of the enemy.

The Indians were advantageously posted behind a thick wood, and behind
the British fort.

At 8 in the morning of the 20th the American army advanced in columns,
the legion with its right flank covered by the Miami. One brigade of
mounted volunteers, commanded by General Todd, was on the left; and the
other, under General Barbee, was in the rear. A select battalion,
commanded by Major Price, moved in front of the legion, sufficiently in
advance to give timely notice for the troops to form in case of action.

After marching about five miles Major Price received a heavy fire from
a concealed enemy, and was compelled to retreat.

The Indians had chosen their ground with judgment. They had advanced
into the thick wood in front of the British works, which extends
several miles west from the Miami, and had taken a position rendered
almost inaccessible to horse by a quantity of fallen timber which
appeared to have been blown up in a tornado. They were formed in three
lines, within supporting distance of each other; and, as is their
custom, with a very extended front. Their line stretched to the west,
at right angles with the river, about two miles, and their immediate
effort was to turn the left flank of the American army.

On the discharge of the first rifle, the legion was formed in two
lines, and the front was ordered to advance with trailed arms and rouse
the enemy from his covert at the point of the bayonet; then, and not
until then, to deliver a fire, and to press the fugitives too closely
to allow them time to load after discharging their pieces. Soon
perceiving the strength of the enemy in front, and that he was
endeavoring to turn the American left, the general ordered the second
line to support the first. The legion cavalry, led by Captain Campbell,
was directed to penetrate between the Indians and the river, where the
wood was less thick and entangled, in order to charge their left flank;
and General Scott, at the head of the mounted volunteers, was directed
to make a considerable circuit, and to turn their right flank.

These orders were executed with spirit and promptitude, but such was
the impetuosity of the charge made by the first line of infantry, so
entirely was the enemy broken by it, and so rapid was the pursuit that
only a small part of the second line and of the mounted volunteers
could get into action. In the course of one hour the Indians were
driven more than two miles through thick woods, when the pursuit
terminated within gunshot of the British fort.

General Wayne remained three days on the banks of the Miami, in front
of the field of battle, during which time the houses and cornfields
above and below the fort, some of them within pistol-shot of it, were
reduced to ashes. In the course of these operations a correspondence
took place between General Wayne and Major Campbell, the commandant of
the fort, which is stated by the former in such a manner as to show
that hostilities between them were avoided only by the prudent
acquiescence of the latter in this devastation of property within the
range of his guns.

On the 28th (August, 1794), the army returned to Au Glaize by easy
marches, destroying on its route all the villages and corn within fifty
miles of the river.

In this decisive battle the loss of the Americans in killed and
wounded, amounted to 107, including officers. Among the dead were
Captain Campbell, who commanded the cavalry, and Lieutenant Towles of
the infantry, both of whom fell in the first charge. General Wayne
bestowed great and well-merited praise on the courage and alacrity
displayed by every part of the army.

The hostility of the Indians still continuing, their whole country was
laid waste, and forts were erected in the heart of their settlements to
prevent their return.

This seasonable victory rescued the United States from a general war
with all the Indians northwest of the Ohio. The Six Nations had
discovered a restless, uneasy temper, and the interposition of the
President to prevent a settlement which Pennsylvania was about to make
at Presque Isle seemed rather to suspend the commencement of
hostilities than to establish permanent pacific dispositions among
those tribes. The battle of the 20th of August, however, had an
immediate effect, and the clouds which had been long gathering in that
quarter were instantly dissipated.

In the South, too, its influence was felt. In that quarter the
inhabitants of Georgia and the Indians seemed equally disposed to war.
Scarcely was the feeble authority of the government competent to
restrain the aggressions of the former, or the dread of its force
sufficient to repress those of the latter. In this doubtful state of
things, the effect of a victory could not be inconsiderable.

About this time the seditions and violent resistance to the execution
of the law imposing duties on spirits distilled within the United
States had advanced to a point in the counties of Pennsylvania lying
west of the Allegheny mountains, which required the decisive
interposition of government.

The laws being openly set at defiance, Washington determined to test
their efficiency. Bills of indictment were found against the
perpetrators of certain outrages, and process was issued against them
and placed in the hands of the United States marshal for execution.

The marshal repaired in person to the country which was the scene of
disorder for the purpose of serving the processes. On the 15th of July
(1794), while in the execution of his duty, he was beset on the road by
a body of armed men, who fired on him, but fortunately did him no
personal injury. At daybreak the ensuing morning a party attacked the
house of General Nevil, the inspector, but he defended himself
resolutely and obliged the assailants to retreat.

Knowing well that this attack had been preconcerted, and apprehending
that it would be repeated, he applied to the militia officers and
magistrates of the county for protection. The answer was that, "owing
to the too general combination of the people to oppose the revenue
system, the laws could not be executed so as to afford him protection;
that should the _posse comitatus_ be ordered out to support the civil
authority they would favor the party of the rioters."

On the succeeding day the insurgents reassembled to the number of about
500 to renew their attack on the house of the inspector. That officer,
finding that no protection could be afforded by the civil authority,
had applied to the commanding officer at Fort Pitt, and had obtained a
detachment of eleven men from that garrison, who were joined by Major
Kirkpatrick. Successful resistance to so great a force being obviously
impracticable, a parley took place, at which the assailants, after
requiring that the inspector and all his papers should be delivered up,
demanded that the party in the house should march out and ground their
arms. This being refused, the parley terminated and the assault
commenced. The action lasted until the assailants set fire to several
adjacent buildings, the heat from which was so intense that the house
could no longer be occupied. From this cause, and from the apprehension
that the fire would soon be communicated to the main building, Major
Kirkpatrick and his party surrendered themselves.

The marshal and Col. Pressly Nevil were seized on their way to General
Nevil's house and detained until 2 the next morning. The marshal
especially was treated with extreme severity. His life was frequently
threatened, and was probably saved by the interposition of some leading
individuals, who possessed more humanity or more prudence than those
with whom they were associated. He could obtain his liberty only by
entering into a solemn engagement, which was guaranteed by Colonel
Nevil, to serve no more processes on the western side of the Allegheny

The marshal and inspector having both retired to Pittsburgh, the
insurgents deputed two of their body, one of whom was a justice of the
peace, to demand that the former should surrender all his authority,
and that the latter should resign his office, threatening, in case of
refusal, to attack the place and seize their persons. These demands
were not acceded to, but Pittsburghh affording no security, these
officers escaped from the danger which threatened them by descending
the Ohio; after which they found their way, by a circuitous route, to
the seat of government.

The rioters next proceeded to intercept the mail and take out letters
from certain parties in Pittsburghh, containing expressions of
disapproval of their proceedings. The writers of these letters they
caused to be banished. They next held meetings on Braddock's Field and
at Parkinson's Ferry, at which the determination to resist the laws by
force of arms was openly avowed.

Affidavits attesting this serious state of things were laid before
Washington. Affairs had now reached a point which seemed to forbid the
continuance of a temporizing system. The efforts at conciliation,
which, for more than three years, the government had persisted to make,
and the alterations repeatedly introduced into the act for the purpose
of rendering it less exceptionable, instead of diminishing the
arrogance of those who opposed their will to the sense of the nation,
had drawn forth sentiments indicative of designs much deeper than the
evasion of a single act. The execution of the laws had at length been
resisted by open force, and a determination to persevere in these
measures was unequivocally avowed. The alternative of subduing this
resistance or of submitting to it was presented to the government.

The act of Congress which provided for calling forth the militia "to
execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel
invasions" required, as a prerequisite to the exercise of this power,
"that an associate justice, or the judge of the district, should
certify that the laws of the United States were opposed, or their
execution obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by
the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in
the marshals." In the same act it was provided, "that if the militia of
the State where such combinations may happen shall refuse, or be
insufficient, to suppress the same, the President may employ the
militia of other States."

The evidence which had been transmitted to Washington was laid before
one of the associate justices, who gave the certificate, which enabled
the chief magistrate to employ the militia in aid of the civil power.

Washington now called a cabinet to consider the subject, and the
Governor of Pennsylvania was also consulted respecting it. Randolph,
the Secretary of State, and the Governor of Pennsylvania urged reasons
against coercion by force of arms; Hamilton, Knox, and Bradford were in
favor of employing military force. These members of the Cabinet were
also of opinion that policy and humanity equally dictated the
employment of a force which would render resistance desperate. The
insurgent country contained 16,000 men able to bear arms, and the
computation was that they could bring 7,000 into the field. If the army
of the government should amount to 12,000 men, it would present an
imposing force which the insurgents would not venture to meet.

It was impossible that Washington could hesitate to embrace the latter
of these opinions. That a government entrusted to him should be
trampled under foot by a lawless section of the Union, which set at
defiance the will of the nation, as expressed by its representatives,
was an abasement to which neither his judgment nor his feelings could
submit. He resolved, therefore, to issue the proclamation which, by
law, was to precede the employment of force.

On the same day a requisition was made on the Governors of New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia for their several quotas of
militia to compose an army of 12,000 men, who were to be immediately
organized and prepared to march at a minute's warning. The force was
ultimately increased to 15,000. While steps were taking to bring this
force into the field, a last essay was made to render its employment
unnecessary. Three distinguished and popular citizens of Pennsylvania
were deputed by the government to be the bearers of a general amnesty
for past offenses, on the sole condition of future obedience to the

It having been deemed advisable that the executive of the State should
act in concert with that of the United States, Governor Mifflin also
issued a proclamation and appointed commissioners to act with those of
the general government.

These commissioners were met by a committee from the convention at
Parkinson's Ferry, and the conference resulted in a reference of the
offer of amnesty to the people. This reference only served to
demonstrate that, while a few persons were disposed to submit to the
laws, the masses in the disturbed districts were determined to obstruct
the re-establishment of civil authority.

On the 25th of September (1794), Washington issued a proclamation
describing in terms of great energy the obstinate and perverse spirit
with which the lenient propositions of the government had been
received, and declaring his fixed determination, in obedience to the
high and irresistible duty consigned to him by the constitution, "to
take care that the laws be faithfully executed," to reduce the
refractory to obedience.

The troops of New Jersey and Pennsylvania were directed to rendezvous
at Bedford, and those of Maryland and Virginia at Cumberland, on the
Potomac. The command of the expedition had been conferred on Governor
Lee, of Virginia, and the Governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
commanded the militia of their respective States under him.

Washington in person visited each division of the army, but, being
confident that the force employed must look down all resistance, he
left Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, to accompany it, and
returned himself to Philadelphia, where the approaching session of
Congress required his presence. [1]

From Cumberland and Bedford the army marched in two divisions into the
country of the insurgents. The greatness of the force prevented the
effusion of blood. The disaffected did not venture to assemble in arms.
Several of the leaders, who had refused to give assurances of future
submission to the laws, were seized, and some of them detained for
legal prosecution.

But although no direct and open opposition was made, the spirit of
insurrection was not subdued. A sour and malignant temper displayed
itself, which indicated but too plainly that the disposition to resist
had only sunk under the pressure of the great military force brought
into the country, but would rise again should that force be withdrawn.
It was, therefore, thought advisable to station for the winter a
detachment, to be commanded by Major-General Morgan, in the center of
the disaffected country.

"Thus," says Marshall, "without shedding blood, did the prudent vigor
of the executive terminate an insurrection which, at one time,
threatened to shake the government of the United States to its
foundation. That so perverse a spirit should have been excited in the
bosom of prosperity, without the pressure of a single grievance, is
among those political phenomena which occur not infrequently in the
course of human affairs, and which the statesman can never safely
disregard. When real ills are felt there is something positive and
perceptible to which the judgment may be directed, the actual extent of
which may be ascertained and the cause of which may be discerned. But
when the mind, inflamed by suppositious dangers, gives full play to the
imagination, and fastens upon some object with which to disturb itself,
the belief that the danger exists seems to become a matter of faith,
with which reason combats in vain."

Washington's own view of the insurrection and its causes is contained
in a letter to John Jay, then on his mission to England. "As you have
been," he writes, "and will continue to be fully informed by the
Secretary of State of all transactions of a public nature which relate
to, or may have an influence on, the points of your mission, it would
be unnecessary for me to touch upon any of them in this letter were it
not for the presumption that the insurrection in the western counties
of this State has excited much speculation and a variety of opinions
abroad, and will be represented differently, according to the wishes of
some and the prejudices of others, who may exhibit, as an evidence of
what has been predicted, 'that we are unable to govern ourselves.'
Under this view of the subject, I am happy in giving it to you as the
general opinion that this event having happened at the time it did was
fortunate, although it will be attended with considerable expense.

"That the self-created societies which have spread themselves over this
country have been laboring incessantly to sow the seeds of distrust,
jealousy, and, of course, discontent, thereby hoping to effect some
revolution in the government, is not unknown to you. That they have
been the fomenters of the western disturbances admits of no doubt in
the mind of anyone who will examine their conduct, but, fortunately,
they precipitated a crisis for which they were not prepared, and
thereby have unfolded views which will, I trust, effectuate their
annihilation sooner than it might otherwise have happened, at the same
time that it has afforded an occasion for the people of this country to
show their abhorrence of the result and their attachment to the
constitution and the laws; for I believe that five times the number of
militia that was required would have come forward, if it had been
necessary, to support them.

"The spirit which blazed out on this occasion, as soon as the object
was fully understood, and the lenient measures of the government were
made known to the people, deserves to be communicated. There are
instances of general officers going at the head of a single troop and
of light companies; of field officers, when they came to the place of
rendezvous and found no command for them in that grade, turning into
the ranks and proceeding as private soldiers, under their own captains;
and of numbers, possessing the first fortunes in the country, standing
in the ranks as private men, and marching day by day with their
knapsacks and haversacks at their backs, sleeping on straw, with a
single blanket, in a soldier's tent, during the frosty nights which we
have had, by way of example to others. Nay, more; many young Quakers of
the first families, character, and property, not discouraged by the
elders, have turned into the ranks and are marching with the troops.

"These things have terrified the insurgents, who had no conception that
such a spirit prevailed, but, while the thunder only rumbled at a
distance, were boasting of their strength and wishing for and
threatening the militia by turns, intimating that the arms they should
take from them would soon become a magazine in their hands. Their
language is much changed, indeed, but their principles want correction.

"I shall be more prolix in my speech to Congress on the commencement
and progress of this insurrection than is usual in such an instrument,
or than I should have been on any other occasion, but as numbers at
home and abroad will hear of the insurrection, and will read the
speech, that may know nothing of the documents to which it might refer,
I conceived it would be better to encounter the charge of prolixity by
giving a cursory detail of facts, that would show the prominent
features of the thing, than to let it go naked into the world, to be
dressed up according to the fancy or inclination of the readers or the
policy of our enemies."

Sentiments similar to these were expressed in a letter to Washington's
old and intimate friend, Edmund Pendleton. "The successes of our army
to the westward," he writes, "have already been productive of good
consequences. They have dispelled a cloud which lowered very heavily in
the northern hemisphere (the Six Nations), and, though we have received
no direct advices from General Wayne since November, there is reason to
believe that the Indians with whom we are or were at war in that
quarter, together with their abettors, [2] begin to see things in a
different point of view."

One of the most important effects of the suppression of the western
rebellion was the fatal blow it gave to the democratic societies
founded by Genet.

Washington's opinion of these societies is thus expressed in a letter
to one of his friends: "The real people, occasionally assembled in
order to express their sentiments on political subjects, ought never to
be confounded with permanent self-appointed societies, usurping the
right to control the constituted authorities and to dictate to public
opinion. While the former is entitled to respect, the latter is
incompatible with all government and must either sink into general
disesteem or finally overturn the established order of things."

1. Footnote: General Knox, the Secretary of War, accompanied the army
to the expected scene of action. The command in chief was confided to
Gen. Henry Lee, Washington's old friend and companion in the
Revolutionary War. He was at this time Governor of Virginia.

2. Footnote: The British on the border.



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