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The United States of America Part I by Ediwn Erle Sparks

Part 3 out of 6

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annually, to be applied also to the national expenses.

Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. This was one of the
Revolutionary obligations assumed and paid under Hamilton's financial

The members of Congress, at the subsequent session, with remarkable
unanimity, concurred in these recommendations of the Secretary of the
Treasury for the redemption of the national obligations, including
both the debt owed to foreign nations and that incurred to domestic
holders during the exigencies of the war. But upon another proposition,
that the United States should assume the debts incurred by the several
States during the war, there was strong opposition. It was said that
such action would lead to speculation and stock-jobbery in buying up
these debts and converting them into new forms. The original holders
had long since disposed of them to brokers, who would be enriched by
national legislation. It was the old clash between the moneyed and the
moneyless classes. Although the action would be a direct interference
of the National Government with State affairs, the debates turned on
economic rather than constitutional grounds. If Hamilton had the
foresight with which he is credited by his admirers, if he saw that
the allegiance of the people would gradually be won away from the
States to the Central Government because the latter was redeeming
promises which the States had long been endeavouring to meet, if he
was taking advantage of the selfishness and cupidity of the deeply
indebted States, there is no evidence to show that the States saw or
appreciated the danger.

Virginia, whose representatives bore the brunt of the opposition, had
a source of revenue in her western lands from which she could easily
discharge her obligations, and naturally had no desire to share the
liabilities of others. But her State Legislature, after Hamilton agreed
with Jefferson to buy off the Virginia opposition in Congress by
locating the national capital on the Potomac, protested in strong and
exact terms against the State-debts-assumption proposition. These
resolutions recited that the people of Virginia had adopted the Federal
Constitution under the impression and upon positive condition that
"every power not granted was retained," and that they had read the
document in vain to find the right given to assume the debts of the
States. Here, within two years after the adoption of the Constitution,
was a State Legislature protesting against the usurpation of power
under it. It was the first of many futile protests.

Hamilton, sending a copy of the Virginia resolutions to Jay, saw "the
first symptom of a spirit which must either be killed or will kill the
Constitution of the United States." He thought the collective weight
of the different parts of the Government ought to be employed in
exploding the principles they contained. Theoretically, the Legislature
of Virginia may have been correct in its attitude; but no theoretical
protest could avail against the worthy sentiment that the entire
national credit must be restored, backed by the practical demands of
the creditors, and by the desires of those who saw an opportunity of
investment or speculation.

Those people, both officials and citizens, who took the stand in these
formative days of political parties that the Federal Government should
be restricted in its workings to the powers expressly given to it in
the Constitution, a "strict construction" of that document, as they
called it, were generally country bred, of the borrowing rather than
the lending class, depending upon individual initiative rather than
mass action, strangers to the paternal aspects and fostering hand of
government, and inexperienced in the intricacies of finance. Gen. Henry
Lee, of Virginia, complained to Madison of the complexity of Hamilton's
plan. "It departs," replied Madison, "from that simplicity which ought
to be preserved in finance more than anything else." Inability to
comprehend naturally breeds suspicion.

Hamilton's followers were, for the most part, from the Northern and
Middle States, city dwellers, money-lenders rather than borrowers,
business men, and manufacturers, who saw no wrong in having the
Government promote the general welfare by legislation. The sudden
revival of business which followed the adoption of Hamilton's plan to
redeem all the debts seemed to them both natural and legitimate. The
other group looked upon the entire matter as a corrupt transaction,
contrived by Hamilton, and a prostitution of government from its
legitimate purposes. Madison wrote that just before the report came
out the value of the various forms of debt rose from a few shillings
to eight or ten shillings in the pound, and that emissaries were still
exploring the interior and distant parts of the Union in order to take
advantage of the ignorance of the holders. To meet the occasion
Jefferson invented the phrases, "corrupt squadron," "stock-jobbing
herd," and "votaries of the treasury," upon which he rang the changes
during a long lifetime.

To this indignation was added dismay when the effects of national
assumption of State obligations began to be appreciated; when creditors
who had besieged the State treasury for years found the Union satisfying
their just demands; when the evidences of national government, which
had heretofore been confined to a wandering Congress, began to appear
at every hearthstone. A realisation of these results brought from
Jefferson the complaint that he had been duped by Hamilton in the
assumption-capital bargain; that he had been "most innocently and most
ignorantly made to hold the candle for a wicked scheme."

A similar aggrandisement of the National Government was the motive,
according to the eulogists of Hamilton, which prompted him to make a
suggestion for another novelty, a United States bank. Ostensibly he
claimed that it would have the effect of bringing immediate financial
relief, as well as safeguarding the future. The arguments presented
by him to Congress for the incorporation of a bank in which the National
Government should be a stockholder were purely utilitarian. The bank
would benefit the public by offering an opportunity for the investment
of capital. It would benefit the Government by lending it money in an
emergency and by collecting its revenues. Its notes would also form
a circulating medium. The bill drawn by Hamilton incorporating such
a bank passed the Senate without material change and without a division.
One Senator from Pennsylvania, suggesting amendments to his colleague,
was informed that Hamilton's father-in-law, a Senator from New York,
had said Hamilton did not wish the bill altered. The hopeless minority
in the Senate claimed that the chances of subscribing to the proposed
bank, guaranteeing an investment at six per cent, for twenty years,
won many to its support. They also saw here another link in the chain
which Hamilton was welding about the States. The debts having been
assumed, the certificates would be accepted as subscriptions to bank
stock. Thus one measure would be made to play into another.

In the House, the right of the Federal Government to found a bank was
attacked by Madison, who here parted from Hamilton, with whom he had
laboured in getting the Constitution adopted. The line-up of parties
had begun. Madison found himself opposed to the way in which the
Government was being perverted by Hamilton under the Constitution. His
speech is the first extensive exposition of the doctrine of strict
construction of the written instrument; that the central power must
be held strictly to the powers numerated in the document. Strict
construction exhibits the vice of a written Constitution--the
impossibility of growth or even continued life within the bonds of the
written word. Stagnation and death must result from binding the limbs
of the body politic. Loosening by interpretation is the remedy. Madison
was correct in saying that the right to incorporate bodies was proposed
in the Philadelphia Convention and abandoned; that the power to
incorporate a bank was nowhere given in the Constitution to the Federal
Government; that banking was presumed to be a matter for State control;
that in all the debates and papers written on the Constitution it was
understood that "the powers not given were retained; and that those
given were not to be extended by remote implications."

In reply, Boudinot did not deny that all powers, vested heretofore in
any individual State, and not granted by this instrument, were still
retained by the people of such State and could not be exercised by
Congress. But he then showed that the power to incorporate the bank
was "drawn by necessary implication" from those expressed. The preamble
declared in general terms the objects of the Constitution; one of the
expressed functions under it was "to borrow money"; and the circle was
completed by the liberal clause to "make all laws necessary and proper
for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." Now to provide for
the general welfare it might be necessary to borrow money; a bank was
essential to the borrowing of money in adequate sums; therefore the
power to establish a bank was deduced by the strongest and most decisive

Here was the first complete exposition of the doctrine of a loose
construction for the wording of the Constitution. If that be correct
reasoning, said the opposition, the Constitution may as well stop with
the preamble, since there is no power under heaven which could not be
exercised within its limits. It would mean the consolidation of all
powers, and the practical extinction of local government. The attitude
of the two sides in the debate may be shown by one illustration
employed. Suppose the power to make a treaty or to raise an army had
been omitted from the Constitution, asked the Hamiltonians, could the
National Government in an emergency assume such rights from the preamble
and the powers expressed? Must it hesitate and temporise while the
blood of its citizens was being shed? Such an assumption of power,
replied the strict interpreters, might be excusable in an emergency,
but could be warranted as a practice only by an amendment to the
Constitution made in the manner it prescribed.

The present situation and the compelling force which had produced it
were manifest when those who favoured giving the Union such implied
powers as would make it effective pointed out many instances of
implication of which Congress had already been guilty; such as accepting
land for lighthouses, defining crimes under power to establish courts,
and even creating corporations in the shape of the North-West and the
South-West territories. One of these lesions of the written word, that
which interpreted a clause so as to give the President power over
removals from office, Madison himself had favoured.

This first constitutional debate also outlined the geographical
sectionalism which has penetrated and influenced every feature of
American political as well as commercial and social life. The Northern
and Middle States contained the cities, made up of the trading class,
whose capital was chiefly in ready money. The capital of the rural
dwellers of the South was in land and slaves, not easily converted
into cash. The latter became the borrowing, the former the lending
section. The spirit of unionism was engendered in the first by reason
of their urban life, their commercial employment, and their frequent
contact in business. The feeling of individualism was as naturally
bred in the latter by their rural surroundings, their agricultural
occupation, and the self-reliance induced by their solitary environment.
The opposition to the Constitution in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New
York, and Pennsylvania had been confined almost entirely to the country.
The rural States of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina did
not adopt the new frame without a struggle. Georgia was a Southern
exception; but population dwelt so exclusively along the coast in the
new State of Georgia that it was really a commercial State, settled
largely by New Englanders.

The mercantile class of the Northern and Central States, after Anti-
Federalism had been silenced by the success of the new Government, was
ready to adopt the theory of loose construction or interpretation by
inclusion, which would tend toward the realisation of a more potent
union. At the same time, a bank, supported by the patronage of the
National Government, with no danger of competition for twenty years,
offered not only a security for capital against such dangers as it had
previously known, but also, through its branches, an extended agency
for transacting business. Many details of the bill, such as the
advantages given to holders of national rather than State certificates
in subscribing for stock, contributed to the sectional division. The
national certificates were held in the commercial centres. The influence
of the city of New York, where the Congress met, no doubt contributed
to the passage of the bank and other commercial measures.

Precisely the opposite feelings held in the Southern States. Every
vote cast in the House against the bank came from Maryland or a State
to the south of it. There were a few scattering votes from the Southern
States in favour of the measure, but as a whole political lines were
here unconsciously drawn for a century to come, if not for the entire
existence of the Republic. The "court and country" parties of colonial
days had been born again.

Many of the members were surprised to find sentiment toward these
financial measures assuming such a sectional trend. Sectional interests
had been only too manifest in the convention, but compromises had
settled them, presumably for ever. Compromise is only a relief; it is
never a remedy. After each compromise in American history it has been
a matter of surprise to the participants that others were needed. On
the bank bill, a member wrote to a correspondent: "You may think it
unaccountable, but so it is that the differences in climate seem to
govern the opinions on this bill, and Potomac seems to be near the
dividing line with few exceptions."

Virginia was the leader of the section south of the Potomac, and
Jefferson was the leader of Virginia. Although debarred from the
congressional debates by his Cabinet position, he filled his letters
to his friends with warnings against the dangerous assumptions of the
Hamilton measures. In response to Washington's inquiry to his Cabinet
upon the constitutionality of the bank, Jefferson drew up a paper
setting forth in strong terms his opinion that the Central Government
had no power to engage in business. Hamilton presented an equally
strong argument for the bank in his reply.

Madison, the leader of individualism in the House, could not agree
with Hamilton's interpretation of the "general welfare" clause of the
Constitution. The former co-labourers for efficient government parted
at this point. Madison thought the adoption of such an interpretation
would change the National Government from a limited one, possessing
certain specified powers, to an indefinite one, subject only to
particular exceptions. The phrase concerning "the general welfare" had
been taken from the Articles, he said, where it was understood to be
nothing more than a general caption to specified powers, and had been
retained because it was less liable to misconstruction than any other.
Whatever had been the original intent, the spirit of the implied powers
had been summoned from the vasty deep of uncertainty to aid in making
a confederated republic from confederated States.



No one can accuse Hamilton of failing to take advantage of these
formative years in giving the new Government a strong bias toward
centralisation. Although opposed by Jefferson, Madison, and Richard
Henry Lee, Hamilton had the assistance of Knox, and frequently of
Randolph, in the Cabinet, as well as Fisher Ames and others in Congress.
He also possessed the esteem and confidence of the President, and the
advantage which the commercial environment of New York as well as the
influence of the Schuyler family alliance could give him.

Among his numerous suggestions to Congress for cancelling eventually
the eighty million dollars of the national debt, to which business men
of the Northern States were subscribing freely, was an excise. Although
this debt, the "Hamiltonian debt," as the Jeffersonians called it, was
an iniquitous burden saddled upon the common people, an excise was to
them a most offensive way of meeting it. Being for the most part
agriculturists and country people, accustomed in regions far from
markets to manufacture their grain into spirits, they were not likely
to be persuaded that the consumer pays the tax in the end. It was a
direct tax, and, although constitutional, in form the most obvious and
objectionable. To have an inspector prying into your private affairs
in this manner was in ill-accord with the freedom for which America
stood. To put a tax on a still and its product was to them equivalent
to taxing their hand-mills and the meal or flour thus produced.

Having secured the passage of the excise tax as a permanent source of
income, Hamilton turned to meet the most pressing national obligations.
To pay the interest on the foreign debt, he had arranged a loan from
Holland. To provide money for circulation at home he revived the
oft-repeated project of a national mint, which should coin gold, silver,
and copper coins of a decimal denomination, the gold bearing a ratio
to the silver of one grain to fifteen grains. This ratio he arrived
at by making a computation of the respective amounts of these two
metals available in the world. It is interesting to note that the ratio
has changed but little in a century. Hamilton also drew up an exhaustive
report on the sources and conditions of American manufactures, with
a strong plea for the encouragement, by a protective tariff, of such
industries as had already been established.

The influence of Hamilton and the Federalist majority in both branches
of Congress made possible the adoption of these so-called "Hamilton
measures" as rapidly as they were suggested by him. They have been
praised, and justly praised, because they restored the public credit
of the National Government both at home and abroad. The receipts for
the first time met the expenditures. Never before had the national
resources been so adequately provided and so judiciously administered.
Hamilton's financial measures must also be praised because they first
demonstrated the efficiency of the new Government over the old form.
They made the first serious inroads on the affection which the people
had uniformly bestowed upon the individual States. They mark great
steps toward the centralisation of the National Government at a time
when they were most needed.

Nor did Hamilton, in his great constructive statesmanship, neglect the
details of his department, although a complete organisation awaited
the painstaking Gallatin a few years later. The States were divided
into fifty-nine collection districts regardless of State lines except
as they suited the purpose. Each district was supplied with all the
machinery necessary for collecting the duties levied by Congress from
time to time. Since the Treasury Department was so closely connected
with foreign commerce, Congress placed under its control all
lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers, as soon as they might
be ceded by the individual States in which they were located and which
had constructed them. At the time, no other disposition was possible;
but few foresaw the resulting effect upon the unification of the States.
By another act, the Treasury Department was given charge of the
registration and clearing of vessels. A duty of six cents a ton was
placed upon the carrying capacity of American vessels, and fifty cents
a ton upon foreign vessels. The fondness for discriminating in favour
of home interests was manifested so early and in so many different
directions that it could scarcely have been generic; it must have been
absorbed in the mother's milk of British colonialism in the eighteenth

The necessity for these measures was so manifest, and the popularity
and the novelty of the new Government at first so attractive, that
little resistance was met with in passing them and still less in
enforcing them. Resistance to national measures and neglect of national
duty were no longer a menace to national existence, because the nation
now possessed the power of compulsion in a Federal judiciary. Upon the
day named in the judiciary act, the first Monday in February, 1790,
the Supreme Court held its initial meeting in the court-room of the
New York Exchange, which had been prepared for its use. According to
the newspapers "the jury from the district court attended; some of the
members of Congress, and a number of respectable citizens also." Several
meetings of the Supreme and district courts were held at this session,
a seal was adopted by the former, and several attorneys admitted to
practice before it; but there were no cases to be heard. The term
closed with a banquet given by the grand jury of the district court
to the justices and officers of both courts at Fraunce's Tavern in
Cortland Street. So gradually did appellate and original cases find
their way into the Supreme Court that three sessions were held before
it had a case on its docket. The legislative function of government
was, at that time, the most important and formed the basis of popular
hope. Time has gradually transferred this dignity and trust to the
judiciary department, whilst the legislative--national, State, and
municipal alike--has lost in public confidence and esteem.

The Federal judiciary, as the most novel feature, was apt, in making
a place for itself, to come into conflict with older agencies. Within
three years it gave a hearing to a citizen of South Carolina, who had
sued the sovereign State of Georgia on a money claim for damages.
Although the Constitution implicitly gave jurisdiction to the Supreme
Court over controversies between a State and citizens of another State,
the Legislature of South Carolina refused to pay attention to the suit,
insisting that the retained sovereignty of the State could not be
impaired by a clause of the Constitution. By four to one, the justices
of the Supreme Court held that South Carolina, by the act of entering
the Federal Union, was bound by all provisions of the Constitution.
Justice Wilson, of Pennsylvania, thought the question involved even
a higher point--do the people of the United States form a nation? Many
commentators on the Constitution before its adoption, including even
Hamilton himself, in commenting on this clause had assured the people
that it was not rational to suppose a sovereign State could be dragged
before the national tribunal. Yet it had been done within three years
after being put in force.

It is indicative of the prevalence of State-sovereignty feeling at the
time to note the general alarm caused by this decision. An eleventh
amendment to the Constitution, forbidding a State to be sued before
the Federal courts by non-residents, immediately passed the Senate by
a vote of twenty-three to two and the House by eighty-one to nine. It
was ratified by every State except New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
Tennessee. The speed with which this remedy was applied gave confidence
in amendments for the future. But the number of amendments must be
endless if each aggression of the judiciary was to be met in this

The last toast at the judiciary banquet of 1790 was a wish that the
convention of Rhode Island, called for the early spring, would "soon
introduce the stray sister to her station in the happy national family
of America." Rhode Island represented the extreme of selfishness
resulting from State control of commerce. Through her ports passed not
only her own imports and products, but those of the adjacent parts of
Connecticut and Massachusetts. This geographical situation of the State
magnified her commercial interests, and made her unwilling to surrender
them to the Union. The country people were equally wedded to paper
money, and opposed every suggestion of giving over the right of issuing
money exclusively to the Central Government. The State fell into
disrepute. "Rhode Island can be relied upon for nothing that is good,"
said Madison in his despair. "In rebellion against integrity, plundering
all the world by her paper money, and notorious for her uniform
opposition to every federal duty," was the character given her by
Governor Randolph, of Virginia, when by popular vote she refused to
come into the Union under the Constitution. Fables were composed which
described twelve people desirous of building a new house and hanging
a recalcitrant thirteenth man by his garter to a limb near his cabin.
A "Southern planter" was reported to have offered the services of his
slaves to aid in shovelling Rhode Island into the sea.

North Carolina had also been late in assenting, but simply because her
first convention was turned from immediate ratification by the temporary
delusion of holding another constitutional convention to incorporate
the proposed amendments in the Constitution. The general sentiment of
the country had pronounced against running the risk of another
convention which was unlikely to produce anything more acceptable.
Hence the favourable action of North Carolina was simply a question
of time necessary to call another convention. This State was doubly
assured to the Federalists after favourable action in Virginia, to
which she was closely bound by family ties. The hope was well grounded,
for the first act, passed by the second session of the new Congress,
in the autumn of 1789, was to extend the impost, tonnage, and other
acts of the first session over North Carolina, whose ratification,
without amendments, reached New York during the adjournment. Rhode
Island was now the only recalcitrant. She still held out for
individualism and complete sovereignty. Had Congress a right or the
power to coerce her into the Union? Whatever action Congress might
take was destined to become important in the later discussions upon
the right of a State to withdraw from the partnership now being formed.
Fortunately, the opinion of the House upon this point is beyond
question. In the middle of the first session a motion made by a member
from New York to take up the case of the rebellious Rhode Island had
been voted down because it threatened a "delicate situation" for the
House and was best left to time and the State itself. Although the
recalcitrant sister was a maritime State, "situated in the most
convenient manner for the purpose of smuggling and defrauding our
revenue," nevertheless, as Madison said, "it would be improper to
express a desire on an occasion when a free agency ought to be employed,
which would carry with it all the force of a command." One searches
equally in vain through the correspondence of the men at the head of
government for suggestions of coercion. President Washington, although
exasperated to a point where his Virginia temper declared that the
majority of the people of Rhode Island had bid adieu to every principle
of honour, common-sense, and decency, refused to send any message to
the friends of the Constitution in that State other than his hopes
that the Legislature would call a convention.

Nevertheless, it was impossible long to continue such an anomalous
thing as a foreign State surrounded by the United States. The governor
of Rhode Island had become alarmed and early sent to the President and
Congress of the "eleven United States of America" assurance of the
steadfast adherence of his State to the principles of the Confederation
formed in the hour of danger, and begged that they should not be
considered altogether as foreigners. Although Rhode Island was speaking
a past language in such words, Congress by special enactment relieved
her from all duties except on rum, loaf-sugar, and chocolate until
January, 1790. When that time arrived, the governor pleaded for a
renewal of the privilege, stating that the Legislature had just called
a convention to reconsider the Constitution. Waiting several months
longer, the Senate passed a bill by a vote of thirteen to eight to
treat the goods of Rhode Island as if coming from a foreign country
and to demand from her a sum of money to be credited to her account
with the Union. In the midst of the consideration of this measure by
the House, further action was stopped by the arrival of the official
ratification of the Constitution by Rhode Island in a regular convention
at Newport by the narrow majority of two votes. "This event," wrote
Washington to one of his European correspondents, "will enable us to
make a fair experiment of a Constitution which was framed solely with
a view to promote the happiness of a people. Its effects have hitherto
equalled the expectations of its most sanguine friends." Rhode Island
escaped being coerced into the Union by an act of Congress; but she
was coerced by the higher law of self-preservation. Surrounded by
States in the Union, cut off from the natural channels of trade with
them, she must have perished of commercial starvation in the growing
trade of the nation, if she had been subjected to the discriminations
which Congress placed on the commerce of foreign nations.

The adoption of an efficient government and the institution of a central
control produced an immediate effect on commerce. Interstate strife
ceased. In eighteen months more than twenty million dollars' worth of
goods had gone abroad. Great Britain and her dependencies bought almost
one-half these American products and produce, with France a second.
Then came Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Africa,
the East Indies, and Sweden in decreasing order. Even the northwest
coast of North America purchased some ten thousand dollars' worth of
goods from the new republic. Tobacco, rice, flour, wheat, and corn
were the chief articles of export. Manufactured articles were of minor
value. The total amount of iron sent out was little over three thousand
tons, as against three hundred thousand tons exported in 1900. Furniture
to the value of $8351 went abroad, of which $30 worth went to Spain
and the remainder to the West Indies.

During this same first fiscal year under the new Government, dutiable
goods to the amount of nearly seventy-four million dollars came into
the various ports of the United States. Brown sugar from the French
West Indies led the list, molasses from the same source ranking second.
Tarred cordage from England came next, with coffee from the French
West Indies, dried fish from Canada, distilled spirits from the British
West Indies, in order. This revival of trade did much to quiet the
predictions of those who still imagined the new Government must fail.
The second year gave them still less ground to stand on. It showed
that the United States custom-houses had collected over three million
dollars on imported goods, the largest collections being in the State
of Pennsylvania, with New York second, and Massachusetts third. This
was a larger sum than had been realised from all taxable sources for
the eight years preceding the Constitution government. Nearly $150,000
had been realised from charging tonnage upon vessels entering and
leaving American ports. The future of the finances of the National
Government was assured. Those who had so long begged that the power
of collecting duties might be given to it now felt their judgment
vindicated. The obligation incurred to France for loans and supplies
amounting to over ten million dollars, a debt of honour especially
pressing, was being paid so rapidly that by 1795 the entire balance
was advanced and the obligation cancelled.

Prospects brightened for the future. "I sincerely rejoice in the
prosperity of your country," wrote Hartley, from London, to Jay, with
whom he had negotiated the peace of 1783. "You must not expect to find
it otherwise than checkered with good and ill; such is the lot of human
life. To be as happy as any people in the world is a lot you must not
expect to exceed." In reply Jay said: "Whether the United States will
be more or less happy than other nations, God only knows; I am inclined
to think they will be, because in my opinion more light and knowledge
are diffused through the mass of the people of this country than any
other." Brissot de Warville, a French traveller, was impressed by the
American vessels venturing to the North-west coast for furs and peltry.
Thinking that point not far from the head of the Mississippi, he
predicted that Americans would soon find a short intracontinental way
to the Pacific. He also predicted that these traders would soon open
a new route between the Atlantic and the Pacific by the lake of
Nicaragua. "No sea is impenetrable," he said, "to the navigating genius
of the Americans. You see their flag everywhere displayed; you see
them exploring all islands, studying their wants, and returning to
supply them."

External commerce was not allowed to monopolise the attention of the
Americans, now at peace with the world and themselves. The Constitution
gave to the Central Government the exercise and care of several
functions heretofore left to the States. As rapidly as possible, a
mint was established to produce gold, silver, and copper coins. Laws
punishing the counterfeiting of the coin were passed. The existing
military system was recognised and the postal establishment with the
routes and offices of the previous year adopted. The pensions paid to
invalided veterans of the wars by the States were assumed by the nation.
Commissioners were appointed to treat with Indians in the United States
territories. Provision for making a count of the people was made. Steps
for the adequate protection of the frontier were taken. Commissioners
were appointed to lay out the capital city on lands granted by Virginia
and Maryland. The provisions of the Ordinance of 1787, modified to
meet the new conditions, were re-enacted.

Of less importance than many of these functions bestowed by the
Constitution on the Federal Government, but even farther-reaching, was
the indefinite power to "promote the progress of science and useful
arts" by encouraging authors and inventors. The right of an inventor
to a protection on his product had been saved from the monopolies so
freely granted to companies in the time of James I. It was one of the
birthrights of Englishmen brought to the American colonies. The right
of an author to the benefit of his productions was allowed in the
common law. Colonial legislatures had been accustomed to encourage
both authors and inventors by rewards of money as well as by exclusive
rights for a limited term of years. The Legislatures of various States
continued the practice after the Revolution, although there was no
system of inter-recognition of patents between the States. Fitch, the
steam-navigation experimenter, secured exclusive rights on his steamboat
from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and
even then was unprotected in the remaining States. This power so
evidently belonged to the national instead of State governments, that
it was never questioned in the convention, although it had not been
included in the Articles of Confederation. Indeed, so essential was
the necessity for the development of home resources felt to be that
at one time the convention had considered transferring from the States
to the Federal Government the general practice of "establishing public
institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture,
commerce, and manufactures."

This paternalism was eventually confined in the Constitution to patents
and copyrights. Within a fortnight after the beginning of the House
sessions, David Ramsey, the South Carolina historian, petitioned
Congress for the sole right to sell his books for a limited term of
years. He was followed by Hannah Adams, the Massachusetts writer,
Jedediah Morse, the geographer, and others. Instead of granting such
petitions by individual bills, as the State Legislatures had done,
Congress enacted a general copyright law which gave to any applicant
exclusive control of his writings for fourteen years.

Simultaneously with the petition from Ramsey, which led to the first
copyright law, came one from John Churchman asking for exclusive right
to sell spheres, maps, charts, and tables on the principles of magnetism
which he had invented after "several years' labour, close application,
and great expense." Soon after came requests for such rights from Fitch
for a boat propelled by steam, from Rumsey for one propelled by setting
poles, and from Stroebel for another to run on wheels without the use
of oars. Other inventors asked for patents on a machine for raising
water to run a waterwheel, on one for making nails, for producing power
by using a weight, for curing the bite of a mad dog, for counting the
revolutions of a wheel, for a reaper and thresher, and for a
lightning-rod on an umbrella. In the second session Congress passed
an act making the members of the Cabinet, except the busy Secretary
of the Treasury, a board to hear petitions and to grant sole rights
to inventors for fourteen years.

The necessity for uniform action deprived the States of both copyright
and patent control and gave it to the central agency--powers trivial
in themselves, but potent in the unforeseen work of transferring the
trust and gratitude of men of learning and ability from their several
States to the Union. "The encouragement of learning" is sufficiently
indefinite to become a giant by interpretation. This was apparent in
the very first session of Congress. To his petition concerning his
magnetic maps and charts, Churchman had added a prayer for "the
patronage of Congress" in undertaking a voyage to Baffin's Bay for
studying the cause of the variation of the magnetic needle--a problem
handed down from Columbus. The proposition was defeated in the House,
although only five to eight hundred dollars was suggested, because of
the deranged condition of the national finances. Only one member
expressed a doubt as to the constitutional power of Congress to do
more than reward inventors by patents. Although the Constitution
explicitly confined the encouragement to granting of exclusive rights
to the use of the invention, the cause of defeat was not the lack of
constitutional power, but the lack of means.

Washington, the friend in Virginia of every movement for the public
benefit, showed no fear lest Government assume too much power in this
particular. Years before, he had voted in the Legislature of his own
State to give exclusive right to a stage-owner to carry passengers
over a road because "he had expended a considerable sum of money in
the purchase of carriages and horses ... which will be productive of
considerable public convenience and utility ... and therefore it is
reasonable that he should possess for a reasonable time any emoluments
resulting therefrom." Once, in complaining to Jay that the
Postmaster-General under the Confederation had delayed the Virginia
mails by using horses and showing an antipathy to patronising the
stages, Washington had said: "It has often been understood by wise
politicians and enlightened patriots that giving a facility to the
means of travelling for strangers and of intercourse for citizens was
an object of legislative concern and a circumstance highly beneficial
to any country." Now, in his message to the second session of the First
Congress, he took occasion to suggest to the members "the advancement
of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures," and "the promotion of
science and literature." He advised them to consider whether these
desirable objects could be "best promoted by affording aids to
seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a
national university, or by any other expedient." These simple and, at
the time, unsuspected phases of paternalism must not be ignored in an
examination of the growth of the Union. The most rigid of the
strict-construction Presidents became helpless before them, or never
foresaw their possibilities. From such small beginnings came the various
scientific expeditions, the investigations for the benefit of
agriculture, the printing and distribution of books, the distribution
of garden seeds, the vast donations of land and money for higher
education, and the many other ways in which the Union has expanded
under no other warrant than the simple requirement in the Constitution
that Congress "promote the progress of science and useful arts by
securing for a limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive
right to their respective writings and discoveries."

In his early messages to Congress, Washington was accustomed to call
the attention of members to "facilitating the intercourse between
distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-offices
and post roads." This was no new power given to the Central Government
as was the right to encourage learning, but it had even more
possibilities of extension through interpretation. The monopoly of
carrying the mails, now generally claimed by all governments, may be
traced to the assumed prerogatives of the Stuarts in England. A few
attempts had been made in the dependent days by individual colonies
to regulate the carriage of letters, but the provisions of an act of
Parliament in Queen Anne's reign for appointing deputy postmasters-
general in the colonies placed the posts directly under the care of the
royal Government.

The use of the mails without government censorship was essential to
the patriots in the American Revolution for carrying out their plans.
Nearly a year before independence, the Continental Congress set up a
revolutionary postal system to replace the express riders which they
had thus far used. Franklin, the colonial deputy for America, who had
brought the posts to a high proficiency before he was dismissed for
sympathising with his countrymen, was placed in charge. Gradually these
"constitutional" post-riders and postmasters supplanted the royal
officials, and Congress in time inherited the monopoly. The Articles
sanctioned this assumption by giving Congress the sole and exclusive
power over the transportation of the mails passing from one State to
another, collecting sufficient postage to pay for the same, but tacitly
leaving to each State the control of its internal postal system. So
little did the postal system develop under this arrangement that, with
the exception of an extension fortnightly to Pittsburg and the
establishment of a few cross-lines, the main line in 1789, extending
from Portland, in Maine, to Savannah, Georgia, had improved but little
since Franklin established it years before. There were only seventy-five
post-offices in the whole United States in 1789, and they collected
less than $40,000 a year.

So essential to the intelligence and happiness of the people did a
well-regulated postal system appear, and so properly an interstate
agency, that no opposition was heard in the convention to that clause
of the Constitution which said: "Congress shall have power to establish
post-offices." In the second and in the final draft of the document
the words "and post roads" were added, by a vote of six States to five,
without debate, according to Madison's notes. In the series of papers
now known as the _Federalist_, Madison, when attempting to quiet the
fears of the people upon the possibility of the Central Government
securing too much power under the Constitution, said of this provision:
"The power of establishing post-roads must, in every view, be a harmless
power." Little could he foresee that within ten years he would be
called upon by his great chief, Jefferson, to decide whether "to
establish" meant to lay out a road, to construct it, or simply to adopt
an existing one. "Does the power to _establish_ post roads given you
by the Constitution mean that you shall _make_ the roads or only
_select_ from those already made, those on which there shall be a
post?" wrote Jefferson, taking Madison to task for this fresh assumption
of power in the Congress of which the latter was a member. "We have
thought hitherto that the roads of a state could not be so well
administered even by the state legislature as by the magistracy of the
county on the spot. How will it be when a member from New Hampshire
is to make out a road for Georgia?" Really, the carrying of the mails
was a power not expressed, but deduced, if fine distinctions were to
be made.

Still another power was expressly given to the Union which had not
existed under the Confederation and had never been exercised--the right
to create new States from original soil; to speak into existence rivals
of the agencies through which the Union itself had been created. When
the States gave this right to the Central Government, they furnished
a weapon most deadly to their continued supremacy. "No state shall be
deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States," declared
the Articles. It was to guard against this danger that the States in
ceding their western land, and the Central Government in accepting it,
had mutually agreed to convert it into States of a limited size as
rapidly as population would warrant. As has been shown, unsuccessful
steps had been taken under the Confederation to carry out this
agreement, "without the least colour of constitutional authority," as
Hamilton said in the _Federalist_.

The law of balance, if not of retribution, finds an illustration in
the manner in which the fear of the States lest they give the Union
too much power over the lands led eventually to a greater loss of
power. Their jealousy of each other prevented the land being held by
any one of them. They could not hold it severally, neither could they
so dispose of it. When they thought of converting it in time into new
States, no workable plan could be devised for such a disposition unless
they acted jointly. The control had to be given to the Union. For these
reasons, the Union became the parent of all the States except the
original thirteen and Texas. It was inevitable that the sympathy of
the people during the preliminary condition of a Territory should be
weaned away from the original States and their allegiance gradually
transferred to their benefactor, the Union. Unfortunately for State
supremacy, the process did not end, as then seemed probable, with the
Mississippi, but was prolonged for a century by new accessions of

The new Congress had not long to wait for an opportunity of fulfilling
the promise made almost ten years before. In his second message, the
President sent to Congress a petition for statehood from an authorised
convention of the people inhabiting the district of Kentucky, together
with a permission to that end from the parent State, Virginia. Both
papers had been inherited from the old Congress. As the President said,
they contained "sentiments of warm attachment to the Union and its
present government." Such a happy termination of the sixteen years'
contest between the trans-Alleghenians and their parent State, as well
as such a final contradiction to the repeated rumours of the secession
of Kentucky, caused the speedy enactment of a law "that upon the
aforesaid first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two,
the said new state by the name and style of the state of Kentucky shall
be received and admitted into this Union as a new and entire member
of the United States of America." A few days later it was decreed in
another simple law that Vermont should be admitted on March 4, 1791.
New York, the parent State, had agreed to release her on payment of
thirty thousand dollars. Vermont secured the prior admission because
her application named no day, as that of Kentucky did. In the creation
of these two States, the nascent Union was not only adding to its
strength, but was removing for ever two of the most alarming cases of
possible secession which had thus far menaced it.



Although the first years under an efficient form of national control
were remarkably successful, inspiring what was really the first
confidence in the free government of America, it was not to be expected
that all difficulties were to be avoided, especially if the new form
assumed a vigorous and capable management. Heretofore domestic violence
had threatened local government only, because the national administration
was too inefficient to come in contact with disorder. If the National
Government should now attempt to enforce its laws, the very action must
sooner or later bring it into conflict with recalcitrants in some section,
as well as with the naturally lawless. Even the understanding that local
policing was to be left to local government would not restrain an
efficient national administration from meeting such a crisis vigorously.
Indeed, the action of the nation in such an emergency would determine
whether it was at the mercy of State aid and protection or whether it
could care for itself.

If one were attempting to predict at what point of national
administration rebellion would arise, he would no doubt choose taxation.
The hostility of the people toward taxation, possibly engendered in
the Revolutionary days, and exaggerated by human nature, has been
described in previous pages. One of the objections to the Constitution
had been that the people could now be taxed by two agencies, State and
nation, thereby involving double taxes. The resistance to the excise
tax, which began to be manifest in a small way soon after its
institution in 1791, bore a striking resemblance to the rebellion
against the stamp-tax levied by Britain upon the colonists a generation
before. A tax levied on imported goods, collected at the ports, quietly
added to the original cost, and, therefore, a kind of external tax,
is never so objectionable as one paid directly out of hand, and hence
an internal tax. So little in evidence is an external tax that the
people are sometimes beguiled into questioning whether the producer
or the consumer pays the tax. An internal tax, levied on distilled
liquors, whiskey, rum, brandy, and gin, was no more a novelty in the
early days of the Constitution than was a stamp-tax in 1765. Being
accustomed to having it levied by the local government in each instance,
it became objectionable when laid by the superior power. Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and Pennsylvania had used an excise as a means of raising
revenue. The people in the western part of the latter State had several
times resisted its imposition by the State Legislature, but the
penalties imposed upon their lawlessness had generally been remitted
by the governor, and the law had been finally repealed. "The Legislature
has been obliged to wink at the violation of her excise laws in the
western parts of the state ever since the Revolution," confessed a
United States Senator from that State.

The Constitution clearly stated the power of Congress to lay and collect
both imposts and excises. From the beginning of his reports upon
available sources of revenue, Hamilton had suggested a special impost
upon imported liquors and an excise upon those manufactured in the
United States. He fully realised that the word "excise" was obnoxious
to citizens who had migrated from Scotland and Ireland, where the tax
was imposed by a superior force, and in England as well, where it had
been known since Cromwell's day. To these people it meant not only a
tax on liquors, but on candles, salt, vinegar, and other forms of
domestic manufacture. It meant a license to own a gun, and to peddle
small wares. Not many years had passed since Samuel Johnson in his
dictionary had defined it as "a hateful tax levied upon commodities
and adjudged not by the common judges of property but wretches hired
by those to whom it is paid." Added to these inherited prejudices of
the Irish and Scotch-Irish settlers in western Pennsylvania against
the excise was a local complaint that they lacked roads for transporting
their grain across the mountains to market and were prohibited from
floating it down to New Orleans both by the distance and by the
hostility of the Spanish. Their surplus produce must rot unless it
could be manufactured into spirits which could be consumed at home or
carried to a market. A horse, it was said, could carry only four bushels
of grain across the mountains; but he could take twenty-four bushels
when converted into liquor. In that day, before the later temperance
movements had created a different sentiment, whiskey was regarded as
a necessary article of food as much as beef or bread. The amount of
strong liquor used in the United States was estimated at two and
one-half gallons per year for every man, woman, and child.

Although the consumption of liquor in the uplands of North Carolina
was almost equal to that in western Pennsylvania, there were no such
geographical causes for resistance to the General Government's excise.
It was seen by the Administration that opposition would be most likely
in the four western counties of Pennsylvania. That State had the most
diverse elements of population. Its colonial history had been marked
by racial and factional contests. It was now to have the unfortunate
distinction of producing the first open resistance to the Federal
Union. The disorder at first took the form of mobbing and intimidating
collectors, destroying the property of distillers who complied with
the law, and holding public meetings at which resolutions denouncing
the laws of the Government were passed. During the two and a half years
that the insurrectionary spirit increased, Congress twice modified the
excise law in a vain attempt to conciliate its Pennsylvania opponents,
who demanded a total repeal of the tax. To check the General Government
the leaders of the insurrection threatened to secede, thus setting an
early pattern for this form of intimidation.

"I am induced to believe," wrote one of them, "the three Virginia
counties this side the mountain will fall in. The first measure then
will be the reorganization of a new government, comprehending the three
Virginia counties and those of Pennsylvania to the westward, to what
extent I know not... Being then on an equal footing with other parts of
the Union, if they submit to the law, this country might also submit."

With such a spirit of combination against the Federal Government as
these words indicated, the supporters of the national power cast about
to find what provisions had been made for enforcing the national laws.
The Constitution gave the command of the army and navy to the President;
but the peace establishment, on which the army had been put at the
close of the war, placed at his service an inadequate force. The
necessity for economising, as well as the fear of a standing army, had
kept the army down to five regiments of infantry and one battalion of
cavalry. This force was required constantly on the frontier and could
not be spared to suppress domestic insurrection. In such a defenceless
condition, the Union must turn to the militia of the various States.

The Constitution had provided for such an emergency in a general way
by making the President the head "of the militia of the several states
when called into the actual service of the United States." Here was
opportunity in working out the details for the individualists to protect
themselves against the unjust use of the militia by restricting the
circumstances under which it could be called into the actual service
of the Federal Government. Unfortunately for them, measures for the
proper defence of the frontier were necessary from the beginning of
the new Government. Since the frontier lay so largely in the United
States territories, its defence belonged to that authority and not to
any State. Under certain limits of time and distance, the President
had been authorised in various laws to employ State militia on the
frontier. The Secretary of War eventually drew up a plan for organising
uniformly the militia of the States into a national defence, believing,
as he said, that "an energetic militia is to be regarded as the capital
security of a free republic, and not a standing army, forming a distinct
class in the community."

In drafting the militia law of 1792, in accord with the recommendations
of Knox, the President was authorised to call out the militia of any
State "whenever the laws of the United States should be opposed by
combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of
judicial proceedings." This efficient clause was productive of a
prolonged debate in each branch and a conference between the two. Its
opponents made various efforts to substitute the Legislature of a State
as the agency for calling out the militia, to require a previous notice
to the President from a justice that the laws could not be enforced,
and to have a session of Congress intervene before the President could
march the militia of one State into another. The fear of giving the
central power an excuse for maintaining a standing army had led the
framers of the Constitution to incorporate a clause placing the militia
at national service only for the purpose of executing its laws,
suppressing insurrection, and repelling invasion. Of these emergencies,
Congress was to be the judge. Should the dangerous authority now be
given over to the Executive? The long intermissions between sessions
of Congress made such delegating imperative. The Shays rebellion had
left its lesson. Yet, according to one speaker, the measure seemed to
suppose that only the General Government possessed the power to suppress
insurrections, whereas the States individually certainly possessed
this power and would execute it. Another thought it an insult to the
majesty of the people to hold out the idea that it may be necessary
to execute the laws at the point of the bayonet. "If an old woman,"
cried a disgusted member of the minority, "was to strike an excise
officer with a broomstick, forsooth the military is to be called out
to suppress an insurrection."

Finally, by a close vote in each House, the United States was given
power through its Chief Executive to call forth the militia of the
several States. The action made a connecting ligament between the
national body politic and the arm of a widespread and always prepared
force. The militia proved most effective in preserving the sovereignty
of the National Government in domestic affairs until the regular troops
were relieved from the duty of guarding the frontier. Unquestionably,
the measures pending at the same time for the protection of the frontier
and the inquiry into the defeat of General St. Clair in the
North-Western Territory did much to hasten the passage of the militia

Being thus fortified against domestic insurrection and resistance to
its laws, the decision whether the new Government would be more
successful in these particulars than its predecessor depended entirely
upon the attitude of its administrators. It was fortunate for the
people of the United States and the growth of the Union that Hamilton
was at the head of the department in which the first resistance to the
laws occurred. A secretary less devoted to the aggrandisement of the
central authority, more careful of the reserved rights of the
individual, or more temporising by nature, might have attempted to
check the well-known predilection of his chief for vigorous enforcement
of the laws instead of constantly urging him thereto. If Hamilton and
Jefferson had exchanged secretaryships, the story of the United States
would have been vastly different. Hamilton had time to time notified
the President that his departmental collectors were interfered with
in the execution of their duties in the districts of western
Pennsylvania. He wanted to use the full force of the Government against
offenders. "Moderation enough has been shown," said he. "It is time
to assume a different tone." The spirit was spreading to other parts.
The Federal officials of both North and South Carolina warned him that
the disaffection was extending to those States.

From the standpoint of the Union it was also fortunate that a military
man was President. Those who criticised the choice for the Presidency
of a man with military experience but no civic training, and those who
deplore a custom so frequently repeated since, may find here some
benefits arising from having a man with such an education. "I have no
hesitation in declaring," replied Washington to Secretary Hamilton,
when notified of the resistance manifested in western Pennsylvania to
the revenue officers, "that I shall, however reluctantly exercising
them, exert all the legal powers with which the executive is invested
to check so daring and unwarrantable a spirit. It is my duty to see
the laws executed." Very carefully the soldier-President felt his way
through his civic powers of coercion before using his military authority
in this first of several cases of preserving the Union against
insurrection. There was absolutely no precedent for the coercion of
citizens by the National Government. The Federal courts had not yet
come into conflict with any considerable number of citizens of a State.
But they extended as a judicial network over the whole national domain.
They covered every inhabitant. To them Washington turned first. Although
Attorney-General Knox decided that the insurgent meetings were not
illegal, several rioters were fined by the United States Circuit Court,
special sessions of which were held in Pennsylvania.

The President showed his appreciation of the delicate adjustment between
State and national authority by consulting the Governor of Pennsylvania
at every step. If the State at this formative hour had possessed an
executive confident in himself and in his ability to suppress the
disorder, he might have done a lasting service to the preservation of
the supremacy of the States and forestalled the prestige which the
Central Government was bound to obtain from its leadership in this
crisis. But Governor Mifflin was content to support the national
authority, claiming that the militia of his State was inadequate to
the emergency.

In the summer of 1794, the disorder broke out afresh, extending to the
spoliation of the United States mail. The National Government dared
hesitate no longer. Hamilton, by private letters and public reports,
urged the President incessantly to action. His unusual foresight saw
the opportunity for strengthening the nation. Weakness in the written
Constitution might here be remedied by the precedent of strong action
under it. At last a Federal judge of Pennsylvania notified the President
that the laws could no longer be enforced in his district. Washington
immediately issued the required proclamation of warning, which had
been penned by Hamilton. Five weeks later, the Chief Executive called
upon the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia
for militia and issued a second proclamation commanding peace. He based
this action on the constitutional provision requiring the Executive
to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

The seat of the National Government being at Philadelphia, near the
rendezvous of the militia, enabled the President to place himself at
the head of the militia. No later President has interpreted so literally
his office as commander-in-chief of the army. As he reached Bedford,
Fort Cumberland, and other scenes of his campaigns against the French
a half-century before, he must have compared that errand with his
present one. Then he was saving helpless colonists from a foreign foe;
now he was preserving a government from its own constituents.

"No citizens of the United States," he wrote to Governor Lee, of
Virginia, when leaving him at the head of the militia in order to return
to Philadelphia for the opening of Congress, "can ever be engaged in a
service more important to their country. It is nothing less than to
consolidate and to preserve the blessings of that revolution, which, at
much expense of blood and treasure, constituted us a free and
independent nation."

It was also fortunate that Washington had passed through some
instructive experience in Revolutionary days on the disadvantages of
an insufficient military force. To put down the small body of insurgents
in the western borders of Pennsylvania he called for almost thirteen
thousand militiamen. To a delegation of the insurgents who met him on
the way to complain of such an armed force coming to conquer them,
Washington replied that although we had made a republican form of
government and enacted laws under it, yet we had given no testimony
to the world of being able or willing to support our Government; that,
this being the first instance of the kind since the commencement of
the Government, he thought it his duty to bring out such a force as
would not only be sufficient to subdue the insurgents if they made
resistance, but to crush to atoms all opposition that might arise in
any quarter.

Washington foresaw the effects of using the military power in behalf
of the Union. "The most delicate and momentous duty the chief magistrate
of a free people can have to perform," he called it. Early in the
excise resistance he had declared that the Government must not use the
regular troops if order could possibly be effected without this aid.
"Otherwise," said he, "there would be a cry at once, 'The cat is let
out; we now see for what purpose an army was raised!'" But
individualistic spirits who were alarmed at this new distortion of the
Government toward centralisation feared the results of using even the
militia. Jefferson, having resigned his secretaryship and seeing the
unusually prominent part assumed by Hamilton in the expedition,
protested from his retirement at Monticello against such "employment
of military force for civil purposes." To his mind the disorder was
simply a riot and not an insurrection. "Yet it answered the purpose,"
said he, "of strengthening the government and increasing public debt
and therefore an insurrection was announced." To Madison he declared:
"The excise law is an infernal one. The first error was to admit it
to the Constitution; the second, to act on that admission; the third
and last will be to make it the instrument of dismembering the Union."
Madison, who had at first looked upon the suppression of the
insurrection as an electioneering scheme, thought it fortunate for the
lovers of liberty that the movement was so easily crushed, since
otherwise the principle would have been established that a standing
army was necessary to enforce the Federal laws. "I am extremely sorry
to remark," he wrote to Monroe during the ensuing session of Congress,
"a growing apathy to the evil and danger of standing armies." This
remark was brought out by the failure of the minority, with which
Madison had now fully allied himself, to restrict the use hereafter
of any militia to its own State. A "Federal army," the bugaboo of the
opposition, had been brought into existence by this unwarranted use
of the militia. Seven acts placing the military power of the United
States on a permanent basis and giving the Central Government efficient
control were passed at this session of 1795, the first fruits of the
Western rebellion to be reaped by the Union. Madison accounted for
this legislation by the influence of the Chief Executive and the
confidence of the people that he would not abuse the power. What later
Presidents might do could not be foreseen.

Outside the disaffected districts and with the exception of a few
alarmed leaders like Jefferson and Madison, the people undoubtedly
sustained Washington in his firm action against rebellion. An ode
written for the birthday of the President in 1796 contains an allusion
to his influence in suppressing the insurrection:

"When o'er the western mountain's brow,
Sedition rear'd her impious head,
And Tumult wild his legions led,
Serenely great, the Patriot rose.--
Yet in his breast conflicting throes
Of mercy check'd the impending blows.

"He view'd them with a father's eye,
Dimmed by thy tear, Humanity!
Reluctant Justice half unsheathed the sword.
Scar'd at the awful Sight,
Sedition shrunk in realms of night,
And Order saw her peaceful reign restored."

Giving the Central Government sufficient military strength was not the
only result of the first open attempt to oppose it. Individualism had
received a telling blow. The State was no longer inviolate. Objection
had been raised in the trivial matter of creating districts for
collecting the revenue because they disregarded State boundaries. It
was now seen that the National Government could and would march militia
directly to a place of resistance regardless of State lines. The people
of the States were no longer safe from invasion by the power which
they had created. Not only a respect for the United States laws, taxes,
courts, and officers was created by the incident, but the fidelity of
the militia, residents of different States, to the central authority
was assured. Jay was at this time on his celebrated mission to England
to prevent war with that nation, if possible. To him Washington sent
enthusiastic accounts of the people turning out to show their abhorrence
of the insurrection. He said that some of the officers had disregarded
rank and that others had gone as privates. He told of numbers of men,
possessed of the first fortunes of the country, yet willing to stand
in ranks, to carry knapsacks, and sleep on straw in soldiers' tents
with a single blanket on frosty nights. Evidently the spirit of Valley
Forge had not been lost. Five times the number could have been secured,
he said, to preserve the peace of the country. He also hazarded a
prediction that the failure of the insurrection would have a deterrent
effect on the political clubs, which he blamed almost entirely for the
inception of the insurgent spirit.



The Democratic clubs, which Washington scored so roundly, and so
unjustly as Jefferson thought, were simply reflexes of one phase of
the French Revolution. They serve to illustrate not only how dependent
America was upon Europe for political guidance and how strong was
European influence in America, but also that early parties were factions
along social lines of cleavage rather than divisions on national

Caste is always a relative thing. The patriots who inaugurated and led
to success the American Revolution had been, generally speaking, of
an inferior social rank to the Tories. Washington is regarded as a
striking exception. Yet his fame rested solely upon his early military
record. He was never a part of the gay life at Williamsburg. The royal
governor was at the head of the Court and set the social standard. The
patriots, being opposed to him, were placed in an inferior social
position. But when once the governors had been driven out and the
Tories had been subjugated or exiled, the patriots became the ruling
or superior class. Immediately a new inferior class arose, hostile to
the Administration. Thus it came about that Washington, Hamilton,
Adams, and Jay, the former democrats, were changed into aristocrats
in the eyes of Jefferson, Madison, and the present democrats.

The new democrats were in full sympathy with the effort made in France
to abolish the nobility, and imitated the Democratic clubs which were
established there on the basis of "liberty, equality, and fraternity."
Having no nobility to abolish in America, they declared war upon such
titles as "His Excellency the President," or "His Honour the Mayor,"
and even "Reverend" and "Esquire." These they would replace by a uniform
"Citizen." Record is to be found of some twenty-four of these local
Democratic societies, scattered from Maine to South Carolina and
westward to Kentucky. Their object, as set forth by a Vermont society,
was "the promotion of real and genuine Republicanism, unsullied and
uncontaminated with the smallest spark of monarchical or aristocratic
principles." They pledged themselves to the "utmost exertions to support
the rational and equal rights of man."

Like all movements depending upon enthusiasm, the Democratic societies
went to the bounds of extravagance. Taking offence at a tavern sign
in Philadelphia, they were not content until the proprietor had painted
a red streak about the neck of Marie Antoinette to denote the work of
the guillotine. A waxworks in the same city drew large crowds to witness
a representation of the execution of Louis XVI. According to the
advertisement, "The knife falls, the head drops, and the lips turn
blue. The whole is performed to the life by an invisible machine,
without any perceivable assistance." Children were admitted at half
price. A bust of George III., which had stood through the intense
feeling engendered by the Revolution, was now mutilated. At Democratic
banquets, a boar's head, representing the head of Louis XVI., was
passed about to be stabbed by the guests.

The resolutions adopted by the local societies frequently concerned
local grievances. The Kentucky club protested against the Spanish claim
to the exclusive control of the lower Mississippi, and a club in western
Pennsylvania paid its respects to the collection of the excise tax.
Nevertheless, it should be said that many societies in other States
deprecated the resistance to the National Government in that quarter.
In view of this fact, Jefferson thought Washington unjust in attributing
the insurrection to the encouragement of the clubs.

There was a more practical aim in the associations than the adoption
of resolutions. They hoped to unite the local bodies in a national
association which should bring the State and eventually the nation
into sympathy with France and her struggle for liberty. "France caught
the divine fire of liberty from us," said one society. "Shall we now
withhold ourselves from her?" The varying responses to this question
brought about eventually the rise of political parties in the United

Three well-defined periods have marked political parties in the
Republic. The first epoch turned, as indicated above, entirely upon
the choice of sides in the war between France and England, which
followed the proclamation of the French Republic, September 21, 1792.
The second period, following the close of the War of 1812, the end of
foreign dominance, was produced by differences of opinion upon the
constitutional powers of the National Government. It was foreshadowed
by several constitutional debates in the first period. The Civil War,
by an appeal to the sword, decided the majority of these constitutional
doubts in favour of the Union. Since that time, a third phase of party
government has been developed, purely on grounds of expediency in
domestic and foreign control.

Political parties, therefore, are peculiarly dependent upon public
opinion. They are creatures of sentiment. They possess no power save that
of persuasion as to the proper lines of conducting the administration.
Choosing positions on great questions largely from previous policy, they
must appeal to the people for justification and support. They live by
opposition. No party can exist alone. In their modern aspect, political
parties were unknown in Revolutionary days. Whig and Tory were simply
reflections from the parties in England supporting or opposing the
Administration. There were divisions among men, largely of a social
nature; "court and country" parties, as John Adams called them in
reminiscence. The royal governor, surrounded by his place-men and
followers, residing in the city and opposed by the rural element,
represented the monarch. The opposition became the patriotic party of the
Revolution. After a decade, the patriots themselves divided into
Federalists and Anti-Federalists upon the advisability of changing from
the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution. These divisions were
not political parties in the modern sense. Neither developed any policy of
administration or offered any candidate for office at the time.

When the Constitution was finally adopted, the Anti-Federalists ceased
their opposition. Since the impetus of adopting the new Government was
sufficient to place its supporters in power, its enemies held off and
awaited the day of failure when they should have the pleasure of saying,
"I told you so." In a few instances they made a demonstration, as when
Patrick Henry, according to Madison's belief, had Virginia redistricted
in order to keep him out of the Senate. After the new venture had
passed beyond the experimental stage under the Federalist party, the
name "Anti-Federalist" gradually passed from use. As policies of
administration were developed, an opposition was bound to be formed,
and thus modern political parties were born. A preliminary line-up was
caused by Hamilton's measure for a government bank; but the real
cleavage was produced by opposing opinions concerning the side which
the United States should take in the war between France and England.

If Great Britain, toward whom the animosity of the recent war was still
strong, had not been a monarchy, or if the revolution which changed
our Revolutionary benefactress, France, into a republic, had happened
in England, or if the French Revolution had not so closely followed
in form the change in the United States from monarchy to republicanism,
party animosity in America would have been checked instead of advanced
by the Old World contest. The same end might have been reached if John
Adams had been sent as Minister to France and Thomas Jefferson to
England. But Britain being the token of centralisation, the general
tendency of the United States toward unionism seemed to Jefferson to
be the certain road to monarchism. This he conceived to be the ultimate
aim of Hamilton, born in the British West Indies, and Adams, who had
returned from Britain with his obnoxious theory that the "well-born"
ought to rule the remainder of the people.

The attempt of France, on the contrary, to secure the rights of man,
with which Jefferson had grown familiar during his residence in that
country, appealed to him both from a national and a personal standpoint.
"I still hope," he said in one of those periods of French excess which
bade fair to ruin the whole, "that the French Revolution will issue
happily. I feel that the permanence of our own leans in some degree
on that, and that a failure there would be a powerful argument to prove
that there must be a failure here." "A struggle for liberty is in
itself respectable and glorious," said Hamilton, in giving a Cabinet
opinion that the treaty made with France in 1778 had been annulled by
the abrogation of the monarchy and the execution of Louis XVI. "But
if sullied by crimes and extravagance it loses respectability. It
appears, thus far, too probable that the pending Revolution in France
has sustained some serious blemishes." In another place he voiced the
sentiments of the anti-French by saying that thus far no proof had
come to light sufficient to establish a belief that the execution of
the King was an act of national justice. But the French sympathisers
thought otherwise. "If he was a traitor he ought to be punished as
well as another man," wrote Madison to Jefferson, quoting the sentiment
among the plain people of Virginia.

Public sentiment in the United States was thus crystallising into
political parties on the policy to be pursued toward the new French
Republic. One faction was of the opinion that the people of the United
States were bound to aid the new sister not only by the sympathy of
a common struggle for liberty, but by the still stronger bonds of
gratitude for assistance in gaining their own freedom. They considered
the alliance of 1778, which France had signed at the expense of a war
with England, as still binding upon the United States. It pledged the
United States to guarantee France in the possession of her West Indies,
to admit her ships with prizes to American ports, to keep out those
of the enemy, and to prohibit the enemy from using American ports to
fit out privateers. From this last provision, some friends of France
deduced the opinion that it tacitly gave her permission to fit out
privateers by denying the right to her enemies.

Hamilton and others, who thought the French movement, begun for the
sake of liberty, was deteriorating into a frenzied propaganda
destructive of rights and property, insisted that the change of
government in France had abrogated all claims which the alliance gave
to monarchical France; that, even if this were not so, the United
States was pledged to aid her only in a defensive war, and this war
with England was entirely offensive on her part; that to give aid to
the maddened revolutionists was to identify ourselves irrevocably with
destructive fanatics, bloody regicides, and wild propagandists. These
zealots, they said, had already pledged themselves to treat as enemies
any people "who, refusing or renouncing liberty and equality, are
desirous of preserving their prince or privileged castes, or of entering
into an accommodation with them." Our forefathers had been satisfied
with securing liberty for themselves without trying to impose it on
all other nations. It was this proselyting spirit which caused their
war against Britain. Hence, the anti-French element allied itself with
England. That nation was rapidly being forced into a position where
she alone would stand between French fanaticism and the disruption of
all society. These pro-British were, in the eyes of the French
sympathisers, base ingrates, as culpable as a nation would have been
who sided with Great Britain during the Revolutionary War.

Divided into these hostile factions during this summer of 1792, the
United States reached the first parting of the ways upon her foreign
policy. Hitherto she had been of small moment to European nations,
touching them only on boundary questions connected with the New World.
But in the mighty struggle between one people bursting the bands of
centuries of repression and monarchical rule, and another nation in
authority who saw prerogative, property, and person in danger from the
deluge, the United States would become important as a place for fitting
out and as a base of food-supply. Belligerents in the heat of war are
not inclined to be over-regardful of the rights of non-combatants. To
maintain a strict neutrality had been well-nigh impossible in the
history of European nations. In nearly every war of the past, kingdom
after kingdom had become involved. The "armed neutrality," headed by
Russia during the American Revolutionary War, was formed by non-maritime
nations ostensibly to protect their commerce from the belligerents;
but in reality to gather up the fragments of trade as they were
scattered by the warring sea powers.

The United States was fortunately located for announcing and maintaining
a new idea of neutrality, a nationality based on individual development
through peaceful methods. Time alone was needed in their isolated
geographical condition to develop an industrial strength more efficient
in Europe than an armed force at that time As Washington said, just
before issuing a proclamation warning all citizens of the United States
neither to aid nor to carry contraband goods to either belligerent:
"I believe it is the sincere wish of America to have nothing to do
with the political intrigues or the squabbles of European nations;
but, on the contrary, to exchange commodities and live in peace and
amity with all the inhabitants of the earth." To another he made the
prediction that "if we are permitted to improve without interruption
the great advantages which nature and circumstances have placed within
our reach, many years will not revolve before we may be ranked, not
only among the most respectable, but among the happiest people on this
globe." Notwithstanding the demands of the French sympathisers that
the United States should anticipate the payments due on the French
debt, should allow French privateers to be fitted out in American ports
and prizes to be brought in and sold, and regardless of the insolent
demands of the French Minister, Genet, and the haughty tone of the
Republic he represented, President Washington issued the proclamation,
April 22, 1793, warning the citizens of the United States to take no
part in the war. He was aided in maintaining this neutrality by the
continued trespass of each belligerent on American rights. If either
had suddenly shown any regard for the neutral position of the young
American Republic, sentiment would have demanded immediate war upon
the other. But when England tried to cut off the supplies which France
was receiving from America, France adopted similar tactics toward
England. Each accused the other of instituting these war measures.
Between the two millstones, American commerce bade fair to be ground
to powder. Britain, in order to recruit her navy, revived her practice
of retaking her seamen who had deserted, wherever they might be found.
She took a large number of men from American vessels, some of whom
claimed to be American citizens instead of British deserters. This
system of impressment she continued until it resulted in the War of
1812. Her refusal to yield possession of the forts on the American
side of the boundary line remained as an additional grievance.

So strong was the hostile feeling toward England, that if the French
revolutionists had not plunged into such excesses as to compel their
most ardent admirers to pause, the firm hand of Washington could
scarcely have prevented a declaration of war against Britain instead
of the temporary embargo which was adopted. As it was, a non-intercourse
measure was killed in the Senate only by the deciding vote of
Vice-President Adams. A war at this time, when the new Government had
scarcely gotten upon its feet, when it was still obliged to borrow
money from Holland to meet its expenses, when its borders were harassed
by hostile savages and its forts occupied by the enemy, would have
been ruinous if not suicidal. A foreign war would have been fatal to
the adopted policy of a disinterested neutrality, not dependent upon
force, and to an uninterrupted home development which was to continue
for over a century. Neither the clamour nor defamation of the Democratic
clubs, nor the insinuations of the opposition press that the President
was biassed toward a monarchy because he wished eventually to transform
his office into a kingship, could drive the cool Washington from his
stand of neutrality. It was such self-control which drew from England's
Minister, Canning, many years after, the tribute: "If I wished for a
guide in a system of neutrality, I should take that laid down by America
in the days of the presidency of Washington and the secretaryship of

Jefferson was worn out by the onerous duties of his office during this
period of dominant foreign politics. He was harassed by constant
complaints of impressments and seizures. He was placed in an unfortunate
position by the presumptions of Genet. Distressed by the license into
which liberty in France was plunging he received small comfort in
contemplating the British monarchical tendency in America. He was
greatly disappointed because Washington, whom he had pronounced at
first "purely and zealously republican," had been so frequently
influenced by Hamilton and Knox in the Cabinet, by John Adams in the
Senate, and by John Jay in the Supreme Court. These were all Northern
men and all in favour of effective government. Most statesmen cling
more closely to the vessel during a time of party danger, but Jefferson
chose to withdraw, believing his continuance in office useless, and
trusting, as he said, that the people could not be permanently led
away from the true principles of government. After his withdrawal,
this monarchical tendency seemed to him to have no check. The President,
instead of advising war upon Great Britain both to avenge her insults
upon us and to aid the French Republic, sent John Jay to England as
a special envoy to try to secure some concessions from her. Jay
eventually sent home a treaty, which provided for the evacuation of
the Western forts, for a commission to consider payment for the slaves
carried away upon the evacuation of New York, and for the withdrawal
of the discriminating tax on American shipping; but it purchased
commercial entrance to the British West Indies at the expense of
Southern commodities. Above all, it made no mention of impressment,
of the search of American vessels, and the hindrance of their neutral

"Further concessions," wrote Jay to his friends in America, "on the part
of Great Britain cannot, in my opinion, be attained. If this treaty
fails, I despair of another. I knew and know that no attainable
settlement or treaty would give universal satisfaction. Men are more apt
to think of what they wish to have than of what is in their power to

Hamilton, who had followed Jefferson's example and retired from
Washington's Cabinet, yet virtually remained at the head of the party,
advised the acceptance of the Jay treaty. "It closes," said he, "and
upon the whole as reasonably as could have been expected, the
controverted points between the two countries. The terms are in no way
inconsistent with national honor."

Jefferson, Madison, and their followers believed, on the contrary,
that the adoption of the treaty would violate all national honour in
practically dissolving the French alliance of 1778 and would bind the
United States to monarchical England warring on republican France. The
proclamation of neutrality from Washington had not been so hard to
bear, since it took sides with neither belligerent; but the Jay treaty,
it was said, would array America against the cause of liberty. The
French and British factions were resolved to put the matter to the
test in the Senate. From this time may be dated the beginning of
political parties in the United States. Feeling ran high. Jay was
burned in effigy in many cities and the treaty ridiculed and villified
in the Republican prints. Hamilton was mobbed in New York, and
Vice-President John Adams armed himself against personal violence.

The ratification of the Jay treaty by exactly the required two-thirds
vote in the Senate showed the relative strength of the two parties at
the time, although the Senate changes more slowly than the House. The
success of the treaty advocates allowed Washington to close his eight
years in peace with England. Pinckney, whom he had sent to Madrid at
the same time he sent Jay to London, succeeded in securing a treaty
with Spain. Nearly twenty years had been spent in gaining this first
acknowledgment from the Castilian. It provided for establishing a
permanent boundary-line between the United States and the Spanish
Floridas, arranged a control over the troublesome Indians living near
the line, and assured to American traders the privilege of using the
port of New Orleans as a place of trans-shipment for their produce.
If the port of New Orleans should be closed, another port was to be
opened to them. The Americans seemed to have succeeded, after more
than ten years' effort, in getting the privilege of using the lower

This Treaty of 1795 with Spain, although overshadowed by the
contemporaneous Jay Treaty, was extremely important in American
diplomatic history. Not only did it quiet the discontent of the Western
people and terminate foreign intrigue in that quarter, but it affected,
strangely enough, the future history of the lower Mississippi. From
the time of the Pinckney Treaty, France was unceasing in her efforts
to persuade Spain to give over to her care the Louisiana province,
which embraced New Orleans, insisting that she was the only power
strong enough to check the advance of the United States and save the
rest of the Spanish possessions in America. Three years later these
arguments prevailed. Louisiana was transferred to France, and very
soon fell into the hands of the Americans.

Washington had closed some of the most troublesome foreign questions
which he had inherited from Confederation days. The new republic was
beginning to make a place for itself among the nations. Treaties of
amity and commerce had been made with all the maritime nations. American
ministers were to be seen at the principal European Courts. Britain,
France, Spain, and Holland had honoured the new power by sending
representatives to Philadelphia. The entire diplomatic horizon was
clear except in the French portion, where the Jay Treaty was bound to
give offence. Under its tacit permission, as the French sympathisers
claimed, more than three hundred American vessels were captured within
the next twelvemonth, and over one thousand American seamen impressed
by Britain. During the same period only three vessels and a few sailors
were taken by France.

In its domestic relations, also, the United States, as the time of
Washington's second term drew to a close, was exceedingly prosperous.
The new Government was in full operation. No one longer questioned its
success or its fitness for the task before it. Fears for individual
rights had been quieted by the adoption of ten amendments to the
Constitution, guaranteeing the continuance of such birthrights as
freedom of conscience, trial by jury, free possession of property, and
habeas corpus. The Union had come off victorious in its first case of
discipline. It had made practical demonstration that its laws would
be enforced and that it could use State militia regardless of State
lines in enforcing them. Its system of judges and marshals extended
over the entire domain. Its Supreme Court had sustained the claim of
a citizen of South Carolina against the State of Georgia. State
sovereignty had received a blow and national supremacy an impulse. The
Superior Court had also declared that a treaty of the United States
predominated over a State law, and that no State could confiscate a
debt owed to a British subject. According to another decision, the
United States District Courts were sustained in their admiralty
jurisdiction over the State courts. The validity and authority of a
presidential proclamation was established by the prosecution in the
circuit court at Richmond of an offender against Washington's neutrality
proclamation. But the decision during Washington's administration which
especially made for the Union was in the case of Penhallow _v_. Doane's
executors, which sustained all the actions of the old Congress both
during the Revolutionary period and under the Articles, and made its
decisions final in cases of appeal from State tribunals. Thus was the
national sovereignty, by a single decision, extended backward over
local government to the very beginnings of independency and, at the
same time, established for the future so long as the National Government
should exist.

Not only in the intangible shape of Supreme Court decisions, but in
a thousand practical particulars, the central agency was making itself
manifest to the people and gaining friends among them. The general
condition of the country was prosperous. Over ten million dollars had
been paid on the national debt. A dependable revenue was being collected
in scores of United States custom-houses scattered through the different
States. During Washington's last year in office, their receipts had
amounted to twelve and a half million dollars. The National Government
was expending a part of this money in rendering commerce safe. It was
purchasing lighthouses from the maritime States and erecting new ones.
Sites for these buildings were being ceded by the various States along
the sea-coast. Beacons, buoys, and public piers were being established
by the revenue service. Sixteen harbours within the several States
were being fortified at national expense. Plans for the improvement
of certain rivers were being considered. The Congress under the
Confederation had declared navigable waterways in the Northwest
Territory leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence to be free
highways, and the new Congress extended this inestimable guarantee to
all waters of the public domain. Its extension to the States would
come later from a Supreme Court decision. The improvement of these
rivers at national expense would result in time from the westward
expansion of the people.

The domain under the complete control of the Federal Government had
been increased by a cession from South Carolina. The States of Kentucky
and Tennessee had been carved out of the "territory south of the Ohio,"
and, with the State of Vermont, had been admitted to equal membership
in the Union by the sole action of the Federal Government. The national
post-routes had been extended in eight years from three thousand to
sixteen thousand miles, and the number of post-offices had been
increased to seven hundred. By severe penalties, the Government had
taught the people to respect as well as to be grateful for this branch
of its activities. It had also regulated trade with Indians not residing
within the jurisdiction of a State, and, by scattering its troops along
the border, was attempting to protect the savage from the encroachments
and debauchment of the white man, as well as to shield the white man
from the barbarity of the savage.

The presidential election machinery had been tried a third time and
had worked smoothly. Electors had been chosen in each State without
the predicted revolution and bloodshed. They had cast seventy-one votes
for John Adams and sixty-eight for Thomas Jefferson. The former, having
received the highest number of votes, was declared President and the
latter Vice-President. Perhaps some of those who had voted for Adams
may have thought the Vice-Presidency a place of training for the higher
office, and its incumbent in the line of promotion. But on examining
the geographical distribution of the vote, one sees that sectionalism
influenced the result of this third presidential election, as it did
a majority of later ones. The vote for Adams came almost entirely from
the Northern States; that for Jefferson from the Southern. Adams stood
for Federalism, for centralisation, for a continuation of the policy
of the present Administration. He and Hamilton were close friends.
They broke only when Hamilton found that he could not influence
President Adams as he had President Washington. Electors who voted for
Jefferson thought he stood for principles exactly opposite to those
of Adams. His antipathy to Hamilton was the best guarantee against
centralisation being continued under his management.

Those who had prophesied that the overwhelming majority of Washington
would result in a series of re-elections during his life, or that the
expiration of each term would find the country in some danger which
would demand his continuance, had been silenced by a farewell address
declaring his intention to retire. The pattern of two terms which he
set no President has ever dared attempt to exceed. The opponents of
his administration, those who had foreseen the coming royal reception
in the simple levee which marked his social life, or who objected to
the growing custom of celebrating his birthday as if he were a monarch,
were compelled to cease their evil prophecies when he attended, as a
spectator, the inauguration of his successor in the room of the House
of Representatives adjacent to old Independence Hall in Philadelphia
on the fourth day of March, 1797. As the incoming President wrote to
his wife, the multitude was as great as the space would contain and
not a dry eye but Washington's. Like the formative influence of a good
parent extending from generation to generation, the precedent of
Washington's voluntary retirement from the Presidency has been a rich
heritage to the American people. It may be safely said that it is
largely the cause of the pleasing contrast which exists between the
changes of administration in the United States and those in the other
American republics.



The only cloud on the horizon the day that John Adams became President
lay in the direction of France and was caused by the Jay Treaty. It
seemed impossible to keep peace with both belligerents abroad or with
their factions at home. Adams would probably be more scrupulous of the
rights of the individual than Hamilton; yet drastic measures were
likely to become necessary if the pro-British and the pro-French
agitators were to be muzzled and their clamour hushed. Such a censorship
of speech was a thing not to be lightly contemplated in America.

Freedom of speech and the press had been inherited as a privilege of
Englishmen, wrested from those in authority by years of contest, and
maintained only by constant vigilance. A guarantee that it should not
be restricted by the State had been placed in many of the State
constitutions. A similar prohibition formed the first amendment to the
Federal Constitution. Freedom of movement is closely akin to freedom
of speech. Not even in the heyday of State sovereignty had any serious
attempt been made to prevent the movement of unobjectionable free
people from one State to another. The Constitution guaranteed to
citizens of each State all privileges and immunities of citizens of
the several States. The same instrument allowed Congress to establish
a uniform rule of naturalisation in making United States citizens out
of foreign immigrants; but the right of declaring who should be citizens
of the States, having been assumed by the State constitutions, was
left to them individually. State and national citizenship were thus
separate from the beginning. For these reasons it could happen, as
pointed out in the Dred Scott decision many years later, that a State
could make an alien into a citizen of the State, entitled to all its
rights and privileges, but he might still be an alien in the United
States and deprived of national citizenship.

The first Congress recognised its constitutional obligation to provide
a uniform law for national citizenship by allowing an alien who had
resided two years within its jurisdiction and one year within any State
to take an oath before any court of common-law record to support the
Constitution and thereby become a citizen. Five years later, Congress
feared that the warring powers of Europe would send undesirable aliens
to the United States. "Coming from a quarter of the world so full of
disorder and corruption," said a speaker in the House, "they might
contaminate the purity and simplicity of the American character." A
new naturalisation law was passed, requiring an alien to give three
years' notice of his intention to change his allegiance--a kind of
period of repentance. The required time of residence was then raised
to five years for the nation and one for the State. During that time
he must maintain a good moral character, must abjure allegiance to all
other sovereigns, and must renounce all hereditary titles and orders
of nobility. In this way one speaker said he hoped to shut out those
refugees from the twenty thousand French nobility, who might choose
to fly to the United States. Another expected to see an equally large
number of the peerage arrive from Britain, as soon as the correct
principles of government should take root there.

Little alarm need have been felt about those members of the deposed
nobility of France who did arrive. They were more concerned with getting
daily bread than acquiring citizenship or retaining their titles.
Prince, marquis and marquise, vicomte, and bishop, alike must keep
body and soul together by turning wig-maker, baker, or milliner, until
the madness of the French people should pass. By and by, the changes
of fortune in France began to send over Constitutionalists,
Thermidorians, Fructidorians, and the like, to plot and intrigue. "They
kept their eyes fixed on France," said a French volunteer, who had
returned to America to secure the pay due him since Revolutionary days,
"to which all expected to return sooner or later and recommence what
each called his _great work_, for there were exactly the same number
of political systems as there were refugees." The French sympathisers
in America mingled with these _émigrés_ and were more or less concerned
with their plans. The press offered the opportunity to vent much of
their spleen on Washington and to express their opinions of the "British
United States Government," as they called it.

Added to these scribblers were certain other agitators, preachers, and
writers, refugees from England and Scotland, driven out by the British
Government in its effort to keep the sentiments of the French
propagandists from taking root in British soil. More libel suits had
been instituted in the courts of England during a single year of the
French Revolution than in any two previous decades. Among those banished
was Thomas Paine, who had returned to London, after lending his pen
to the American cause, and had written the famous, or infamous, as
some called it, _Rights of Man_. Many of these aliens in America were
scribblers who had picked up a few current phrases and lofty sentiments
about liberty and equality. They were of varying ability as writers,
but uniform in their venomous abuse and hatred of England and all her
sympathisers. In the rapid increase of newspapers, which marked this
first period of prosperity and the birth of political parties, many
of these writers found precarious employment; a few found remunerative
occupations. Of the two hundred newspapers published in the United
States when John Adams became President, it was estimated that at least
twenty-five were edited by men of alien birth.

At few later periods have political parties brought out such scurrilous
abuse in the press as in these early days. Although the number of
newspapers has so increased that irresponsible and vulgar men are to
be found among editors, although the restraints of law upon the press
have been greatly loosened, yet the tone of the leading newspapers
to-day is immeasurably better than it was a century ago. As the
opposition to the Administration gradually crystallised into a party,
few suffered more from the pens of its writers than did the first
President. The abuse, which included such grave charges as that he had
murdered a French envoy near Fort DuQuesne years before, that he had
taken money illegally from the United States Treasury, and that he
hoped to turn his Presidency into a monarchical reign, followed him
to the end of his administration. Washington's replies to the numerous
addresses of societies and public meetings which had greeted his
entrance to office eight years before breathed a spirit of toleration.
It was his eminent desire, as he said in one reply, to have every
association and community make such use of the auspicious years of
peace, liberty, and free inquiry, as they should hereafter rejoice in
having done.

At the same time, the mind of Washington, the exclusive Virginia
gentleman, could easily make a distinction between liberty and license.
He attributed the insurrection against the excise almost entirely to
the unbridled utterances of the Democratic clubs, their "first
formidable fruits," as he put it. Nor did he fail, in reporting the
suppression of the rebellion to the next Congress, to express his
opinion of these "self-created societies" who disseminated suspicions,
jealousies, and accusations of the whole Government. Jefferson, still
believing in the original doctrine of the rights of man, called this
allusion of the President "the greatest error of his political life."
The societies would have soon died out if left alone, he said. Coercion
would make them thrive. "It is wonderful," continued Jefferson to
Madison, "that the President should have permitted himself to be the
organ of such an attack on the freedom of discussion, freedom of
writing, printing, and publishing." He pronounced it almost incredible
that the freedom of association and of the press should be attacked
in the fifth year of the new Government, a step which England, fast
advancing to an absolute monarchy, had not yet attempted.

There was small probability that this abuse from the Jacobin clubs and
presses would cease with the retirement of Washington. When he gave
out his farewell address, written by "the President's president," as
they called Hamilton, a Vermont editor regretted that he had not retired
four years before, which would have saved the country from having been
so debauched by its mistress, England. The day of his departure for
Mount Vernon was celebrated by a scurrilous attack in the _Aurora_,
which a defender of his memory vindicated by an assault upon its editor.

John Adams, as Vice-President, had long been pilloried as "the dangerous
Vice," for his theories upon inherited talent, a doctrine in direct
contradiction to the tenets of democracy. He also appeared in the
Jacobin prints as "President Crispin," the son of a shoemaker, and as
"the President of three votes," alluding to the narrow majority of
Adams over Jefferson in the recent election. Many went so far as to
charge that the election of Adams had been accomplished by prematurely
closing the polls in a Maryland election district and by the action
of a Pennsylvania postmaster, who held back the returns. Franklin's
recent death had plunged the people of two hemispheres into mourning.
His memory was not sacred enough to prevent an accusation that he had
once pocketed the money for two hundred thousand stand of arms, which
had been intended as a present to the United States from the King of
France. The oft-repeated scandal of the lost million francs was freshly
ventilated. Yet so precious was freedom of speech in America that even
those attacked hesitated to follow British pattern in placing a censor
over the press. Even Patrick Henry, being rapidly won to the support
of the experiment which he had formerly opposed, declared: "Although
I am a Democrat myself, I like not the late Democratic societies. As
little do I like their suppression by law."

President Adams had years before placed himself on record concerning
the freedom of the press. Long a fulsome contributor to the newspapers
on political questions, he had said: "There is not in any nation of
the world so unlimited a freedom of the press as is now established
in every State of the American Union, both by law and practice. There
is nothing that the people dislike that they do not attack."

Entertaining such liberal opinions, an unforgiving enemy to Britain,
an admirer of the French people since first he came into contact with
them, John Adams entered the Presidency prepared to save the press
from the storm gathering about it. But the partisans would not stop
their abuse long enough to examine his predilections or to forecast
the attitude he was likely to assume in his conduct of foreign affairs.
They were enraged by the advantage apparently given to Britain in the
Jay Treaty, disappointed in the continued repression of every effort
to aid France, and emboldened by the high tone of the French Directory
after the sympathetic Monroe had been ordered home to be replaced by
the Federalist, Pinckney. They sneered at Adams's inaugural address
where he admitted a personal esteem for the French nation, formed
during seven years spent abroad and chiefly in Paris, and expressed
a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which had been so much to
the honour and interest of both nations.

Notwithstanding these cordial words, President Adams, within three
months, was calling together the first extra session of Congress in
the history of the Government, and informing them in vigorous language
that Pinckney, an American Minister, had been refused cards of
hospitality by the Executive Directory at the head of the Republic of
France, had been threatened by the police, and had finally been
practically ordered out of the country. The right to reject an
ambassador was recognised by the law of nations. But "a refusal to
receive him until we have acceded to their demands without discussion
and without investigation," said the President, "is to treat us neither
as allies nor as friends, nor as a sovereign state." The warlike message
advised strengthening the army and navy, perfecting the coast defences,
preventing further building of foreign cruisers in the United States,
and the raising of revenue sufficient for these purposes. Although
closing with a promise of continued effort toward neutrality, this
hostile address from the first statesman-President forms a strong
contrast with the mild messages of the first soldier-President. The
granite rock of New England had been reached and it gave no evidence
of yielding. The response to the defensive tone of the President varied
according to foreign affiliations. Parties in America were as yet
reflections of European wars. The pro-British faction, strong in all
parts of the National Government except the executive, were as eager
for a trial at arms with France as they had been reluctant for war
with England two years before. Hamilton wrote columns for the daily
press to prove that the assistance which France gave to us during our
struggle for independence was based on purely selfish motives. We were
bound by no ties of gratitude to yield to her pique at the Jay Treaty.
"Those who can justify displeasure in France on this account," said
he, "are not Americans but Frenchmen. They are not fit for being members
of an independent nation."

The opponents to this attitude--those whom Hamilton called "the servile
minions of France, who have no sensibility to injury but when it comes
from Great Britain, and who are unconscious of any rights to be
protected against France," were equally clamorous for forbearance.
They asked Adams, in this crisis, to send a sympathetic man, say
Jefferson, who would be acceptable to France and would soothe French
pride and avert the threatened war. Although Jay had been taken by
Washington from the Supreme Bench to be sent as envoy to England, Adams
thought the Vice-President too dignified a person to be used in this
manner. Such an action would also imperil the presidential succession.
Yet he was desirous of seeking some kind of an accommodation to preserve
neutrality. Although France had "inflicted a wound in the American
breast," as he put it in his message, he appointed three special envoys
to renew negotiations. Their number would protect American interests
and show to France the gravity of the situation. Pinckney, the rejected
Minister, was made quite justly one of the three. John Marshall, the
second member, like Pinckney, belonged to the anti-French faction.
Gerry, the third envoy, was a former Anti-Federalist and a sympathiser
with France.

The treatment which these three envoys received in France caused the
tempest in a teapot commonly known as "the X Y Z affair." By
discrediting the French faction, it hastened the day of their attempted
suppression by the Government of the United States. With the mysterious
methods current during the days of the contemptible Directory then at
the head of the Government of France, certain supposed go-betweens
approached the American envoys with suggestions that "money, lots of
money," would be necessary to heal the wounds inflicted on the French
heart by the Jay Treaty and by the recent words of President Adams.
This gold, it was said, was necessary as a pre-requisite for opening
negotiations. Part of it was to constitute a loan to carry on the war
with England, and the rest was understood to be a _douceur_ for the
pockets of the members of the Directory. "We loaned you money in your
hour of need," Pinckney was told by a mysterious Frenchwoman, who
figured in the affair. "Why should not you lend to us?"

[Illustration: A HALF PAGE OF THE X Y Z DISPATCHES. From the original
in the Department of State. A close inspection will show the brackets
drawn around the name of Horttinguer and the letter "X" inserted in
margin on left. This was done by order of Timothy Pickering, Secretary
of State, before the dispatches were published.]

In the reports of these envoys which John Adams sent to Congress as
rapidly as received, the name of Hubbard, who had introduced the three
to the go-betweens, was indicated by the letter "W," Horttinguer by
"X," Bellamy by "Y," and Hauteval, who acted as interpreter, by "Z."
It was useless for Jefferson, Madison, and the French sympathisers in
America to point out that _douceur_ meant a gift and not a bribe, and
that the supposed go-betweens were discredited and their action
disavowed by Talleyrand and the Directory. It was believed and is
currently stated in America that an attempt was made to bribe these
dignified representatives of the American people. The national spirit
was aroused. Unionism received such an impulse as years of domestic
relationship could not produce. The war microbe was loosed among the
people. One of those sudden outbursts of national rage, as unexpected
as violent, ran the length and breadth of the land. A broadside was
circulated, with stanzas beginning:

"At length the Envoys deign to tell us
They had to deal with scurvey fellows--
With Autun and the five-head beast
And half the alphabet, at least."

For perhaps the only time in his life, John Adams tasted the sweets
of a widespread popularity. His birthday, like that of his predecessor,
was generally celebrated. The sympathetic French following was swept
off its feet. "Exultation on one side and a certainty of victory; while
the other is petrified with astonishment," was Jefferson's admission.
In reporting to Congress that Pinckney and Marshall had indignantly
withdrawn from France, and that Gerry, who lingered, had been officially
notified by his Government that no loans of any kind would be made,
President Adams used a sentence which immediately became current: "I
will never send another minister to France without assurances that he
will be received, respected, and honored as the representative of a
great, free, powerful, and independent nation."

The British faction had at last an opportunity of crushing the French
sympathisers, and they accepted it most willingly. In their intolerance,
they went almost as far as the other side had gone a few years before.
A South Carolinian, visiting in New York, was assaulted in the circus
because he refused to take off his hat when the President of the United
States entered. A "reign of terror" was instituted against the
pro-French office-holders. It was even claimed by them that a general
massacre had been arranged for the Pennsylvania fast-day, and Bache,
the editor of the _Aurora_, made a show of garrisoning his house with
an armed body of his friends. A Senator in debate was reported to have
declared his willingness to vote for a law punishing every citizen of
America who educated his children in the study of the French language.

Hamilton and those who wished to give new precedent to the National
Government along lines of its foreign relations where patriotism would
support strong measures, were delighted with the response on the part
of the people. Theatre crowds demanded encores of the _President's
March_ and hissed French airs when played. Merchants of New York and
other seaports worked voluntarily on the neglected coast-defences. A
song was put to the air of _True Hearts of Oak_ in order to "cheer
those unused to spade and barrow, who might tire of working on the
several forts." It began:

"Ye friends of your country, the summons attend,
Be this your employment, your joy and your pride,
Your heav'n-granted rights to preserve and defend,
And the spirits of freemen your labors shall guide."


"Our country demands-her call we obey,
Let 's work and be merry,
We'll never be weary,
While freedom and glory our labors repay."

Hundreds of addresses reached the President, the larger number heartily
endorsing his attitude toward the insulting Directory. Public opinion
supported Congress at the time in passing many war measures at this
special session of 1798 and the regular session which followed. Eighteen
acts were added to the Statutes at Large during the special and
seventy-five at the regular session, nearly double the number of laws
enacted at any prior sitting. The exportation of arms was forbidden
and their importation encouraged. The navy was separated from the army
and a new department created for it. The three men-of-war which
constituted the United States Navy were repaired and put into
commission. The construction of others was begun. Frigates, galleys,
and rowboats were ordered and regiments of artillerists and engineers
authorised to be recruited. A quarter of a million dollars was
appropriated to the coast-defences. Over a million was voted for
increasing the number and for arming the regular troops. A provisional
army of ten thousand men and a marine corps were placed at the disposal
of the President. From his retirement at Mt. Vernon, ex-President
Washington was summoned to assume command of the provisional army.

Not alone measures of defence, but actual war measures were passed.
The President was authorised to seize armed French vessels found near
the American coast. Merchantmen were permitted to arm against the
French. Thirty thousand stand of arms were distributed among the militia
of the States. All treaties with France were formally dissolved, and
all intercourse with her suspended until the next session of Congress.
To provide money for these unusual expenditures a loan of five million
dollars for fifteen years was authorised, and a stamp-tax levied not
unlike that of thirty years before, against which the colonists had

As if they had not yet sufficiently endangered the party, the triumphant
Federalist majority proceeded to vent its long accumulated wrath upon
its critics, and thereby brought the story of the United States a long
chapter forward. Those who had writhed under the attacks of Duane, a
former resident of Ireland, but lately driven from India for violating
the liberty allowed to the press, hoped for sweet revenge. Others
wanted retribution against Callender, setting up at Richmond an abusive
press such as had caused him to be driven from Scotland not long before.
The list of lesser offenders among the alien writers was long. As
President Adams asked: "How many presses, how many newspapers have
been directed by vagabonds, fugitives from a bailiff, a pillory, or
a halter in Europe?"

Charges against these aliens were not confined to their political
writings. The air was full of conspiracy. Some suspected a league

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