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Washington and His Colleagues by Henry Jones Ford

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lavish millions upon him, 'because,' said he, 'if I were to make peace
with everybody, what should I do with my Corsairs? What should I do with
my soldiers? They would take off my head, for want of other prizes.'"

This was an honest disclosure of the situation. Humphreys wrote Jefferson
that "no choice is left for the United States but to prepare a naval force
for the protection of their trade." Captain O'Brien wrote, "By all means
urge Congress to fit out some remarkably fast sailing cruisers, well
appointed and manned." In January, 1794, accordingly, a committee of the
House brought in a resolution for building four ships of 44 guns and two
of 20 guns each. The debate began on February 6, and for some time was
altogether one-sided, with one speaker after another opposing the creation
of a navy. Madison, as was now his habit, had doubts as to the propriety
of the measure. He fancied that peace "might be purchased for less
money than this armament would cost." Clark of New Jersey had "an
objection to the establishment of a fleet, because, when once it had been
commenced, there would be no end to it." He had "a scheme which he judged
would be less expensive and more effectual. This was to hire the
Portuguese to cruise against the Algerines." Baldwin of Georgia thought
that "bribery alone could purchase security from the Algerines." Nicholas
of Virginia "feared that we were not a match for the Algerines."

Smith of Maryland and Fitzsimmons of Pennsylvania championed the
resolution, and Fisher Ames made some remarks on Madison's lack of spirit
that caused Madison to define his position. He proposed as a substitute
for the pending measure that money should "be employed in such a manner as
should be found most effectual for obtaining a peace with the Regency of
Algiers; and failing of this, that the sum should be applied to the end of
obtaining protection from some of the European Powers." This motion warmed
up the debate. Giles of Virginia came to Madison's support in a style that
was not helpful. He "considered navies altogether as very foolish things.
An immense quantity of property was spread on the water for no purpose
whatever, which might have been employed by land to the best purpose." The
suggestion that the United States should be a hermit nation was an
indiscreet exposure of the logical significance of Madison's plan, and it
perhaps turned the scale in favor of employing force.

The bill came up in the House for final passage on March 10, 1794. Its
opponents now sparred for time, but a motion to recommit in order to give
opportunity for further consideration was defeated by 48 to 41. Giles made
a final effort, by a long and elaborate address, in which he argued that
the effect of fitting out a navy would be to involve the United States in
war with all the European Powers. Moreover, a navy would be dangerous to
American liberty. "A navy is the most expensive of all means of defense,
and the tyranny of governments consists in the expensiveness of their
machinery." He pointed to the results of British naval policy. "The
government is not yet destroyed, but the people are oppressed, liberty is
banished." The French monarchy had been ruined by its navy. He was
"astonished, with these fatal examples before our eyes, that there should
be gentlemen who would wish to enter upon this fashionable system of
politics." In discussing the expense of maintaining a navy, he expressed
his fear that it would eventually bring back the miseries of feudalism.

William Smith of South Carolina made a reply in which he defined the issue
as being between defense and tribute; but Giles had the last word. He
wanted to know whether it was maintained that the frigates it was proposed
to build would "boldly march upon land and break the chains of the
prisoners?" He begged Congress not to do what "would irritate the
barbarians and furnish additional misery to the unfortunate prisoners." In
this closing struggle over the bill Giles fought single-handed. When he
had quite finished, the bill was passed by 50 yeas to 39 nays, a result
which showed a decided gain in strength from the discussion.

The debates in the Senate have not been preserved, but the Senate was so
evenly divided that it took the casting vote of the Vice-President to pass
the bill, which became law March 27, 1794. In order to get it passed at
all, a proviso had been tacked on that, if peace terms could be arranged,
"no farther proceeding be had under this Act." In September, 1795, a
treaty of peace with Algiers was finally concluded, after negotiations had
been facilitated by a contingent fee of $18,000 paid to "Bacri the Jew,
who has as much art in this sort of management as any man we ever knew,"
the American agents reported. It was a keen bargain, as Bacri had to
propitiate court officials at his own risk, and had to look for both
reimbursement and personal profit, too, out of the lump sum he was to
receive in event of his success. It can hardly be doubted that he had the
situation securely in hand before making the bargain. The money paid in
Algiers for the ransom of the captives, for tribute and for presents to
officials amounted to $642,500.00. But in addition the United States
agreed to build a frigate for the Algerine navy and also supply naval
stores, which with incidental expenses brought the total cost of the peace
treaty up to $992,463.25. Moreover, the United States agreed to pay an
annual tribute of 12,000 sequins,--about $27,500.

By the terms of the navy act, the United States had to stop building
vessels for its own protection. Of those which had been authorized, the
frigates _Constitution, United States_, and _Constellation_ were under way
and were eventually completed. The timber, with material that had been
collected for the other vessels, was sold, except what was needed for the
frigate which was to be presented to the Algerines, and which was to be
built at Portsmouth, N.H. The whole affair was a melancholy business that
must have occasioned Washington deep chagrin. In his address to Congress,
December 7, 1796, announcing the success of the negotiations for effecting
the release of the captives, he observed that "to secure respect to a
neutral flag requires a naval force, organized and ready to vindicate it
from insult or aggression."



A few months before France declared war upon England, February 1, 1793,
Edmond Genet was appointed French Minister to the United States. He landed
at Charleston, April 8, and at once began activities so authoritative as
to amount to an erection of French sovereignty in the United States. The
subsequent failure of his efforts and the abrupt ending of his diplomatic
career have so reacted upon his reputation that associations of boastful
arrogance and reckless incompetency cling to his name. This estimate holds
him too lightly and underrates the peril to which the United States was
then exposed. Genet was no casual rhetorician raised to important office
by caprice of events, but a trained diplomatist of hereditary aptitude and
of long experience. His father was chief of the bureau of correspondence
in the Department of Foreign Affairs for the French monarchy, and it was
as an interpreter attached to that bureau that the son began his career in
1775. While still a youth, he gained literary distinction by his
translations of historical works from Swedish into French. Genet was
successively attached to the French Embassies at Berlin and Vienna, and in
1781 he succeeded his father in the Department of Foreign Affairs. In
1788, he was Secretary of the French Embassy at St. Petersburg, where his
zeal for French Revolutionary principles so irritated the Empress
Catherine that she characterized him as "a furious demagogue," and in 1792
he was forced to leave Russia. In the same year he was named Ambassador to
Holland, and thence was soon transferred to the United States.

It is obvious that a man of such experience could not be ignorant of
diplomatic forms and of international proprieties of behavior. If he
pursued a course that has since seemed to be a marvel of truculence, the
explanation should be sought in the circumstances of his mission more than
in the nature of his personality. When the matter is considered from this
standpoint, not only does one find that Genet's proceedings become
consistent and intelligible, but one becomes deeply impressed with the
magnitude of the peril then confronting the United States. Nothing less
than American independence was at stake.

It should be borne in mind that France, in aiding America against England,
had been pursuing her own ends. In August, 1787, the French government
advised its American representative that it had observed with indifference
the movements going on in the United States and would view the break-up of
the Confederation without regret. "We have never pretended to make of
America a useful ally; we have had no other object than to deprive Great
Britain of that vast continent." But, now that war with England had broken
out again, it was worth while making an effort to convert America into a
useful ally. Jefferson, while Minister to Paris, had been sympathetic with
the Revolutionary movement. In 1789, the English Ambassador reported to
his government that Jefferson was much consulted by the leaders of the
Third Estate. On the other hand, Gouverneur Morris, who was then living in
Paris, sympathized frankly with the King. Nevertheless he was chosen to
succeed Jefferson as the American Minister. In notifying him of the
appointment, Washington let him know that there had been objections. "It
was urged that in France you were considered as a favorer of the
aristocracy, and unfriendly to its Revolution." Washington's reminder that
it was his business to promote the interest of his own country did not
have any apparent effect on Morris's behavior. He became the personal
agent of Louis XVI, and he not only received and disbursed large sums on
the King's account, but he also entered into plans for the King's flight
from Paris. During the Reign of Terror which began in 1792, he behaved
with an energy and an intrepidity honorable to him as a man; in general,
however, his course tended to embroil and not to guard American interests.

In the face of the European coalition against revolutionary France, the
principle of action was that announced by Danton,--"to dare, and to dare,
and without end to dare." Genet therefore went on his mission to America
keyed to measures which were audacious but which can hardly be described
as reckless. By plunging heavily he might make a big winning; if he
failed, he was hardly worse off than if he had not made the attempt. To
draw the United States into the war as the ally of France was only one
part of his mission. He was also planning to reestablish the
French colonial empire, the loss of which was still an unhealed wound.
Canada, Louisiana, and the Floridas were all in his mind. In Louisiana,
France regarded conditions as being so favorable that Genet was instructed
to make special efforts in that quarter. Spain, which had entered the
coalition against republican France, held the lower Mississippi. Spain was
therefore the common enemy of France and of the American settlements west
of the mountains. Ought not then those two republican interests to work
together to expel Spain and to seize Louisiana? Moreover, there was a
belief, not without grounds, that the older States which formed the
American union were indifferent to the needs and interests of the country
west of the Alleghenies and would be more relieved than afflicted if it
should take its destinies into its own hands. Such considerations animated
a group of Americans in Paris, among whose prominent members were Thomas
Paine, the pamphleteer, Joel Barlow, the poet, and Dr. James O'Fallon, a
Revolutionary soldier now interested in Western land speculation. All were
then ardent sympathizers with the French Revolution, and they entered
heartily into the design of stirring up the Western country against Spain.
The project attracted some frontier leaders, among them George Rogers
Clark, famous for his successful campaigns against the hostile Indians and
the British during the Revolutionary War. He was to lead a force of
Western riflemen against the Spanish posts in Louisiana, and Genet brought
with him blank brevets of officers up to the grade of captain for bestowal
on the Indian chiefs who would cooperate. The expenses of the expedition
were to be met by collections which Genet expected to make from the
treasury of the United States on account of sums due to France.

The project of using the United States as a French base could claim legal
rights under the treaties of 1778 between France and the United States.
There were two treaties, both concluded on the same day. One, entitled a
treaty of amity and commerce, was a mutual conveyance of privileges; it
provided that the ships of war of each country should defend the vessels
of the other country against all attacks that might occur while they were
in company. Besides this right of convoy, each country had the right to
use the ports of the other, either for ships of war or for privateers and
their prizes, "nor shall such prizes be arrested or seized when they come
to and enter the ports of either party; nor shall the searchers or other
officers of those places search the same, or make any examination
concerning the lawfulness of such prizes, but they may hoist sail at any
time, and depart." All vessels of either country had the right to take
refuge in the ports of the other, whether from stress of weather or
pursuit of enemies, "and they shall be permitted to refresh and provide
themselves at reasonable rates, with victuals and all things needful for
the sustenance of their persons or reparation of their ships, and
conveniency of their voyage; and they shall no ways be detained or
hindered from returning out of the said ports or roads, but may remove and
depart when and whither they please, without any let or hindrance." It was
expressly provided that such hospitality should not be extended to vessels
of an enemy of either country. The accompanying instrument, entitled a
treaty of alliance, was a mutual guarantee of territorial possessions,
"forever against all other powers." These broad rights and privileges were
supplemented by the convention of 1788 on consular functions, which
facilitated the organization of a consular jurisdiction competent to deal
with cases arising from the treaties. There was still due to France on
loans contracted during the Revolution a remainder of about $2,300,000
payable by instalments, subject to the proviso that "Congress and the
United States" had "the liberty of freeing themselves by anticipated
payments should the state of their finances admit." It was planned to get
the United States to reciprocate the past favors of France by favoring her
now, if not by direct payments of money, at least by acceptances which
Genet could use in purchasing supplies. The fact that whatever in the way
of money or accommodations was obtained in the United States would be
used in business in that country was counted upon to facilitate the

These facts form the background against which Genet's activities should be
viewed. He came with deliberate intent to rush the situation, and armed
with all needful powers for that purpose, so far as the French government
could confer them. According to a dispatch from Morris to the State
Department, Genet "took with him three hundred blank commissions which he
is to distribute to such as will fit out cruisers in our ports to prey on
the British commerce."

At Charleston, Genet received an enthusiastic reception. The Revolutionary
commander, General Moultrie, who was then governor of South Carolina,
entered so cordially into Genet's plans that in his first dispatch home,
Genet was able to say to his government that Moultrie had permitted him to
arm privateers and had assisted the various branches of his mission in
every possible way. Such was Genet's energy that within five days after
his arrival he had opened a recruiting station at which American seamen
were taken into the French service; he had commissioned American vessels
as French privateers; and he had turned the French consul's office into an
admiralty court for which business was provided by the prizes that were
being brought in.

After seeing under way all matters that he could attend to in Charleston,
Genet moved on to Philadelphia, and received on his way thither such
greetings as to give to his journey the character of a triumphal progress.
Meanwhile, _L'Ambuscade_, the French frigate which had brought Genet to
Charleston, was proceeding to Philadelphia, taking prizes on her way and
sending them to American ports. In Delaware Bay she captured the _Grange_,
an English merchantman lying there at anchor, and took this vessel
with her to Philadelphia as a prize. As Genet neared Philadelphia on
May 16, _L'Ambuscade_ gave notice by firing three guns, at which signal a
procession was formed to meet Genet at Gray's Ferry and escort him to his
lodgings. He found awaiting him a letter from George Rogers Clark, which
gave an account of his plans for the invasion of Louisiana and the capture
of New Orleans, and which announced his readiness to start if he were
assisted by some frigates and provided with three thousand pounds sterling
to meet expenses. Genet received reports from other agents or friendly
correspondents in the Spanish territory, and so active was he in
forwarding the objects of his mission that on June 19 he was able to write
to his government, "I am provisioning the West Indies, I excite the
Canadians to break the British yoke, I arm the Kentukois and prepare a
naval expedition which will facilitate their descent on New Orleans."

These claims were well founded. Genet did, in fact, make an effective
start, and had he been able to command funds he might have opened a great
chapter of history. George Rogers Clark was the ablest and most successful
commander that the frontier had yet produced, and such was the weakness of
the Spanish defenses that had his expedition been actually launched as
planned, the conquest of Louisiana might indeed have been accomplished. It
was not any defect in Genet's arrangements that frustrated his plans, but
his inability to raise money and the uncertainty of his position as the
agent of a government which was undergoing rapid revolutionary change.

News that the French Republic had declared war against Great Britain
reached the United States early in April, 1793. Washington, who was then
at Mount Vernon, wrote to Jefferson that "it behooves the Government of
this country to use every means in its power to prevent the citizens
thereof from embroiling us with either of those Powers, by endeavoring to
maintain a strict neutrality," and he requested that the Secretary should
"give the subject mature consideration, that such measures as shall be
deemed most likely to effect this desirable purpose may be adopted without
delay." On arriving at Philadelphia a few days later, Washington was met
by a distracted Cabinet. The great difficulty was the conflict of
obligations. The United States had a treaty of alliance with France; it
had a treaty of peace with Great Britain. The situation had become such
that it could not sustain both relations at the same time. If the United
States remained neutral, it would have to deny to France privileges
conferred by the treaty which had been negotiated when both countries were
at war with Great Britain. How far was that treaty now binding? It had
been made with "the Most Christian king," whose head had been cut off. Did
not his engagements fall with his head? That was the very position taken
by the government of the French Republic, which had asserted the right to
decide what treaties of the old monarchy should be retained and what
rejected. As an incident of the present case, the question was to be
decided whether the ambassador of the French Republic should be received.

Such were the issues that Washington's Administration had to face, at a
time when the whole country was thrilling with enthusiasm in behalf of the
French Republic. Chief Justice Marshall left on record his opinion that
this feeling "was almost universal," and that "a great majority of the
American people deemed it criminal to remain unconcerned spectators of a
conflict between their ancient enemy and republican France."

Washington acted with his customary deliberation. On April 18, 1793, he
submitted to the members of his Cabinet thirteen questions. Jefferson, who
held that the French treaty was still operative, noted that the questions
reached him in Washington's own handwriting, "yet it was palpable from
the style, their ingenious tissue and suite, that they were not the
President's, that they were raised upon a prepared chain of argument, in
short, that the language was Hamilton's and the doubts his alone." In
Jefferson's opinion they were designed to lead "to a declaration of the
Executive that our treaty with France is void." Jefferson was right as to
Hamilton's authorship. At a time when Jefferson had no advice to give save
that it would be well to consider whether Congress ought not to be
summoned, Hamilton had ready a set of interrogatories which subjected the
whole situation to close analysis. The critical questions were these:

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

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

To the interrogatories framed by Hamilton, Washington added one which
presented the point raised by Jefferson--"Is it necessary or advisable to
call together the two Houses of Congress, with a view to the present
posture of European affairs? If it is, what shall be the particular object
of such a call?"

The Cabinet met on April 19. On the question of a proclamation of
neutrality Jefferson argued that such a proclamation would be equivalent
to a declaration that the United States would not take part in the war,
and that this matter did not lie within the power of the Executive, since
it was the province of Congress to declare war. Congress ought therefore
to be called to consider the question. Hamilton, who held that it was both
the right and the duty of the President to proclaim neutrality, was
strongly opposed to summoning Congress. In a brief record of the
proceedings he remarked that "whether this advice proceeded from a secret
wish to involve us in a war, or from a constitutional timidity, certain it
is such a step would have been fatal to the peace and tranquillity of
America." The matter was finally compromised by an unanimous agreement
that a proclamation should be issued "forbidding our citizens taking any
part in any hostilities on the seas with or against any of the belligerent
powers; and warning them against carrying to any such powers any of those
articles deemed contraband, according to the modern usage of nations; and
enjoining them from all acts and proceedings inconsistent with the duties
of a friendly nation toward those at war." Jefferson's scruples having
been appeased by avoiding the use of the term "neutrality," it was now
unanimously decided that Congress should not be called. It was further
decided that the French Minister should be received. Jefferson and
Randolph, however, were of opinion that he should be received without
conditions, while Hamilton, supported by Knox, held that the Minister
ought to be apprised of the intention to reserve the question whether the
treaties were still operative, "lest silence on that point should occasion
misconstruction." The even division of the Cabinet on this point was in
practical effect a victory for Jefferson. The Cabinet was unable to reach
any decision in the matter of treaty obligations. Jefferson held that
they were still operative; Hamilton, that they were "temporarily and
provisionally suspended." Knox sided with Hamilton, and Randolph, although
he at first sided with Jefferson, was so shaken in his opinion by
Hamilton's argument that he asked further time for consideration.
Eventually written opinions were submitted by Hamilton, Jefferson, and
Randolph, confirming the views they had previously expressed, and, as Knox
concurred with Hamilton, the Cabinet was still evenly divided on that
fundamental question.

The proclamation, on the lines upon which all had agreed, was draughted by
Randolph who showed it to Jefferson in order to assure him that "there was
no such word as neutrality in it." Jefferson, whose own account this is,
did not mention that he raised any objection to the wording of the
proclamation at the time, though a few months later he referred to it in
his private correspondence as a piece of "pusillanimity," because it
omitted any expression of the affection of America for France. The
proclamation was issued on April 22, two weeks after the arrival of Genet
at Charleston. The procedure that had been adopted at Jefferson's instance
avoided none of the difficulties that a declaration of neutrality would
have encountered but rather increased them by putting the Government in a
false position. The mere omission of the term did not prevent it from
being known as a neutrality proclamation. It was at once so designated and
has always been so considered. Jefferson himself, in advising the American
foreign representatives of the policy of the Government, said that it
would be "a fair neutrality"; and, in writing to Madison a few days after
the proclamation had been issued, he remarked, "I fear a fair neutrality
will prove a disagreeable pill to our friends, though necessary to keep us
out of the calamities of war."

By its terms, however, the proclamation was simply an admonition to
American citizens to keep out of the war, with notice that, if they got
into trouble by engaging in contraband trade, they would not receive the
protection of the United States, and would be liable to prosecution for
the commission of acts of a nature to "violate the law of nations." It is
manifest that the question whether or not the French treaty was still in
operation was of great practical importance. If it was still in force, the
treaty formed part of the law of the land, and American citizens might
plead immunity for acts done in pursuance of its provisions. Hamilton was
for suspending the treaty since a situation had arisen which made its
provisions inconsistent with a policy of neutrality. His main contention
was that the obligations imposed by the treaty of '78 were no longer
binding on the United States, since they contemplated only defensive war.
By her declaration of war France had taken the offensive, thereby
relieving the United States of her reciprocal obligations. Jefferson held
that the treaty was still operative, for even if its provisions apparently
required the United States to engage in the war, it did not follow that
such action would be an actual consequence. The possibility was "not yet
certain enough to authorize us in sound morality to declare, at this
moment, the treaties null."

Meanwhile Genet was left in a position in which he had a perfect right to
claim all privileges conferred on France by the treaty. The result was a
curious chapter of diplomatic correspondence. Genet took an attitude of
indignant remonstrance at the duplicity of the American position. Did not
the United States have a treaty with France? By what authority then did
the Administration interfere with him in the enjoyment of his rights as
the representative of France, and interfere with American citizens in
their dealings with him? He shrewdly refrained from any attempt to defend
the capture of the _Grange_ by _L'Ambuscade_ in Delaware Bay. "The learned
conclusions of the Attorney-General of the United States, and the
declarations of the American Government, have been on this subject the
rule of my conduct. I have caused the prize to be given up." But he stood
firm on rights secured by the treaty. "As long as the States, assembled in
Congress, shall not have determined that this solemn engagement should not
be performed, no one has the right to shackle our operations, and to annul
their effect, by hindering those of our marines who may be in the American
ports, to take advantage of the commissions which the French Government
has charged me to give to them, authorizing them to defend themselves, and
fulfill, if they find an opportunity, all the duties of citizens against
the enemies of the State."

This was using an argument borrowed from Jefferson's abundant stock of
constitutional limitations. Genet was, of course, advised of the
dissensions in the Cabinet. He was on such confidential terms with
Jefferson that he talked freely about the projected raid on Louisiana.
Jefferson noted in his diary that "he communicated these things to me, not
as Secretary of State, but as Mr. Jefferson." Jefferson told Genet that he
"did not care what insurrections should be excited in Louisiana," but that
"enticing officers and soldiers from Kentucky to go against Spain was
really putting a halter about their necks, for that they would assuredly
be hung if they commenced hostilities against a nation at peace with the
United States." So great is the force of legal pedantry that Jefferson was
unable to agree that the President should proclaim neutrality in clear and
positive terms; but that same pedantry was effectively employed in
covering the legal flaws of Jefferson's position in his notes to Genet. He
attenuated the treaty obligations by strict construction and also by
reservations founded on the general principles of international law. "By
our treaties with several of the belligerent Powers," he told Genet, "we
have established a style of peace with them. But without appealing to
treaties, we are at peace with them all by the law of nature: for, by
nature's law, man is at peace with man." Hence the propriety of forbidding
acts within American jurisdiction that would cause disturbance of this
peace, a point on which he quoted copiously from Vattel. Genet manifested
some irritation at being referred to treatises on international law when
he was resting his case on a treaty the validity of which Jefferson
acknowledged. "Let us not lower ourselves," he wrote, "to the level
of ancient politics by diplomatic subtleties. Let us be frank in
our overtures, in our declarations, as our two nations are in their
affections, and, by this plain and sincere conduct, arrive at the object
by the shortest way."

Logically Jefferson's position was that of maintaining the validity of the
treaty while opposing the fulfillment of its obligations. At the same time
he had to carry on a correspondence with Hammond, the British Minister,
who was making complaints of the use of American ports for French
depredations on British commerce, and to him Jefferson pleaded entire
willingness to discharge in good faith the obligations of a neutral Power.
It may seem as if Jefferson was attempting the impossible feat of trying
to ride at one time two horses going in opposite directions, but such was
his dexterity that in appearance he was largely successful. Meanwhile he
contrived to throw on Hamilton and his adherents the blame for the
feebleness and inconsistency of national policy. In letters to his
Congressional lieutenants, Monroe in the Senate and Madison in the House,
he lamented "the anglophobia, secret antigallomany" that have "decided the
complexion of our dispositions." He spoke scornfully of Randolph, whom he
regarded as so irresolute that the votes in the Cabinet were "generally
two and a half against one and a half," by which he meant that Hamilton
and Knox stood together against Jefferson, while Randolph divided his
influence between the two actions.

So inflamed was the state of public opinion that a rising against the
Government seemed possible. In a letter written twenty years later, John
Adams described "the terrorism excited by Genet, in 1793, when ten
thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia, day after day, threatened
to drag Washington out of his house, and effect a revolution in the
Government, or compel it to declare war in favor of the French Revolution
and against England." Adams related that he "judged it prudent and
necessary to order chests of arms from the War Office" to be brought into
his house to defend it from attack, and he had it from "the coolest
and firmest minds" that nothing but the outbreak of yellow fever in
Philadelphia that summer "could have saved the United States from a fatal
revolution of government." On the other hand, letters written by Hamilton
during the time of all this excitement show that he thought little of it,
although he more than anyone else was its target. In May, 1793, he wrote
that the number of persons who went to meet Genet "would be stated high at
a hundred," and he did not believe that a tenth part of the city
participated in the meetings and addresses of Genet's sympathizers. "A
crowd will always draw a crowd, whatever be the purpose. Curiosity will
supply the place, of attachment to, or interest in, the object."
Washington's own letters at this period show no trace of concern about his
personal safety though he smarted under the attacks on his motives. An
entry of August 2, 1793, in Jefferson's private diary, forming the volume
since known as "The Anas," relates that at a cabinet meeting Knox
exhibited a print entitled the funeral of George W----n, in which the
President was placed on a guillotine. "The President was much inflamed;
got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself; ran much on
the personal abuse which had been bestowed upon him; defied any man on
earth to produce one single act of his since he had been in the Government
which was not done from the purest motives; that he had never repented but
once the having slipped the moment of resigning his office, and that was
every moment since; that by God he had rather be in his grave than in his
present situation; that he had rather be on his farm than to be made
emperor of the world; and that they were charging him with wanting to be
king; that that rascal Freneau sent him three of his papers every day, as
if he thought he would become the distributor of his papers; that he could
see in this nothing but an impudent design to insult him."

Freneau was one of Jefferson's subordinates in the State Department,
combining with his duties there the editorship of a newspaper engaged in
spreading the calumny that the Administration was leaning toward
monarchy through the influence of Hamilton and his friends, who despised
republicanism, hated France, and loved England. This journalistic campaign
went on under the protection of Jefferson to the disturbance of an
administration of which Jefferson himself formed a part. This circumstance
has given trouble to Jefferson's biographers, and it is now somewhat
difficult to make those allowances to which Jefferson is entitled from the
candid historian. Such behavior at the present day would be regarded as
treacherous, for it is now a settled doctrine that it is the duty of a
member of the President's Cabinet to give unreserved support to his
policy, or to resign. But at that period, neither in England nor in the
United States, did this view of cabinet solidarity prevail. It was not
considered against the rules of the game for a cabinet official to use any
opportunities within reach for promoting his aims or to boast such
behavior as patriotic zeal. Jefferson, who wanted to resign and stayed on
only at Washington's earnest desire, certainly rendered a service to the
Administration, which was then so unpopular that Jefferson's connection
with it was a political asset of great value.

Hamilton also made use of the services of journalism. When on June
29,1793, publication began of a series of eight articles signed
"Pacificus," it was well known that Hamilton was the author. The acute
analysis and cogent reasoning of these articles have given them classic
rank as an exposition of national rights and duties. Upon minds open to
reason their effect was marked. Jefferson wrote to Madison, "For God's
sake, my dear Sir, take up your pen, select the most striking heresies,
and cut him to pieces in the face of the public." Madison did take up his
pen, but he laid it down again without attempting to controvert Hamilton's
argument. The five articles which Madison wrote over the signature
"Helvidius" do not proceed farther into the subject than a preliminary
examination of executive authority, in which he laid down principles of
strict construction of the Constitution which have never been adopted in
practice and which are now interesting only as specimens of dialectic

Although as an electioneering tactician Jefferson had superior ability,
neither he nor any of his associates was a match for Hamilton in debate.
As the issues were discussed, the Jeffersonians lost ground, and for this
they put the blame on Genet. By July 7, Jefferson was writing to Madison
that Genet "renders my position immensely difficult," and thereafter in
the correspondence of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, Genet figures as a
rash man whose indiscretions embarrassed his friends and impeded his own
objects. This view has to a large extent passed over into history, but
when it is considered that Genet did not come to America for Jefferson's
comfort but to accomplish certain things for his own government, it must
be owned that he had considerable success. Although his means were small,
he managed to engage in the French service an active American fleet
including such vessels as _Le Cassius, L'Ami de le Point a Petre, L'Amour
de la Liberte, La Vengeance, La Montagne, Le Vainqueur de la Bastille, La
Carmagnole, L'Esperance, Le Citoyen Genet, Sans Pareil_, and _Le
Petit Democrate._ The last-mentioned vessel was originally an English
merchantman, the brig _Little Sarah_, brought into Philadelphia harbor as
a French prize. When it was learned that this vessel had been armed and
equipped for service as a French man-of-war, Governor Mifflin of
Pennsylvania gave orders that the vessel should be detained. Genet
threatened forcible resistance, and a clash might have occurred, had
Jefferson not intervened. He went to Genet's house on Sunday to persuade
him not to move the vessel until the President could decide the case.
Genet refused to give any promise, but remarked that the vessel would
probably not be ready to depart for several days. Jefferson thereupon
exerted himself successfully to prevent the taking of any steps to detain
the vessel.

Washington, harassed and confused by the dissensions of his Cabinet, now
desired that the advice of the justices of the Supreme Court be taken.
Hamilton was opposed to a proceeding which involved prejudgment by the
Court on questions which might come before it in due course of law, and
which seemed to him also to be an avoidance of the proper responsibility
of the executive. Nevertheless he took part in preparing the case, and of
the twenty-nine questions submitted to the Supreme Court, Hamilton framed
twenty-one, Jefferson seven, and Washington himself the last. Jefferson
notified Genet of this consultation as an additional reason for patience,
"the object of it being to obtain the best advice possible on the sense of
the laws and treaties respecting the several cases. I am persuaded you
will think the delay well compensated." Genet did not think so, and _Le
Petit Democrate_ put to sea in defiance of American authority.

The justices declined to answer the questions, and the Administration had
to face its responsibilities on its own judgment of its rights and duties.
At least one member of the Administration had clear and positive ideas on
that subject. Hamilton, who in his "Pacificus" letters had given a
masterly exposition of international obligations, now took up the
particular issues raised by Genet's claims, which at that time were
receiving ardent championship. Freneau's _National Gazette_ held that
Genet had really acted "too tamely," had been "too accommodating for the
peace of the United States." Hamilton now replied by a series of articles
in the _Daily Advertiser_ over the signature "No Jacobin," in which
Genet's behavior was reviewed. After five articles had appeared in rapid
succession, the series was abruptly terminated because Hamilton was taken
down by the yellow fever.

The journalistic war was almost in the nature of a duel between the State
and the Treasury Departments. Genet must have been amused. Lack of funds
hindered his activities more than anything else. Jefferson had advised
Washington that, "if the instalments falling due in this year could be
advanced without incurring more danger," it would be well to make the
payments, as he "thought it very material to keep alive the friendly
sentiments of France." But this was a matter which pertained to Hamilton's
own department, and in that field his advice controlled Washington. Genet
could do nothing in this direction, and before the affair of _Le Petit
Democrate_ he had ceased to expect financial aid.

Jefferson was now so angry and indignant that he no longer opposed the
suggestions that had been made in cabinet meetings that Genet should be
dismissed, and the note on that subject which he drafted for transmission
to the French Government is an able document. The French Government, with
ample reason, conditioned the recall of Genet upon the recall of Morris,
who was succeeded by James Monroe. Meanwhile Genet's situation had become
perilous through revolution at home. On October 16, 1793, his Government
issued an order for his arrest. The United States now became his asylum.
He acquired citizenship, married a daughter of Governor Clinton of New
York, and settled down to a useful and respected career as a country
gentleman devoted to the improvement of agriculture. He died at his home,
Schodak, New York, in 1834, after having founded an American family.

At the time when Genet, favored by the exasperated state of Western
sentiment over the navigation of the lower Mississippi, was promoting an
attack upon the Spanish posts, the Administration had already been engaged
for a long time in efforts to secure "full enjoyment of that navigation,"
as well as a settlement of the southwestern boundary. In December, 1791,
Washington nominated William Carmichael, charge d'affaires in Spain, and
William Short, then charge d'affaires in France, commissioners to make a
treaty. Their efforts proved unsuccessful, and in 1794 the Spanish
commissioner in the United States gave notice that they were not
acceptable personally, and that it "was hoped that some other person would
be appointed, with full powers, to settle this treaty, and graced with
such a character as became the royalty to which he was accredited."
Washington then nominated Thomas Pinckney, at that time minister in
London, as minister plenipotentiary in Spain. When Pinckney arrived on the
scene he was met with the dilatory methods then characteristic of Spanish
diplomacy, and finally he had to bring matters to an issue by demanding
his passports. His determination so impressed the Spanish Government that
it finally consented to a treaty, October 27, 1795, which fixed the
southern boundary of the United States and opened the Mississippi River to
navigation. The boundary line was to run east along the thirty-first
parallel of latitude from the Mississippi to the Appalachicola, thence
along the latter river to its junction with the Flint, thence to the
headwaters of the St. Mary's, and along its course to the Atlantic Ocean.
The free navigation of the Mississippi was coupled with the privilege of
depositing merchandise at New Orleans "without paying any other duty than
a fair price for the hire of the stores." This privilege was to be
continued after three years, or "an equivalent establishment" on the banks
of the Mississippi was to be assigned to citizens of the United States--a
provision which was not free from ambiguities and which furnished fresh
material for controversy a few years later.



According to Jefferson, the President originally took the same view of the
French treaty that he did. Jefferson relates that on April 18, 1793,
Washington spoke of having "never had a doubt of the validity of the
French treaty," and he notes that in the cabinet disputes Washington was
inclined to his views. As the embarrassments of the Administration
thickened, the President, it is true, leaned more and more toward
Hamilton, but this inclination was due more to necessity than to personal
partiality. The explanation stands out in Jefferson's own account of
events. Hamilton was clear, positive, and decided as to what to do and how
to do it. Jefferson was active in finding objections but not in finding
ways and means of action. This contrast became sharper as time went on,
and, as Washington was in a position where he had to do something, he was
forced to rely on Hamilton more and more. Jefferson held that it
would be inexpedient for the general government to assume the duty of
fortifying the harbors, and that there was no constitutional authority for
establishing a military academy. On November 28, 1793, there was a
prolonged wrangle over these issues at a cabinet meeting, which the
President ended by saying that he would recommend the military academy to
Congress, and "let them decide for themselves whether the Constitution
authorized it or not." This was the last of the quarrelsome cabinet
sessions recorded by Jefferson. He vacated the office of Secretary of
State, December 31, 1793, and thereafter the ascendancy of Hamilton in the
Cabinet was indisputed.

An immediate effect of the change was to give new vigor to efforts at
reaching a settlement with Great Britain. The old troubles over her
retention of the western posts still continued, and in addition to them
came new difficulties arising from war measures. On January 30, 1793,
Thomas Pinckney, then American minister to Great Britain, wrote that war
was about to begin, "and although our claim to a free intercourse is
founded in reason and our national right, yet, as we have no armed
neutrality the members whereof this people have to fear, they may stop our
vessels bound to French ports with provisions." What was feared soon
happened. By the French decree of 1793, the French colonies were opened to
American trade and West Indian commerce flourished. This was now afflicted
by contraband regulations laid down by Great Britain, under which many
American vessels were seized for carrying cargoes to or from French ports.
Although Genet's activities and the extent to which they were indulged by
the United States did not tend to promote friendly relations with Great
Britain, yet it does not appear that the British policy was inspired by
resentment. The regulations as defined by instructions issued on June 8,
1793, made liable to detention all vessels carrying "corn, flour, or meal"
to French ports, with the proviso that the cargoes might be purchased on
behalf of the British government and the ships might then be released with
a due allowance for freight, or they might be allowed to dispose of their
cargoes in the ports of any country in amity with Great Britain.
Vessels attempting to enter a blockaded port were liable to seizure and
condemnation, save that the ships of Denmark and Sweden might be seized
only if they should persist in trying to enter after once having been
turned back.

Conciliatory explanations were made by Hammond, the British minister, in
notifying our State Department. He pointed out that only corn and flour
were contraband, that the regulations did not extend to other provisions,
and that they secured "to the proprietors, supposing them neutral, a full
indemnification for any loss they may possibly sustain." The special
privilege extended to Denmark and Sweden was attributed to treaty
requirements and therefore could not be regarded as invidious. In reply
Jefferson at home and Pinckney abroad argued in behalf of the United
States for the principle that free ships make free goods, but Great
Britain would not hearken to a doctrine that struck at the efficacy of her
sea power.

Washington besought Congress to support the efforts of the Administration
by making, for the defense of American interests, such provision as would
inspire respect. In his address of December 3, 1793, he observed: "There
is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld,
if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to
avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace,
one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be
known that we are at all times ready for war." The answer of Congress was
the grudging consent to some naval preparations already recounted.

After the passage of the navy bill Sedgwick of Massachusetts endeavored to
interest the House in the general subject of military preparation. On
March 12, 1794, he introduced resolutions for raising fifteen additional
regiments for two years, the term to be extended for three years in case
of the outbreak of war. In advocating this measure he spoke of the sorry
experience of the country in depending upon militia. Their "want of
discipline occasions them to commit a great waste on the property of their
fellow citizens, besides a waste of public property." As long as we depend
upon militia, "European nations will not consider us as able to retaliate
and assert our rights." Nothing came of this sensible proposal, but
Sedgwick made an auxiliary suggestion which Congress did adopt. He urged
that the sailing of vessels from the ports of the United States be
prohibited. An embargo would hold over foreign nations the threat that,
unless they behaved themselves, their supplies from the United States
might be cut off. Such embargo was voted for a month from March 26, 1794,
which was subsequently extended for another month, and the President was
authorized to lay, regulate, and revoke embargoes during the recess of
Congress. Congress regarded the embargo policy as a cheap way out of a
difficult situation, but this method was really not only far more costly
to the nation than would have been the straightforward course of arming
for defense, but at the same time accomplished nothing. Dayton of New
Jersey proposed to supplement the embargo by the sequestration of all
debts due from citizens of the United States to British subjects. Clark of
New Jersey outdid his colleague by proposing to prohibit all commercial
intercourse between the United States and Great Britain until such time
as that country should surrender the western posts and should make
restitution for all losses sustained by American citizens.

Violent speeches were made on these proposals at the very time when the
House was refusing to support either an army or a navy. Sedgwick
introduced some good sense into a debate that was alternating between
blatant vaporing and legal pedantry, by pointing out that, under the
Constitution, the President of the United States ought to be allowed
to have some say about the matter. It was the function of the President
to treat with foreign powers, and yet the House was now considering action
which was in effect "prescribing the terms of treaty, and restraining
the constitutional power from treating on any other terms." This argument
was used effectively by a number of speakers. It turned the main
position taken by the advocates of non-intercourse, which was that the
real objection came from the bondholders who feared that the ensuing
loss of revenue might prevent them from getting their interest. Such
imputations of sordid motive became fruitless when the issue was raised of
the constitutional authority of the President, but the advocates of
non-intercourse met this new point of view by pointing out that the
Constitution gave Congress the right to regulate commerce. The feeling
against Great Britain was so great that the House was bent on indulging
it, and on April 25, 1794, the non-intercourse bill was passed by a vote
of 58 to 34. The Senate was so evenly divided that, on the motion to pass
the bill to its third reading, there was a tie vote, and Vice-President
Adams, who was called upon for a casting vote, gave it against the bill.
About a month later in the House another attempt was made to carry the
policy of non-intercourse by a joint resolution, but by this time a
reaction in favor of the Administration had set in and the resolution
received only 24 yeas to 46 nays, James Madison being among those who
stuck to the proposal to the last.

While the House was abandoning itself to reckless mischief-making,
Washington was striving to arrange matters by negotiation. The
perplexities of his situation were great and varied. As a military man
he knew that American jurisdiction was precarious so long as Great
Britain held the interior. The matter had been the subject of prolix
correspondence between Jefferson and Hammond, but the American demands
that Great Britain should surrender the frontier posts in accordance with
the treaty of peace had been met by demands that America, in accordance
with that same treaty, should first satisfy various claims of British
subjects for restitution, indemnity, and relief. The regular diplomatic
machinery stuck fast at this point, both at home and abroad. In one of his
gossipy, confidential letters Fisher Ames remarked that Hammond was a most
"petulant, impudent" man, habitually railing against the conduct of our
government "with a gabble that his feelings render doubly unintelligible."
But Pinckney, our representative in England, was equally undiplomatic. He
was "sour and also Gallican"; although calm in manner, "he had prejudices,
and unless a man has a mind above them, he can do little service there."

Washington decided that it would be wise to send a special envoy to deal
with all the points at issue. He thought first of Hamilton, but was warned
that the Senate would not ratify such an appointment. Hamilton recommended
John Jay as "the only man in whose qualifications for success there would
be thorough confidence." Jay was then chief-justice, but the crisis was so
dangerous as to justify Washington in calling him even from that important
post. He had matchless qualifications for the mission. He had been
minister to Spain, 1778-1782; he had been one of the commissioners who had
negotiated the treaty of peace of 1783; he had been Secretary of Foreign
Affairs, 1784-1789; so that he had had an experience which familiarized
him with every detail of the questions at issue. As a negotiator he had
always gained marked success by acting upon his own principle that "a
little good-natured wisdom often does more in politics than much slippery
craft." Jay showed fine patriotism in accepting the appointment. He
remarked to his friends that no man could frame a treaty with Great
Britain without making himself unpopular and odious and he accepted the
mission under "a conviction that to refuse it would be to desert my duty
for the sake of my ease and domestic concerns and comforts."

Jay was nominated as envoy extraordinary on April 16, 1794, and, after
three days of violent debate, the appointment was confirmed by the
Senate. The event did not moderate the rage of the House for immediate
action. Some members urged that it was indelicate for the House to be
passing reprisals at a time when the Executive was attempting friendly
negotiations; but the reply was made that, if there was any indelicacy, it
was on the part of the Executive, inasmuch as the House proceedings had
been already begun when the President decided to nominate an envoy
extraordinary. While Congress was fuming and wrangling, Jay was proceeding
with his difficult task. He sailed on May 12, and on June 8 landed
in England where he was hospitably received. Despite these personal
attentions, the differences to be adjusted were so numerous and
complicated that on the surface the situation looked almost hopeless.
Conditions, however, were really more favorable than they appeared to be.
A change, latent but influential, had taken place in the mental attitude
of the governing class in England. There had been a notion that American
independence would not last long and that the country would eventually be
restored to the British Crown. The drift of events was rather in that
direction until Hamilton's measures gave the ascendancy to the forces
making for American national development. The practical statesmanship of
Great Britain perhaps saw more clearly the significance of what was taking
place than did that of America itself, and it was prepared to reckon with
this new condition. Moreover, the European commotion resulting from the
French Revolution had brought to the front a new set of interests and
anxieties, for the free handling of which a settlement of differences with
the United States might be advantageous. The effect of such considerations
was at least to render the situation more manageable than might have been
expected, and Jay improved his opportunities with admirable tact.

In pursuance of his principle of bringing "good-natured wisdom" to bear,
Jay suggested to Lord Grenville, the British Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, that they should dispense with written communications, and merely
meet and converse informally "until there should appear a probability
of coming to some amicable mutual understanding." Even after such
understanding should be put into writing, it was not to be regarded as
official or binding, but simply as an exchange of private memoranda. So
strictly was this informal method adhered to that the regular force of
secretaries and copyists had nothing to do with the proceedings until the
treaty was almost ready for signing. Jay had been instructed to demand
compensation for some three thousand slaves who had followed the British
troops when they departed, but Lord Grenville stood firm on the principle
that the slave, once under the British flag, became a free man, the
property rights of the former owner thereupon becoming extinct and not
forming a subject for compensation. Jay, who really held the same opinion,
had to yield the point. It was agreed that the western posts should be
evacuated by June 1, 1796, an arrangement which would allow the British
government to retain them about two years longer. That government had
already justified its retention of these posts by averring that the United
States had not complied with the articles of the peace treaty relating to
British debts. Jay was not in a position to argue the point with any
force, for when he was Secretary of Foreign Affairs he had advised
Congress that these articles "have been constantly violated on our part by
legislative acts, then and still existing and operating"; and that Great
Britain was therefore not to blame for retaining the posts. The British
government was undoubtedly cognizant of this report, and Jay could not
make any effective opposition to a proviso which in effect said to the
United States, "before surrendering the posts we will wait and see whether
you intend to fulfill your agreements." The root of the trouble--an evil
often felt and still experienced in the United States--was defective
sovereignty, an inability of the whole to control the behavior of its
parts. Jay could not deny that the peace treaty had been violated by state
legislation, and only by the humiliating means of an avowal of its
impotence could he exonerate the national government from the imputation
of bad faith. The matter was disposed of by provision for a joint
commission to decide upon all cases in which it was alleged that
unlawful impediments had been placed in the way of collection of debts due
British subjects, and by the United States undertaking payment of the
awards. A similar commission was to pass upon American claims for British
violation of neutral rights. This arrangement was a concession whose
practical value was eventually shown by the fact that as a result American
merchants received some millions of dollars.

Jay displayed marked adroitness as a negotiator in dealing with the issues
growing out of past differences, but he made an extraordinary slip in
providing for commercial relations between the two countries. In their
general tenor the articles displayed broad liberality. Between all British
dominions in Europe and the territories of the United States there was to
be "a reciprocal and perfect liberty of commerce and navigation." American
vessels were to "be admitted and hospitably received" in the ports of East
India, and, although participation in the coasting trade was prohibited,
it was provided that this restriction should not prevent ships going from
one port of discharge to another. The East Indian trade was not, however,
so important as the nearer West Indian trade, and with respect to the
latter the treaty provisions were narrow and exacting. American vessels
were limited to seventy tons burden, and it was provided that "the United
States will prohibit and restrain the carrying away of molasses, sugar,
coffee, or cotton in American vessels, either for his Majesty's Islands or
the United States, to any part of the world except the United States,
reasonable sea-stores excepted." Jay, in a letter to Washington, excused
his acceptance of this restraint on the ground that "the commercial part
of the treaty may be terminated at the expiration of two years after the
war, and in the meantime a state of things more auspicious to negotiation
will probably arise, especially if the next session of Congress should not
interpose fresh obstacles."

The treaty was silent on the subject of impressment, but Jay's failure on
that point was just what was to have been expected in view of the
unwillingness of the United States to defend its commerce. Impressment was
not abandoned until many years afterwards, and then not through treaty
stipulation but because the United States had a navy and could resist
aggression on the seas. In its treatment of the subject of contraband, the
treaty took positions in accord with the international law then received,
but in one respect it made a distinct advance. Provision was made that war
between the two countries should never become the pretext for confiscation
of debts or annulment of contracts. This position involves the noble
principle that war should never supersede justice but should be the
servant of justice. Great practical advantage was experienced from it in
the War of 1812, when the United States was a creditor nation.

On the whole, Jay's diplomacy was as enlightened as it was shrewd, but at
the time it exposed him to furious denunciation which he disdained to
notice. "I had read the history of Greece," he wrote to a friend, "and was
apprised of the politics and proceedings of more recent date." The
philosophic composure which he drew from his knowledge of history enabled
him to behave with calm dignity while he was being burned in effigy, and
while mob orators were heaping insult and calumny on his name. After a
struggle that shook the Government, the treaty was ratified by the Senate
on June 24, 1795, with the exception of the article about the West Indian
trade, an omission to which Great Britain made no objection. The treaty
was extremely unpopular, chiefly because unreasonable expectations of its
provisions had been entertained. People had yet to learn that national
independence has its defects as well as its advantages, and that the
traditional intimacy between the West Indies and America was now on a
footing of privilege and not of right. The great benefits conferred by the
treaty were therefore not appreciated, and so violent was the fury its
terms excited that it was perhaps fortunate that Jay did not resume his
seat on the Supreme Bench. Before his return from England and before the
details of the treaty had been made public, he had been elected governor
of New York, and to accept this office he resigned the chief-justiceship.



When, in July, 1793, Jefferson notified the President of his wish to
resign from the Cabinet, Hamilton's resignation had already been before
the President for several weeks. Ever since the removal of Congress to
Philadelphia, Hamilton's circumstances had become less and less able to
endure the strain of maintaining his official position on a salary of
$3500 a year. He had fully experienced the truth of the warnings he had
received that, if he gave himself to the public service, he might spend
his time and substance without receiving gratitude for his efforts or
credit for his motives. His vocation for statesmanship, however, was too
genuine and his courage too high for such results to dishearten him. He
had now accomplished what he had set out to do in securing the adoption of
the measures which established the new government, and he no longer
regarded his administrative position as essential to the success of his
policy. Meanwhile the need had become urgent that he should resume the
practice of his profession to provide for his family. It was not in his
nature, however, to leave the front when a battle was coming on, and,
although he gave early notice of his intention so that Washington should
have ample time to look about for his successor, the resignation was not
to become effective until Congress had met and shown its temper. According
to Jefferson, Washington once remarked to him that he supposed Hamilton
"had fixed on the latter part of next session to give an opportunity to
Congress to examine into his conduct." Although Hamilton had made up his
mind to retire, he intended to march out with flying colors, as became the
victor on a hard-fought field. So far, he had met and beaten all enemies
who had dared to assail his honor; he meant to beat them again if they
renewed the attack, and he had word that one encounter was coming more
formidable than any before.

Hamilton's success in carrying his measures through Congress, by sheer
dexterity of management when numbers were against him, added intense
bitterness to the natural chagrin felt by the defeated faction. Men like
Jefferson and Madison were subject to traditions of behavior that required
them to maintain a certain style of public decorum no matter how they
might rage in private. But new men with new manners were coming on the
scene, and among them the opposition to Hamilton had found a new leader--
William Branch Giles of Virginia. He was a Princeton graduate of the class
of 1781, had studied for the bar, and had been admitted to practice in
1786. To the full legal equipment of the period he added an energy and an
audacity that speedily brought him legal and political distinction. He was
active and outspoken in advocating the adoption of the new Constitution,
at a time when popular sentiment in Virginia was strongly inclined to be
adverse. He had no hesitation about undertaking unpopular causes, and
hence British debt cases became a marked feature of his practice. Virginia
State law had suspended the recovery of debts due British subjects until
reparation had been made for the loss of negro slaves taken away by the
British during the war, and until the western posts had been surrendered.
But the peace treaty of 1783 stipulated that creditors on neither side
should meet with lawful impediment in the recovery of debts, and by the
new Constitution treaties had become part of the law of the land. On the
basis of a national jurisdiction in conflict with the Virginia statutes,
Giles acted so energetically, that he himself related that by 1792 he had
been employed in at least one hundred British debt cases, and was "as
successful in collecting monies under judgments as is usually the case
with citizens."

Comprehension of the true nature of the struggle in which Giles became
conspicuous must start with the fact that the Constitution was reluctantly
accepted and with great uneasiness as to possible consequences. In the
Virginia convention of 1788, it was declared that the new Constitution was
essentially a scheme of the military men to subject the people to their
rule. This argument was not so much met as avoided by the declaration that
there could be no tyranny while Washington lived. The rejoinder was
obvious: what if he should not be able to withstand military influence?
What if, in spite of him, the government should be given a dangerous
character that would develop after he passed away? Jefferson had felt
misgivings on this score from the first, and Madison experienced them as
soon as differences on practical measures arose between himself and
Hamilton. Jefferson and Madison wanted the government to be made
respectable but not strong. Hamilton saw what they could not see--and
indeed what few at that time could see--that a government cannot be made
respectable without being made strong.

Washington was probably without any clear views of his own on
constitutional questions, and what evidence there is on this point
supports Jefferson's claim that Washington was more disposed to confide in
him and in Madison than in Hamilton. When Jefferson relinquished the State
Department, Washington proposed to give Madison the post, but was told he
would not think of taking it. Washington then transferred Randolph to the
position because he could not get anybody else of suitable capacity.
Whatever Washington's personal inclinations may have been, he was in a
position in which he had to act. Hamilton was the only one whom he could
find to show him the way, and thus circumstances more and more compelled
Washington to accept Hamilton's guidance, while at the same time it seemed
increasingly clear to the opposition that it was above all things
necessary to crush Hamilton. This state of sentiment must be kept in mind
in order to make intelligible the rabid violence of the party warfare
which had long been going on against Hamilton, and which--now that
Jefferson had left the Cabinet--was soon to be extended to Washington

When Giles went to the front in this war, both Jefferson and Madison were
busy behind the firing line supplying munitions. Giles was elected in 1790
to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Theodorick Bland, and took his
seat in the third session of the First Congress. The assumption bill had
been passed, but that was only the first of the series of financial
measures proposed by Hamilton, and Giles followed Madison's lead in
unsuccessful resistance to the excise and to the national bank. Giles was
re-elected to the Second Congress, which opened on October 24, 1791. In
the course of this session he became the leader of the opposition, not by
supplanting Madison but through willingness to take responsibilities from
which Madison, like Jefferson, shrank, because he, too, preferred activity
behind the scenes. This situation has often occurred in parliamentary
history--a zealous party champion scouting the scruples and restraints
that hampered the official leadership, and assuming an independent line of
attack with the covert favor and assistance of that leadership. In the
effort to crush Hamilton a series of raids was led by Giles, whose
appetite for fighting could never be extinguished no matter how severe
might be his defeat.

After much preliminary skirmishing which put heavy tasks on Hamilton in
the way of getting up reports and documents, a grand attack was made on
January 23, 1793. A series of resolutions, in drafting which Madison and
Jefferson took part, was presented, calling for minute particulars of all
loans, names of all persons to whom payments had been made, statements of
semi-monthly balances between the Treasury and the Bank, and an account of
the sinking fund and of unexpended appropriations,--all from the beginning
of the government until the end of 1792. The resolution required Hamilton
to complete and state all the accounts of the Treasury Department up to a
period only a little over three weeks before the resolutions were
presented, and to give a detailed transcript of particulars. But
the Treasury accounts were in such perfect order, and so great was
Hamilton's capacity for work, that the information called for was promptly
transmitted in reports dated February 4, February 13, and February 14. At
the same time Hamilton hit back by observing that the resolutions "were
not moved without a pretty copious display of the reasons on which they
were founded," which "were of a nature to excite attention, to beget
alarm, to inspire doubts."

Giles was soon able to renew the attack. Jefferson and Madison helped him
to prepare a series of nine resolutions which were presented on February
27. They specifically charged Hamilton with violation of law, neglect of
duty, transgression of the proper limits of his authority, and indecorum
in his attitude towards the House. The series ended with a resolution that
a copy should be transmitted to the President. The proceeding was a sort
of impeachment, framed with the purpose not of bringing Hamilton to trial
but of forcing him out of the Cabinet. The charges against him were purely
technical and were actuated by malevolence. Hamilton, though not allowed
to come into the House to defend himself, nevertheless participated in the
debate indirectly by writing the speech delivered by William Smith and
credited to him in the Annals of Congress. It was so generally felt in
Congress that the resolutions were founded on nothing more substantial
than spite that Giles could not hold his forces together, and as the
debate proceeded the number of his adherents dwindled. The House began
voting at a night session on March 1st. After the third resolution had
been defeated by a vote of 40 to 12, an attempt was made to withdraw the
others, but such action was refused, and one by one the remaining
resolutions were defeated by increasing numbers until only seven voted
with Giles at the last, among them James Madison. It was a signal triumph
for Hamilton. But his enemies were not disposed to accept the decision as
final, and Jefferson thought it might be revised at the next session.

It was not until the Second Congress that the old factions finally
disappeared and the formation of national parties began. The issue
over the adoption of the Constitution had produced Federalists and
Anti-Federalists, but with its adoption Anti-Federalism as such became a
thing of the past. Opposition to the Government had to betake itself to
the political platform provided by the successful introduction of the new
system of government, and was obliged to distinguish itself from official
Federalism by attacking not the Constitution but the way in which the
Constitution was being construed and applied. The suspicion, jealousy, and
dislike with which the new government was regarded, in many quarters were
reflected from the beginning in the behavior of Congress. There was from
the first a disposition to find fault and to antagonize, and as time went
on this disposition was aggravated by the great scope allowed to
misunderstanding and calumny from the lack of direct contact between
Congress and the Administration. In founding a new party, Jefferson only
organized forces that were demanding leadership. He consolidated the
existing opposition, and gave it the name "Republican Party," implying
that its purpose was to resist the rise of monarchy and the growth of
royal prerogative in the system of government which was introduced by the
adoption of the Constitution. It is clear enough now that the implication
was mere calumny; the notion that Washington was either aiming at monarchy
or was conniving at it through ignorance was a grotesque travesty of the
shameful situation that actually existed; but fictions, pretenses,
slanders, and calumnies that would never have been allowed utterance if
the Administration and Congress had stood face to face now had opportunity
to spread and infect public opinion. Hence the tone of extreme rage that
dishonors the political contention of the period and the malice that
stains the correspondence of the faction chiefs.

Although a distinct party opposition appeared and assumed a name during
the Second Congress, it disavowed as yet any opposition to Washington
and represented its actual attempts to thwart the measures of the
Administration as efforts to counteract Washington's evil advisers. The
old constitutional tradition that the king can do no wrong, which still
lingered in American politics, tended to an analogous elevation of the
presidential office above the field of party strife, while leaving the
President's Cabinet advisers fully exposed to it, just as in the case of
the ministers of the Crown in England. Allowance must be made for the
effect of this tradition when judgment is passed on the political
activities of the period. Considered with regard to present standards of
political behavior, the course of Jefferson in fomenting opposition to the
Administration of which he was a part wears the appearance of despicable
intrigue. There was nothing mean or low about it, however, in the opinion
of himself and his friends, and even his enemies would have allowed it to
be within the rules of the game. Jefferson did his best to defeat in
Congress measures adopted by Washington on the advice of Hamilton, and he
also did his best to undermine Washington's confidence in Hamilton. In his
personal dealings with Washington, Jefferson had every advantage, for he
had Washington's ear and could, more readily than Hamilton, direct the
currents of unconscious influence that produce the will to believe. But
Jefferson's animosity kept tempting him to overplay his hand in a way that
was fatal in the face of an antagonist so keen and so dexterous as

In a letter of May 23, 1792, Jefferson presented to Washington an
elaborate indictment of Hamilton's policy as a justification of his own
behavior in organizing an opposition party in Congress. He charged
Hamilton with subverting the character of the Government by his financial
measures, the logical consequence of which would be "a change from the
present republican form of government to that of a monarchy." Hence the
need for organizing "the Republican party who wish to preserve the
government in its present form." Washington thought over the matter, and--
according to Jefferson--reopened the subject in a personal interview on
July 10. Being now fully apprised of Jefferson's case, Washington himself
prepared a brief of it, divided into numbered sections, and applied to
Hamilton for a statement of his ideas upon the "enumerated discontents,"
framed so "that those ideas may be applied to the correspondent numbers."
The proceeding is a fine instance of the care which Washington exercised
in forming his opinions. Of course, as soon as charges of corruption and
misdemeanor were reduced to exact statement the matter was put just where
Hamilton wanted to get it, and in the grasp of his powerful hands its
trashy character was promptly displayed. It is needless to go into
details, now that public loans, the funding of floating indebtedness in
excess of current income, and the maintenance of a national banking system
to supply machinery of credit, are such well recognized functions that the
wonder is how any statesman could have ever thought otherwise. Jefferson's
arguments, when read with the prepossessions of the present day, are so
apt to leave an impression of absurdity that they constitute a troublesome
episode for his biographers.

Jefferson's maneuvering utterly failed to injure Hamilton in Washington's
esteem, but it did have the effect of so thoroughly disgusting
Washington with public life that at one time he was determined to
refuse a reelection, and even went so far as to ask Madison to prepare a
valedictory address for him. He consented to serve another term most
reluctantly, and not until he had been besought to do so by the leaders on
both sides. Jefferson was as urgent as was Hamilton. While Washington was
still wavering, he received a strong letter from Edmund Randolph that
doubtless touched his soldierly pride. The letter closed with this sharp

"You suffered yourself to yield when the voice of your country summoned
you to the Administration. Should a civil war arise, you cannot stay at
home. And how much easier will it be to disperse the factions, which are
rushing to this catastrophe, than to subdue them after they shall appear
in arms? It is the fixed opinion of the world, that you surrender nothing

An appeal of this character was the most effective that could possibly be
addressed to Washington, but in consenting he grumbled over the hardship
of having to keep in active service at his time of life after already
having served for so long a time. He complained that his hearing was
getting bad and that "perhaps his other faculties might fall off and he
not be sensible of it."

Acquiescence in Washington's candidacy made it practically impossible for
the Republican party to manifest its true strength. The compliment of
Republican support was awarded to Governor Clinton of New York, who
together with Washington received all the electoral votes of Virginia,
New York, North Carolina, and Georgia. A stray electoral vote from
Pennsylvania brought Clinton's total up to 50, whereas John Adams received
77 votes which re-elected him as vice-president. Jefferson received only
four electoral votes, all from Kentucky, but his poor showing in this
election was wholly due to the intricacy of the electoral system, and his
party meanwhile developed so much strength that when the Third Congress
met on December 2, 1793, the Republicans were strong enough to elect the

Undeterred by this circumstance, Hamilton forced the fighting. The
Jeffersonians had been excusing the defeat they had received in attacking
Hamilton in the previous Congress on the ground that the House had acted
without allowing sufficient time for due examination of the evidence. This
plea supplied to Hamilton an occasion for prompt action. Exactly two weeks
after the meeting of Congress he addressed a letter to the Speaker, in
which he declared: "Unwilling to leave the matter on such a footing, I
have concluded to request of the House of Representatives, as I now do,
that a new inquiry may be, without delay, instituted in some mode, most
effectual for an accurate and thorough investigation; and I will add, that
the more comprehensive it is, the more agreeable it will be to me."

Giles promptly took up the challenge, and moved the appointment of a
committee to examine the state of the Treasury Department in all its
particulars. Pending action by the House, a new complication was
introduced, which, though meant as a blow at Hamilton, resulted in a
signal triumph for him. His enemies got hold of a discharged clerk of the
Treasury Department by means of whom they now tried to counteract the
effect of Hamilton's challenge. Two days after Hamilton's letter to the
Speaker, a memorial from Andrew G. Fraunces was laid before the House
making charges which amounted to this: that there was a combination
between Hamilton and other officers of the Treasury Department to evade
payment of warrants so that they could be bought up for speculative
purposes. Hamilton's request for an investigation was allowed to lie on
the table, but the memorial from Fraunces was referred to a select
committee of which Giles was a member. This circumstance turned out to be
much to Hamilton's advantage. Giles was an erect, bold, manly foe; he
could not stomach the sort of testimony upon which depended the charges
against Hamilton's personal integrity, and he concurred in a report on
Hamilton finding that the evidence was "fully sufficient to justify his
conduct; and that in the whole course of this transaction the Secretary
and other officers of the Treasury have acted a meritorious part towards
the public."

Giles, while exonerating Hamilton of the charge of dishonesty, did not
desist from pressing his motion for further investigation of the Treasury
Department. But he admitted that imputations upon the Secretary's
integrity had been quite removed, and he now urged that "the primary
object of the resolution is to ascertain the boundaries of discretion and
authority between the Legislature and the Treasury Department." In thus
shifting his ground he presented a new issue in which the House--and
indeed Giles's own party associates--took little interest. The fact was
that the attack on Hamilton had failed, that the purpose of showing
him to be unworthy of Washington's confidence had been abandoned as
impracticable, and that all that remained was a proposal that the House
should again engage in a laborious investigation of the desirability of
attempting a new delimitation of the functions of the Treasury Department
and of Congress. But this, of course, did not concern Hamilton. He had
acted under existing laws and with responsibilities which were defined by
them. If Congress saw fit to make new laws, the consequences would fall
upon his successor in office, not upon him since he was about to retire.
If Congress made fetters for the Secretary, it might even be that some
member of Giles's own party would have to wear them. Thus, however Giles's
latest proposal might be viewed, it was not attractive. Moreover, it was
presented at a time when the House had much more urgent matters to
consider. The country was wild with excitement over the retaliating orders
and decrees of Great Britain and France, which subjected American
interests to injury from both sides. Giles and Page appear to have been
the only speakers on the resolution when it was taken up for consideration
on February 24, 1794, and both disclaimed any intention of reflecting
upon Hamilton. The resolution received decent interment by reference to a
committee, with no one objecting. The practical conclusion of the matter
was that Hamilton had beaten his enemies once more and beaten them

Before resigning his office, Hamilton added still another great
achievement to his record of illustrious service in establishing public
authority. The violent agitation against the excise act promoted by the
Jeffersonians naturally tended to forcible resistance. One of the counts
of Jefferson's indictment of Hamilton's policy which had been presented to
Washington was that the excise law was "of odious character ... committing
the authority of the Government in parts where resistance is most probable
and coercion least practicable." The parts thus referred to were the
mountains of western Pennsylvania. The popular discontent which arose
there from the imposition of taxes upon their principal staple--distilled
spirits--naturally coalesced with the agitation carried on against
Washington's neutrality policy. At a meeting of delegates from the
election districts of Allegheny county held at Pittsburgh, resolutions
were adopted attributing the policy of the Government "to the pernicious
influence of stockholders." This was an echo of Jefferson's views. But the
resolutions went on to declare: "Our minds feel this with so much
indignancy, that we are almost ready to wish for a state of revolution and
the guillotine of France, for a short space, in order to inflict
punishment on the miscreants that enervate and disgrace our Government."
This was an echo of the talk in the political clubs that had been formed
throughout the country. The original model was apparently the Jacobin club
of Paris. The Philadelphia club with which the movement started, soon
after Genet's arrival, adopted the Jacobin style of utterance. It declared
its object to be the preservation of a freedom whose existence was menaced
by a "European confederacy transcendent in power and unparalleled in
iniquity," and also by "the pride of wealth and arrogance of power"
displayed in the United States. Writing to Governor Lee of Virginia,
Washington said that he considered "this insurrection as the first
formidable fruit of the Democratic Societies."

Hamilton moved warily, doing whatever lay in his power to smooth the
practical working of the system in the hope of "attaining the object of
the laws by means short of force." But such was the inflamed state of
feeling in western Pennsylvania that no course was acceptable short of
abandonment by the Government of efforts to enforce the internal revenue
laws. During 1793, there were several outrageous attacks on agents of the
Government, and the execution of warrants for the arrest of rioters was
refused by local authority. People who showed a disposition to side with
the Government had their barns burned. A revenue inspector was tarred and
feathered, and was run out of the district. The patience with which the
Government endured insults to its authority encouraged the mob spirit. On
July 16, 1794, the house of Inspector Neville was attacked by a mob, and,
when he appealed to the local authorities for protection, he was notified
that there was such a general combination of the people that the laws
could not be executed. Neville, a revolutionary veteran of tried valor,
was able to obtain the help of an officer and eleven soldiers from Fort
Pitt, but the mob was too numerous and too well-armed to be withstood by
so weak a force. After a skirmish in which the mob fired the buildings and
the place became untenable, the troops had to surrender. Soon after this
affair, a convention of delegates from the four western counties of
Pennsylvania was called to meet on August 14 to concert measures for
united action. Organized insurrection had, in fact, begun.

"The Government," said Washington, "could no longer remain a passive
spectator of the contempt with which the laws were treated." But when he
called for Cabinet opinions, the old variance at once showed itself.
Randolph thought that calm consideration of the situation "banishes every
idea of calling the militia into immediate action." He pointed out that
the disaffected region had more than fifteen thousand white males above
the age of sixteen, and that sympathy with the insurgents was active in
"several counties in Virginia having a strong militia." There was also the
risk that the insurgents might seek British aid, in which case a severance
of the Union might result. Randolph also enlarged upon the expense that
would attend military operations and questioned whether the funds could be
obtained. He advised a proclamation and the appointment of commissioners
to treat with the insurgents. Should such means fail, and should it appear
that the judiciary authority was withstood, then at last military force
might be employed.

Hamilton held that "a competent force of militia should be called forth
and employed to suppress the insurrection, and support the civil
authority." It appeared to him that "the very existence of the Government
demands this course." He urged that the force employed ought "to be an
imposing one, such, if practicable, as will deter from opposition, save
the effusion of the blood of the citizens, and serve the object to be
accomplished." He proposed a force of twelve thousand men, of whom three
thousand were to be cavalry, and he advised that, in addition to the
Pennsylvania militia, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia should each
contribute a quota.

All the members of the Cabinet except Randolph concurred in Hamilton's
opinion. The practical execution of the measures was entrusted to
Hamilton, who acted with great sagacity. Some appearance of timidity and
inertia in Pennsylvania state authority was indirectly but effectually
counteracted by measures which showed that the military expedition would
move even if Pennsylvania held back. Although some troops were to gather
at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, others were to meet at Cumberland Fort,
Virginia. The business was so shrewdly managed that Pennsylvania state
authority fell obediently into line, and the insurgents were so cowed by
the determined action of the Government that they submitted without a
struggle. Washington thought that this event would react upon the clubs
and "effectuate their annihilation sooner than it might otherwise have
happened." A general collapse among them certainly followed, and they
disappeared from the political scene.

It is in the nature of precaution that the more successful it is the less
necessary it appears to have been, and thus the complete success of
Hamilton's management furnished his enemies with a new argument against
him of which they afterwards made great use. The costly military
expedition that had no fighting to do was continually held up to public
ridicule. That the expense was trifling in comparison with the objects
achieved must deeply impress any one who examines the records of the
times. A mistake might have been fatal to the existence of the Government.
It has become so powerful and massive since that time, that we can hardly
realize what a rickety structure it then was, and how readily, in less
capable hands, it might have collapsed.

Randolph, then Secretary of State, seems to have been in a panic. Fauchet,
the French minister at that time, reported to his government that Randolph
called upon him and with a grief-stricken countenance declared, "It is all
over; a civil war is about to ravage our unhappy country." He represented
to Fauchet that there were four men whose talents, influence, and energy
might save it. "But debtors of English merchants, they will be deprived of
their liberty if they take the smallest step." He wanted to know whether
Fauchet could lend "funds sufficient to shelter them from English
persecution." Fauchet's letter was captured by the British and made
public. Randolph's explanations did not clear up the obscurity that
surrounds the affair. His version was that the four men were flour
merchants who were being pressed by their creditors "and that the money
was wanted only for the purpose of paying them what was actually due to
them in virtue of existing contracts." Even on his own showing it was a
shady transaction, and he retired from Washington's Cabinet under a cloud.

Washington always had difficulty about the composition of his Cabinet. A
capable man had been found to succeed Randolph as Attorney-General in the
person of William Bradford, an able Pennsylvania lawyer, but he died in
1795, and was succeeded by Charles Lee of Virginia. When Knox resigned in
1794, the vacancy was filled by transferring to the War Department
Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who had previously served as
Postmaster-General. When Hamilton retired, January, 1795, he was
succeeded by Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut, who had been Comptroller of
the Treasury. After Randolph had been discredited by the Fauchet
letter, the office of Secretary of State went a-begging. It was offered to
William Paterson of New Jersey, to Thomas Johnson of Maryland, to Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, but all these men declined.
Washington got word that Patrick Henry, the old antagonist of the
Constitution, was showing Federalist leanings in opposition to Jefferson
and Madison, and Henry was then tendered the appointment, but he
too declined. Others were approached but all refused, and meanwhile
Pickering, though Secretary of War, also attended to the work of the State
Department. The matter was finally settled by permanently attaching
Pickering to the State Department, while the vacancy thus created at the
head of the War Department was filled by James McHenry, an appointment
which Washington himself described as "Hobson's choice."

Hamilton, although out of the Cabinet, still remained a trusted adviser,
and he rendered splendid service at a dangerous crisis. In spite of the
fact that the Jay treaty had been ratified by the Senate in June, 1795, it
was an issue in the Fall elections that year. Jefferson held that the
treaty was an "execrable thing," an "infamous act, which is really nothing
more than a treaty of alliance between England and the Anglo-men of this
country against the Legislature and the people of the United States."
Giles, who had been in close consultation with Jefferson, moved with
characteristic energy to translate Jefferson's views into congressional

The Fourth Congress met on December 7, 1795, and although a Federalist,
Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was elected Speaker, the Republicans
were strong enough to tone down the reply to the President's address
by substituting for an expression of "undiminished confidence" an
acknowledgment of "zealous and faithful services," which expressed
"approval of his course." On March 24, 1796, the House by a vote of 62 to
37 adopted a resolution calling upon the President to lay before it his
instructions to Jay, "together with the correspondence and the other
documents relative to said treaty." Advised by Hamilton and sustained by
his whole Cabinet, Washington replied on March 30, by declining to comply
because concurrence of the House was not necessary to give validity to the
treaty, and "because of the necessity of maintaining the boundaries fixed
by the Constitution between the different departments." The House retorted
by a resolution declaring its right to judge the merits of the case when
application was made for an appropriation to give effect to a treaty.
Debate on this issue, which is still an open one in our constitutional
system, began on April 14 and continued for sixteen days. Madison opposed
the execution of the treaty, but the principal speech was made by Giles,
whose argument covers twenty-eight columns in the _Annals_. As the
struggle proceeded, the Jeffersonians lost ground. It became evident that
weighty elements of public opinion were veering around to the support of
the treaty as the best arrangement attainable in the circumstances. The
balance of strength became so close that the scales were probably turned
by a speech of wonderful power and eloquence delivered by Fisher Ames. A
decision was reached on April 30, the test question being on declaring the
treaty "highly objectionable." Forty-eight votes were cast on each side
and the Speaker gave his decision for the negative. In the end, the House
stood 51 to 48 in favor of carrying the treaty into effect. Only four
votes for the treaty came from the section south of Mason and Dixon's

During the agitation over the Jay treaty the rage of party spirit turned
full against Washington himself. He was blackguarded and abused in every
possible way. He was accused of having shown incapacity while General and
of having embezzled public funds while President. He was nicknamed "the
Step-Father of his country." The imputation on his honor stung so keenly
that he declared "he would rather be in his grave than in the Presidency,"
and in private correspondence he complained that he had been assailed "in
terms so exaggerated and indecent as could scarcely be applied to a Nero,
a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pickpocket." The only rejoinder
which his dignity permitted him to make is that contained in his Farewell
Address, dated September 17, 1796, in which he made a modest estimate of
his services and made a last affectionate appeal to the people whom he had
so faithfully served.

The Farewell Address was not a communication to Congress. It was issued in
view of the approaching presidential election, to give public notice that
he declined "being considered among the number of those out of whom a
choice is to be made." The usual address to Congress was delivered by
Washington on December 7, 1796, shortly after the opening of the second
session of the Fourth Congress. The occasion was connected in the public
mind with his recent valedictory, and Congress was ready to vote a reply
of particularly cordial tenor. Giles stood to his guns to the last,
speaking and voting against complimentary resolutions. "He hoped gentlemen
would compliment the President privately, as individuals; at the same
time, he hoped such adulation would never pervade the House." He held that
"the Administration has been neither wise nor firm," and he acknowledged
that he was "one of those who do not think so much of the President as
some others do." On this issue Madison forsook him, and Giles was voted
down, 67 to 12. Among the eleven who stood by Giles was a new member who
made his first appearance that session--Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. In
later years, when Giles's opinions had been modified by experience and
reflection, he regretted his attitude towards Washington. It is due to
Giles to say that he did not stab in the dark. He had qualities of
character that under better constitutional arrangements would have
invigorated the functions of the House as an organ of control, but at that
time, with the separation that had been introduced between the House and
the Administration, his energy was mischievous and his intrepidity was a
misfortune to himself and to his party.

Washington's term dragged to its close like so much slow torture. Others
might resign, but he had to stand at his post until the end, and it was a
happy day for him when he got his discharge. His elation was so manifest
that it was noticed by John Adams. Writing to his wife about the ceremony
the day after the inauguration, Adams remarked that Washington "seemed to
me to enjoy a triumph over me. Methought I heard him say, 'Ay! I am fairly
out, and you fairly in! See which of us will be the happiest.'"



The narrow majority by which John Adams was elected did not accurately
reflect the existing state of party strength. The electoral college
system, by its nature, was apt to distort the situation. Originally the
electors voted for two persons without designating their preference for
President. There was no inconvenience on that account while Washington was
a candidate, since he was the first choice of all the electors; but in
1796, with Washington out of the field, both parties were in the dilemma
that, if they voted solidly for two candidates, the vote of the electoral
college would not determine who should be President. To avert this
situation, the adherents of a presidential candidate would have to scatter
votes meant to have only vice-presidential significance. This explains the
wide distribution of votes that characterized the working of the system
until it was changed by the Twelfth Amendment adopted in 1804.

In 1796, the electoral college gave votes to thirteen candidates. The
Federalist ticket was John Adams and Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina.
Hamilton urged equal support of both as the surest way to defeat
Jefferson; but eighteen Adams electors in New England withheld votes from
Pinckney to make sure that he should not slip in ahead of Adams. Had they
not done so, Pinckney would have been chosen President, a possibility
which Hamilton foresaw because of Pinckney's popularity in the South. New
York, New Jersey, and Delaware voted solidly for Adams and Pinckney as
Hamilton had recommended, but South Carolina voted solidly for both
Jefferson and Pinckney, and moreover Pinckney received scattering votes
elsewhere in the South. The action of the Adams electors in New England
defeated Pinckney, and gave Jefferson the vice-presidency, the vote for
the leading candidates being 71 for Adams, 68 for Jefferson, and 59 for
Pinckney. The tendency of such conditions to inspire political feuds and
to foster factional animosity is quite obvious. This situation must be
borne in mind, in order to make intelligible the course of Adams's

Adams had an inheritance of trouble from the same source which had plagued
Washington's administration,--the efforts of revolutionary France to rule
the United States. In selecting Monroe to succeed Morris, Washington knew
that the former was as friendly to the French Revolution as Morris had
been opposed to it, and hence he hoped that Monroe would be able to impart
a more friendly feeling to the relations of the two countries. Monroe
arrived in Paris just after the fall of Robespierre. The Committee of
Public Safety then in possession of the executive authority hesitated to
receive him. Monroe wrote to the President of the National Convention then
sitting, and a decree was at once passed that the Minister of the United
States should "be introduced in the bosom of the Convention." Monroe
presented himself on August 15, 1794, and made a glowing address. He
descanted upon the trials by which America had won her independence and
declared that "France, our ally and friend, and who aided in the contest,
has now embarked in the same noble career." The address was received with
enthusiasm, the President of the Convention drew Monroe to his bosom in a
fraternal embrace; and it was decreed that "the flags of the United States
of America shall be joined to those of France, and displayed in the hall
of the sittings of the Convention, in sign of the union and eternal
fraternity of the two peoples." In compliance with this decree Monroe soon
after presented an American flag to the Convention.

When the news of these proceedings reached the State Department, a sharp
note was sent to Monroe "to recommend caution lest we be obliged at some
time or other to explain away or disavow an excess of fervor, so as to
reduce it down to the cool system of neutrality." The French Government
regarded the Jay treaty as an affront and as a violation of our treaties
with France. Many American vessels were seized and confiscated with their
cargoes, and hundreds of American citizens were imprisoned. Washington
thought that Monroe was entirely too submissive to such proceedings;
therefore, on August 22, 1796, Monroe was recalled and soon after Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney was appointed in his stead.

The representation of France in the United States had been as mutable as
her politics. Fauchet, who succeeded Genet, retired in June, 1795, and
was succeeded by Adet, who like his predecessors, carried on active
interference with American politics, and even attempted to affect the
presidential election by making public a note addressed to the Secretary
of State complaining of the behavior of the Administration. In Adams's
opinion this note had some adverse effect in Pennsylvania but no other
serious consequences, since it was generally resented. Meanwhile Pinckney
arrived in France in December, 1796, and the Directory refused to receive
him. He was not even permitted to remain in Paris; but honors were
showered upon Monroe as he took his leave. In March, 1797, Adet withdrew,
and diplomatic relations between the two countries were entirely
suspended. By a decree made two days before Adams took office, the
Directory proclaimed as pirates, to be treated without mercy, all
Americans found serving on board British vessels, and ordered the seizure
of all American vessels not provided with lists of their crews in proper
form. Though made under cover of the treaty of 1778, this latter provision
ran counter to its spirit and purpose. Captures of American ships began at
once. As Joel Barlow wrote, the decree of March 2, 1797, "was meant to be
little short of a declaration of war."

The curious situation which ensued from the efforts made by Adams to deal
with this emergency cannot be understood without reference to his personal
peculiarities. He was vain, learned, and self-sufficient, and he had the
characteristic defect of pedantry: he overrated intelligence and he
underrated character. Hence he was inclined to resent Washington's
eminence as being due more to fortune than to merit, and he had for
Hamilton an active hatred compounded of wounded vanity and a sense of
positive injury. He knew that Hamilton thought slightingly of his
political capacity and had worked against his political advancement, and
he was too lacking in magnanimity to do justice to Hamilton's motives. His
state of mind was well known to the Republican leaders, who hoped to be
able to use him. Jefferson wrote to Madison suggesting that "it would be
worthy of consideration whether it would not be for the public good to
come to a good understanding with him as to his future elections."
Jefferson himself called on Adams and showed himself desirous of cordial
relations. Mrs. Adams responded by expressions of pleasure at the success
of Jefferson, between whom and her husband, she said, there had never been
"any public or private animosity." Such rejoicing over the defeat of the
Federalist candidate for Vice-President did not promote good feeling
between the President and the Federalist leaders.

The morning before the inauguration, Adams called on Jefferson and
discussed with him the policy to be pursued toward France. The idea had
occurred to Adams that a good impression might be made by sending out a
mission of extraordinary weight and dignity, and he wanted to know whether
Jefferson himself would not be willing to head such a mission. Without
checking Adams's friendly overtures, Jefferson soon brought him to agree
that it would not be proper for the Vice-President to accept such a post.
Adams then proposed that Madison should go. On March 6, Jefferson reported
to Adams that Madison would not accept. Then for the first time, according
to Adams's own account, he consulted a member of his Cabinet, supposed to
be Wolcott although the name is not mentioned.

Adams took over Washington's Cabinet as it was finally constituted after
the retirement of Jefferson and Hamilton and the virtual expulsion of
Randolph. The process of change had made it entirely Federalist in its
political complexion, and entirely devoted to Washington and Hamilton in
its personal sympathies. That Adams should have adopted it as his own
Cabinet has been generally regarded as a blunder, but it was a natural
step for him to take. To get as capable men to accept the portfolios as
those then holding them would have been difficult, so averse had prominent
men become to putting themselves in a position to be harried by Congress,
with no effective means of explaining and justifying their conduct.
Congress then had a prestige which it does not now possess, and its
utterances then received consideration not now accorded. Whenever
presidential electors were voted for directly by the people, the poll was
small compared with the vote for members of Congress. Moreover, there was
then a feeling that the Cabinet should be regarded as a bureaucracy, and
for a long period this conception tended to give remarkable permanence to
its composition.

When the personal attachments of the Cabinet chiefs are considered, it is
easy to imagine the dismay and consternation produced by the dealings of
Adams with Jefferson. By the time Adams consulted the members of his
Cabinet, they had become suspicious of his motives and distrustful of his
character. Before long they were writing to Washington and Hamilton for
advice, and were endeavoring to manage Adams by concerted action. In this
course they had the cordial approval of leading Federalists, who would
write privately to members of the Cabinet and give counsel as to
procedure. Wolcott, a Federalist leader in Connecticut, warned his son,
the Secretary of the Treasury, that Adams was "a man of great vanity,
pretty capricious, of a very moderate share of prudence, and of far less
real abilities than he believes himself to possess," so that "it will
require a deal of address to render him the service which it will be
essential for him to receive."

The policy to be pursued was still unsettled when news came of the
insulting rejection of Pinckney and the domineering attitude assumed by
France. On March 25, Adams issued a call for the meeting of Congress on
May 15, and then set about getting the advice of his Cabinet. He presented
a schedule of interrogatories to which he asked written answers. The
attitude of the Cabinet was at first hostile to Adams's favorite notion of
a special mission, but as Hamilton counseled deference to the President's
views, the Cabinet finally approved the project. Adams appointed John
Marshall of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts to serve in
conjunction with Pinckney, who had taken refuge in Holland.

Strong support for the Government in taking a firm stand against France
was manifested in both Houses of Congress. Hamilton aided Secretary
Wolcott in preparing a scheme of taxation by which the revenue could be
increased to provide for national defense. With the singular fatality that
characterized Federalist party behavior throughout Adams's Administration,
however, all the items proposed were abandoned except one for stamp taxes.
What had been offered as a scheme whose particulars were justifiable by
their relation to the whole was converted into a measure which was
traditionally obnoxious in itself, and was now made freshly odious by an
appearance of discrimination and partiality. The Federalists did improve
their opportunity in the way of general legislation: much needed laws were
passed to stop privateering, to protect the ports, and to increase the
naval armament; and Adams was placed in a much better position to maintain
neutrality than Washington had been. Fear of another outbreak of yellow
fever accelerated the work of Congress, and the extra session lasted only
a little over three weeks.

Such was the slowness of communication in those days that, when Congress
reassembled at the regular session in November, no decisive news had
arrived of the fate of the special mission. Adams with proper prudence
thought it would be wise to consider what should be done in case of
failure. On January 24, 1798, he addressed to the members of his Cabinet a
letter requesting their views. No record is preserved of the replies of
the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury. Lee, the Attorney-General,
recommended a declaration of war. McHenry, the Secretary of War, offered a
series of seven propositions to be recommended to Congress: 1. Permission
to merchant ships to arm; 2. The construction of twenty sloops of war; 3.
The completion of frigates already authorized; 4. Grant to the President
of authority to provide ships of the line, not exceeding ten, "by such
means as he may judge best." 5. Suspension of the treaties with France; 6.
An army of sixteen thousand men, with provision for twenty thousand more
should occasion demand; 7. A loan and an adequate system of taxation.

These recommendations are substantially identical with those made by
Hamilton in a letter to Pickering, and the presumption is strong that
McHenry's paper is a product of Hamilton's influence, and that it had the
concurrence of Pickering and Wolcott. The suggestion that the President
should be given discretionary authority in the matter of procuring ships
of the line contemplated the possibility of obtaining them by transfer
from England, not through formal alliance but as an incident of a
cooeperation to be arranged by negotiation, whose objects would also
include aid in placing a loan and permission for American ships to join
British convoys. This feature of McHenry's recommendations could not be
curried out Pickering soon informed Hamilton that the old animosities were
still so active "in some breasts" that the plan of cooperation was

Meanwhile the composite mission had accomplished nothing except to make
clear the actual character of French policy. When the envoys arrived in
France, the Directory had found in Napoleon Bonaparte an instrument of
power that was stunning Europe by its tremendous blows. That instrument
had not yet turned to the reorganization of France herself, and at the
time it served the rapacious designs of the Directory. Europe was looted
wherever the arms of France prevailed, and the levying of tribute both on
public and on private account was the order of the day. Talleyrand was the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he treated the envoys with a mixture of
menace and cajolery. It was a part of his tactics to sever the Republican
member, Gerry, from his Federalist colleagues. Gerry was weak enough to be
caught by Talleyrand's snare, and he was foolish enough to attribute the
remonstrances of his colleagues to vanity. "They were wounded," he wrote,
"by the manner in which they had been treated by the Government of France,
and the difference which had been used in respect to me." Gerry's conduct
served to weaken and delay the negotiations, but he eventually united with
his colleagues in a detailed report to the State Department, which was
transmitted to Congress by the President on April 3, 1798. In the original
the names of the French officials concerned were written at full length in
the Department cipher. In making a copy for Congress, Secretary Pickering
substituted for the names the terminal letters of the alphabet, and hence
the report has passed into history as the X.Y.Z. dispatches.

The story, in brief, was that on arriving in Paris the envoys called on
Talleyrand, who said that he was busy at that very time on a report to the
Directory on American affairs, and in a few days would let them know how
matters stood. A few days later they received notice through Talleyrand's
secretary that the Directory was greatly exasperated by expressions used
in President Adams's address to Congress, that the envoys would probably
not be received until further conference, and that persons might
be appointed to treat with them. A few more days elapsed, and then
three persons presented themselves as coming from Talleyrand. They
were Hottinguer, Bellamy, and Hauteval, designated as X.Y.Z. in the
communication to Congress. They said that a friendly reception by the
Directory could not be obtained unless the United States would assist
France by a loan, and that "a sum of money was required for the pocket of
the Directory and Ministers, which would be at the disposal of M.
Talleyrand." This "douceur to the Directory," amounting to approximately
$240,000, was urged with great persistence as an indispensable condition
of friendly relations. The envoys temporized and pointed out that their
Government would have to be consulted on the matter of the loan. The
wariness of the envoys made Talleyrand's agents the more insistent about
getting the "douceur." At one of the interviews Hottinguer exclaimed:--
"Gentlemen, you do not speak to the point; it is money; it is expected
that you will offer money." The envoys replied that on this point their
answer had already been given. "'No,' said he, 'you have not: what is your
answer?' We replied, 'It is no; no; not a sixpence.'" This part of the
envoys' report soon received legendary embellishment, and in innumerable
stump speeches it rang out as, "Not one cent for tribute; millions for

The publication of the X.Y.Z. dispatches sent rolling through the country
a wave of patriotic feeling before which the Republican leaders quailed
and which swept away many of their followers. Jefferson held that the
French Government ought not to be held responsible for "the turpitude of
swindlers," and he steadfastly opposed any action looking to the use of
force to maintain American rights. Some of the Republican members of
Congress, however, went over to the Federalist side, and Jefferson's party
was presently reduced to a feeble and dispirited minority. Loyal addresses
rained upon Adams. There appeared a new national song, _Hail Columbia_,
which was sung all over the land and which was established in lasting
popularity. Among its well-known lines is an exulting stanza beginning:

"Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country stands."

This is an allusion to the fact that Washington had left his retirement to
take charge of the national forces. The envoys had been threatened that,
unless they submitted to the French demands, the American Republic might
share the fate of the Republic of Venice. The response of Congress
was to vote money to complete the frigates, the _United States_, the
_Constitution_, and the _Constellation_, work on which had been suspended
when the Algerine troubles subsided; and further, to authorize the
construction or purchase of twelve additional vessels. For the management
of this force, the Navy Department was created by the Act of April 30,
1798. By an Act of May 28, the President was authorized to raise a
military force of ten thousand men, the commander of which should have the
services of "a suitable number of major-generals." On July 7, the treaties
with France that had so long vexed the United States were abrogated.

The operations of the Navy Department soon showed that American sailors
were quite able and willing to defend the nation if they were allowed the
opportunity. In December, 1798, the Navy Department worked out a plan of
operations in the enemy's waters. To repress the depredations of the
French privateers in the West Indies, a squadron commanded by Captain John
Barry was sent to cruise to the windward of St. Kitts as far south as
Barbados, and it made numerous captures. A squadron under Captain Thomas
Truxtun cruised in the vicinity of Porto Rico. The flagship was the
frigate _Constellation_, which on February 9, 1799, encountered the French
frigate, _L'Insurgente_, and made it strike its flag after an action
lasting only an hour and seventeen minutes. The French captain fought
well, but he was put at a disadvantage by losing his topmast at the
opening of the engagement, so that Captain Truxtun was able to take a
raking position. The American loss was only one killed and three wounded,
while _L'Insurgente_ had twenty-nine killed and forty-one wounded. On
February 1, 1800, the _Constellation_ fought the heavy French frigate
_Vengeance_ from about eight o'clock in the evening until after midnight,
when the _Vengeance_ lay completely silenced and apparently helpless. But
the rigging and spars of the _Constellation_ had been so badly cut up that
the mainmast fell, and before the wreck could be cleared away the
_Vengeance_ was able to make her escape. During the two years and a half
in which hostilities continued, the little navy of the United States
captured eighty-five armed French vessels, nearly all privateers. Only one
American war vessel was taken by the enemy, and that one had been
originally a captured French vessel. The value of the protection thus
extended to American trade is attested by the increase of exports from
$57,000,000 in 1797 to $78,665,528 in 1799. Revenue from imports increased
from $6,000,000 in 1797 to $9,080,932 in 1800.

The creation of an army, however, was attended by personal disagreements
that eventually wrecked the Administration. Without waiting to hear from
Washington as to his views, Adams nominated him for the command and then
tried to overrule his arrangements. The notion that Washington could be
hustled into a false position was a strange blunder to be made by anyone
who knew him. He set forth his views and made his stipulations with his
customary precision, in letters to Secretary McHenry, who had been
instructed by Adams to obtain Washington's advice as to the list of
officers. Washington recommended as major-generals, Hamilton, C.C.
Pinckney, and Knox, in that order of rank. Adams made some demur to the
preference shown for Hamilton, but McHenry showed him Washington's letter
and argued the matter so persistently that Adams finally sent the
nominations to the Senate in the same order as Washington had requested.
Confirmation promptly followed, and a few days later Adams departed for
his home at Quincy, Massachusetts, without notice to his Cabinet. It soon
appeared that he was in the sulks. When McHenry wrote to him about
proceeding with the organization of the army, he replied that he was
willing provided Knox's precedence was acknowledged, and he added that the
five New England States would not patiently submit to the humiliation of
having Knox's claim disregarded.

From August 4 to October 13, wrangling over this matter went on. The
members of the Cabinet were in a difficult position. It was their
understanding that Washington's stipulations had been accepted, but the
President now proposed a different arrangement. Pickering and McHenry
wrote to Washington explaining the situation in detail. News of the
differences between Adams and Washington of course soon got about and
caused a great buzz in political circles. Adams became angry over the
opposition he was meeting, and on August 29 he wrote to McHenry
that "there has been too much intrigue in this business, both with
General Washington and with me"; that it might as well be understood that
in any event he would have the last say, "and I shall then determine it
exactly as I should now, Knox, Pinckney, and Hamilton." Washington stood
firm and, on September 25, wrote to the President demanding "that he might
know at once and precisely what he had to expect." In reply Adams said
that he had signed the three commissions on the same day in the hope "that
an amicable adjustment or acquiescence might take place among the
gentlemen themselves." But should this hope be disappointed, "and
controversies shall arise, they will of course be submitted to you as

Adams, of course, knew quite well that such matters did not settle
themselves, but he seems to have imagined that all he had to do was to sit
tight and that matters would have to come his way. The tricky and
shuffling behavior to which he descended would be unbelievable of a man of
his standing were there not an authentic record made by himself. The
suspense finally became so intolerable that the Cabinet acted without
consulting the President any longer on the point. The Secretary of War
submitted to his colleagues all the correspondence in the case and asked
their advice. The Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, and of the Navy
made a joint reply declaring "the only inference which we can draw
from the facts before stated, is, that the President consents to the
arrangement of rank as proposed by General Washington," and that therefore
"the Secretary of War ought to transmit the commissions, and inform the
generals that in his opinion the rank is definitely settled according to
the original arrangement." This was done; but Knox declined an appointment
ranking him below Hamilton and Pinckney. Thus, Adams despite his
obstinacy, was completely baffled, and a bitter feud between him and his
Cabinet was added to the causes now at work to destroy the Federalist

The Federalist military measures were sound and judicious, and the
expense, although a subject of bitter denunciation, was really trivial
in comparison with the national value of the enhanced respect and
consideration obtained for American interests. But these measures were
followed by imprudent acts for regulating domestic politics. By the Act of
June 18,1798, the period of residence required before an alien could be
admitted to American citizenship was raised from five years to fourteen.
By the Act of June 25, 1798, the efficacy of which was limited to two
years, the President might send out of the country "such aliens as he
shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or
shall have reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable
or secret machinations against the government thereof." The state of
public opinion might then have sanctioned these measures had they stood
alone, but they were connected with another which proved to be the weight
that pulled them all down. By the Act of July 14, 1798, it was made a
crime to write or publish "any false, scandalous, and malicious"
statements about the President or either House of Congress, to bring them
"into contempt or disrepute," or to "stir up sedition within the United

There were plenty of precedents in English history for legislation of such
character. Robust examples of it were supplied in England at that very
time. There were also strong colonial precedents. According to Secretary
Wolcott, the sedition law was "merely a copy from a statute of Virginia in
October, 1776." But a revolutionary Whig measure aimed at Tories was a
very different thing in its practical aspect from the same measure used by
a national party against a constitutional opposition. Hamilton regarded
such legislation as impolitic, and, on hearing of the sedition bill, he
wrote a protesting letter, saying, "Let us not establish tyranny. Energy
is a very different thing from violence."

But in general the Federalist leaders were so carried away by the
excitement of the times that they could not practice moderation. Their
zealotry was sustained by political theories which made no distinction
between partisanship and sedition. The constitutional function of
partisanship was discerned and stated by Burke in 1770, but his definition
of it, as a joint endeavor to promote the national interest upon some
particular principle, was scouted at the time and was not allowed until
long after. The prevailing idea in Washington's time, both in England and
America, was that partisanship was inherently pernicious and ought to be
suppressed. Washington's _Farewell Address_ warned the people "in the most
solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party." The
idea then was that government was wholly the affair of constituted
authority, and that it was improper for political activity to surpass the
appointed bounds. Newspaper criticism and partisan oratory were among the
things in Washington's mind when he censured all attempts "to direct,
control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the
constituted authorities." Hence judges thought it within their province to
denounce political agitators when charging a grand jury. Chief Justice
Ellsworth, in a charge delivered in Massachusetts, denounced "the French
system-mongers, from the quintumvirate at Paris to the Vice-President and
minority in Congress, as apostles of atheism and anarchy, bloodshed, and
plunder." In charges delivered in western Pennsylvania, Judge Addison
dealt with such subjects as Jealousy of Administration and Government, and
the Horrors of Revolution. Washington, then in private life, was so
pleased with the series that he sent a copy to friends for circulation.

Convictions under the sedition law were few, but there were enough of them

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