PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE WAR OF 1812.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.
Organization of the new Government. – Its Policy indicated. – Its Power manifested. – The Judiciary. – Amendments to the Constitution. – Cabinet Ministers. – Relations with France and England. – Revolutionary Movements in France. – Lafayette the Leader. – Excitement in Paris. – National Assembly. – Excitement in Paris. – Formation of a National Guard. – Treachery at the Bastile. – That Prison destroyed. – European War expected. – Great Britain and Spain in ill-humor. – Attempt to extort Justice from Great Britain. – Discourtesy of the British Government. – The Americans supposed to be dependent. – A Change of Views. – Efforts for the Establishment of the Public Credit. – Hamilton’s Protest against tampering with the National Honor. – Hamilton’s Financial Scheme assailed. – Banking Capital in the United States. – A Decimal Currency adopted. – Mr. Jefferson in France. – His Reception in New York. – His Suspicions of former Colleagues and Compatriots. – Formation of the Jacobin Club in Paris. – Demoralization of the National Guard. – A Constitution granted to the People. – Jefferson makes War upon his Opponents. – His religious Views. – Jefferson and John Adams Antagonists in Opinion. – An English Democrat’s Discourse. – Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution. – Paine’s "Rights of Man." – Adams’s "Discourses on Davila." – His Opinions on Government. – Jefferson’s Disgust and Alarm. – Effect of Paine’s "Rights of Man." – Feud between Jefferson and Hamilton. – Newspaper War. – Federalists and Republicans. – Their Differences. – Popular Sentiment. – Europe against France. – Washington’s Wisdom and Prudence. – Sympathy with the French Revolutionists. – Anarchy in France. – Lafayette before the National Assembly. – He demands the Punishment of Traitors. – French Paper-money. – Monarchy in France overthrown. – Lafayette imprisoned. – The National Convention established. – Egotism of the French Revolutionists. – Paine in France. – Execution of Louis XVI. – Forgetfulness of Holland’s Friendship. – Arrival of "Citizen Genet." – Washington’s Wisdom and Prudence. – Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality. – Assaults upon it and its Author.
"There’s a warfare where none but the morally brave
Stand nobly and firmly, their country to save.
‘Tis the war of opinion, where few can be found,
On the mountain of principle, guarding the ground;
With vigilant eyes ever watching the foes
Who are prowling around them, and aiming their blows."
While the arm of military power was removing the remains of a hoary barbarism from the beautiful region west of the Alleghanies, preparatory to the founding of great commonwealths there, the new national government was summoning its functions into energetic and beneficent action. Men were never called upon to perform duties of greater importance and momentous consequences. They were charged with the establishment of the foreign and domestic policy of a nation, "not for a day, but for all time." The President and the Legislature felt the responsibility, and in solemn earnestness they elaborated schemes for the future prosperity of the republic.
The earliest efforts of Congress, after its organization, were directed to the arrangement of a system of revenue, in order to adjust the wretched financial affairs of the country. Mr. Madison, the tacitly acknowledged leader in the House of Representatives, presented the plan of a temporary tariff upon foreign goods imported into the United States, with provisions favorable to American shipping; also a scheme of tonnage duties, in which great discriminations were made in favor of American vessels, as well as those of France, Holland, Sweden, and Prussia, the only nations having treaties of commerce with the United States. An efficient revenue system was speedily adopted and put in motion, for the consolidated government possessed inherent power to do so.
This first practical exhibition of sovereignty by the central government of the United States opened the eyes of British merchants and statesmen to the fact that the Americans had suddenly made a stride toward absolute independence – that their commerce was no longer subjected to the caprice of foreign powers, nor neglected because of the disagreements and jealousies of thirteen distinct Legislatures. They perceived that its interests were guarded and its strength nurtured by a central power of wonderful energy, and that the new republic had taken its place among the family of nations with just claims to the highest respect and consideration. Other nations yielded the same recognition, and its future career was contemplated with peculiar interest throughout the civilized world.
While the House of Representatives was engaged on the subject of revenue, the Senate was occupied in arranging a judiciary system. A bill for the purpose was offered in that body by Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut. After undergoing several amendments, it was concurred in by both houses of Congress, and a national judiciary was established similar in all its essential features to that now in operation. It consisted of one chief justice and five associate justices, who were directed to hold two sessions annually at the seat of the national government. Circuit and district courts were also established, which had jurisdiction over certain specified cases. Each state was made a district, as were also the two Territories of Kentucky and Maine. The districts, excepting the two Territories, were grouped so as to form three circuits. A marshal and district attorney were appointed for each district by the President.1
The subjects of revenue and judiciary being well disposed of Congress next turned its attention to the organization of executive departments. Only three – Treasury, War, and Foreign Relations – were established. The heads of these were styled Secretaries instead of Ministers, as in Europe. The President of the United States was clothed with power to appoint or dismiss them at his pleasure, with the concurrence of the Senate. They were designed to constitute a cabinet council, ever subject to the call of the President for consultation on public affairs, and bound to give him their opinions in writing when required.
The attention of Congress was next turned to the amendments of the Constitution proposed by the people of the several states, which amounted, in the aggregate, to one hundred and forty-seven, besides separate Bills of Rights proposed by Virginia and New York. Sixteen of the amendments were agreed to, and twelve of them were subsequently ratified by the people and became a part of the organic law of the nation. The profound wisdom of the framers of the Constitution and its own perfection are illustrated by the fact that, of these twelve amendments, not one of them, judged by subsequent experience, was of a vital character.
Before the adjournment of Congress on the 29th of September[1789.], the President had appointed his Cabinet, 2 and the new government was fairly set in motion. Its foreign relations were, on the whole, satisfactory, and only in England were other than friendly feelings toward the United States manifested. These were met by corresponding ill feeling toward England on this side of the Atlantic. The resentments caused by the late long war were blunted, but by no means deprived of their strength; and, finally, the fact that the British government still held possession of Western military posts within the boundary of the United States, and that from these had gone out influences which had involved their country in a bloody and expensive war with the Indians, produced much irritation in the American mind. This was intensified by the wounds given to their national pride by the British government, in so long refusing to negotiate a commercial treaty with them, and declining to reciprocate the friendly advances of the United States by sending a minister to reside at the national capital.
With their old ally, France, the most perfect friendship still existed, but it was destined to a speedy interruption. Events in that country, and the position assumed by the President of the United States in relation to them, caused violent animosity to take the place of cordial good will, and were among the causes which gave birth to parties in America whose collisions, for several years, shook the republic to its centre, and at times threatened its existence. The animosities of these parties, and the collateral relations of national policy and events in France and England to them, will be found, as we proceed in our narrative, to have played an important part in the great drama we are considering, at the period immediately preceding and during the progress of the War of 1812.
At the very time when the fruits of the American Revolution were exhibiting their ripeness in the form of a free and vigorous nation full of promise, the Empire of France, made unsound to the core by social and political corruptions most foul, was shaken by a moral earthquake – a revolution severe at the beginning, and terrible in its subsequent course. The French monarch was weak, his advisers were wicked, and the dominant classes, through luxury and concomitant vices, were exceedingly corrupt. The good and the brave of the kingdom had long perceived the abyss of woe upon the brink of which their country was poised, and with a heroism which in the light of history appears almost divine, they resolved to sound the trumpet of political reform, and arouse king, nobles, and people to a sense of solemn duty as men and patriots.
At the head of these brave men was Lafayette, seconded chiefly by the Duke de Rochefoucauld and M. Condorcet. They wished to obtain for France a Constitution similar to that of England, which they regarded as the most perfect model of human government then known. They loved their king because of his many virtues, and would have advised him wisely had their voices been permitted audience in the Tuileries; but they loved France more than their king, and desired to see her crowned with true glory, based upon the welfare and prosperity of her people. To accomplish this, they placed their hopes on a virtuous constitutional monarchy.
For a long time Lafayette and his coadjutors had been elaborating their scheme. At length, in the Assembly of Notables, in April, 1789, that champion of rational liberty stood up in his place and boldly demanded a series of reforms in the name of the people, one of which was a representative National Assembly. "What!" exclaimed the Count D’Artois, one of the king’s bad advisers, "do you make a motion for the States General?" "Yes, and even more than that," quickly responded Lafayette. That more was a charter from the king, by which the public and individual liberty should be acknowledged and guaranteed by the future States General. The proposition was received with unbounded enthusiasm. The measure was carried. Early in May a session of the States General was opened at Versailles, and they constituted themselves a National Assembly.
Now was the golden opportunity for King Louis. Slight concessions at that moment might have secured blessings for himself and his country. But he heeded the counsels of venal men more than the supplications of his real friends. He opposed the popular will, and took the road to ruin. He ordered the hall of the National Assembly to be closed, and placed a cordon of mercenary German troops around Paris to overawe the people. From that time until early in July the French capital was dreadfully agitated. Passion ruled the hour. The city was like a seething caldron. Every one felt that a terrible storm was about to burst.
The National Assembly was now sitting in Paris, and thoroughly sustained by the people. They called for the organization of forty-eight thousand armed militia. Within two days two hundred and seventy thousand citizens were enrolled. A state mayor was appointed by the town assembly, and the Marquis La Salle was named commander-in-chief.
Court dispatches were intercepted by the people by the arrest of royal couriers. Then they demanded arms. An immense assemblage went to the Hospital of the Invalids on the 10th of July, and demanded from the governor the instant delivery to them of all weapons there. He refused, and they seized thirty thousand muskets and twenty pieces of cannon. Then they visited the shops of the armorers and the depository of the Garde-meuble, and seized all the arms found there.
Higher and higher rose the tide of revolution. The girdle of soldiers around Paris was the chief cause for present irritation. The National Assembly sent a deputation to the king at Versailles to ask him to remove them. His good heart counseled compliance, but his weak head bowed to the demands of bad advisers, "I alone have the right to judge of the necessity, and in that respect I can make no change," was the haughty answer of the king borne back to the Assembly. This answer, and the dismissal of M. Necker, the controller of the treasury, and other patriotic ministers who favored reform, produced a crisis.
Paris was comparatively quiet on the night of the 13th of July. It was the ominous lull before the bursting of the tempest. The streets were barricaded. The people formed themselves into a National Guard, and chose Lafayette as their commander. Gun, sabre, scythe, and whatever weapon fell in their way was seized. Multitudes of men of the same opinion embraced each other in the streets as brothers, and, in an instant almost, a National Guard of one hundred thousand determined men was formed.
The morning of the 14th was serene. The sky was cloudless. But storms of passion were sweeping over Paris. The people were in motion at an early hour. Their steps were toward the Bastile, a hoary state prison, which was regarded as the stronghold of despotism. They stood before it in immense numbers. A parley ensued. The gates were opened, and forty leading citizens, as representatives of the populace, were allowed to enter. The bridges were then suddenly drawn, and volleys of musketry soon told a tale of treachery most foul. They were all murdered! That moment marks the opening of the terrible scenes of the French Revolution. With demoniac yells the exasperated populace dragged heavy cannon before the gates, and threatened the destruction of the Bastile. The terrified governor displayed a white flag, and invited a second deputation. to enter the gates. These shared the fate of the former! The furious multitude would no longer listen to words of peace. They were treacherous all. A breach was soon made in the walls. The governor and other officers were dragged to execution, and their heads were paraded upon pikes through the streets. The great iron key of the Bastile was sent to the City Hall.3 The National Assembly decreed the demolition of the hated prison, and very soon it was leveled to the ground. 4 Upon its site, now the Place de Bastile, stands the Column of July, erected by Louis Philippe to commemorate the Revolution in 1830, which placed him on the throne. Lafayette sent the key of the Bastile to Washington, who placed it in the broad passage at Mount Vernon, where it still hangs.
The National Assembly elected Lafayette commander-in-chief of the National Guard of all France, a corps of more than four millions of armed citizens. They voted him a salary of fifty thousand dollars a year, but, imitating Washington, he refused to accept any remuneration for his services. The humbled king approved his appointment, and the monarch, deserted by his evil counselors, threw himself upon the National Assembly. "He has been deceived hitherto," Lafayette proclaimed to the public, "but he now sees the merit and justice of the popular cause." The overjoyed people shouted "Long live the king!" and for a moment the Revolution seemed to be at an end and its purposes accomplished.
But Lafayette, who comprehended the labors and the dangers yet to be encountered, was filled with apprehension. The wily Duke of Orleans, who desired the destruction of the king for the base purpose of his own exaltation to the throne, was busied in sowing the seeds of distrust among the people.5 The duke incited them to demand the monarch’s presence at the Tuileries. Louis went voluntarily from Versailles to Paris, followed by sixty thousand citizens and a hundred deputies of the Assembly, and there formally accepted the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was presented to him. The people were satisfied, and the duke was disappointed. Order reigned in Paris and throughout the kingdom. The bearing of these events upon our subject will be observed presently.
At this time a general European war seemed inevitable. A long-pending controversy between Great Britain and Spain remained unsettled. It was believed that France, with her traditional hatred of Great Britain, would side with Spain. This alliance would menace England with much danger. At the same time, Spain, a declining power, would necessarily be much embarrassed by war. Viewing this situation of affairs in Western Europe with the eye of a statesman, Washington concluded that it was a favorable time to urge upon Spain the claims of the United States to the free navigation of the Mississippi, concerning which negotiations had been for some time pending, and also to press upon Great Britain the necessity of complying with the yet unfulfilled articles of the Treaty of 1783. Mr. Carmichael, the American Chargé des Affaires at the Court of Madrid,6 was instructed not only to press the point concerning the navigation of the Mississippi with earnestness, but to endeavor to secure to the United States, by cession, the island of New Orleans and the Floridas, offering as an equivalent the abiding friendship of the new republic, by which the territories of Spain west of the Mississippi might be secured to that government. At the same time, Gouverneur Morris, then in Paris, was directed by Washington to repair to London, and, with sincere professions of a desire on the part of the United States "to promote harmony and mutual satisfaction between the two countries," sound the British ministry on the subject of a full and immediate execution of the Treaty of 1783. 7
Morris had a formal interview with the Duke of Leeds, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, near the close of March, 1790. He was received with cordiality, and was assured of the earnest desire of Great Britain to cultivate friendly relations with the United States, and the determination of the king to send a minister to America. But when Morris attempted to hold explicit conversation on the subject of his semi-official mission he was met with evasion and reticence. It was immediately made evident to him that there was real reluctance on the part of Great Britain to fulfill the stipulations of the Treaty of 1783, or to make a fair commercial arrangement, and that there was a disposition to procrastinate while the difficulties between Great Britain and Spain remained unadjusted. He found great misapprehensions existing in England concerning the real character of the Americans and their government, even among the best informed. They overrated the importance to Americans of friendship with them. They believed that trade with Great Britain was of vital consequence to the Americans, and that the latter would make an international commercial treaty upon almost any terms to secure it. With this belief, a committee of Parliament, to whom had been referred the revenue acts of the United States, acting under the advice of the merchants of leading maritime towns of Great Britain, reported early in 1790, in favor of negotiating a commercial treaty with the Americans, but with the explicit declaration that the commissioners should not "submit to treat" for the admission of American vessels into any of the British islands or colonial ports. They actually believed that the necessities of the United States would make them acquiesce in an arrangement so ungenerous and partial.
While war with Spain seemed impending, the British ministers listened complacently to what Morris had to say about the frontier military posts, the impressment of American seamen into the British naval service under the plea that they were subjects of Great Britain, and the propriety of sending a full minister to the United States.8 It was evident that the British were willing to allow their relations with the Americans to remain unchanged until they should have a definite perception of the course European affairs were likely to take. This evidence became more and more manifest in the autumn. The French government, embarrassed by its own troubled affairs, was disinclined to take part with Spain in its quarrel, and the latter, unable alone to cope with Great Britain, yielded every point in the controversy, and the dispute was settled. Relieved of this burden of perplexity, and regarding France as hopelessly crippled by her internal difficulties, Great Britain showed marked indifference concerning her relations with the United States. Nothing more was said about sending a minister to America, and Mr. Morris was treated with neglect, if not with positive discourtesy.
At the close of the year Mr. Morris left England. He had been there about nine months, endeavoring to obtain a positive answer to the simple questions, Will you execute the Treaty? will you make a treaty of commerce with the United States? At the end of that time the real views of the British government were as hidden as at the beginning. Ungenerous diplomacy had been employed all the time by the British ministry, while the American government was anxious to establish peaceful relations with Great Britain and all the world upon principles of exact justice. Its agents were unskilled in the low cunning of diplomatic art which at that time distinguished every court in Europe, and they lost the game. Both the government and people of the United States felt aggrieved and indignant at the course of Great Britain, and self-respect would not allow them to farther press the subject of diplomatic intercourse or treaty relations. They therefore resolved to pause in action until the republic should become strong enough to speak in decisive tones, and prepared to maintain its declarations by corresponding vigor of action.
Great changes are wrought by time. The march of stirring events in Europe now became majestic, for a new and important era was dawning; and the dignity and importance of the republic beyond the sea was too apparent to the world to allow the British government to maintain its indifference much longer without evil consequences to itself. Already France, Holland, and Spain, the real enemies of England, had placed representatives at the seat of our national government, and British pride was compelled to yield to expediency. In August, 1791, George Hammond arrived in Philadelphia, clothed with full ministerial powers as the representative of Great Britain, presented his credentials, and was formally received. In December following, diplomatic relations between the two governments were established by the appointment of Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, as American minister to the Court of St. James.9
At about this time two violently antagonistic parties had assumed definite shape and formidable proportions in the United States, the acknowledged heads of which were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, members of Washington’s Cabinet. On the former, as Secretary of the Treasury, devolved the important duty to arrange a plan for the establishment of the public credit.10 Owing to long delay, and doubts and discouragements in the minds of the original holders of the evidences of the public debt, they had fallen into the hands of speculators at one sixth of their nominal value. It was therefore argued that, in the liquidation of these claims, there should be a scale of depreciation adopted, thereby making a saving to the public treasury.
Hamilton would listen favorably to no suggestions of that kind. With the sagacity of a statesman, the sincerity of an honest man, and the true heart of a patriot, he planted his foot firmly upon the ground of justice and honor, and declared that public credit could only be established by the faithful discharge of public obligations in strict conformity to the terms of the contract. These debts were originally due to officers and soldiers, farmers, mechanics, and patriotic capitalists, and were sacred in the estimation of honest men; and it was no just plea for their whole or partial repudiation that speculators would profit by the honesty of the government. It was not for the debtor to inquire into whose hands his written promises to pay were lodged, nor how they came there.11 Upon this lofty foundation of principle Hamilton stood before hosts of his frowning countrymen, conscious of the importance of financial honor and integrity to the infant republic, and determined to secure for it the dignity which justice confers, at whatever cost of personal popularity. He accordingly presented to Congress [January 14, 1790.], in an able report, a scheme "for the support of the public credit," whose principal feature was the funding of the public debt – a plan proposed by him to Robert Morris as early as 1782. He also proposed the assumption by the general government of the state debts incurred during the war, amounting, in principal and interest, to over twenty millions of dollars. His scheme included the establishment of a national bank, 12 a system of revenue from taxation, internal and external, and a sinking fund.
This scheme – just, patriotic, necessary, and beneficial – was assailed with the greatest vehemence, and the discussions which it elicited, especially upon the subject of the assumption of the state debts, in Congress, in the public press, and in private circles, fearfully agitated the nation, and created the first regular and systematic opposition to the principles on which the affairs of the republic were administered. Its propositions, especially the one relating to the assumption of state debts, were regarded with alarm by the late opponents of the Constitution and a consolidated government, because of their tendency to a centralization of power, as giving an undue influence to the general government by placing the purse as well as the sword in its hands, and as being also of doubtful constitutionality. Many believed that they saw in this scheme great political evils, because it secured the financial union of the states, and might lead to the establishment of a government as absolute as a constitutional monarchy. These suspicions were strengthened by the well-known fact that Hamilton regarded the British government as a model of excellence, and had advocated greater centralization of power, in the Convention of 1787. He was made the target for the shafts of personal and political malice, and his financial system was misrepresented and abused as a scheme for enriching a few at the expense of the many.13 The war of opinion was fierce and uncompromising.
While Washington took no part in the discussion of Hamilton’s scheme, it commanded his highest admiration, as the most perfect that human wisdom could devise for restoring the public credit and laying the foundation of national policy. He predicted great and lasting good from its adoption, and his prophecies were fulfilled. Confidence was revived, and that acted like magic upon industry; and then commenced that wonderful development of material wealth which has gone on with few intermissions until the present time. While these discussions were at their height, Jefferson arrived at the seat of government, to assume the duties of Secretary of State. He had but lately returned from France, where he had labored for several years in the diplomatic service of his country. He had witnessed the uprising of the people there at the bidding of Lafayette and others a few months before. The example of his own country was the star of hope to the French revolutionists, and as the author of the Declaration of Independence, he was regarded as an oracle, and courted by the leaders of the constitutional party there. Fresh from the fields of political excitement in the French capital, and his inherent democratic principles and ideas intensified and enlarged by these experiences, he came home full of enthusiasm, expecting to find every body in his own country ready to speak a sympathizing word for, and to extend a helping hand to the people of France, the old ally of Americans in their efforts to establish for themselves a constitutional government.
But Mr. Jefferson was disappointed. When he arrived in New York, after a tedious journey of a fortnight on horseback, he was warmly welcomed by the leading families of the city, and became the recipient of almost daily invitations to social and dinner parties. The wealthier and more aristocratic classes in New York, who gave dinner parties at that time, were mostly Loyalists’ families, who remembered the pleasant intercourse they had enjoyed with the British officers during the late war, and had always regarded the British form of government as the most perfect ever devised. Free from political restraint, their conversation was open and frank, and their sentiments were expressed without reserve. Mr. Jefferson was continually shocked by the utterance of opinions repugnant to his faith, and in contrast with his recent experience.14
Mr. Jefferson, who was sensitively and even painfully alive to the evils of despotism and the dangers of a government stronger than the people, took the alarm, and he became morbidly suspicious of all around him. The conservatism of Washington and his associates in the government, and their lack of enthusiasm on the subject of the French Revolution, which so filled his own heart, were construed by him as indifference to the diffusion of democratic ideas and the triumph of republican principles, for which the patriots in the war for independence had contended. He had scarcely taken his seat in the Cabinet before he declared that some of his colleagues held decidedly monarchical views, and it became a settled belief in his mind that there was a party in the United States constantly at work, secretly and sometimes openly, for the overthrow of republicanism. This idea became a sort of monomania, and haunted him until his death, more than thirty years afterward.
Events in France soon began to make vivid impressions upon the public mind in America. The fears of Lafayette were realized. The lull that succeeded the tempest of 1789, was only the precursor of a more terrible storm in 1791, that shook European society to its deepest foundations, and, like the great earthquake of 1755, was felt in almost every part of the globe.
Long before the meeting of the States-general at Versailles, forty intelligent men, whose feelings were intensely democratic, who avowed their hatred of kings and their attendant titles and privileges, and who ridiculed and contemned Christianity as an imposture, had met in the hall of the Jacobin monks in Paris, and from that circumstance were called the Jacobin Club. In the commotions that attended and followed the destruction of the Bastile, this club had gained immense popularity. They now published a newspaper, whose motto was LIBERTY AND EQUALITY, and whose design was to disseminate ultra democratic doctrines, irreligious ideas, and a spirit of revolt and disaffection to the king. They became potential – a power in the state. Their influence was every where seen in the laxity of public morals. The church was polluted with the contagion. A refractory spirit appeared among the National Guards, and the king and his family were insulted in public.
Disgusted with these evidences of demoralization, Lafayette resigned his command of the National Guard, but resumed it on the solicitation of sixty battalions. He was exceedingly popular, yet he could not wholly control the spirit of anarchy that was abroad. The king, alarmed, fled in disguise from Paris. Terror prevailed among all classes. The flight of the monarch was construed into a crime by his enemies, and he was arrested and brought back to Paris under an escort of thirty thousand National Guards. He excused his movement with the plea that he was exposed to too many insults in the capital, and only wished to live quietly, away from the scenes of strife.
The populace were not satisfied. Led by Robespierre, a sanguinary demagogue, and member of the Constituent Assembly, they met in the Elysian Fields, and petitioned for the dethronement of Louis. Four thousand of the National Guard fired upon them, and killed several hundred. The exasperation of the people was terrible, yet the popularity of Lafayette held the factions in check.15
The Constitution was completed in September. The trembling king accepted it, and solemnly swore to maintain it. Proclamation of the fact was made throughout the kingdom, and a grand fête, whereat one hundred thousand people sang and danced the Carmagnole in the Elysian Fields, was held at Paris, and salvos of cannon thundered along the banks of the Seine.16
There was wide-spread sympathy in the United States with these revolutionary movements in France. The spirit of faction, viewed at that great distance, appeared like patriotism. Half-formed and half-understood political maxims, floating upon the tide of social life in the new republic, began to crystallize into tenets, and assumed antagonistic party positions. The galvanic forces, so to speak, which produced these crystallizations, proceeded from the President’s Cabinet, where Mr. Jefferson, the Secretary of State, and Mr. Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, were at direct variance in their views of domestic public measures, and were making constant war upon each other. Jefferson, believing, with Thomas Paine (who now appeared in the field of political strife abroad), that a weak government and a strong people were the best guarantees of liberty to the citizen, contemplated all executive power with distrust, and desired to impair its vitality and restrain its operations. He thought he saw in the funding system arranged by Hamilton, and in the United States Bank and the excise law – creations of that statesman’s brain – instruments for enslaving the people; and he affected to believe that the rights of the states and liberties of the citizens were in danger.
Hamilton, on the other hand, regarded the National Constitution as inadequate in strength to perform its required functions, and believed weakness to be its most radical defect; and it was his sincere desire and uniform practice so to construe its provisions as to give strength and efficiency to the Executive in the administration of public affairs.
Not content with an expression of his opinions, Jefferson charged his political opponents, and especially Hamilton, with corrupt and anti-republican designs, selfish motives, and treacherous intentions; and thus was inaugurated that system of personal abuse and vituperation which has ever been a disgrace to the press and political leaders of this country.
An unfortunate blunder made by John Adams, the Vice-President, at about this time, confirmed Jefferson in his opinions and fears. These men, compatriots in the events out of which the nation had been evolved, cherished dissimilar political ideas, and held widely differing religious sentiments. Mr. Jefferson was always a freethinker, and his latitudinarianism was greatly expanded by a long residence among the contemners of revealed religion in France. He admired Voltaire, Rousseau, and D’Alembert, whose graves were then green; and one of his most intimate companions was the Marquis of Condorcet, who "classed among fools those who had the misfortune to believe in a revealed religion."17 He sympathized with the ultra Republicans of France, was their counselor in the early and later stages of the revolutionary movement of 1789, and opened his house to them for secret conclave. He was an enthusiastic admirer of a nation of enthusiasts.
Mr. Adams, on the contrary, was thoroughly imbued with the political and religious principles of New England Puritanism. He discovered spiritual life in every page of the Bible, and accepted the doctrines of revealed religion as an emanation from the fountain of Eternal Truth. His mind was cast in the mould of the English conservative writers, whom he admired. He detested the principles and practices of the French philosophers, whom Jefferson revered; and, from the outset, he detected in the revolutionary movements in France the elements of destructiveness which were so speedily developed. These views were indicated in a letter to the Rev. Dr. Price, of England, acknowledging the receipt of a printed copy of his famous discourse on the morning of the anniversary dinner of the English Revolution Society in 1789, in which the preacher, accepting the French Revolution as a glorious event in the history of mankind, said, "What an eventful period is this! I am thankful that I have lived to see it; and I could almost say, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.’ . . . I have lived to see thirty millions of people indignantly and resolutely spurning at slavery, and demanding liberty with an irresistible voice."
To this Adams replied, "I know that encyclopedists and economists – Diderot and D’Alembert, Voltaire and Rousseau – have contributed to this great event even more than Sidney, Locke, or Hoadley; perhaps more than the American Revolution: and I own to you I know not what to make of a republic of thirty millions of atheists. . . . Too many Frenchmen, after the example of too many Americans, pant for equality of person and property. The impracticability of this, God Almighty has decreed, and the advocates for liberty who attempt it will surely suffer for it."18
Mr. Adams had discerned with alarm the contagion of revolution which went out from Paris in the autumn of 1789. He saw it affecting England, and menacing the existence of its government; and he perceived its rapid diffusion in his own country with surprise and pain. It was so different in form and substance from that which had made his own people free, that he was deeply impressed with its dangers. With a patriotic spirit he sought to arrest the calamities it might bring upon his country, and with that view he wrote a series of articles for a newspaper, entitled "Discourses on Davila." These contained an analysis of Davila’s History of the Civil War in France19 in the sixteenth century. The aim of Mr. Adams was to point out to his countrymen the danger to be apprehended from factions in ill-balanced forms of government. In these essays he maintained that, as the great spring of human activity, especially as related to public life, was self-esteem, manifested in the love of superiority, and the desire of distinction, applause, and admiration, it was important in a popular government to provide for the moderate gratification of all of them. He therefore advocated a liberal use of titles and ceremonial honors for those in office, and an aristocratic Senate. To counteract any undue influence on the part of the Senate, he proposed a popular assembly on the broadest democratic basis; and, to keep in check encroachments of each upon the other, he recommended a powerful Executive. He thought liberty to all would thus be best secured. 20 From the premises which formed the basis of his reasoning, he argued that the French Constitution, which disavowed all distinctions of rank, which vested the legislative authority in a single Assembly, and which, though retaining the office of king, divested him of nearly all actual power, must, in the nature of things, prove a failure. The wisdom of this assumption has been vindicated by history.
The publication of these essays at that time was Mr. Adams’s blunder.21 His ideas were presented in a form so cloudy that his political system was misunderstood by the many and misinterpreted by the few. He was charged with advocating a monarchy and a hereditary Senate; and it was artfully insinuated that he had been seduced by Hamilton (whose jealous opponents delighted in pointing to him as the arch-enemy of republican government) from his loyalty to those noble principles which he had exhibited before he wrote his "Defense of the American Constitutions," published in London three years before.
Those essays filled Jefferson with disgust, and he cherished the idea that Hamilton, Adams, Jay, and others were at the head of a party engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow the republican institutions of the United States, and on their ruins to construct a mixed government like that of England, composed of a monarchy and aristocracy.22 To thwart these fancied designs, and to inculcate the doctrines of the French Revolution which he so much admired, and on which he grounded his hopes of a stable government in his own country, 23 Jefferson hastened to have printed and circulated Thomas Paine’s famous reply to Burke’s "Reflections on the French Revolution," called "The Rights of Man," which had just been received from England. That essay, originally dedicated "To the President of the United States," was admired by Jefferson, and it was issued from the Philadelphia press, with a complimentary note from him.
This apparent indorsement of the essay by the government, in the persons of the President and Secretary of State, was very offensive to Great Britain, and produced a good deal of stir in the United States. Major Beckwith, the aid-de-camp of Lord Dorchester, already mentioned,24 was in Philadelphia at that time, and expressed his surprise; but subsequent assurances that the President knew nothing of the dedication, and that Mr. Jefferson "neither desired nor expected" to have the note printed, soon smoothed the ripple of dissatisfaction so far as the British government was concerned. 25
The political and personal feud between Jefferson and Hamilton became more intense every hour. Freneau’s United States Gazette, believed to be under the control of the former, was filled with bitter denunciations of Hamilton and the leading measures of the administration; and Fenno’s National Gazette, the supporter of the government policy, was made spicy by Hamilton’s vigorous retorts.26 The public mind was greatly excited thereby, and Washington was compelled to perceive (as he did with alarm and mortification) that there was a schism in his Cabinet, which threatened to be destructive of all harmony of action, and perilous to the public good. He anxiously sought to end the strife by assuming the holy office of peace-maker, but in vain. 27 The antagonisms of the Secretaries had become too violent to be easily reconciled. Their partisans were numerous and powerful, and had become arranged in tangible battle order, under the respective names of Federalists and Republicans – names which for many years were significant of opposing opinions: first, concerning the administration of the national government; secondly, on the question of a neutral policy toward the warring nations of Europe; and, thirdly, on the subject of the war with Great Britain declared in 1812.
The Federalists, called the "British party" by their opponents, were in favor of a strong central government, and were very conservative. They were in favor of maintaining a strict neutrality concerning the affairs of European nations during the exciting period of Washington’s administration, and were opposed to the War of 1812. The Republicans, called the "French party," were favorable to a strong people and a weak government, sympathized warmly with the French revolutionists, and urged the government to do the same by public expressions and belligerent acts if necessary, and were favorable to the War of 1812 when it became an apparent national necessity. Federal and Republican were the distinctive names of the two great political parties in the United States during the first quarter of a century of the national existence, when they disappeared from the politician’s vocabulary. New issues, growing out of radical changes in the condition of the country, produced coalitions and amalgamations by which the identity of the two old parties was speedily lost.
The zeal of the opposing parties was intensified by events in Europe during the summer and autumn of 1792; and at the opening of the last session of the second Congress, in November, the party divisions were perfectly distinct in that body.
All Europe was now effervescing with antagonistic ideas. The best and wisest men stood in wonder and awe in the midst of the upheaval of old social and political systems. Popular sentiment in the United States was mixed in character, and yet crude in form, and for a while it was difficult to discern precisely in what relation it stood to the disturbed nationalities of Europe. The blood of nearly all of them coursed in the veins of the Americans; and notwithstanding a broad ocean, and perhaps more than a generation of time, separated the most of them from the Old World, they experienced lingering memories or pleasant dreams of Fatherland.
France, the old ally and friend of the United States, was the centre of the volcanic force that was shaking the nations. The potentates of Europe, trembling for the stability of their thrones, instinctively arrayed themselves as the implacable enemies of the new power that held the sceptre of France, and disturbed the political and dynastic equilibrium. They called out their legions for self-defense and to utter a solemn protest. The people were overawed by demonstrations of power. The gleam of bayonets and the roll of the drum met the eye and ear every where, and in the autumn of 1792 nearly all Europe was rising in arms against France.
Revolution had done its work nobly, wisely, and successfully in the United States, and the experiment of self-government was working well. The memory of French arms, and men, and money that came to their aid in their struggle for liberty, filled the hearts of the Americans with gratitude, for they were not, as a people, aware of the utterly selfish motive of the Bourbon in giving that aid, and how little it had really contributed to their success in that struggle; and their own zeal for freedom, while enjoying the fruition of their efforts, awakened their warmest sympathies for those yet in the toils of slavery. Without inquiring, they cheered on the people of France, who were first led by the beloved Lafayette; and with corresponding detestation, heightened by the memory of old wrongs and the irritations of present unfriendliness, they saw Great Britain, so boastful of liberty, arrayed against the French people in their professed struggle for the establishment of a constitutional government like that of England.
But there were wise, and thoughtful, and prudent men in the United States and in Great Britain, who had made the science of government their study and human nature their daily reading, who clearly perceived the vast difference between the revolutions in America and France, and thought they observed in the latter no hope for the real benefit and prosperity of the people. These, in the United States, formed the leaders of the Federal or conservative party. Washington had hailed with great satisfaction the dawning of what he hoped to be the day of liberty in France, but, from the beginning, his own sagacity, and the gloomy forebodings manifested by Lafayette from time to time in his letters, made him doubtful of the success of the movement. He often expressed an earnest wish that republicanism might be established in France, but never breathed a hope, because he never felt it. And when, in the summer of 1792, he perceived the bloody and ferocious character of the French Revolution, and the departure of its course from the high and honorable path marked out for it by Lafayette and his compatriots, he and the conservative party, then fortunately holding the reins of executive and legislative power, resolved that the government of the United States should stand aloof from all entanglements with European politics.
Jefferson and his party, on the other hand, deeply sympathized with the French revolutionists, and bore intense enmity toward Great Britain. They were greater in numbers than the Federalists, and their warfare was relentless. They denounced every man and measure opposed to their own views with a fierceness and lack of generosity that appears almost incredible, and they shut their ears to the howling of that lawless violence that had commenced drenching the soil of France in blood. Even the dispatches of government agents abroad were sneered at as instruments of needless alarm, if not something worse.28
But "the inexorable logic of events" soon revealed to the people of the United States those terrible aspects of the French Revolution which made them for a moment recoil with horror. Anarchy had seized unhappy France, and the ferocious Jacobin Club reigned supreme in Paris. They were the enemies of the king and Constitution, and were determined to overthrow both. Incited by them, the populace of Paris, one hundred thousand in number, professedly incensed because the king had refused to sanction a decree of the National Assembly against the priesthood, and another for the establishment of a camp of twenty thousand men near Paris, marched to the Tuileries[June 20, 1792.] with pikes, swords, muskets, and artillery, and demanded entrance. The gates were thrown open, and forty thousand armed men, many of them the vilest sans-culottes of the streets of Paris, went through the palace, and compelled the king, in the presence of his family, to put the bonnet rouge, or red cap of liberty, upon his head.
Lafayette was then at the head of his army at Maubeuge, a fortified town in the Department of the North. He hastened to Paris, presented himself at the bar of the National Assembly, and in the name of the army demanded the punishment of those who had insulted the king and his family in the palace and violated the Constitution. But Lafayette was powerless. Paris was drunk with passion and unrestrained license. The doom of royalty was decreed. The populace and members of the Assembly demanded the deposition of Louis. The sittings of the Assembly were declared permanent until order should be restored. At midnight[August 9, 1792.] the dreadful tocsin, or alarm-bell, was sounded, and the drums beat the generale in every direction, The streets were filled with the mad populace, and in the morning the Tuileries were attacked by them. The king, attended by the Swiss Guard, fled to the National Assembly for protection. Nearly every man of the guard was butchered. The monarch escaped unhurt, but the overawed Assembly decreed the suspension of the royal authority. 29 Monarchy in France was virtually overthrown, and with it fell Lafayette and the constitutional party. The Jacobins of the Assembly procured a decree for the arrest of the marquis. He and a few friends turned their faces toward Holland as a temporary refuge from the storm until they could escape to the United States. They were arrested on the way, and for three years Lafayette was entombed in an Austrian dungeon at Olmutz, while pretended republicans, with bloody hands, were holding the uncertain and slippery reins of anarchical power in his beloved France.
The Jacobins were not satisfied with the suspension of the king’s authority. They felt unsafe while he lived. They conspired against his life and the lives of all who might sympathize with him. They filled the prisons with priests and nobles, and other suspected persons. These men were dangerous while their pulses beat healthily. Their prisons became human slaughter-houses. Thither the demoniac populace were sent on the evening of the 2d of September[1792.], and before the dawn, at least eighteen hundred persons were slain!
The conspirators now took bolder steps. They abolished the Constituent Assembly, and constituted themselves a National Convention, The Hall of the Tuileries was their meeting-place, and there, in the palace of the kings, they assumed the executive powers of government. They decreed the abolition of royalty, and proclaimed France a republic[September 23, 1792.]. With wonderful energy they devised and put in motion schemes of conquest and propagandism. They assumed to be the deliverers of the people of Europe from kingly rule.
AN ASSIGNAT, OR PAPER-MONEY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
Frontier armies, with the aid of paper-money alone,30 were speedily put in motion to execute the decree of Danton and his fellow-regicides that "there must be no more kings in Europe." They invaded Belgium and Savoy, and conquered Austrian Netherlands. At the sound of the Marseilles Hymn, sung by these knights-errant of the new chivalry, the people flocked to the standards of revolt. 31
Success gave the revolutionists prestige, and, with egotism unparalleled, the National Convention, by acclamation, declared that, "in the name of the French nation, they would grant fraternity and assistance to all those peoples who wished to procure liberty;" and they charged the executive power "to send orders to the generals to give assistance to such people, and to defend citizens who had suffered, and were then suffering in the cause of liberty."
The revolutionists, flushed with victories, and emboldened by the obedience which their reign of terror inspired, soon executed a long-cherished plan of the Jacobins, and murdered their king in the presence of his subjects.32 They declared war against England and Holland [Feb. 1., 1793.], and soon afterward against Spain [March 7.], and with the battle-cry of "Liberty and Equality," they defied all Europe. For a moment England was alarmed, for she had numerous enemies in her own household, and the civilized world looked upon the sanguinary tragedy on the Gallic stage with dismay and horror.
The contagion of that bloody Revolution had so poisoned the circulation of the social and political system of the United States, that, strange as it may appear to us, when the proclamation of the French Republic, with all its attendant horrors of August and September, was made known here, followed speedily by intelligence of the conquest of Austrian Netherlands by a French army, there was an outburst of popular feeling in favor of the Gallic cause that seemed to be almost universal. They were blind to the total difference between their own Revolution and that in France. They were forgetful of the friendship of Holland during that struggle – a friendship far more sincere than that of the French; forgetful also of the spirit of true liberty which for centuries had prevailed in Holland, and made it an asylum for the persecuted for conscience’ sake in all lands; and the people in several towns and cities celebrated these events with demonstrations of great joy.33 With a similar spirit the death of the French king was hailed by the leaders of the Republican party in the United States; and the declaration of war against England and Holland by France awakened a most remarkable enthusiasm in favor of the old ally of the Americans, aroused old hatreds toward England, and called loudly for compliance with the letter and spirit of the treaty of 1778. 34
These demonstrations were soon followed by the arrival of "Citizen Genet," as he was styled,35 as minister of the French Republic to the United States. He came in a frigate, and landed at Charleston, South Carolina, early in April. His reception there was all that his ambition could have demanded; and his journey of three or four weeks by land from there to Philadelphia, the national capital, was a continued ovation. He was a man of culture and tact, spoke the English language fluently, and was frank, lively, and communicative. He was precisely the man for his peculiar mission. He mingled familiarly with the people, proclaimed wild and stirring doctrines, scorned all diplomatic art and reserve, and assured the citizens of the United States of the unbounded affection of his countrymen for the Americans. The Republican leaders hailed his advent with delight; and a large portion of the people were favorable to immediate and active participation by their government with France in its impending struggle against armed Europe. Many, in the wild enthusiasm of the moment, would not have hesitated an instant in precipitating their country into a war that might have proved its utter ruin.
It was fortunate for the country that a man like Washington, and his wise counselors, were at the helm and halliards of the vessel of state at that time, and endowed with courage sufficient to meet the dangerous popular gale. When intelligence of the declaration of war between France and other nations reached him, the President was at Mount Vernon. He had no confidence in the self-constituted rulers of France or their system of government. "They are ready to tear each other in pieces," he wrote to Governor Lee, of Virginia, "and will, more than probably, prove the worst foes the country has."
Perceiving the proclivity of the public mind in his own country, the President felt great anxiety, and he made immediate preparations to arrest, as far as possible, the terrible evils which a free course of the popular sympathy for the French might have. He sent[April 12, 1793.] a most unwelcome letter to the Secretary of State. "War," he wrote, "having actually commenced between France and Great Britain, it behooves the government of this country to use every means in its power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavoring to maintain a strict neutrality." He required Mr. Jefferson to give the subject his careful thought, and lay his views before him on his arrival in Philadelphia. A similar letter was sent to the head of every other department.
Washington reached Philadelphia on the 17th of April, and on the 19th held a Cabinet council. It was agreed that the President should issue a proclamation of neutrality, warning citizens of the United States not to take part in the kindling war. At the same meeting it was agreed that the minister of the French Republic should be received.36
The President’s proclamation of neutrality was issued on the 22d of April, and was assailed with the greatest vehemence by the "French party," as the Republicans were called. Reverence for the President’s character and position was forgotten in the storm of passion that ensued. The proclamation was styled a "royal edict," a "daring and unwarrantable assumption of executive power," and was pointed at as an open manifestation by the President and his political friends of partiality for England, a bitter foe, and hostility to France, a warm friend and ancient ally. It is fair to infer, from the tone of his private letters at that time, that the Secretary of State (who voted very reluctantly in the Cabinet for the proclamation), governed by his almost fanatical hatred of Hamilton, and his sympathies with the French regicides, secretly promoted a public feeling hostile to the administration.37
1 John Jay, of New York, was appointed Chief Justice of the United States; and John Rutledge, of South Carolina, James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, William Cushing, of Massachusetts, Robert H. Harrison, of Maryland, and John Blair, of Virginia, were appointed associate judges.
2 Alexander Hamilton was appointed Secretary of the Treasury; Henry Knox, Secretary of War; and Thomas Jefferson, secretary of Foreign Affairs, the duties of which were the same as now performed by the Secretary of State, or prime minister. The Navy Department was not created until 1798. Naval affairs were under the control of the Secretary of War. At that time the Attorney General and Postmaster General were heads of departments, but were not, as now, Cabinet officers. Edmund Randolph was appointed Attorney General, and Samuel Osgood Postmaster General.
3 For a picture and description of this key, see Lossing’s Field-Book of the Revolution, ii., 209.
4 A picture of the Bastile may be found in Lossing’s Home of Washington and its Associations, p. 221.
5 "He does not, indeed, possess talent to carry into execution a great project," said Lafayette to John Trumbull, who was about to leave Paris, "but he possesses immense wealth, and France abounds in marketable talents. Every city and town has young men eminent for abilities, particularly in the law – ardent in character, eloquent, ambitious of distinction, but poor." Many of these were the men who composed the leaders in the Reign of Terror, and reddened the streets of Paris with human blood.
6 William Carmichael went to Spain with Minister John Jay, as secretary of legation, in 1779, and when that functionary left, Mr. Carmichael remained as Chargé des Affaires. After the Treaty of Peace was signed in 1783, the Spanish government refused to acknowledge him as such, but finally, through the agency of Lafayette, they reluctantly consented to do so.
7 Washington’s letter to Gouverneur Morris, October 13, 1789.
8 Great Britain evidently apprehended an alliance of the United States with Spain, in the event of a war between the former and the latter power. Dorchester, the Governor of Canada, was employed to ascertain the disposition of the United States on that point. He accordingly asked permission to pass through New York on his way to England; and when it was readily granted, as he expected, he sent his aid-de-camp, Major Beckwith, to the seat of the United States government, under the pretext of making a formal acknowledgment, but really to seek information upon the subject in question. He first approached Mr. Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury. After expressing the thanks of Lord Dorchester, he, with apparent unconcern, remarked that his lordship had reason to fear that the delays which Mr. Morris experienced in England would be attributed to a lack of desire on the part of the British ministry to adjust every matter in dispute between the United States and Great Britain. In behalf of his lordship he was instructed to say, that there could be no doubt, not only of the friendly feeling of Great Britain, but of a desire on her part for an alliance with the United States. Major Beckwith then spoke of the rupture between Great Britain and Spain, and expressed his presumption that, in the event of war, the United States would find it to their interest to take part with Great Britain. He then, in the name of Dorchester, disclaimed any influence, under British authorities, over the Indian tribes in the West. The President laid the matter before his Cabinet, and it was agreed to draw out from the major as much information as possible by treating him and his communication very civilly. But he obtained no information of importance. The matter was so transparent that no one was deceived. "What they [the ministers] are saying to you," Jefferson wrote to Morris in August, "they are saying to us through Quebec; but so informally that they may disavow it when they please. . . . Through him [Major Beckwith] they talk of a minister, a treaty of commerce, and alliance. If the object of the latter be honorable, it is useless; if dishonorable, inadmissible. These tamperings prove that they view war as possible; and some symptoms indicate designs against the Spanish possessions adjoining us. The consequences of their acquiring all the country on our frontier from the St. Croix to the St. Mary’s are too obvious to you to need development. You will readily see the dangers which would then environ us. . . . We wish to be neutral, and we will be so, if they will execute the Treaty fairly and attempt no conquests adjoining us."
9 Thomas Pinckney was born in Charleston, South Carolina, 23d of October, 1750. He was educated in England. When the Revolution broke out he entered the military service, and was active until Gates’s defeat near Camden, in August, 1780, when he was made a prisoner. He was Gates’s aid. He was chosen Governor of South Carolina in 1787. In 1792 he went as minister to England. In 1794 he was sent in the same capacity to Spain, to treat concerning the navigation of the Mississippi. At the beginning of 1812 the President appointed him to the command of the Southern division of the army. After the war General Pinckney retired to private life. He died on the 2d of November, 1828, aged seventy-eight years.
10 The impoverished condition of the country, and the wants of the public treasury at that time, may be comprehended by the fact that, at the close of 1789, the Attorney General and several members of congress were indebted to the private credit of the Secretary of the Treasury to discharge their personal expenses. Even the President of the United States was obliged to pass his note to his private secretary, Mr. Lear, to meet his household expenses, which was discounted at the rate of two per cent, a month. Members of Congress were paid by due-bills, which the collectors were ordered to receive in payment of duties. – HAMILTON’S History of the Republic of the United States, iv., 48.
11 Hamilton argued that, besides motives of political expediency, there were reasons in favor of his view "which rest on the immutable principles of moral obligation; and, in proportion as the mind is disposed to contemplate, in the order of Providence, an ultimate connection between public virtue and public happiness, will be its repugnance to a violation of those principles. This reflection derives additional strength from the nature of the debt of the United States. IT WAS THE PRICE OF LIBERTY. The faith of America has been repeatedly pledged for it, and with solemnities that give peculiar force to the obligation."
12 At that time the whole banking capital of the United States was only $2,000,000, invested in the Bank of North America, established in Philadelphia by Robert Morris, chiefly as a government fiscal agent; the Bank of New York, in New York City; and the Bank of Massachusetts, in Boston. In January, 1791, Congress chartered a national bank for the term of twenty years, with a capital of $10,000,000, to be located in the city of Philadelphia, and its management to be intrusted to twenty-five directors. It did not commence business operations in corporate form until in February, 1794.
The subject of currency had occupied the attention of the old Congress as early as 1782, when Gouverneur Morris presented an able report on the subject, written at the request of Robert Morris. * He proposed to harmonize the moneys of all the states. Starting with one ascertained fraction as a unit, for a divisor, he proposed the following table of money: Ten units to be equal to one penny; ten pence to one bill; ten bills, one dollar (about seventy-five cents of our present currency); and ten dollars, one crown. Mr. Jefferson, as chairman of a committee on the subject of coins, reported a table in 1784, in which he adopted Morris’s decimal system, but entirely changed its details. He proposed to strike four coins, namely, a golden piece of the value of ten dollars, a dollar in silver, a tenth of a dollar in silver, and a hundredth of a dollar in copper. This report was adopted by Congress the following year, and this was the origin of our cent, dime, dollar, and eagle. The establishment of a mint for coinage was delayed, and no legislative action on the subject was taken until early in April, 1792, when laws were enacted for the preparation of one. For three years afterward the operations of the mint were chiefly experimental, while in Congress long debates were had concerning the devices for the new coins, The Senate proposed the head of the President of the United States who should occupy the chair of state at the time of the coinage. In the House, the head of Liberty was suggested, as being less aristocratic than the effigy of the President – less the stamp of royalty. The head of Liberty was finally adopted. During that interval of three years, several of the coins called "specimens," now so rare in cabinets, and so much sought after by connoisseurs, were struck.
Of these the rarest is a small copper coin, known as the "Liberty-cap cent." The engraving is from one in my possession. The mint was first put into full operation, in Philadelphia, in 1795.
* Robert Morris had considered the subject for more than a year. As early as July, 1781, he wrote to Benjamin Dudley, of Boston, an Englishman, requesting him to come to Philadelphia, that he might consult him about the coinage of money. In November Mr. Dudley was employed in assaying. Mr. Morris kept him engaged in experiments, and in the preparation of machinery for a mint. In these Mr. Dudley consulted Dr. Rittenhouse and Francis Hopkinson. A country blacksmith, named Wheeler, was employed to make the rollers for the mint, and it was July the following year before any machinery was perfected. Mr. Morris labored hard to get the mint in operation, but without success. Finally, on the 2d of April, 1783, Morris was enabled to write in his diary, "I Sent for Mr. Dudley, who delivered me a piece of silver coin, being the first that has been struck as an American coin." Mr. Dudley was installed superintendent of the mint, having charge, also, of the preparation of the paper moulds, etc., in the manufacture of the currency printed by Hall & Sellers, the printers of the Continental money. Finally, in July, Mr. Morris gave up the idea of establishing a mint, and Mr. Dudley, after delivering up the dies to him, left his service. – ROBERT MORRIS’S Diary.
13 "The public paper suddenly rose, and was for a short time above par," says Marshall. "The immense wealth which individuals acquired by this unexpected appreciation could not be viewed with indifference."
14 "I can not describe the wonder and mortification with which the table conversation filled me," Mr. Jefferson wrote. "Politics was the chief topic, and a preference for a kingly over republican government was evidently the favorite sentiment. An apostate I could not be, nor yet a hypocrite; and I found myself, for the most part, the only advocate on the republican side of the question, unless among the guests there chanced to be some member of that party from the legislative houses." This is the first mention that we any where find of a Republican Party in this country.
15 "I am exposed to the envy and attacks of all parties," he wrote to Washington, "for this single reason, that whoever acts or means wrong finds me an insuperable obstacle. And there appears a kind of phenomenon in my situation – all parties against me, and a national popularity, which, in spite of every effort, has remained unchanged. . . . Given up to all the madness of license, faction, and popular rage, I stood alone in defense of the law, and turned the tide into the constitutional channel."
16 Upon a tree planted on the site of the Bastile a placard was placed, in these words:
17 Capefigue, ii., 82. Mr. Jefferson’s religious views, at that time, may be inferred from the contents of a letter written at Paris on the 10th of August, 1787, to Peter Carr, a young relative of his in Virginia, wherein he lays down some maxims for his future guidance. He enjoins him to exalt reason above creeds. "Question with boldness," he says, "even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfold fear." He then advises him to read the Bible as he would Livy or Tacitus. "The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy or Tacitus." He then cautions him against a belief in statements in the Bible "which contradict the laws of nature." Concerning the New Testament, he said, "It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions, 1, of those who say he was begotten of God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and ascended bodily into heaven; and, 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out with pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition by being gibbeted according to the Roman law."
18 See Letter to Richard Price, April 19, 1790, in the Life and Works of John Adams, ix., 563.
Richard Price, D. D., LL. D., was an eminent English Dissenting minister, and at this time was preacher at the meeting-house in Old Jewry, London. He was then quite venerable in years, and with a mind as vigorous as when, in 1776, he wrote his famous "Observations on the war in America." He was an ultra democrat, and sympathized strongly with the French Revolution. He did not live to see that Revolution assume its huge proportions and hideous visage that so terrified Europe, for he died in the spring of 1791.
The discourse above alluded to was preached on the anniversary of the Revolution in 1688 (4th of November) which hurled James the Second from the throne. Dr. Price was an active member of the "Revolution Club," of which, at that time, the Earl of Stanhope was president. The discourse "On the Love of our Country" was preached before the members, and was subsequently printed. After alluding to the Revolution in France, he said, "I see the dominion of kings changed for the dominion of laws, and the dominion of priests giving way to the dominion of reason and conscience. Be encouraged, all ye friends of freedom and writers in its defense! The times are auspicious. Your labors have not been in vain. Behold kingdoms, admonished by you, starting from sleep, breaking their fetters, and claiming justice from their oppressors! Behold the light you have struck out, after setting America free, reflected to France, and there kindled into a blaze that lays despotism in ashes, and warms and illuminates Europe.
The Society, at that meeting, on motion of Dr. Price, agreed, by acclamation, to send, in the shape of a formal address, "their congratulations to the National Assembly on the event of the late glorious Revolution in France." This action and the discourse of Dr. Price produced the greatest agitation throughout England. Auxiliary clubs were speedily formed in various parts of the kingdom, encouraged by men like Dr. Priestley, the eminent Unitarian minister at Birmingham. Monarchist and Churchman were greatly alarmed. The king was inclined to deny any more concessions to the Liberal party, making the Revolution in France a sufficient argument against reform in England, while the clergy of the hierarchy raised a cry that the Church was in danger from the revolutionizing and destructive machinations of the Dissenters. To the astonishment of all men, Edmund Burke raised his voice in the House of Commons in cadences never heard before from his lips. He had ever been the eloquent advocate of the rights of man. Now he declared that there was no such thing as natural rights of men, and he condemned the whole body of Dissenters in the strongest terms, as discontented people, whose principles tended to the subversion of good government. Nor did his denunciations rest there. He professed to regard Dr. Price’s sermon with holy horror, and its author as a most dangerous agitator, and he brought to the task of disabusing the public mind of England concerning the real character of the revolt in Paris the whole powers of his mighty intellect. In an almost incredible short space of time he wrote his famous "Reflections on the French Revolution," the publication of which produced a most powerful effect. The king and ministry, and the Tory party, expressed unbounded admiration of this splendid defense of their policy, while all just men agreed that it was a monstrous exaggeration. It called forth many opposing writers – among them the powerful Priestley, the elegant Mackintosh, and the coarse but vigorous Paine. The war of words, and pen, and type was waged furiously for a long time, and satirical ballads and clever caricatures played a conspicuous part in the contest.
Thomas Paine, who had been in Paris some time, and participated in some of the revolutionary scenes there, had lately returned when Burke’s "Reflections" appeared, and he lost no time in preparing an answer, which he entitled "The Rights of Man." The first part was published on the 1st of February, 1791, and produced great disturbance. It was sought after with the greatest avidity, and in proportion to its success was the alarm and indignation of the Tory party. There was ample food for the caricaturists, and Gillray’s pencil was active. Fox and Sheridan, who were the leaders of the opposition in Parliament, were classed among the leaders of the Revolution Clubs, and appeared in pictures with Priestley and Paine.
A BAD MEASURE.
In May, 1791, Gillray burlesqued Paine in a caricature which he entitled "The Rights of Man; or, Tommy Paine, the American Tailor, taking the Measure of the Crown for a new pair of Revolution Breeches." Paine is seen with the conventional type of face given by the caricaturists to a French democrat. His tri-colored cockade bears the Inscription, "Vive la liberte!" and from his mouth proceeds an incoherent soliloquy, as if from a man half drunk.* This was in allusion to his well-known intemperance. Paine was finally prosecuted by the government for libel on account of some remarks in his "Rights of Man," and was compelled to flee to France, where he was warmly received by the revolutionists. A Tory mob destroyed Dr. Priestley’s church in Birmingham, and his dwelling and fine library a short distance in the country; also he and his family barely escaped with their lives.
* The following is a copy of the soliloquy: "Fathom and a half! fathom and a half! Poor Tom! ah! mercy upon me! that’s more by half than my poor measure will ever be able to reach! Lord! Lord! I wish I had a bit of the stay-tape [allusion to Paine’s former business of stay-maker] or buckram which I used to cabbage when I was a ’prentice, to lengthen it out. Well, well, who would ever have thought it, that I, who have served seven years as an apprentice, and afterward worked four years as a journeyman to a master tailor, then followed the business of an exciseman as much longer, should not be able to take the dimension of this bawble! for what is a crown but a bawble, which we may see in the Tower for sixpence apiece? Well, although it may be too large for a tailor to take measure of, there’s one comfort – he may make mouths at it, and call it as many names as he pleases! And yet, Lord! Lord! I should like to make it a Yankee-doodle night-cap and breeches, if it was not so d----d large, or I had stuff enough. Ah! if I could once do that, I would soon stitch up the mouth of that barnacled Edmund from making any more Reflections upon the Flints. And so, Flints and Liberty forever, and d--n the Dungs! Huzza!"
19 Dell’ Istoria delle Guerre Civili di Francia, by Henrico Caterino Davila.
20 This was only an amplification of the thought thus expressed in his Defense of the American Constitutions: "It is denied that the people are the best keepers, or any keepers at all, of their own liberties, when they hold collectively, or by representative, the executive and judicial power, or the whole uncontrolled legislature." He did not believe in the efficiency or safety of a government formed upon the simple plan of M. Thurgot and other clear-minded men of France, in which all power was concentrated in one body directly representing the nation. That was the doctrine and the practice of the French revolutionists, enforced by the logic of Condorcet and the eloquence of Mirabeau. Mr. Adams wished a system of checks and balances, which experience has proved to be the wisest.
21 They were published in the Gazette of the United States, at Philadelphia, then the seat of the national government. Their more immediate object was a reply to Condorcet’s pamphlet, entitled Quatre Lettres d’un Bourgeois de New Haven, sur l’ Unité de la Législation. Mr. Adams soon perceived that his essays were furnishing the partisans of the day with too much capital for immediate use in the conflict of opinion then raging, and ceased writing before they were completed. Twenty years later, when a new edition was published, Mr. Adams wrote, "This dull, heavy volume still excites the wonder of its author – first, that he could find, amidst the constant scenes of business and dissipation in which he was enveloped, time to write it; secondly, that he had the courage to oppose and publish his own opinions to the universal opinion of America, and indeed of all mankind. Not one man in America then believed him. He knew not one, and has not heard of one since, who then believed him. – J. A., 1812."
22 "The Tory paper, Fenno’s," he wrote to Mr. Short, in Paris, "rarely admits any thing which defends the present form of government in opposition to his desire of subverting it, to make way for a king, Lords, and Commons. There are high names here in favor of this doctrine . . . Adams, Jay, Hamilton, Knox, and many of the Cincinnati. The second says nothing; the third is open. Both are dangerous. They pant after union with England, as the power which is to support their projects, and are most determined Anti-Gallicans. It is prognosticated that our republic is to end with the President’s life; but I believe they will find themselves all head and no body."
23 "You will have heard," Mr. Jefferson wrote to Edward Rutledge in August, 1791, "before this reaches you, of the peril into which the French Revolution is brought by the flight of their king. Such are the fruits of that form of government which heaps importance on idiots, and which the Tories of the present day are trying to preach into our favor. I still hope the French Revolution will issue happily. I feel that the permanence of our own leans in some degree on that, and that a failure there would be a powerful argument to prove that there must be a failure here."
24 See note 1, page 63.
25 The political sentiments of Paine’s Rights of Man were in accordance with the feelings and opinions of the great body of the American people. The author sent fifty copies to Washington, who distributed them among his friends. His official position cautioned him to be prudently silent concerning the work. Richard Henry Lee, to whom Washington gave a copy, said, in his letter acknowledging the favor, "It is a performance of which any man might be proud; and I most sincerely regret that our country could not have offered sufficient inducements to have retained, as a permanent citizen, a man so thoroughly republican in sentiment and fearless in the expression of his opinions." See Lossing’s Home of Washington, or Mount Vernon and its Associations, p. 262.
The note alluded to in the text was from Mr. Jefferson to a stranger to him (Jonathan Bayard Smith), to whom the owner of Paine’s pamphlet, who lent it to the Secretary of State, desired him to send it. "To take off a little of the dryness of the note," Mr. Jefferson made some complimentary observations concerning the pamphlet, and expressed his satisfaction that something public would be said, by its publication, "against the political heresies which had lately sprung up." To the astonishment of Mr. Jefferson, this private note was printed with the pamphlet the next week. Mr. Jefferson acknowledged that his remarks in it were aimed at the author of the Discourses on Davila, and the affair produced a temporary estrangement between him and Mr. Adams.
Warm discussions arose, soon after the publication of Paine’s pamphlet, on the doctrines which it promulgated. A series of articles in reply to the "Rights of Man" appeared in the Boston Centinel, over the signature of Publicola, which were attributed to John Adams, and were reprinted in London, in pamphlet form, with his name on the title-page. They were written by his son, the late John Quincy Adams. They were answered by several writers. "A host of champions," Jefferson wrote to Paine, "entered the arena immediately in your defense."
26 Philip Freneau, a poet of some pretensions, and a warm Whig writer during the Revolution, was called from New York, where he was editing a newspaper, to fill the post of translating clerk in the State Department under Mr. Jefferson. A new paper, called The National Gazette, opposed to the leading measures of the administration, was started, and Freneau was made its editor. It was understood to be Mr. Jefferson’s "organ," but it would be both ungenerous and unjust to believe that the bitter attacks made upon all the measures of the administration were approved by Mr. Jefferson; yet, when the Secretary well knew that the President, whom he professed to revere, was greatly hurt and annoyed by them, it was, as Mr. Irving justly remarks (Life of Washington, v., 164), "rather an ungracious determination to keep the barking cur in his employ." Fenno published the United States Gazette, the supporter of the measures of the administration.
27 Both ministers discharged their respective duties to the entire satisfaction of the President, and he felt greatly disturbed by their antagonisms, now become public. To Jefferson he wrote[August 23, 1792.], after referring to the Indian hostilities, and the possible intrigues of foreigners to check the prosperity of the United States, "How unfortunate, and how much to be regretted is it, that while we are encompassed on all sides by armed enemies and insidious friends, internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals. . . . My earnest wish and my fondest hope, therefore, is that, instead of wounding suspicions and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporizing yieldings on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and, if possible, more prosperously. Without them, every thing must rub; the wheels of government will clog, our enemies will triumph, and, by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting."
Washington wrote to Hamilton in a similar strain, and from both he received patriotic replies. But the feud was too deep-seated to be healed. Jefferson would yield nothing. He harbored an implacable hatred of Hamilton, whom he had scourged into active retaliation, and whose lash he felt most keenly.
28 Gouverneur Morris, who had been appointed minister to France after Jefferson left, kept Washington continually informed of the scenes of anarchy and licentiousness in the French capital, and presented gloomy prognostications respecting the future of that country. Because of this faithfulness, and his testimony against the tendency of the French Revolution, Mr. Jefferson, in his blind devotion to that cause, and his ungenerous judgment concerning all who differed from him, spoke of Morris as "as a high-flying monarchy-man, shutting his eyes and his faith to every fact against his wishes, and believing every thing he desired to be true."
29 The king wrote a touching letter to his brother, dated "August 12, 1792, seven o’clock in the morning." The following is a copy:
"My brother, I am no longer king; the public voice will make known to you the most cruel catastrophe. I am the most unfortunate of husbands and of fathers. I am the victim of my own goodness, of fear, of hope. It is an impenetrable mystery of iniquity. They have bereaved me of every thing. They have massacred my faithful subjects. I have been decoyed by stratagem far from my palace, and they now accuse me! I am a captive. They drag me to prison, and the queen, my children, and Madame Elizabeth [his sister] share my fate.
"I can no longer doubt that I am an object odious in the eyes of the French, led astray by prejudice. This is the stroke which is most insupportable. My brother, but a little while, and I shall exist no longer. Remember to avenge my memory by publishing how much I loved this ungrateful people. Recall one day to their remembrance the wrongs they have done me, and tell them I forgave. Adieu, my brother, for the last time."
This letter was sent in a bit of bread to a friend of the king. It was intercepted, and never reached his brother. – Correspondence of Louis XVI., translated by HELEN MARIA WILLIAMS, iii., 45.
30 This paper-money,a specimen of which is given on page 74, was called Assignat. It was first issued in 1789, and the basis for its credit was the property of the clergy and the emigrants, which the government had seized, and which was intended for sale. For three years it held a market value of over ninety per cent., but in 1792 it began to depreciate, and, like our own Continental money, soon became worthless. The first issue was to the amount of about $200,000,000. The amount that was finally put in circulation was about $1,750,000,000. This paper-money, which for a season played so important a part in the history of the world, was productive of the greatest evils. Specimens of it are now rarely to be found. The engraving represents one in the author’s possession.
31 In the National Convention, on the 28th of September, Danton declared, amid the loud applauses of the assembly, that "the principle of leaving conquered peoples and countries the right of choosing their own constitutions ought to be so far modified that we should expressly forbid them to give themselves kings. There must be no more kings in Europe. One king would be sufficient to endanger general liberty; and I request that a committee be established for the purpose of promoting a general insurrection among all people against kings." They thus made a distinction between the monarchs and the people, and professed to be the deliverers of the latter. The Revolution Clubs of England affiliated with them in sentiment, and Dr. Priestley and Thomas Paine were elected members of the National Convention. Priestley declined, but Paine accepted, went over to France, and took his seat in that blood-thirsty assembly. This called forth squibs and caricatures in abundance.
PAINE FITTING STAYS.
In one of the latter, entitled "Fashion for Ease; or, a Good Constitution sacrificed for a Fantastic Form," Paine is represented fitting Britannia with a new pair of stays, in allusion to the occupation of his early life. Over a cottage door on one side was a sign, "Thomas Paine, Stay-maker, from Thetford. Paris Modes by Express." Paine never ventured to return to England. His popularity in France was brief. In the National Convention he offended the ferocious Jacobins by advocating leniency toward the king. He incurred their hatred, and Robespierre and his associates cast him into prison, where he composed his "Age of Reason." He was saved from the guillotine by accident, escaped to the United States, and spent much of his time there, until his death, in coarse abuse of men and measures in that country and England.
32 They went through the farce of a trial. The king was accused of treason to the people and the Constitution, and was found guilty, of course. Weak in intellect, and dissipated in habits as he was, Louis was innocent of the crimes alleged against him. He was beheaded by the guillotine. When standing before the instrument of death, and looking upon the people with benignity, he said, "I forgive my enemies; may God forgive them, and not lay my innocent blood to the charge of the nation! God bless my people!" He was cut short by an order to beat the drums and sound the trumpets, when the brutal officer in charge called out to him, "No speeches! come, no speeches!"
The death of Louis was sincerely mourned. He was weak, but not wicked. He was an amiable man, and loved his country. His friends dared not make any public demonstrations of grief, or even of attachment.
A small commemorative medal of brass was struck, and secretly circulated. These were cherished by the Loyalists for a generation with great affection. On one side is a head of Louis, with the usual inscription – LUD. xvi. REX GALL. DEI GRATIA. On the other side is a memorial urn, with "LOUIS XVI." upon it, and a fallen crown and sceptre at its base. Beneath is the date of his death, and over it the significant words, SOL REGNI ABIIT – "The sun of the kingdom has departed." The engraving is from a copy in the author’s possession.*
* Louis was born on the 23d of March, 1754, and in 1770 married Maria Antoinette, of Austria. He ascended the throne of France, on the death of his grandfather, in 1774.
33 There was a grand fête held in Boston on the 24th of January, 1793. An ox was roasted whole. It was then decorated with ribbons, and placed upon a car drawn by sixteen horses. The flags of the United States and France were displayed from the horns of the ox. It was paraded through the streets, followed by carts bearing sixteen hundred loaves of bread and two hogsheads of punch. These were distributed among the people; and at the same time a party of three hundred, with Samuel Adams, then Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, at their head, assisted by the French consul, sat down to a dinner in Faneuil Hall. To the children of all the schools, who were paraded in the streets, cakes were presented, stamped with the words "Liberty and Equality." By public subscription, the sums owed by prisoners in the jail for debt were paid, and the victims of that barbarous law were set free. In Philadelphia the anniversary ofthe French alliance, mentioned in the subjoined note, was commemorated by a public dinner. Governor (late General) Mifflin presided. At the head of the table a pike was fixed, bearing upon its point the bonnet rouge, with the French and American flags intertwined in festoons, and the whole surmounted by a dove and olive branch.
34 A treaty of alliance, friendship, and commerce was entered into by the United States and France on the 6th of February, 1778, by which the former was bound to guarantee the French possessions in America; and by a treaty of commerce executed at the same time, French privateers and prizes were entitled to shelter in the American ports, while those of the enemies of France should be excluded. – See Article XVII. of the Treaty.
35 The French Jacobins affected the simplicity of the republics of Greece and Rome. All titles were abolished, and the term citizen was universally applied to men. When the king was spoken of, his family name of Capet was used. He was called "Citizen Capet" or "Louis Capet." They affected to regard liberty as a divinity, and a courtesan, in the conventional costume of that divinity, was paraded in a car through the streets as the Goddess of Liberty.
36 The following is a copy of the President’s proclamation:
"Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands on the one part, and France on the other, and the duty and interests of the United States require that they should, with sincerity and good faith, adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers:
"I have therefore thought fit, by these presents, to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid toward those powers respectively, and to exhort and to warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.
"And I do hereby make known, that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States against such punishment or forfeiture; and farther, that I have given instructions to those officers to whom it belongs to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the laws of nations with respect to the powers at war, or any one of them. In testimony whereof, etc., etc.
37 It is an unpleasant duty to arraign men whom the nation delights to honor as tried patriots, on a charge of complicity with those who at one time would have wrecked the government upon the rocks of anarchy, not designedly, perhaps, but nevertheless effectually. But historic truth sometimes demands it, as in the case before us. Mr. Jefferson was openly opposed to the policy of Washington’s administration. This was manly. But it was not manly to be a covert enemy. He always denied any complicity with Freneau, his translating clerk, in his coarse abuse of Washington and his political friends, while Jefferson was Secretary of State; but the very minutes made by Mr. Jefferson himself, and printed in his Anas, sufficiently indicate his relative position to Freneau at that time. He says that at a Cabinet council Washington spoke harshly of Freneau, who impudently sent him three copies of his paper every day, filled with abuse of the administration. "He could see nothing in it," Jefferson recorded, "but an impudent design to insult him: he ended in a high tone." Again Jefferson says, "He [the President] adverted to a piece in Freneau’s paper of yesterday. He said he despised all their attacks on him personally, but that there had never been an act of the government, not meaning in the executive line only, but in any line, which that paper had not abused. . . . He was evidently sore and warm, and I took his intention to be, that I should interpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk in my office. But I will not do it. His paper has saved our Constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has been checked by no one means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and universally known that it has been that paper which has checked the career of the monocrats." – Memoir and Correspondence of Jefferson, London edition, iv., 497. But the evidence against Mr. Jefferson in this matter is not entirely circumstantial. The late Dr. John W. Francis, of New York, who was Freneau’s physician in the latter years of his life, informed the author that it was one of the most poignant griefs of that journalist that he had seemed to be an enemy of Washington. He assured Dr. Francis that the National Gazette was entirely under the control of Mr. Jefferson, and that the Secretary dictated or wrote the most violent attacks on Washington and his political friends. The only excuse for the conduct of Mr. Jefferson at that time is political monomania.
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