Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter IV. - Foreign Relations and Domestic Politics.







Genet’s Reception in South Carolina. – Privateers commissioned. – Arrival and Reception of one of them at Philadelphia. – Genet in the Presence of Washington. – His Reception by his Political Friends. – Democratic Societies. – Enthusiasm for the French Cause. – The American and French Revolutions contrasted. – Genet rebuked by Jefferson. – Persistence of the French Minister. – His "Filibustering" Schemes. – His Attempt to create a Rebellion. – A Reaction. – Genet recalled. – His Successor. – Biographical Sketch of Genet. – British "Rules" and Orders in Council. – Their Injustice. – The Armed Neutrality. – Feeling in the United States. – British Impressment of American Seamen. – War threatened. – John Jay a special Minister to England. – The Fall of the French Jacobins. – Minister Monroe in Paris. – Jay’s Treaty with Great Britain. – Violent Opposition to the Treaty. – Its Friends assailed. – Secession proposed by Virginians. – Washington’s Calmness and Faith. – The "Whisky Insurrection" quelled. – Difficulty with Algiers. – British Interference. – Algerine Corsairs let loose upon American Commerce. – The Pride and Avarice of the Dey of Algiers. – An American Navy recommended. – First Steps toward its Creation. – Building of Frigates. – Tribute to the Dey of Algiers. – Release of Captives. – The French Directory offended. – American Servility. – Close of Washington’s Administration. – Attacks on his Character. – President Adams. – Aspect of Public Affairs. – Treatment of an American Minister. – The French Directory. – Joel Barlow a French Democrat. – Madness of Partisans. – "God save the Guillotine." – Pride of the French Directory. – Attempt to extort Tribute from the Americans. – Pinckney’s Reply. – A French Decree. – Indignation of the Americans. – Preparations for War with France. – Proceedings in New York City. – Patriotic Songs. – History of Hail, Columbia! And Adams and Liberty.


"While France her huge limbs bathes recumbent in blood,

And society’s base threats with wide desolation,
May Peace, like the dove who returned from the flood,
Find an ark of abode in our mild Constitution.
But though peace is our aim,
Yet the boon we disclaim
If bought by our Sovereignty, Justice, or Fame;
For ne’er shall the sons of Columbia be slaves
While the earth bears a plant, or the sea rolls its waves."


The wisdom and timeliness of Washington’s proclamation of neutrality was soon made manifest. Genet came with blank commissions for naval and military service, and proceeded to fit out two privateers at Charleston. He was also empowered to give authority to every French consul in the United States to constitute himself a court of admiralty, to dispose of prizes captured by French cruisers and brought into American ports. In defiance of the proclamation, his privateers, manned principally by American citizens, sailed from Charleston, with the consent and good wishes of the governor and citizens, to depredate on British commerce. 1

One of these privateers was L’Embuscade, the frigate that brought Genet to our shores. She went prowling up the coast, seizing several vessels, and at last captured a fine British merchantman, named The Grange, within the Capes of the Delaware, when she proceeded to Philadelphia in triumphant attitude [May 2, 1793.]. Her arrival was greeted by a great assemblage of people on the brink of the river. "When the British colors were seen reversed," Jefferson wrote to Madison, "and the French flying above them, the people burst into peals of exultation." Upon her head, her foremast, and her stern, liberty-caps were conspicuous; and from her masts floated white burgees, with words that echoed the egotistic proclamation of the French National Convention. 2

L’Embuscade was the precursor of the French minister, who arrived at Philadelphia fourteen days later [May 16.]. According to preconcert, a number of citizens met him at the Schuylkill and escorted him to the city, in the midst of the roar of cannon and the ringing of bells. There he received addresses from societies and the citizens at large; and so anxious were his admirers to pay homage to their idol, that he was invited to a public dinner before he presented his credentials to the President of the United States!

At that presentation, which occurred on the 19th [May.], the minister’s pride was touched, and his hopeful ardor was chilled. He found himself in an atmosphere of the most profound dignity in the presence of Washington; and he was made to realize his own littleness while standing before that noble representative of the best men and the soundest principles of the American Republic. He withdrew from the audience abashed and subdued. He had heard sentiments of sincere regard for the French nation that touched the sensibilities of his heart, and he had felt, in the genuine courtesy and severe simplicity and frankness of the President’s manner, wholly free from effervescent enthusiasm, a withering rebuke, not only of the adulators in public places, but also of his own pretentious aspirations and ungenerous duplicity. 3

Genet affected to be shocked by the evidences of monarchical sympathies in the President’s house. 4 He was supremely happy when he was permitted to escape from the frigidity of truth, virtue, and dignity into the fervid atmosphere of a banquet-hall filled with his "friends" [May 23, 1793.]. There his ears were greeted with the stirring Marseilles Hymn, an ode in French, composed for the occasion, 5 and toasts brimful of "Liberty and Equality." There his eyes were delighted with a "tree of liberty" upon the table, and the flags of the two nations in fraternal enfoldings. There his heart was made glad by having the red cap of liberty placed upon his own head first, and then upon the head of each guest, while the wearer, under the inspiration of its symbolism –

"That sacred Cap, which fools in order sped
In grand rotation, round from head to head" –

uttered some patriotic sentiment. There his hopes of success were made to bud anew as he saw the officers and sailors of the privateer receive a "fraternal embrace" from each guest, and bear away to the robber the flags of the two nations amid the cheers of the convivialists.

Genet’s presence intensified the party spirit of the Republicans, "Democratic Societies," in imitation of the Jacobin Clubs of France, were formed, secret in their proceedings, and disloyal in the extreme in their practice at that time. In servile imitation of their prototypes, they adopted the peculiar phrases of the populace of Paris; 6 and a powerful faction was soon visible, more French than American in their habits of thought and political principles. By some strange infatuation, sensible and patriotic men were drawn into the toils of the charmer, and they sanctioned and participated in scenes which composed a most astounding and humiliating farce. 7

But the ludicrous picture of Genet’s reception in Philadelphia was relieved by a dignified act. On the day of his arrival in that City, an address, signed by three hundred merchants and other substantial men of that city, in which was expressed the soundest loyalty to the letter and spirit of his proclamation of neutrality, was presented to President Washington.

Similar enthusiasm for the French cause was manifested in New York and a few other places, but the citizens were never obnoxious to the charge of overt disloyalty to the government. Although the Carmagnole 8 was sung hourly in the streets, and Democratic societies fanned the zeal for the Jacobin system of government into intemperate heat, the citizens, as such, remained loyal to the Constitution and the laws. 9

The government, unawed by the storm of passion that beat upon it, went steadily forward in the path of right and duty. The Grange was restored to its British owners, and the privateers were ordered to leave the American waters. Orders were sent to the collectors of all the ports of the United States for the seizure of all vessels fitted out as privateers, and to prevent the sale of any prizes captured by such vessels. Americans from one of the privateers fitted out at Charleston were arrested and indicted for a violation of law; and Chief Justice Jay declared it to be the duty of grand juries to present all persons guilty of such violation of the laws of nations with respect to any of the belligerent powers.

These measures greatly irritated the French minister and his American partisans. He protested; and the Secretary of State, soon finding him to be a troublesome friend, reiterated the opinions of the President, and plainly told him that, by commissioning privateers, he had violated the sovereignty of the United States, and that it was expected that The Genet and L’Embuscade (the two privateers fitted out at Charleston) would leave the American waters forthwith.

Genet, with offensive pertinacity, denounced this doctrine as contrary to right, justice, and the law of nations, and threatened "to appeal from the President to the people." The Republican papers sustained him in his course. 10 The Democratic societies became more bold and active; and Genet, mistaking the popular clamor in his favor for the deliberate voice of the nation, actually undertook to fit out as a privateer at Philadelphia, during the absence of the President at Mount Vernon, under the very eyes of the national government, a British vessel that had been captured and brought in there by L’Embuscade, and which he named in French The Little Democrat.

Mifflin, the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, interfered, and threatened to seize the vessel if Genet persisted in his course. The minister refused to listen. Jefferson begged him to desist until the return of the President. Genet spurned his kind words, and raved like a madman. He declared his determination to send The Little Democrat to sea, complained that he had been thwarted in all his undertakings by the government, denounced the President as unfaithful to the wishes of the people, and resolved to press him to call the Congress together to act upon the subjects in dispute. 11

Genet’s official and private conduct became equally offensive; and when, on Washington’s return to the seat of government, it was recited to him, his indignation was aroused. "Is the minister of the French Republic to set the acts of the government at defiance with impunity?" he asked. His Cabinet answered No. Forbearance toward the insolent minister was no longer required by the most exacting courtesy, and it was agreed in Cabinet council that the French government should be requested to recall him because he was offensive to that of the United States. Jefferson had become disgusted with him, and the tone of popular sentiment soon became more sensible and patriotic. His reiterated threat of appealing from the President to the people – in other words, to excite an insurrection for the purpose of overthrowing the government – had shocked the national pride; and many considerate Republicans, who had been zealous in the cause of the Revolution in France, paused while listening to the audacious words of a foreigner who presumed to dictate the course of conduct to be pursued by the beloved Washington. The tide turned. Very soon there were demonstrations throughout the Union of agreement with the proclamation of neutrality, which the partisans of Genet never dreamed of, and a strong and irresistible reaction in favor of the national government speedily manifested itself on every hand.

Genet 12 was recalled, and M. Fouchet, a man equally indiscreet, was appointed his successor. At the close of the year, Mr. Jefferson, whose views of French affairs had become much modified by the course of events at home and abroad, left the Cabinet and retired to private life, much to the regret of Washington, who found in him an able minister of state. Jefferson was a patriot, but, for several years, his jealousy and hatred of Hamilton and his friends made him a political monomaniac.

While the government of the United States, unswayed by the popular sentiment in favor of France, and national resentment against Great Britain, had hastened, on the breaking out of war between those two countries, to adopt a strictly neutral policy, thereby showing great magnanimity and a conciliatory spirit toward the late enemy in the field, that enemy, inimical still, was pursuing a selfish and ungenerous course, which the wisest and best men of England deplored. Regardless of the opinions of Europe expressed in the treaty for an armed neutrality in 1780, 13 she revived the rule of war laid down by herself alone in 1756, 14 and first by a "provisional order in council," as it was called, issued in June, 1793, 15 and then by another order in council, issued in November following [November 6, 1793.], and secretly promulgated, she struck heavy blows at her antagonist, regardless of the fact that they fell almost as heavily upon those who favored her by neutrality. Citizens of the United States were then carrying on an extensive trade with the French West India Islands, whose ports had been opened to neutrals for the same reasons as in 1756, and felt no apprehension of interference from any source. But Great Britain had determined to again apply her starvation measures against her old enemy, and a secret order in council was issued, and silently circulated among the British cruisers, without the least notice or intimation to the American merchants, directing all vessels engaged in trading with any colony of France to be taken into British ports for adjudication in the courts of admiralty. 16

This lawless invasion of neutral rights, conducted secretly and treacherously, prostrated at one blow a great portion of American commerce. The property of American merchants to the amount of many millions of dollars was swept from the seas into British ports and lost. This was regarded as little better than highway robbery, judged by the law of nations and common justice.

When intelligence of this high-handed measure reached the United States, it produced the hottest indignation throughout the land. Political strife instantly ceased, and both parties were equally zealous in denunciations of the treachery and aggressions of Great Britain, for which she offered no other excuse than expediency, growing out of her evident determination to maintain her boasted position of "mistress of the seas," regardless of the rights of all the rest of the world. Congress was then in session, and measures were proposed for retaliation, such as reprisals, embargoes, sequestrations, and even war. The whole country was violently agitated; and the excitement was increased by events on the Indian frontier, already mentioned, showing the hand of British influence in the bloody battles in the Northwest.

Another and more serious element of discord between the two nations came up for consideration, and which, in after years, was one of the immediate causes of open hostilities between the two countries, This was the impressment of American seamen into the British service. In efforts to maintain her position of "mistress of the seas," Great Britain found herself under the necessity of announcing another "law of nations" to suit her particular case. High wages, humane treatment, and security from danger, to be found in the American merchant service, had attracted a great many British seamen to it. Their government, alarmed at the threatened weakening of its naval power by this drain, planted itself upon the theory that a subject can not expatriate himself – once an Englishman, always an Englishman; proclaimed the doctrine that in time of war the government had a right to the services of every subject; and that, at the command of their sovereign, every natural-born subject was bound to return and fight the battles of his country. In accordance with this doctrine a proclamation was issued, by which authority was given to the commanders of British ships of war to make up any deficiency in their crews by pressing into their service British-born seamen wherever found, not within the immediate jurisdiction of any foreign state. Under this authority many American merchant vessels were crippled, while in mid-ocean, by British seamen being taken from them. Nor were subjects of Great Britain alone taken. It was sometimes difficult to discover the nationality of English and American seamen; and as the British commanders were not very nice in their scrutiny, native-born Americans were frequently dragged on board British war vessels, and kept in servitude in the royal navy for years. This was a great and irritating grievance.

War with Great Britain now seemed inevitable. To avert it was Washington’s most anxious desire. To do so, and maintain strict neutrality, was a difficult task. He resolved to try negotiation. He well knew that the temper of his countrymen would oppose it. With a moral heroism commensurate with the occasion, he nominated John Jay, the Chief Justice of the United States, as envoy extraordinary to the Court of Great Britain, to negotiate for a settlement of all matters in dispute between the two governments. The proposition was met with a storm of indignation. It was scouted as pusillanimous. The Democratic societies and Democratic newspapers were aroused into uncommon activity. The tri-colored cockade was seen on every side, and the partisans of the French regicides ruled the hour. Better counsels prevailed in the Senate, and on the 19th of April [1794.] that body confirmed the nomination by a vote of eighteen to eight. On the 12th of May following, Mr. Jay sailed from New York for London.

The French "Republic," meanwhile, had become offended with the United States because of the virtual dismissal of Genet, and demanded the recall of Mr. Morris. Washington prudently complied, and appointed James Monroe in his place. The latter arrived in France at an auspicious moment [August, 1794.]. Intelligence of the new American mission to England had aroused the most bitter enmity toward the United States among the violent leaders of the National Convention. But their bloody rule was at an end. Robespierre and his fiendish associates had fallen. For some time they had been hated in the Convention. At length Billaud Varennes mounted the tribune, and, in a speech full of invective, denounced Robespierre as a tyrant [July 26, 1794.]. The accused attempted to speak. "Down with the tyrant!" burst from many a lip, and he and his guilty colleagues were dragged to execution amid the shouts of the populace, who had huzzaed as loudly when the king was murdered. With their fall the dreadful Reign of Terror ended. The Jacobin society was suppressed. Reason and conscience were asserting their sway in the Convention. The nation breathed freer, and the curtain fell on one of the bloodiest tragedies in the history of the human race.

Monroe was received with great cordiality. He sent a judicious letter to the President of the Convention. Its sentiments were consonant with the feelings of the hour. When he afterward entered the hall of the Convention the president embraced him affectionately. It was decreed that the flags of the two nations should be entwined and hung up there, in token of international union and friendship; and Monroe, with reciprocal courtesy, presented the banner of his country to the Convention in the name of the American people. The Convention, in turn, resolved to present their national flag to the President of the United States.

Jay’s mission to England was partially successful. He found many obstacles to contend with. He entered upon the business in June, with Lord Grenville, and on the 19th of November following, the contracting parties signed a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation. Although Mr. Jay accomplished much less than his instructions directed him to ask for, the treaty was a long step in the direction of right, justice, and national prosperity, and led to the execution, to a great extent, of the Treaty of 1783. It also laid the solid foundation of the commercial policy of the United States. 17

Jay’s treaty was doomed to a severe trial, and, with it, the administration, the Constitution, and even the republic itself. The Democrats had resolved to oppose it, whatever might be its provisions, especially if it should remove all pretexts for a war with Great Britain. It reached the President early in March [March 5, 1795.], but the Senate were not convened to consider it until June [June 8.]. Meanwhile an unfaithful Cabinet minister (Mr. Randolph, of Virginia) revealed enough of its character to warrant attacks upon it. The mad, seditious cry of faction was immediately raised in the Democratic societies and spread among the people. 18

The Senate finally voted to ratify the treaty, and it was published to the world. 19 Then the opposition opened upon it their heaviest batteries of abuse. The chief targets for their shot were its provisions for the payment of honest debts contracted before the Revolution, and the omission to provide for the remuneration of slaveholders for their negroes carried away during that war. As the Constitution of the United States, and the public sentiment and judicial decisions of Great Britain did not recognize man as property, 20 the claim relating to slaves in the old treaty was passed over.

The author of the treaty, the approving senators, the administration, and the President personally, were violently assailed. The treaty was declared to be a token of national cowardice; an insult to the American people; a covert blow at France, their old ally. Bold attempts were made to intimidate the President and prevent his signing it. Public meetings were held all over the country, at which the most violent language and seditious suggestions and menaces were made. A mob in Philadelphia paraded in the streets with effigies of Jay and the ratifying senators. 21 A meeting in Boston denounced the treaty as containing not one article "honorable or beneficial to the United States." Hamilton and other speakers in favor of the treaty were stoned at a public meeting in New York, not only by a low mob, but by decent people. 22 South Carolinians called Jay a "traitor," longed for a guillotine, trailed the British flag in the dust of the streets of Charleston, and burned it at the door of the British consul; while Virginians, ever ready with the grand panacea of disunion for political evils, offered their prescription in emphatic if not elegant language. 23

None of these things moved Washington. He signed the treaty, and awaited calmly to see the storm pass by. It did so, and the foundations of the government were found to be stronger than ever. It was, says Lyman, "the first act of the government that proved the stability of the Federal Constitution. It was a severe trial, and the steadiness with which the shock was borne may be attributed, in some degree, to the personal character of the President." 24 In after years, when the republic was menaced by internal factions and external foes, the result of the conflict over "Jay’s Treaty" was pointed to as a warrant for faith and hope.

While these unpleasant relations with Great Britain and France were exciting the people of the United States, the government was sorely perplexed by other events at home and abroad. At home there had been, for a long time, much discontent on account of excise laws which levied a duty on domestic distilled liquors. These discontents were fanned into a flame by the Democratic societies, and, in the summer of 1794, the inhabitants of some of the western counties of Pennsylvania arrayed themselves in armed opposition to the authority of the national government. A formidable insurrection prevailed. Buildings were burned, mails were robbed, and government officers were insulted and abused. At one time there were nearly seven thousand insurgents in arms, many of them being the militia of the country, who had assembled at the call of rebel leaders. The insurgent spirit also infected the border counties of Virginia.

The President perceived with alarm this imitation of the lawlessness of French politics, then so assiduously propagated, and took immediate steps to crush the growing monster. He first issued two warning proclamations [August 7 and September 25.]. They were unheeded. After exhausting all peaceable means for the restoration of order, he sent a large body of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland troops, under General Henry Lee (then Governor of Virginia), into the disaffected district. This argument was effectual; and very soon the outbreak, known in history as the "Whisky Insurrection," like that of Shays’s in Massachusetts a few years earlier, was subdued and thoroughly allayed. This alarming insurrection was ended without the shedding of a drop of blood – a result chiefly due to the prompt energy and prudence of Washington. The government was amazingly strengthened by the event. Every good citizen expressed his reprobation of violent resistance to law, and the Democratic societies, the chief fomenters of the rebellion, 25 after that showed symptoms of a desire to become less conspicuous. 26

The new difficulty abroad was with Algiers, one of the Barbary Powers, on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The corsairs of those states, and especially of Algiers, had long depredated upon commerce in that region, and had grown bold by suffered impunity. When, at the close of the Revolution, American vessels began to find their way within the Pillars of Hercules, they frequently became the prey of these sea-robbers, who appropriated their cargoes and sold their crews into slavery, where they were held for ransom-money. President Washington called the attention of the national government to these piracies as early as 1790; and, in an able report, Secretary Jefferson laid before Congress important details touching the position of American interests in that part of the globe. Little, however, could be done, as the Americans had no navy; and the commerce of the United States in that quarter was for a long time dependent on the Portuguese fleet for protection.

Portugal was at war with Algiers for several years, and the fleet of the former confined the cruisers of the latter to the Mediterranean Sea. This barrier was broken in 1793, by British instrumentality acting secretly, for the avowed purpose of damaging France. Portugal was then seriously dependent on Great Britain, and had asked its aid in procuring a peace with Algiers. The British agent at the Court of the Dey was instructed to do so, and, without due authority being given him by Portugal to act in its behalf, he concluded a truce between the belligerents for one year. In that treaty was introduced the extraordinary stipulation that the Portuguese government should not afford protection to any nation against Algerine cruisers! This truce was immediate in its operations, and the robbers were released without notice being given to other powers.

The effect of this measure was disastrous to American commerce. Notwithstanding the British ministry disclaimed any intention to injure the United States, it was very evident that it was a part of a scheme to cripple the growing commerce of the Americans, or at least so to alarm it as to prevent its carrying supplies to France. And such was the result. The corsairs spread themselves over the Atlantic near the European coasts, and captured a large number of American vessels making their way to Portugal and other parts of the Continent, unsuspicious of any danger. The corsairs of Tunis joined those of Algiers, and thus a powerful fleet of pirate ships was formed. 27

The Americans felt justly indignant toward Great Britain because of the important part she had played in letting those robbers out of the Mediterranean. But the government was powerless to act. David Humphreys, who had been appointed commissioner for the United States to negotiate with the Dey of Algiers, had been treated with contempt by the haughty semi-barbarian, who was as avaricious as he was proud. "If I were to make peace with every body," he said, "what should I do with my corsairs? What should I do with my soldiers? They would take off my head for the want of other prizes, not being able to live on their miserable allowance!"

Such logic was unanswerable by words, and Humphreys wrote to his government at the close of 1793, at the suggestion of Captain Richard O’Brien, 28 "If we mean to have a commerce, we must have a navy to defend it." With the same recognition of the necessity for nautical power, Washington, in his message at the opening of Congress early in December [1793.], said, when alluding to the war in Europe, and the delicate international questions arising out of the frontier relations of the republic, "There is a rank due to the United States among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."

The President’s wise counsels prevailed. In January [January 2.], 1794 a committee was appointed, with instructions to report the amount of force necessary to protect American commerce against the Algerine pirates, and the ways and means for its support. 29 This measure, and the general subject of British aggressions, elicited, as we have seen, long and warm debates, and party lines were very distinctly drawn. The feeling against Great Britain became intense, and in March [March 26, 1794.] an embargo for a limited period was laid, chiefly for the purpose of obstructing the supply of provisions for the British fleet in the West Indies. 30 Then followed the appointment of Mr. Jay as minister extraordinary to Great Britain, already noticed.

There was a powerful and determined opposition to the creation of a navy. With strange ideas of national honor and national independence, some advocated the purchase of a peace with the Dey of Algiers, and the future security of his forbearance, by ransom and tribute money, rather than prepare for, and thus, as they believed, provoke a war. And these cowardly counsels had great influence; for when, finally, a bill was passed [March 11, 1794.] providing for the construction of six frigates, it was encumbered with a clause commanding a suspension of labor upon them in the event of a peace with Algiers being secured. For the purchase of such peace a million of dollars were appropriated. An act was also passed for the fortification of the harbors of the republic. 31 These were the first steps toward the creation of the navy, army, and fortifications of the United States under the National Constitution.

Perceiving an urgent necessity in the aspect of foreign affairs in relation to his own government, the President resolved to have the six frigates built immediately, and their keels were soon respectively laid in six different ports. 32 The work was going on briskly, when it was suspended, at the close of 1795, by the conclusion of a treaty of peace [November 28, 1795.] with the African robber, which cost the government a million of dollars without ultimate advantage. 33 The work on the six frigates was suspended, and the mercantile marine of the United States lost all hope of protection in the event of a war with any foreign government.

At the beginning of 1796 the aspect of the foreign affairs of the republic was peaceful. The Indian war in the West had ceased; a better understanding with Great Britain prevailed than had been known since the close of the Revolution; and the French government, then in the hands of a Directory, 34 showed no special symptoms of enmity toward that of the United States. But clouds soon began to appear in that section of the political horizon. The ratification of Jay’s treaty gave such offense to the Directory that they declared [February 15, 1796.] the alliance between France and the United States at an end, and that Adet, the successor of Fouchet, should be recalled, to make room for a special minister. In July [July 2.], when intelligence was received that the Congress of the United States had made an appropriation for the due execution of Jay’s treaty, the Directory issued a secret order authorizing French ships of war to treat neutral vessels in the same manner as they had suffered themselves to be treated by the English. Under this authorization, numerous American ships were seized in the West Indies by French cruisers, This was followed in America by Minister Adet’s famous "cockade proclamation," calling upon all French residents in the United States, in the name of the Directory, to mount on their hats a tri-colored cockade. The call was loyally responded to, and many American Democrats, also, were seen with this token of their devotion to the French Republic.

Mr. Monroe, having failed to please either the French Directory or his own government, was superseded by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina. That gentleman embarked as minister to France in September, bearing with him Monroe’s letters of recall.

Washington’s second administration was now drawing to a close, and he resolved to retire to private life. In September he issued his admirable Farewell Address to his countrymen – a political legacy of inestimable value. At the same time the first great struggle of the Federal and Democratic parties for power was going on, in the canvass for Washington’s successor. The candidates were Adams and Jefferson; and every appeal which party spirit or party rancor could invent was made to the people all over the land. Adet, with unparalleled impudence, issued an inflammatory appeal to the people, containing a summary of alleged violations of friendship to France on the part of the United States government. It was chiefly intended to arouse the feelings of the Americans against Great Britain. Other partisans of Jefferson, in their zeal to injure the Federal party, made outrageous assaults upon Washington’s character, charging him with using the public money for private use, and of being a traitor to his country. 35 The notorious Thomas Paine, lately released from a French prison, with his moral sensibilities all blunted by habitual dissipation, wrote a scurrilous letter to Washington, from under the roof of Monroe in Paris, in the summer of 1796. This was published in the United States for the purpose of promoting Jefferson’s election. But Adams was successful. The attack on Washington strengthened the Federal party, and the last growl of the opposition toward him personally was given by a writer in the Aurora on the first President’s retirement from office at the beginning of March, 1797, and on the eve of his departure for Mount Vernon. 36

When Washington retired from public life the clouds of difficulty between the United States and France were thickening. French cruisers were inflicting great wrongs on American commerce, and near the close of the session of the Congress of 1796, ’97, the Secretary of State laid before that body [February 27, 1797.] a full exhibit of them. From that communication it appeared that not only were American vessels captured, but their crews were treated with great indignity, and even cruelty. Many bitter complaints were made against Commodore Joshua Barney, then in the French service, in command of two frigates in the West Indies, who was accused of treating his own captive countrymen with indifference and neglect. He was also charged with having insulted the American flag by hoisting it union down. And yet, when he arrived in Chesapeake Bay to learn and carry away to France the result of the Presidential election, though he boasted of having in his pocket the orders of the French Directory to capture American vessels, and declared that, if Jefferson were not elected, war would be proclaimed by France within three months, he was not the less on that account honored and feasted by infatuated politicians who read the Aurora and believed Washington to be a traitor! 37

Adams 38 came into office with a powerful party opposed to him – a party which lacked only two votes of giving the election to Mr. Jefferson, his rival, who became Vice-President. An open rupture with France was becoming more and more imminent. The accession of Spain to their alliance, and the victories of young Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy, gave the Directory strength, and their bearing toward other governments became more and more insolent. Their corsairs were depredating upon American commerce, and in their pride they declared that, until the United States had redressed certain alleged grievances of which they complained, no minister of the republic would be received by them. Pinckney, who had never been officially received as minister, was ordered to leave France. He retired to Holland, after sending a narrative of his bad treatment to his government, and there awaited farther orders.

The conduct of the French Directory soon wrought a great change in the public mind in the United States. Disappointed by the failure of Jefferson to be elected President, the Directory determined to punish the people who dared to thwart their plans. They issued a decree [May 10, 1797.] which was almost tantamount to a declaration of war. It not only authorized the capture of American vessels under certain conditions, but declared that any American found on board of a hostile ship, though placed there without his consent by impressment, should be hanged as a pirate. American seamen, continually liable to impressment by the British, were to be subjected to a pirate’s fate by the French!

Strange to say, the eminent American, Joel Barlow, at that time a resident in Paris, coolly wrote to a friend concerning this barbarous decree, "The government here is determined to fleece you to a sufficient degree to bring you to your feeling in the only nerve in which your sensibility lies, which is your pecuniary interest." 39 President Adams had called an extraordinary session of Congress at the middle of May. The reaction every where had greatly strengthened the administration party, and many Republicans talked with complacency of a war with France. But a majority of the Cabinet favored farther attempts at negotiation. John Marshall, a Federalist (afterward Chief Justice of the United States), and Elbridge Gerry, a Democrat (afterward Vice-President), were appointed envoys extraordinary to proceed to Europe, join Mr. Pinckney, and attempt to settle by diplomacy all matters in dispute between the United States and France. After a session of little more than six weeks, during which time provision was made for a small loan for calling out eighty thousand militia, and creating a small naval force, and acts against privateering were passed, Congress adjourned [July 10, 1797.] in time to escape the yellow fever that ravaged Philadelphia that season. 40

Darker and darker appeared the storm-clouds of European politics, and the muttering of their thunders shook the social fabric in America with sonic alarm. England, for a moment, seemed tottering to its fall. Its financial power was sorely smitten by the suspension of specie payments by the Bank of England, and its naval strength and supremacy seemed menaced by a great mutiny at the Nore. Bonaparte was making his splendid conquering marches in the direction of the Danube, and the Carpathian Mountains beyond, and Austria had already been compelled to make peace with his government. Success waited on French arms and French diplomacy every where; and when the three American envoys reached Paris in October [October 4, 1797.], and asked for an audience with the Directory, they met with a haughty refusal, unless they should first pay into the deficient French treasury a large sum as an equivalent for friendship. Overtures for this purpose were made by unofficial agents, and the sum demanded was two hundred and forty thousand dollars, besides all arrangement for purchasing from the French government a large amount of Dutch securities, which had been wrung from the Hollanders as the price of peace. Threats were made that, if these conditions were not complied with, the envoys might be ordered to leave France at any time with only twenty-four hours’ notice, and that the coasts of the United States would be ravaged by French vessels from St. Domingo.

Delay followed delay. The envoys were firm; and the occasion was given for Pinckney to utter the noble sentiment, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" At length the envoys, having presented a list of grievances of which their government complained, asked for their passports if they could not be recognized as ministers. These were finally granted [March, 1798.] to the Federal envoys, but under circumstances of insult and indignity which amounted to virtual expulsion from the country. Gerry, the Democrat, who had held interviews with Talleyrand, the French premier, without the knowledge of his colleagues, and who doubtless encouraged him to believe that the "French party" in America were sufficiently numerous to avert a war with France, and insure a partial if not full compliance with her demands, was directed to remain in the character of an accepted minister. 41 He did so, and received the severest censures from his indignant countrymen. After being treated with mingled insolence and contempt by Talleyrand and his associates, Gerry also embarked for the United States [July, 1798.].

Meanwhile the French Directory had issued a decree [January 18, 1798.] concerning neutrals on the ocean, more outrageous than any yet put forth, and calculated to effectually destroy American commerce in European waters. 42 This action, the indecent treatment of the envoys, and the continued depredations of the French cruisers, aroused a violent war spirit in the United States. It had been manifested, in a degree, at the opening of the Fifth Congress, and it increased with every fresh item of intelligence from France.

The President, in his first annual message [November 23, 1797.], had recommended preparations for war; and in Congress the administration grew stronger every hour. At length, at the middle of March, dispatches came from the envoys giving a history of the infamous proceedings of the French Directory. 43 A general outburst of indignation followed. The people of the United States, as a nation, felt deeply insulted, and Pinckney’s patriotic sentiment was repeated in every part of the republic. And yet there were those slavish enough to justify France and criminate their own government. In this cowardly course the Aurora took the lead. By some disloyal hand it was placed in possession of Talleyrand’s rejoinder to the complaints of the envoys, and published it before it reached the government of the United States, for whom alone it was intended. It was argued that it would be better to comply with the demands of the Directory for money than to incur the risk of a war – better to purchase peace by humbly paying tribute, than to vindicate the claims of the nation to independence by asserting and maintaining its rights at all hazards!

Such logic did not suit the character nor temper of the American people at that time. The rampant war spirit, fed on every hand by fresh aggressions and patriotic appeals, was not to be appeased. The President issued a special message [March 19, 1798.], calling upon Congress to make provisions for hostilities. His appeal was responded to with alacrity. Means for administering chastisements for injuries received, and for repelling those which were threatened, were provided without hesitation. Provision was made for the organization of a regular provisional army, in magnitude sufficient for the exigencies of the case, and the employment of a volunteer force. Measures were also taken, on the recommendation of the Secretary of War, for strengthening the navy, and making it a power to be respected on the high seas. 44

To a great extent party spirit disappeared in the National Legislature. Their proceedings were approved by the great majority of the people, and the President received addresses from all parts of the Union, warmly commending his course, and overflowing with the most fervid patriotism. 45 The young Federalists, with a spirit of defiant response to the Democrats, who still wore the badge of devotion to French politics ordered by Adet, mounted a black cockade, such as was worn by officers in the Revolution; 46 and between the wearers of these opposing decorations there was intense hatred, which sometimes led to personal collisions. In the streets of cities opposing processions were seen; and all over the land the new songs of Hail, Columbia! and Adams and Liberty, were sung with unbounded applause. 47 The excitement against some of the opposition leaders in Congress soon became intense, and the most obnoxious of them, from Virginia, sought personal safety in flight, under the pretense of attention to their private affairs at home.



1 General William Moultrie, the heroic patriot of the Revolution, was then Governor of South Carolina. A wit of the day wrote:

"On that blest day when first we came to land,
Great Mr. Moultrie took us by the hand;
Surveyed the ships, admired the motley crew,
And o’er the envoy friendship’s mantle threw;
Received the sans culotte with soft embrace,
And bade him welcome with the kindliest grace."

2 From her foremast were displayed the words, "Enemies of equality, reform or tremble;" from her mainmast, "Freemen, we are your friends and brethren;" from the mizzen-mast, "We are armed for the defense of the rights of man." L’Embuscade saluted the vast crowd with fifteen guns, and was responded to on shore by cheers, and gun for gun.

3 Genet’s address to Washington was full of friendly professions. "It was impossible," Jefferson wrote to Madison, "for any thing to be more affectionate, more magnanimous than the purport of Genet’s mission. . . . He offers every thing, and asks nothing." And yet, while making these professions, he had secret instructions in his pocket to foment discord between the United States and Great Britain, and to set the American government at defiance, if necessary, in the execution of his designs. He had already openly insulted that government by his acts at Charleston – a city which, on that occasion as on subsequent ones, earned the "bad eminence" of standing alone in the attitude of disloyalty to the national government.

4 He was "astonished and indignant" at seeing a bust of Louis XVI. in the vestibule, and complained of it to his "friends" as an "insult to France." He was equally "astonished" by discovering in the President’s parlor "certain medallions of Capet and his family;" and he was "shocked to learn" that the Marquis De Noailles (a relative of Madame Lafayette) and other emigrant Frenchmen had lately been admitted to the presence of Washington. Indeed he found most things disagreeable outside of the charmed circle of his "friends."

5 This was written by "Citizen Duponceau," of Philadelphia, a worthy French gentleman, who came to America with the Baron De Steuben, and was for many years a distinguished citizen of Pennsylvania. The ode was translated into English at the table by Freneau, the translating clerk of the Secretary of State, and then sung again.

6 "The title of citizen," says Griswold, "became as common in Philadelphia as in Paris, and in the newspapers it was the fashion to announce marriages as partnerships between Citizen Brown, Smith, or Jones and the citess who had been wooed to such an association." – Republican Court, p. 350.

7 "At a dinner at which Governor Mifflin was present, a roasted pig received the name of the murdered French king, and the head, severed from the body, was carried round to each of the guests, who, after placing the liberty-cap on his own head, pronounced the word ‘tyrant,’ and proceeded to mangle with his knife that of the luckless creature doomed to be served for so unworthy a company. One of the Democratic taverns displayed as a sign a revolting picture of the mutilated and bloody corpse of Marie Antoinette." *Republican Court, p. 350. Strange as it may seem, Jefferson was so influenced by his prejudices at that time that he shut his eyes, apparently, to all passing events, and could write to Madison, after expressing his opinion that Genet’s magnanimous offers would not be received, "It is evident that one or two of the Cabinet [meaning Hamilton and Knox], at least, under pretense of avoiding war on the one side, have no great antipathy to run foul of it on the other, and to make a part in the confederacy of princes against human liberty."

* Marie Antoinette, the unhappy queen of Louis XVI., became the victim of Jacobin malignity, and was beheaded on the 16th of October, 1793. She was a daughter of the Emperor of Austria, and is represented as a beautiful and accomplished woman. Her murderers accused and convicted her of crimes of which they knew she was innocent. She was taken to the scaffold on a cart. Her body was cast into the Magdalen church-yard, and immediately consumed with quick-lime! The fiends denied her a grave.

8 A dance, with singing, performed in the streets of Paris during the French Revolution. See page 67 {original text has "60".}.

9 These societies and the newspapers in their interest attempted to deceive the people by comparing the French Revolution to their own, as equally justified and holy. Many, totally ignorant of the facts, believed; but enlightenment and better counsels kept their passions in check. The informed and thoughtful saw no just comparison between the two Revolutions.


The aspect of dignity, decorum, gravity, order, and religious solemnity so conspicuous in the American Revolution was wholly wanting in that of the French. "When I find," Hamilton wrote to Washington, "the doctrines of atheism openly advanced in the Convention, and heard with loud applauses; when I see the sword of fanaticism extended to enforce a political creed upon citizens who were invited to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty; when I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish the monuments of religious worship erected by those citizens and their ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult, and violence usurping those seats where reason and cool deliberation ought to preside – I acknowledge that I am glad to believe there is no real resemblance between what was the cause of America and what is the cause of France." The difference between American liberty and French Liberty was graphically illustrated by a print called The Contrast, of which our engraving is a reduced copy.

10 A writer in Freneau’s Gazette said, "I hope the minister of France will act with firmness and spirit. The people are his friends, or the friends of France, and he will have nothing to apprehend; for, as yet, the people are the sovereigns of the United States. Too much complacency is an injury done to his cause; for, as every advantage is already taken of France (not by the people), farther condescension may lead to farther abuse. If one of the leading features of our government is pusillanimity when the British lion shows his teeth, let France and her minister act as becomes the dignity of her cause, and the honor and faith of nations."

Freneau’s paper, at that time, was assisted in its attacks upon the government by the General Advertiser (afterward known as the Aurora), edited by B. F. Bache, a grandson of Dr. Franklin, who had been educated in France. It was even more violent and abusive than its colleague, and even charged Washington with an intention of joining in the league of kings and priests against the French Republic!

11 Genet was intrusted by his government with bolder schemes than the fitting out of privateers. He was to organize what are called in our day "filibustering expeditions," on an extensive scale, against the Spanish dominions, the object being no less than the seizure of Florida and New Orleans. An expedition against the former was to be organized in South Carolina, and against the latter in Kentucky. The one in the Mississippi Valley was to he led by General George Rogers Clarke, the conqueror of the Northwest, to whom was given the magniloquent title of "Major General in the Armies of France, and Commander-in-chief of the French Revolutionary Legions on the Mississippi." Funds for carrying on these expeditions were to be derived from the payment to the minister, by the United States, of a portion of the national debt due to France. French emissaries were employed in South Carolina and Kentucky, and in the latter district, the public mind, irritated by the Spanish obstructions to the navigation of the Mississippi, was very favorable to the movement. The failure of Genet’s mission put an end to these schemes of conquest, not, however, until they had produced annoying effects upon the national government.

12 Mr. Genet never returned to France. At about the time of his recall, a change of faction had taken place in his country, and he thought it prudent not to return. He remained, married a daughter of George Clinton, Governor of the State of New York, and became an ornament to American society. It is only of his official conduct, while the minister of the French Jacobin government, that Americans have reason to complain of him. He was a man of eminent abilities. At the time of his arrival in the United States, he was a few months more than thirty years of age, having been born in January, 1763. He was a precocious boy, and from childhood was engaged in public employments. He was attached to the embassies at Berlin, Vienna, London, and St. Petersburg. Because of a spirited letter which he wrote to the Emperor of Russia, indignantly protesting against his expulsion from his dominions after the death of Louis XVI., he became a favorite of the French revolutionists. He was made adjutant general of the armies of France and minister to Holland, and was employed in revolutionizing Geneva and annexing it to France. He was finally sent to America as minister and consul general. He was twice married. His second wife was the daughter of Mr. Osgood, the first Postmaster General under the Constitution. He took great interest in agriculture, and his last illness was occasioned by his attendance at the meeting of an agricultural society of which he was president. He died at his seat on Prospect Hill, near Greenbush, opposite Albany, on the 14th of July, 1834. * One of his sisters was the celebrated Madame Campan, and another was Madame Anguie, mother-in-law of the distinguished Marshal Ney. Mr. Genet often spoke of the wisdom of Washington and his administration, the folly of his own countrymen at that time and of their admirers in America, and rejoiced that the proclamation of neutrality defeated his wild schemes.

* Genet was buried in the grave-yard of the Reformed Dutch Church at Greenbush. Upon a plain marble tablet placed over his remains is the following inscription:

"Under this humble stone are interred the remains of EDMUND CHARLES GENET, late Adjutant General, Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul General from the French Republic to the United States of America. He was born at Versailles, parish of St. Louis, in France, January 8, 1763, and died at Prospect Hill, town of Greenbush, July 14, 1834.

"Driven by the storms of the Revolution to the shades of retirement, he devoted his talents to his adopted country, where he cherished the love of liberty and virtue. The pursuits of literature and science enlivened his peaceful solitude, and he devoted his time to usefulness and benevolence. His last moments were like his life, an example of fortitude and true Christian philosophy. His heart was love and friendship’s sun, which has set on this transitory world, to rise with radiant splendor beyond the grave."

13 During the American Revolution the superior maritime power of Great Britain was able to damage the commerce of other European nations immensely. The British government revived the rule of 1756, below mentioned, and infringed largely upon neutral commerce. To resist these encroachments, and to protect neutral maritime rights, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland formed a treaty of alliance, which they denominated The Armed Neutrality, by which they pledged themselves to support, at the hazard of war, if necessary, the following principles: 1. That it should be lawful for any ships to sail freely from one port to another, or along the coast of the powers at war. 2. That all merchandise and effects belonging to the subjects of the belligerent powers, and shipped in neutral bottoms, should be entirely free; that is, free ships make free goods. 3. That no place should be considered blockaded except the assailing power had taken a station so as to expose to imminent danger any ship attempting to sail in or out of such ports. 4. That no neutral ships should be stopped without material and well-grounded cause; and, in such cases, justice should be done them without delay." The British navy triumphed over all opposition, the designs of the armed neutrality were defeated, and Holland was made a party to the war with the Americans and France. A similar attempt to restrict the maritime power of Great Britain was made in the year 1800, which resulted in the destruction of the Danish fleet before Copenhagen in April, 1801. Soon after this the Armed Neutrality was dissolved, and the dominion of the seas was accorded to England.

14 When the war between Great Britain and France was formally declared in 1756, the former power announced, as a principle of national law, "that no other trade should be allowed to neutrals with the colonies of a belligerent in time of war than what is allowed by the parent state in time of peace." This was in direct opposition to the law of nations promulgated by Frederick the Great, of Prussia, namely, "the goods of an enemy can not be taken from on board the ships of a friend;" and also in direct violation of a treaty between England and Holland, in which it was stipulated expressly that "free ships make free goods" – that the neutral should enter safely and unmolested all the harbors of the belligerents, unless they were blockaded or besieged. England not only violated the treaty, but, having the might, exercised the right of invading the sovereignty of Holland, and capturing its vessels whose cargoes might be useful for her navy. This assumption – this dictation of law to the nations to suit her own selfish purposes – turned against England the denunciations of the civilized world, and which for more than a century she has never ceased to receive. At that time her "law" was aimed directly at France, then much the weaker naval power. Unable to maintain her accustomed trade with her West India Islands, she opened their ports to neutrals. It was to destroy the trade by neutrals, so lucrative to them and so beneficial to France, that Great Britain introduced that new principle of national law.

15 This order, intended as a starvation measure against France, declared that all vessels laden wholly or in part with breadstuffs, bound to any port of France, or places occupied by French armies, should be carried into England, and their cargoes either disposed of there, or security given that they should be sold only in ports of a country in friendship with Great Britain. This order was issued on the 8th of June, 1793.

16 The following is a copy of the order:

"George R.: Additional instructions to all ships of war, privateers, etc.:

"That they shall stop and detain all ships laden with goods the produce of any colony belonging to France, or conveying provisions or other supplies for the use of such colonies; and shall bring the same, with their cargoes, to legal adjudication in our courts of admiralty. By his majesty’s command.



"November 6,1793."

So secretly was this order issued that the first account of its existence reached the London Exchange with the details of several captures which it authorized and occasioned. And Mr. Pinckney, the American minister, was unable to procure a copy of it until the 25th of December, more than six weeks after it was issued. – Pinckney’s letter to his government, December 26, 1793.

17 The treaty provided for the establishment of commissions to determine the eastern boundary of the United States, then in dispute; the amount of losses incurred by British subjects by impediments being thrown in the way of collecting debts in the United States incurred before the Revolution; and to ascertain and estimate the losses of the Americans by irregular and illegal captures by British cruisers, such losses to be paid by the British government. It was provided that the Western military posts should be given up on the 1st of June, 1796, in consideration of the adjustment of the ante-Revolutionary debts. The Indian trade was left open to both nations, the British being allowed to enter all American harbors, with the right to ascend all rivers to the highest port of entry. This was not reciprocated in full. Americans were not allowed free navigation of the rivers in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s possessions, nor those of others of the British colonial possessions in America, except above the highest ports of entry. The citizens or subjects of each government holding lands in the dominions of the other government were to continue to hold them without alienage, nor were confiscations of the property of such persons to be allowed. In a word, the existing conditions of property should not be disturbed. Such are the substantial provisions in the first ten articles of the treaty, which were declared to be perpetual. The remaining eighteen, having special reference to commerce and navigation, were limited in their operations to two years after the termination of the war in which Great Britain was then engaged. American vessels were allowed to enter the British ports in Europe and the East Indies on equal terms with those of British vessels, while participation in the East India coasting-trade, and trade between European and British East Indian ports, was left to the contingency of British permission. The British were permitted to meet the discrimination in the American tonnage and import duties by countervailing measures. American vessels not exceeding seventy tons were allowed to trade to the British West Indies on condition that they should not, during the continuance of the treaty, transport from America to Europe any of the principal colonial products. British vessels were to be admitted into American ports on terms equal to the most favored nations. There were provisions made favorable to neutral property on the high seas, and that a vessel entering a blockaded port should not be liable to capture unless previously notified of the blockade. There were satisfactory arrangements made concerning enlistments; of courtesy between ships of war and privateers of the two countries; to prevent the arming of privateers of any nation at war with the two contracting parties, and the capture of goods in the bays and harbors of the parties. In the event of war between the two countries, the citizens or subjects of either should not be molested, if peaceable; and fugitives from justice, charged with high crimes, to be mutually given up. *

* The Treaty in full may be found in the Statesman’s Manual, iv., 298.

18 The following is a specimen of those factious cries: "Americans, awake! Remember what you suffered through a seven years’ war with the satellites of George the Third (and I hope the last). Recollect the services rendered by your allies, now contending for liberty. Blush to think that America should degrade herself so much as to enter into any kind of treaty with a power, now tottering on the brink of ruin, whose principles are directly contrary to the spirit of republicanism. The United States are a republic. Is it advantageous to a republic to have a connection with a monarch? Treaties lead to war, and war is the bane of a republican government. . . . France is our natural ally; she has a government congenial with our own. . . . The nation on whom our political existence depends we have treated with indifference bordering on contempt. . . . Citizens, your security depends on France. . . . Let us unite with France, and stand or fall together."

19 The Senate, on voting to recommend the ratification of the treaty, removed the seal of secrecy, but forbade the publication of the treaty itself, for prudential reasons connected with measures for ascertaining the construction by the English of the order of the 8th of June, 1793 (see page 84), which, it was rumored, had just been renewed. Regardless alike of the rules of the Senate, of official decorum, and of personal honor, Senator Thomson Mason, of Virginia, sent a copy of it to the Aurora newspaper, the bitter enemy of the administration, and a full abstract of it was published therein on the 2d of July. A poet of the day thus ironically addressed Mr. Mason:

"Ah, Thomson Mason! long thy fame shall rise
With Democratic incense to the skies!
Long shall the world admire thy manly soul,
Which scorned the haughty Senate’s base control;
Came boldly forward with thy weighty name,
And gave the treaty up for public game!" – The Echo.

20 In 1697 an English court decided that "negroes being usually bought and sold among merchants as merchandise, and also being infidels, there might be a property in them sufficient to maintain trover." In 1702 Chief Justice Holt decided that "so soon as a negro lands in England he is free." To this Cowper alluded when he said, "Slaves can not breathe in England." Holt also decided that "there is no such thing as a slave by the law of England." Just before the kindling of the Revolution these decisions were reaffirmed by Chief Justice Lord Mansfield in the case of James Somerset, a native of Africa, who had been carried to Virginia, sold as a slave, and taken to England by his master, where he was induced to assert his freedom.

21 That of Jay bore a pair of scales; one was labeled "American liberty and independence," and the other, which greatly preponderated, "British gold." From the mouth of the figure proceeded the words, "Come up to my price, and I will sell you my country."

22 "These are hard arguments," said Hamilton, who was hit a glancing blow upon the forehead by one of the stones. "Edward Livingston," says the late Dr. Francis, in his Old and New York ("afterward so celebrated for his Louisiana Code), was, I am informed, one of the violent young men by whom the stones were thrown."

23 "Notice is hereby given," said a Richmond paper (July 31, 1795), "that in case the treaty entered into by that damned arch-traitor, John Jay, with the British tyrant should be ratified, a petition will be presented to the next General Assembly of Virginia at the next session, praying that the said state may recede from the Union, and be under the government of one hundred thousand free and independent Virginians.

"P.S. As it is the wish of the people of the said state to enter into a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with any other state or states of the present Union who are averse to returning again under the galling yoke of Great Britain, the printers of the (at present) United States are requested to publish the above notification."

24 Lyman’s Diplomacy of the United States, i., 208.

25 "That the self-constituted societies," Washington wrote to John Jay, "which have spread themselves over this country, have been laboring incessantly to sow the seeds of distrust, jealousy, and of course discontent, thereby hoping to effect some revolution in the government, is not unknown to you. * That they have been the fomenters of the Western disturbances, admits of no doubt in the mind of any one who will examine their conduct."

"I consider this insurrection," he wrote to General Henry Lee on the 26th of August, "as the first formidable fruit of the Democratic societies, brought forth, I believe, too prematurely for their own views, which may contribute to the annihilation of them."

* At that time there existed in the city of New York an association called the Tammany Society, or Columbian Order. It was formed by William Mooney, an upholsterer, residing in New York during the administration of Washington. Its first meeting was on the 13th of May, 1789. It took its name from the Indian chief Tammany, of whom it was said "he loved liberty more than life." Its officers were composed of a grand sachem and thirteen sachems, representing the President and the governors of the thirteen states. Besides these there was a grand council, of which the sachems were members. It was a very popular society, and its membership included most of the best men of New York. Its anniversary on the 12th of May came to be regarded as a holiday. No party politics were tolerated in its meetings. But when Washington denounced "self-constituted societies" for reasons above named, nearly all of the members left it, believing their society to be included in the just reproof. Mooney and others adhered to the organization, and from that time it became a political organization, and took part with Jefferson and the Democratic party. It is still in existence, and is known as a centre of Democratic organization, in the political sense of that name. Its head-quarters are Tammany Hall, fronting on the eastern side of the City Hall Park, at the junction of Nassau Street and Park Row. They met at first at Martling’s Long Room, on the southeast corner of Nassau and Spruce Streets. In the year 1800 they determined to build a "wigwam." Tammany Hall was accordingly erected by them. The corner-stone was laid on the twenty-second anniversary of the society, in May, 1811, and was finished the following year. Of the original committee of thirteen appointed at the meeting in 1800 to carry out the design of erecting a building, only one now (1867) survives: that is the venerable Jacob Barker, of New Orleans.

26 I have before me the certificate of membership granted to Captain (afterward Commodore) Joshua Barney by the Democratic or Republican Society of Baltimore, with the seal of the society attached, by the side of which his name is written. The following is a copy of the certificate and seal:


"To all other Societies established on principles of LIBERTY and EQUALITY, UNION, PATRIOTIC VIRTUE, and PERSEVERANCE.

"We, the Members of the Republican Society of Baltimore, certify and declare to all Republican or Democratic Societies, and to all Republicans individually, that Citizen JOSHUA BARNEY hath been admitted and now is a member of our Society, and that, from his known zeal to promote Republican principles and the rights of humanity, we have granted him this our certificate (which he hath signed in the margin), and do recommend him to all Republicans, that they may receive him with fraternity, which we offer to all those who may come to us with similar credentials.

"In testimony whereof, etc.
"GEORGE SEARS, Secretary."




This certificate is dated the "twelfth day of August, and in the nineteenth year of the independence of the United States and the establishment of the American Republic," or 1795.

27 The maritime force of Algiers at that time, according to O’Brien (see American State Papers, x., 123), consisted of four frigates, with an aggregate of 124 guns; one polacca (a vessel with three short masts, without tops, caps, or cross-trees to the upper yards), with 18 guns; one brig of 20; four xebecs (a small three-masted vessel used in the Mediterranean), with an aggregate of 168 guns; a brig on the stocks of 20 guns; three galliotas, with 4 guns each; and sixty gun-boats. The vessels were all manned at the rate of twelve men for each gun. Tunis had, at the same time, twenty-three corsairs, mounting from 4 to 24 guns each.

28 Letter of O’Brien to Humphreys, dated "Algiers, November 12, 1793." – See American State Papers, Boston edition, 1817, x., 319.

29 This was the first Committee of Ways and Means ever appointed by the Congress, questions of that sort having been hitherto referred to the Secretary of the Treasury. It was an opposition measure.

30 First for thirty days, and afterward for sixty. At the end of that time the embargo expired by limitation, but a temporary act authorized the President to renew it at any time before the next session of Congress.

31 The naval bill provided that four of the six frigates should carry 44 guns each, and the other two 36 guns each. About $700,000 were appropriated for the purpose. In the matter of harbor defenses, the President was authorized to commence fortifications at Portland, Portsmouth, Gloucester, Salem, Boston, Newport, New London, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Annapolis, Alexandria, Norfolk, Ocracoke Inlet, Wilmington, Cape Fear River, Georgetown, S. C., Charleston, Savannah, and St. Mary’s. But the whole amount of money appropriated for this purpose was the paltry sum of $136,000. True, this was only for the commencement of the fortifications. The President was authorized to purchase two hundred cannon, and artillery munitions for the forts, for which $96,000 were appropriated. For the establishment of arsenals and armories $81,000 were appropriated, and $340,000 were provided for the purchase of arms and military stores. The importation of arms for two years was to be free, and no arms were allowed to be exported for a year.

32 These were Portsmouth, N. H., Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Norfolk. The President also proceeded to appoint the following officers, constructors, and navy agents:

Captains and Superintendents.

Naval Constructors.

Navy Agents.

For Ships to be built at

John Barry.

Joshua Humphreys.

Isaac Coxe.


Samuel Nicholson.

George Cleghorn.

Henry Jackson.


Silas Talbot.

Forman Cheesman.

John Blagge.

New York.

Richard Dale.

John Morgan.

W. Pennock.


Thomas Truxtun.

David Stodert.

Jeremiah Yillott.


James Sever.

James Hackett.

Jacob Sheaffe.


33 The relations of those African sea-robbers to the commerce of the world at that time was a disgrace to the civilized nations who suffered themselves to be made tributary to the piratical rulers of the semi-barbarian states on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

The first contact of those powers with the Americans was in 1785, when Algerine corsairs captured two vessels from the United States, and consigned their crews, twenty-one in number, to slavery. Measures were immediately taken by the diplomatic agents of the United States in Europe for their release. The rapacious Dey believed he had found a new mine of wealth, and he asked an enormous price for their ransom. The American government determined not to establish a precedent that would be followed by more exorbitant demands. In France was a religious order, called Mathurins, established in ancient times for the purpose of redeeming Christian captives in the hands of the infidels. On the solicitation of Mr. Jefferson, then minister of the United States at the French Court, the principal of this order undertook to procure a release of the American captives. He was unsuccessful. Others made similar attempts, with like results. The Dey refused to lower his demands, believing that the United States would pay any price rather than allow Americans to remain in bondage. Finally our government appropriated $40,000 for their ransom, and first John Paul Jones, and then Mr. Barclay, were appointed commissioners to negotiate for their release. Each died before he reached Algiers, and the business was placed in the hands of Colonel David Humphreys, American minister at Lisbon. This was at about the time when the truce between Portugal and Algiers, already mentioned, was concluded. The Algerine fleet was then upon the Atlantic, and, within a month after the truce was agreed upon, ten American vessels were captured by them, and over one hundred American seamen consigned to slavery. Colonel Humphreys asked the Dey for a passport to Algiers. The elated ruler said that he would not make peace with the Americans on any terms, nor allow any American embassador to come to his capital. Humphreys hastened to the United States, when Congress appropriated about a million of dollars to be applied to the release of the captives. In the spring of 1795 Humphreys sailed for Europe, with Mr. Donaldson, consul for Tunis and Tripoli. While the former remained in France to obtain the aid of that government, Donaldson made a treaty with the Dey. The captives were finally released on the payment of a large sum of money, and an agreement on the part of the United States to pay to the Dey of Algiers an annual tribute. The amount to be paid down was $800,000, and, in addition, the United States agreed to present the Dey with a frigate worth one hundred thousand dollars. The amount of annual tribute-money was twenty-five thousand dollars. This treaty was humiliating to the United States, but it was in accordance with the usages of European nations, and could not then be avoided.

34 The Directory was installed at the Luxembourg at Paris, under a new constitution of government, on the 1st of November, 1795, and was appointed to hold executive power for four years. It was composed of five members, and ruled in connection with the Chambers, namely, the Council of Ancients and the Council of Five Hundred.

35 "If ever a nation has been debauched by a man," said a writer in the Aurora, "the American nation has been debauched by Washington. If ever a nation was deceived by a man, the American nation has been deceived by Washington. Let his conduct, then, be an example to future ages. Let it serve to be a warning that no man may be an idol. Let the history of the Federal government instruct mankind that the mask of patriotism may be worn to conceal the foulest designs against the liberties of the people."

36 " ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,’ " said this politician. "If ever there was a time that would license the reiteration of the exclamation of the pious Simeon," he said, "that time is now arrived; for the man who is the source of all the misfortunes of our country is this day reduced to a level with his fellow-citizens, and is no longer possessed of power to multiply evils upon the United States. . . . When a retrospect is taken of the Washingtonian administration for eight years, it is a subject of the greatest astonishment that a single individual should have cankered the principles of republicanism in an enlightened people just emerged from the gulf of despotism, and should have carried his designs against the public liberty so far as to have put in jeopardy its very existence. Such, however, are the facts, and, with them staring us in the face, this day ought to be a JUBILEE in the United States!"

37 Hildreth’s History of the United States, Second Series, i., 703.

38 John Adams was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, October 13, 1735. He was educated at Harvard University, and at the age of twenty-two years commenced the practice of the law. He was brought prominently into public life by his defense of Captain Preston at Boston, who was engaged in the so-called "massacre," in the spring of 1770. He became a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, and in 1774 was elected to the Continental Congress. He was one of the most active men in that body until sent on diplomatic missions to Europe. He was the representative of the new republic abroad for many years, and was one of the negotiators for peace in 1783. In 1789 he was chosen Vice-President of the United States, and in 1797 was elevated to the seat of the President, as Washington’s successor. He served one term, and retired to Quincy in 1801. He engaged but little in public life afterward. He and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, just fifty years after they voted for the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Adams was then ninety-one years of age. The above portrait was painted by Stuart at about the time Adams was elected President.

39 Letter to his brother-in-law, Abraham Baldwin, of Georgia. Barlow, who went to France with a communication to the National Convention from a sympathizing society in England, was made a French citizen. By some commercial operations he accumulated a large fortune, lived in sumptuous style in Paris, and, being a thorough French Democrat, was the bitter enemy of the administrations of Washington and Adams. While at Hamburg, in 1793, he was invited to a Jacobin festival, and he furnished for the occasion a copy of the following song, written by Thelwall, a celebrated English Jacobin. It was sung on that occasion, and has been generally considered a composition by Mr. Barlow himself. It was entitled God save the Guillotine, and is a parody of the English national song * God save the King:

"God save the guillotine!
Till England’s king and queen

Her power shall prove;
Till each anointed knob
Affords a clipping job,
Let no rude halter rob
The guillotine.

"France, let thy trumpet sound –
Tell all the world around

How CAPET fell;
And when great GEORGE’S poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
The guillotine.

"When all the sceptred crew
Have paid their homage due

The guillotine,
Let Freedom’s flag advance
Till all the world, like France,
O’er tyrants’ graves shall dance,
And peace begin."

* It may not be out of place here to remark that "God save the King," in words and air, did not originate with Handel in the time of George the First, as is generally supposed, but is almost a literal translation of a cantique which was always sung by the maidens of St. Cyr when Louis the Fourteenth entered the chapel of that establishment to hear the morning prayer. M. De Brinon was the author of the words, and the music was by the eminent Lulli, founder of the French opera. The following is a copy of the words:

"Grand Dieu sauve le Roi!
Grand Dieu venge le Roll!

Vive le Roi!
Que toujours glorieux,
Louis victorieux!
Voye ses ennemi
Toujours soumis!
Grand Dieu sauve le Roi!
Grand Dieu venge le Roi!
Vive le Roi!"

This air is still sung by the vine-dressers in the south of France. – See Memoirs of Madame de Crequy.

40 At about this time a letter written by Jefferson to Philip Mazzei, an Italian republican, who had lived near him in Virginia for a while, was published in the Federal newspapers, and made a great stir. The letter was written a year before, and was translated and published by Mazzei in a Florentine journal. It contained a virtual indorsement of all the charges made against Washington and his political friends. Its publication brought to an end the friendship between Jefferson and the late President. Jefferson was placed in such an unpleasant dilemma by it that he prudently kept silence. It was used with great effect at the time, and was again brought up against him at the Presidential canvass in the year 1800. It was made the subject of a caricature called THE PROVIDENTIAL DETECTION. At a place for burnt sacrifice called the "Altar of French Despotism," before which Jefferson is kneeling, a flame is seen, fed by papers marked Age of Reason, Godwin, Aurora, Chronicle, J. J. Rousseau, Voltaire, Ruins of Volney, Helvetius, etc. Around the altar lie sacks for consumption, marked AMERICAN Spoliations, Dutch Restitution, Sardinia, Flanders, Venice, Spain, Plunder, etc.

41 Gerry was much petted while in France, while his colleagues were neglected. At a ball given by Talleyrand as early as January, 1798, at which General and Madame Bonaparte were present, Mr. Gerry appeared. His brother envoys not having been invited, he at first refused, but finally attended, he said, in compliance with the dictates of policy.

42 It proclaimed that all vessels having merchandise on board, the production of England or her colonies, whoever the owner of the merchandise might be, were liable to seizure as good prizes; and any vessel which at any previous part of her voyage had touched at any English port or possession was forbidden to enter any French port. Just before the issuing of this decree an American at Nantes wrote to his friends at home that no less than sixty privateers were fitting out in that port alone to prey upon American commerce.

43 The Directory at that time were Barras, Moulins, Siéyes, Gohier, and Roger Ducos. All but Barras were soon afterward driven from office; and when, in the autumn of 1799, Bonaparte usurped the government, he expelled from France the first two above named as utterly corrupt.

44 After much manœuvring on the part of the opposition to prevent the adoption of these measures to meet any hostilities on the part of France, the men who in 1794 – only four years before – were eager for war with England, and voted for preparations for it with alacrity, were now as vehement for peace – an inconsistency which many of their partisans throughout the country pointed at with scorn. Congress authorized a regular provisional army of about twenty thousand men, and gave the President authority to appoint officers for it; also to receive and organize volunteer corps, who should be exempted from ordinary militia duty. The sum of $800,000 was appropriated for the purchase of cannon, arms, and military stores. Provision was made for fortifying the harbors of the United States – a labor already commenced – and, for the farther security of ports, the purchase and equipment of ten galleys. The President was also authorized to cause twelve ships of not less than 32 guns each, twelve of not less than 20 nor exceeding 24 guns each, and six not exceeding 18 guns each, besides galleys and revenue cutters, to be built.

A Navy Department, the duties of which the Secretary of War had hitherto performed, was created, and on the 30th of April, 1798, Benjamin Stoddert, of Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, was appointed the first Secretary of the Navy, and took his seat in the Cabinet.

45 The city of New York was greatly excited by the prospect of a war with France. Its commerce had suffered much by the depredations of French cruisers, and the mercantile classes were greatly exasperated. The Republicans or Democrats had a debating association, whose meetings were public, called "The Society of Free Debate." A meeting was called for the 27th of April, 1798, to discuss the question, "Would it be better policy, under existing circumstances, to lay an embargo [a scheme proposed by some as a less dangerous measure], than to arm in defense of our carrying-trade?" The Federalists went to the meeting in great numbers, and, by an overwhelming vote, elected Jacob Morton chairman. By ten to one they voted for arming. They expressed by resolutions full approbation of the conduct of the government, and their determination to support it. They appointed a committee, consisting of Colonel Jacob Morton, Colonel Ebenezer Stevens, Nicholas Evartson, John Cozine, and Josiah Ogden Hoffman, to draft an address to the President and Congress, expressive of their satisfaction with the course pursued toward France. After the adjournment a Quaker addressed the multitude.

On the 5th of May a meeting was held, and addressed by the late Chief Justice Samuel Jones. Nine hundred young men present pledged themselves to be in readiness, at a moment’s warning, to offer their services to their country against the French.

On the 5th of June the New York Chamber of Commerce took action concerning the defenses of New York. They appointed a committee to confer with the military authorities and the Corporation. A conference was held the next day at the Tontine Coffee-house, and it was resolved to call a public meeting of citizens who might be ready to defend an "insulted country" and the "defenseless port." The call was made, and an invitation was given for such citizens to enroll themselves as an artillery corps, it having been ascertained that Colonel Stevens, an experienced artillerist of the Revolution, was willing to take the direction of them and to give them instructions.

46 This gave them the name of "Black-cockade Federalists," which was a term of reproach until ten years after the War of 1812-’15.

47 The history of the origin and fate of these two songs is curious. The former, almost totally destitute of poetic merit, is still sung, and is regarded as a national song; the latter, full of genuine poetry, has been forgotten. Hail, Columbia! was written in the spring of 1798, when the war spirit of the nation was aroused by the irritating news from France. Mr. Fox, a young singer and actor in the Philadelphia Theatre, was to have a benefit. There was so little novelty at the play-house that he anticipated a failure. On the morning previous, he called upon Joseph Hopkinson, and said, "Not a single box has been taken, and I fear there will be a thin house. If you will write me some patriotic verses to the tune of the ‘President’s March,’ I feel sure of a fall house. Several people about the theatre have attempted it, but they have come to the conclusion that it can not be done. Yet I think you may succeed." Hopkinson retired to his study, wrote the first verse and chorus, and submitted them to Mrs. Hopkinson, who sang them with a harpsichord accompaniment. The time and words harmonized. The song was soon finished, and the young actor received it the same evening. The theatre placards the next morning announced that Mr. Fox would sing a new patriotic song. The house was crowded – the song was sung – the audience were wild with delight; for it touched the public heart with electrical effect at that moment, and eight times the singer was called out to repeat the song. When it was sung the ninth time the whole audience arose and joined in the chorus. On the following night (April 30, 1798) the President and his wife and some of the heads of departments were present, and the singer was called out time after time. It was repeated night after night in the theatres of Philadelphia and other places, and it became the universal song of the boys in the streets. On one occasion a crowd thronged the street in front of the author’s residence, and suddenly "Hail, Columbia!" from five hundred voices broke the stillness of the midnight air.

In June following Robert Treat Paine was requested to write a song, to be sung at the anniversary of the "Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society." He wrote a political song adapted to the temper of the times, and called it "Adams and Liberty." At the house of Major Russell, editor of the Boston Centinel, the author showed it to that gentleman. "It is imperfect," said Russell, "without the name of Washington in it." Mr. Paine was about to take some wine, when Russell politely and good-naturedly interfered, saying, "You can have none of my wine, Mr. Paine, until you have written another stanza, with Washington’s name in it." Paine walked back and forth a few moments, called for a pen, and wrote the finest verse in the whole poem – a verse which forms the epigraph of the chapter on the next page. This song, in nine stanzas, became immensely popular. It was sung all over the country, in theatres and public places, in workshops and drawing-rooms, and by the boys in the streets. The sale of it on "broadsides" yielded the author a profit of $750. The temper of the large majority of the American people at that time is expressed in the following verses of the ode:

"While France her huge limbs bathes recumbent in blood,

And Society’s base threats with wide dissolution;
May Peace, like the dove, who returned from the flood,
Find an ark of abode in our mild Constitution.
But though Peace is our aim,
Yet the boon we disclaim,
If bought by our Sov’reignty, Justice, or Fame.

" ’Tis the fire of the flint, each American warms;

Let Rome’s haughty victors beware of collision,
Let them bring all the vassals of Europe in arms –
We’re a world by ourselves, and disclaim a division.
While with patriot pride
To our laws we’re allied,
No foe can subdue us, no faction divide.

"Our mountains are crowned with imperial oak,

Whose roots, like our liberties, ages have nourished;
But long ere our nation submits to the yoke,
Not a tree shall be left on the field where it flourished.
Should invasion impend,
Every grove would descend
From the hill-tops they shaded, our shores to defend.

"Let our patriots destroy Anarch’s pestilent worm,

Lest our Liberty’s growth should be checked by corrosion;
Then let clouds thicken round us, we heed not the storm,
Our realm fears no shock but the earth’s own explosion.
Foes assail us in vain,
Though their fleets bridge the main,
For our altars and laws with our lives we’ll maintain.
For ne’er shall the sons of Columbia be slaves
While the earth bears a plant, or the sea rolls its waves."



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