« EdellinenJatka »
The first Presidency of General WASHINGTON closed without other occurrences of great magnitude. The last session of the second Congress was violent and impassioned, and the members separated in a state of great irritation, but neither they nor their constituents had as yet impeached the motives of the President, yet it was evident that, if he should remain at the head of government, his reputation must soon pass the ordeal of party conflict. He had determined to decline being a candidate for the Presidency at a second election, and to this purpose, had written a valedictory address to the American people; but the critical state of the country, and the urgent intreaties of his friends induced him to relinquish the determination.
General WASHINGTON reclected President.... State of Parties....
Division in the Cabinet.... The President endeavours to promote union.... Influence of the French Revolution....Measures to secure the Neutrality of the United States in the War between France and England....Mr. Genet's illegal practices ....He insults the Government... The Executive restricts him .... He appeals to the People.... They support the Administra. tion.... The President determines to arrest Genet ....He is recalled....Negotiation with Britain.... Insurrection in Pennsylvania....Democratick Societies....British Treaty....Communication between the French Executive and the Legislature of the United States.... The President refuses to the House of Representatives the Papers respecting Diplomatick transactions....His interpositions in favour of the Marquis La Fayette.... Takes the Son of the Marquis under his Protection and Patronage.
1793-7. WHEN the constitutional period arrived for the reelection of a President, it appeared, that General WASHINGTON had a second time the unanimous suffrage of his country for this exalted office. He entered upon its duties in the prospect, that the administration of the government would be attended with accumulated difficulty.
The character of the American patriot is with reluctance blended in these pages with events of a local or temporary nature. It is painful to reflect, that his fair fame was even for a moment sullied by the foul breath of calumny. The pen is indigant to record charges against his honour and his patriotism, charges which their authors knew to be un. founded, and which were made only to answer the purposes of a party. But it is impossible to portray the wisdom, the firmness and prudence which were displayed during his second Presidency, or to shew the good fortune which attended it, without bringing into distinct view the circumstances under which he acted. Without a knowledge of the difficulties which he surmounted, and the opposition which he conquered, posterity will have no adequate conception of the merits of this period of his administra. tion.
The difference of political opinion arising from pursuits of personal ambition, from discordant views of national and state policy, and from the danger to be apprehended from the encroachments of democracy, or from the abuse of power in the constituted government, had, since the establishment of the Federal Constitution regularly increased in strength and asperity. It had appeared in all the important debates of Congress, had pervaded every part of the United States, and under its influence, two political parties were by this time fully established, and nearly balanced ; the one the warm advocates, the other the determined opponents of the measures of the govern. ment.
Although the President had readily given his sanction to those acts of the government which had agitated in the highest degree the passions of parties, yet there was that in his character which forbid his
political enemies to denominate him the head of a party. He had strong hold of the affections and confidence of the great mass of his countrymen, and the most daring of the oppositionists thought it as yet impolitick to assail his patriotism; but a crisis was evidently approaching, when he would be necessitated to put his personal influence to hazard, to sub. ject himself to the obloquy of a virulent party, and to sustain the assault of disappointed ambition.
Unfortunately the spirit of political controversy and division, which agitated the nation, entered the Cabinet of the Executive, and discovered itself in almost every important subject that was submitted to their discussion. Owing to constitutional complexion of mind, or to general habits of reflection, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton were directly opposed to each other on almost all important national questions. This opposition being frequently warmed by the collision of debate, finally settled into implacable political and personal animosity. The President noticed this hostility between his counsellors with grief and mortification ; and unwilling to part with either, he endeavoured to reconcile them. In letter addressed to the Secretary of State in August 1792, after stating the critical situation of the United States, with respect to foreign nations, he thus feelingly touched
the animosity that existed in the Cabinet.
“ How unfortunate, how much to be regretted then, that while we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies, and insidious friends, internal dissentions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals.
The last, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming, and the most afflicting of the two; and without more charity for the opinions of one another in government matters, or some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to be forejudged than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult if not impracticable to manage the reins of government, or keep the parts of it together; for if, instead of laying our shoulders to the machine, after measures are decided on, one pulls this way, and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder; and in my opinion, the fairest prospect of hap. piness and prosperity that ever was presented to man, will be lost, perhaps forever.
My earnest wish and fondest hope therefore is, that instead of wounding suspicions, and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mu- . tual forbearances, and temporising yielding on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and if possible, more prosperously. Without them, every thing must rub; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph; and by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabrick we have been erecting.
“I do not mean to apply this advice, or these observations, to any particular person or character. I have given them in the same general terms to other officers of the government, because the disagree. ments which have arisen from difference of opinions,