Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson Volume IV Part 53

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March the 2nd, 1797. I arrived at Philadelphia to qualify as Vice-President, and called instantly on Mr. Adams, who lodged at Francis's, in Fourth street. The next morning he returned my visit at Mr. Madison's, where I lodged. He found me alone in my room, and shutting the door himself, he said he was glad to find me alone, for that he wished a free conversation with me. He entered immediately on an explanation of the situation of our affairs with France, and the danger of rupture with that nation, a rupture which would convulse the attachments of this country; that he was impressed with the necessity of an immediate mission to the Directory; that it would have been the first wish of his heart to have got me to go there, but that he supposed it was out of the question, as it did not seem justifiable for him to send away the person destined to take his place in case of accident to himself, nor decent to remove from compet.i.tion one who was a rival in the public favor. That he had, therefore, concluded to send a mission, which, by its dignity, should satisfy France, and by its selection from the three great divisions of the continent, should satisfy all parts of the United States; in short, that he had determined to join Gerry and Madison to Pinckney, and he wished me to consult Mr. Madison for him.

I told him that, as to myself, I concurred in the opinion of the impropriety of my leaving the post a.s.signed me, and that my inclinations, moreover, would never permit me to cross the Atlantic again; that I would, as he desired, consult Mr. Madison, but I feared it was desperate, as he had refused that mission on my leaving it, in General Washington's time, though it was kept open a twelvemonth for him. He said that if Mr. Madison should refuse, he would still appoint him, and leave the responsibility on him. I consulted Mr. Madison, who declined, as I expected. I think it was on Monday the 6th of March, Mr.

Adams and myself met at dinner at General Washington's, and we happened, in the evening, to rise from table and come away together. As soon as we got into the street, I told him the event of my negotiation with Mr.

Madison. He immediately said, that, on consultation, some objections to that nomination had been raised, which he had not contemplated; and was going on with excuses which evidently embarra.s.sed him, when we came to Fifth street, where our road separated, his being down Market street, mine off along Fifth, and we took leave: and he never after that said one word to me on the subject, or ever consulted me as to any measures of the government. The opinion I formed at the time on this transaction was, that Mr. Adams, in the first moments of the enthusiasm of the occasion (his inauguration), forgot party sentiments, and, as he never acted on any system, but was always governed by the feeling of the moment, he thought, for a moment, to steer impartially between the parties; that Monday, the 6th of March, being the first time he had met his cabinet, on expressing ideas of this kind, he had been at once diverted from them, and returned to his former party views.

July, 1797. Murray is rewarded for his services by an appointment to Amsterdam; W. Smith of Charleston, to Lisbon.

August the 24th. About the time of the British treaty, Hamilton and Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, dined together, and Hamilton drank freely.

Conversing on the treaty, Talleyrand says, '_Mais vraiment, Monsieur Hamilton, ce n'est pas Men honnete_, after making the Senate ratify the treaty, to advise the President to reject it.' 'The treaty,' says Hamilton, 'is an execrable one, and Jay was an old woman for making it; but the whole credit of saving us from it must be given to the President.' After circ.u.mstances had led to a conclusion that the President also must ratify it, he said to the same Talleyrand, 'Though the treaty is a most execrable one, yet when once we have come to a determination on it, we must carry it through thick and thin, right or wrong.' Talleyrand told this to Volney, who told it to me.

There is a letter now appearing in the papers, from Pickering to Monroe, dated July the 24th, 1797, which I am satisfied is written by Hamilton.

He was in Philadelphia at that date.

December the 26th, 1797. Langdon tells me, that at the second election of President and Vice-President of the United States, when there was a considerable vote given to Clinton in opposition to Mr. Adams, he took occasion to remark it in conversation in the Senate chamber with Mr.

Adams, who gritting his teeth, said, 'd.a.m.n 'em, d.a.m.n 'em, d.a.m.n 'em, you see that an elective government will not do.' He also tells me that Mr.

Adams, in a late conversation,said,' Republicanism must be disgraced, 'Sir.' The Chevalier Yrujo called on him at Braintree, and conversing on French affairs, and Yrujo expressing his belief of their stability, in opposition to Mr. Adamses, the latter lifting up and shaking his finger at him, said, 'I'll tell you what, the French republic will not last three months.' This I had from Yrujo.

Harper, lately in a large company, was saying that the best thing the friends of the French could do, was to pray for the restoration of their monarch. 'Then,' says a by-stander, 'the best thing we could do, I suppose, would be to pray for the establishment of a monarch in the United States.' 'Qur people,' says Harper, 'are not yet ripe for it, but it is the best thing we can come to, and we shall come to it.' Something like this was said in presence of Findlay. He now denies it in the public papers, though it can be proved by several members.

December the 27th. Tench c.o.xe tells me, that a little before Hamilton went out of office, or just as he was going out, taking with him his last conversation, and among other things, on the subject of their differences, 'For my part,' says he, 'I avow myself a monarchist; I have no objection to a trial being made of this thing of a republic, but,'


January the 5th, 1798. I receive a very remarkable fact indeed, in our history, from Baldwin and Skinner. Before the establishment of our present government, a very extensive combination had taken place in New York and the eastern States, among that description of people who were partly monarchical in principle, or frightened with Shays's rebellion and the impotence of the old Congress. Delegates in different places had actually had consultations on the subject of seizing on the powers of a government, and establishing them by force; had corresponded with one another, and had sent a deputy to General Washington to solicit his co-operation. He refused to join them. The new convention was in the mean time proposed by Virginia and appointed. These people believed it impossible the States should ever agree on a government, as this must include the impost and all the other powers which the States had, a thousand times, refused to the general authority. They therefore let the proposed convention go on, not doubting its failure, and confiding that on its failure would be a still more favorable moment for their enterprise. They therefore wished it to fail, and especially, when Hamilton, their leader, brought forward his plan of government, failed entirely in carrying it, and retired in disgust from the convention.

His a.s.sociates then took every method to prevent any form of government being agreed to. But the well-intentioned never ceased trying, first one thing, then another, till they could get something agreed to. The final pa.s.sage and adoption of the const.i.tution completely defeated the views of the combination, and saved us from an attempt to establish a government over us by force. This fact throws a blaze of light on the conduct of several members from New York and the eastern States in the convention of Annapolis, and the grand convention. At that of Annapolis, several eastern members most vehemently opposed Madison's proposition for a more general convention, with more general powers. They wished things to get more and more into confusion, to justify the violent measure they proposed. The idea of establishing a government by reasoning and agreement, they publicly ridiculed as an Utopian project, visionary and unexampled.

February the 6th, 1798. Mr. Baldwin tells me, that in a conversation yesterday with Goodhue, on the state of our affairs, Goodhue said, 'I'll tell you what, I have made up my mind on this subject; I would rather the old ship should go down than not'; (meaning the Union of the States.) Mr. Hillhouse coming up, 'Well,' says Mr. Baldwin, 'I'll tell my old friend Hillhouse what you say '; and he told him. 'Well,' says Goodhue, 'I repeat, that I would rather the old ship should go down, if we are to be always kept pumping so.' 'Mr. Hillhouse,' says Baldwin, 'you remember when we were learning logic together at school, there was the case categorical and the case hypothetical. Mr. Goodhue stated it to me first as the case categorical. I am glad to see that he now changes it to the case hypothetical, by adding, 'if we are always to be kept pumping so.' Baldwin went on then to remind Goodhue what an advocate he had been for our tonnage duty, wanting to make it one dollar instead of fifty cents; and how impatiently he bore the delays of Congress in proceeding to retaliate on Great Britain before Mr. Madison's propositions came on. Goodhue acknowledged that his opinions had changed since that.

February the 15th, 1798. I dined this day with Mr. Adams, (the President.) The company was large. After dinner I was sitting next to him, and our conversation was first on the enormous price of labor,*

house rent, and other things. We both concurred in ascribing it chiefly to the flood of bank paper now afloat, and in condemning those inst.i.tutions. We then got on the const.i.tution; and in the course of our conversation he said, that no republic could ever last which had not a Senate, and a Senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and pa.s.sions; that he thought our Senate as well const.i.tuted as it could have been, being chosen by the legislatures; for if these could not support them, he did not know what could do it; that perhaps it might have been as well for them to be chosen by the State at large, as that would insure a choice of distinguished men, since none but such could be known to a whole people; that the only fault in our Senate was, that it was not durable enough; that hitherto, it had behaved very well; however, he was afraid they would give way in the end. That as to trusting to a popular a.s.sembly for the preservation of our liberties, it was the merest chimera imaginable; they never had any rule of decision but their own will; that he would as lieve be again in the hands of our old committees of safety, who made the law and executed it at the same time; that it had been observed by some writer (I forget whom he named), that anarchy did more mischief in one night, than tyranny in an age; and that in modern times we might say with truth, that, in France, anarchy had done more harm in one night, than all the despotism of their Kings had ever done in twenty or thirty years. The point in which he views our Senate, as the colossus of the const.i.tution, serves as a key to the politics of the Senate, who are two thirds of them in his sentiments, and accounts for the bold line of conduct they pursue.

* He observed, that eight or ten years ago he gave only fifty dollars to a common laborer for his farm, finding him food and lodging. Now he gives one hundred and fifty dollars, and even two hundred dollars to one.

March the 1st. Mr. Tazewell tells me, that when the appropriations for the British treaty were on the carpet, and very uncertain in the lower House, there being at that time a number of bills in the hands of committees of the Senate, none reported, and the Senate idle for want of them, he, in his place, called on the committees to report, and particularly on Mr. King, who was of most of them. King said that it was true the committees kept back their reports, waiting the event of the question about appropriation: that if that was not carried, they considered legislation as at an end; that they might as well break up and consider the Union as dissolved. Tazewell expressed his astonishment at these ideas, and called on King to know if he had misapprehended him.

King rose again and repeated the same words. The next day, Cabot took an occasion in debate, and so awkward a one as to show it was a thing agreed to be done, to repeat the same sentiments in stronger terms, and carried further, by declaring a determination on their side to break up and dissolve the government.

March the 11th. In conversation with Baldwin and Brown of Kentucky, Brown says that in a private company once, consisting of Hamilton, King, Madison, himself, and some one else making a fifth, speaking of the 'federal government'; 'Oh!' says Hamilton, 'say the federal monarchy; let us call things by their right names, for a monarchy it is.'

Baldwin mentions at table the following fact. When the bank bill was under discussion in the House of Representatives, Judge Wilson came in, and was standing by Baldwin. Baldwin reminded him of the following fact which pa.s.sed in the grand convention. Among the enumerated powers given to Congress, was one to erect corporations. It was on debate struck out. Several particular powers were then proposed. Among others, Robert Morris proposed to give Congress a power to establish a national bank.

Gouverneur Morris opposed it, observing that it was extremely doubtful whether the const.i.tution they were framing could ever be pa.s.sed at all by the people of America; that to give it its best chance, however, they should make it as palatable as possible and put nothing into it not very essential, which might raise up enemies; that his colleague (Robert Morris) well knew that 'a bank' was, in their State (Pennsylvania) the very watch-word of party; that a bank had been the great bone of contention between the two parties of the State, from the establishment of their const.i.tution, having been erected, put down, and erected again, as either party preponderated; that therefore, to insert this power, would instantly enlist against the whole instrument, the whole of the anti-bank party in Pennsylvania. Whereupon it was rejected, as was every other special power, except that of giving copyrights to authors, and patents to inventors; the general power of incorporating being whittled down to this shred. Wilson agreed to the fact.

Mr. Hunter of South Carolina, who lodges with Rutledge, [* J. Rutledge, junior] tells me, that Rutledge was explaining to him the plan they proposed to pursue as to war measures, when Otis came in. Rutledge addressed Otis. 'Now, Sir,' says he, 'you must come forward with something liberal for the southern States, fortify their harbors and build galleys, in order to obtain their concurrence.' Otis said, 'We insist on convoys for our European trade, and _guarda-costas_, on which condition alone, we will give them galleys and fortifications.' Rutledge observed, that in the event of war, McHenry and Pickering must go out; Wolcott, he thought, might remain, but the others were incapable of conducting a war. Otis said the eastern people would never abandon Pickering; he must be retained; McHenry might go. They considered together whether General Pinckney would accept the office of Secretary of War. They apprehended he would not. It was agreed in this conversation, that Sewall had more the ear of the President than any other person.

March the 12th. When the bill for appropriations was before the Senate, Anderson moved to strike out a clause recognising (by way of appropriation) the appointment of a committee by the House of Representatives, to sit during their recess to collect evidence on Blount's case, denying they had power, but by a law, to authorize a committee to sit during recess. Tracy advocated the motion, and said, 'We may as well speak out. The committee was appointed by the House of Representatives, to take care of the British minister, to take care of the Spanish minister, to take care of the Secretary of State, in short, to take care of the President of the United States. They were afraid the President and Secretary of State would not perform the office of collecting evidence faithfully; that there would be collusion, &c.

Therefore, the House appointed a committee of their own. We shall have them next sending a committee to Europe to make a treaty, &c. Suppose that the House of Representatives should resolve, that after the adjournment of Congress, they should continue to sit as a committee of the whole House during the whole recess.' This shows how the appointment of that committee has been viewed by the President's friends.

April the 5th. Doctor Rush tells me he had it from Mrs. Adams, that not a scrip of a pen has pa.s.sed between the late and present President, since he came into office.

April the 13th. New instructions of the British government to their armed ships now appear, which clearly infringe their treaty with us, by authorizing them to take our vessels carrying produce of the French colonies from those colonies to Europe, and to lake vessels bound to a blockaded port. See them in Brown's paper, of April the 18th, in due form.

The President has sent a government brig to France, probably to carry despatches. He has chosen as the bearer of these, one Humphreys, the son of a ship-carpenter, ignorant, under age, not speaking a word of French, most abusive of that nation; whose only merit is, the having mobbed and beaten Bache on board the frigate built here, for which he was indicted and punished by fine.

April the 25th. At a dinner given by the bar to the federal judges, Chase and Peters, present about twenty-four lawyers, and William Tilghman in the chair, this toast was given; 'Our _King_ in old England.' Observe the double entendre on the word King. Du Ponceau, who was one of the bar present, told this to Tench c.o.xe, who told me in presence of H. Tazewell. Dallas was at the dinner; so was Colonel Charles Sims of Alexandria, who is here on a law-suit vs. General Irving.

May the 3rd. The President some time ago appointed Steele, of Virginia, a commissioner to the Indians, and recently Secretary of the Mississippi Territory. Steele was a Counsellor of Virginia, and was voted out by the a.s.sembly because he turned tory. He then offered for Congress, and was rejected by the people. Then offered for the Senate of Virginia, and was rejected. The President has also appointed Joseph Hopkinson commissioner to make a treaty with the Oneida Indians. He is a youth of about twenty-two or twenty-three, and has no other claims to such an appointment than extreme toryism, and the having made a poor song to the tune of the President's March.

October the 13th, 1798. Littlepage, who has been on one or two missions from Poland to Spain, said that when Gardoqui returned from America, he settled with his court an account of secret service money, of six hundred thousand dollars. _Ex relatione_ Colonel Monroe.

January, 1799. In a conversation between Doctor Ewen and the President, the former said one of his sons was an aristocrat, the other a democrat.

The President asked if it were not the youngest who was the democrat.

'Yes,' said Ewen. 'Well,' said the President, 'a boy of fifteen who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at twenty.' Ewen told Hurt, and Hurt told me.

January the 14th. Logan tells me that in his conversation with Pickering on his arrival, the latter abused Gerry very much; said he was a traitor to his country, and had deserted the post to which he was appointed; that the French temporized at first with Pinckney, but found him too much of a man for their purpose. Logan observing, that, notwithstanding the pacific declarations of France, it might still be well to keep up.

the military ardor of our citizens, and to have the militia in good order: 'The militia,' said Pickering, 'the militia never did any good to this country, except in the single affair of Bunker's Hill; that we must have a standing army of fifty thousand men, which being stationed in different parts of the continent, might serve as rallying points for the militia, and so render them of some service.' In his conversation with Mr. Adams, Logan mentioned the willingness of the French to treat with Gerry. 'And do you know why,' said Mr. Adams. 'Why, Sir?' said Logan. 'Because,' said Mr. Adams, 'they know him to have been an anti-federalist, against the const.i.tution.'

January the 2nd, 1800. Information from Tench c.o.xe. Mr. Liston had sent two letters to the Governor of Canada by one Sweezy. He had sent copies of them, together with a third, (original) by one Cribs. Sweezy was arrested (being an old horse-thief), and his papers examined. T. c.o.xe had a sight of them. As soon as a rumor got out that there were letters of Mr. Liston disclosed, but no particulars yet mentioned, Mr. Liston suspecting that Cribs had betrayed him, thought it best to bring all his three letters, and lay them before Pickering, Secretary of State.

Pickering thought them all very innocent. In his office they were seen by Mr. Hodgen of New Jersey, commissary of military stores, and the intimate friend of Pickering. It happens that there is some land partnership between Pickering, Hodgen, and c.o.xe, so that the latter is freely and intimately visited by Hodgen, who, moreover, speaks freely with him on political subjects. They were talking the news of the day, when Mr. c.o.xe observed that these intercepted letters of Liston were serious things; (nothing being yet out but a general rumor.) Hodgen asked which he thought the most serious. c.o.xe said the second; (for he knew yet of no other.) Hodgen said he thought little of any of them, but that the third was the most exceptionable. This struck c.o.xe, who, not betraying his ignorance of a third letter, asked generally what part of that he alluded to. Hodgen said to that wherein he a.s.sured the Governor of Canada, that if the French invaded Canada, an army would be marched from these States to his a.s.sistance. After this it became known that it was Sweezy who was arrested, and not Cribs; so that Mr. Liston had made an unnecessary disclosure of his third letter to Mr. Pickering, who, however, keeps his secret for him. In the beginning of the conversation between Hodgen and c.o.xe, c.o.xe happened to name Sweezy as the bearer of the letters. 'That 's not his name,' says Hodgen, (for he did not know that two of the letters had been sent by Sweezy also) 'his name is Cribs.' This put c.o.xe on his guard, and set him to fishing for the new matter.

January the 10th. Doctor Rush tells me, that he had it from Samuel Lyman, that during the X. Y. Z. Congress, the federal members held the largest caucus they have ever had, at which he was present, and the question was proposed and debated, whether they should declare war against France, and determined in the negative. Lyman was against it. He tells me, that Mr. Adams told him, that when he came on in the fall to Trenton, he was there surrounded constantly by the opponents of the late mission to France. That Hamilton pressing him to delay it, said, 'Why, Sir, by Christmas, Louis the XVIII. will be seated on his throne.' Mr.

A. 'By whom?' H. 'By the coalition.' Mr. A. 'Ah! then farewell to the independence of Europe. If a coalition, moved by the finger of England, is to give a government to France, there is an end to the independence of every country.'

January the 12th. General Samuel Smith says that Pickering, Wolcott, and McHenry, wrote a joint letter from Trenton to the President, then at Braintree, dissuading him from the mission to France. Stoddard refused to join it. Stoddard says the instructions are such, that if the Directory have any disposition to reconciliation, a treaty will be made.

He observed to him also, that Ellsworth looks beyond this mission to the Presidential chair. That with this view, he will endeavor to make a treaty, and a good one. That Davie has the same vanity and views. All this communicated by Stoddard to S. Smith.

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Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson Volume IV Part 53 summary

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