Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

The French Government having requested the recall of Gouverneur Morris, the Minister to that country, James Monroe was appointed to that position. Two years subsequently he was recalled by the President, and C. C. Pinckney designated as his successor; but was not recog nized by the French Government.

Gen. Knox resigning, at the close of the year 1794, was succeeded in the war department by Timothy Pickering. The office of Secretary of the Treasury being vacated in January, 1795, by the resignation of Mr. Hamilton, Oliver Wolcot of Connecticut became his successor,

Gen. Washington having announced his determination to retire from public life at the expiration of his second term, great interest was manifested respecting his successor in the Presidency. John Adams was the candidate of the Federal party; Thomas Jefferson, of the Republican. The closeness of the vote indicates the strength of the parties as well as their sectional distribution. The whole number of electoral votes was one hundred and thirtyeight. Necessary to a choice, seventy. John Adams received seventy-one, including all the votes east and north of Pennsylvania, three in Delaware, seven in Maryland, and three scattering in other States. Jefferson received sixty-nine votes, all from Southern States, but those of Pennsylvania, of which he received the entire number, save one vote. For the Vice-Presidency, Pinckney received fifty-nine votes, Burr thirty, and forty-eight were scattered among various candidates.

The violence of party feeling towards Gen. Washington, among the most bitter of the opposition, can be judged from the following extract from the Aurora, a leading journal of that day : “ If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington. If ever a nation was deceiver

WASHINGTON RETIRES FROM OFFICE.

45

future ages.

by a man, the American nation has been deceived by Washington. Let his conduct, then, be an example to

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."

These assaults of violent party zeal prevailed very little with the great mass of the people. Their confidence in Washington could not be alienated. The Legislatures of the several States, with one or two exceptions, responded in the old tone of confidence and affection to Washington's Farewell Address. And his native State, Virginta, unanimously passed resolutions of respect for the President's person, their high sense of his exalted services, and their regret at his approaching retirement from office.

Washington retired, leaving to his successor a system of wise and sound policy successfully inaugurated.

CHAPTER IV.

ADMINISTRATION OF JOHN ADAMS, 1797-1801.

On the 4th of March, 1797, John Adams was inaugurated President of the United States, in Congress Hall, at Philadelphia.. Many distinguished persons were in attendance, among whom were General Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Vice-President elect, members of Congress, foreign ministers, and many private citizens. The address was pronounced by Mr. Adams, who then received the oath of office, administered by Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The charges of sympathy with Great Britain which had been freely hurled against the Administration were distinctly disclaimed in the address of the President. This, with other considerations, modified the temper of the opposition, which, though gratifying to the President, did not withdraw his attachment from those by whom he had been elevated to power.

The cabinet officers of his predecessor were retained. They were Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State; Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury ; James McHenry, Secretary of War; and Charles Lee, Attorney-General. The department of the Navy was established the following year, and Benjamin Stoddart was appointed Secretary.

Our ministers to foreign courts, at this time, were Rufus King, at Great Britain ; C. C. Pinckney, at France;

POLITICAL COMPLEXION OF CONGRESS.

47

David Humphreys, at Spain; and John Quincy Adams at Portugal; who was soon after transferred to Prussia, and succeeded at Portugal by William Smith of South Carolina. At the Netherlands the United States were represented by Wm. Vans Murray.

The new Administration found our relations with France unsettled and in a critical condition. The American Minister had been virtually expelled from that country; which, with the issue of a decree authorizing the capture of neutral vessels having on board any productions of Great Britain or her possessions, and the actual seizure of a number of American vessels, rendered the contingency of war so probable that the President called a special session of Congress. It convened on the 15th of May, 1797.

In the Senate there had been a decided administration gain. The House was doubtful. Neither party could claim a majority. Its complexion depended on the action of a few independents; to secure the co-operation of whom both parties made strenuous efforts. Mr. Dayton was re-elected Speaker, and the former clerk, a warm partisan of the opposition, was superseded by a single vote.

Among other important Acts one was passed “laying duties on stamped vellum, parchment, and paper.” Its title and provisions bore a likeness to those of the odious measure of 1765, and it became at once obnoxious to a large portion of the people.

a

66

[ocr errors]

RUPTURE WITH FRANCE.

Negotiations with France were not left untried while preparations for armed defence were going rapidly forward. General Washington was nominated to the Senate, by the President, and unanimously confirmed as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces, with the rank of Lieutenant-General.

Notwithstanding the flagrant insults and outrages of France, a large and powerful party, both in and out of Congress, continued to entertain for that country a strong and abiding affection. The opposition put forth against measures deemed essential to the preservation of the integrity and respectability of the American Government, served to unfold and define party characteristics. During the extra session the spirit of party was tinged with a bitterness hitherto unknown.

At the opening of the third session of the fifth Congress, the President observed in his speech “ that we have had no reasons to regret the adoption of defensive measures ; that there had been nothing in the conduct of France to induce us to change or relax them; and that an efficient preparation for war could alone insure peace. To send another minister without more determinate assurance that he would be received, would be an act of humiliation to which the United States ought not to submit.” To the President's speech both Houses returned answers of approval.

Influenced by the war measures of the United States, France evinced a disposition for reconciliation. Accordingly the President, by the consent of the Senate, appointed three envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the French republic. The mission consisted of Oliver Ellsworth, Patrick Henry, and Wm. Vans Murray. Patrick Henry approved the commission, but was com: pelled by circumstances to decline the appointment. Wm. R. Davie was designated for the place of Mr. Henry.

This action of the President was unlooked for, and subjected him to great embarrassment. He had previously declared his determination not to send another minister to France, until he had assurance that he would be re

« ForrigeFortsett »