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subject had an influence on their reply to the Prosident's speech.
The Committee reported an answer, which contained this clause; “ that the confidence of his fellow citizens in the Chief Magistrate remained undiminished.” It was moved to strike out this clause because it contained an untruth. In the animated debate that ensued, the friends of the President supported the clause, and maintained with zeal, that the confidence of the American citizens in him had suffered no diminution; the advocates of the motion with pertinacity averred that by a recent transaction the confidence of the people in the President was diminished; and several of the speakers declared, that their own confidence in him was lessened.
To prevent a vote of the House to expunge the clause, it was moved and carried to recommit the an
In the second report, this clause was in such a manner modified as to pass without objection.
Mr. Monroe reached Paris soon after the fall of Ro. bespierre, his reception as the American Minister was publick, and on the occasion, he gave the Convention the most positive assurances of the fervent attachment of the American people to the interest of France.
The Committee of Safety of France had previously written to the American Congress, and the Executive of the Federal Government being the constituted organ of foreign intercourse, the Senate and House of Representatives had, by their resolves, transmitted this letter to the President with a request, that he would in a respectful answer express their friendly disposition towards the French Republick. Accordingly the Secretary of State addressed two letters to the Committee of Safety, in the name of each branch of the Legislature. These Mr. Monroe conveyed, and delivered with his own credentials to the President of the Convention.
The communications of the American Minister were received with expressions of high gratification, and the Convention decreed, that the flags of France and America should be united, and suspended in their hall, as an emblem of the eternal union and friendship of the two Republicks.
Colonel Monroe, to reciprocate this act of fraternity, requested the Convention to accept from him the American flag, as evidence of his own sensibility, and as a token of the satisfaction with which his country would improve every opportunity to promote the union of the two nations.
Mr. Adet, the successor of Mr. Fauchet, arrived at Philadelphia in the summer of 1795, and brought with him the flag of France as a compliment from the Convention to Congress, and a letter from the Committee of Safety to this body. He made no mention to the President of this present until December, intending to present it directly to Congress, and to avail himself of the opportunity to address that body. The President and the Heads of Departments, perceiving his intention to make a bridge of the Executive to open a direct communication with the popular branch of Congress, and apprehending evil from it, with address defeated the intriguing scheme. They directed, that the flag and the letter should be placed in the hands of the President, and by him presented to Congress. The 1st of January 1796, was appointed as the time on which the President would receive them. Mr. Adet on this occasion addressed him in the impassioned lan. guage of his countrymen. He represented France as exerting herself in defence of the liberty of mankind.
“Assimilated to, or rather identified with free people by the form of her government, she saw in them," he observed, “ only friends and brothers. Long accustomed to regard the American people as her most faithful allies, she sought to draw closer the ties already formed in the fields of America, under the auspices of victory, over the ruins of tyranny."
To answer this speech was a delicate task. Animated expressions of attachment and friendship for France were expected ; and it was improper for the Executive of a neutral nation to show partiality or prejudice to. wards belligerent powers.
The following was the reply of the President.
“ Born, sir, in a land of liberty; having early learn. ed its value ; having engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it; having, in a word, devoted the best years of my life to secure its permanent establishment in my own country; my anxious recollections, my sympathetick feelings, and my best wishes are irresistibly attracted, whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom. But above all, the events of the French revolution have produced the deepest solicitude, as well as the highest admiration. To call your nation brave, were to pronounce but common praise. Wonderful people ! Ages to come will read with astonishment the history of your brilliant exploits. I rejoice that the period of your toils and of your immense sacrifices is approach. ing. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary movements of so many years have issued in the formation of a Constitution designed to give permanency to the great object for which you have contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you have so long embraced with enthusiasm-liberty, of which you have been the invincible defenders, now finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government ; a government which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States by its resemblance to their own. On these glorious events, accept, sir, my sincere congratulations.
“ In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own feelings only, but those of my fellow citiVOL. II.
zens in relation to the commencement, the progress, and the issue of the French revolution; and they will certainly join with me in purest wishes to the Supreme Being, that the citizens of our sister republick, our magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy in peace, that liberty which they have purchased at so great a price, and all the happiness that liberty can bestow.
"I receive, sir, with lively sensibility, the symbol of the triumphs, and of the enfranchisements of your nation, the colours of France, which you have now presented to the United States. The transaction will be announced to Congress, and the colours will be deposited with the archives of the United States, which are at once the evidence and the memorials of their freedom and independence; may these be perpetual; and may the friendship of the two Republicks be commensurate with their existence."
The address of the French Minister, the reply of the President, the flag of France, and the letter of the Committee of Safety, were all transmitted by the President to Congress.
In February 1796, the treaty was returned in the form recommended by the Senate, and ratified by his Britannick Majesty ; and on the last of that month, the President issued his Proclamation stating its ratification, and declaring it to be the law of the land.
The predominant party in the House of Representatives expressed surprise, that this Proclamation should be issued before the sense of the House was taken on the subject; as they denied the power of the Presi. dent and Senate to complete a treaty without their sanction. In March a resolution passed, requesting the President " to lay before the House a copy of the instructions to the Minister of the United States, who negotiated the treaty with the King of Great Britain, communicated by his message of the first of March, together with the correspondence and other documents relative to the said treaty; excepting such of the said papers as any existing negotiation may render improper to be disclosed.”
This resolve placed the President in a situation of high responsibility. He knew that the majority of the House entertained the opinion, that a treaty was not valid until they had acted upon it. To oppose, in a government constituted like that of the United States, the popular branch of the Legislature would be attended with hazard, and subject him to much censure and abuse ; but considerations of this nature make but weak impressions on a mind supremely solicitous to promote the publick interest.
Upon the most mature deliberation, the President conceived, that to grant this request of the House, would establish a false and dangerous principle in the diplomatick transactions of the nation, and he gave the following answer to their request. “ GENTLEMEN OF THE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, « With the utmost attention I have considered your resolution of the 24th instant, requesting me to lay before your House a copy of the instructions to the Minister of the United States, who negotiated the treaty with the King of Great Britain, together with the correspondence and other documents relative to that treaty, excepting such of the said papers as any existing negotiation may render improper to be disclosed.
“In deliberating upon this subject, it was impossible for me to lose sight of the principle which some have avowed in its discussion, or to avoid extending my views to the consequences which must flow from the admission of that principle.
“I trust that no part of my conduct has ever indi. cated a disposition to withhold any information which the Constitution has enjoined it upon the President as a duty to give, or which could be required of him by either house of Congress as a right; and with truth I