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military preparations, in which the sentiment of the community seemed to support them, and general appearances still indicated approaching hostilities.
The President foresaw the evils that must be introduced by a war with Great Britain, in the distempered state of the publick mind. He knew that she commanded the Ocean, that she presented the best markets for the exports of the United States, and furnished, on the easiest terms, those manufactures which were necessary to his countrymen. He perceived that the devotion of the people to France would throw the United States into her arms, and that his country must become a mere satellite of her will. He was not without some apprehension, that the bloody and ferocious spirit that had disgraced the French revolution, might be introduced into the peaceable society of America.
Under these solemn impressions, he determined to use his endeavours to arrest the dreaded evil, and on the 16th of April he nominated in the Senate an En. voy Extraordinary to the Court of Great Britain, and for the following reasons.
“ The communications which I have made to you during your present session, from the despatches of our Minister in London, contain a serious aspect of our affairs with Great Britain. But as peace ought to be pursued with unremitted zeal, before the last resource, which has so often been the scourge of nations, and cannot fail to check the advanced prosperity of the United States, is contemplated, I have thought proper to nominate John Jay, as Envoy Extraordinary of the United States to his Britannick Majesty.
“My confidence in our Minister Plenipotentiary in London continues undiminished. But a mission like this, while it corresponds with the solemnity of the occasion, will announce to the world a solicitude for the friendly adjustment of our complaints, and a reluctance to hostility. Going immediately from the
United States, such an Envoy will carry with him & full knowledge of the existing temper and sensibility of our country; and will thus be taught to vindicate our rights with firmness, and to cultivate peace with sincerity.”
To a considerable part of Congress, and to a large portion of the American people, this decisive act was unexpected and displeasing ; and it was adopted in full view of the obloquy and abuse of which it would be the occasion.
A motion made to stay the proceedings against Great Britain, on account of the pending negotiation was overruled in the House of Representatives ; and a bill prohibiting commercial intercourse with her carried by a considerable majority; which was lost in the Senate by the casting vote of the Vice President.
The authority of the Executive to issue the proclamation of neutrality had by many been doubted ; his power to call out the militia to prevent the sailing of privateers, which had violated his rules, denied ; and the American citizens, who had been prosecuted for engaging in expeditions against the nations at war, had been acquitted by a jury of trials.' The President therefore, although entertaining himself no doubt about his constitutional authority, was desirous to obtain the sanction of Congress for the system he had adopted to preserve the peace of the country.
At the commencement of the session, he intimated to the National Legislature the propriety of the measure, and in pursuance of his advice, the Senate introduced a bill, prohibiting within the United States the exercise, by Foreign Ministers, of those acts of sovereignty which Genet claimed, and subjecting to fine and imprisonment those who should be guilty of any of the acts towards the belligerent nations, which the Executive had forbidden. This bill, necessary as it was to the honour and peace of the nation, was opposed by the whole force of the Antifederalists, and finally
passed the Senate by the casting vote of the Vice President.
On the 9th of June, 1794, the session of Congress, which had been active and stormy, closed.
In the course of this year, the President was called to an important, but painful duty in administering the domestick concerns of the government.
Under the last Presidency an act had passed, laying a duty on spirits distilled within the United States.
To the inhabitants in the Western Counties of Penn. sylvania this was highly offensive. The whole district had been from the beginning, hostile to the Federal Constitution. They had with acrimony opposed its adoption, and were in opposition to all the measures of the Administration. Emboldened by the hoarse and loud clamours of their party, they absolutely refused compliance with the law. The President with anxiety saw this combination, but waited in the expectation that the quiet submission to the act in other parts of the Union, would induce the people of this district to yield obedience. In the mean time he recommended to Congress to modify the act in such a manner as to remove every reasonable objection. Accordingly in May, 1792, the National Legislature took up the subject, and made such alterations in the act, as experience dictated would be salutary. This revision did not conciliate the insurgents. The officers, who attempted to collect the duty, were violently opposed. In County and District Conventions, a systematick opposition was planned ; and banishment from the circle of good neighbourhood, and from all the benefits and pleasures of social intercourse, was denounced against all who should aid the publick officers; and the officers themselves were threatened with every personal outrage, should they persist in the endeavour to execute the duties of their office.
Knowing the importance of breaking this daring combination, the President issued a Proclamation, ad
monishing all persons to desist from proceedings designed to obstruct the execution of the laws, requiring the interposition of magistrates in support of government, and directing the prosecution of offenders.
The Proclamation not producing the desired effect, he endeavoured to prevent the necessity of having recourse to a military force, by making it the interest of the distillers to pay the duty.
Prosecutions were instituted against delinquents, where they could be sustained, the spirits distilled in the counties opposing the law were ordered to be seized on their way to market, by the officers of the revenue, and the contracters for the army were directed to purchase only the spirits, on which the duties had been paid. But whatever were the wishes of the distillers, the fear of an infuriated populace prevented a compliance with these orders; and the insurgents took encouragement from the lenity of the Executive, in the expectation of ultimate success. By violent threats they deterred the Marshal from the service of his precepts, committed numerous outrages upon the friends of government, and organized themselves into military bands to resist any force that might be sent to subject them to the laws.
The President had for three years patiently waited the effect of conciliatory measures, but these had only rendered the opposition more desperate. He therefore had only to choose between the alternative of permitting the prostration of the government, or to call out its force in support of the laws.
The subject in all its momentous consequences was laid before the Cabinet, and General Mifflin, the Governour of Pennsylvania, was on this occasion called into the Council. Their unanimous desire was to avoid, if possible, the coertion of the military, and they therefore advised, that Commissioners should be sent to the insurgents to warn them of their danger, and to offer a pardon of past offences, on condition of
future obedience to the laws. It was also advised that a proclamation should be issued in conformity to the act of Congress, commanding the insurgents to disperse by a given day. But in respect to ultimate operations, there was not an unanimity of opinion. The Governour of Pennsylvania thought that the militia of that state would be insufficient to suppress the insurrection, and appeared apprehensive of danger from the attempt to call out the power of government. Mr. Randolph, Secretary of State, expressed his fears on account of the numbers and strength of the insurgents. He doubted whether the militia would obey the orders of the Executive, and march to suppress by force of arms this combination ; if they should, he doubted the success of the expedition, and foreboded civil war in all its horrours as the consequence of a failure.
The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General, were of opinion, that the President was bound by the most sacred obligations, to use the means placed at his disposal, faithfully to execute the law. They therefore advised him to try the power of the government to coerce submis. sion; and from policy and humanity to march a force into the insurgent counties, too strong to be resisted.
The President did not hesitate to do his duty. Without exerting the means of prevention in his power, he could not see the laws prostrated, and the authority of the United States defied.
On the 7th of August, he issued the Proclamation which the law made a prerequisite to the employment of force. In it he gave a recapitulation of the measures of Government, and of the opposition of the insurgents, and thus proceeded, “ Whereas it was in his judgment necessary, under the circumstances of the case, to take measures for calling forth the militia in order to suppress the combinations aforesaid, and to cause the laws to be duly executed, and he had accord