October the 31st, 1792. I had sent to the President, Viar and Jaudenes's letter of the 29th instant, whereupon he desired a consultation of Hamilton, Knox, E. Randolph, and myself, on these points. 1. What notice was to be taken hereof to Spain. 2. Whether it should make part of the communication to the legislature. I delivered my opinion, that it ought to be communicated to both Houses, because the communications intended to be made, being to bring on the question, whether they would declare war against any, and which of the nations or parts of the nations of Indians to the south, it would be proper this information should be before them, that they might know how far such a declaration would lead them. There might be some who would be for war against the Indians, if it were to stop there, but who would not be for it, if it were to lead to a war against Spain. I thought it should be laid before both Houses, because it concerned the question of declaring war, which was the function equally of both Houses. I thought a simple acknowledgment of the receipt of the letter should be made by me to the Spanish Charges, expressing that it contained some things very unexpected to us, but that we should refer the whole, as they had proposed, to the negotiators at Madrid. This would secure to us a continuation of the suspension of Indian hostilities, which the Governor of New Orleans said he had brought about till the result of the negotiation at Madrid should be known; would not commit us as to running or not running the line, or imply any admission of doubt about our tentorial right; and would avoid a rupture with Spain, which was much to be desired, while we had similar points to discuss with Great Britain. Hamilton declared himself the advocate for peace. War would derange our affairs greatly; throw us back many years in the march towards prosperity; be difficult for us to pursue, our countrymen not being disposed to become soldiers; a part of the Union feeling no interest in the war, would with difficulty be brought to exert itself; and we had no navy. He was for every thing which would procrastinate the event. A year, even, was a great gain to a nation strengthening as we were. It laid open to us, too, the chapter of accidents, which in the present state of Europe, was a very pregnant one. That while, however, he was for delaying the event of war, he had no doubt it was to take place between us for the object in question: that jealousy and perseverance were remarkable features in the character of the Spanish government, with respect to their American possessions; that so far from receding as to their claims against us, they had been strengthening themselves in them. He had no doubt the present communication was by authority from the court. Under this impression he thought we should be looking forward to the day of rupture, and preparing for it. That if we were unequal to the contest ourselves, it behoved us to provide allies for our aid. That in this view, but two nations could be named, France and England. France was too intimately connected with Spain in other points, and of too great mutual value, ever to separate for us. Her affairs too, were such, that whatever issue they had, she could not be in a situation to make a respectable mediation for us. England alone, then, remained. It would not be easy to effect it with her; however, he was for trying it, and for sounding them on the proposition of a defensive treaty of alliance. The inducements to such a treaty, on their part, might be, 1. The desire of breaking up our former connections, which we knew they had long wished. 2. A continuance of the statu quo in commerce for ten years, which he believed would be desirable to them. 3. An admission to some navigable part of the Mississippi, by some line drawn from the Lake of the Woods to such navigable part. He had not, he said, examined the map to see how such a line might be run, so as not to make too great a sacrifice. The navigation of the Mississippi being a joint possession, we might then take measures in concert for the joint security of it. He was, therefore, for immediately sounding them on this subject through our minister at London; yet so as to keep ourselves unengaged as long as possible, in hopes a favorable issue with Spain might be otherwise effected. But he was for sounding immediately, and for not letting slip an opportunity of securing our object.
E. Randolph concurred, in general, with me. He objected that such a reliance could not be effected without pecuniary consideration probably, which he could not give. And what was to be their aid? If men, our citizens would see their armies get foothold in the United States, with great jealousy; it would be difficult to protect them. Even the French, during the distresses of the late war, excited some jealous sentiments,
Hamilton said, money was often but not always demanded, and the aid he should propose to stipulate would be in ships. Knox non dissentiente.
The President said the remedy would be worse than the disease, and stated some of the disagreeable circumstances which would attend our making such overtures.
November, 1792. Hamilton called on me to speak about our furnishing supplies to the French colony of St. Domingo. He expressed his opinion, that we ought to be cautious, and not go too far in our application of money to their use, lest it should not be recognised by the mother country. He did not even think that some kinds of government they might establish could give a sufficient sanction.* I observed, that the National Convention was now met, and would certainly establish a form of government; that as we had recognised the former government because established by authority of the nation, so we must recognise any other which should be established by the authority of the nation. He said we had recognised the former, because it contained an important member of the ancient, to wit, the King, and wore the appearance of his consent; but if, in any future form, they should omit the King, he did not know that we could with safety recognise it, or pay money to its order.
* There had been a previous consultation at the President's (about the first week in November) on the expediency of suspending payments to France, under her present situation. I had admitted that the late constitution was dissolved by the dethronement of the King; and the management of affairs surviving to the National Assembly only, this was not an integral legislature, and therefore not competent to give a legitimate discharge for our payments: that I thought consequently, that none should be made till some legitimate body came into place; and that I should consider the National Convention, called, but not met as we had yet heard, to be a legitimate body. Hamilton doubted whether it would be a legitimate body, and whether, if the King should be re-established, he might not disallow such payments on good grounds. Knox, for once, dared to differ from Hamilton, and to express, very submissively, an opinion, that a convention named by the whole body of the nation, would be competent to do any thing. It ended by agreeing, that I should write to Gouverneur Morris to suspend payment generally, till further orders.
November the 19th, 1792. Beckley brings me the pamphlet written by Hamilton, before the war, in answer to 'Common Sense.' It is entitled 'Plain Truth.' Melancthon Smith sends it to Beckley, and in his letter says, it was not printed in New York by Loudon, because prevented by a mob, and was printed in Philadelphia, and that he has these facts from Loudon.
November the 21st, 1792. Mr. Butler tells me, that he dined last winter with Mr. Campbell from Denmark, in company with Hamilton, Lawrence, Dr. Shippen, T. Shippen, and one other person whom he cannot recollect. That after dinner political principles became the subject of conversation; that Hamilton declared openly, that 'there was no stability, no security in any kind of government but a monarchy.' That Lawrence took him up, and entered the lists of argument against him; that the dispute continued long, and grew warm, remarkably so as between them; that Shippen, at length, joined Lawrence in it; and in fine, that it broke up the company. Butler recommended to the company, that the dispute having probably gone farther than was intended, it ought to be considered as confined to the company.
Thursday, December the 27th, 1792. I waited on the President on some current business. After this was over, he observed to me, that he thought it was time to endeavor to effect a stricter connection with France, and that Gouverneur Morris should be written to on this subject. He went into the circumstances of dissatisfaction between Spain and Great Britain, and us, and observed, there was no nation on whom we could rely, at all times, but France; and that, if we did not prepare in time some support, in the event of rupture with Spain and England, we might be charged with a criminal negligence. I was much pleased with the tone of these observations. It was the very doctrine which had been my polar star, and I did not need the successes of the republican arms in France, lately announced to us, to bring me to these sentiments. For it is to be noted, that on Saturday last, (the 22nd) I received Mr. Short's letters of October the 9th and 12th, with the Leyden gazettes to October the 13th, giving us the first news of the retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, and the capture of Spires and Worms by Custine, and that of Nice by Anselme. I therefore expressed to the President my cordial approbation of these ideas; told him, I had meant on that day (as an opportunity of writing by the British packet would occur immediately) to take his orders for removing the suspension of payments to France, which had been imposed by my last letter to Gouverneur Morris, but was meant, as I supposed, only for the interval between the abolition of the late constitution by the dethronement of the King, and the meeting of some other body, invested by the will of the nation with powers to transact their affairs; that I considered the National Convention, then assembled, as such a body; and that, therefore, we ought to go on with the payments to them, or to any government they should establish; that, however, I had learned last night, that some clause in the bill for providing reimbursement of the loan made by the bank to the United States, had given rise to a question before the House of Representatives yesterday, which might affect these payments; a clause in that bill proposing, that the money formerly borrowed in Amsterdam, to pay the French debt, and appropriated by law (1790, August 4th, c. 34. Sec. 2.) to that purpose, lying dead as was suggested, should be taken to pay the bank, and the President be authorized to borrow two millions of dollars more, out of which it should be replaced: and if this should be done, the removal of our suspension of payments, as I had been about to propose, would be premature. He expressed his disapprobation of the clause above mentioned; thought it highly improper in the legislature to change an appropriation once made, and added, that no one could tell in what that would end. I concurred, but observed, that on a division of the House, the ayes for striking out the clause were twenty-seven, the noes twenty-six; whereon the Speaker gave his vote against striking out, which divides the House: the clause for the disappropriation remained of course. I mentioned suspicions, that the whole of this was a trick to serve the bank under a great existing embarrassment; that the debt to the bank was to be repaid by instalments; that the first instalment was of two hundred thousand dollars only, or rather one hundred and sixty thousand dollars, (because forty thousand of the two hundred thousand dollars would be the United States' own dividend of the instalment.) Yet here were two millions to be paid them at once, and to be taken from a purpose of gratitude and honor, to which it had been appropriated.
December the 30th, 1792. I took the occasion furnished by Pinckney's letter of September the 19th, asking instructions how to conduct himself as to the French revolution, to lay down the catholic principle of republicanism, to wit, that every people may establish what form of government they please, and change it as they please; the will of the nation being the only thing essential. I was induced to do this, in order to extract the President's opinion on the question which divided Hamilton and myself in the conversation of November, 1792, and the previous one of the first week of November, on the suspension of payments to France: and if favorable to mine, to place the principle on record in the letter-books of my office. I therefore wrote the letter of December the 30th, to Pinckney, and sent it to the President, and he returned me his approbation in writing, in his note of the same date, which see.
February the 7th, 1793. I waited on the President with letters and papers from Lisbon. After going through these, I told him that I had for some time suspended speaking with him on the subject of my going out of office, because I had understood that the bill for intercourse with foreign nations was likely to be rejected by the Senate, in which case, the remaining business of the department would be too inconsiderable to make it worth while to keep it up. But that the bill being now passed, I was freed from the considerations of propriety which had embarrassed me. That &c. [nearly in the words of a letter to Mr. T. M. Randolph, of a few days ago,] and that I should be willing, if he had taken no arrangements to the contrary, to continue somewhat longer, how long I could not say, perhaps till summer, perhaps autumn. He said, so far from taking arrangements on the subject, he had never mentioned to any mortal the design of retiring which I had expressed to him, till yesterday, when having heard that I had given up my house, and that it was rented by another, he thereupon mentioned it to Mr. E. Randolph, and asked him, as he knew my retirement had been talked of, whether he had heard any persons suggested in conversation to succeed me. He expressed his satisfaction at my change of purpose and his apprehensions that my retirement would be a new source of uneasiness to the public. He said Governor Lee had that day informed him of the general discontent prevailing in Virginia, of which he never had had any conception, much less sound information. That it appeared to him very alarming. He proceeded to express his earnest wish that Hamilton and myself could coalesce in the measures of the government, and urged here the general reasons for it, which he had done to me in two former conversations. He said he had proposed the same thing to Hamilton, who expressed his readiness, and he thought our coalition would secure the general acquiescence of the public. I told him my concurrence was of much less importance than he seemed to imagine; that I kept myself aloof from all cabal and correspondence on the subject with the government, and saw and spoke with as few as I could. That as to a coalition with Mr. Hamilton, if by that was meant that either was to sacrifice his general system to the other, it was impossible. We had both, no doubt, formed our conclusions after the most mature consideration; and principles conscientiously adopted, could not be given up on either side. My wish was, to see both Houses of Congress cleansed of all persons interested in the bank or public stocks: and that a pure legislature being given us, I should always be ready to acquiesce under their determinations, even if contrary to my own opinions; for that I subscribe to the principle, that the will of the majority, honestly expressed, should give law. I confirmed him in the fact of the great discontents to the south; that they were grounded on seeing that their judgments and interests were sacrificed to those of the eastern States on every occasion, and their belief that it was the effect of a corrupt squadron of voters in Congress, at the command of the Treasury; and they see that if the votes of those members who had any interest distinct from, and contrary to the general interest of their constituents, had been withdrawn, as in decency and honesty they should have been, the laws would have been the reverse of what they are on all the great questions. I instanced the new Assumption carried in the House of Representatives by the Speaker's vote. On this subject he made no reply. He explained his remaining in office to have been the effect of strong solicitations after he returned here; declaring that he had never mentioned his purpose of going out but to the Heads of departments and Mr. Madison; he expressed the extreme wretchedness of his existence while in office, and went lengthily into the late attacks on him for levees, &c. and explained to me how he had been led into them by the persons he consulted at New York; and that if he could but know what the sense of the public was, he would most cheerfully conform to it.
February the 16th, 1793. E. Randolph tells J. Madison and myself, a curious fact which he had from Lear. When the President went to New York, he resisted for three weeks the efforts to introduce levees. At length he yielded, and left it to Humphreys and some others to settle the forms. Accordingly, an antechamber and presence-room were provided, and when those who were to pay their court were assembled, the President set out, preceded by Humphreys. After passing through the antechamber, the door of the inner room was thrown open, and Humphreys entered first, calling out with a loud voice, 'The President of the United States.' The President was so much disconcerted with it, that he did not recover it the whole time of the levee, and when the company was gone, he said to Humphreys, 'Well, you have taken me in once, but, by God, you shall never take me in a second time.'
There is reason to believe that the rejection of the late additional Assumption by the Senate was effected by the President through Lear, operating on Langdon. Beckley knows this.
February the 26th, 1793. Notes on the proceedings of yesterday. [See the formal opinions given to the President in writing, and signed.]
First question. We were all of opinion that the treaty should proceed merely to gratify the public opinion, and not from an expectation of success. I expressed myself strongly, that the event was so unpromising, that I thought the preparations for a campaign should go on without the least relaxation, and that a day should be fixed with the commissioners for the treaty, beyond which they should not permit the treaty to be protracted, by which day, orders should be given for our forces to enter into action. The President took up the thing instantly, after I had said this, and declared he was so much in the opinion that the treaty would end in nothing, that he then, in the presence of us all, gave orders to General Knox, not to slacken the preparations for the campaign in the least, but to exert every nerve in preparing for it. Knox said something about the ultimate day for continuing the negotiations. I acknowledged myself not a judge on what day the campaign should begin, but that whatever it was, that day should terminate the treaty. Knox said he thought a winter campaign was always the most efficacious against the Indians. I was of opinion, since Great Britain insisted on furnishing provisions, that we should offer to repay. Hamilton thought we should not.
Second question. I considered our right of preemption of the Indian lands, not as amounting to any dominion, or jurisdiction, or paramountship whatever, but merely in the nature of a remainder after the extinguishment of a present right, which gave us no present right whatever, but of preventing other nations from taking possession, and so defeating our expectancy; that the Indians had the full, undivided, and independent sovereignty as long as they chose to keep it, and that this might be for ever; that as fast as we extend our rights by purchase from them, so fast we extend the limits of our society, and as soon as a new portion became encircled within our line, it became a fixed limit of our society: that the executive, with either or both branches of the legislature, could not alien any part of our territory; that by the law of nations it was settled, that the unity and indivisibility of the society was so fundamental, that it could not be dismembered by the constituted authorities, except, 1. where all power was delegated to them (as in the case of despotic governments,) or, 2. where it was expressly delegated; that neither of these delegations had been made to our General Government, and, therefore, that it had no right to dismember or alienate any portion of territory once ultimately consolidated with us; and that we could no more cede to the Indians than to the English or Spaniards, as it might, according to acknowledged principles, remain as irrevocably and eternally with the one as the other. But I thought, that, as we had a right to sell and settle lands once comprehended within our lines, so we might forbear to exercise that right, retaining the property, till circumstances should be more favorable to the settlement, and this I agreed to do in the present instance, if necessary for peace.
Hamilton agreed to the doctrine of the law of nations, as laid down in Europe, but that it was founded on the universality of settlement there; consequently that no lopping-off of territory could be made without a lopping-off of citizens, which required their consent; but that the law of nations for us, must be adapted to the circumstance of our unsettled country, which he conceived the President and Senate may cede: that the power of treaty was given to them by the constitution, without restraining it to particular objects; consequently that it was given in as plenipotentiary a form as held by any sovereign in any other society. Randolph was of opinion, there was a difference between a cession to Indians and to any others, because it only restored the ceded part to the condition in which it was before we bought it, and consequently, that we might buy it again hereafter: therefore, he thought the executive and Senate could cede it. Knox joined in the main opinion. The President discovered no opinion, but he made some efforts to get us to join in some terms which could unite us all, and he seemed to direct those efforts more towards me: but the thing could not be done.
Third question. We agreed in idea as to the line to be drawn; to wit, so as to retain all lands appropriated, or granted, or reserved.
Fourth question. We all thought, if the Senate should be consulted, and consequently apprized of our line, it would become known to Hammond, and we should lose all chance of saving any thing more at the treaty than our ultimatum.
The President, at this meeting, mentioned the declaration of some person, in a paper of Fenno, that he would commence an attack on the character of Dr. Franklin. He said, the theme was to him excessively disagreeable on other considerations, but most particularly so, as the party seemed to do it as a means of defending him (the President) against the late attacks on him: that such a mode of defence would be peculiarly painful to him, and he wished it could be stopped. Hamilton and Randolph undertook to speak to Fenno to suppress it, without mentioning it as the President's wish. Both observed, that they had heard this declaration mentioned in many companies, and that it had excited universal horror and detestation.
The paper in Fenno must lie between two persons, viz. Adams and Izard, because they are the only persons who could know such facts as are there promised to be unfolded. Adams is an enemy to both characters, and might choose this ground as an effectual position to injure both. Izard hated Franklin with unparalleled bitterness, but humbly adores the President, because he is in loco regis. If the paper proceeds, we shall easily discover which of these two gentlemen is the champion. In the mean time, the first paper leads our suspicions more towards Izard than Adams, from the circumstance of style, and because he is quite booby enough not to see the injury he would do to the President by such a mode of defence.
February the 28th. Knox, E. Randolph, and myself met at Knox's, where Hamilton was also to have met, to consider the time, manner, and place of the President's swearing in. Hamilton had been there before, and had left his opinion with Knox; to wit, that the President should ask a judge to attend him in his own house to administer the oath, in the presence of the Heads of departments; which oath should be deposited in the Secretary of State's office. I concurred in this opinion. Randolph was for the President's going to the Senate chamber to take the oath, attended by the marshal of the United States, who should then make proclamation, &c. Knox was for this, and for adding the House of Representatives to the presence, as they would not yet be departed. Our individual opinions were written, to be communicated to the President, out of which he might form one. In the course of our conversation, Knox, stickling for parade, got into great warmth, and swore that our government must either be entirely new modeled, or it would be knocked to pieces in less than ten years; and that, as it is at present, he would not give a copper for it; that it is the President's character, and not the written constitution which keeps it together.
Same day. Conversation with Lear. He expressed the strongest confidence that republicanism was the universal creed of America, except of a very few; that a republican administration must of necessity immediately overbear the contrary faction; said that he had seen with extreme regret, that a number of gentlemen had for a long time been endeavoring to instil into the President, that the noise against the administration of the government was that of a little faction, which would soon be silent, and which was detested by the people, who were contented and prosperous: that this very party, however, began to see their error, and that the sense of America was bursting forth to their conviction.
March the 2nd, 1793. See, in the papers of this date, Mr. Giles's resolutions. He and one or two others were sanguine enough to believe, that the palpableness of these resolutions rendered it impossible the House could reject them. Those who knew the composition of the House, 1. of bank directors, 2. holders of bank stock, 3. stock-jobbers, 4. blind devotees, 5. ignorant persons who did not comprehend them, 6. lazy and good-humored persons, who comprehended and acknowledged them, yet were too lazy to examine, or unwilling to pronounce censure; the persons who knew these characters, foresaw, that the three first descriptions making one third of the House, the three latter would make one half of the residue; and of course, that they would be rejected by a majority of two to one. But they thought, that even this rejection would do good, by showing the public the desperate and abandoned dispositions with which their affairs were conducted. The resolutions were proposed, and nothing spared to present them in the fulness of demonstration. There were not more than three or four who voted otherwise than had been expected.
March the 30th, 1793. At our meeting at the President's, February the 25th, in discussing the question, whether we should furnish to France the three millions of livres desired, Hamilton, in speaking on the subject, used this expression; 'When Mr. Genet arrives, whether we shall receive him or not, will then be a question for discussion'; which expression I did not recollect till E. Randolph reminded me of it a few days after. Therefore, on the 20th instant, as the President was shortly to set out for Mount Vernon, I observed to him, that as Genet might arrive in his absence, I wished to know beforehand how I should treat him, whether as a person who would or would not be received. He said, he could see no ground of doubt, but that he ought to be received. On the 24th, he asked E. Randolph's opinion on the subject, saying, he had consulted Colonel Hamilton thereon, who went into lengthy considerations of doubt and difficulty, and viewing it as a very unfortunate thing, that the President should have the decision of so critical a point forced on him; but in conclusion, said, since he was brought into that situation, he did not see but that he must receive Mr. Genet. Randolph told the President, he was clear he should be received, and the President said, he had never had any doubt on the subject in his mind. Afterwards on the same day, he spoke to me again on it, and said, Mr. Genet should unquestionably be received; but he thought not with too much warmth or Cordiality, so only as to be satisfactory to him. I wondered at first at this restriction: but when Randolph afterwards communicated to me his conversation of the 24th, I became satisfied it was a small sacrifice to the opinion of Hamilton.
March the 31st. Mr. Beckley tells me, that the merchants' bonds for duties on six months' credit became due the 1st instant, to a very great amount; that Hamilton went to the bank on that day, and directed the bank to discount for those merchants all their bonds at thirty days, and that he would have the collectors credited for the money at the treasury. Hence, the treasury lumping its receipts by the month in its printed accounts, these sums will be considered by the public as only received on the last day; consequently, the bank makes the month's interest out of it. Beckley had this from a merchant, who had a bond discounted, and who supposes a million of dollars were discounted at the bank here. Mr. Brown got the same information from another merchant, who supposed only six hundred thousand dollars discounted here. But they suppose the same orders went to all the branch banks to a great amount.
Eodem die. Mr. Brown tells me he has it from a merchant here, that during the last winter, the directors of the bank ordered the freest discounts. Every man could obtain it. Money being so flush, the six per cents run up to twenty-one and twenty-two shillings. Then the directors sold out their private stocks. When the discounted notes were becoming due, they stopped discounts, and not a dollar was to be had. This reduced six per cents to eighteen shillings and three pence; then the same directors bought in again.
April the 7th, 1793. Mr. Lear called on me, and introduced of himself a conversation on the affairs of the United States. He laughed at the cry of prosperity, and the deriving it from the establishment of the treasury: he said, that, so far from giving in to this opinion, and that we were paying off our national debt, he was clear the debt was growing on us: that he had lately expressed this opinion to the President, who appeared much astonished at it. I told him I had given the same hint to the President last summer, and lately again had suggested, that we were even depending for the daily subsistence of government on borrowed money. He said, that was certain, and was the only way of accounting for what was become of the money drawn over from Holland to this country. He regretted that the President was not in the way of hearing full information, declared he communicated to him every thing he could learn himself; that the men who vaunted the present government so much on some occasions, were the very men who at other times declared it was a poor thing, and such a one as could not stand, and he was sensible they only esteemed it as a stepping-stone to something else, and had availed themselves of the first moments of the enthusiasm in favor of it, to pervert its principles and make of it what they wanted: and that though they raised the cry of anti-federalism against those who censured the mode of administration, yet he was satisfied, whenever it should come to be tried, that the very men whom they called anti-federalists, were the men who would save the government, and he looked to the next Congress for much rectification.
April the 18th. The President sends a set of questions to be considered, and calls a meeting. Though those sent me were in his own hand-writing, yet it was palpable from the style, their ingenious tissue and suite, that they were not the President's, that they were raised upon a prepared chain of argument, in short, that the language was Hamilton's, and the doubts his alone. They led to a declaration of the executive, that our treaty with France is void. E. Randolph, the next day, told me that the day before the date of these questions, Hamilton went with him through the whole chain of reasoning of which these questions are the skeleton, and that he recognised them the moment he saw them.
We met. The first question, whether we should receive the French minister, Genet, was proposed, and we agreed unanimously that he should be received; Hamilton, at the same time, expressing his great regret that any accident had happened, which should oblige us to recognise the government. The next question was, whether he should be received absolutely, or with qualifications. Here Hamilton took up the whole subject, and went through it in the order in which the questions sketch it. See the chain of his reasoning in my opinion of April the 28th. Knox subscribed at once to Hamilton's opinion that we ought to declare the treaty void, acknowledging, at the same time, like a fool as he is, that he knew nothing about it. I was clear it remained valid. Randolph declared himself of the same opinion, but on Hamilton's undertaking to present to him the authority in Vattel (which we had not present), and to prove to him, that if the authority was admitted, the treaty might be declared void, Randolph agreed to take further time to consider. It was adjourned. We determined unanimously the last question, that Congress should not be called. There having been an intimation by Randolph, that in so great a question he should choose to give a written opinion, and this being approved by the President, I gave in mine April the 28th. Hamilton gave in his. I believe Knox's was never thought worth offering or asking for. Randolph gave his May the 6th, concurring with mine. The President told me, the same day, he had never had a doubt about the validity of the treaty; but that since a question had been suggested, he thought it ought to be considered: that this being done, I might now issue passports to sea-vessels in the form prescribed by the French treaty. I had for a week past only issued the Dutch form; to have issued the French, would have been presupposing the treaty to be in existence. The President suggested, that he thought it would be as well that nothing should be said of such a question having been under consideration. Written May the 6th.
May the 6th, 1793. When the question was, whether the proclamation of April the 22nd should be issued, Randolph observed, that there should be a letter written by me to the ministers of the belligerent powers, to declare that it should not be taken as conclusive evidence against our citizens in foreign courts of admiralty, for contraband goods. Knox suddenly adopted the opinion before Hamilton delivered his. Hamilton opposed it pretty strongly. I thought it an indifferent thing, but rather approved Randolph's opinion. The President was against it; but observed that, as there were three for it, it should go. This was the first instance I had seen of an opportunity to decide by a mere majority, including his own vote.
May the 12th. Lear called on me to-day. Speaking of the lowness of stocks (sixteen shillings), I observed it was a pity we had not money to buy on public account. He said, yes, and that it was the more provoking, as two millions had been borrowed for that purpose, and drawn over here, and yet were not here. That he had no doubt those would take notice of the circumstance whose duty it was to do so. I suppose he must mean the President.
May the 23rd. I had sent to the President, yesterday, draughts of a letter from him to the Provisory Executive Council of France, and of one from myself to Mr. Ternant, both on the occasion of his recall. I called on him to-day. He said there was an expression in one of them, which he had never before seen in any of our public communications, to wit, 'our republic' The letter prepared for him to the Council, began thus: 'The Citizen Ternant has delivered to me the letter wherein you inform me, that yielding &c. you had determined to recall him from his mission, as your Minister Plenipotentiary to our republic.' He had underscored the words our republic. He said that certainly ours was a republican government, but yet we had not used that style in this way; that if any body wanted to change its form into a monarchy, he was sure it was only a few individuals, and that no man in the United States would set his face against it more than himself: but that this was not what he was afraid of; his fears were from another quarter; that there was more danger of anarchy being introduced. He adverted to a piece in Freneau's paper of yesterday; he said he despised all their attacks on him personally, but that there never had been an act of the government, not meaning in the executive line only, but in any line, which that paper had not abused. He had also marked the word republic thus X, where it was applied to the French republic. (See the original paper.) He was evidently sore and warm, and I took his intention to be, that I should interpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk to my office. But I will not do it. His paper has saved our constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has been checked by no one means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and universally known, that it has been that paper which has checked the career of the monocrats; and the President, not sensible of the designs of the party, has not, with his usual good sense and sang froid, looked on the efforts and effects of this free press, and seen that, though some bad things have passed through it to the public, yet the good have preponderated immensely.
June the 7th, 1793. Mr. Beckley, who has returned from New York within a few days, tells me that, while he was there, Sir John Temple, Consul General of the northern States for Great Britain showed him a letter from Sir Gregory Page Turner, a member of parliament for a borough in Yorkshire, who, he said, had been a member for twenty-five years, and always confidential for the ministers in which he permitted him to read particular passages of the following purport: that the government was well apprized of the predominancy of the British interest in the United States; that they considered Colonel Hamilton, Mr. King, and Mr. Smith of South Carolina, as the main supports of that interest; that particularly, they considered Colonel Hamilton, and not Mr. Hammond as their effective minister here; that if the anti-federal interest (that was his term) at the head of which they considered Mr. Jefferson to be should prevail, these gentlemen had secured an asylum to themselves in England.' Beckley could not understand whether they had secured it themselves* or whether they were only notified that it was secured to them. So that they understand that they may go on boldly in their machinations to change the government, and if they should be overset and choose to withdraw, they will be secure of a pension in England, as Arnold, Deane, &c. had. Sir John read passages of a letter (which he did not put into Beckley's hand, as he did the other) from Lord Grenville, saying nearly the same things. This letter mentions Sir John, that though they had divided the Consul-Generalship, and given the southern department to Bond, yet he Sir John, was to retain his whole salary. [By this it would seem, as if, wanting to use Bond, they had covered his employment with this cloak.] Mr. Beckley says that Sir John Temple is a strong republican. I had a proof of his intimacy with Sir John in this circumstance. Sir John received his new commission of Consul General for the northern department, and, instead of sending it through Mr. Hammond, got Beckley to enclose it to me for his exequatur I wrote to Sir John that it must come through Mr Hammond enclosing it back to him. He accordingly then sent it to Mr. Hammond.
[* In the margin is written, by Mr. Jefferson; 'Impossible as to Hamilton; he was far above that.]
In conversation with the President to-day, and speaking about General Greene, he said that he and General Greene had always differed in opinion about the manner of using militia. Greene always placed them in his front: himself was of opinion, they should always be used as a reserve to improve any advantage, for which purpose they were the finest fellows in the world. He said he was on the ground of the battle of Guilford, with a person who was in the action, and who explained the whole of it to him. That General Greene's front was behind a fence at the edge of a large field, through which the enemy were obliged to pass to get at them; and that, in their passage through this, they must have been torn all to pieces, if troops had been posted there who would have stood their ground; and that the retreat from that position was through a thicket, perfectly secure. Instead of this he posted the North Carolina militia there who only gave one fire and fell back, so that the whole benefit of their position was lost. He thinks that the regulars, with their field-pieces, would have hardly let a single man get through that field.
Eodem die (June the 7th). Beckley tells me that he has the following fact from Governor Clinton. That before the proposition for the present General Government, i.e. a little before Hamilton conceived a plan for establishing a monarchical government in the United States, he wrote a draught of a circular letter, which was to be sent to about ———-persons, to bring it about. One of these letters in Hamilton's hand-writing, is now in possession of an old militia General up the North River, who, at that time, was thought orthodox enough to be entrusted in the execution. This General has given notice to Governor Clinton, that he has this paper, and that he will deliver it into his hands, and no one's else. Clinton intends, the first interval of leisure, to go for it, and he will bring it to Philadelphia. Beckley is a man of perfect truth as to what he affirms of his own knowledge, but too credulous as to what he hears from others.
June the 10th, 1793. Mr. Brown gives me the following specimen of the phrenzy which prevailed at New York on the opening of the new government. The first public ball which took place after the President's arrival there, Colonel Humphreys, Colonel W. S. Smith, and Mrs. Knox were to arrange the ceremonials. These arrangements were as follows: a sofa at the head of the room, raised on several steps whereon the President and Mrs. Washington were to be seated. The gentlemen were to dance in swords. Each one, when going to dance, was to lead his partner to the foot of the sofa, make a low obeisance to the President and his lady, then go and dance, and when done, bring his partner again to the foot of the sofa for new obeisances, and then to retire to their chairs. It was to be understood, too, that gentlemen should be dressed in bags. Mrs. Knox contrived to come with the President, and to follow him and Mrs. Washington to their destination, and she had the design of forcing an invitation from the President to a seat on the sofa. She mounted up the steps after them unbidden, but unfortunately the wicked sofa was so short, that when the President and Mrs. Washington were seated, there was not room for a third person; she was obliged therefore to descend in the face of the company, and to sit where she could. In other respects the ceremony was conducted rigorously according to the arrangements, and the President made to pass an evening which his good sense rendered a very miserable one to him.
June the 12th. Beckley tells me that Klingham has been with him to-day, and relates to him the following fact. A certificate of the old Congress had been offered at the treasury and refused payment and so endorsed in red ink as usual. This certificate came to the hands of Francis, (the quondam clerk of the treasury who, on account of his being dipped in the infamous case of the Baron Glaubec, Hamilton had been obliged to dismiss, to save appearances, but with an assurance of all future service, and he accordingly got him established in New York). Francis wrote to Hamilton that such a ticket was offered him, but he could not buy it unless he would inform him and give him his certificate that it was good. Hamilton wrote him a most friendly letter, and sent him the certificate. He bought the paper, and came on here and got it recognised, whereby he made twenty-five hundred dollars Klingham saw both the letter and certificate.
Irving, a clerk in the treasury, an Irishman, is the author of the pieces now coming out under the signature of Verita's and attacking the President. I have long suspected this detestable game was playing by the fiscal party, to place the President on their side.
July the 18th, 1793. Lear calls on me. I told him that Irving, an Irishman, and a writer in the treasury, who, on a former occasion, had given the most decisive proofs of his devotion to his principal, was the author of the pieces signed Veritas: and I wished he could get at some of Irving's acquaintances and inform himself of the fact, as the person who told me of it would not permit the name of his informer to be mentioned. [Note. Beckley told me of it, and he had it from Swaine, the printer to whom the pieces were delivered]; that I had long before suspected this excessive foul play in that party of writing themselves in the character of the most exaggerated democrats and incorporating with it a great deal of abuse on the President to make him believe it was that party who were his enemies, and so throw him entirely into the scale of the monocrats. Lear said he no longer ago than yesterday expressed to the President his suspicions of the artifices of that party to work on him. He mentioned the following fact as a proof of their writing in the character of their adversaries; to wit, the day after the little incident of Richet's toasting 'the man of the people' (see the gazettes), Mrs. Washington was at Mrs. Powel's, who mentioned to her that, when the toast was given, there was a good deal of disapprobation appeared in the audience, and that many put on their hats and went out: on inquiry, he had not found the fact true, and yet it was put into ———'s paper, and written under the character of a republican, though he is satisfied it is altogether a slander of the monocrats. He mentioned this to the President, but he did not mention to him the following fact, which he knows; that in New York, the last summer, when the parties of Jay and Clinton were running so high, it was an agreed point with the former, that if any circumstances should ever bring it to a question, whether to drop Hamilton or the President, they had decided to drop the President. He said that lately one of the loudest pretended friends to the government, damned it, and said it was good for nothing, that it could not support itself, and it was time to put it down and set up a better; and yet the same person, in speaking to the President, puffed off that party as the only friends to the government. He said he really feared, that by their artifices and industry, they would aggravate the President so much against the republicans, as to separate him from the body of the people. I told him what the same cabals had decided to do, if the President had refused his assent to the bank bill; also what Brockhurst Livingston said to ———, that Hamilton's life was much more precious to the community than the President's.
August the 1st. Met at the President's, to consider what was to be done with Mr. Genet. All his correspondence with me was read over. The following propositions were made. 1. That a full statement of Mr. Genet's conduct be made in a letter to G. Morris, and be sent with his correspondence, to be communicated to the Executive Council of France; the letter to be so prepared, as to serve for the form of communication to the Council. Agreed unanimously. 2. That in that letter his recall be required. Agreed by all, though I expressed a preference of expressing that desire with great delicacy; the others were for peremptory terms. 3. To send him off. This was proposed by Knox; but rejected by every other. 4. To write a letter to Mr. Genet, the same in substance with that written to G. Morris, and let him know we had applied for his recall. I was against this, because I thought it would render him extremely active in his plans, and endanger confusion. But I was overruled by the other three gentlemen and the President. 5. That a publication of the whole correspondence, and statement of the proceedings should be made by way of appeal to the people. Hamilton made a jury speech of three quarters of an hour, as inflammatory and declamatory as if he had been speaking to a jury. E. Randolph opposed it. I chose to leave the contest between them. Adjourned to next day.
August the 2nd. Met again. Hamilton spoke again three quarters of an hour. I answered on these topics. Object of the appeal. The democratic society; this the great circumstance of alarm; afraid it would extend its connections over the continent; chiefly meant for the local object of the ensuing election of Governor. If left alone, would die away after that is over. If opposed, if proscribed, would give it importance and vigor; would give it a new object, and multitudes would join it merely to assert the right of voluntary associations. That the measure was calculated to make the President assume the station of the head of a party, instead of the head of the nation. Plan of the appeal. To consist of facts and the decisions of the President. As to facts we are agreed; but as to the decisions, there have been great differences of opinion among us. Sometimes as many opinions as persons. This proves there will be ground to attack the decision. Genet will appeal also; it will become a contest between the President and Genet—anonymous writers—will be same difference of opinion in public, as in our cabinet—will be same difference in Congress, lot it must be laid before them—would, therefore, work very unpleasantly at home. How would it work abroad? France—unkind—after such proofs of her friendship, should rely on that friendship and her justice. Why appeal to the world? Friendly nations always negotiate little differences in private. Never appeal to the world, but when they appeal to the sword. Confederacy of Pilnitz was to overthrow the government of France. The interference of France to disturb other governments and excite insurrections, was a measure of reprisal. Yet these Princes have been able to make it believed to be the system of France. Colonel Hamilton supposes Mr. Genet's proceedings here are in pursuance of that system: and we are so to declare it to the world, and to add our testimony to this base calumny of the Princes. What a triumph to them to be backed by our testimony. What a fatal stroke at the cause of liberty; Et tu, Brute? We indispose the French government, and they will retract their offer of the treaty of commerce. The President manifestly inclined to the appeal to the people.* Knox, in a foolish, incoherent sort of a speech, introduced the pasquinade lately printed, called the funeral of George W—n and James W—-n, King and Judge, &c, where the President was placed on a guillotine. The President was much inflamed; got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself; ran on much on the personal abuse which had been bestowed on him; defied any man on earth to produce one single act of his since he had been in the government, which was not done on the purest motives; that he had never repented but once the having slipped the moment of resigning his office, and that was every moment since; that by God he had rather be in his grave than in his present situation; that he had rather be on his farm than to be made Emperor of the world; and yet that they were charging him with wanting to be a King. That that rascal Freneau sent him three of his papers every day, as if he thought he would become the distributor of his papers; that he could see in this, nothing but an impudent design to insult him: he ended in this high tone. There was a pause. Some difficulty in resuming our question; it was, however, after a little while, presented again, and he said there seemed to be no necessity for deciding it now; the propositions before agreed on might be put into a train of execution, and perhaps events would show whether the appeal would be necessary or not. He desired we would meet at my office the next day, to consider what should be done with the vessels armed in our ports by Mr. Genet, and their prizes.
* He said that Mr. Morris, taking a family dinner with him the other day, went largely, and of his own accord, into this subject; advised this appeal, and promised, if the President adopted it, that he would support it himself, and engage for all his connections. The President repeated this twice, and with an air of importance. Now Mr. Morris has no family connections; he engaged then for his political friends. This shows that the President has not confidence enough in the virtue and good sense of mankind, to confide in a government bottomed on them, and thinks other props necessary.
August the 3rd. We met. The President wrote to take our opinions, whether Congress should be called. Knox pronounced at once against it. Randolph was against it. Hamilton said his judgment was against it, but that if any two were for it, or against it, he would join them to make a majority. I was for it. We agreed to give separate opinions to the President. Knox said we should have had fine work, if Congress had been sitting these two last months. The fool thus let out the secret. Hamilton endeavored to patch up the indiscretion of this blabber, by saying 'he did not know; he rather thought they would have strengthened the executive arm.'
It is evident they do not wish to lengthen the session of the next Congress, and probably they particularly wish it should not meet till Genet is gone. At this meeting I received a letter from Mr. Remsen at New York, informing me of the event of the combat between the Ambuscade and the Boston. Knox broke out into the most unqualified abuse of Captain Courtnay. Hamilton, with less fury, but with the deepest vexation, loaded him with censures. Both showed the most unequivocal mortification at the event.
August the 6th, 1793. The President calls on me at my house in the country, and introduces my letter of July the 31st, announcing that I should resign at the close of the next month. He again expressed his repentance at not having resigned himself, and how much it was increased by seeing that he was to be deserted by those on whose aid he had counted: that he did not know where he should look to find characters to fill up the offices; that mere talents did not suffice for the department of State, but it required a person conversant in foreign affairs, perhaps acquainted with foreign courts; that without this, the best talents would be awkward and at a loss. He told me that Colonel Hamilton had three or four weeks ago written to him, informing him that private as well as public reasons had brought him to the determination to retire, and that he should do it towards the close of the next session. He said he had often before intimated dispositions to resign, but never as decisively before; that he supposed he had fixed on the latter part of next session, to give an opportunity to Congress to examine into his conduct: that our going out at times so different, increased his difficulty; for if he had both places to fill at once, he might consult both the particular talents and geographical situation of our successors. He expressed great apprehensions at the fermentation which seemed to be working in the mind of the public; that many descriptions of persons, actuated by different causes, appeared to be uniting; what it would end in he knew not; a new Congress was to assemble, more numerous, perhaps of a different spirit; the first expressions of their sentiment would be important; if I would only stay to the end of that, it would relieve him considerably.
I expressed to him my excessive repugnance to public life, the particular uneasiness of my situation in this place, where the laws of society oblige me always to move exactly in the circle which I know to bear me peculiar hatred; that is to say, the wealthy aristocrats, the merchants connected closely with England, the new created paper fortunes; that thus surrounded, my words were caught, multiplied, misconstrued, and even fabricated and spread abroad to my injury; that he saw also, that there was such an opposition of views between myself and another part of the administration, as to render it peculiarly unpleasing, and to destroy the necessary harmony. Without knowing the views of what is called the republican party here, or having any communication with them, I could, undertake to assure him, from my intimacy with that party in the late Congress, that there was not a view in the republican party as spread over the United States, which went to the frame of the government; that I believed the next Congress would attempt nothing material, but to render their own body independent; that that party were firm in their dispositions to support the government; that the manoeuvres of Mr. Genet might produce some little embarrassment, but that he would be abandoned by the republicans the moment they knew the nature of his conduct; and on the whole, no crisis existed which threatened any thing.
He said, he believed the views of the republican party were perfectly pure, but when men put a machine into motion, it is impossible for them to stop it exactly where they would choose, or to say where it will stop. That the constitution we have is an excellent one, if we can keep it where it is; that it was, indeed, supposed there was a party disposed to change it into a monarchical form, but that he could conscientiously declare there was not a man in the United States who would set his face more decidedly against it than himself. Here I interrupted him by saying, 'No rational man in the United States suspects you of any other disposition; but there does not pass a week, in which we cannot prove declarations dropping from the monarchical party, that our government is good for nothing, is a milk-and-water thing which cannot support itself, we must knock it down, and set up something of more energy. He said, if that was the case, he thought it a proof of their insanity, for that the republican spirit of the Union was so manifest and so solid, that it was astonishing how any one could expect to move it.
He returned to the difficulty of naming my successor; he said Mr. Madison would be his first choice, but that he had always expressed to him such a decision against public office, that he could not expect he would undertake it. Mr. Jay would prefer his present office. He said that Mr. Jay had a great opinion of the talents of Mr. King; that there was also Mr. Smith of South Carolina, and E. Rutledge: but he observed, that, name whom he would, some objections would be made, some would be called speculators, some one thing, some another; and he asked me to mention any characters occurring to me. I asked him if Governor Johnson of Maryland had occurred to him. He said he had; that he was a man of great good sense, an honest man, and, he believed, clear of speculations: but this, says he, is an instance of what I was observing; with all these qualifications, Governor Johnson, from a want of familiarity with foreign affairs, would be in them like a fish out of water; every thing would be new to him, and he awkward in every thing. I confessed to him that I had considered Johnson rather as fit for the Treasury department. 'Yes,' says he, 'for that he would be the fittest appointment that could be made; he is a man acquainted with figures, and having as good a knowledge of the resources of this country as any man.' I asked him if Chancellor Livingston had occurred to him. He said yes; but he was from New York, and to appoint him while Hamilton was in, and before it should be known he was going out, would excite a newspaper conflagration, as the ultimate arrangement would not be known. He said McLurg had occurred to him as a man of first-rate abilities, but it is said that he is a speculator. He asked me what sort of a man Wolcot was. I told him I knew nothing of him myself; I had heard him characterized as a cunning man. I asked him whether some person could not take my office per interim, till he should make an appointment; as Mr. Randolph, for instance. 'Yes,' says he; 'but there you would raise the expectation of keeping it, and I do not know that he is fit for it, nor what is thought of Mr. Randolph.' I avoided noticing the last observation, and he put the question to me directly. I then told him, I went into society so little as to be unable to answer it. I knew that the embarrassments in his private affairs had obliged him to use expedients, which had injured him with the merchants and shop-keepers, and affected his character of independence; that these embarrassments were serious, and not likely to cease soon. He said, if I would only stay in till the end of another quarter (the last of December), it would get us through the difficulties of this year, and he was satisfied that the affairs of Europe would be settled with this campaign: for that either France would be overwhelmed by it, or the confederacy would give up the contest. By that time, too, Congress will have manifested its character and views. I told him that I had set my private affairs in motion in a line which had powerfully called for my presence the last spring, and that they had suffered immensely from my not going home; that I had now calculated them to my return in the fall, and to fail in going then, would be the loss of another year, and prejudicial beyond measure. I asked him whether he could not name Governor Johnson to my office, under an express arrangement that at the close of the session he should take that of the Treasury. He said that men never chose to descend; that being once in a higher department, he would not like to go into a lower one. He asked me whether I could not arrange my affairs by going home. I told him I did not think the public business would admit of it; that there never was a day now, in which the absence of the Secretary of State would not be inconvenient to the public. And he concluded by desiring that I would take two or three days to consider whether I could not stay in till the end of another quarter, for that, like a man going, to the gallows, he was willing to put it off as long as he could; but if I persisted, he must then look about him and make up his mind to do the best he could: and so he took leave.
November the 5th, 1793. E. Randolph tells me, that Hamilton, in conversation with him yesterday, said, 'Sir, if all the people in America were now assembled, and to call on me to say whether I am a friend to the French revolution, I would declare that I have it in abhorrence?'
November the 8th, 1793. At a conference at the President's, where I read several letters of Mr. Genet; on finishing one of them, I asked what should be the answer. The President thereupon took occasion to observe, that Mr. Genet's conduct continued to be of so extraordinary a nature, that he meant to propose to our serious consideration, whether he should not have his functions discontinued, and be ordered away. He went lengthily into observations on his conduct, to raise against the executive, 1. the people, 2. the State governments, 3. the Congress. He showed he felt the venom of Genet's pen, but declared he would not choose his insolence should be regarded any farther, than as might be thought to affect the honor of the country. Hamilton and Knox readily and zealously argued for dismissing Mr. Genet. Randolph opposed it with firmness, and pretty lengthily. The President replied to him lengthily, and concluded by saying he did not wish to have the thing hastily decided, but that we should consider of it, and give our opinions on his return from Reading and Lancaster. Accordingly, November the 18th, we met at his house; read new volumes of Genet's letters, received since the President's departure; then took up the discussion of the subjects of communication to Congress. 1. The Proclamation. E. Randolph read the statement he had prepared; Hamilton did not like it; said much about his own views; that the President had a right to declare his opinion to our citizens and foreign nations; that it was not the interest of this country to join in the war, and that we were under no obligation to join in it; that though the declaration would not legally bind Congress, yet the President had a right to give his opinion of it, and he was against any explanation in the speech, which should yield that he did not intend that foreign nations should consider it as a declaration of neutrality, future as well as present; that he understood it as meant to give them that sort of assurance and satisfaction, and to say otherwise now, would be a deception on them. He was for the President's using such expressions, as should neither affirm his right to make such a declaration to foreign nations, nor yield it. Randolph and myself opposed the right of the President to declare any thing future on the question, Shall there or shall there not be a war? and that no such thing was intended; that Hamilton's construction of the effect of the proclamation would have been a determination of the question of the guarantee, which we both denied to have intended, and I had at the time declared the executive incompetent to. Randolph said he meant that foreign nations should understand it as an intimation of the President's opinion, that neutrality would be our interest. I declared my meaning to have been, that foreign nations should understand no such thing; that, on the contrary, I would have chosen them to be doubtful, and to come and bid for our neutrality. I admitted the President, having received the nation at the close of Congress in a state of peace, was bound to preserve them in that state till Congress should meet again, and might proclaim any thing which went no farther. The President declared he never had an idea that he could bind Congress against declaring war, or that any thing contained in his proclamation could look beyond the first day of their meeting. His main view was to keep our people in peace; he apologized for the use of the term neutrality in his answers, and justified it, by having submitted the first of them (that to the merchants, wherein it was used) to our consideration, and we had not objected to the term. He concluded in the end, that Colonel Hamilton should prepare a paragraph on this subject for the speech, and it should then be considered. We were here called to dinner.
After dinner, the renvoi of Genet was proposed by himself. I opposed it on these topics. France, the only nation on earth sincerely our friend. The measure so harsh a one, that no precedent is produced where it has not been followed by war. Our messenger has now been gone eighty-four days; consequently, we may hourly expect the return, and to be relieved by their revocation of him. Were it now resolved on, it would be eight or ten days before the matter on which the order should be founded, could be selected, arranged, discussed, and forwarded. This would bring us within four or five days of the meeting of Congress. Would it not be better to wait and see how the pulse of that body, new as it is, would beat. They are with us now, probably, but such a step as this may carry many over to Genet's side. Genet will not obey the order, &c. &c. The President asked me what I would do if Genet sent the accusation to us to be communicated to Congress, as he threatened in the letter to Moultrie. I said I would not send it to Congress; but either put it in the newspapers, or send it back to him to be published if he pleased. Other questions and answers were put and returned in a quicker altercation than I ever before saw the President use. Hamilton was for the renvoi; spoke much of the dignity of the nation; that they were now to form their character; that our conduct now would tempt or deter other foreign ministers from treating us in the same manner; touched on the President's personal feelings; did not believe France would make it a cause of war; if she did, we ought to do what was right, and meet the consequences, &c. Knox on the same side, and said he thought it very possible Mr. Genet would either declare us a department of France, or levy troops here and endeavor to reduce us to obedience. Randolph of my opinion, and argued chiefly on the resurrection of popularity to Genet, which might be produced by this measure. That at present he was dead in the public opinion, if we would but leave him so. The President lamented there was not unanimity among us; that as it was, we had left him exactly where we found him; and so it ended.
November the 21st. We met at the President's. The manner of explaining to Congress the intentions of the proclamation, was the matter of debate. Randolph produced his way of stating it. This expressed its views to have been, 1. to keep our citizens quiet; 2. to intimate to foreign nations that it was the President's opinion, that the interests and dispositions of this country were for peace. Hamilton produced his statement, in which he declared his intention to be, to say nothing which could be laid hold of for any purpose; to leave the proclamation to explain itself. He entered pretty fully into all the argumentation of Pacificus; he justified the right of the President to declare his opinion for a future neutrality, and that there existed no circumstances to oblige the United States to enter into the war on account of the guarantee; and that in agreeing to the proclamation, he meant it to be understood as conveying both those declarations; viz. neutrality, and that the casus foederis on the guarantee did not exist. He admitted the Congress might declare war, notwithstanding these declarations of the President. In like manner, they might declare war in the face of a treaty, and in direct infraction of it. Among other positions laid down by him, this was with great positiveness; that the constitution having given power to the President and Senate to make treaties, they might make a treaty of neutrality which should take from Congress the right to declare war in that particular case, and that under the form of a treaty they might exercise any powers whatever, even those exclusively given by the constitution to the House of Representatives. Randolph opposed this position, and seemed to think that where they undertook to do acts by treaty (as to settle a tariff of duties), which were exclusively given to the legislature, that an act of the legislature would be necessary to confirm them, as happens in England, when a treaty interferes with duties established by law. I insisted that in giving to the President and Senate a power to make treaties, the constitution meant only to authorize them to carry into effect, by way of treaty, any powers they might constitutionally exercise. I was sensible of the weak points in this position, but there were still weaker in the other hypothesis; and if it be impossible to discover a rational measure of authority to have been given by this clause, I would rather suppose that the cases which my hypothesis would leave unprovided, were not thought of by the convention, or if thought of, could not be agreed on, or were thought of and deemed unnecessary to be invested in the government. Of this last description, were treaties of neutrality, treaties offensive and defensive, &c. In every event, I would rather construe so narrowly as to oblige the nation to amend, and thus declare what powers they would agree to yield, than too broadly, and, indeed, so broadly as to enable the executive and Senate to do things which the constitution forbids. On the question, which form of explaining the principles of the proclamation should be adopted, I declared for Randolph's, though it gave to that instrument more objects than I had contemplated. Knox declared for Hamilton's. The President said he had had but one object, the keeping our people quiet till Congress should meet; that nevertheless, to declare he did not mean a declaration of neutrality, in the technical sense of the phrase, might perhaps be crying peccavi before he was charged. However, he did not decide between the two draughts.
November the 23rd. At the President's. Present, Knox, Randolph, and Th: Jefferson. Subject, the heads of the speech. One was, a proposition to Congress to fortify the principal harbors. I opposed the expediency of the General Government's undertaking it, and the expediency of the President's proposing it. It was amended, by substituting a proposition to adopt means for enforcing respect to the jurisdiction of the United States within its waters. It was proposed to recommend the establishment of a military academy. I objected that none of the specified powers given by the constitution to Congress, would authorize this. It was, therefore, referred for further consideration and inquiry. Knox was for both propositions. Randolph against the former, but said nothing as to the latter. The President acknowledged he had doubted of the expediency of undertaking the former; and as to the latter, though it would be a good thing, he did not wish to bring on any thing which might generate heat and ill-humor. It was agreed that Randolph should draw the speech and the messages.
November the 28th. Met at the President's. I read over a list of the papers copying, to be communicated to Congress on the subject of Mr. Genet. It was agreed that Genet's letter of August the 13th to the President, mine of August the 16th, and Genet's of November to myself and the Attorney General, desiring a prosecution of Jay and King, should not be sent to the legislature: on a general opinion, that the discussion of the fact certified by Jay and King had better be left to the channel of the newspapers, and in the private hands in which it now is, than for the President to meddle in it, or give room to a discussion of it in Congress.
Randolph had prepared a draught of the speech. The clause recommending fortifications was left out; but that for a military academy was inserted. I opposed it, as unauthorized by the constitution. Hamilton and Knox approved it without discussion. Randolph was for it, saying that the words of the constitution anthorizing Congress to lay taxes, &c. for the common defence, might comprehend it. The President said he would not choose to recommend any thing against the constitution, but if it was doubtful, he was so impressed with the necessity of this measure, that he would refer it to Congress, and let them decide for themselves whether the constitution authorized it or not. It was, therefore, left in. I was happy to see that Randolph had, by accident, used the expression 'our republic,' in the speech. The President, however, made no objection to it, and so, as much as it had disconcerted him on a former occasion with me, it was now put into his own mouth to be pronounced to the two Houses of legislature.
No material alterations were proposed or made in any part of the draught.
After dinner, I produced the draught of messages on the subject of France and England, proposing that that relative to Spain should be subsequent and secret.
Hamilton objected to the draught in toto; said that the contrast drawn between the conduct of France and England amounted to a declaration of war; he denied that France had ever done us favors; that it was mean for a nation to acknowledge favors; that the dispositions of the people of this country towards France, he considered as a serious calamity; that the executive ought not, by an echo of this language, to nourish that disposition in the people; that the offers in commerce made us by France, were the offspring of the moment, of circumstances which would not last, and it was wrong to receive as permanent, things merely temporary; that he could demonstrate that Great Britain showed us more favors than France. In complaisance to him I whittled down the expressions without opposition; struck out that of 'favors ancient and recent' from France; softened some terms, and omitted some sentiments respecting Great Britain. He still was against the whole, but insisted that, at any rate, it should be a secret communication, because the matters it stated were still depending. These were, 1. the inexecution of the treaty; 2. the restraining our commerce to their own ports and those of their friends. Knox joined Hamilton in every thing. Randolph was for the communications; that the documents respecting the first should be given in as public; but that those respecting the second should not be given to the legislature at all, but kept secret. I began to tremble now for the whole, lest all should be kept secret. I urged, especially, the duty now incumbent on the President, to lay before the legislature and the public what had passed on the inexecution of the treaty, since Mr. Hammond's answer of this month might be considered as the last we should ever have; that, therefore, it could no longer be considered as a negotiation pending. I urged that the documents respecting the stopping our corn ought also to go, but insisted that if it should be thought better to withhold them, the restrictions should not go to those respecting the treaty; that neither of these subjects was more in a state of pendency than the recall of Mr. Genet, on which, nevertheless, no scruples had been expressed. The President took up the subject with more vehemence than I have seen him show, and decided without reserve, that not only what had passed on the inexecution of the treaty should go in as public (in which Hamilton and Knox had divided in opinion from Randolph and myself), but also that those respecting the stopping our corn should go in as public (wherein Hamilton, Knox, and Randolph had been against me.) This was the first instance I had seen of his deciding on the opinion of one against that of three others, which proved his own to have been very strong.
December the 1st, 1793. Beckley tells me he had the following fact from Lear. Langdon, Cabot, and some others of the Senate, standing in a knot before the fire after the Senate had adjourned, and growling together about some measure which they had just lost; 'Ah!' said Cabot, 'things will never go right till you have a President for life, and an hereditary Senate.' Langdon told this to Lear, who mentioned it to the President. The President seemed struck with it, and declared he had not supposed there was a man in the United States who could have entertained such an idea.
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 competition 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 assigned 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 embarrassed 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 circumstances 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, 'Damn 'em, damn 'em, damn '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 Coxe 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,' &c.
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 associates 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 passage and adoption of the constitution 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 institutions. We then got on the constitution; 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 passions; that he thought our Senate as well constituted 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 assembly 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 constitution, 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.