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The prejudices of the people against Great Britain, arising from recent as well as ancient causes of controversy, and their partialities in favor of France, were made subservient to the views of the leaders of the opposition, and brought to bear against the administration of the general government. And though few would openly declare that the United States ought to make common cause with the new republic, yet many openly took part with the French minister against their own government, and advocated measures, which, if adopted, would necessarily bring them in collision with the enemies of France. While the president was using all the means in his power to preserve his country from the calamities of war, he was accused of particular friendship for Great Britain, and of hostility to France, of favoring the one at the expense of the other; nay, was charged with an intention of joining the coalition against France.
The following extracts from two of the leading and most influ ential opposition newspapers of the day, will serve, among others of a similar character, to shew the spirit which prevailed against the father of his country.
As early as July, 1793, the National Gazette, printed at the seat of government, and edited by one of the clerks in the department of state, had the following paragraph-"The minister of France, I hope, will act with firmness and with spirit. The people are his friends, or the friends of France, and he will have nothing to apprehend; for as yet, the people are sovereign of the United States. Too much complacency is an injury done his cause, for as every advantage is already taken of France, (not by the people) further condescension may lead to further abuse. If one of the leading features of our government is pusillanimity, when the British lion shows his teeth, let France and her minister act as becomes the dignity and justice of their cause, and the honor and faith of nations."
"It is no longer possible to doubt," said the General Advertiser, also published at Philadelphia, " that the intention of the executive of the United States is, to look upon the treaty of amity and commerce which exists between France and America, as a
nullity; and that they are prepared to join the league of kings against France."
Societies, in imitation of the Jacobin clubs in Paris, were formed in different parts of the United States, (no doubt by the direction and advice of Mr. Genet,) styled democratic societies, ostensibly for the purpose of securing liberty, but really, with a view more effectually to oppose the measures of the administration, and to promote the views of the French minister. The acts and proceedings of these societies breathed a spirit of hostility against the president, and were calculated to destroy all regular government.
No circumstances were left unattended to on the part of the French republic, or its minister, to engage the people in their favor. Their interest, their pride, their prejudices, their sense of gratitude for past services, and their natural sympathies towards a nation struggling for liberty, were all addressed.
The French frigate, which brought Genet to this country, was an object of curiosity, as she entered the American ports, and the inscriptions on her masts, proclaimed the principles by which the republic professed to be governed, and were calculated to catch the attention and interest the feelings of the numerous spectators, who daily crowded her decks.*
The conduct, however, of the French minister towards the chief magistrate, the unparalleled atrocities committed by the rival factions in France, and the beheading of the king and queen, who had been considered the greatest benefactors of America in the war of the revolution, at length greatly weakened the cause of the French republic, in the minds of the dispassionate and considerate portion of the American people. In August a rumor was in circulation in New York, that Mr. Genet, dissatisfied with the decision of the president, on some important question, had threatened to appeal to the people. This being denied, Mr. Jay and Mr. King, who had then just returned from Philadelphia, were
On the fore mast was inscribed,--Enemies of equality, change or tremble.
called upon for information. They gave a certificate under their hands, which was immediately published, that the same was true.
These proceedings drew from Mr. Genet a letter, addressed to the president himself, in which, calling these rumors “dark calumnies," which he wished to dissipate, he requested from him the following explicit declaration, "that I have never intimated to you an intention of appealing to the people; that it is not true, that a difference of opinion in political sentiments, has ever betrayed me to forget what was due to your character, or to the exalted reputation you have acquired, by humbling a tyrant, against whom you have fought, in the cause of liberty." "To you alone," he added, in the same letter, "through the secretary of state, have I declared, that the federal government, far from manifesting any regard for our generous conduct towards this country-for the new advantages which are offering to her commerce -or for the reiterated demonstrations of our real and disinterested friendship, were sacrificing our interests to those of our enemies, by their interpretation of the treaties which exist between us. To you I have represented, without reserve, that this conduct did not appear to correspond with the views of the people of America, with their desire to observe, with fidelity, their public engagements, or with their affectionate regard for the cause of liberty, upon which their very existence depend." In answer to this communication, the secretary of state was directed to inform Mr. Genet, that no direct correspondence took place between the president and foreign ministers. He was directed also to add, "The president does not conceive it to be within the line of propriety or duty for him to bear evidence against a declaration, which, whether made to him, or others, is perhaps immaterial, he therefore, declines interfering in the case."
The certificate given by Mr. Jay and Mr. King, drew upon them the indignation of the French minister and his adherents. Pretending still to deny the charge, Genet requested of the president, that prosecutiont be instituted against the authors of it. This subject, for form's sake, probably, was referred to the attorney general. Mr. Jay and Mr. King, conceiving their
characters for veracity to be indirectly called in question, held a correspondence and conference with the president; and they were furnished with a copy of a report made to him, by the secretary of state, in the affair of the vessel called the Little Democrat; in which it was particularly stated, that such a threat had been made by the French minister. The publication of Mr. Genet's letter to the president, and the answer of the secretary, disclosed distinctly to the American people, that a serious misunderstanding existed between the American executive and the French minister; and they were perfectly satisfied, that if this threat had not been made to the president himself, it was made to others. The great mass of American citizens were indignant at this attempt, on the part of a foreign minister, to separate them from the government and rulers of their choice, particularly from their chief magistrate, in whom they placed the highest confidence.
Meetings of the citizens were held in different parts of the union, and resolutions passed, expressing an entire approbation of the proclamation and of the measures taken by the executive to preserve their country in peace.
The president himself always remained satisfied with the propriety and policy of this great and important measure of his administration.
In his farewell address to the American people on retiring from office, he expressed his most unqualified approbation of it. "In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe," he said, "my proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me; uninfluenced by any attempts to deter me from it."
Political relations with Great Britain under the new government--The president informally sounds the British government relative to the inexecution of the treaty, and a commercial intercourse-Discriminating duties in the United States claim the attention of the British ministry-Referred to the committee of trade and plantations in September, 1789-Report of the committee on this subject, and also with regard to the terms of a commercial treaty with the United States-West India trade not to be open to the Americans, nor the principle admitted that free ships should make free goods-English minister arrives in the United States-Enters into discussion with the secretary of state, on the subject of the treaty-This discussion broken off, by the new state of things in Europe-British orders of June 8th, 1793, relative to certain articles of provisions destined to France-American government remonstrates against these orders-Treaties between Great Britain and Russia, and other powers on this subject-Similar orders issued by Russia and other nations in Europe-Reasons given in justification of them-Answers of some of the European neutrals-Algerine cruisers let loose upon American commerce in the Atlantic, in consequence of a truce between Algiers and Portugal-This truce made by a British agent-Many American vessels captured, and their crews made slaves-Speech of the president at the opening of congress in December, 1793-Report of the secretary of state concerning foreign restrictions on American commerce-Mr. Jefferson resigns Mr. Madison's commercial resolutions-New British orders respecting the West India trade-American vessels bound to the West Indies taken and condemned-Congress divided as to the mode of resisting these aggressions on neutral rights, and obtaining satisfaction and indemnity---Various plans proposed in the house of representatives---British establish a new military post at the rapids of the Miami of the lake---Mr. Jay nominated minister extraordinary to London---Reasons of the president for this mission---Mr. Jay's instructions---Non-intercourse bill passed by the house, but rejected in the senate-Congress take measures of defenseLay additional internal taxes-Pass acts to prevent the violation of the neutrality and sovereignty of the country-Fauchet arrives as successor to Genet-Has orders to send Genet to France-Requests liberty of the president to take him by force or stratagem-President refuses his request-Views of the French government not changed-Mr. Morriss recalled from France, and Mr. Munroe appointed his successor-His instructions.
For the purpose of presenting a connected view of the prominent measures of the new government, as well as of the political relations of the United States with France, to the close of the year 1793; we have omitted to notice the state of their relations with Great Britain, during this period.