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entirely by the United States, yet when it is considered as a composition of differences, where mutual complaints had rendered mutual concessions necessary to establish a good understanding, I think it may fairly be said, that as little has been conceded by Mr. Jay, and as much obtained for the United States, as under all circumstances considered could be expected."
Arthough secrecy was enjoined, yet one member of the senate soon after that body had advised its ratification, caused the treaty to be published in one of the public newspapers in Philadelphia, and it immediately became a subject of discussion.
Many of the opponents of the administration and those, who had been hostile to the mission of Mr. Jay, were prepared to pronounce its condemnation; and such was the state of public feeling against Great Britain, that a temperate, impartial and unimpassioned examination of its merits was not to be expected. The people at large, unaccustomed to view a subject of this nature and magnitude, in all its bearings, to compare its advantages and disadvantages, could easily be induced to pronounce a verdict against a treaty, that did not contain every concession from their adversary.
Meetings of the citizens were held in different parts of the union, on the subject. At some of these meeting the passions, rather than the understandings of the people, were addressed, and resolutions were passed, condemning the treaty in the most unqualified manner. The people were made to believe, that the advantages were entirely on the side of Great Britain, and that the interest of France had been sacrificed. Numerous resolutions and addresses against the treaty were presented to the president, requesting him to withhold his assent. Early in July the citizens of Boston, at a town meeting, passed resolutions against it, and sent them to him by express. His answer to the citizens of this town, disclosed the course he intended to pursue on this occasion, so interesting to his country; a course, alike firm and dignified. After stating that in every act of his administration, he had sought the happiness of his fellow citizens; and that, to obtain this ob
ject, overlooking all local, partial or personal considerations, he had contemplated the United States as one great whole, and confiding that sudden impressions, when erroneous, would yield to candid reflection, he had consulted only the substantial and permanent interests of his country, he added,-" Without a predilection for my own judgement, I have weighed with attention, every argument which has, at any time, been brought into view. But the constitution is the guide, which I never can abandon. It has assigned to the president the power of making treaties, with the advice and consent of the senate. It was doubtless supposed that these two branches of government would combine without passion, and with the best means of information, those facts and principles upon which the success of our foreign relations will always depend; that they ought not to substitute for their own conviction the opinions of others; or to seek truth through any channel, but that of a temperate and well informed investigation. Under this persuasion, I have resolved on the manner of executing the duty before me. To the high responsibility attached to it, I freely submit ; and you, gentlemen, are at liberty to make these sentiments known, as the ground of my procedure. While I feel the most lively gratitude for the many instances of approbation from my country, I can no otherwise deserve it, than by obeying the dictates of my conscience."
While this subject was under the consideration of the president, news arrived of the renewal of the British orders, for stopping provisions destined for France. This created doubts in the mind of the president, whether he should ratify the treaty, until satisfactory explanations were given on this part of it. He directed a memorial or remonstrance to be prepared against the renewal of these orders. In the mean time, his private business called him to Mount Vernon. He here constantly met with the proceedings of the people in different parts of the union against the treaty; and the extent and nature of the opposition, as well as his own feelings and reflections on the subject, are disclosed in his private letters to the secretary of state.
In one of the 29th of July, he says" I view the opposition which the treaty is receiving from the meetings in different parts
of the union, in a very serious light. Not because there is more weight in any of the objections that are made to it, than were presented at first; for there are none in some of them, gross misrepresentations in others. Nor as it respects myself personally; for this shall have no influence on my conduct; plainly perceiving, and I am accordingly preparing my mind for the obloquy, which disappointment and malice are collecting, to heap upon my character. But I am alarmed on account of the effect it may have on the advantage the French government may be disposed to make of the spirit which is at work; to cherish a belief in them, that the treaty is calculated to favor Great Britain, at their expense. Whether they believe or disbelieve these tales, the effect it will have upon the nation will be nearly the same; for while they are at war with that power, or so long as the animosity between the two nations exists, it will, no matter at whose expense, be their policy, and it is feared it will be their conduct, to prevent us from being on good terms with Great Britain, or from her deriving any advantage from our commerce, which they can prevent, however much we may be benefitted ourselves. To what length this policy and interest may carry them, is problematical; but when they see the people of this country divided, and such a violent opposition given to the measures of their own government, particularly in their favor, it may be extremely embarrassing, to say no more of it.
"To sum the whole up in a few words. I have never seen a crisis, which in my judgment, has been so pregnant of interesting events; nor one from which more is to be apprehended; whether viewed on one side or the other."
In another, written three days after this, he observes, "To be wise and temperate, as well as firm, the crisis most eminently calls for; for there is too much reason to believe, from the pains which have been taken before, at and since the advice of the senate respecting the treaty, that the prejudices against it are more extensive than is generally imagined. This, from men who are of no party, but well disposed to the government, I have lately learned is the case. How should it be otherwise? when
no stone has been left unturned, that would impress the people's minds with the most arrant misrepresentations of facts—that their rights have not only been neglected, but absolutely sold—that there are no reciprocal advantages in the treaty; that the benefits are all on the side of Great Britain; and what seems to have more weight than all the rest, and has been most pressed, is, that this treaty is made with a design to oppress the French, in open violation of a treaty with that nation, and contrary too, to every principle of gratitude and sound policy. In time, when passion shall have yielded to sober reason, the current may possibly turn; but in the mean while, this government, in relation to France and England, may be compared to a ship between the rocks of Sylla and Charybdis. If the treaty is ratified, the partizans of France (or rather of war and confusion) will excite them to hostile measures; or, at least, to unfriendly sentiments. If it is not, there is no foreseeing all the consequences that may follow, as it respects Great Britain. It is not to be inferred from this that I am, or shall be disposed to quit the ground I have taken; unless circumstances, more imperious than have yet come to my knowledge, shall compel it; for there is but one straight course in these things and that is, to seek truth, and pursue it steadily."
The president returned to Philadelphia, on the 11th of August, and the treaty was ratified on the 14th, on the terms proposed by the senate. In the negociations with Great Britain, perfect good faith was observed towards France. The French minister here, was informed, that Mr. Jay had instructions not to weaken the engagements with his nation; and Mr. Munroe was directed to make a similar communication to the French government at Paris. Soon after the senate advised its ratification, a copy of it was submitted to Mr. Adet by direction of the president, with a request that he would state his objections. On the 30th of June, he, in a note to the secretary of state, referred to such parts as appeared to him, to destroy the effect of the treaty with France. The stipulations referred to, were those which made naval stores contraband of war, excluded from that list in the
French treaty; which subjected to seizure enemy's property in neutral bottoms, and admitted prizes in American ports. To the first and second, the American secretary immediately answered, that naval stores were contraband by the law of nations, that by the same law, enemy's property in neutral bottoms was good prize, and that on these points, Great Britain could not be prevailed upon to relax; and with respect to the admission of prizes into American ports, this privilege did not extend to those made from the French, during the present or any future war, because contrary to the existing treaty with France.
It is proper here to state, that in the summer of this year, a treaty was made with the western Indians. In consequence of this, and the treaties made with Great Britain, Spain, and Algiers, the United States were not only relieved from Indian hostilities, but in a degree, from their embarrassments with foreign nations, and left more at liberty to attend to their domestic concerns. Alluding to these important events, as well as to the internal prosperity of the country, the president, at the opening of the session of congress, in December, 1795, expressed a persuasion, that he had never met the national legislature, when the public affairs of the United States, afforded more just cause of mutual congratulation, or called for more "profound gratitude to the author of all good, for the numerous and extraordinary blessings they enjoyed." He officially announced, that after full and mature reflection, he had added his sanction to the treaty with Great Britain; and that when ratified on the part of the British government, it would be placed before congress. After recommending to their attention the military establishment, the system of intercourse with the Indians, and additional provisions for the redemption of the public debt, the president concluded by observing that, "temperate discussion of the important subjects which would arise in the course of the session; and mutual forbearance, where there was a difference of opinion, were too obvious and necessary for the peace, happiness, and welfare of the country, to need any recommendation from him." While the majority in the senate in favor of the administration had increased,