« PreviousContinue »
CHAP. VI. easily persuaded to believe that the navigation of 1793. the Mississippi was a mine of wealth which would
at once enrich them, by furnishing for the
of the means placed in the hands of the executive CHAP. VI. for inducing a change in this determination, they 1793. demanded from the government the free use of the Mississippi, as if only an act of the will was necessary to ensure it to them. These intempe. rate dispositions were not moderated or restrained by the apprehension that the public expression of them might perpetuate the evil by encouraging the hope that its continuance would separate the people from their government and dismember the union. This restless uneasy temper gave additional im. portance to the project of an expedition against Louisiana which had been formed by Mr. Genet.
These public causes for apprehending hostil. ities * with Spain, were strengthened by private
* The state of affairs was so inauspicious to the continuance of peace that in a letter written in the month of June, to the secretary of war, the president thus expressed himself. “ It is of great importance that this government should be fully informed of the Spanish force in the Floridas, the troops which have lately arrived, the number of their posts, and the strength and situation of each ; together with such other circumstances as would enable it to adopt correspondent measures, in case we should, in spite of our endeavours to avoid it, get embroiled with that nation. It would be too improvident, might be too late, and certainly would be disgraceful, to have this information to obtain when our plans ought to be formed.” After suggesting the propriety of making the proper inquiries in a particular channel, he added, "I point you to the above as one source only of information. My desire to obtain knowledge of these facts leads me to request with equal earnestness, that you would improve every other to ascertain them with certainty. No reasonable expense should be spared to accomplish objects of such mag. nitude in times so critical.” vol. v.
CHAP. VI, communications. From their ministers abroad, 1793. the executive had received intelligence that pro
positions had been made by the cabinet of Madrid to that of London, the object of which was the United States. The precise nature of these propositions was not ascertained, but it was understood generally that their tendency was hostile.
Under circumstances thus unfavourable to the pacific views of the executive was congress to assemble.
Meeting of congress... President's speech... His message on
the subject of the foreign relations of the United States... Report of the secretary of state in relation to the commerce of the United States...He resigns... Is succeeded by Mr. Randolph...Mr. Madison's resolutions founded on the above report...Debate thereon... Debates on the subject of a navy... An embargo law...Mr. Jay appointed envoy extraordinary to Great Britain... Inquiry into the conduct of the secretary of the treasury, terminates honourably to him... Internal taxes laid...Congress adjourns.
A malignant fever, believed to be infectious, had, through part of the summer and autumn, visited with severe affliction the city of Philadel. phia, and dispersed the officers of the executive government. Lest the dread of this tremendous scourge should deter the national legislature from assembling, the president suggested for the consideration of his cabinet, the idea of convening congress at some other place. The opinion that the proposed measure was not sanctioned by the constitution seemed to prevail, and the cessation of the fever rendered it less necessary. Such was the active zeal of parties, and such the universal expectation that important executive communications would be made, and that legislative measures not less important would be founded on them, Meetings that notwithstanding the fear of contagion was far from being completely dispelled, both houses were full on the first day, and a joint committee waited on the president with the usual informa
CHAP. VII. tion that they were ready to receive his com. 1793. munications.
On the fourth of December, at twelve, the president met both houses in the senate chamber. His speech was moderate, firm, dignified, and interesting. It commenced with his own re-election, his feelings at which were thus expressed....
“Since the commencement of the term for which I have been again called into office, no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow citizens at large, the deep and respectful sense which I feel of the renewed testimony of public approbation. While on the one hand, it awakened my gratitude for all those instances of affectionate partiality with which I have been honoured by my country; on the other, it could not prevent an earnest wish for that retirement, from which no private consideration should ever have torn me. But, influenced by the belief that my conduct would be estimated according to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from them, would support exertions having nothing personal for their object, I have obeyed the suffrage which commanded me to resume the executive power; and I humbly implore that Being on whose will the fate of nations depends, to crown with success our mutual endeavours for the general happiness.”
Passing to those measures which had been adopted by the executive for the regulation of its conduct towards the belligerent nations, he observed, “as soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers with whom the United