« VorigeDoorgaan »
erty within the United States, but to the whole system of commerce, and whatever has the name of property, which can have any connection with this country. The man who can take so comprehensive a view, unaided by any former national experience, as to be able to establish a system of public credit, after it was by abuse of all public faith and confidence nearly annihilated, so as within the short term of four years fully to restore and establish it upon a stable basis, and by his provident care to guard against all contingencies which might do it an injury, and by the same operation raise a people from the most torpid indolence and despondency, to a state of the most vigorous enterprise, industry, and cheerfulness, and increase the value of property within the same period one third more than it before was (which I believe has been the case within this State, notwithstanding our vast emigrations),- he who can effect all this, without imposing a sensible burden upon any one, or deranging one useful occupation or business, must possess talents and industry and a species of intuition, which will ever insure him respect and the highest esteem from all but such only as are infected by that basest and vilest of human affections, envy. In this State I never heard any one speak of Mr. Hamilton but in terms of respect, and the same of the officers of his department. I shall furnish a number of gentlemen in this part of the State with the reading of the fiscal statement which you sent me; for, although we are very quiet and confiding in the rectitude of the national administration, yet there are some who wish to have it otherwise (or I am mistaken), if they dare make the attempt; at present, they dare not.
"I have observed that gentlemen who have been for some time in Philadelphia seem to have very disagreeable apprehensions lest there should be some subversion of the national government. This I can more easily account for, as I never was six months in Philadelphia during the war, but what I had different apprehensions, and those very disagreeable ones, relative to the state of the Union, from what I had upon my return there after a few months' absence; and I always found that to be the case in regard to every other member of Congress. Indeed, if they had not been frequently supplied with fresh hands, the condition of the members would have been intolerable. You will always judge right, if you believe that the vast body of the people who live north and back of that place are of emphatically different character from those who compose that factious, ignorant, and turbulent town. I believe that there is not one in fifty in New England but what will support the present government (in which computation I include Vermont, and also reckon Parson Niles and some hysterical politicians in Boston), and I believe that there is
not more than one in twenty north of the Delaware; Maryland, if I mistake not, will do the same. If, at any future period, our southern friends shall incline to dissolve the Union, they must count upon the Potomac and the Ohio as the line of division. This part of the Union will not adopt the French ideas of jurisprudence. I believe before the year 1800, Congress will be very willing to go to Conogochegue, or any other place, so that they can leave Philadelphia; not but that one half of the bustle and turbulence of that town is a mere matter of affectation and pride, and more owing to habitual security than any serious wish to obtain what they seem to aim at.
“The French are in a state of extreme delirium and extreme wretchedness. They will suffer all the miseries which war can inflict, and in its consequences, probably, famine and the pestilence. The avowed designs of the late European congress to give France a king will occasion serious reflection in the minds of millions of the Old World. The combination of kings to maintain despotism through Europe is a question which will, within no distant period, be further discussed in the Old World." - Vol. 1., pp. 101, 102.
When the beneficial operation of the new government in the hands of the Federalists had become manifest, their adversaries, conscious of the odium attached to the name of "Antifederalists," endeavoured to substitute for it that of "Republicans," which, when the French Revolution broke out, they again exchanged for that of "Democrats," and attempted, in further imitation of the French Jacobins, to fix the name of "Aristocrats " upon the Federalists. But as the people of the New England States were confessedly the most democratic, and those of Virginia and the other Antifederal States of the South undeniably the most aristocratic, portions of the union, this attempt failed. Their next effort was to render the name of Federalist odious, and in this they succeeded. But the means to which they had recourse would have proved quite insufficient, had they not been aided by a division among the Federalists themselves. Some of the remarks of Mr. Gibbs upon the position of the Federalists at this period are so just and striking, that we will place them before our readers.
"The period during which the Federalists held the ascendency in the administration of the national government was one of no ordinary trial. The system itself was a novelty, founded in the midst of dissentient opinions, and established in the face of power
ful opposition; its parts were to be adjusted and arranged, its proper attributes and limits settled and defined, the relations of the individual members with the whole to be harmonized, and the great and complicated machine to be set in motion. Besides the necessity of thus creating from a mass of disorganized materials the framework of society itself, and of establishing the details of its functions; of devising a system of finance, by which, from a family of states hitherto unused to any general and common system, revenues should be raised, bearing equally upon all, revenues capable of meeting debts of extraordinary magnitude for a people of limited numbers, whose resources had never been developed, and who were already exhausted by a long war; of adopting plans of state policy under novel circumstances and relations, expansive as the growth of the nation, and to be permanent as its existence; of embodying laws; of rebuilding commerce from its wrecks, and calling forth arts and manufactures where they had been unknown; there were other obstacles in their path. Almost coeval with its birth commenced a war, which, in extent, magnitude, and objects, was the most gigantic in the history of bloodshed. Institutions hoary with age and venerable from their sanctity; empires which had seemed as permanent as the existence of man; despotisms whose iron grasp had for centuries stifled the very breathings of liberty; laws, and usages stronger than laws, which for good or evil had moulded men after their own fashion; priestcrafts and castes, obeyed by prescription, were at once swept away before the whirlwind of revolution. The effects of this convulsion had not been confined to the shores of Europe or the east; they had extended to Amer. ica also. Here, meanwhile, the same opposition which had exerted itself against the formation of a government was continued against its operation. It was with mutiny in the crew that the Federalists had to steer the ship of state through the dangers of an unexplored ocean, in this the most tremendous storm which ever devastated the civilized world. Every measure which might tend to a development of the power of the general government was resisted. Every embarrassment was thrown in the way of its action. The impatience which naturally arises from new burdens was taken advantage of, though their object was to pay the price of freedom itself. Sedition was stirred up to resist them. Falsehood and misrepresentation were employed; distrust excited against tried and firm patriots. The personal popularity of demagogues was used to ruin men whose purity would not permit them to court the passions of the multitude. Alien influence was sought out to thwart or to govern the citizen. The national feeling in favor of republicanism, on the one hand, and
national detestation of monarchy, on the other, were invoked to render odious an administration which refused to sacrifice the peace of their own to the interests or the ambition of a foreign land; the dread of war with France was held up as a bugbear to the timid, the fear of subjection to Britain as a spectre to the patriot. Public gratitude and popular hatred were alike aroused and called to aid.
"There was undoubtedly an exciting influence, which rendered the attacks of the opposition upon the government more potent than they otherwise might have been, arising from the character of the people themselves. The sagacity of the Anti-federal leaders fully saw and appreciated the fact so truly expressed by Mr. Cabot, that the sentiments of the people were essentially democratic, the constitution of the government was only republican.' The distinction was a vital one. There existed undoubtedly then, as perhaps to a more general though not more aggravated degree there exists now, a disposition to set up popular will above the laws made by the representatives of the people, to create as it were a law paramount to the fundamental laws of the land, a law uncertain, intangible, depending upon fluctuating and excited passions, and whose being is alike without authority or responsibility. This ultra-democratic tendency had been firmly and consistently resisted by the Federal party; it had been as sedulously cultivated by their enemies. It was the fulcrum upon which rested the lever which was to overthrow the original system of American policy.
"The ground on which the opposition succeeded in putting the contest was undoubtedly the strongest they could have taken. There is that in the character of the democratic theory which recommends it to the imagination of many classes. Not the poorer class alone, who expect in its prevalence greater advantages to themselves, or at least greater control over the rich,— not the demagogue only, who hopes in its success the gratification of a selfish ambition, but men of a higher order, both of intellect and of character, rank among its disciples. The visionary, who looks for truth in abstractions instead of experience,the philanthropist, dreaming of the perfections of his race,often, too, the patriot, in his indignation at the tyranny of the few, seeking a refuge for liberty in an opposite and as dangerous extreme; are its advocates and adherents.”—Vol. II., pp. 503-507.
For obvious reasons, we cannot trace the history of those dissensions in the administration party which did more than the malice of their opponents to ruin the Federalist cause. - No. 134.
Mr. Adams succeeded to the presidency, but did not command in full measure the esteem and confidence of the very persons who had elected him. He soon found that the opinions of Hamilton had more weight with them than his own, and that even the members of his own cabinet, whom he had continued in office after Washington's resignation, sought counsel and direction from this master-spirit of the Federalist party. Prompt, decided, and even imperious in disposition, he resolved to be the sole guide of the policy of his own administration, or at any rate to choose his own counsellors. The breach between him and Hamilton grew wider every day, and their mutual jealousy was inflamed by the exasperating language used by their respective adherents. The quarrel came at last to a head, through a determination which the president formed, early in 1799, without consulting the heads of department, or even intimating his intention to them, to send a third embassy to France, in the hope of conciliating that power, and averting the danger of an open war between the two countries, which had long seemed imminent. Most of the Federalists viewed this step with extreme disapprobation, considering it as ill-timed and humiliating to the United States, after the gross contumely and contemptuous disregard of the laws of nations with which the French Directory had received the two preceding embassies. They believed that no honorable peace could be made with France under its feeble and distracted government, and that any treaty which might be framed would only give serious umbrage to Great Britain, expose our growing commerce to new and more serious hazards, and open the way for a wider diffusion of French Jacobinical principles in America. Three members of the cabinet, at least, Pickering, McHenry, and Wolcott, viewed the mission as impolitic and unwise. Among a large and influential portion of the Federalists, with Hamilton at their head, it was so strongly condemned, that every one foresaw at the time that there could be no zealous and united effort of the party in the ensuing election of a president. Mr. Adams was again nominated, but all the forces could not be rallied to his support.
The following remarks of Mr. Gibbs, upon a great loss which the country suffered at this time, seem to be perfectly true and very happily expressed.
"At this moment WASHINGTON died. At no period of his long