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yet it was then evident that, if he remained at the head of government, his reputation must scon pass the ordeal of party conflict. He had determined to decline being a candidate for the Presidency at a second election, and to this purpose, had written a valedictory address to the American people; but the critical state of the country, and the urgent entreaties of his friends induced him to relinquish the determination.
General Washington re-elected President—State of Parties—Division in the Cabinet—The President endeavours to promote union —Influence of the French Revolution—Measures to secure the Neutrality of the United States in the War between France and England—Mr. Genet's illegal practices—He insults the Government—The Executive restricts him—He appeals to the People— They support the Administration—The President determines to arrest Genet—He is recalled—Negotiation with Britain—Insurrection in Pennsylvania—Democratick Societies—British Treaty —Communication between the French Executive and the Legislature of the United States—The President refuses to the House of Representatives the Papers respecting Diplomatick transactions—His interpositions in favour of the Marquis La Fayette— Takes the Son of the Marquis under his Protection and Patronage.
1793–7. WHEN the constitutional period arrived for the re-election of a President, it appeared, that General WASHINGTon had a second time the unanimous suffrage of his country for this exalted office. He entered upon its duties in the prospect, that the administration of the government would be attended with accumulated difficulty.
The character of the American patriot is with reluctance blended in these pages with events of a local or temporary nature. It is painful to reflect, that his fair fame was even for a moment sullied by the foul breath of calumny. The pen is indignant to record charges against his honour and his patriotism, charges which their authors knew to be unfounded and which were made only to answer the purposes of a party. But it is impossible to portray the wisdom, the firmness, and prudence which were displayed during his second Presidency, or to show the good fortune which attended it, without bringing into distinct view the circumstances under which he acted. Without a knowledge of the difficulties which he surmounted, and the opposition which he conquered, posterity will have no adequate conception of the merits of this period of his administration. The difference of political opinion arising from pursuits of personal ambition, from discordant views of national and state policy, and from the danger to be apprehended from the encroachments of democracy, or from the abuse of power in the constituted government, had, since the establishment of the Federal Constitution regularly increased in strength and asperity. It had appeared in all the important debates of Congress, had pervaded every part of the United States, and under its influence, two political parties were by this time fully established, and nearly balanced; the one the warm advocates, the other the determined opponents of the measures of the government. Although the President had readily given his sanction to those acts of the government which had agitated in the highest degree the passions of parties, yet there was that in his character which forbade his political enemies to denominate him the head of a party. He had strong hold of the affections and confidence of the great mass of his countrymen, and the most daring of the oppositionists thought it as yet impolitick to assail his patriotism; but a crisis was evidently approaching, when he would be under the necessity of putting his personal influence to hazard, of subjecting himself to the obloquy of a virulent party, and of sustaining the assault of disappointed ambition. Unfortunately the spirit of political controversy and division which agitated the nation, entered the Cabinet of the Executive, and discovered itself in almost every important subject that was submitted to their discussion. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton were directly opposed to each other on almost all important national questions. This opposition being frequently warmed by the collision of debate, finally settled into implacable political and personal animosity. The President noticed this hostility between his counsellors with grief and mortification; and unwilling to part with either, he endeavoured to reconcile them. In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State in August 1792, after stating the critical situation of the United States, with respect to foreign nations, he thus feelingly touched upon the animosity that existed in the Cabinet. “How unfortunate, how much to be regretted then, that while we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies, and insidious friends, internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals. The last, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming, and the most afflicting of the two ; and without more charity for the opinions of one another in government matters, or some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to be forejudged than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult if not impracticable to manage the reins of government, or keep the parts of it together; for if, instead of laying our shoulders to the machine, after measures are decided on, one pulls this way, and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder; and in my opinion, the fairest prospect of happiness and prosperity that ever was presented to man, will be lost, perhaps for ever. “My earnest wish and fondest hope therefore is, that instead of wounding suspicions, and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual for
bearances, and temporizing yielding on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and if possible, more prosperously. Without them every thing must rub ; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph; and by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabrick we have been erecting. “I do not inean to apply this advice, or these observations, to any particular person or character. I have given them in the same general terms to other officers of the government, because the disagreements which have arisen from difference of opinions, and the attacks which have been made upon almost all the measures of government, and most of its executive officers, have for a long time past filled me with painful sensations, and cannot fail, I think, of producing unhappy consequences, at home and abroad.” To a letter of Mr. Jefferson's, in which he endea voured to prove, that although he wished to amend, yet he had advocated the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the President thus replied. “I did not require the evidence of the extracts which you enclosed me, to convince me of your attachment to the constitution of the United States, or of your disposition to promote the general welfare of this country; but I regret, deeply regret, the difference of opinion which has arisen, and divided you and another principal officer of the government; and wish devoutly there could be an accommodation of them by mutual yieldings. “A measure of this sort would produce harmony and consequent good in our publick Councils; and the contrary will inevitably produce confusion and serious mischiefs; and for what P Because mankind cannot see alike, but would adopt different means to obtain the same end. For I will frankly and solemnly declare, that I believe the views of both to be pure - and well meant, and that experience only will decide with respect to the salubrity of the measures which are the subject of this dispute. Why then, when some of the best citizens of the United States, men of discernment, uniform and tried patriots, who have no sinister views to promote, but are chaste in their ways of thinking and acting, are to be found, some on one side, and some on the other of the questions which have caused these agitations; why should ei-her of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no al lowance for those of the other ? “1 could, and indeed was about to add more on this interesting subject, but will forbear at least for the present, after expressing a wish that the cup which has been presented to us may not be snatched from our lips by a discordance of action, when I am persuaded that there is no discordance in your views. I have a great and sincere esteem for you both ; and ardently wish that some line could be marked out, by which both of you could walk.” These serious endeavours of the President produced not their desired effect. The hostility of the two Secretaries remained in full force. The Attorney General almost without exception coincided in opinion with Mr. Jefferson; the Secretary of War generally accorded in judgment with Colonel Hamilton, and of consequence the President was deprived of the proper advice of his Council. But he possessed in a degree which few other men ever did, the faculty to suspend his own judgment on every important subject, until he had exhausted every source of information, and had fully weighed the opinions of those about him. He early established it as a maxim never to give his opi. nion on any important question, until the moment that a decision was necessary, and from a rigid adherence to this maxim, on many critical occasions he derived singular advantage. In deliberating upon national subjects submitted to him as the Supreme Executive,