« ZurückWeiter »
with more mildness, and was soon after discharged from his confinement; but what influence the President's letter had on these measures is not known. In 1795, George Washington Motier La Fayette, the son of the Marquis La Fayette, made his escape from France, and arrived with his tutor at Boston. He immediately by letter communicated his situation to General W AshingtoN, and solicited his advice and patronage. The mother of young Fayette was then in France, and the President was surrounded by Frenchmen, the agents or friends of the administration, which had denounced the Marquis. These men were ready to denounce every act of favour done to a man who was proscribed by the French Government. From regard to the safety of that lady, and from prudential considerations in respect to his own official character, he thought it unadviseable to invite him immediately to the seat of government, and publickly to espouse hip interest. But he wrote confidentially to a friend in the neighbourhood of Boston, requesting him to visit the young gentleman, to acquaint him with the reason which rendered it inexpedient that he should be invited into the President's family, and, to adopt the language of the letter, to “administer all the consolation that he can derive from the most une quivocal assurances of my standing in the place, and be coming to him a father, friend, protector, and supporter “Considering how important it is to avoid idleness and dissipation—to improve his mind—and to give him all the advantages which education can bestow, my opinion and my advice to him is, (if he is qualified for admission) that he should enter as a student at the University in Cambridge ; although it should be for a short time only. The expense of which, as also for every other means for his support, I will pay; and now do authorize you, my dear sir, to draw upon me accordingly. And if it be desired that his tutor should accompany him to the University, any expense that he shall incur for the purpose, shall be borne by me in like manner.” The tutor of young Fayette thought he might with more advantage pursue his studies in private, and therefore he did not enter the University. The members of Congress, in opposition to the measures of the Administration, obtained the Knowledge of the arrival of a son of the Marquis La Fayette in some part of America. Expecting perhaps that the President had maintained a cold and unfeeling reserve towards him, they instituted an inquiry into his situation; and when they discovered that the President had extended towards young Fayette the assistance and the protection of a friend and a father, they dropped the subject. This young gentleman remained for a short time in the United States; returning to France, he distinguished himself in the army of Buonaparte; but the usual promotions have been denied him.
The President calumniated—His Letter to Mr. Jefferson–Statement of the Secretary of the Treasury—The French Directory's attempt to control the American Government—Review of the Transactions with France—The President declares his resolution to retire from Publick Life—Meets Congress for the last Time— Describes the Letters that had been forged-i-Attends the Inauguration of Mr. Adams—Retires to Mount Vernon–Threatening Attitude of France—Gemaral Washington appointed Commander in Chief of the American Forces—His opinion of Publick Measures—His Indisposition and Death—Conclusion.
1796. THE friends of General WAsHINGton ki.ew that it was his intention to decline being a candidate at the third election of President, and this was expected by the publick. Warm solicitations were used to dissuade him from the intention, but his determination was fixed; and nothing could change it, excepting a crisis in the affairs of his country, which would render retirement inconsistent with his duty, and derogatory to his character. In the possibility of such an event, his friends pre vailed with him to withhold the publick expression of his design until it should become necessary to direct the attention of the community to a successor. This silence alarmed the party opposed to his administration. His personal influence at the head of government, they conceived, could alone defeat their plans, and prevent a revolution in the National Council. Since the ratification of the British treaty, they had laid aside the decorous language and exteriour respect, which they had, until that period, observed towards the President, and on this occasion they with the utmost virulence assailed his character. His merit as a soldier, and his wisdom and patriotism as a statesman, were denied ; and even his honour and honesty as a man were brought into question. Letters, forged and published in 1776, to injure his reputation as the General in the revolutionary war, were at this time republished as genuine, to excite prejudice against him. The queries, which he had confidentially proposed to the deliberation of his Cabinet, were laid before the publick, with comments designed to show, that they indicated a deadly hostility to France. The queries could have come before the publick only by a breach of confidence in some one of the Cabinet. Mr. Jefferson was disposed to prevent any suspicion from resting on the mind of General WASHINGtoN, that he was the dishonourable individual, and for this purpose he addressed a letter to him, to which the President gave the following reply. “If I had entertained any suspicion before, that the queries which have been published in Bache's paper, proceeded from you, the assurances you have given of the contrary would have removed them ; but the truth is, I harboured none. I am at no loss to conjecture from what source they flowed, through what channel they were conveyed, nor for what purpose they and similar publications appear. “As you have mentioned the subject yourself, it would not be frank, candid, or friendly, to conceal that your conduct has been represented as derogating from that opinion I conceived you entertained of me; that to your particular friends and connexions you have described, and they have denounced me, as a person under dangerous influence, and that if I would listen more to some other opinions, all would be well. My answer has invariably been, that I had never distovered any thing in the conduct of Mr. Jefferson, to raise suspicions in my mind of his sincerty; that if he would vetrace my publick conduct while he was in the administration, abundant proofs would occur to him, that truth and right decisions were the sole objects of my pursuit; that there were as many instances within his own knowledge, of my having decided against as in favour of the person evidently alluded to ; and moreover, that I was no believer in the infallibility of the politicks or measures of any man living. In short, that I was no party man myself, and that the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them. “To this I may add, and very truly, that until the last year or two, I had no conception that parties would, or even could go the lengths I have been witness to ; nor did I believe until lately, that it was within the bounds of probability, hardly within those of possibility, that while I was using my utmost exertions to establish a national charactor of our own, independent, as far as our obligations and justice would permit, of every nation of the earth; and wished by steering a steady course to preserve this country from the horrours of a desolating war, I should be accused of being the enemy of one nation, and subject to the influence of another; and to prove it, that every act of my administration would be tortured, and the grossest and most insidious misrepresentations of them be made, by giving one side only of a subject, and that too in such exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero—to a notorious defaulter —or even to a common pickpocket. “But enough of this. I have already gone further in the expression of my feelings than I intended.” General WAshington was also atrociously cha: ged with having unlawfully drawn money from the publick treasury for his private use. This charge was supported by extracts from the books of the national treasury, and his enemies boasted that they had discovered an indelible blemish in his character ; but their triumph was only for a moment. The Secretary of the Treasury published a statement of facts, by which it clearly appeared that the money drawn by the orders of the President had in no year exceeded the appropriations for his salary. He received no publick money but for the support of his family, in some quarters of the year the receipts had overrun the amount due, and in others fallen short; and that the President himself had no concern in the transaction, the busi ness having been conducted by a gentleman who su perintended his household. The publick frowned his accusers into silence, and the weapon levelled against his reputation fell innoxious to the ground. The Government of France was too well acquainted with the number and the temper of their friends in “he United States, to relinquish the plan formed to obtain a controlling influence in the administration of American affairs. Mr. Fauchet had made formal complaints against the measures of President WASHINGron. For a time his remonstrances were made in the lan guage of decency and respect; but at the close of his ministry, he descended to the reproachful manner of his predecessor. Mr. Adet arrived at Philadelphia, while the Senate were deliberating on the British Vol. II. 15